Called to go, Willing to stay: A Blessing Counting Journal (13)


10. Cultural blessing (a)


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.” Philippians 3:7-8

What is culture

I am so excited today I get to start my final section of this blessing counting journey which I started last October in 2015. If I had to choose one area I am most passionate about, this is it! Cambridge English Dictionary defines “Culture” as “the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time”. In other words, it is practising what we believe in our daily living. This “particular group of people” and “time” vary in our lifetime. My life has been enriched tremendously as we often adjust from one culture to the other. However, without some overachieving life principles, I often experienced anxiety, distress, fear or other negative feelings when the initial excitement from the new culture fades. That was when the 3rd Culture Living mindset occurred to us.


When cultures clash, by default we tend to resort to where our flesh feels most comfortable and natural. We redefine our terms of “culture” as life unfolds, as different cultures come our way through different groups of people. Our beliefs are questioned or shaken during those clashes. A lot of times, we choose to walk away from those differences to avoid conflicts. People naturally connect with others who are like them. Then a “culture” forms. This explains why even in an immigrant country like America, we can easily locate areas for different ethnic groups, China town, Ukrainian village, German street, Little Italy, etc.. This also explains why, as inclusive or open as social media claims to be, people still flock into their own particular groups. We are made to have connections with each other.  Life is to be shared. Sharing is good!

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Snapshot in China: People gathered around to watch the man practicing calligraphy.

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Called to go, Willing to stay: A Blessing Counting Journal (12)

  1. Parental blessing (b)

Let the Little Children Come! (Matthew 19:14)

Okay, back to the times of house repair. I am grateful God has allowed me to see more of His preparations from years ago for the heart work for His eternal glory. The trip to China confirmed His unchanging love and perfect timing in everything and every season in our life. Since I didn’t have a set time or place to study God’s Word during the house construction, I did my Bible study whenever I could, in front of the kids. It was not my favorite way of studying the Bible. But the Lord not only knows my season in life but orchestrates it. He always provided what I needed to hear and met me where I was. It could be just one verse, one hymn or a radio program, which was sufficient for my day.

My four year old then could see my genuine need to spend time with the Lord. Not only did he learn to have some quiet time together with me, but he also wanted to read his own children’s Bible and took notes like I did. Whenever I think about this, my heart is warmed by God’s grace. Our kids don’t need us to put them first but they do need to see Who (the Ultimate higher authority) we are under and worshipping. God used my children to challenge me to worship Him at all times and see life as an adventure with my Lord.

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It takes creativity and open mind to grow life in the midst of house repair. 🙂

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Called to go, Willing to stay: A Blessing Counting Journal (11)

  1. Parental blessing (a)

    For the Lord is good;    
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5 

Thank you, Father!

In October, 2015, I started this blessing counting journal around the one year house-owning anniversary. The Lord put ten specific areas of blessings on my heart to record. By the time I am meditating on #9, the “parental blessing”, we are already back from our one-month trip to China over the Christmas break! Once again, I am grateful for the beautiful timing. I am reminded that no matter how much our hearts are stirred due to our current circumstances (good or bad), it all shall pass. It seems like ages ago when we were rebuilding the house, now that life has much more settled down. However, the heart lessons are still as fresh as yesterday. Interestingly, time in China in many ways resembled our time with all the construction going on around the house: lots of new things everyday, no set schedule, no set place for everything, great need for flexibility and wisdom in parenting, more time with our parents (or grandparents for the boys).


When we are pushed out of our comfort zone in parenting, we are more likely to fall back to our flesh, and idolize circumstances we used to live in. We need to be more reliant on our Heavenly Father in choice-making, attitude-setting, and following His teaching from His Word and leading in the Spirit. As a mom of two active boys, I fail so many times and feel inadequate, but I am even more blessed to grow along with them by the grace of my Father above.

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Yeah, we had the floor done before the baby started crawling!

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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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