Halloween, A Personal Choice

It’s that time of year again – October – when you see the beauty of autumn colours and Halloween decorations abound. Halloween – grrrrr! This is one of those yearly festivities I am not happy to see.

As a wife, I’ve had lengthy disagreements over the years with my husband on whether or not we let our kids attend Halloween parties, to whether or not we allow our kids to go “Trick or Treating” with their besties (Hubby is ok with it, while I am not!), to explaining to them why as Christians we do not participate in Halloween (except the one time we took them to an “All Saints Day” alternative to Halloween), to the guilt of letting my kids go one year (I remember praying for forgiveness on blended knees!).

With their Auntie Joanne at an “All Saints” party

As a teacher, I’ve had to deal with this on a professional level in a school which raises funds by hosting a yearly Halloween costume dinner for all students and their families in a gym decked with witches, goblins, devils, ghosts and all the macabre. Incorporated into lesson plans for The Fall season and harvest time are “bricolage” activities of Jack-O-Lanterns and skeletons, along with grim ghostly other worldly storytelling – NOT my favourite time of the year (where’s my inner child?). Halloween is an official part of my job (and source of stress!). Most years I hide away from the maddening crowd and help out in the kitchen (donning on an apron instead of a costume).

Am I being silly? Am I being overly sensitive?

Yes, I know Halloween has Christian and pagan roots – and quite frankly I’m tired of people using this as an excuse to justify participating in Halloween. In my heart I know that what we see today as Halloween is total commercialization. That’s one side of the spectrum. On the other extreme, it’s also an excuse for all those who are participants of all things ungodly to rear their evil heads.

There is really no denying this. It can also be controversial for Christians as they bicker for and against it. It comes down to personal choice. For myself, Halloween is a great source of stress and anxiety – and personally – I think about this verse:

Ephesians 5:18-20: Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

No matter how it’s whitewashed in our society – I can’t accept Halloween as an innocent costume and candied festivities for children, when in reality there are real witches out there casting hex and spells on politicians and others. I can’t celebrate Halloween no matter how innocent it may seem when there exists real evil and darkness in this world:

1 Corinthians 10:20-21: No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.

Enough Said!

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Coffee Time with God

My kids today communicate with me by texting – usually short sentences comprising of the subject and verb – “gym, back for dinner”, or emoticon (❤️💕👍😉😛). In fact on my side of the family we only text via WeChat or WhatsApp.

My husband refuses to adapt to this instant media, and insists they call him by the telephone. Any text messages they send are ignored.

At dinner time I insist on no devices at the table, and make a concerted effort to open dialogue and communication.

I’m not perfect, and I know for a fact my side of the family is infamous for sitting at a restaurant with our devices – scrolling through Instagram, texting, or browsing online. I know I’m guilty of this!

This month, I’ve made an effort every Thursday afternoon to go out for coffee and lunch with the girls (teachers) at work – no devices!

This means sharing tidbits of our daily and personal lives as we laugh, giggle, cry and support one another. As Jordan Peterson discusses in 12 Rules of Life, to be a good supportive friend.

Consciously making the effort weekly to spend time with friends also had me thinking coffee time with God. When was the last time I sat down with a coffee and meditated upon his words, and listen to Him? I was explaining this to a friend, and she in turn told me she talks to God often during the day. Yes, I recall answering, but how often do we take the time to actually sit down and have coffee with our Lord?

Yes, I’ve talked to him here and there during my hectic day, and like quick text messages I send them off. Taking the time to really chat with him over coffee, during a meal, and appreciating his presence is another story.

Since I always start my day with a Starbucks coffee,  I decided to have consciously organize my daily schedule so that I have 30 mins in the morning.  Bible apps makes it handy to spend a little time with God as I tuck myself into a cosy corner and meditate on His word – a verse or passage, as well as a prayer.

In our fast telecommunications world of instant texting, it’s easy to forget to communicate:)

1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, though whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Quiet Time

Sometimes it takes something drastic to force me to stop and call upon Jesus, and it’s times like these that I have no choice but to stop and listen to Him.  It’s also times like these when I am reminded that He is always there.

I had a severe asthma attack that landed me in emergency.   As my heart was pounding from the high dosage of medication and steroids in ICU,  I looked upwards and thank God for forcing me to take stock of myself and our relationship.

I’ve let the busy din of the everyday get in the way of my quiet time.  My excuses have piled up as I tell myself that as my children head into their teenager years, more time is required to oversee and keep one eye on their homework, friends and social circle, and another on their activities online especially their social media usage.  Yeah, social media – of which snapchat and Instagram rules.   I find myself immersing into their culture, and before I know it, I have put Jesus onto the back burner – last.

Romans 12:2 “Do not be conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is –  his good, pleasing and perfect will.“

Thank you for your nudges,  and for moving me to meditate upon your words.  Thank you for helping me articulate it throught this platform to blog about it as I let my thoughts flow into words. 

Job 37:14  (NIV) “Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders.”

Praise be to God!

Your endless love

Your endless love pouring down on us

Affords us

the freedom to praise you anew

Even when

we are overwhelmed by the bustling

of our busy day,

with You as our starting point,

each day,

each step

is made is all the more

precious

Thank you Jesus ❤️

Travelling over  10 hours on the train from point A to B, has afforded me the time to worship – as well as spend time with each of my children and they with each other:)


***​​God never ceases to amaze me with His hand in our lives – sometimes He is subtle, sometimes it’s a whack over our head:)

😊

Happy 15th Birthday Son!

14 years and 5 months ago, my husband and I received the most precious gift from God – a bundle of joy from South Korea.

At 42, I a was a mom! Those tumultuous and self centered years of meandering through life, faded into the background as I held him in my arms.

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We had prepared ourselves with many self help books for newbie parents. Resourceful guides to help us through the first 24 months of our son’s developmental progress. Nothing prepared me for the act of selflessness that comes with caring for an infant(s) – and although I thought I was prepared to be a new mom – I wasn’t.  It was humbling.

We had given up hope of having children – it was just going to be the two of us, until that summer when my sister and her husband entrusted Dan and I with the care of their two young children while they went on vacation. It was a life changing experience.  We discovered the joy of children, and imagined being parents.   We wanted a family – and my biological clock was ticking.  Adoption was the only option for us!

We placed all our hopes in God to fill the hole in our lives. How I must have whined daily and I’m sure I was a pain in the neck as I scribbled away in my prayer journal.

With every stroke of the pen, with every prayer I asked God for a child.    My daily prayers were simple and full of hope.   I even gave God a list of what I wanted in our child.  Oh I can imagine God’s lift eyebrows as I look back on those prayers.

God you are all forgiving, all merciful, and all glorious!!  You have done great thing in my life!
All my hope is in you!

We went through the adoption process in December 2011, and had our application in by March, and our bundle of joy arrived in July 2012.  God’s hand was present throughout the process, and when he arrived at the airport, he was 4 months old.  Surround by family and friends, we welcomed him into our lives.  Our promise to God – to bring him up within His embrace.

Oh there were many challenges of taking care of an infant.   After 21 years together, we went through a period of adjustment.   Each day saw our love grow deeper as we fell in love with our son.  Living in the moment, we savored and appreciated the new challenges in our lives.   Each day was a learning experience, from being panicky and nervous parents, to watching him pull his first temper tantrum at 24 months, to the tenderness and love as we embraced being parents under God’s hands is precious.

Dear God,

You gave Dan and I what we could handle – both spiritually, and in our lives.  You have taught me many life lessons about being a believer, a mom, a wife, and a teacher.

The joy of being a mom, is also a life long process where each thought, idea, inspiration, goal, ability is examined and made new. Along with trials to my patience, attitude, prejudices, bias, and character flaw mirrored and revealed – You Dear Jesus, guide me towards change.

“Down on my knees again surrendering all…I’m desperate for you…. drench my soul, I hunger for you….”. I Surrender- Hillsong Live Cornerstone

Thank you God for the gift of answered prayer!
Thank you Jesus for guiding me to be the best mom I can be. For showing me daily my flaws and short coming as I interact with my son – with my children.  Thank you for your grace, that with You in me, I can make the effective changes to be an awesome mom. Thank you for always being there to get me back on track when I make a wrong turn ❤

Stepping Out

What a way to start my day…I popped into the kitchen for some coffee while a feisty rant fest was playing out with my co workers.  Before I knew it I made a comment which further stirred the pot as 3 pairs of eyes glared at me.
“Sheesh!”  “I really need to remember to simply shut my mouth!”

When we are Jesus filled, I can honestly attest that we go through a transformation.   The way we see the world changes, just as that sinful person we were goes through a series of self reflection and insight, and change.  God’s grace changes our perspectives and perceptions of the world.   The negative we once felt make way for an understanding as we leave our sinful past behind us, and yes, we are made new.   Those things we love to do or say in the pass is behind us.  I am not saying it’s an overnight phenomenon, but over time, as we embrace Christ within us…we go through a transformation process, because He is now guiding us.

Stepping outside of my comfort zone, of my Church and worship community, and dealing day in and day out with the world around me is daunting and challenging.   


As much as I love being in my comfort zone, I think about Jesus – Our wondrous God who came to us in human form so that we may come to know him.  He walked among us and help those in need.  He healed the sick.  His ministry was with the outcast of society.    Jesus emulated love.  How do I emulate love when I hide from the world?

When we let Jesus into our life and soul, there is something inside us which is transformed.   The judgmental, bitchy, negative me – the me who use to sit with the girls and trash talk has faded away.   Instead my heart is filled with a love for Jesus that raises in me a depth of soulfulness that I cannot even articulate.  I can say that there is a song in my heart. My pen composes love songs for Jesus.  There have been moments when I am so overwhelmed with his love, I feel the tears of joy run down my cheeks.

There is also this incredible feeling within to share with others the love that emulates from with in…I want to shout, and sometimes imagine myself lifting my arms in praise of our glorious God.  I am aware that those around me – those who have known me – do not understand the changes in me.   I have become an outcast and a freak!

Yes, I am happy to live in my bubble, sharing with my fellow Jesus loving family and community, but He calls out to me to walk among the non believers.   They are in our workplace, our schools, and we pass them by daily….and Jesus wants us to show mercy, to love, and share our love of Him with those around us.   He wants us to tell others how much Jesus loves them too!

Out there, not everyone is gonna think like me, or even share the same religion as me.  It’s not about me!  It is about sharing the love of Jesus!   There’s someone out there who desperately need to know of his love.  There is someone out there who wants to know Jesus.  Repeat, it is not about me, but about sharing the love of Jesus with others.

God wants to use us as an instrument of help and hope in the world.   How can I let God use me if I hide in my shell – my comfort zone?  The world yearns for hope, and I have a God who is all about hope and glory – How can I be so selfish that I would want to keep this good news to myself?

Yeah it is scary – they are different from me, with different backgrounds, different opinions, diverse personalities, and their lifestyles are not necessarily like mine, but God still calls us to the world.

Yes, I will feel discomfort, as I did when I should have shut up!   I will definitely feel the blunt of their disagreement, and their disdain, but we have a God who wants to partner with us, and He calls us to follow him like fishers of men to outreach!

The next time I find myself in a similar situation, I pray I have the insight and wisdom to smile, and simply say,”Good Morning!” 

 

Holding on To My Steadfast Anchor

As an teacher, my heart goes out to children whose parents are going through a separation or divorce.  From my experience, the children in my charge go through an emotional and grieving process that often leads to low self esteem and anxiety as they cope with new changes in their lives.   What was once a “happy” nuclear family is now a dysfunctional one that sometimes require a calendar to meander through the weekly changes of being shuffled from one house to the other, to who has the authorization to to pick up the child, to a slew of other changes emotionally and psychologically.

My son confides in me the stories of many of his own friends and the drama that unfolds during the divorce of their parents.   He tells me the heart wrenching story of his best friend –  His bestie has two other siblings (one older and one younger), but after the divorce of his parents, his Sikh father only wants to see him every other week, and wants nothing to do with his two other siblings. His Quebecois mother has custody of the other two, and share custody with my son’s bestie.

I thought at first how unusual until I discovered this week an ex-student of mine is also involved in a divorce.   Her mom left her dad with the two eldest daughters, leaving her 24 month old sister behind.

My heart cries out for these children and the fractures in their young lives.   The intercultural dichotomy in a relationship can be challenging, especially if there is a difference of religion and culture.   In my ex-students situation, her mom left a strict traditional Chinese patrilineal marriage which denies her the rights from a cultural standpoint.  “Married life is hard work”, is what I recently told a newlywed friend of mine. There will always certainly be ups and the downs in married life, and from my own experience, honest and communication is the only way to weather through it.    What helped my husband and I through every trial was TRUST and the God centered attitude to work through it.  With honesty, there is no denial, just as without communication, there can be no reciprocal relationship.

The love of a newly married couple is very different from the love within a relationship after 30 plus year of marriage.  As a couple grow and face the challenges in their marriage together with total honesty and communication, the love slowly develops into something that is full of depth and substance.

I remember when I first met my husband as a young university student in a punk rock club – Yes, a noisy club I use to slam dance and listen to hardcore music.  Dan was a friend of the bouncer, who kinda took it upon himself to keep a careful eye on me – a petite Chinese girl who was kinda nerdy, and totally out of her depth amidst hardcore punk rockers.

Dan and I are from two different walks of life and culture, but my dad saw in him something of substance, and shared with him the love of Jesus.   Dad planted those first fruits seeds in Dan – love and kindness.  Those first years as a couple saw much changes in our relationship – from being a boy friend, to a “common-law” couple, to marriage.   I am sure my parents prayer were long and steady on our behalf, just as with every visit, my dad never stopped sharing with his testimony and his love of Jesus.

There were ups and downs as I left the wild punk rock scene and buckle down to studying – first two bachelor and then my M.F.A.  Dan always supported my educational drive, even through he only completed his high school degree.   He also supported my walk back to Jesus.   In the early days of our courtship, Dan would drive me every Sunday to St. Stephen’s for worship (he would stay in the car).  This period also saw my dad pass away, and I think his death was a living testimony and opened my husband’s heart and soul.

One Sunday I asked Dan to accompany me into St. Stephens, and he did.  A non practicing Catholic by birth, Dan was able to relate to Nick Brotherwood, an ex-punker himself, and now one of the pastors at St. Stephens. With his British accent, and insightful sermons, God used him to touch my husbands heart until His whispers was heard.   What follows was miraculous, as my husband joined the Alpha course offered to young adults at St. Stephens, which in turn led to a renewal in Christ Jesus as his personal Savior.

Our journey as a couple has not always been an easy one as we worked through the many changes thrown at us.   First from not being able to have children, and after much prayer – the miracle of adopting two beautiful infants, to learning to become parents, and to keeping God center in our relationship  – it is with God’s blessing we are still married and together.  The last 15 years saw us go through a financial consolidation which saw us lose real estate holdings, and  my husband being laid off many times, as his industry went through changes.

In retrospective, much of the challenges thrown our way has helped us grow stronger as a couple, and as parents.  It has also deepen my faith in Christ, without whom I would have probably left my husband and become one of the many dysfunctional families around me. By God’s grace, I have been lifted up when I felt discouraged and weak.   Faith gave me hope.

Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil, and let us see what we are made of. – Charles Spurgeon

I see the hand of Christ in my husbands life, as He opens doors for him,  just as I see my husband’s faith remain steadfast with all the curves thrown at him.    We dealt with our financial lost together, knowing that God provides for our needs.  Most of all I praise God for guiding me to be the best wife and mom I can be, just as I see God working in my husband to be the best husband and dad he can be – loving unconditionally is the key – just as Jesus loves us.

Holding on to our faith, and to God in our time of need is the glue that keeps our family together:

Jesus is our sure and steadfast anchor, without which we would have been lost in the depth of the sea…