Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Love Them in the Ways that They Get it

Love is powerful. Being loved and cared for are basic human needs. Holding premature babies in your arms, talking with them, and singing to them can make up for their congenital shortcomings.

Love Languages

One couple was in distress over their teenager. The mom lamented, "I do this and that for him all day, but he doesn't appreciate me one bit." The dad added, "He always asks for homework help at the last minute. Instead of giving thanks, he questions my logic and gets mad at me!" When love and dedication are taken for granted, parents will inevitably feel hurt and depressed.

Are today's young people just selfish, inconsiderate, and ungrateful? Is it possible that they don't feel loved deep down in their hearts?

Author Gary Chapman described "The Five Languages ​​of Love" in a series of books. Depending on experience and needs, everyone has his or her dominant language of love: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, and Gifts. A loving relationship can only be established after the most heartwarming expression of love is received.

For example, a daughter yelling "You don't care!" may wish to spend quality time with her parents listening to her fear, anxiety and dreams instead of advising, nagging and lecturing. Therefore, don't get upset at "You don't love me!" but try listening to their feelings with empathy. There is a Chinese saying, "You will only understand the love of your parents when you raise your own child." Maybe someday our children will really understand our love and sacrifice. But why not try to love them now with the love they desire so that they can truly feel your love?

Depositing Love into Your Marriage

Another author Gary Thomas once said to a young friend, "If you want to be free to serve Jesus, there's no question--stay single. Marriage takes a lot of time. But if you want to become more like Jesus, I can't imagine any better thing to do than to get married. Being married forces you to face some character issues you'd never have to face otherwise."
Some couples do not feel loved in their marriage even though their spouse keeps saying: "Am I not cooking, cleaning, and driving around all day for you and our children?" or "I work so hard to make money to support our family, and you still say I don't love you?" The truth of the matter is that people wants their needs to be understood, and they want to receive the kind of love they desire. Therefore, please pay special attention to complaints in the home. Does a exhausted mother need acts of service from her family? Does a problem solving father wish to be respected and affirmed?
Regular deposits are required for the "Love Bank" between two people because every negative interaction may cancel out 5-7 positive interactions. Do more positive, effective, and constructive things. Pay particular attention to your words and body language such as facial expressions, tone of voice, gestures and movements.  Couples need to date regularly in order to cultivate their marital relationship.
On this coming Valentine's Day, would you like to stop destructive interactions and negative thoughts, and start making a list of positive things you like about each other? Try to express your love by encouraging and affirming their efforts, listening to their feelings, hugging and kissing, saying, "I love you!" and buying (or making) a heart-to-heart gift.
Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Plan Your New Year Today

After what we have gone through in 2020, everyone is yearning for a Happy New Year. Unfortunately, the wake up call has shaken us to the core and deep down inside, we don't feel life is as predictable as we once like to imagine. 

No wonder someone confidently "predicted" that there would be ups and downs in the New Year. If uncertainty is the only certain thing in life, how then can we keep our hope and live life to the fullness, one day at a time?

The best way to have a good year is by living life on a daily basis, letting the good days accumulate, one by one. And it doesn't have to be New Year's to resolve to have a good year. Start anytime. Today, for instance.

1. Take time, slow down. Be present in your life and mindful of the present.

2. Care for your body, eat well, exercise, treat yourself to loving, nurturing self-care.

3. Spend quality time with family and friends. Communicate, keep in touch. Say I love you. Tell people you appreciate them.

4. Take time throughout the day to renew yourself. Take a walk, read a poem or a good book, listen to music (really listen); bring beauty into your life. On a monthly basis, take a whole day for yourself—play, treat yourself to something you want to do; retreat from your daily life. Mark these special days on your calendar (in ink) so you'll be certain to take them.

5. Clean up what needs to be cleaned up. Make amends, fix what's broken, clear away clutter, forgive what needs to be forgiven and let go.

6. Commit to a project you really want to do or to learning something new or attaining something you want. Commitment is the first step. Then set achievable goals and work toward them on a daily basis.

7. Give yourself to a cause, volunteer at a nonprofit organization, a community group, your church or lend a hand to an individual or family who could use your help.

8. Practice your spiritual discipline on a daily basis. "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:21-23)

9. Laugh every day. "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." (Proverbs 17:22)

10. Take time to dream. Life on earth is short. Instead of doing the same old thing out of habit and tradition, ask yourself, "What's God's calling and plan for me?" and boldly follow your dream!

Monday, December 14, 2020

Love Without Fear

Nobody wants to be hurt, but protecting ourselves often prevent us from loving freely and living courageously. Let's face it: love is messy. With its magnified highs and lows, love is unpredictable and never what we expect—so much so that we might be tempted to cower in fear. But if we approach love with the courage of a warrior, we can have relationships of heroic proportions. Here are 10 ways:

1. Be your true self. If we want to be loved for who we truly are, why put on an act? Do you know that you and I are so valuable in God's eyes that He was willing to rescue us, risking the life of His Son Jesus Christ?

2. Don't believe just your side of the story. Our interpretation of events and feelings is, in fact, just one possibility for what is actually true. Focus on what IS to get closer to the truth.

3. Stay open. Fear's favorite pastime is to shut us down. But when we are vulnerable, true connection to others is possible because "there is no fear in love."

4. Speak up. We become silent when instead we desperately want to connect.

5. Stop looking for perfection. More than likely, what we call "high standards" is a mask for our own feelings of inadequacy.

6. Embrace the messiness. It gives us the gift of growth.

7. Allow yourself to feel mad. Learn the difference, though, between expressing anger responsibly and dumping it.

8. Love with no thought of what you'll get in return. This is fearless love in action.

9. Take responsibility. Be accountable for your own emotions, thoughts and actions.

10. Love yourself. Only then can you love others and be loved.

Are you living in fear or in love? It might be a good time to find out what you are afraid of and where that story came from.

Even after being married for 13 years, I still did not understand the true meaning of love. When I met Jesus Christ, I finally realized the Truth. "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." (1 John 4:18 ESV)

Thank God for what happened one night more than two thousand years ago. In the wilderness of Bethlehem, the angel said to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)





Author's content used with permission, © Claire Communications

Friday, November 13, 2020

Cultivating Gratitude in Your Family

The words thanks, gratitude and giving derive from the word grace and refer to meaningful, authentic ways to acknowledge the grace in our lives. Too often, however, we are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives.

Gratitude is a perception, a way of looking at things, and an attitude of gratitude is a cornerstone of long-term mental and physical health. It balances us and gives us hope. Numerous long-term studies suggest that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being and a faster rate of recovery from surgery.

But for gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives and the lives of our children, it needs to become more than just a Thanksgiving word. When we practice giving thanks verbally for all we have instead of complaining about what we lack, we give our children—and ourselves—the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing. There are many things to be grateful for: autumn leaves, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, cars that work (usually), warm jackets, jump ropes, garage sales, the ability to read, swings, rain boots, being alive, butterflies, ...

Every evening before digging in to dinner, members of the Wang family take turns sharing something, good or bad, they have experienced that day.  One by one, each person acknowledges something that might have been difficult or a stretch, and something that they are grateful for. A typical response from the children (ages 10, 9 and 6):  "I got a compliment from a classmate. I finished piano practice before school. And I'm so glad for our dog and cat." Though full of the everydayness of life, their responses show that the childrenand the whole familyare developing a profound practice of gratitude.

This may mean overcoming the three main obstacles to gratitude: self-preoccupation, expectation, and entitlement. Self-preoccupation leads us to focus our attention on our problems, difficulties, aches and pains. Similarly, it's only when our expectation isn't met that we notice what is special. And when we think we're entitled to something, we won't consider it a gift.

Here are some ideas to help your whole family learn the attitude of gratitude:

• Keep a family gratitude journal or "Gratitude Attitude Calendar." Younger members can write one-word answers.

• Make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures.

• Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of the bedtime routine.

• Make it a game to find the hidden blessing in a situation.

• Let each child have his or her own day on which the rest of the family tells why they are grateful for his/her life.

• Compile a gratitude list to counteract a litany of complaints.

If others don't want to share gratitude, don't force them.  Just set an example by being the first to express gratitude.  Bit by bit, an inner shift begins to occur, and we may be delighted to discover how content and hopeful we are feeling. This sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work.

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Author's content used with permission, © Claire Communications

Monday, October 12, 2020

Turn Relational Conflicts into Blessings

Conflict is as natural to the human experience as thunderstorms are to springtime. When left unchecked, conflict can generate heat and discomfort, disrupt interactions and destroy relationships. Between a couple, discord can lead to divorce. Between countries, hostilities can lead to war. But when differences are openly acknowledged and addressed, conflict can be a powerful source of energy and lead to creative solutions that encourage growth, deepen intimacy and strengthen bonds between people.

The world is made up of individuals with different ideas, wants, needs and beliefs, and conflict may occur when our differences meet. Like so many other aspects of human interaction, it's how we deal with controversy that affects our relationships -- with others and ourselves.

Dr. Wei-Jen Huang said, "Facts seldom cause conflicts. It's each person's value system, point of view, perspective, and interpretation about such facts that produce conflicts."

Some relationships appear to be without conflict. This can mean that everyone is in tune with everyone else. But what's more likely is that some people are not being honest and real with others, or that some individuals regularly and routinely acquiesce to others. This is true with a couple, in a family, or in any group. When conflict appears to be totally absent, it is best to take a look under the carpet.

For some, the inability to face conflict comes from old, deeply imbedded fears, such as the fear of being wounded or absorbed by another. Or some may fear that there is no resolution to the disagreement. In avoiding conflict, individuals may lose themselves in a forest of fears where no one says what they truly feel or want or believe.

Without resolution, conflict converts to stress that causes all sorts of ills and disease and may ultimately release itself in explosions of rage, withdrawal, acting out, addictions and general unhappiness.

However, with resolution comes the release of fear and tension, clarity and remarkably creative solutions or ideas. A feeling of closeness may result or, at the very least, a deeper understanding, acceptance and respect for one another.

If you are reluctant to engage in conflict resolution, consider the following:
  • Because people are different, conflict is natural.
  • It's more important to find clarity and unity than to be right.
  • No one is right in God's eyes. Outside of Christ, we are all fallen creatures (Romans 3:23). Remember it is God who made us different and unique (Psalm 139).
  • Conflict is about speaking up and telling our truth (what seems so real and true to us).
  • Conflict is about being open and honest with others.
  • There is usually a win-win-win solution somewhere. This solution can only be formed in Christ.
  • Resolving conflict keeps us from living in fear.
  • Resolving conflict helps us clarify, sort and value our differences.
  • Resolving conflict can bring us closer together.
  • Resolving conflict is respectful of ourselves and others.
Guidelines to Resolving Stress in Your Relationship

Resolving conflict is a commitment to clarity, to listening with an open mind and an open heart, and to respecting and valuing one another and our differences. Following are some guidelines for working through conflicts. In some instances, it may be helpful to have a third person to help guide you through the process.

1. Agree that no one will leave the discussion session and that each person will be respectful. Commit to stay with the process until you reach an agreed-upon solution. If you need to take a break, agree on a time to resume.

2. Have each person name the problem or conflict and describe feelings, thoughts and needs. Be as specific as possible. Take turns to listen actively without being defensive.

3. Admit that each of you have contributed to your unpleasant and unhealthy interactions. Own your part in creating (or maintaining) the conflict/problem. List past attempts that were not successful in resolving the issue.

4. Take time for silent reflection. During this time, allow each person time to reflect and consider each aspect of the concern. Affirm that there is a way to come to resolution. From this place of silence, tell each other any thoughts, concerns or considerations that arise. Braintorm solutions with an open mind. Do not judge or criticize any suggestion until all ideas are on the table.

5. Discuss and evaluate each possible solution. Stay with the issue until a resolution emerges. Allow for all the time it takes. Pick one solution that both of you want to try (with specific actions from each person). If you can't find a resolution, you may need to accept that you disagree, or get professional help to continue working toward resolution. In any case, set up another time to review and discuss your progress.

Because conflict is natural to the human experience, the best way to deal with it is to create the kind of connections in which differences are acknowledged and supported as part of the ongoing and spirited process of being in a relationship. We all want to be understood and accepted!

Do you know your problems will become smaller if your God becomes bigger? As Christians, we also need to stay in relationship with God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, and the Holy Spirit so that we can rise above our human limitation and turn conflicts into blessings.

Author's content used with permission, © Claire Communications

Monday, May 18, 2020

Grace Awakening on Mother's Day

My biggest joy on Mother's Day was when our son and his family Skyped us. Afterwards, James and I went out for our daily walk. Naturally we talked about his mother (Mama) and my Mom. As usual I missed my Mom who died young at age 48. This year we feel sad that we could not visit Mama who will be turning 98 soon. What has made the situation worse is that James' sister told us that Mama recently would sometimes forget that she has given birth to four children. I was lamenting about mothers when suddenly I heard James said, "Life is a bliss..."

got upset before he could finish his sentence and began to attack him verbally. My intense anger almost caused James to walk away, but he chose to stay with me. Soon after that I also chose to stop scolding him. As we continued to walk, we gave ourselves a chance to understand and be understood by sharing our feelings, thoughts and needs with each other.

The next morning, I made a collage with selected photos from 2017 to 2019. Let me give you a tour from the lowest left corner going clockwise.

I was holding my fourth granddaughter in 2017 while reading to her older brothers and sister. Afterwards, their Mommy took us out for ice cream. See how they had to stand on chairs to pick out favor? Two years later, I was holding my fifth granddaughter. Can you see how she looked back into my eyes? Her little big sister has become a toddler who loves playing with her little big brother! Before I returned to California, we celebrated Mother's Day ahead of time. My oldest granddaughter made me a beautiful bracelet and her younger brother cooked "egg in the hole" breakfast for all of us one Sunday before we went to church!



















I flew back to San Francisco on Friday so that I could visit Mama with James on Mother's Day (see the oval photo in the middle). As usual, we had dinner, sang praises, and studied the Bible. Before we left, Mama asked us to stay overnight, and then take her to the park the next morning. Oh, how we cherish our weekly walk around Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park all those years. See those photos of James walking with Mama in 2017-2018.

Due to the pandemic, Mother's Day 2020 was not easy for any of us. I feel helpless and sad whenever I think of people who died prematurely and others who have amnesia in old age and lose memories of their lives. When James wanted to share his thought on life, I cut him off too soon. As we walked, he finished telling me, "Life is a bliss either long or short because being alive is a gift from God. I just want to enjoy life with you."

God understands, forgives, heals, and never forgets His children. What a blessing it is to know Him!

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!" (Isaiah 49:15)

If you are overwhelmed by stress, anxiety, fear, doubt and uncertainty during this pandemic, you are not alone. Please let me know and I will pray for you. If you want to talk with me, please book a 30-minute F.R.E.E. consultation on my ParentingABCtoday.com website. May God bless you!

Better Late than Never. Belated Happy Mother's Day! 

Friday, April 10, 2020

Be Still and Know Who is God

"Mom, let me read something to you, okay?"

Although feeling feebly, I nodded. My son placed two pillows under my head before flipping through books and newspapers next to my bed. Finally he picked up the only book written in Chinese and English – my devotional. Leafing through, he cleared his throat and began to read.

That was in the summer of 2003, two days after I had a major surgery. I was lying in my hospital bed, dealing with pains on my wounds, feeling weak and worrying about my recovery. With half-opened eyes I watched my dear son.

As he read one article after another, my heart gradually became calm and still. His strong baritone voice carried the comforting words of God. My heart was filled with warmth and sweetness. I thought, “My son has really grown up. He just finished his second year of college. It is really special that he came home to help his dad and me to down-size into an apartment. And now, he is taking turns with dad to take care of me in the hospital. With a child like this, what else could I want?”

Suddenly, he grinned: “Hey Mom, here is another article quoting Psalm 46 verse 10.”

He began to read, and I got very excited, “Do you know we could sing this verse?”

As he was still nodding, I couldn't wait and started singing, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Spontaneously he accompanied me at the second and third stanza. “Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know that I am God.”

We sang the song over and over again in English. As we worshiped God in the hospital, we received the truth of God, enjoyed His presence, and experienced His great love.

Time flies. In 2019, our son's wife gave birth to their fifth child. A month later, I visited them for 24 days. Since I was suffering sciatica pain at that time, I could not help much other than holding the baby. I could hold the baby all day, although I also enjoyed spending time with the other grandchildren, often playing one board or card game after another, or reading one storybook after another. Before holding the baby, I always turned off my cell phone and computer so that I could just sit still and enjoy the baby. One day my daughter-in-law came into the room to check on us. Quietly she took a picture. 

Whenever I look at this photo, I remember how my Father in Heaven is holding me in His arms. All I need to do is to hold onto Him, be still and enjoy His embrace and protection.

During this pandemic sheltering in place, sometimes I feel anxious, depressed, afraid and even angry after reading bad news and listening to people's suffering day after day. I worry about all the people I love ... Imagine my joy when I received a video with my grandchildren singing my favorite song! The love, grace and faithfulness of my God endure forever!

I first heard of the song, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" on January 28, 1989.  That day was the turning point of my life, marriage and family. You can find out why it means so much to me from a 6-minute video recorded a few years ago via this link: https://vimeo.com/180843010

This song has been my favorite for 31 years.  It always reminds me that I can take whatever pain, grief, sorrow and troubles to the Lord in prayer.  You can pray to Him directly or let me know so that I can pray for you and with you.

Jesus told his disciples: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)


Today is Good Friday. Jesus came from heaven to earth to save us. He suffered and died on the cross for our sin. On Easter Sunday, we will celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. May you find protection, peace and living hope in Him.