Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How Well Do You Maintain Balance?

It's hard to believe January 2016 is almost over! I set many goals for myself (e.g. getting organized). I wanted to start a new blog (and I did), get into a new exercise routines ...

Of course there was also that piece of furniture to be moved so to clear out space. Although James got help from a friend, I was there by their side to help. I only helped a little but I hurt my back!

Living and working in the Silicon Valley could be quite stressful. There are so much to do in every area of our lives. Many of us like excitements yet sometimes we are tired and wish life would be less stressful, less hectic, and more predictable (not in a boring way), more peaceful, and in other words, more restful.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Handling Adversity: You're Stronger Than You Thought

December 22, 2015

How is it possible to experience Love, Joy, Peace and Hope when bad things are happening?

For some of us, it is by believing in Jesus Christ, the Lord of lords and King of kings. He came from Heaven to earth to save us from our sins and make "God with Us" a reality!

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

Do you believe you're stronger than you thought? Have you forgotten who you are in Christ?

Overcoming Overwhelm By Coming Back To Ourselves

December 8, 2015

Not ready for Christmas and New Year? Having too much to do at home, work or church? Stressed out by all the bad news in the world?

Wait! Don't forget that Jesus is the reason for this season. Matthew 1:23 reads, "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "God with us").

How would your life be different trusting that God loves you and is with you all the time? How about taking a new perspective and alternative?

Cultivating A Family Attitude Of Gratitude

November 24, 2015

"Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts." (Colossians 3:16)

Are you aware that people cannot be angry and grateful at the same time? What other benefits could an attitude of gratitude bring? Here are some new ideas for helping the whole family learn such attitude.

How Well Do You Handle Anxiety?

November 10, 2015

"Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up." (Proverbs 12:25)

One way I deal with anxiety is to talk to someone I trust about my feelings, reasoning or thinking or the conclusions I've come to. Have you experienced other effective ways to deal with anxiety?

How about you? How Well Do You Handle Anxiety?

How Well Do You Practice Empathy?

October 27, 2015

Have you ever tried telling a friend something and he responded with, "If I were you, I would not be angry"?

What was your reaction? Did you get even angrier thinking, I'm sharing my feeling and he is shutting me up. He doesn't care!

What if you are the person saying those words with good intention to help? Do you feel misunderstood, hurt and rejected when she yelled at you? Why does she always overreact? What have I done wrong? Why can't she understand?

You're not alone! Both of you have similar needs. You'd like to be heard, be understood, be accepted!

But all we can do is seek first to understand than to be understood. Someone has to practice empathy first. How about you?

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Find Out What It Means To You

October 13, 2015

You tried to listen actively and express yourself assertively. But somehow, when it comes to your family members, especially your teenager, seemingly normal conversations could become very difficult very easily.

When they roll their eyes, you feel disrespected. Whether they say it with words or just give you that look, you could tell they think you are stupid, or hear them yelling, "I don't want to do it. I won't do it. You cannot make me do it!" You feel exasperated and can no longer control your tongue...

But stop! Don't get involved in a power struggle. Remember you are the parent.

"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4)

What's hurting your relationships? Find out what R-E-S-P-E-C-T means to you. 

Confidence And Self-Respect Through Conflict

September 22, 2015

In the last few newsletters, we have been exploring essential communication skills such as "Active Listening" and "Assertive Expression"...

Still don't know how to deal with conflicts with people you really care about? Maybe there are deeper issues that block you from applying your skills. For example, you are angry when your teenagers do not show respect when you try to teach them, so you yell at them and belittle them with harsh words. What if your words say one thing and your body language and tone of voice say something opposite?

Frustrated and discouraged? You are not alone. Is it possible that your teenagers feel hurt, disrespected and put down when you nag and lecture? How can you demonstrate and model living life in Christ?

"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4)

Remember, you cannot force someone to change, but you can always let God change your attitude and reaction in any situation.

Pushy vs. Assertive. How Do You Tell The Difference?

September 8, 2015

"You are nagging me!"
"Stop lecturing!"
"It's always your way or no way!"
"You don't care!"

Have you ever heard these complaints from someone you love? If you feel misunderstood, you are not alone. But could it be possible that you are trying too hard to help?

Is there a grain of truth in their complaints? Can you break the cycle of destructive, negative, ineffective communication? Can you tell the difference of being Pushy vs. Assertive?

Are You A Good Listener?

August 25, 2015

"Help! Nobody is Listening!"

When that happens, you feel frustrated and alone, and wonder whether he or she cares.

Surprisingly, when conversations are not going anywhere, the other person often feels the same.

Do you play a part? Can you break the cycle of not listening to each other? Find out from the quiz how good a listener are you.

The Rewards Of Really Listening

August 11, 2015

Last weekend, I had the honor of leading four workshops and one parent Q&A group at a joint church retreat in Sonoma County. It was a wonderful experience talking with new people and reconnecting with old friends.

There were some surprises (like taking almost three hours to get there when mapquest estimated 1.5 hours). Thank God that things all worked out at the end. On our way back, James took me to the beach to see Golden Gate Bridge from a distance. We got there five minutes before sunset!
Like a bridge, communication can be messy at times, especially if the conversation is going only one-way. Maybe a new perspective is needed to make your communication more effective.

Are you frustrated that no one is listening to you? Try listening better to them first.

Give Your Relationship A Tune-Up

July 28, 2015

James and I just celebrated our 40th anniversary! Here is a gift from a new friend who lost her husband last year after 38 years together. She told me how she found this plate her late husband bought in anticipation of their anniversary. Now she wanted me to have it to share her blessings. I was so touched by her story and generosity. The love of Christ is so evident in her!
James and I married young after only three months of dating. When our honeymoon was over, there were many years that we struggled with our differences, wanting to change each other. We tried but there was no quick fix.

Skip forward to today, we get along well, enjoy each other, and help each other.  We accept our differences, appreciate our uniqueness, and are amazed how God put us together for His purpose.

How about you? Are you frustrated, disappointed and hurt that your marriage is not going your way? Take some time to Give Your Relationship A Tune-Up.

Top 10 Ways To Have A Great Day

July 14, 2015

How did you celebrate Independence Day? I was thankful for the freedom to live and work and travel as I choose in a free country.

Last month James and I took 11 days off from work and ministries to visit our son's family. My main responsibility was to take care of two grandkids (age 6 and 4) while their mommy and youngest brother (age 1) were away attending a wedding. I felt sad with them when they missed mommy. I felt happy when they enjoyed themselves... They were never tired of playing, inside or outside, rain or shine, and it was pure joy for me!

Every day could be a great day... Here are some ideas.

Music: A Soothing Balm For Stress

June 23, 2015

What roles does music play in your life?

I always love music. In Hong Kong, I tried to audition for my high school choir, which was very esteemed. I was so nervous I could not sing. I stopped singing for many years.

In September 2001, I joined the CCCMIW (i.e. Chinese Christian Church Music Institute for Worship) choir in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our conductor Dr. Richard Lin is a servant of the Lord by example and exhortation. I still remembered Dr. Lin's words such as "We are offering worship, not performance. Song leading is not preaching. And our purpose of praise and worship is to lead people to the throne of God."

In the next few years, I also participated in CCCMIW summer camps to improve my singing and learn how to lead singspiration and to select hymns and praise songs that match the sermons. He taught us worship as a heart issue. "Worship is to magnify the Lord. The hearts of song leaders and choir members need to be moved first before they can bring others to receive, enjoy, and feel the presence of our Lord."

Dr. Richard Lin went to be with the Lord on May 21, 2015. In my Chinese Article, you can read more about my experience learning from Dr. Lin, and how our son and I got to sing Messiah in Mandarin with Dr. Lin's choir in the summer of 2003.

Music still plays a very important role in my life. When visiting our son's family recently, I observed my granddaughter's violin lessons. Then I was tasked by her Mommy to help her practice every morning using a fun system. The little girl loved it when I accompanied her at the piano!

I still love to sing and now I can play many hymns and worship songs. Almost every week I play the piano or keyboard so that someone (e.g. my mother-in-law or a small group) can sing. When I am stressed, I listen to music, especially songs such as "God will make a way" by Don Moen.

Raising Compassionate Kids

June 9, 2015

How are you spending time with your (grand-) kids, nephews, nieces, and students in your life?

Summer is here. It breaks the routines of many families. If you are a parent, or in charge of any young person, this is a good time to change the direction of where you are going.

Is there anything you wish you have done differently? It is never too late to start. Today is the tomorrow of yesterday! How about take a moment to review your goals of parenting and caring?

Life's Choices Aren't All Easy, But They Are All Yours

May 26, 2015

What was the most difficult decision you have made?

Leaving a high-tech career to be a stay-at-home mom, resigning from being children's minister at my home church to be the pastor's wife at a new church, referring out potential clients in order to travel with my husband in conference ministries... those were all difficult choices, but they paid off. I was freed to discover what God has intended for me, one step at a time.

Today, I still have to make tough choices. I find out not making a choice may be passively making a choice. So I don't use "Waiting upon the Lord" as an excuse of not taking personal responsibility! 

Life is about making choices. 

Imagine bellying up to the counter at your local Haagen-Dazs and asking the server for "whatever you think I'd like."

From Hopelessness To Happiness—A Learnable Life Skill

May 12, 2015

Do you know happiness and joy are emotions that can be learned?

On this Mother's Day edition, I want to pay tribute to my mother who showed me sacrificial love in spite of her own struggles in life. Although she was mistreated and betrayed, she continued to live and love. I had many happy times with my mother because both of us enjoyed quality time and loved talking with each other.

In many ways, big and small, Mom sacrificed herself for her children. She encouraged me to keep on learning and seeking for a better future. She dealt with her hopelessness by putting her hope and future onto me. When Mom passed away at age 48, part of me died with her. My hopelessness and emptiness eventually led me to Christ; and my life, marriage, and family have never been the same!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Were you conditioned to feel hopeless from some childhood or recent traumatic experiences? Like me, you could also learn a new life skill -- from hopelessness to happiness.

Do You Have Trust Issues?

April 28, 2015

I still remember the trip we took recently to Jenner north of Bodega Bay!

Traveling on that part of Highway 1 (one) was some experience. On our way home, I was on the side looking down the cliff. Of course I was scared, but I was able to trust James' driving and trust God's protection.
James and I would not be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery if we believed it was not safe out there. That adventurous road ride reminded me of ups and downs in life involving trust. Have you experienced pain of betrayal directly or indirectly?

"Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me." (Psalm 41:9)

There were times that I could not trust anyone for my life. Praise the Lord that now I can share my joy and hope with others (more readily). How about you? Will you take the quiz  Do You Have Trust Issues?

10 Ways To Love Fearlessly

April 14, 2015

Have you noticed how fear stops people from taking risks in close relationships?

Nobody wants to get hurt, and I was one of those people. But when I was protecting myself, I was not free to love.

It is hard to embrace Good Friday unless you know there is Easter Sunday. Have you wondered why Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth from Heaven to save us? Do you know what it means to have a new life freed from bondage of sin and death?

Last Thursday, James and I adventured to Jenner (off California Hwy 1) when I spoke at a sisters' retreat. There was a section of the highway that was very winding, narrow, going up and down on the cliff. At one point, a car on our opposite lane came directly at us when trying to pass the car in front of it. I was scared to death. Thank God for his protection and getting us there 3 minutes before Sunset!

The retreat went very well. The sisters were open to share and willing to learn. On Saturday morning before breakfast, James and I walked outside along the coast. We were blessed.

Our return trip was more relax since we were not in a rush. After we were out of the dangerous zone, I asked James whether he was scared driving up and down the hills. He replied, "No, all I can do is to concentrate on my driving." I'm so happy he was able to keep his cool. Praise the Lord!

Is fear stopping you? Here are 10 ways to love fearlessly!

When The Name Of The Game Is Blame, No One Wins

March 24, 2015

Do you know someone whose life has been affected by blame, directly and indirectly?

Blame was not new to me. My paternal grandmother blamed my mom for having two daughters in a row; and later my mom blamed my grandmother when my father was unfaithful. Growing up, I thought it was my fault that I was a girl, so I blamed myself for causing my parents' marital troubles! Yikes!

Whether we fabricate unbelievable excuses like, "The dog ate my homework," or blame others for what happens to us, we give up not only responsibility for our lives, but also our power.

When things go wrong, blame is an easy way of taking the spotlight off ourselves and shining it on others. From the first excuse we used as a child, shifting blame often becomes an all-purpose gadget in our toolbox of defenses, so handy we often reach for it without even thinking.

Curiosity In Business And Life

March 10, 2015

I was blessed meeting friends, attending workshops, and worshipping in the general session with Don Moen and Dr. Paul Nyquist.
I can't believe that I have been leading workshops at BASS since 2006! When the late Jeanne Stenfort, the beloved Director of CEF Silicon Valley, asked me to present "Learning Style" and "EQ" for the children's track, I told her I could also speak on those same topics and "Parenting ABC" at the Asian track. That first year, I led five workshops in English and Cantonese on Friday and Saturday!

One of the organizers asked, "How can you keep track of which language to use? Won't you be confused?" That led to some interesting discussions (e.g. how children can learn to speak different languages to different people, at different places, and/or on different days.)

As parents, we all want our kids to learn. How about you? Are you interested and curious of what you might not know? Do you know there is a connection between curiosity and result in work, life and relationships?

10 Fears That Ruin Relationships

February 24, 2015

How did you celebrate Chinese New Year—the Year of the Ram?

With one Chinese character, there have been different English translations, such as the Year of the Goat, and the Year of the Sheep. But I have not seen this one: the Year of the Lamb. This new year, rather than feasting with family and friends, I spent time reflecting on goat, sheep and lamb.

Life is short. Since January 18, 2015, I have attended three memorial services. These men passed away in their 50s, 70s, and 90s, respectively as devoted husbands and fathers who were found by Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior. So, each of the memorial services turned out to be a real celebration of life!

Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' ..." (Luke 15:3-6, NIV)

I will let you read the parable of the sheep and the goats from Matthew 25:31-46. May the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29) be worshiped all over the world.

Who we are and how we live on this Earth will make a difference in eternity. How would you like to be remembered by your loved ones? What are some fears that ruin relationships in your life?

Top 10 Actions That Say "I Love You"

February 10, 2015

Valentine's Day is the perfect time to say "I love you." Even if you haven't said it for awhile, please do so on this special day!

When you send that message, don't forget that, from the receiver's perspective, your words, tone of voice, body language and actions all have to work together. The saying, "Words are cheap, action speaks," is never more true than when applied to "I love you." How about making it a habit to take some small steps with someone you care about now?

The saying, "Words are cheap, action speaks," is never more true than when applied to "I love you." Whether spoken to a romantic partner, your children or other family members, 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.

Rewriting The Myth Of Perfect Togetherness

January 27, 2015

Did you spend time with family and friends over the holidays?

For many of us, reunions with relatives can stir up mixed feelings, depending on our expectations of togetherness. A mother recently told me she was very happy when her son returned from college. But after a few days, she started feeling lonely when he was spending most of his time with friends. On the other hand, a grandmother admitted that she felt exhausted when her house was filled with children and grandchildren. So she looked forward to getting back to the routine of peace and quiet of an empty nest.

I certainly had more ups and downs when my grandchildren are in town. That's normal when living under the same roof with someone you care about. It's a very common experience among couples!

The story goes like this: Two people fall in love and from that moment on, they go everywhere and do everything together. They are, of course, a perfect match, and their interests and values coincide in every respect. In fact, if they spend much time apart or socialize separately, people might wonder if there is trouble in the relationship.

This is the myth of togetherness: two lives merge into one melded front.

Top Ten Ways To Start (And Maintain) A Good New Year

January 13, 2015

The New Year does not seem that happy when we heard sad news such as the crashing of AirAsia QZ8501 into the Java Sea, the terror attack in Paris, the killing in Nigeria by a bomb strapped to a girl who might be 10-years-old, and the passing of a brother in Christ due to leukemia.

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.

Life Goes Better With Friends

December 23, 2014

Growing up in Hong Kong, I watched my older cousins decorating and partying with friends at Christmas, and I couldn't wait to be old enough to join the fun.

But I did not pay attention to the true meaning of Christmas until December 1988 when two friends invited me to their church. At that time, even after achieving my American Dream, I often felt lonely and asked myself, "Is this what life is all about?"

Years later, living and working in the Silicon Valley, I learned that ...

"For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; ... And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).

I hope this feature article Life Goes Better With Friends and my real life story What A Friend We Have In Jesus will help you find the true meaning of Christmas and reassurance of your real belonging.

What A Friend We Have In Jesus

December 23, 2014

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

By 1988, there were times that I thought it was inevitable that we would either go our separate ways or remain miserable living under the same roof. How could we start all over?

Before Christmas, we accepted the invitation from two friends to their church's Christmas celebration. The drama that night compared and contrasted the lives of two women, one with and one without Jesus Christ. Somehow that gave me a glimpse of hope.

How Well Do You Communicate?

December 9, 2014

If you want to improve your relationship with your children, your spouse, your coworkers, or anyone else, learn to acknowledge their feelings before you seek to fix their problem. 

Have you ever speaking too soon, saying, "You should..." or "What I would do is..."?

We all do. In our eagerness to help, we jump right over the most important thing; acknowledging how they feel. At best, people are only partially ready to hear your ideas at this point. Worst-case scenario, they feel like you've shut them down. To open their ears to your suggestions, take just a moment and ask yourself, "How is this person feeling right now?" Then articulate it. "You sound frustrated," or "you seem sad about that," are simple yet powerful observations.

The reason it works on everyone, from children to CEOs, is that our human nature yearns to feel understood. Try it, and watch your communications flourish.

Using Story To Heal The Past And Change The Future

November 25, 2014

How are you enjoying (or not) Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends? Could there still be some unresolved issues from your past? If you feel uneasy, you are not alone.

A few months after I married James in 1975, my mother passed away suddenly in Hong Kong. As a result, my first Thanksgiving with my new family was not as happy as I envisioned. For one thing, at that time I only knew James' family for a few months. For another, theirs is a close-knit Mandarin speaking family. Even though they tried their best to talk with me in English and their versions of Cantonese, I still felt left out somehow. The factor that affected me the most was from within. I couldn't help but think of my family in Hong Kong, and gravely missed my mom. My emotional baggage prevented me from enjoying the here and now, even when loving kindness was shown to me.

After becoming a Christian in 1989, I experienced a new sense of belonging. The next few years we attended our church's retreats during the Thanksgiving weekend. When those annual retreats were moved to different dates, we resumed spending Thanksgiving with my in-laws. With renewed perspective and attitude, I was able to enjoy James' side of the family just as mine.

I was stuck in the victim mode of my mom's life story until I was healed from the past. Would you like to help someone to live a new life? May you be inspired and motivated by this article to take some actions.

Scare Yourself Into The Life You Want

November 11, 2014

Have you ever stopped yourself from trying new things or going to new places because of your fear?

I feel kind of embarrassed to admit that I never learned how to ride a bike. Growing up in Hong Kong, I was told that "There are so many cars. Riding a bike will get you killed!" I was scared before I even tried.

Go on... what's stopping you? Go ahead and ask your boss for a raise. Speak up the next time you disagree with someone. Call that person you met in the elevator. Start that business you've been talking about for a decade. Audition for the part. You fill in the blank.

Creating What You Want In Life

October 28, 2014

"How would you live differently if you knew you only had six months left to live?"

That was one of the questions in a "getting to know you" game during a retreat I attended.

I don't know about you, but somehow that question always re-focuses my attention onto relationships. It doesn't matter how many places I want to visit and how many things I want to do before I die, somehow I just wish to spend more time with the people I love. 

Many years ago, I set out to find the meaning in life and define what I really want. When I started feeling and thinking and being honest with my needs and wishes, my life turned around. 

Earlier this month, I took some time off from work to attend an annual retreat with 36 sisters in ministries near Yosemite. I am so grateful for my time of reflection, sharing, and learning among old and new friends. Here I am by the lake with Ann and PF. Do you see those beautiful swans swimming behind us?

We all wish to live the life we really want. If that's the case, why does it seem that so few of us actually do?

How Well Do You Handle Fear?

October 14, 2014

Have you ever been scared when doing something new in an unfamiliar environment?

In 1997-1998, I did my seminary practicum training at a Christian residential recovery program in San Jose. I was assigned to provide individual, family, and group counseling to addicted, abused or homeless women and their young children. I still remember counseling each person in her small dorm room. I will never forget conducting my first counseling group with me being the only Asian. Imagine me feeling stuck when one 19-year-old asked, "So, what is your drug of choice?"

The best answer I could come up with was that I was a workaholic for many years. She quickly commented how addicted to work was different from addicted to chemicals. Without words to defend myself, all I could do was to listen. That night, I wrote on my journal about the suffering I saw and the inadequacy I felt. There is no way for me to continue without God's help.

My supervisor Lorraine was a God-send. She helped me to apply what I learned in counseling classes one session at a time. As I listened to the women's traumatic stories and watched them struggling to rebuild their lives, I gained deeper understanding of why we needed a Savior, and the amazing grace of God. 

Lorraine was also my professor on a course called "Counseling Violence and Abuse," during class, she often reminded her students that we could do what we do only by the grace of God. That one year of practical training under Lorraine gave me the courage to continue with my 3,000 hours of internship required for licensure. Recently I attended a party celebrating Dr. Lorraine Hutchinson 20 years of teaching.

Do you feel inadequate at work, or as a spouse, parent, or adult child of your aging parents from time to time? Is fear holding you back from trying something different? Take this simple quiz to find out How Well Do You Handle Fear? 

Are You Too Cautious?

September 23, 2014

I love speaking at retreats and camps. I was blessed last weekend and want to thank all the participants and co-workers from Herald's Family Rebuilding Center (HFRC). I also want to thank James (my husband of 39 years) for being my chauffeur, tech support, and real life prop for object lessons on Understanding Self, Handling Emotions, Resolving Conflicts, and Communicating Love.
Most couples would agree with me that "Falling in love is easy, but maintaining a close relationship is not." What I used to consider as "suffering" and "constant grinding" due to our differences have turned out to be God's way of shaping and molding us.

Growing in relationship with self, others, and God often means we have to step out of our comfort zone. I definitely had times that I was too cautions to try something new (or just different).

How Emotionally Resilient Are You?

September 9, 2014

How well do your family members respond to life's challenges with courage and emotional stamina? When facing disappointments and obstacles, do you easily give up hope?

When you read "HOPE IS NOWHERE," did you see "Hope is No Where" or "Hope is Now Here"?

Your future could depend on how you look at things. To help others, you have to first get help for yourself.  Please take the following test to find out how emotionally resilient you are.

Go, Go, Go... On A Break. It's Important!

August 26, 2014

Summer is almost over! Do you feel refreshed and rested after the break, or are you feeling even more stressed out with additional activities, even vacations?

Nowadays everyone seems to be busy and stressed. I am shocked and saddened by the news that Robin Williams (the funny guy!) got so depressed that he took his own life at age 63. It motivates me to continue to help people, one person at a time, by the Grace of God.

In today's "go, go, go" society, we idealize the pink Energizer Bunny® that beats his drum non-stop. As the battery commercial says, "He keeps going and going and..."

Teenage Brains: Why Do They Act Like That?

August 12, 2014

How has this summer been for you and your family, especially if you still have school-age children and teenagers in your home?

When our son was 10-years-old, James and I started a group for parents of preteens at our home. Twice a month, these families met in our house on Saturdays. While our 4th and 5th graders met with their youth counselors, parents met to study books and learn about parenting adolescents. One time, some of us went to Central California to reach Chinese; another time, my family joined a mission trip to reach Native Indians living in a reservation in Northern California. It helped to go through our son's pre-teen and teenage years with other parents!

Are you getting anxious and frustrated about how your teenagers are spending their time? Find out what might be going on inside.

How to Interrupt Negative Patterns

July 22, 2014

I am so grateful that more than 25 years ago I paused and re-examined the craziness of fighting with the person I loved. By the Grace of God, both of us changed. This July, James and I are celebrating our 39th Anniversary!

There are conflicts and stress in every marriage. Here is a little story about how we now live and work together.

After dinner on Wednesday, July 2nd, I was ready to get a few things done before the long weekend. At 7:30 p.m., our neighbor told us, "Your lawn is rising up!" James hurried out to investigate. Our water pipe was leaking so bad that he had to shut off the water main from the street. While he sought possible repairs, I rushed off to buy a few gallons of drinking water.

It was a long weekend. In spite of James diligently researching solutions, getting estimates, and arranging to have both a temporary and a long term fix, we were still out of running water for almost two days. We couldn't take showers, but we were still able to lead Bible Studies.

Who could have imagined how far we came from the days of conflicts over how to raise our only son? I thought it was all his faults because I could get along very well with everyone else (or so I thought).

As Albert Einstein said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." James and I have learned to interrupt our negative patterns whenever they show up, and so can you!

Are you frustrated that you are stuck in some negative patterns in certain area(s) of your life? Take some time to reflect your interactive patterns and try something different for your own sake!

Codependence: What's My Responsibility?

July 8, 2014

Do you want your child to grow up being independent?

Most parents do, and I am of no exception! Holding my 3-month-old cuddly baby grandson, and watching his siblings (ages 5 and 3) play, I appreciate how important it is for a developing child to move through the healthy stages of dependency even at these young ages. It is through age-appropriate training, coaching and correcting that parents can help their children become more and more independent, so that one day they can really be on their own. Being a mature, grown-up, independent adult will allow him or her to start a family of their own and enjoy interdependent relationships.

Of course, we can experience glimpses of interdependency by training and coaching our children to participate and contribute to family chores and responsibilities, like those new immigrants whose kids learn to speak English much faster and are able and willing to take on some adult-responsibilities of communicating using the new language.

Children learn when they are given increasing responsibilities that allow them to gain competence and freedom, build relationships and characters, and continue to learn from mistakes which have natural and logical consequences in the world. But what if you are modeling codependence?