Distracted

Just got back from volunteering in Karmyn’s class. I have the opportunity to go in every Monday and read with the children. There are different levels and series of books that move these Kindergartener’s through their reading development. Some of the kids might actually read better than I do, while others need a little extra support to get to where they need to be.

Often I chuckle when I watch the kids. They are so easily distracted. Take one kid I was working with today. Sweet boy, always smiling, always happy when I see him. While I was walking the kids to school he was walking in barefoot. “Where are your slippers?” I asked. “Oh, I forgot to bring them.” He causally says with a big smile. His mom came back later to bring them. He was the first I read with this morning and after we were done, I asked him to call the next child. “Taj, can you get Harley for me?” I ask. “Okay!” I watch him as he weaves his way to his desk to put his folder away. The slap bracelet in his bag catches his attention and he gives it a couple of good slaps on his wrist before putting it back and closing up his bag. He realizes he forgot to get something out so he opens his bag again and digs through his folder. Out come some forms. When he finally gets his bag closed and put away, he works his way over to the teacher. Along the way his attention is pulled to things that are on other peoples desks. He stops to read them. Eventually after touching a few things along the way, he hands his forms over to his teacher and makes his way to the group sitting in the front of the class. I watch him as he weaves his way to the far side of the group where Harley is sitting. His line seems to be heading toward the right direction, he makes eye contact with the student, then he pulls a 180 and spots his friend at the opposite end of the group, where he makes his final destination. I laughed to myself as I got up to call the next kid to read. Totally something one of my children would do. So easily distracted.

Not just kids. We can too, and on an even larger scale. What are some of your goals you had when you were younger? Where are you on that path now? What were your goals in having children? Where are you in your parenting now? Career? Finances? Ministry? Family?

Maybe we had aspirations to “make a difference in the world”. Then mortgages got a hold of us, and even more so because we got distracted by wanting the bigger house. Making a difference shifted to making more money. When we had kids we may have said, “I just want us to be healthy and happy.” Then they get older and education becomes more real and every other parent is talking about private school and extra curricular activities. Time to build deep bonds with your children might have been replaced with overtime to afford tuition and sports or other activities on the weekends because they need to be “well-rounded.” I think about pastors and how easily building a church business instead of a church body has distracted many.

Have you been distracted from your final destination? It’s not to late to reset the course. May you reach the goals you set before you. -jason

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Save Our Ship        

Life with little ones yields a bounty of germs. This Easter weekend the entire family was plagued by the flu. Jonah harvested it from his classmates no doubt, shared it with his sisters and then his parents. We promote sharing in our home, when it comes to germs they are always in compliance!

With the wonderful world of social media we have had family and friends offer assistance. In typical Asian fashion, we politely declined. Yes, Emily is turning Asian too! One night a friend that lives in the area offered specifically chicken noodle soup. That was too good to turn away, and that homemade soup was amazing!

Easter morning our kids were a lot more energetic and resilient. They even got dressed for church. After a couple sleepless nights, I felt like maybe I was on the upswing. Aches were subsiding, chills were coming and going and I was starting to clear out the thick mucus that congested me. (TMI! Sorry!) Through the weekend our kids worked through most of the fruit we had, we trained Aubrey to work the microwave oven as we directed from the sofa, but they were getting restless. We attempted to get them out. McDonalds was a step up from the Easter candy that they were living off of that morning. It was good to be out of the house. We took our food to the park down the road from our home. Thirty minutes and I was done. Aches came back, chills crept in, and I just wanted to lie down. No bueno.

We rolled back into our war zone of a home, grass from Easter baskets strewn all over the floors, toys and clothes in every which direction, our dinner table was littered with cups and bags of candy and I didn’t even care, I just needed to lay down. While I was resting I was looking at all the Easter Sunday family photos on social media. I decided to share our sorry attempt at an Easter lunch. Then a message came in.

A friend that lives nearby sent a message. She reached out earlier and I extended the obligatory Asian decline. Thankfully she never got that message so she sent another message. Dinner?? Looking around the house I strayed from my Asian ways. “Dinner would be awesome, but if no can, no worries.”

She and her husband rolled up with a buffet of foods! Emily began to cry and our kids were like birds in a park fighting over breadcrumbs. They ate dinner that night like it was the first meal they had in days, so did I.

There was much more than physical nourishment and relieved responsibility that this gesture brought. It welcomed in the feeling that we are not alone. We are not left to battle the flu, or anything else, alone. There is a community around us. My spirits were lifted.

Well, we are on the upswing for sure. Aubs went back to school, she and Emily were least impacted. Jo and Kammy still have a bad cough, we’ll keep them home at least one more day. Emily is close to 100% and will return to work tomorrow. I’m still feeling the effects, maybe one more day of rest will do it. At least I know I am not doing it alone.

Community is more than giving it is also receiving. That’s the circle of community. Giving is the easy part. Reaching out to the open hand to help you up that can be a challenge. Pride is a roadblock to community. May you receive today from the community around you. -jason

Upright and Free

 

The other day there was a police car behind me on the road. Immediately I start doing a mental check. Is my registration and safety check updated??? Was I speeding??? Did I pick up my phone??? Was my seatbelt off???

Everything was in check, but I still had this sense of uneasiness. Why? I’m not doing anything wrong? I usually set my cruise control to 5MPH over the speed limit, but I dropped it down to about 3 MPH over, just in case. When I finally convinced myself that I was doing nothing wrong, I felt at peace.

Fear, anxiety, anger, defensiveness, all these things come out when we are not walking upright. I have not always been a very lawful driver, so it’s embedded in my brain to react when a police car is behind me. When you are lawful, you have nothing to fear.

This is true in every area of life. When certain emotions are triggered inside of us, we need to ask ourselves, is it something I am doing to make me feel this way? Certainly if you are not upright in all that you are doing, you open the door to react in certain ways. When things are hidden and in the dark, you fear the light as it may expose your deceit. You become captive to lies and wrongdoing. When you live upright and true, you can find freedom in that.

Like many people, I first became a Christian and I was fearful that I was going to do something wrong. I looked in my moral rearview mirror for God to roll up behind me and give me a ticket. I had this perception that He was some sort of a moral police. Then I was transformed by grace. It wasn’t a ticket to do whatever I wanted, but it was the only ticket to freedom. Grace alone. There was nothing I could do to make myself innocent, only God’s grace. When my eyes were opened to the truth about God’s grace, my life was transformed. Suddenly, all you want to do is follow Christ, live upright in the eyes of the Lord.

“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

James 1:23-25

Like police cars patrol the places we live, the Holy Spirit lives within us. Like police, we should be happy they are around, patrolling, looking out. We should not fear the police. Similarly, the Holy Spirit lives within each believer. We should not fear the Spirit’s direction and guidance. We should be joyful at the Spirit’s presence. Should we stray the Spirit convicts. The truth is, when the Spirit convicts the sentence is “guilty as charged”. Amazing grace! For those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, HIS kindness, leads us to repentance. Repentance is not earned, but a gift from God most high. Repentance overturns the sentence, INNOCENT and free to live upright by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. -jason

 

 

Too Soon AND Right on Time

Last year at our church’s annual Memorial Day picnic, I had the privilege of baptizing Irene alongside Pastor Tim. Members of the church gathered at the beach at Bellows and joyful shouted praises of joy when Irene reemerged from the waters. I met with Irene and her husband the month prior and she was very clear about her faith in Jesus. During that time Irene had a little concern about the baptism, she had severe back pain and had been resting it so she could be there.

Last month I took Irene to two doctors appointments. They were radiation appointments to treat the cancer that spread through her body, the cancer that we later learned was causing the severe pain in her back.

 

Last night we got a message, Irene had passed away.

 

Irene was a young doctor. She shared with me the dreams that she had for her practice. She truly just wanted to help people. In the times that I was able to spend with her, she was always pleasant, always warm, even when she was in constant pain. One thing I will remember was her faith. She trusted that the Lord could heal her body, and she also knew that if her time came, He could call her home. She had faith in God’s all-powerful healing hand, and also God’s all knowing sovereign will.

There is peace in knowing that Irene is with the Lord. We can rejoice in that. No more pain, no more suffering. Still, there is loss and grieving for her husband and two teenage children that she leaves behind. There is sadness and broken hearts for her church family that has been praying and visiting with her. For us, Irene has been taken too soon. There was so much more she could have done with the dreams of her medical practice. There were so many more memories to be made with her family. Her church family was looking forward to serving along side her in the work of the gospel ministry. Too soon.

Irene’s own faith reminds me, her death is right on time. It was a faith that knows the Lord sees the bigger picture. Sometimes tragedy and triumph coexist. Irene knew that that Jesus is victorious. Jesus defeated death. He lives. Through her faith, Irene too will defeat death because of Jesus’ victory in the resurrection. Because He lives, she will also. In the ultimate plan for creation, I don’t believe God caused Irene’s death, but I do believe that in His sovereign will, He allowed it and saw that it was time. Right on time.

It’s both, too soon and right on time. It doesn’t make sense and so we grieve. We must. We find peace and comfort through our grief in knowing that God is good and He loves Irene more than we could ever. We trust it was the right time and we seek Him for guidance through our grief.

Too soon and right on time has been something I am seeing all too much. There is a lot of suffering in the world. Stay near to the ones you love. Don’t wait till tomorrow. We must trust in the Lord’s divine understanding, His sovereign will and be prepared when that right time comes much too soon for us. -jason