Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Please Join Me at BASS Convention This Week!

So happy to meet some of you at the 6th Bay Area Bible Convention 灣區華人基督徒教育大會 organized by CWTS on 2/23/19.
I hope you will also find time to attend the BASS Church Workers Convention in Castro Valley on March 7-9, 2019. I believe this annual convention has been around for 56 years to inspire, connect, equip, and train church workers for the glory of God.
The speakers for general sessions are Allan Taylor (Thursday evening), Dr. David Whitaker (Friday evening) and Dr. David Eckman (Saturday morning). There will be hundreds of workshops in various categories. Descriptions, locations, detailed schedule and room assignments can be found from their website http://bassconvention.org
In 1992, I was introduced to BASS by my good friend and mentor, Millicent Young, to learn about Children's Ministry! In 2006, I was invited by another good friend and mentor, the late Jeanne Stenfort of CEF, to lead workshops in Children's Ministry track and the newly created Asian track.
Imagine my insecurity and inadequacy! I even wrote a blog post on how I was encouraged to take a big step. You could read my 3/1/2006 blog post "Modeling Faithfulness in Service" HERE.
By the grace of God, I will be leading two workshops in Mandarin in 2019. I'm looking forward to meeting old and new friends. Please forward this e-mail to Mandarin-speaking parents you know. 歡迎您和朋友來參加﹗

2019 BASS Convention in Castro Valley

3/9/2019 12:45-2:00 p.m. 夫妻關係與父母角色
3/9/2019 2:15-3:30 p.m. 因材施教
蔣吳蘊蘭師母, LMFT

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Saying "I Love You" with Words and Actions

Valentine's Day is the perfect time to say "I love you." Those are not just three little words. Imagine how you would feel if your parents were or are saying those words to you now.

According to widely referenced statistics by Dr. Albert Mehrabian, known for his pioneering work in nonverbal communication, only 7% of communication happens through a person's actual words. Does it surprise you that a complete message include the spoken words (7%), tone of voice (38%) and body language (55%)?

The saying, "Words are cheap, action speaks," is never more true than when applied to "I love you." If the actions aren't there to back up the loving words, it all means nothing. Below are 10 of the best ways to say "I love you" in your actions. But there are thousands more. See how creative you can get in coming up with your own ideas.

1. Greet your loved ones with a big smile, a hug and a kiss.

2. Really listen to what your loved ones are saying; give them your undivided attention.

3. Support each other through tough times.

4. Do simple (even random) acts of kindness, such as massaging shoulders or feet, cooking a favorite meal, running a bath.

5. Spend one-on-one time with your loved ones, with no particular agenda.

6. Commit to truly accepting each other's faults and weaknesses.

7. Come home on time. If you have to be late, call to let them know!

8. Say what you mean. If you say you'll do something, do it, and by the time you said you'd do it.

9. Take responsibility for your part in any conflict, and then look at how you can do better next time. Step out of the blame game.

10. Share yourself and what lives deeply inside of you. This is a precious gift and conveys trust and security.

Don't let traditions, culture and old habits block you and your family from experiencing love, joy and peace. Make it your habit to show someone you care. Let your love flow out from your heart.

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a ESV)

Life is short. You don't have to be perfect. Just start a new day by saying "I love you!"
Author's content used with permission, © Claire Communications

Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Road Ahead: What Will You Do Differently This Year?

Happy New Year! What's your New Year resolution for 2019?

It is January 19th. Although I haven't completed my resolution, I am thinking about it everyday, paying attention to life's surprises, twists and turns. That reminds me of Christmas Eve 2018.

After celebrated with James' extended family in San Francisco, we left his sister's house around 11:30 p.m. The heavy rain earlier that day seemed to have stopped. There were almost no traffic in front of us. From the rear-view mirror, I could see headlights of cars still a distance away. I felt peace and calm of Silence Night as James and I enjoyed each other's company.

All in a sudden, I noticed a police car speeding into the freeway. Who is he going to chase? When the police car started to zigzag across the freeway from right to left to right to left ... I was alarmed. Something is wrong!

I slowed down and moved to the right-most lane, preparing to exit if necessary. From the rear-view mirror, I saw many cars rushing towards us. Will everyone slow down? I worried about being trapped on the freeway and I was scared of being rear-ended.

I wanted to immediately get off the freeway on the next exit, any exit. But I heard James' calm voice. "The police are trying to keep us safe. It is unsafe to be on unfamiliar roads in the dark. Just slow down and follow the traffic."

The police kept zigzagging until finally all cars stopped behind a barricade of police cars. I quickly took a picture. All we could do was to watch, pray and wait. Thank God that we did not have to wait for a long time. Life's ups and downs are not so scary when we have travel companions and sound advice!

As I am still pondering on what to do and what not to do in 2019, I can rest because I know God loves me and cares about me. How about you? What will you do differently this year? Here are some tips to proceed.

The Road Ahead: What Will You Do Differently This Year?

Changing the way things are done can bring opportunities for great success. But reaction to change may be fearful and irrational, which can result in failures, a decrease in quality and a loss of productivity and production. When it comes to family, work, business and ministry, it can be tempting to give in to those anxieties by doing what's always been done. But priming the pump to have a better year always involves some form of adjustment to free up the time, money and energy to tackle new opportunities.

How do you decide what changes are the most important ones to make?

Ask yourself these questions:
  1. What personal and business toleration interfered with your personal and work progress? Having to tolerate something or someone may mean you believe there is no choice, so you just bite your tongue and grind your teeth. Toleration is a good indication of issues in need of resolution.
  2. Were last year's goals reached? Why or why not? How will those obstacles be addressed? Setting new goals without having evaluated the previous year's goals can result in a cycle of substandard results.
  3. What fiscally responsible goal (e.g. making more money, collaborating, creating new products/services, improved marketing strategy, etc.) will also be fun? All work and no play make Jack a dull (and bored) boy, as the saying goes.
  4. How about relationship goal (e.g. rekindle your love, get along with your teenager, play with your kid, enjoy your family) that will bring joy to your life?
  5. Ask yourself questions about self-care (e.g. diet and exercise) and other areas of your life. Focus on what really matters in your life, when all is said and done.
What do you need to change to have a better year?

Choose passion over profit. 
Connect to your bigger purpose in life, work, business and ministry and the rewards will flow effortlessly. Passionate people attract success.

Higher learning. Technology changes fast. Staying on top of what's working now is only half the battle. Discovering what's up and coming and leveraging that knowledge is the key to an exceptional year. Are there something new that you could learn with your spouse, kids, friends and colleagues?

Celebrate success. Acknowledging and rewarding success keeps everyone motivated. Mark those mini-milestones with celebration and recognition!

Add, don't subtract. In business, when repeat clients stop buying your products or services, something needs to change. Instead of cutting prices, add value instead--bundle existing services/products, add bonuses or create new offerings. At home, when your family members are not talking to each other, something is wrong. Instead of pretending that all is well (e.g. "we never argue"), learn to listen attentively and talk assertively to engage them with respect and care.

What are your blind spots?

Every driver has blind spots. That's what rear-view mirrors are for. Blind spots in the family, church, work and business environment can be harder to identify. In a factory, how does a person avert disaster in a work environment without the benefit of mirrors? 

Ask around. Getting honest feedback from family and church members, clients, customers and service providers can be as uncomfortable as it is invaluable. Do it anyway.

Coffee time. Chat up a friend, family member, co-worker or colleague and encourage them to share their observations about what you are doing well and what needs improvement. Sometimes what needs to change is missed because it is so "obvious."

Seek professional help. Getting an objective outsiders opinion can help you see what is going well or not.

Moving into the New Year doesn't have to be a scary proposition. Having a clear sense of what's ahead can circumvent failure and create a successful year. Anxious of changing? Fear of taking risks? Try your best and leave the outcome to God.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  (James 4:13-15)

I'm not saying you need to change for the sake of changing. Just take some time periodically to take stock of your life. Let me know how I can pray for you. May the Lord show you His will, His way, and His timing in this New Year!
Author's content used with permission, © Claire Communications

Friday, December 21, 2018

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

You've heard how James and I got married after only three months of dating. We were best friends and thought we would live happily ever after.  But life and marriage are not that simple!

By 1988, we had so many arguments (especially on how to raise our five years old son) that I thought it was inevitable for us to go separate ways or remain miserable living under the same roof for the rest of our lives.  I often wondered, "Is that all there is?"

That year, we accepted the invitation from two friends to attend a Christmas celebration. The drama that night compared and contrasted the lives of two women. I saw a glimpse of hope.

On January 1, 1989, I started attending church in Palo Alto, intentionally arriving late and leaving early to avoid talking with people. On Saturday, January 28, I attended an evangelistic meeting in the evening. The speaker was a medical doctor. Just like me, he came from Hong Kong for college. My high-tech career successes seemed small compared to his achievements, yet he had felt the same emptiness I was feeling! When diagnosed with cancer, he cried out to God for help.

Amazingly God healed him both physically and spiritually. I sobbed when I heard how he asked for forgiveness and reconciled with God before reconciling with his wife. His talk about writing letters to his young children ahead of their growing up years really broke my heart. I thought about my husband and our young son.

After his testimony, someone led a song "What a Friend we have in Jesus." I heard "Oh, what peace we often forfeit? Oh, what needless pain we bear? All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!" loud and clear. That night, I received Jesus as my personal Savior.

As you gather with family and friends this Christmas, don't forget Jesus is the reason for the season. Jesus came to earth, Word became flesh, to show the way. Like Mary and Joseph, we don't have to be afraid when unexpected things happened. Read Luke 1:30-33 and Matthew 1:20-21 about a young engaged couple, Mary and Joseph, and what the angel told them about the birth of Jesus.

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:22-23).

The year 2018 has its ups and downs. I am grateful for our church co-workers and our son's family. Being united with Christ has given us sufficient grace to live together and love one another.

Almost thirty years ago, Jesus gave me a new life. Before long, God renewed my marriage and family. In 2016, my calling church recorded a video of this special song of my heart. At that time, James and I only had three grandchildren. Now we have four, and are looking forward to having another granddaughter in Spring. You may watch the 6.5-minute video of my sharing, singing and playing the piano by clicking HERE.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Love, Joy and Peace to you,
Winnis Chiang

Friday, July 27, 2018

Turning Relational Conflicts into Blessings and Holding Hands

James and I are celebrating our 43rd anniversary this month! We have come a long way, considering the fact that we got married after only three months of dating.

It was Spring 1975 at Cal (U.C. Berkeley). I was a college student from Hong Kong and James was in graduate school. We met in a digital design class in EECS (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science).
Dating was easy. Long before we heard of the 5 Love Languages from Gary Chapman, we were filling each other’s love tank effortlessly. James spent plenty of “Quality Time” with me; and I appreciated his words and actions with many “Words of Affirmations.” Loving one another, we did not have to argue or defend ourselves.

It did not even matter that we had to communicate in English instead of his Mandarin or my Cantonese. Somehow the pressure, stress and loneliness we previously felt in a foreign land all faded away.

A month or so after seeing each other almost every day, James proposed on the phone.

"If everything turns out fine, I would like to marry you."

"But I don't know how to cook!"

“No problem. We can eat out every day.”

I expected to live happily ever after. Therefore, I was disillusioned and hurt when James asked why I squeezed his toothpaste the wrong way – from the middle of the tube. Things went downhill and our honeymoon was over before long.

But there is hope in Christ! As written in the feature article this month, there are ways to “Turn Relational Conflicts into Blessings” when couples are willing to handle conflicts constructively.

Fast forward to earlier this week, we walked up the hills together, hand in hand, to celebrate life.

The Chinese article “Holding Hands” (中文文章 - 牽手) is our love story.

I will never forget my first impression of his parents when we met for dinner in San Francisco Chinatown. His mom and dad were over fifty years old, but they were still holding hands and talking with each other while walking towards their 4 children and me. It was right then and there that I knew I wanted a love just like that!

Marriage is not easy. James and I have gone through many ups and downs. Thank God that we are still talking, holding hands, and walking together. What a journey we have traveled as a couple, parents, grandparents, and co-laborers in Christ in spite of our differences. Glory to God!

You may read the July 27th 2018 Newsletter by clicking HERE.

結婚週年快樂 Happy Anniversary James!

Joy and Peace to you,
Winnis Chiang

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Befriending Anger and Remembering Father

How did you feel when you heard about children being separated from their families?

What are we supposed to do when someone or something triggers anger and stirs up our personally history?

Recently, I had a great vacation visiting my sister in Texas. On my first night there, I saw something very familiar on her coffee table and asked, “What is that?”

It’s Dad’s ash tray!

Although I haven’t seen it for decades, it still brought back my bittersweet childhood memories. My dad broke my mom’s heart when he had an affair. But both of them tried their best to keep our family together.  I felt peaceful and grateful sitting with my sister.

This month’s feature article “Befriending Anger” reminds us to befriend our anger so that we can find out what is really going on.

The Chinese article (中文文章 - 懷念爸爸) is a real-life story about disappointment, hurt and pain in my family of origin and the resurrecting power of Christ in healing brokenness. May our Heavenly Father God be glorified!

You may read the June 23rd 2018 Newsletter by clicking HERE.

Belated Happy Father’s Day! 親節快樂

Joy and Peace to you,
Winnis Chiang

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Life Stages and a Love that Reconciles

December 31, 2017 marked the transition into a new phase for our family. James’ mom (age 95) was moved into her daughter’s place. Thank God for my sister-in-law and her husband who remodeled and “senior proof” their basement apartment with an outside entrance. Now mom does not have to climb stairs to her 3rd-floor flat.  

That transition allowed James and me the freedom to participate in a vision trip to South Korea with other ethnic ministry leaders in early April. One place we visited was near the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) near the 38th parallel, the line dividing North and South Korea. Imagine praying with a group from all nations for the then upcoming summit between the North and South Korea leaders.
Here is a photo taken by Resonate Global Mission of the Christian Reformed Church of North America (CRCNA).

As explored in the feature article "Life Stages" this month, life goes through stages but we could still grow by getting out of our comfort zone at any age!

I'm grateful for both my mother-in-law and my own mother. Although my mommy passed away in 1975 at age 48, I still remember her love. You may read about "Love that Reconciles" written in Chinese (中文文章 - 主動和解的愛). Let’s bless others with the love of Christ! 

You may read the May 9th 2018 Newsletter by clicking HERE.

母親節快樂!  Happy Mother’s Day! 

Joy and Peace to you,
Winnis Chiang