how to live – full of JOY {be transformed}

Today I ran across an old FB note from 2010 – before this blog began… I thought it’d be good to share with you all here, starting with a quote from one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met:

“A person who is obsessed with Jesus is more concerned with his or her character than comfort. Obsessed people know that true joy doesn’t depend on circumstance or environment;
it is a gift that must be chosen and cultivated, a gift that ultimately comes from God.”
-Francis Chan

July 27, 2010
“Dear Joy: How do you stay so positive and joyful? I am always blessed by your posts. You shine Jesus, keep it up and share your secrets.”
-Blessings from Sacramento

joyful_heart_cheerful_face_pocket_prayer_cardHAHA, well it prolly helps that my name is JOY. LOL So glad I can bless you! You bless me every time I see you! =) So I guess we’re even! I don’t know that it’s a secret, but I truly do LIVE to WORSHIP & that is where I am renewed daily. You can’t shine for or with Jesus’ love if you are not first filled with it, right?! But… you know that already!

((Also, I figure if Face Book {or WordPress} is going to be any good at all, I should look at it as a Mission Field of sorts… I represent Christ WHEREVER I go, even on FB… so I try to check any negative attitudes at the ‘door’ & not just “barf up” my most recent struggle/drama online for everyone else to be polluted by it! It encourages ME when I FORCE myself to come up with an uplifting comment to share with others, esp. on those days I don’t feel very positive!))

Here’s a good pointer though, to keep from DISCOURAGING yourself or others: If you feel rotten, discouraged, angry, etc (anything NOT good)… give your FLESH exactly 5 minutes to FEEL it & to express it to God… sometimes I take 5 to feel & another 5 to tell God! LOL – But the KEY is that after that, you GIVE it to God & CHOOSE life & love as your response from that moment on! It isn’t easy, but we can do that if we ask God to help us! =) Of course He WILL since this is the way He has instructed us to respond!

joyful_heart_foundation_inspired_nails_by_samikelly-d6cfze9The hardest for me is when people who KNOW BETTER still hurt me, I find that I have to remind myself how Jesus treated those closest to Him, even while they questioned Him, lost trust, & then betrayed Him… He forgave in love, taught them, came alongside them, & asked His Father to forgive them!

To sum it up:

  • KNOW that you KNOW that you KNOW “WHO Jesus is & Who YOU are IN HIM” ((this happens through relationship/communion with the Father, Spirit, & Son through worship, prayer, & study/meditation of the Word & Truth!))
  • SPEAK (& THINK) only LIFE, that which is edifying.
  • DON’T sin in ANGER, better to do nothing than the wrong thing.
  • FORGIVE, as you have been forgiven.
  • PRAISE & WORSHIP the God that gave you life more abundantly!

This is the way to live IN the SPIRIT, even while your flesh is struggling to adapt to/survive in your circumstance/the world. (See Rev. 1:9-10a)

"Be JOYFUL always!" -1 Thessalonians 5:16

My joyful boys – Wesley & Joseph in San Fransisco, CA @2010

“Be JOYFUL always!” -1 Thessalonians 5:16
-JK
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are you Co-Dependent? {5k+1}

 

Are your dreams COMPLETELY dependent on God?

Will your results testify to HIS greatness? or yours???

Most of you know that we are adopting AnnaBelle from China – what you may not know is that we are trusting GOD to pave the way, open the doors & provide the funds for EVERYTHING because He told us He WILL! If we were depending on US in any way, this whole thing would have never left the airport – we aren’t exactly overflowing with ‘green’ in the Kwong house, in case you didn’t know!!

We are people of faith & live our entire lives based on that. We decided to leave every comfort of home/family & security when we came to Hong Kong in 2011. We watched God raise & provide every penny to make that happen. Then we moved across the ocean with nothing but faith to guide us & keep us. It has always been enough. God is MORE than enough. He’s shown HIMSELF to be faithful in providing for our every need & desire over & over again. So each time He guides us in a new direction, no matter how hard or impossible it seems, we trust Him again. It’s a new chance to see Him work His miracles in amazing ways! How can we refuse to follow such a loving & merciful God?! He brings us through to the other side of each & every challenge, even when WE fail Him & when we doubt Him & when we try to run… He is so patient & He waits for us, how can we not wait for Him?! Indeed, His timing & His ways are far greater than ours – so we allow Him to lead.

We are going after God-sized dreams & we expect God-sized results! In this journey we’re making to bring AnnaBelle home, there are MANY mountains we need moved! Most of them are financial, but this week’s trials were more of the paperwork & regulation sort… it turns out that living overseas makes this international adoption ‘business’ a touch more complicated. Go figure. We struggled a bit with the delay & the frustration of missed appointments & added requirement surprises… but in the end, we know that God was not surprised & that He is STILL in control of how/when we are able to complete this process & bring our sweet girl home! We TRUST Him completely. The truth is, this assignment, this calling… it is TOO BIG FOR US ALONE, it is designed that way – so that GOD ALONE will have all the glory for the miracles that come forth from it! We have already seen his miraculous confirmation of this journey, then His opening doors & provision for fees right on time for our recent homestudy visit… NOW we continue to trust him to clear the way for our paperwork & to provide the remaining $18,000 that we still need for all the agency/orphanage/document fees!!! Of course it’s a HUGE dream – because we have a GREAT & MIGHTY GOD who has already promised to complete what He has started!!!

We cannot possibly do this alone – we aren’t meant to – that’s the point… Friends, what has God called you to do that is beyond all your ability? Are you jumping in & trusting Him for the rest? Or are you playing it safe & waving from the shore while someone else carries out your calling? Don’t wait even one minute longer… ask the Lord to show you & He will – seek His face & you will find Him – pray for wisdom & receive it today! God wants to walk WITH you on a miraculous journey of your own – all He asks is that you use it to show others of His great love & saving grace! Will you try it? Will you try trusting this great & loving God? I promise you, HE is the only thing in this life worth being dependent on – HE wants you to be COMPLETELY DEPENDENT ON HIM… not co-dependent on yourself. Let Go & Watch God teach you to FLY!

“For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself… But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead… For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity (holiness) and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God..”  -2 Corinthians 1:8-9,12

redeeming our Victory lap… {be transformed}

Today started out like any other Friday… I had stayed up too late working on adoption grants & FB, so I slept in while Mark cooked me bacon/eggs/hash for breakfast. Tryston took the train to piano lessons. The other boys played & messed around instead of school because mom was asleep, until Daddy cracked the whip & they got to work. Once I was sipping coffee around 9, Dad left to run errands (Friday is his study/work at home day, so he also runs errands that must be done during work hrs-VERY helpful!) & we all got started on some projects…

Somewhere around 11, Mark & I both had the same idea for a fun family outing everyone had been trying to fit into our busy schedule. This was no small miracle, since we weren’t together or even on the phone/texting each other when this happened… As soon as he got home, I asked if he had seen my text about my idea. “He said no, but can we talk in the other room?” LOL Short story is, we agreed it was the perfect day & weather for a day at the public pool! YAY for taking the afternoon off from school!!

And THAT’S when it happened. Out of nowhere, the house seemed to be in a fog. Kids started bickering, parents were nit-picking & the teenager was huffing around… What is this all about? We were having a great morning & planning a fun afternoon??!! What the heck?

So.Not.Cool.

This was going nowhere fast friends, I was about fit to be tied. With everything we’ve been working on lately for work & the adoption, we have had precious little time as a family to go have fun & relax. How can we throw it all away? People were already suggesting that we just stay home… 😦 I was about to cry…

Instead, I made a DECISION. A choice. We are NOT going down without a fight. Fear Not little family! This is NOT how this battle ends. The devil can go play around with someone else’s family because we’re not defeated today! — So I told my family all that. I reminded them who we are, Children of God. I acknowledged that we have plenty of ‘issues’ that need to be addressed from time to time. (Every family does, if they’re honest!) I told them how we have a CHOICE to get into all of it today, right now, when we KNOW we are planning to leave for a much needed family day… knowing also that the ‘discussions’ may ruin our plans altogether… Or we can CHOOSE to set an appointed time to calmly/rationally address these little dust bunnies that get swept under our rug now & then… when we are rested & can come prepared with rational & well thought out opinions, rather than feeling defensive & angry at not being heard ‘right this second’… For everything has its rightful time & place. But THIS was neither the time OR the place. Not today, not on my family’s ‘family time’!

Of course, I’d like to say we all held hands, prayed & sang ‘Jesus loves me’ at that exact moment. But that would just be a silly lie & you wouldn’t buy it anyway… right? Well not if you know us very well! Ha ha. What we DID do is take a deep breath, go to separate rooms (admittedly, the hardest thing to do in a 680sqft flat with 5 people!), & cool down until lunch was ready… The rest is history. We had a perfectly lovely day at the pool & water slide playground! We had a delicious dinner at a little noodle shop, bought some groceries & topped it off with some soft serve from McDs & a short tv show before bed… Successful fun family day! – Praise the Lord for His grace – our victory lap for today was indeed redeemed!

Moral: NEVER let the enemy steal your joy! Protect your family! PRAY! Mark & I pray constantly pray for our family, our kids & our marriage. The Holy Spirit lives in our home & I’m certain HE is the reason I had the clarity to grab ahold of our quickly spiraling day this time! Be ready to kick the devil out of your house friends! Be ready in & out of season! KNOW that you are God’s children, He is WITH you always. But because of that, the enemy of your soul is out to attack everything he can to derail you from God’s calling & plans for your life! It’s no surprise to us that we’ve had more & more moments where we’ve identified enemy attacks like today’s on our family since starting our adoption of AnnaBelleYou can be sure, if you are following God’s will for your life, it’s not a matter of OF the devil will attack your life/work/ministry/family/health/finances… but a matter of WHEN! – Don’t LET him beat you! He only wins when we stand down… but why should you? With God on your side, who can be against you? The VICTORY is won friends – CLAIM IT IN JESUS’ NAME!

“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” -1 John 4:4

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” -Joshua 24:15

As always, feel free to leave a comment about your experiences or how this peel into our world may have helped you… But please also email me if you have any questions or if you would like prayer for your family!

-JK

ramblings of Encouragement in the real world

Do you ever have moments where the words you speak to encourage others end up being just the ‘life breath’ you needed to get you through your own day? This has been happening to me a lot lately. What gets me is the truth I speak to others came out of me… but I needed to hear it… again. So often we learn things, even well enough to internalize them & live it out… but we forget that we know them when we are discouraged & we simply try to ‘journey on’ feeling worn out & pulled down by the weight of ‘toughing it out’. I’m not sure I’ve learned to do it differently, just that today I am acutely aware of the truth that is IN ME & I’m choosing to allow it to encourage MYSELF in the Lord today. One day at a time, we all are learning new things, & then some days we are re-learning all over again. Like reading a favorite bible verse & suddenly getting completely new & fresh revelation from it… Today I choose to learn good & beautiful things, not forgetting the ugly & evil I have learned – but rather replacing it & vowing to leave it behind me. “Not turning back, moving ahead – I’m moving, moving forward!” (love that song!)

My recent Facebook musings that were meant to encourage others & have also encouraged myself:

Encouraging yourself in the Lord-

Last night someone asked “What do you do?” My answer is simple: I do the things that I have heard/seen with my Father in heaven. (John 8:38) (ie. serve the poor, care for widows & orphans, etc.)

“And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, “ Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word.” -1 Kings 18:36

Know that your Father has gone before you & made every way straight, including this one…

Yes, the price of a life (cost of adopting our daughter from China) – but the truth is… she’s worth that & so much more to her Father in heaven. We know that He wants to give her good gifts, we know that He led us to her & so we trust that He will also provide the ransom for her rescue!

Encouraging others in the Lord-

When talking with others about their faith walk (or lack thereof), it’s important to hear them out & get a feel for where they’re coming from. A person’s background tends to really color how they think & what approach will either interest them or turn them off the topic completely. Listening to them also give you time to pray & wait on the Holy Spirit for the right words – a critical step! Usually it helps the other person to relax & know that you are a trustworthy friend that will love them unconditionally, if you interrupt at every turn they will begin to feel like it’s the ‘all about YOU’ show instead of you & them sharing together… Never come right out & tell people they are wrong about their faith/theology unless you already have a long standing & trusting relationship – like a best friend… Anyone else you are ministering to will immediately shut down. Conversation over, no second chances. Try a more gentle way of showing them new ideas, allowing them to choose them for themselves.

It helps me a LOT to think of people as children who have never been taught. If I can choose to be gentle & loving in everything I say, then I will get through to them faster & with more impact than any other approach. Not sugar coating, but affirming the things they DO get right & suggesting new ways to think, as a new concept… like “have you ever considered what God was looking for when he created man? Do you think maybe he wanted companions that would be in relationship with him?” That might help a person rethink their idea that if they are a ‘good person’ they don’t need to really worry about reading the Word, praying or even knowing God enough to have any kind of relationship with Him.

It’s also very important to “speak life” into & about the situation. Especially when you talk to people you want to encourage & edify (teach). If they feel preached at though, they will say forget it, & then your conversation (& opportunity) is over. Listen to the spirit for the balance. Sometimes not talking & just hearing them out will give you so much more insight, for your prayers & for the next conversation. Treat every conversation as a divine appointment. Assume that God’s been working on their heart & that He will provide you with the right words that THEY need to hear…

I often think we over complicate talking to people. If we can simplify then we can hear the holy spirit telling us how to get to the heart of their issue. Rather than debate or argue… choose to teach in love… People get defensive & shut down when they think we are correcting them, but they listen when they feel affirmed because we are approving of something & then we slip in new ideas, challenging them to think for themselves & search the Word out for answers. Teaching them to apply God’s truth & Kingdom principles to their own lives. In essence, you wouldn’t spoon feed your 10 year old, you teach him to do that himself when he’s young. Likewise, you hope that the lessons you teach your 16 year old will help him choose wise actions when he’s working his first full time job at 25. What if he couldn’t choose well, because he had never learned to think it through for himself? Would he know what to wear? How would he wake up on time & find his way to work? Would he forget to get his lunch?

God has commanded that we make disciples, that can also go out and make disciples… He didn’t say to go out & correct people all day w/o teaching them how to self-correct. We don’t have time to be everyone’s Mommy right? So let’s remember to point to Jesus & teach them how to read the map, rather than being their personal guide while they sit in the backseat & stare out the windows of life, never learning to navigate or drive on their own. Don’t worry about reaching the masses, speak to people one on one, build relationship & walk through life together WITH them, in doing so you will make a disciple who will do the same. This is how we reach the world with Jesus’ hope & truth, by loving & teaching one by one. {1×1}

One last thing, an important thing I learned many years ago: If you feel you are in over your head with a conversation, like it’s gone beyond your personal training or knowledge of God (or the other person’s theology has you caught w/o an answer… ie. talking with a Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness or Muslim person etc.)… PRAY silently, find a graceful exit & seek Godly counsel from someone you trust! Take this as a chance for YOU to grow & seek out wisdom & training for the specific kind of conversation needed… We don’t send soldiers to the front lines without serious & extensive hands on training from masters of their skills… why would we try to fight a spiritual battle without the right tools & weapons or without excellent training? We are talking about the life/death of people’s souls. Let’s take it seriously friends!

Serving Others/Getting Hurt –

Q. – How is it that you can walk with people through the death of a child and siblings, the death of parents and in-laws, adoption of children, disabling injuries, marriages that are almost destroyed, drug and alcohol addictions, and when as soon as you say something they do not agree with, you are suddenly their ‘former pastor’??? How do we inspire loyalty?

A. – I know people that are living this daily, they are called to a community that didn’t ask them to teach them, doesn’t want to be challenged & pretty much thinks they have all ‘arrived’… being new in a town/country is lonely/hard enough, but each time they think Father has finally sent a true friend, they’ve been mistaken…  —  I have experienced this at times myself. In the midst of it, I was so blessed in growing even closer to Him. Looking back, I am blessed now, in how He is able to strengthen/protect our marriage/family in EVERY season, despite the adversity set up against it/us! As for loyalty, we need to point others to Jesus, not ourselves or our programs. If we can model loyalty to Jesus rather than man, then we are already halfway there. Like you would redirect a child, constantly be redirecting the people you serve. Remember to be a SERVANT leader as Christ is, & remember that if it is Christ they should be loyal to, then you can take it a little less personal when they walk away from you so easily. Let’s just pray they don’t completely walk out on HIM! We all need to be constantly re-learning to KEEP HIM as our BFF, our source & the only one we strive to please & be loyal to! Be encouraged friends, He SEES our struggle & He’s walked it Himself, He gives new grace for each day… Amen?!!

Bear with me friends, feel free to add your thoughts in the comments. I’m still learning all of this, I have certainly NOT ‘arrived’ yet! – So, it’s good to repeat it to you, as that helps me do it better myself! – I’d love to hear from you all, the truth is “Iron sharpens Iron”, we are meant to encourage & strengthen one another – just not made to depend on each other for our entire faith walk!

-JK