My Women’s Retreat Testimony – What God has been doing in my life and how I have been responding…

Earlier this year in January, I was asked to share a brief 5-minute testimony at our church women’s retreat.  I’m finally getting around to posting about it and it only took me six months!  In the months following the retreat, we find ourselves still waiting and trusting in God’s timing (it’s been challenging!), but we continue to lean on Him with hope and praise.

This was my introduction, before I went up to speak – I live in San Lorenzo with my husband Jason and am a stay-at-home mom to our kids Micah (8) and Rebekah (4).  We’ve been attending Creekside [Community Church] for almost 5 years.  I am a coffee and milk tea addict, [who] loves discovering new places to eat and fun things to do with my family, and am passionate about missions and service.

And here’s what I shared with the group – “So a little background about myself.  Before coming to Creekside, my husband and I attended a church in San Francisco, where we were active members since we were Junior Highers, so for about 20-25 years.  Coming from a church where you know almost everyone and all the ins and outs of what’s going on, to a church where you only know maybe only 1-2 families…well, that was a BIG change.  We stayed pretty low key at Creekside for awhile.  It took us about two years to even sign up for name tags and for some reason, it was a big step and a big deal for us!  Since then, we’ve been serving in little ways that we can and have been blessed to be a part of Tim and Jenny Sloat’s community group for the past couple of years.

Tonight, I’ll be sharing about what God has been doing in my life more recently and how I have been responding.

September 14, 2015 is a day that I will not forget for a long time.  The morning started out fine.  Jason went to work like normal, and we were expecting to hear from our real estate broker about signing new loan documents for our house.  Which was a huge relief!…because back in April, we found out that 1of our 2 loans was not a 30 year fixed loan like we thought it was, but actually a 10 year loan that was due on October 1st.  We had to either come up with ~$48K to pay back that loan or try to refinance, which we had NO luck in doing before.  But after a lot of research, days and nights of worrying and stress, lots and lots of prayer and a referral from a friend that led us to our broker…God provided a way out for us.  We were days away from signing our new papers.

Then that Monday afternoon comes around and I get a call from Jason.  He tells me that he got laid off from his job, a company that he had been with for almost 10 years.  This couldn’t have happened at a better time, right?  We already had accumulated all this debt, the Oct.1st deadline was coming up, we had very very little savings…what else can go wrong?  I’ll come back to this in a bit.

That night, some of the ladies from our small group met up for prayer time and I got to share with Jenny and Ashley about Jason’s job and some things that had been on my heart regarding our community group…things that I had been praying personally to God.  I wanted to experience more with the group…to grow closer and nurture authentic friendships, be transparent, really live life together, celebrate the joys like new babies and birthdays, and especially supporting each other during the bad times and struggles.  Jenny summed up it best when she said in an email, “we’re all looking to go deeper, to connect more, to risk more, and to support and love more deeply.”

Back to our refinance issue.  I’m jumping back and forth, because it all ties in together.  Praise God that Jason’s former employees agreed to keep him on the payroll until the end of September, which meant that Jason was technically still employed and we were able to sign the new loan documents that week.  It was a such a heavy burden that was lifted.

But, as God was showing me…when you ask Him for something, you have to prepare yourself for when He answers in other ways…

After sharing about my hopes for our community group with Jenny and Ashley and 5 days after Jason’s layoff…my mom gets into a really bad accident that left her with a subdural hematoma (which is some bleeding outside of the brain), a slightly collapsed lung, a fracture collarbone and fractured ribs.  My then 69 year old mom had fallen off the ladder in their backyard and I know that God watching out for her, because she was not knocked unconscious.  Somehow, she was able to crawl closer to the back door and started screaming for my Dad, who could not hear her screams, because he is hard of hearing.  Thankfully, their neighbor, who isn’t always around but happened to be around that day, heard her screaming.  He climbed over the fence and called 911.  If he hadn’t been there or if my mom was knocked unconscious, who knows what could’ve happened.  My mom spent the next 6 nights at Highland Hospital in Oakland, two of those nights were in the ICU.  Btw, my mom is doing well and has recovered from her injuries.

Needless to say, that was a stressful time.  But it was God’s perfect timing, because being unemployed allowed Jason to be at home full-time with the kids and I could focus on taking care of my parents.  We could have managed even if he was still working…it just would’ve been more stressful and inconvenient. 

During this crazy time, instead of focusing on all the bad stuff, God was teaching me to focus on all the good stuff.  Instead of focusing on Jason’s unemployment, God was giving us more family time together.  We also began to experience those deeper connections with our community group that I had been praying for.  I just didn’t expect us to be on the receiving end of things, because I like to be the giver and the encourager and the helper.  We are always willing to help, but we don’t like asking for it, right?    

An example of how we were on the receiving end.  The Men’s Retreat was coming up and Jason had decided, even before he lost his job, that he wasn’t going to attend for other financial reasons.  But the guys from our small group decided that they wanted to send Jason to the retreat and gift him with a weekend away, so he could rest and reflect and fellowship.  At first, Jason wasn’t sure if he should take the offer, but God reminded us that our friends really wanted to bless him with this.  If Jason and I find delight in blessing others, we should allow our friends to experience that same joy.  “Every good and perfect gift is from God.”  It’s not about who gives and who receives…it’s about God, the one whom all gifts come from.  So Jason went to the retreat, had a good time and was really blessed by it.

Since then, family and friends have been blessing us in different ways…dropping off meals, giving us gift cards for gas and groceries.  We have no other income other than the money coming from unemployment, but we’re focusing on trusting in God and making it work.

Author and speaker Brene Brown says in her book Rising Strong that “Connection doesn’t exist without giving and receiving. We need to give, and we need to need.”  “The bottom line is that we need each other, and not just the civilized, proper, convenient kind of need. Not one of us gets through this life without expressing desperate, messy, and uncivilized need — the kind we are reminded of when we come face to face with someone who is in a deep struggle.” 


It’s not always easy admitting our struggles and shortcomings, but God doesn’t want us to go through these things alone.  So I’m thankful that through our struggles, we are growing deeper connections and just allowing our friends to help and be there for us.  And when our friends need us, we want to be there for them too. “

Six months has passed since sharing my testimony at the retreat and my husband Jason is still looking for a job.  Though it’s been a difficult season in our lives, we cling to the hope we have in Christ Jesus.  In our weakness, He strengthens us.  In our weakness, He has blessed us with family and friends who pray and walk alongside us, sometimes even carrying us.  I hope to share in another post how God has shown us love through the hands and feet of other people. It’s been quite a journey with lots of highs and lows, humility and gratefulness.  Each day, I am reminded that God’s mercies are new every morning and Great is thy faithfulness.  🙂

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Siblings: Sharing snacks, sweet moments

While driving home today, I overheard a short, yet very sweet, interaction between my 5 year old and almost 2 year sitting behind me.

Micah reached into a plastic bag, pulled out a Japanese cracker and handed it to his little sister.

Micah: “Here you go, Bekah.”

Bekah: (excitedly) “Oh!  Thank you, Doh, Doh.”                                                                (Goh Goh is older brother in Cantonese, but Bekah can’t pronounce the “G” sound.

Micah: “You’re welcome.”

This made me smile.  Normally, I have to ask Micah to share snacks with his baby sister or she’s screaming at him for a bite.  😉  Need to cherish these sweet moments between siblings.

Past Post: A Sibling’s Compassion

A Sibling’s Compassion

I told Micah that there was only three and a half more weeks of school left.  He became overwhelmed with grief and started to cry.  “I want more school!”  “I’m going to miss my friends.”

Rebekah heard her brother sobbing and walked over to him.  “Hug,” she said.  “Kiss.”

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Though Bekah is often annoyed when Micah gets in her face or frustrated when he takes things away from her, this little sis has a big heart for her Goh Goh (big brother in Chinese).  She will quickly toddle over to Goh Goh, comforting him with gentle pats or giving him her blankie.

A sibling’s compassion.  Glimpses of God’s heart and love in moments like these.

Bayside Church Compassion Sunday

My friend Lindsay invited me to go with her to volunteer at a Compassion International event up in Roseville a couple of Sundays ago.  Leaving the house around 6:30am, we made the two hour drive up to Bayside Church for their Compassion Sunday.

When we first arrived at Bayside Church, I was struck by how big the campus was.  They offer 5 worships services (2 on Saturday and 3 on Sunday), and I believe their sanctuary can seat about 2,500 people.  That’s a lot of people (x 5 services)!  Christian musician Lincoln Brewster (I love his music!) is on staff as their Worship Arts Pastor and they also host the annual Thrive Conference, a 3-day ministry event for pastors, ministry leaders, staffers and lay volunteers.  As a lay volunteer, I might just have to check out this conference next year.  🙂

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Toward the end of each service, the Pastor (it was a guest preacher from another church) shared about Compassion’s ministry and invited the congregation to consider sponsoring a child.  Hundreds of people felt the call to become a Compassion Sponsor for the first time or they decided to sponsor more kids in addition to the one(s) they already had. Lindsay and I helped pass out t-shirts to people who signed up that day.  It was their thank you gift.  Over 900 kids were sponsored over the course of the weekend.  Isn’t that just amazing?!  Praise God!  =)

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In-between services, we got the opportunity to visit the Compassion Experience that the church was hosting on their campus for the week.  My family visited the Compassion Experience when they were in San Jose and we heard Brinda’s story.  More details about that experience on my blog here.  There are three stories to choose from and this time, I experienced Reuben’s story.

IMG_5535 IMG_5537The last room you walk into is filled with child information packets.  Here they give you the opportunity to sign up with Compassion if you want to.  We got to meet a special guest who flew in from India for the event.  It was Brinda!  She works for Compassion now.  What a blessing it was to meet her!IMG_5533Though the day was long and my legs & feet were tired/sore from standing, it was a very blessed time for me.  I had fun serving with my friend and enjoyed our chats during the drive there and back.  I was very much touched by the hearts of those who became sponsors or added more kids that day, because I knew that their sponsorship was going to change a child’s life.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” ~Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV)

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If you’re wondering if I am a Compassion Sponsor…I am not.  But, we do sponsor children through World Vision, which is another Christian humanitarian organization. I’ll need to write an update about our WV kids soon.  =)

Random Acts of Kindness

Do you remember when the toll for crossing the Bay Bridge was only $1?  These were the days before FasTrak and when people actually had enough cash on hand to pay the toll booth collector.  During our dating years, Jason would occasionally pay the toll for the car behind us.  He would give the toll collector $1 for our car and another $1 for the car behind us.  It was a Random Act of Kindness.

Another time, while we were in the drive thru line for Taco Bell, we noticed two young guys ahead of us trying to place an order at the drive thru window…and they were not in a car!  The restaurant was closed except for the drive-thru.  The cashier didn’t want to take their order, so Jason asked them to hop into his car and we would place the order for them.  Not the safest thing for my boyfriend to do but definitely thoughtful of him.  Not only did we place the order for those two guys, but Jason also paid for their meals.  Random Act of Kindness.

What makes Random Acts of Kindness so special?  We have all been recipients of them.  They can be as extravagant as concert tickets or as simple as a thoughtful note.  Nonetheless, random acts of kindness (whatever they may be) are special, because they create a special feeling inside of us.  They create meaningful experiences and heartfelt memories.

When a friend found out about the miscarriage I had earlier this year, she handed me a bag one evening that included a sweet note and a hand-knitted stuffed animal.  I felt loved.  Blessed.  Random Act of Kindness.  Another friend gave me a gift of sweet and savory treats, and also a kind note.  Unexpected.  Blessed.  Random Act of Kindness.

At a recent conference, I was looking at a book written by Elisa Morgan, former President and CEO of MOPS International.  I was about to purchase the book when someone asked me if I go to MOPS.  I said, “Yes.  I’m on Steering (leadership team) at this church.”  That person said, “Here”…and then gave me the book and the study guide that went along with it.  She said, “I was in MOPS too.”  Random Act of Kindness.  A glimpse of God’s heart shown through a stranger.

What are some of your random acts of kindness stories?  How can I/we be a blessing to others and help create those special kind of feelings for them?