Thursday, March 28, 2019

Love, So Amazing! 何等奇妙的愛

Thank you for those of you who attended my workshops in February and March. I'm so glad to meet old and new friends! I really appreciate your invitations to speak in your church and community events. I hope you don't mind waiting due to my existing commitments and priority.

Thanks to those for praying for me and my family. The biggest news this month is that James and I now have five grandchildren. We are grateful for another little girl from God. I can't wait to visit our son's family in a few weeks. I'm so excited and would like to share an article published in Challenger, CCMUSA in 2011.
謝謝參加二月三月的講座。很高興看到老朋友和認識新朋友﹗謝謝代禱,我的第五個孫已出生,是個可愛女孩,我等不及去看她。興奮之餘,願分享一篇2011年出版的文章《等奇妙的愛希望將來可以翻譯成中文。

Love, So Amazing
by Winnis Chiang

I walked into the room. There on the far side of the room was our granddaughter, playing with her toys. I called her name, and up she stood, dropping her toy, and stretching out her arms to me. I squatted down to greet her as she, with a big smile, threw her body into my arms. We hugged and cuddled, and in that moment I rejoiced in the love of God—a love, so amazing! At one time, however, I didn’t know God’s love and was, instead, a lonely girl desperately searching for true love.

Do You Really Love Me?

Born and raised in Hong Kong, I came to the United States for college in 1973. I met my husband James (who immigrated from Taiwan with his parents and siblings) at U.C. Berkeley. We were both in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) department. He was finishing up his masters degree and I was a senior. He asked me out after we completed a design project with two other guys. He spent a lot of time with me and introduced me to his family. The first time I met them in San Francisco, his parents were holding hands. They were already in their fifties. This impressed me, and I knew I wanted a love like theirs.

One day James told me, “If everything turns out fine, I would like to marry you.” I quickly replied, “But I don’t know how to cook!” He assured me we could eat out every day. We did get married, the last week of July 1975, after only three months of dating! We moved to Santa Clara where James started his full-time job as a hardware engineer.

I decorated our one-bedroom apartment and surprised myself for cooking three meals every day. While in Berkeley I had lived with a Caucasian lady in her eighties for free room and board. There I learned to fix meals like ham and egg breakfast, tuna sandwich lunch, and shake-and-bake chicken with boiled broccoli. Now, as an eager wife, I spent hours cutting, mincing and stir-frying in my new iron wok. I diligently fixed the few Chinese dishes I knew. One day, I asked, “How do you like dinner?”After what seemed like eternity, James uttered, “Good, but can we have some variety?” This small criticism broke my heart and the thought “So I’m not good enough” turned my mind back to my earlier life in Hong Kong.

Darkness from Family of Origin
As a little girl, I lived with my mom, dad, older sister and many relatives. Our four-story house belonged to my paternal grandmother who had ten children. She insisted on living with her youngest five kids, even after they became adults and had their own family. I was told that after I was born my grandmother said to my dad, “Two girls in a row? If you want a son, go somewhere else.” When I was one, Mom discovered Dad’s mistress and their new-born son. She cried, yelled, and threatened to leave, but with only a third grade education, she feared that she could never make a good living for her girls. Eventually, Mom accepted her “fate” and Dad’s concubine.

My parents tried to live a normal life—as normal as it could be—under the same roof with others in our extended family. Through the years, I tried to please my grandmother and my dad, and I brought honor to Mom by excelling academically and being well-behaved in front of people. I was Mom’s confidante and her hope for the future. I dreamed of one day giving her a big house and taking her around the world.

Dad tried very hard to be a good father—and a good husband. Despite my mother’s heart problems, she kept trying to give Dad a son. She succeeded when I was ten. Ironically, when my little brother was one, my then 10-year-old half-brother was run over and killed by his school bus. Dad never talked much about it. But I have a vivid memory of what Dad told my male cousins one evening at dinner after much liquor. With tears in his eyes, he said, “Don’t ever have two wives. One is enough!” When my younger brother was 13 or 14, a few months after I was married, Mom died of a heart attack in Hong Kong.

Looking for Love in the Wrong Places
After that silent episode at dinner, I still cooked for James, but I lost my enthusiasm as a young bride. At the end of summer, I hurried back to Berkeley to finish my degree while James worked in Santa Clara. Life was easier, I concentrated on my studies, and weekends when James came home were kind of like we were dating again. In November I received the message from my sister telling me that Mom had died. I could not believe it! She was only 48. She had not even met my husband!

That Thanksgiving, at my in-laws’ house, so many things seemed to have changed for me. I had been attracted to my husband’s close-knit family from the start, but now as I watched them laughing and talking together in Mandarin, I felt left out. I could not engage even when some of them tried to talk with me in English or their rendition of Cantonese. All I could think about was my family in Hong Kong, and especially how much I missed Mom.

In spite of my emotional state, I continued to work hard on my degree and graduated with honors in March 1976. I began my career as a software engineer in Palo Alto, the sixth (and the first woman) programmer in a start-up subsidiary of a big company. At first, I would go home after work, cook dinner, and wait for James to come home. One day I thought, If you can work late, so can I. It suited me well to go out for dinner, then each of us return to work separately. James, a calm person by nature, seemed satisfied with this arrangement too. I focused on my work, gaining recognitions, raises, and promotions. Before long, I was hooked, addicted to work and climbing the corporate ladder.

Will You Love My Baby My Way?

When our son was born in 1983, it was a joyous occasion. Even though I returned to work when he was only two months old, I pumped milk in the company locker room and nursed him for eight months. Often times, I had the urge to stay home with my baby but then I could hear my mother saying “Study hard … Work hard … Make a good living … Don’t depend on your husband.”

By 1985, I was managing an engineering department with around fifty software engineers and five to six managers. Child care and house work were delegated to helpers. Since I had many meetings to attend, James drove our son to preschool, doctor appointments, etc. On weekends, the two of them would go to San Francisco where our son played with grandparents and cousins while daddy did his MBA homework.

Calm and objective at work, I was easily irritated and frustrated at home. I began to fear that I was losing my son. It was hard for me to share my feelings with James, and we were spending less time together. When we were together, we frequently ended up arguing about child rearing. We both wanted the best for our son, but we had different ideas. When he rationalized things, I got mad. When I attacked and blamed, he retreated and withdrew. Our interaction spiraled downward with negative thoughts, actions and words. We were stuck.

I thought about getting a divorce, but I didn’t want the world to know that my life was not perfect. Even James did not know! I worried about our son and was anxious about our future, asking myself, “Is this what life is all about?” After Dad died of lung cancer in 1986, I felt even more alone, except when I was with our son.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus
In December 1988, we accepted a friend’s invitation to a Christmas celebration at church. We sang some songs and listened to someone’s sharing, but I only remember the drama that night. It compared and contrasted the lives of two women, one with and one without Jesus Christ. Somehow that gave me a glimpse of hope.

On January 1, 1989 I started attending church in Palo Alto, intentionally waiting until the singing started and leaving as soon as the sermon was over. Then on Saturday, January 28, I attended an evangelistic meeting in the evening. The speaker was a medical doctor from Hong Kong. My accomplishments seemed small compared to his, yet he had felt the same emptiness I was feeling! Facing terminal illness, he had cried out and God gave him double healings. I sobbed when I heard how God restored his relationship with his wife, and that he had written letters to be mailed to his children as they grew up without him.

Then someone led us in singing a song I had never heard before, “What a Friend we have in Jesus.” The verse “Oh, what peace we often forfeit? Oh, what needless pain we bear? All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!” was my wakeup call. I cried for the years I had tried so hard to fix life on my own. I thought about James and our son. I answered the speaker’s questions in my heart. I confessed, I am a sinner. I believe Jesus loves me and died for me on the cross … I am willing! The moment I received Jesus as my personal Savior, I was filled with love, joy and peace that I had never experienced.

All Things are New!

When I arrived home, James asked, “You’re in a good mood. What happened?”

“I am saved! Jesus saved me! I am a sinner!”

“Oh, a sinner. I knew that all along.”

Somehow that comment did not hurt me. I was filled with the love of Jesus. A few days later, a friend showed up with a Chinese Bible and offered to visit my home every Wednesday and help me with my new life in Christ. Soon, other than Sunday worship and Sunday school, I was also attending Friday night fellowship, Monday night pre-study, and Tuesday night neighborhood small group.

One day, James said we needed to talk. He asked me to sit down. “You said you were saved. You found your clutch. I’m not going to stop you. But going to church every night is ridiculous. You are just the same, always doing what you want! You don’t care about us! You are a workaholic, and now you are a churchaholic! Nobody can stop you from buying things. Now writing checks to the church? I don’t even know what you are buying … I have had it!”

Prepared for a big fight, my responses surprised him and me. Without interruption, I listened attentively. When he finished, I said with tears in my eyes, “You are right. I didn’t take care of your needs and I still don’t. I’m too selfish. I understand you are disappointed and mad. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me!”

The door of communication had reopened. Somehow I was able to calmly share my feelings, thoughts and needs with James. I was willing to limit my meetings to Sundays and Wednesdays, and to give within the budget he agreed to. As I practiced living out truth and grace, our home atmosphere changed, and the feeling of love returned. And, by God’s grace, one by one, my husband and son placed their trust in Jesus.

On the New Path

I loved church life. After spending years in a competitive male-dominant field, I enjoyed friendship with women, young and old. I started teaching children, first as an assistant. Then after our son was saved at our church’s first Vacation Bible School, I realized children needed the Lord as their Savior! In March 1994, I became a deaconess in charge of Children’s Ministry.

With my usual enthusiasm, I got quite involved in my service and found it hard to balance between family, church and work. Through another wakeup call, the Lord convicted me that there would always be things to do and people to help, but I was the only mother for our son. By the summer of 1995, I had become a “stay-at-home” mom for our twelve-year-old son. Little did I know God’s full plan.

Beyond My Wildest Dream
One thing led to another, and I started studying Marriage, Family and Child Counseling at Western Seminary. During our son’s junior high and high school years, I was available to him as my first priority while I still had opportunities to study and volunteer at church. During practicum, I counseled women and their young children at a Christian residential recovery facility. Upon graduation in 1998, I was appointed as a full-time Children’s Minister on staff in our home church.

On my day off, I volunteered at a community counseling agency, but my main focus was counseling students at public schools. I accumulated the required 3,000 hours of internship, and in early 2003, obtained my California license as a Marriage and Family Therapist. I started a private practice part-time—all thanks to prayers and support of my family and our church!

Through the years, my passion for helping children deepened. The more I tried to help kids and teenagers, the more I realized the roles their parents play. With my background, education, training and experience, the Lord called me to focus on a special population with specific needs. By 2004, my husband had graduated from seminary with his Master of Divinity degree and started to serve full-time as a minister. We reflected on our journey and calling, and he suggested we name what I love to do “Parenting ABC.”

Unconditional Love
It was August, 1973 when I left Hong Kong for California. The day before my departure, Mom insisted on ironing all my clothes. In many ways, big and small, she sacrificed herself for me. She encouraged me to keep on learning and seeking for a better future. Her love helped me years later to understand a greater love. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God accepts me just as I am and loves me unconditionally.

By the grace of God, James and I have found amazing love in Christ and become a couple having FUN functioning as a team! Providing discipleship training and mentoring in Europe, Asia and America, we especially love sharing our experiences with other couples and teaching them how to break destructive cycles, rekindle their love, and communicate so that they get the love they really want. I believe our vulnerability and faith have also impacted our son who has become a loving husband and father. I am very grateful for my second family—the church, the body of Christ. May all glory be to God!

Winnis Chiang, LMFT and founder of ParentingABC.com, is passionate about helping Mandarin and Cantonese speaking parents to get along with, enjoy, and influence their American born children.

Credit to reuse from Challenger, Apr-Jun 2011. CCMUSA.
Article Link: http://ccmusa.org/read/read.aspx?id=CHG20110201

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
家庭環境是孩子體驗生活現實的地方。您的家就是孩子的「原生家庭」。快來探索,在種種差異中,如何創造和維持健康的婚姻關係和父母角色。以身教言教,讓家人和睦相處,相互享受,並影響孩子長大成為一個成熟獨立的成年人。本次研討會的內容也適用於有共同撫養問題的單親家庭父母。
3/9/2019 2:15-3:30 p.m. 因材施教
年齡特徵、如何集中注意力、如何理解、如何處理信息以及記住所教授內容的方式,因人而異,這些不同都會影響孩子的學習過程和果效。無論您是在家裡還是在教室裡教導兒童和青少年,都需要因材施教,才可以栽培能力和建立信心。本研討會將概述每個人學習的獨特之處,並探討如何通過自然學習週期過程教導具有與眾不同學習方式的孩子
蔣吳蘊蘭師母, LMFT
ParentingABC.com創辦人,持有加州婚姻家庭治療師執照,西方神學院婚姻家庭及兒童輔導碩士,柏克萊加大電機電腦工程學士。

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