Author Archive

Take Up the Cross

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

I must confess… my heart has been burdened with something I did. Almost a year ago I spoke out at a meeting. Normally this is never a problem but the issue at hand was quite serious and we, as a community, were determining the future direction that we needed to take. I spent a great deal of time prior to the meeting thinking and praying about what I felt needed to be said. Writing down what I wished to express was necessary as it provided me with the opportunity to seriously consider not only what I would say but also how I would say it so that it could be said in as loving a manner as possible.

When the floor was opened for comments, I prayed yet one more time asking God for guidance as to what I should do. Deep within me I was stirred; it was as though He was saying to me: “You must speak out.” I stood up, took a deep breath, and started to express my opinions, observations, and suggestions. I tried to do it as compassionately and lovingly as I could. I knew that what I had to say would make people feel uneasy; and it definitely did! What I expressed were suggestions that the community didn’t want to hear nor accept. Sadly, I realized when I sat down after I spoke that it was the last time that I would ever address that community again and that my time to leave had arrived.

It has been bothering me and weighing heavily on my heart since that day. What has hurt most is the feeling that it was I who hurt them by saying what had to be said. It hurts because they were people that I loved.

I was gently reminded recently that taking up the cross means standing up in the face of adversity. It means following Him moment-by-moment or situation-by-situation to do his will even when the task is difficult and the future looks bleak.

We are all called to take up the cross. It’s not a joyous thing to do but understanding what it means does open the door for healing to take place afterwards.

“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)

Seasoned Women

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Thank you to all the “seasoned” women out there! You know who you are; you’re the ones who inspire other women, who lead by modeling what we younger women can strive to be, and who teach us with a gentle and virtuous heart how to be women of integrity and compassion.

My life is so much richer not only in knowing you but in having you journey with me in my life. Some of you have been part of my life for a long time; you were my teachers who taught me not only academic subjects but also how to grow as a teenager. Others of you have accompanied me through my university years and have helped me discover and begin to accept my God-given talents. And there are also some of you whom God has recently brought into my life to now guide me through womanhood.

I am so blessed to hear and receive your words of wisdom, to read your messages of hope, and to see your examples of love. It is a privilege and honour to call you as cherished and respected friends.

For all that you are- and have been- in my life, my pledge to you is the following:

I promise to live a life of integrity.
I promise to do all that I can to speak out on issues of injustice.
I promise to live a life where I am an example of love, patience, and kindness.
I promise to listen not only with my ears but also with my heart.
I promise to mentor and model in the same spirit that you have done so with me.
I promise to pass on the lessons I have learned from you to the next generation and the generations thereafter.
I promise to keep you in my prayers.
I will live my life under the shadows of God’s grace, as a woman of God filled with his promise of an eternal life.

Thank you beloved and seasoned women!


“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (Titus 2:3-5)

This Too Shall Pass

Monday, October 29th, 2007

I asked three people to pray for me. This is not something that I would normally do but I did. There are two tough months that I face each year and this is one of them; the other is February but maybe that’s related more to the fact that it’s my birthday month and there’s Valentine’s Day which is difficult when you’re single or separated. This time of the year it’s because I’m usually overwhelmed with work and/or academics (this year it’s both!) and because of the shorter periods of sunlight which my body has a hard time adjusting to. I suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) but usually go into denial and suffer silently. This year though I refuse to be in denial and I am openly admitting that I’m entering my “slump”.

Now more than ever I have to hang tight to my faith and trust in God with the assurance that he will see me through this. And a good dose of friends who care and who will hold me accountable can’t hurt either.


“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8:26)

Major Dilemma

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

Since September I’ve been making lifestyle changes. The most important and dramatic change was that I finally got serious about my relationship with God. It’s not something I feel comfortable to freely and openly speak about when I’m face-to-face with people- but I’m working on it!

I’ve also made a change- although reluctantly- to my work schedule. I do my best to not work on the weekends and to leave the office no later than 5:00 pm. In some of my most insane work weeks, I have worked over 80 hours. I’m not proud of those long hours and now I really try to optimize my work days. So far I’ve managed to keep my work week under 45 hours and I’m trying to reduce this even further. Dis-ease creeps in when we try to do too much. God did not create us to do this; even He rested on the seventh day.

Another change was that I committed to making a health change. I’ve enlisted the help of several experts and I have changed my diet, exercise regularly, and I am bridging the gaps between body, mind, and soul. As a result, not only do I feel better but people- even strangers- have been commenting about how I look and radiate with happiness and peace.

The dilemma I now face is that as a result of the change in diet and exercise, many of my clothes no longer fit. I realized this as I was doing laundry this afternoon in anticipation of next weekend’s woman’s conference that I will be attending and in the necessity to pull out- although grudgingly- warmer clothes from my closet. So I went shopping today for some new outfits and had a great time doing so! Amidst the trying on of clothes in the fitting room, I was engaged in an intensive conversation with the sales clerk. She asked me “what I had” and if she “could get it too”. What I had? I have a personal relationship with God and that relationship is freely available to everyone. This has made all the difference in my life.

I’ve been loosing weight and getting into better physical shape because of understanding that my body is a temple of God and as such, I need to respect it and take care of it. For it is through my body that I am able to carry out God’s work which at this time, means running after little children at church.


“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Television’s Mysterious and Powerful Influence

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

I recently had a conversation with a mom of three young children and we were discussing what her 3 and 5 year olds were watching on television. It seems that gone are the days of Sesame Street and the big thing with her three year old is Dora and Blue’s Clues. I remember sitting in a movie theatre many years ago with my mother watching the movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles since she had to learn as much as possible about the characters since they were the “in” characters and story at that time. Mom wanted to relate to the students she taught and thus had to keep up with the current trends of television shows and movies. To this day I still go and sit through movies and television shows so that I too can relate to my friends’ children.

So as my friend and I were reflecting back on the shows that we used to watch growing up, I recalled with laughter some of the shows I grew up with. I spent my day time hours at my grandparent’s house so I grew up watching French shows during the weekdays but on Saturdays, I refused to go out until I watched a show called “Circle Square”. I had to explain what this show was all about to her and how it shaped, without realizing it, my life, my relationship with others, and my relationship with God. The series was produced by Crossroads Christian Communications and focused on teaching lessons in moral values and Christian faith. I’m still surprised that I remember some of the songs and can still sing them. One such song went like this:

I’m going to stand up for what I believe in.
I’m going to stand up for what is right.
Don’t tell me everybody’s doing it;
I don’t want to follow the crowd.
I’m going to stand up, stand tall for what I believe is right.

Years later those words would work themselves into my first experience in evangelism with my grade 4 class of over 50 students whereby I taught them a bunch of the songs from Circle Square, my passion to protect our wildlife by getting all my classmates in grade 6 on board to sponsor a cougar at the San Diego zoo, and in grade 7 and 8 I dared to speak out and educate my entire school on the topic of world peace by rallying peers to join me in a group called Students Against Global Extermination whose goal was to mobilize youth on nuclear issues.

The words of that song still echoes true in my heart to this day. I have taken a stand on various issues and have found my voice to speak out in support or in opposition. I am not afraid to speak out particularly when people’s lives are at stake. It’s important that those of us who have a voice can give and use our voices for those who do not. 

Now that’s the power of television on a young mind!


“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-19)

Knock, Knock, Knock… Anybody Home?

Friday, October 26th, 2007

I’ve made it my daily routine to wake up at 5:00 am so that I can spend some quiet time just being in God’s presence. Sometimes it means reading a chapter in a book that gets me reflecting about my life, sometimes it means journaling, but it always includes spending some time reading God’s word in the bible. Lately it has also meant spending time immersed in the book Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.

But these past two weeks have been different… I’ve had a hard time getting up at 5:00 and I’ve pushed God aside in favour of a few more minutes (up to one hour) of sleep. I’ve found myself rushing through Purpose Driven Life on Monday mornings in order to prepare for our small group discussions that take place on Monday evenings at my house. If it were not for Monday evenings, I would have probably given up on reading the book.

Looking back on the past two weeks, I haven’t been feeling myself nor acting the way I should. I could list reasons for this but I think that the main reason is because I’ve neglected my relationship with God. It’s normal to slip and that’s why it’s important to have people keep us in check.

God’s been knocking on my door but I’ve chosen to not answer it by sleeping in. We can try to cover our heads with a pillow but the knocking will continue until we’re ready to invite Him in.


“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

Faith in Unexpected Places

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

I attended a large trade show last week in Indianapolis (hence why there are no postings for that time). Amidst the busyness of buying and learning, the corporation that organizes and hosts this twice-yearly trade show never forgets who their real and ultimate boss is. Since the trade show runs from Saturday to Tuesday, without fail each show, they always bring the “church to the convention center” on Sunday mornings. As always, there were quite a number of people who attended the service on Sunday morning.

Time and time again as I have traveled through a fair deal of what is known as the Bible-belt in the United States, I am impressed and in awe of how people are not afraid to live out- unapologetically- their faith. It’s within the large corporations that I am most truly amazed and inspired. At one corporation, don’t even try to find any staff members between 9:15 and 9:30; they are all gathered in the break-out room for morning prayers. At another corporation which hosts a large executive meeting every year, one of the invited corporations always holds a prayer breakfast meeting which includes a Christian speaker who address issues of faith and the corporate workplace. At another organization, I was invited to take part in the prayers before lunch.

Why are we so ashamed of bowing our heads or holding hands in prayer in public places such as restaurants? Great lessons can be learned from our brothers and sisters south of the boarder.


“From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.” (Jonah 2:1)

Caused Some to Cry

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

It’s the second time this year that the JET Program (Japan Exchange and Teaching Program) in Toronto has asked me to be their keynote speaker for their conferences. This time was more challenging as the audience comprised of individuals who have just returned from their tenures overseas in Japan. Most who were present were there for one year but there were a few who there for two or even three years. I struggled in deciding what to speak about since I was given a carte blanche for the topic.

I wrote a preliminary speech but I wasn’t particularly thrilled with it. So finally on Friday night I sat down at the computer and stared at the monitor for the longest time. I had a number of ideas but nothing seemed to quite right. Out of no where, the words of a dear spiritual advisor during my time in Japan resonated in my mind. He would always tell me, “before beginning any work, pray to God so that he may bring it to fruition and perfection”. And so I prayed that God would provide me with just the right words that would speak into the hearts of those who would hear the speech.

I didn’t sleep Friday night as I wrote and assembled two videos for use in the keynote address.

This morning I presented the keynote address and reflecting on the speech, I realize that the words I wrote and spoke were from the heart in a way that I have never presented before. From the feedback that I received, I know that what was said moved people (some even to tears- honestly!) and incited them to take action and do something with their experience. Some of the organizers who heard me present a different keynote address earlier in the summer remarked how different this one was. They too felt moved into action and wondered what had happened over the course of several months for the speech to take on such a different feeling.

I just smiled. I never told them that the difference is that I found the love of my life… I found God.


“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

From Cradle to Cradle

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

There’s probably no denying that technology has changed the way we communicate with one another. But technology, specifically the internet, has afforded me the privilege of staying connected or even re-connecting with people from the past.

I’ve always enjoyed working with teens so naturally when it was time to create a much needed youth group at church for the 14-18 year olds, I stepped up the plate earnestly. Because of my age, I was old enough to be respected as an adult by the teens yet not quite old enough to be their parent. As for their parents, well, that was another matter. Some didn’t believe I was old enough to guide this age group and others embraced the fact that I was the bridge between them and their children.

The highlight of our time together was a weekend retreat that I planned with the youth leaders; 6 youth were nurtured as leaders and I was merely their mentor and friend. We had very close to 40 teens from 3 different churches who participated in the retreat. It happened that the retreat was scheduled before I knew about my graduation day from university so the youth leaders were responsible for the first night together.

I still have tucked away in my bible in the book of Jeremiah the index card I wrote up with instructions and reminders to one of the youth leaders for their weekend retreat. Some of the reminders included:

  • When people settle in, ask them to bring their bibles with them to the lodge along with something to write with (all I’ve got in the supply box are crayons).
  • Don’t forget to make the jello if you want it for Saturday’s special dinner (jello eating contest- no hands/spoons/etc allowed- only the jello in a bowl).
  • Have fun! Enjoy yourself! This is YOUR retreat.
  • See you very early Saturday morning for breakfast (actually, I’ll probably give my infamous wake up call!).

Many years have now lapsed since that unforgettable weekend but the friendships from that time remain. Many of the then-teenagers still keep in touch with one another although they scattered across the country for studies. I’ve kept up with a few and it’s been such a delight to hear who is engaged, who is now married, and who is now even a parent. I keep them all in my prayers as I hear of their successes, their fears, and their uncertainties.

I had the joy of reconnecting with the youth leader to whom I wrote those reminders on the index card recently and it was so neat to finally be able to talk to her not as a teen but as woman. I am so proud of her and all her accomplishments. To see a beautiful woman, wife, and mother has given me great delight. And even more so is the fact that it is now I who can turn to her with my questions of faith and questions of life.

We plant seeds in people’s lives and often times we don’t have the opportunity to see if and how those seeds have germinated. But seeing those seeds that I tried to plant with care, love, and sincerity in the teens whom I walked alongside, I am reminded that it is not of my doing but that of God; and thank God for his watchful eye over them and over me.


“For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth.” (Psalm 71:5)

A Special Dinner Guest

Monday, October 8th, 2007

It’s been over 7 years since I last celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving with turkey and all the trimmings. For the past 4 years, I’ve usually been attending trade conventions in the United States on the very same day.

The 3 years that I lived in Japan, I celebrated American Thanksgiving with the missionaries. We would prepare a feast of turkey, homemade bread, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, and of course pumpkin pie. Since ovens were practically non-existent in our city, the turkeys would have to be started several days in advance. On the day of the great feast, several of us would meet at the local community center very early in the morning and begin the chopping, beating, mashing, and cooking. I remember how one year we baked very close to 24 pumpkin pies! It was surprising that we never managed to burn anything and that all the food would be cooked by the time that the almost 150 to 200 locals would arrive for dinner. The dinner was something I looked forward to each year as it was my chance to give back to the community that so warmly welcomed me.

Thanksgiving is a time for reflecting on the richness of the year and for the blessings in our lives. It also calls us to remember those who are not as fortunate. Hopefully this call translates into action and not just at Thanksgiving but each and every day.

My “I’m thankful for …” list is long but two things that are new to the list this year are that I am thankful for a church community that welcomes me and walks with me on my faith journey and I’m thankful that God is my special dinner guest each and every day and He gladly accepts whatever I am able to give him of myself, my time, my talents, and my possessions.


“Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’” (Luke 14:16-17)

Wrapping a Towel Around My Waist

Sunday, October 7th, 2007

I firmly believe that God has a delightful sense of humour so when I was asked if I would be interested in teaching at church, I didn’t expect that I would be assigned the 18 month olds to 3 year olds. After all, I don’t know much about this age group nor do I have much experience with them other than through my friends’ children. Despite this, I seem to be a kiddie-magnet.

Someone said to me that God would teach me something out of this experience. Ok, so what could it be? Patience? Compassion? No, not these. I have been told by several people that I already have these especially when it comes to children.

I had an ah-ha moment- an epiphany- as I was sitting with the children today as we were having our cookie snack. That’s when I realized that what I probably had to learn was that of being a servant of God. Too often because of my work, I forget that being a servant of God implies that I must not only think about others but love them as well regardless of who they are or what they do. In my epiphany, I realized that I need to humble myself to these children- God’s children- and get down on my knees with a towel and basin and wash their feet in an act of unselfish love and humility.

Regardless of our status or rank in society, as followers of Christ we must be servants to all- the young, the elderly, the poor, the rich, the sick, and the healthy. There is no societal division when it comes to serving one another.

I will never look at a child the same way now that I know that it is I who needs to be at their feet lovingly and tenderly washing them.


“So he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” (John 13: 4-5)

Not Everyone Can Read

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

I’ve been doing some research for a term paper I’m working on and amongst the slew of information that I was filtering through as I was narrowing down the resources I needed, I came across some shocking facts. According to UNESCO:

  • In 2000, one in five adults aged 15+ was illiterate.
  • There were about 774 million adults who lack minimum literacy skills. If the current trend continues, in 2015 there will be some 800 million illiterate adults.
  • Women account for two out of three illiterate adults.
  • There are more than twice as many illiterate adults in the United States as in Iraq.
  • There are 37% more adult illiterates in the United States than in Mexico.
  • There are more illiterate adults in the United States than in either war torn Afghanistan or famine/war torn Sudan.

The National Adult Literacy Survey found a total of 21% to 23% or 40 to 44 million of the 191 million American adults (defined as age 16 or older) at Level 1 (cannot sign their name, locate the expiration date information on a driver’s license, or total a bank deposit entry), the lowest literacy level.

The literacy foundation ABC Canada estimates that 48% of the population in Canada has only a Level 2 (they can read simple material but they struggle at learning new skills for jobs). That means that only 52% of Canadians have higher levels of literacy.

Wow! I knew that the levels of illiteracy were high but I never realized the extent of the problem. So many of us take reading and writing for granted. We spend countless hours surfing online or posting on blogs (my hand is up… I’m guilty as charged!). Literacy is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty and violence. It’s not easy being illiterate; I’ve experienced it firsthand when I moved to Japan and couldn’t read nor write. I was completely dependent on those around me including the neighbour’s son who was in grade one.

Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations best sums it up:

“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right…. Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.”

We don’t need to travel half way around the world to teach a person to read. All we need to do is open our front doors and step outside. There are so many people right in our neighbourhoods who can use our help to improve their literacy levels. We have been given a precious gift, that of literacy and it would be a shame if we kept it to ourselves.


“Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.” (Proverbs 9:9)

Already Friday?

Friday, October 5th, 2007

I’m sure you’ve experienced one of those crazy-busy weeks where suddenly it’s Friday afternoon and you look back and think of all the things you didn’t accomplish or haven’t completed. It’s been one of those types of weeks for me but I intentionally took Friday off so that I could take care of some personal things like working on a term paper. At 4:30 I could no longer focus and I was so exhausted. I decided a power nap would do some good so I set the alarm for 5:00 and got comfy for a snooze.

Just as I was drifting off into la-la land, the phone rang. My dad wanted to toss a few business ideas with me relating to a project we’ve been working on all week. While I was talking to him, someone at the door started ringing the bell- not once but several times in succession. While still on the phone with my dad, I opened the door. The young gentleman was trying to sell me something (not too sure what) but I quickly told him that I was not interested. Ok, back to the phone conversation when suddenly my cell phone rang; this time from a business partner. So I ended the conversation with my dad and took the call from our business partner. When I finally got off the phone with him, I returned back to my comfy spot and tried to resume my nap. Wouldn’t you know it; the alarm went off not even 5 minutes later. Sigh…

We can try to micromanage our lives but there will always be that one phone call, that one visit, or that one demand that will skew our entire agenda. Although I planned today as a “just-for-me” day, I failed to do one thing; I failed to invite God to be part of my day. Normally I offer my day to God but today I was selfish and as a result what should have been a restful and productive day turned out quite differently. But I think God just smiles down and beckons us to be still and find rest in his presence.


“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)

What Do You See in the Mirror?

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

This evening at the hair salon I took notice of the mirrors at each work station. In front of each person was a large mirror and it was interesting to observe that all the conversations between the stylists and their clients took place not face-to-face but rather face-to-mirror-to-face. I also noticed that very few women actually looked at themselves… I mean deeply looked at themselves in the mirror. It was as though they were afraid to see the woman looking right back at them.

Many years ago when I was going through a period of low self-esteem, a friend and pastor dragged me in front of a full length mirror and asked me to look hard into the mirror and find one thing that I liked about myself. I tried so hard but I could not do it; I couldn’t say the words “I like my….” I recoiled from the mirror but my friend pulled me back. He was not going to let me off that easily. Since I couldn’t find one positive thing to say, he took the liberty to list them off… my eyes, my smile, my hands… he went through every body part… then he had me repeat after him, one word at a time: “I am beautiful.” After I said those words, I wept and fell into his arms where he held me and prayed with me.

But the hair salon this evening was also a place of transformation, of new life. After the women had their hair colored, cut, or styled, they all looked carefully into the mirror and smiled. If only for a few moments, they felt special and full of self-worth. It was beautiful to see how for that brief moment, they knew that they were beautiful.

There was a little girl no older than 6 years old and she got her long hair cut. It was so precious to see her dance and squeal in delight with her “new look”. She knew she was pretty and when we told her how incredible she looked, she broke out into the biggest smile that a little girl could ever have. That’s when I realized that we are beautiful women of God and we too should dance and squeal in delight as God keeps whispering to us “You are so beautiful and I love you.”


“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:3-4)