Called to go, Willing to stay: A Blessing Counting Journal (10)

  1. Marital blessing (b)

if you seek it like silver

   and search for it as for hidden treasures,

then you will understand the fear of the Lord

   and find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:4-5

Marital blessing counting continued (Read previous post here)– Here are some more highlights from the digging :


With our totally different backgrounds and upbringings, we actually do speak different heart languages along with its own set of non-verbal communication cues, which many times actually carries more weight than the spoken ones. I am still working on the nuances of facial expressions, gestures, idioms, tones, etc.. of the English language and making it another heart language of mine. However, it takes constant effort and intentionality. We think in our own cultural mindsets naturally. Mix in the differences between manhood and womanhood, we still have a ton to learn.


The intensity of the work on the house revealed many pitfalls in our communication patterns. How I responded to the differences brought more heart issues into my attention. For example, some of the house-related decisions needed to be made quickly. Not all of our discussions ended up with a happy ending, but that’s okay. Our God is merciful and we had many opportunities to practice forgiveness and reconciliation. It took spiritual discipline to carry the glorious cross daily through our daily communication. God is always faithful in bringing us back on track, as we commit ourselves first to Him and His will by the power of the Spirit.

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Upstairs bathroom floor. Look down and you will see the kitchen. 🙂

God is love! God is beautiful! Praise God for working through my heart attitudes in embracing differences and hence celebrating God’s purpose for our marriage. This blog came to birth as we came together in our “holely” kitchen (yeah, we literally could see through the upstairs bathroom from our kitchen then), in seeking the “oneness” according to God’s blueprint (Read “why this site” here). We started the countdown to our ten-year anniversary on this site. We threw ideas back and forth for a name that could catch both of our hearts, which was a big step in forming our family mission statement. We came to know not only with our heads but with our hearts that: it is His plan, before the creation of the world, to put us two totally different individuals together as a couple, now as  parents as well, for His glorious purposes. Continue reading

Called to go, Willing to stay: A Blessing Counting Journal (9)

8. Marital blessing (a)

and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.” Mark 10:8


Married or single, it is all for the glory of God! He sanctifies in singleness and in marriage. I am so thankful God has protected my heart for the one I am happily married to now. It was a totally unexpected gift for me to marry my best friend from across the ocean (read our story here). Each year the Lord has brought us closer as a couple, as one! The process can be challenging but it is always so rewarding for His eternal purposes and for our good.  


When people heard about bits and pieces of our love story, they always wanted to know more. We love each other and I absolutely adore my husband. Six years of friendship before our marriage laid a good foundation for our married life. He is my hero, my rock and my joy in this life. I wish I could say we lived happily ever after the wedding day back in 2006. However, no matter how much we tried to be ready before marriage, when two VERY different and sinful people live together for an extended period of time, clashes are doomed to happen. In fear of conflict and/or my lack of language abilities, we hardly fought or argued early in our marriage. Everything seemed perfect from the outside.

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A little glimpse of the kind of city life I knew


I didn’t grow up from a Christian family and had no clue about how a Christian wife should live in real life. I was overwhelmed at times when I felt like marrying my best friend could also be the most lonely journey. I set my hopes and expectations high. I felt the  pressure to witness for Christ as many new believers and non-believers were watching how a cross-cultural marriage would turn out. I expected my mate to experience the joys and sorrows the same way or even the same time as I did. My heart was growing tender to my beloved. My desires were intimate. My needs were not openly expressed. For all the reasons above and many more I can’t think of now, I started to notice myself telling our love story with less passion but more rote. I knew something was going wrong in terms of my ideally passionate relationship with my husband, even with my Lord! I let life just happen instead of earnestly seeking and investing into that oneness with God and with my husband. No one, but Jesus, can bring me true joy and contentment. The moment I set my happiness on a human being, I was setting myself up for heartaches and disappointment. Ultimately, marriage is a powerful God-ordained sanctification tool. Continue reading

Called to Go, Willing to Stay: A Blessing Counting Journal (8)

7.  Practical blessing

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5

My four-year old son was not the only one with many questions throughout various house-fixing jobs. He actually learned house-building related vocabulary faster than I did. I was struck when he corrected me by saying, “mama, it is ‘caulking’ not ‘painting’”.  I was surprised how much a little boy can learn from real life. It was a wake up call for me in viewing homeschooling as a lifestyle for the whole family. The best part was that we were all learning together through real life. It was a shared experience which we will refer to for years to come.

To give you a little background: I grew up in an apartment as a city girl in China. House projects, due to cheaper labor, were almost always hired out where I grew up. Before we came to the States, we spent four years of our married life in an one-bedroom student dorm. We didn’t have a yard, a car, American sized washer/dryer/refrigerator/oven or pretty much anything an average American home has. Now God has blessed us with all those possessions, He is also equipping us with skills and responsibilities to manage them.  We (namely, my husband. I get the blessing of being one with him!) not only had fun learning many house repair/building/maintenance skills, but also other building skills in general as we found creative ways to save money.

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Upstairs bathroom (before)

I am so proud of my husband, when he made our DIY home-decor idea into reality, when he figured out ways to fix our second-hand refrigerator, when he installed wires or switches, or many items I don’t even know the names. I am so grateful God blessed my husband with useful skills, a curious mind, adventurous spirit, and lots of friends and family to help as we needed. It was a slow but rewarding process. We don’t know how long we are to stay at this house, but now that we are blessed to own it, we are making full use of it, including all the learning and serving opportunities.


Five years ago when we first came to the States, we never thought we would own a house here. God had a different plan for us for this season of life in calling us to being willing to stay, to raise a family rooted in His Truth, to serve within the Body of Christ from our local church and community. What a blessing to gain wisdom in the Lord in a time like this when so many different voices have saturated the media! On top of all the skills and knowledge we have gained in the house-building process, we are eternally more grateful for a deeper understanding of Who God is and what our eternal Home is like through His Word.   Continue reading

Called to Go, Willing to Stay: A Blessing Counting Journal (7)

  1. Social blessing
    “…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt 22:39


With no flooring but lots of sawdust around, it was hard to have guests over for a comfortable gathering, not to mention entertainment. We were blessed to have wonderful in-laws,. and friends, who were more like angels in our eyes, simply show up to offer helping hands. At some points, I felt like we were more like guests rather than the owners, as we received so much needed help. It was a special season for our 9-year married life to not be able to outreach through our home. We knew that season to build would not last very long. This realization helped me cherish the time to seek God’s definition of a Home as we were building our earthly home.


Growing up in China, I had no concept about what a Christian home would be like. However, entertaining guests was part of my life during childhood. It was warm and fun family time but without much deeper purposes. God graciously tailored this time for me to develop a mindset of practicing hospitality for His name, His people and lost souls. Even nowadays, the Lord uses those days as a reminder for me to entertain with joy and intentionality, especially when I feel stressed or self-conscious before we receive guests at our home

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Waterproofing the basement

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Called to Go, Willing to Stay: A Blessing Counting Journal (6)

5. Financial blessing
“You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth,…” Deuteronomy 8:18

As much hard work as it has been, it is such a joy to know that God blessed us with a house debt free. He has enabled us to honor the no-debt rule for our family. I know this is not true for every family but we are grateful God has provided and protected us from debt as we have desired and obeyed His direction for our family only by the power of the Spirit and His Perfect provision. All credit goes to the Lord!

When we looked at our finances and how we would like our future home to be used for His Kingdom, it seemed impossible to make it a reality as we were doing house hunting. Everything was either out of our range of affordability or not the type of house we would like to own. We were so amazed (still are amazed) by the timing of God’s provision of this “cash buyer only” house. God used the house seeking period to prepare us to make a quick decision when needed. We greatly appreciate our home, though it needed a “complete rehab” (learn more about the house here).

In case you are in doubt: Yes, it is possible to buy a house with cash! I share this to give hope. We are by no standard rich in this world. I am a full-time mom and my husband works at a community college part time. We desire to work together as a family team for God’s Kingdom full time. We see every work God led us to, not just as means of financial support for the family needs, but also tools to expand His Kingdom. We are grateful God led us to homeschool, to various ministries, to teach ESL, to a home-based business,etc.. Our life is simple yet rich with much chaos in between. God has different plans and assignments for His children. The point is to use what we have to spread Good News  (Read more about Biblical Tentmaking).

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DIY Home decor (Inspired by Kevin Leman’s “Home Court Advantage“)

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Called to Go, Willing to Stay: A Blessing Counting Journal (5)

4. Spiritual blessing


“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

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Hold on to His Promise!

We couldn’t see any of the blessings counted here without a strong conviction in Who is in charge of our lives. Even this faith is a free gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). Life challenges are like well prepared gifts from the One Who loves us like no one else. Some customized gifts are made with love and it may take a while to prepare. If we know for sure a joyful surprise will come in the end, we might get antsy but in a good and excited way. If we know for sure a wonderful gift is promised, we are usually much more patient and playful in the waiting process instead of feeling frustrated or upset. The waiting only makes the gift even more special. When we receive the gift, we appreciate the time and thoughts our family or friends have invested just to give us a delight and feel loved.


I started this blessing-counting journal around the one year anniversary of our recent move (read how this journal started here ). Everything seems to take longer now with little ones around, but it is all good. It gives me time to savor God’s unchanging Grace as I face each new day along with its new challenges and blessings. I am grateful for the spiritual refreshment every time when I get to write. As I am writing, Christmas is around the corner. I can’t help thinking about the most Wonderful Gift in this life!


What matters is Who is the Giver! We lack nothing in the Lord! He has promised us eternal life with Him above and abundant life here as well. Keeping this promise in mind, I see life as a continuum of various processes to receive many gifts and blessings from “my Shepherd”, who withholds no good thing from who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11). I pray “Lord, give me faith to receive every day as a gift from you to know Who You are, to embrace interruptions as your gentle reminder of Who is in control. You are so faithful and so good even when I am faithless.” Is your soul yearning for something more in this life? Are you at a low point right now? Do you desire to receive this free gift despite your difficult circumstances? Or maybe you grow up from a religious background but your heart is heavy with your self-efforts and endless rules. Do you desire a fresh start spiritually? The Good News, the eternal Gospel, is worthy of all test of time, peoples and cultures. I pray that the Lord would bring You to Himself for the true Peace. 

 

Called to Go, Willing to Stay: A Blessing Counting Journal (4)

3. Mental blessing
“…take every thought captive to obey Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:5


Our emotions are influenced a lot by what we are thinking in our minds. Trials can either push us to despair or to a new delight as we gear our attention above. This life is short, very very very short, as compared to eternity. We spend a lot of time going through motions and routines without thinking much or simply allowing our thoughts to
wander. At times, our minds seem filled, so filled that we could hardly fit in anything emotional, only logic is left. At other times, our minds seem empty, so empty that we could function like a robot. We could be efficient in our work but not effective in our relationships. We could use our minds to numb our hearts, feeling like living a double-life. I have been there! Not a fun place to be. What if we set aside a certain amount of time regularly to concentrate and think about why we do what we do? What if we keep the end in our mind as we start anything? What if we search our hearts and listen to our soul’s yearning? What if the crises we are facing right now are the very things God has ordained to capture our hearts and mind for His Glory and for our own good? 

I am grateful for this soul searching time along with the toil of building a home rather than just a house. This was also the trial year for our homeschooling, the time to think about some big “why” and “how” questions in this new endeavor the Lord has led us on. In retrospect, the Lord made it clear to us to have homeschooling as a lifestyle to rely on Him daily as a family instead of simply doing school at home. 
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