A Few Good Friends

I’m on Day 6 of a 40 Day Facebook fast. I’m using a devotional by Wendy Speake called “The 40-Day Social Media Fast.” Today’s devotional was entitled, “A Few Good Friends” and it hit me right between the eyes.

I spent most of my teenage years as an outsider. As a brainiac and an atheist, though I wanted to fit in, I didn’t.

As an adult and born again follower of Jesus, I never want others to feel left out, like I was.

I cast my net wide.

I love everyone.

I invite everyone.

Any age, any skin color, any religion, any economic level, whatever – I love you all.

I love to greet the new people who wander nervously into church. I love to seek out the person sitting in the corner at a party. I love to make the newcomer and the outsider feel appreciated and valued.

8 or 80, male or female, made up or beat up, I want to be your friend.

The struggle for me is that love isn’t always reciprocated, even in the family of Christ. Sometimes I’m too serious, too friendly, too deep, too religious, too loud, too … whatever. And it still hurts me more deeply than I wish it did. 😰

I love getting likes and shares on my FB feed (and my blog). I purposely share some fun family photos and silly memes on my Facebook feed, just so people don’t think I’m too “religious” or too “deep.”

The most personal things I write, which are usually both deep and religious, don’t garner nearly so many likes or shares, but I keep on writing them because that’s how God made me. I think these writings are some of the works that God has prepared for me to do, that God has uniquely designed me to write. (Ephesians 2:10)

Thanks to each of you for being on this journey with me. Whether you’re one of my 3 special friends or whether we’ve never even met, I love you and I want you to know Jesus.

Your love or disdain for me does not change my value in my Father’s eyes. Whether you like my post or not, Jesus likes me. In fact, Jesus died for me, and His approval is all that really matters. ❤

“We don’t need everyone to like us, love us, invite us, or include us. In God’s economy, two or three faithful friends make for great wealth.”

Wendy Speake, The 40-Day Social Media Fast

My little pumpkin is having a pumpkin of her own

A month ago my oldest daughter called over a video call. I was in the middle of a phone call, so I didn’t answer. She sent me a text that she wanted to show us the pumpkins that she and her husband had carved. Later, when I still hadn’t called back, she video called again!

I was back in my bedroom. When Emily asked what the rest of the family was doing, I was suspicious. Hmm… I got everyone together on the couch to see the pumpkins. My husband got up to go to the kitchen for something and I urged him to come back, because Emily had something to show us.

Yay!!! My little pumpkin is carrying
a pumpkin of her own!

I was overjoyed. God is so good! So, so good! What a blessing!

Our parents are overjoyed, too! Emily told my husband’s parents by dressing her dog in a bandana that reads, “My parents are getting me a human.”

To tell my parents, she got a copy of “Imogen’s Antlers” (a family favorite children picture book) and told them, “You’ll need to read this to your great grandchild.” Fun! Fun!

In the midst of the chaos and confusion of COVID-19, “social distancing” and the presidential election, a child has been given. God has created a new life. He has made me a grandma and I couldn’t be happier.

Thank You, Father, for this new life. Carry Emily as she carries this little one. Give Roger strength and wisdom to lead and serve his growing family. Bless this child with a hunger for Your Word and fill him with your love. You are so good. We praise Your name. You are the giver of every good gift. Amen

What does God value?

This is my lesson for this week. May it bless many and bear fruit to the glory of Jesus.

I am the younger of two children. I have only one sister. She is older than me. Her name is Kristan.

Growing up, I was always competing with Kristan. I never felt like I was as good as her. She was a quiet girl who didn’t cause much trouble. I always thought she was prettier than me. She was taller than me – and she still is. She was an excellent piano player while I struggled through my piano lessons.

Because I felt like she was better than me in so many ways, I tried to be better than her in other ways. I showed off by being talkative, friendly, outspoken, and loud. I earned awards in science fairs and debate competitions. I went to a special school for the top students in my city, yet I still felt like I was in her shadow.

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever compared yourself to someone else and felt like you weren’t as good, as smart, or as pretty as them?

Last week we talked about what people like to share on social media like WeChat and Facebook.

I think one reason why people like sharing on social media is because they want people to praise them. We all want people to think we’re smart, beautiful, kind, and good. We all want people’s praise.

Now that I am an adult, I still find myself comparing my strengths to others’ weaknesses. I like to share the highlights of my week when my family did something special. I don’t share the moments when I got mad at my husband. I don’t share when my house was a mess and I served frozen pizzas for dinner. I don’t share when I spent 2 hours scrolling mindlessly through Facebook. I want to show the good things my kids or my husband or I did. I still want so much for people to praise and value me. This is still a struggle for me.

How about you?

I want to show you a short video of a young man with Down Syndrome speaking at a meeting for some American government leaders. While you’re watching this video, I want you to think about how you feel watching this young man and how you would feel if he was your son.


You can watch the full video here: https://youtu.be/vtS91Jd5mac

If you were this young man’s mom, would you be proud to call him your son? Why? Why not?

Now let’s think about our own families. If you had a son, would you value him more if he was the top student in his Chinese class? What if he won a track meet or an English competition? What would he have to do to make you proud?

What about God? What does God value? What makes God proud? To find an answer, let’s consider the story of the shepherd boy David who grew up to be the King of Israel. The first king of Israel, King Saul, had disobeyed God and God was looking for a new man to be king of Israel. God sent His prophet Samuel to a man named Jesse to find a new king from one of Jesse’s sons. When Jesse’s first son arrived, Samuel thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed,” but Samuel was wrong.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him.
The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance,
but the LORD looks at the heart.”” (1 Samuel 16:7 NLT)

但耶和华对撒母耳说:“不要看他的外貌和他高大的身材,因为我不拣选他。
耶和华看人不像人看人,人是看外表,耶和华是看内心。

Let’s try reciting this verse together. First, you can listen to me say it. Then, we will say it together.
Finally, I’d like a few sisters to try it by themselves.

God had chosen Jesse’s youngest son who was out in the field caring for the sheep. As we are told in Acts 13:22, God had chosen David, the son of Jesse, because he was a man after God’s own heart who would do everything God wanted him to do.

Does that mean that David never sinned? Does that mean that David never broke God’s laws? No, it doesn’t. In fact, David committed adultery with a married woman and had her husband killed. Yet, David was repentant over his sin. David grieved over his sin and turned to God for forgiveness. David held fast to God and had faith in God even when life was very hard.

So, what exactly is in a man’s heart which makes God value him?

What do you think, sisters? What makes a person worthy to be called God’s child?

God created each and every person in His very own image. Every single person ever made was created in the image of God – no matter their skin color, no matter their wealth, no matter their intelligence or ability level, no matter how much money they have. Every single person has value in the sight of God because every single person is created in the image of God.

But not everyone is God’s child.

Jesus “came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn–not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” (John 1:10-13)

The only thing that can make you God’s child is faith, faith in Jesus Christ, the only Son of our Heavenly Father God. This alone is what makes you worthy. Faith is the greatest value.

And even this faith is a gift, as we read in Ephesians 2:8, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”

As you trust in God, then He will strengthen you and guide you to do great things for Him. He will change you, grow you and make you more like His Son as you trust in Him.

Like I once worked so hard to be better than my sister, when I became a Christian, I worked so hard to earn God’s love. But I was wrong. There was nothing I could do to deserve God’s love.

“Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might,
let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this,
that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD
who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

耶和华这样说:“智慧人不可夸耀自己的智慧,勇士不可夸耀自己的勇力,财主不可夸耀自己的财富。
夸口的却要因了解我,认识我而夸口;认识我是耶和华,我在地上施行慈爱、
公正、公义;因为我喜悦这些事。”这是耶和华的宣告。

Let’s try reciting this verse together. First, you can listen to me say it. Then, we will say it together.
Finally, I’d like a few sisters to try it by themselves.

God delights in steadfast love, justice and righteousness. Yes, He does. And He wants us to do these things, too, but He wants us to do them by faith. He wants us to obey Him by faith.

Jesus chose the intellectual Paul, a Jewish Pharisee and a persecutor of Christians, to share the good news of salvation with the lost. But Jesus also chose four common fishermen like Peter to spread the gospel. Does Jesus love the intellectual Paul more than simple Peter? No.

As Paul wrote in the beginning of his letter to the church in Corinth,

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,
not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;
God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
God chose what is low and despised in the world,
even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29
)

弟兄们,你们想想,你们这些蒙召的,按人“人”或译:
“世上的标准”、“世界的标准”来看有智慧的不多,有权势的不多,出身尊贵的也不多。
但是 神却拣选了世上愚笨的,使那些有智慧的羞愧。他也拣选了世上软弱的,使那些刚强的羞愧。
他也拣选了世上卑贱的和被人轻视的,以及算不得甚么的,为了要废弃那些自以为是的,
使所有的人在 神面前都不能自夸。

Do you think if your child got better grades or your husband had a better job, then God would love you more?

Do you think that if you were prettier or smarter or richer, then God would love you?

What if you memorized more Bible verses or prayed more or went to church more often, then would you be worthy of God’s love?

What if you gave all you owned to the poor or gave up your life as a martyr for Christ, then would you finally be valuable to God? (See 1 Corinthians 13 for more on this!)

Look at these pictures of my husband and my son in our backyard. My husband is much taller than my son when you look at them up close, but when you compare either of them to the height of the trees, they are both so tiny.

We may like to compare ourselves to one other, but when we compare ourselves to God, then we see how short we truly are. None of us are perfectly good, wise or holy. Only God. God loves you because He is God. He is your Creator, and He wants to be your Father. There is nothing you can say or do or think to make yourself worthy of His love.

In your own power,
you are unworthy and undeserving,
but in Christ Jesus you have infinite worth.

I don’t know whether you need to hear this because you need to be reminded not to show favoritism to your children or your coworkers or your friends, or because you need the reminder that you can’t earn God’s love, but I know that you need to hear this. 

When you place your trust in Jesus Christ, God’s Holy Spirit comes to live inside of you. When God looks at you, He sees His Son, Jesus Christ, in your heart. Jesus Christ is who makes you worthy and valuable, completely worthy and infinitely valuable, and Jesus Christ is the truly the only one truly worthy of praise.

Let me encourage you to share this good news with someone else this week.

Worth, Value and Worthlessness

This is my lesson from last week with the international women’s discipleship group. I pray it would bless many!

WORTH can describe either a monetary value (cost) or a personal, moral value. This coat is worth more money than that coat. Spending time with my mom is worth more than watching TV. Let’s try this dialogue to learn more about the word “worth.”

  • Abby: Hey, Mom. Look at these shoes! Aren’t they cool?
  • Mom: Yes, they are. Those shoes are beautiful. How much do they cost?
  • Abby: $120.
  • Mom: Wow, Abby. They are so expensive! Are they worth that much to you?
  • Abby: Not really, Mom. I found this pair over here. They’re only $40 and I think they’ll be great.
  • Mom: Good work, Abby. I think these shoes are worth $40. Let’s get them.

When we’re buying something, we look at how much the thing is worth. How much will I pay for a car or a house or a pair of shoes? How much will I pay someone to clean my house or take care of my children? It depends how much it’s worth.

VALUE has a similar meaning to WORTH. VALUABLE has a similar meaning to WORTHY.

Let’s try this dialogue to learn about the words, “value” and “valuable.”

  • Betty: Honey, I love you so much. I really value the time that we spend together. Thank you for taking me out for dinner tonight. I had a great time.
  • Husband: Betty, I love you, too. You are my most valuable treasure. You are worth so much to me!

We can also use the word “WORTHLESS” to describe something that is not important, something that is not valuable. Worth + less = not worthy.

In looking at the Bible for “worthless,” I really liked this Bible verse. Let’s learn it together.

“Turn my eyes from worthless things and give me life through your word.” Psalm 119:37.
求你使我转眼不看虚空的事;又使我在你的道中存活。

First, listen to me say it, then we will say it together. Finally, I’d like three ladies to try it on their own.

“Turn my eyes from worthless things and give me life through your word.” (Psalm 119:37 NLT)

Just like we have limited amounts of money, we also have limited amounts of time. Our lives here on earth won’t last forever. There are only 24 hours in a day. There are only 365 days in a year. We don’t want to waste our time or our money on worthless things.

One way you can see what is valuable to you is by looking at where you spend your time and your money. Pay attention to your calendar and your bank account.

If you suddenly had three hours of free time what would you do?

  • Go shopping or go to a fancy restaurant?
  • Clean the house or play with your children?
  • Read through WeChat or read through the Bible?

I’d like three new women to share their answers.

If you were surprised to receive an extra 1,000 yuan, what would you do with it?

  • Would you pay your electric bill or buy your groceries?
  • Would you buy a new purse or a new book?
  • Would you give it to your parents or to someone in need?

I’d like three women to share their answers.

Let’s look at another Bible verse about what is valuable versus what is worthless.

Job 28:17-18 says, “Wisdom is more valuable than gold and crystal.
It cannot be purchased with jewels mounted in fine gold.
Coral and jasper are worthless in trying to get it. The price of wisdom is far above rubies.”
黄金和玻璃不能与它比较,纯金的器皿不能与它交换。
珊瑚和水晶都不值一提,取得智慧胜过取得红宝石。

We can also show what we value by what we think about and talk about. What do you fall asleep thinking about and wake up thinking about? What are you excited to talk about to your parents, friends, kids or husband? What do you post on social media?

  • Your cats or your kids?
  • Your favorite movies and music?
  • A new restaurant or a new coat?
  • A Bible verse or prayer request?

I’d like three new women to share their answers.

As a women’s group, we want to value what God values. We want to love what God loves.

We’re going to talk about this more next week, but tonight let’s just look at this one Bible verse:

“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry,
or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within,
the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”
(1 Peter 3:3-4 NLT)
不要单注重外表的装饰, 就如鬈头发, 戴金饰, 穿华丽衣服;
却要在里面存着温柔安静的心灵, 作不能毁坏的装饰, 这在 神面前是极宝贵的

What is valuable to God? What should a woman value? What should a woman not value?

Further reading: Proverbs 31:10-31, Matthew 6:19-34

Mercy and Grace

Here is last week’s lesson from my online international women’s ministry. I hope it blesses you, too!

Hello, sisters! Today we are going to look at the ideas of MERCY and GRACE.

Before we talk about mercy and grace, we need to talk about three more words: Earn, deserve, and wage.

  • Earn – er+n – rhymes with learn
  • De-serve – dee-zerv
  • Wage – long a – way+j. Way – wage.

First, I’ll explain these three words to you using a story from my life.

I remember when I got my first job. I was only 14 years old. I worked as a cashier in a fast-food restaurant. I EARNED $3.35 for every hour that I worked. $3.35 was my hourly WAGE.

I really looked forward to getting my paycheck every week. I worked hard for every dollar that I earned. I EARNED money every week for my hard work. I DESERVED my paycheck because I worked hard at the fast-food restaurant.

Now I work as an English teacher online. I work hard before class to prepare for the lessons. During class, I pay attention carefully to my students’ pronunciation and grammar, so I can help them learn English well. After class, I write a report for the parents, so my students can review and prepare for their next lesson. 

In exchange for my hard work, I earn an hourly WAGE. I DESERVE every dollar that I EARN for my hard work. 

What would happen if I didn’t show up to teach my classes? What if I forgot to come to class? What if I slept through my classes?

Would I still get paid? Would I still earn by hourly wage if I didn’t work? Would I deserve to get paid if I didn’t work? Would I keep my job?

No, I wouldn’t. I would LOSE my job. I would be FIRED. 

So, what if VIPKID said, “Oh, Kim. We understand. You had a hard week. You weren’t feeling well, and you were so busy. We like you so much that we will not fire you. You can keep working for us.”  This, my friends, is MERCY

Mercy means NOT getting what you DESERVE

Mercy means NOT getting what you have EARNED

Let’s try learning those sentences. First, I’ll say them slowly while you listen and watch. Then, we will repeat those sentences together. Finally, I’d like three people to try saying it by themselves.

Mercy means NOT getting punished when you’ve done something bad. Mercy is not getting fired when you don’t show up to work. 

What if I was a really bad worker? What if I played on my phone during class instead of teaching? What if I taught my students the wrong pronunciation and grammar?

Now, I should be FINED. I should be PUNISHED. I should get in TROUBLE. 

What if VIPKID said, “Oh, Kim. We understand. You haven’t had enough training. You didn’t really know what you were doing. You aren’t in trouble. We like you so much. We will not punish you.” This, too, is MERCY. 

Mercy means NOT getting what you DESERVE. 

Mercy means NOT getting what you have EARNED. 

Let’s repeat those sentences together again. Now, I’d like three new people to try saying it by themselves.

Remember, Mercy means NOT getting punished when you’ve done something bad.

Now what if VIPKID said, “Oh, Kim. We love you so much that we hired a teacher to teach in your place. Teacher Beth has agreed to teach your classes for you. She will give YOU her pay. She will give you her hourly wage. She will give you what she earns. You will still get paid every week your hourly wage, because she will do your work for you, and give you what she deserves.”

This, my sisters, is GRACE. This is GRACE. Grace is GETTING what is NOT deserved … what is undeserved. Grace is GETTING what is NOT earned … what is unearned.

GRACE means GETTING what you do NOT DESERVE. 

GRACE means GETTING what you have NOT EARNED. 

Let’s try learning those sentences. First, I’ll say them slowly while you listen and watch. Then, we will repeat those sentences together. Finally, I’d like three people to try saying it by themselves.

GRACE means GETTING what you do NOT DESERVE. 

GRACE means GETTING what you have NOT EARNED. 

Grace is GETTING an A when you deserve an F. 

Grace is GETTING a hug when you deserve a slap.

Grace is GETTING heaven when you deserve hell.

Grace is getting kindness, goodness, favor, and love when you DESERVE punishment, anger, and wrath. 

Romans 4:4-5 tells us, “When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.” 

God gives you righteousness, not because of your good deeds, but because of your faith in Jesus Christ who died in your place. God gives you Jesus’s righteousness. 

God takes Jesus’s perfect holiness and gives it to you, a sinner. Not because of anything that you DO, but because of your FAITH in Jesus.

In God’s great grace, He gives us His love. In God’s great grace, He gives us eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord. 

Romans 6:23 explains that, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

God’s grace gives us His Holy Spirit and His Living Word. God’s grace gives us joy and peace and comfort. God’s grace gives us purpose and hope. 

The Bible is so FULL of stories of God’s mercy and grace.

One of these stories is about a poor servant who refused to have mercy on another servant, even though the king had shown him great, great mercy. You can read the whole story in Matthew 18:21-35, but I’m going to read you just one verse, Matthew 18:33. “Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?'” 

Let’s try learning that verse together. First, I’ll say it slowly while you listen and watch. Then, we will repeat the verse together. Finally, I’d like three people to try saying it by themselves.

“Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?'” 

Last week we talked about encouraging words – God encourages us with His Word and now we can encourage others … So, God gives mercy and grace to us and we can have mercy and grace to others.

This week you can read about the story of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35), the story of the Lost Son (Luke 15:11-32) and the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).

This week you can read Psalm 51, Ephesians 2:1-8 and Romans 5:1-11.

Try reading these stories in English and in Chinese. Try reading them aloud. Tell someone else about what you learned this week! You could even try making a video of yourself reading and share it with someone else.

Before we end, I want you share my favorite passage in the Bible with you. This is my favorite passage in the Bible because it describes my life. Paul wrote this about himself, but I feel like he was talking about me.

“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. 

But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 

But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 

— 1 Timothy 1:12-17 ESV

Let’s pray together and then we can talk about a few questions.

What are some ways that God has had mercy on you?

How has God given you His grace?

How can you give mercy and grace to someone else this week?

Encouraging Words

Last week I started teaching an international women’s group over the internet. I thought my notes from our lessons might be helpful to others, especially to international students of the Bible. Here are my notes from last Saturday. I chose to use the New Living Translation, rather than the English Standard Version like I usually use, because NLT is easier for those who are learning English as a second language. Feel free to share them or send me a private message!

Today I want to talk with you about encouraging words. Speaking encouraging words is something I would like to see within this women’s group, as well as in our homes, schools, communities, churches and jobs.

Ephesians 4:29b NLT,
“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”

 以 弗 所 書 4:29b  “却要适当地说造就人的好话,使听见的人得益处。”

Let’s work together on saying this Bible verse.

First, I want you to listen carefully while I say it.

  • Pay attention to how my voice rises and falls and how I put words together into phrases.
  • See how my hands and my voice tone help you to understand the meaning of the verse. Using hand motions and stressing words will help you to remember and understand the meaning of the verse.

Next, we will say this verse together.

Then, I will give each person a chance to try saying it by themselves.

Ephesians 4:29  “Let everything you say …. be good and helpful… so that
your words will be an encouragement …. to those who hear them.”

Now, let’s talk about the word ENCOURAGE. The word encourage comes from en + COURAGE…
“en” – to cause to have” + COURAGE!

In Matthew 14, we read about some of Jesus’s disciples who were on a boat in the middle of the night. There was a terrible storm, and the men were afraid. They were “terrified.” They were so scared because they were sitting in their boat far away from land in the middle of heavy waves in a storm.

Then, at 3 o’clock in the morning, Jesus walked out to them! When they saw Jesus walking on the water, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 

“Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
Matthew 14:27

耶稣立刻对他们说:“放心吧!是我,不要怕。”  马太福音 14:27 CNVS

Let’s try saying that verse now. First, I will say it by myself. Pay attention to my voice pattern and pronunciation.

Jesus spoke to them at once … Don’t be afraid .. he said .. Take courage. …. I am HERE!

Now, let’s try it together:

Jesus spoke to them at once … Don’t be afraid .. he said .. Take courage. …. I am HERE!

I’d like to give everyone who hasn’t spoken yet a chance to try it first.

Jesus spoke to them at once … Don’t be afraid .. he said .. Take courage. …. I am HERE!

What do you think, “Take courage” means? Courage doesn’t mean that you’re not afraid. Feeling afraid, feeling fear is a normal emotion that comes into your heart when you are facing a scary situation.

When you have courage, you are choosing to take heart, to overcome fear. Courage is choosing to do what is right, even when you feel afraid. Courage is choosing to say or do what you should even, when it’s scary.

Riding a chairlift
to the top of the Great Wall

Last year, my husband and I visited China for the first time. We stayed with a Chinese family that we had never met before. My husband and I don’t speak Chinese. It was scary to go to an unknown land, but God gave me courage through the Words of Scripture. I remembered when God called Abram to go to an unknown land. God promised that He would be with Abram and show him where to go.

While we were in China, we visited the Great Wall at Mu Tian Yu. Our friends got tickets for all of us to ride on a chair lift up to the Wall. I was so scared! I didn’t want to do it. My stomach was upset, and my hands were sweating, but my Chinese sister encouraged me with a sweet smile and kind words.

We, too, can help our friends, our husband and our children to have courage. We can help our coworkers and our students and even people we don’t know. We can help them by speaking encouraging words, by en-courage-ing them!

We can speak kind words, uplifting words, true words. We can remind them that God is WITH them, like Jesus said, “I am HERE!” We can remind them of God’s power and goodness. We can remind them that God has a special purpose for them.

I want this women’s group to encourage each other. We want to speak words of love, truth and kindness. We don’t want to cause others to fear, to discourage others!

Just as ENCOURAGE means to “give courage,” “to cause to take heart,” DISCOURAGE  (dis+courage)  means to “take away courage,” “to cause to lose heart!” Our words can either encourage others, or discourage others.

Don’t discourage anyone
who is making progress,
no matter how slow.

When I was a new believer in Jesus, I didn’t know anything about the Bible. I didn’t know that the book of John was in the Bible. I didn’t know who Paul or Peter were. I didn’t know how to look for a verse in the Bible using chapter and verse numbers.

My mother-in-law encouraged me. She helped me and was patient with me. Her encouraging words gave me courage to learn and study, rather than discouraging me by pointing out how little I knew.

We are all climbing English Mountain together. Some of us can speak and read English very well, but some of us are still near the bottom of the mountain. We can all help each other to climb to the next peak. You can help the person who is farther down on the mountain.

We are also all climbing Bible Mountain together. Some of us have lots of Bible knowledge, but some of us are still near the bottom of the mountain. We can also help each other to climb to the next peak. We can all help someone to climb to the next peak.

We can’t use a “chairlift” to reach the top of English Mountain or Bible Mountain. We all need to climb step by step, so let’s encourage one another as we do!

For more learning about encouragement, here are some Bible passages to read:

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11-15

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:24-25

“And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.”
Romans 15:4-7

2 Chronicles 30 is a great example of how the Lord encouraged the Israelites through Hezekiah’s encouragement.

Chores for Homeschooled Teens

Hi! I love to make cool charts on the computer. We used one similar to this all summer, but I just updated it a little for the schoolyear. For perspective, I have a 16 year old daughter and a 13 year old son.

All three of us (that includes me!) choose chores from this list. The daily morning and afternoon chores are completed every day, but the chores on the bottom half are completed over a week. I hope this makes sense – I didn’t type any instructions on the chart.

I laminated the chart and put it up. Every day / week we mark off what we’ve completed until it’s all done. If we don’t finish something during the week, we will use Saturday morning to finish it. This means a clean house every week. YAY!

I’d love to hear your suggestions or questions. Feel free to comment below.

TWIG

You’re welcome to download a PDF copy here!

Counting rubbish

The other day when I was teaching English online to a student in China, our lesson was about taking care of the environment. This 11-year-old boy kept using the word “rubbish,” rather than “trash” or “garbage” like you’d usually hear in the United States of America.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines this word as “useless waste or rejected matter, something that is worthless or nonsensical”

Though the word, “rubbish” sounded odd in my ears during that lesson, it is exactly what the translators chose for Philippians 3:8.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

Philippians 3:7-9 ESV

What do we need to count as useless, as worthless, as waste, in order to gain Christ?

Whatever it is, it’s worth it.

The wind blows where it wishes

“Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”” (John 3:5-8 ESV)

This week while watching the news coverage on Hurricane Delta, John 3:8 jumped off the page. We don’t know when, where or how powerfully the hurricane will hit. We are thankful for all the modern technology that allows us to track storms and make predictions, but moment by moment those predictions change. Ultimately, we don’t know … we can’t know … the future of a storm.

Likewise, we don’t know how the Spirit will move. We don’t know who He might call, or when.

When Simon Peter and his brother Andrew headed out to fish one morning, little did they know that would be the day they would be called by the Messiah to become fishers of men. (Matthew 4:18-19)

When an unidentified man suffering from leprosy left his house one morning, he couldn’t possibly have known that would be the day of his cleansing. (Matthew 8:2-3)

When Matthew was sitting in his tax booth one morning, he never could have known that was the day Jesus would invite him to follow him. (Matthew 9:9)

Just as I don’t know if today might be the last time I talk to my son or my daughter, my husband, my parent or my best friend, likewise I don’t know if today will be the day of salvation for a loved one I’ve prayed for faithfully for years.

For as much as we don’t know what exactly the future holds, there are some things we DO know.

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.” – Psalm 9:10 ESV

Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” – Psalm 100:3 ESV

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:1-6 ESV

The Ten Commandments Song

The TEN COMMANDMENTS song to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell.”

The Ten Commandments Song

I’m not a gifted singer, so please don’t leave me any comments about my lack of singing skills. 🙂 I just hope this song would help someone else like it’s helped me and my family. The hand motions really helped me, too!

(#1 – 1 God)
Commandment number one, commandment number one:
There is only one God, Commandment number one.

(#2 – Bow Down to idols)
Commandment number two, commandment number two:
Worship no one else but God, Commandment number two.

(#3 – W for Word by your mouth)
Commandment number three, commandment number three:
Use God’s name in special ways, Commandment number three.

(#4 – set aside one day)
Commandment number four, commandment number four:
Keep the sabbath holy, Commandment number four.

(#5 – Salute)
Commandment number five, commandment number five:
Honor your father and your mother, Commandment number five.

(#6 – Killing)
Commandment number six, commandment number six:
Don’t murder anyone, Commandment number six.

(#7 – Standing together at altar)
Commandment number seven, commandment number seven:
Love the person that you marry, Commandment number seven.

(#8 – Stealing, behind bars in jail)
Commandment number eight, commandment number eight:
Don’t steal anything, Commandment number eight.

(#9 – 9 people all agree, 1 person is lying)
Commandment number nine, commandment number nine:
Don’t tell lies at any time, Commandment number nine.

(#10 – Have sign)
Commandment number ten, commandment number ten:
Be content with what you have, Commandment number ten.