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!).
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.
my journey into the fringe drew me deeper into a dark journey
How can I explain to you that despite the shadows of death – there is hope
That with just a glimmer of faith
Jesus was right there with guiding me out of my misery
Like a tapestry with interweaving thread, a medley of people and circumstances intertwine and weaved their way into my life and guided me out of my self destructive path.
In hindsight, Jesus never forsaked me, and He watched over me and walked with me until my eyes could see him.
He is patient
He is Grace
He loves me
How can I explain that once I cried out to Him to be my Saviour – That all the bad decisions I’ve made in the past stays in the past – my life took a 180 turn away from my old life.
“Follow Me”, is all He asks of me.
Thank you Jesus for reminding me this past Easter weekend of your sacrifice for me❤️
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Luke 24:30-32 | NIV
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
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…
OMG, it’s 6:30 pm and I need to get online and log into Guild War 2, or I’ll be missing the nightly world boss event (Defeat Tequatl the Sunless). Before I realize it, I’ve been playing for 4 hours straight! Where did the time go?
White noise is not bad in moderation, but as I’ve come to realize it’s everywhere around me. At home, my world is a twirling swirl of “white noise”. There is the distance hum of the refrigerator, the spinning sound from the dryer as I am writing this post, to the buzzing of the fan my laptop sits upon. I live in noise! Most of the time I don’t notice it. However, when I am trying to concentrate, the noise around me is more evident. Go figure! “White noise” can drive me to distraction.
When I was a student, I use to procrastinate before settling down to study by cleaning the whole house. Yeah I was having a hard time buckling down to work. As I got older, my slew of devices from the iPhone, iPad to my online gaming became handicaps to drown out what needed to get done, or it help drown out the stress of teaching, or push the personal life anxieties I was experiencing into the crevice of my mind. What I don’t see, I don’t need to examine.
Yes, I have got to say, “white noise” helps in covering up the immediate, and is effective in keeping my mind so occupied, I don’t need to think or feel. Every moment of my day, “white noise” also blocks me from dealing with what’s essential in my personal walk with Christ. My world overloads my senses, so that in essences, I am never essentially alone.
White Noise – according to Clay Scroggins is “a form of sound masking, and I couldn’t agree more.
It keeps our mind and being so cluttered with non essential time wasters that it prevents me from being in God’s presence with a pure heart.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,for they will see God. Matthew 5:8 | NIV
These days I yearn for silence, and ironically the more I seek quiet time, the more I get disturbed or side tracked. Today I sought the empty classroom of one of my colleague for just that – only to have her interrupt me a number of times to the point I gave up. I decided to be mindful of her need to chatter, and put aside my own need. Being in the moment came first in this instance. I also got a chance to explain to her why I was seeking alone time with God.
Why has the issue of silence become so important to me?
So I can hear Gods whisper.
I need to pare down on the “white noise” around me.
I’m not sure how it started, and perhaps the process of restoration with God is a part of my life long journey. Perhaps is was through a series of life events that moved me to draw closer to God. Maybe it was the need to share my love of Jesus with my children before they become immersed in our secular world. Nevertheless something triggered inside me – intangible and profound.
Once my relationship with Christ was restored, I saw my world anew. The old kinda slipped away, and in came the new:
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
I can certainly attest to this!
Shooing away “white noise”, has been an interesting process as I identify how obsessive and dependent some of them are in my life. My iPhone alone is a trove of white noise. Notifications abound from Facebook (and messenger), twitter and all my social media (Kik, Whats-app, Skype, Team speak, etc.) to “you’ve got mail”, to text reminders, and text messages.
Deleting Facebook, and messenger is one of the best things I’ve done in cutting the white noise out of my life. The daily thumb scrolling to see what my “friends” are up to became obsessive. Well, do I really need to see what they do day in and day out? Do I really need a blow by blow of their daily schedule, along with where they are every hour or so? OK a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my drift. I also deleted most of my social media chat accounts. How the heck did I use to have time for all this?
Oh then there’s the television – not necessarily a bad thing, but throw in Netflix, and I have the biggest vehicle for wasting time yet! During the Christmas holidays, I watched all the holiday themed chick flicks in two days. Most recently, I watched all 10 episodes of Westworld – a HBO series in one day. Binge watching is not a good thing. I cancelled Netflix, and downsized my television programming with the excuse to my kids – “No, television during school week!” After a few weeks, the habit of nightly television watching kinda passed. We do not miss it!
The past few months I noticed I don’t log online much to play one of the many online games I use to play (GW2 and Tera is my short list). Oh the mores of a hardcore gamer! Wow, I can’t even figure out how the heck I had time to play them all.
Yes, it’s a matter of priorities, and these days my shift of focus is clearer since I eliminated most of the “white noise” from my life. I am not perfect, but I am chipping away at it daily. Today I challenged myself to stop thumb scrolling the daily news from all major online media outlets, and I was successful. Who needs the negative and “fake” news anyways?
Drawing closer to God, and being in the moment, has revealed to me the importance of my family – of their Spiritual well being, of time spent with them, and of seeking a deeper relationship with them as well. Time passes quickly, and in a blink of an eye, they are all grown up. Why waste it on “white noise”.
As I move close to God, I also seek more time alone with Him. These days I wait till the kids are in bed, so I can meditate on His word, watch one of the many teaching sermons from North Point Community Church and Buckhead Church, and with every opportunity, I praise Him. This is also my time to reflect and blog – my way of sharing the Good News of my Savior Jesus.
Most of all, I long to hear His whisper, and to be in His presence.
6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:6 | NIV
Below is the first episode of White Noise, This sermon moved me to reflect and write this post. When God opens my heart, He also reveals to me my short comings, so that I can with a joyful heart, be made new in Him. ❤
I always try to keep an open line of communication with my kids. This is important to me, and I like to keep a tab on the music they listen to, the YouTube channels they watch, get to know their friends, and above all be a c o o l mom.
Contrarian by nature, and as a child growing up, I challenged the cultural, ethnic, and religious norms around me… I was a pain in the neck. My parents were typical of most Chinese immigrants, who arrived in the 50’s. My mom was a homemaker and didn’t work (but I do remember her doing the odd seamstress job at home), while my dad worked hard to provide a comfortable life for all of us. He was also an active evangelist and social activist within the Chinese community (hey it was the 60’s – the dawn of “isms”)- building the first Chinese Alliance Church in Toronto, as well as advocating for ethnic (Chinese) books in public libraries, as well as pushing for social services for Chinese elderly. What I remember most is the giving heart my parents had in opening our home to the Chinese Christian community. It is through my own dads unconditional love for those around him that I can understand the breathe and depth of Gods grace – love for me.
It was a long journey for me before I sought refuge in the grace of God. I remember leaving the Church and my family values – seeking instead to learn about life through all the post “isms” and leftist discourse I could experience, read and study. My own journey back to Jesus is marked with a long and winding road, very much like e a seed that falls along a pebbles path. It withers quickly under the glare of the sun.(1) Eventually I was able to plant my faith upon rich soil – my dads’ unconditional love for me guiding me to Jesus’ grace and mercy. The images of Jesus’ trek bearing a cross upon his shoulder, and a crown of thorn on his head, as his blood pour out of him is engraved in my minds eye. His blood with every step he takes cleanses me of my sin so that I can be lifted on high.
Now the cool mom in me, having been around the block a few times, want to protect my own children and shield them from the path of inequity. I want them to delight in walking with Jesus, without fear, knowing his precious grace, and his bountiful love – to know that at every turn, He is with them.
This includes sharing with them more unsavory parts of my life, along with an openness to leave a line of communication open to them, so that they can talk to me about anything – everything from the light, mundane to the more serious (profane).
Cool mom tries not to freak out – OK lets be honest – I occasionally do shriek and freak out big time, but thank goodness I can look to God to calm my soul, and strive to be non condemnation, and always seek restoration. This cool mom is not shy to speak about Jesus, talk about my own shortcomings, or discuss my need to seek forgiveness for my gutter mouth. This cool mom also listens to her 10 year old daughter when she reprimands me for using God’s name in vain – God bless her! I also listens to my son as he talks about the personal details of his friends and their lives. I try to not to freak out, or condemn, but listen. Yeah Listen! I bravely tell him to make a prayer list so that we can pray for them, and ask for the hand of God to enrich their lives with blessings.
Heck I am not perfect, but I am trying – remembering always my own faith is made stronger in the presence of Jesus Christ our Savior:
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 Ephesians 2:4-6a | NIV
Oh Lord give me the insight to be a good mom, to listen, and share with them my love of Jesus Christ.
1. 14 The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”
Some mornings, especially on the weekend, it’s just hard to get up in the morning. After a hectic week, I am physically tired. Today is a particularly yucky cloudy and snowy day. It is enough to make me want to stay in bed and cuddle with my down duvet, and sleep a few more hours. Well this morning is one of those days when I yearned for a lazy Sunday – do nothing!
Nope, I have Sunday Service at 10:30 am, and it is my one day during the week to spend with my family and our Church congregation in worship and praise of God. Sometimes I must ask myself if this is Satan’s way of working on me to create a snowball of incidences that lead to a having a bad morning – of disobedience. Agitated and cranky to boot, I almost want to miss this weekly ritual. It is when I feel like this, that I know I need get myself out the door, and to worship.
All the signs pointed to staying home, so I made a greater effort to get out the door. First, not wanting to get out of bed, and then running around like a chicken without a head as I busy myself preparing a roast in the slow cooker for our evening meal, make breakfast for the kids, and general crankiness all the way to Church. I was in a piss off mood even up to the front door of the Church. I was bitchy and snarly.
It took me a while during sing-inspiration to finally put my angry heart aside, and silently pray to God. With the sound of music in the background, I ask for God to open my heart to worship and praise – to transform me. To trust Him without boundaries. I ask him to make my faith stronger, as I wrestled with the sinful nature within. In the presences of my Savior, I ask for forgiveness. I ask him to take me deeper into my faith, and to renew me.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17 | NIV
Oh Forgive me dear Lord God
for letting the frivolous things
and stuff get in the way of my relationship with you.
I let my cranky, agitated nature get in the way of our relationship.
You ask for nothing from me
except to truly worship you and believe you
Your grace you give me freely
Transformed this cranky soul
I lift my voice in adoration of You and
pray for deliverance of my cranky nature
Here I stand before you
Changed and set free
With adoration, I lift my arms and proclaim Hosanna
Your grace has transformed me as I open my heart to thee
and embrace your presence with humbleness, love and obedience.
Draw me deeper into your presence, deeper into my faith,
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us
Ok I lost it last night, got angry at my daughter for losing a special necklace I had given her on her 10th birthday, specially because she had lied to me. For the past 3 months whenever I asked her why she was not wearing it, there was always an excuse until I was cleaning her room – then I saw the empty jewellery box.
She was afraid I would be mad at her, and indeed I was since she has hidden the truth from me for months.
As a parent I am angry she lied to me, and needed her to recognize and own the fact she lied.
I’m sorry is too easy a way to get out of a situation without owning and taking responsibility for her action – in this case not the lost necklace, but the lie.
All too often we resolve situations, especially in children by teaching them to say, “I’m sorry”. How often do we teach kids to own it. Paying lip service and saying “I’m sorry” does not teach a child the depth and responsibility of owning their lies or actions that lead to the lie.
Yes I was angry and in my cloud of emotionalism directed it at my daughter. I feel remorse that I did not handle it better, and in turn feel I fall short of Jesus ‘ loving nature. Gods love for us is without condemnation, he loves us unconditionally. How it must have hurt and sadden him when I myself have lied and sin against him.
He asks us to own our sin and then sin no more.
As a parent that is my own hope for my daughter. I love her unconditionally, but am hurt she feels the need to lie to me. How we must hurt God with our sin.
Lord God, forgive me for falling short of your glory – for getting mad at my daughter for lying to me. How I must have hurt you when I myself have done the same. Guide me to be a wise mom, and guide me to be a role model, and the mom you meant for me to be for my children.
Open my daughters heart to understand the difference between a lie and the consequences that proceeds its. Guide her to take responsibility and own her lie so that she can restore her relationship with you.
Guide me to do the same with her, to have a calm heart, and the wisdom to handle the challenges of a mother and daughter relationship. The ability to keep my mouth shut.