growth for Christmas {a transformed life}

Pain. Fear. Ambulance. Patience. Humility. Hospital. Heroes. Knight. Boredom. Frustration. Disappointment. Peace. Rest. Swelling. Bruising. Quiet. Study. Worship. Lonely. Immobility. Crutches. R.I.C.E. Delegate. Acceptance. Teamwork. Dependance. Creativity. Laughter. Innovation. Decorating. Loud. Messy. Love. Christmas. Courage. Growth. Trust. Shopping. Silly. Antics. Careful. Rehabilitation. Exhausted. Sore. Word. Spirit. God. Husband. Wife. Kids. Family.

HK ambulanceWhat a week. These words are only a few of the moments & feelings we have come through. Last Wed. as we prepared for an afternoon shopping trip & then meeting Dad for a nice dinner out… I fell & sprained my ankle! It was horrible because I couldn’t stand on it & my three boys were at a loss for how to help me… I hated that moment, feeling like I had let them down, scared them & put them in such a hard position. I was afraid it was broken too. Don’t really remember the last time I did anything that hurt that much, other than childbirth & kidney stones I guess. Dr’s called it a ‘severe ankle sprain’ (no break), Mark says it’s like a Grade 2 ‘high ankle sprain’ which is worse than the norm I guess… Turns out you’re NOT supposed to walk on your foot (or your ankle) when it’s fallen asleep! Go figure!

busted ankleNeedless to say, I’ve been laid up on the couch for the last week! It’s been a time of major stretching & growth for our whole family. I’m sure it’s not over yet – since I have one more week of no walking (except with crutches) & likely another 3-6wks of healing to go after I start putting weight on it. In all, I’m proud of my family – we’ve started to really pull together & work as a team. Maybe we’re learning more about what it takes to be a strong family, or maybe everyone else is just finally realizing all that Mom does around here! Ha ha! Now that I can’t get up & just do stuff, they have to HELP ME in addition to all of their responsibilities… what’s more is they have to do all the things I would normally do around here – or be frustrated when it isn’t done! Everyone has to help pick up the slack, but isn’t that the point of a team?? Isn’t that the point of the Body of Christ?? Aren’t we all part of both, this family Kwong & the family of God?! Taking time to talk about it with the kids, so they will actually GET the lesson while they live it, that seems important to me… & yet so hard to do! Seems crazy, since I have no where to go, stuck on the couch! But there is much to do while I sit here, besides icing my ankle. {grin} Like catching up on correcting/grading homework that has been on my desk for weeks, emails & scheduling for the US Team that will be here right after Christmas & helping kids with math! (oh yay, how fun! LOL)

mom on crutchesAs for the personal lessons God has brought for me, I’m praying & working through each of them. From patience & humility to showing my gratefulness & giving grace to others… & allowing my feelings of disappointment over missing out on things/activities that I just can’t go to right now – but then choosing to rest in the Spirit & enjoy the extra time I have to be in the Father’s presence rather than dwell on what was missed! The biggest lesson so far, the one I haven’t ever had many chances to work on, was trusting my 4 guys with taking care of things that are normally totally up to me. Specifically, shopping for Christmas decorations! It took a lot of soul searching to really be ready to “LET GO” of the control on this one, but the only other choice was to not have it done until I can walk well enough to go out on the train again (maybe 3 weeks). Well, we’d already be past Christmas by then, & if not – everything would be sold out anyway, like it was last year when we arrived in Hong Kong, just 9 days before Christmas! This is my favorite time of year, I love to focus on Jesus & the Father’s gift, & family shopping & decorating time is all part of setting the tone… We didn’t have room to bring many decorations with us, & last year we arrived pretty low on funds & too late for buying things – so this was the time I’d waited all year for – to go out & stock up on great decorating treasures (& great deals on prices too!)… Waiting on Mom to heal first was simply NOT an option this week!

door wreathSo… I sent them off with my list & a prayer. Then I called my Gramma & told her how “My plan is to be prepared & at the very least, to say ‘Thank You!’ & NOT CRY no matter what they bring home!!” — But I was worried for nothing! My amazing Husband, my hero, actually called & skyped with me from the store so that I could still help decide on things!!! I was nervous when it sounded like the kids were fighting, but later I found out he got them all Root Beer (very hard to find in Hong Kong) & they were angels the rest of the day! When they came home, the treasures found were just right, they all did a GREAT job!

decorating the treeNow here I am, delegating cleaning, cooking & laundry jobs, as well as explaining where all the decorations should go… It’s beginning to look a ‘little’ like Christmas in here! We’re gearing up for our Home Group Christmas party this Friday. It will be a big TEAM Kwong effort to get the house looking great while Mom is couch-bound. But I’m confident that we can do it! between the shopping adventure & our home-made decor (thanks to Pinterest ideas!), we’ve gotten a lot done already! I can’t wait to be up & running again, but I’m so grateful that God is always growing us & teaching us through every little bump in the road! My family is stronger today & I am going to be able to release them into even more new adventures as we come up on our 1 year mark since moving here… Our next year in Hong Kong is already looking to be even brighter than the first! Can’t wait to see what lessons Jesus has for us in 2013, it’s gonna be epic I’m sure!!

laptop crafting  blue starflakecrafting

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord.” -2 Corinthians 3:18

“Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” -2 Corinthians 5:17



crafting the Truth

We are passionate about truth. If we don’t learn FROM it, we are certainly destined to repeat mistakes of our ancestors that we may otherwise be able to avoid… History is HISstory. We trust God to teach us & give us discernment through His Spirit as we study various materials. It’s so important to see the ‘stories’ from all sides, but most important to see it from God’s side. Almost always, each side has something good to teach us & each side has made mistakes we can learn from.

The same is true with the history of what we now call Thanksgiving. It started as a one time Harvest Feast by a group of weary pilgrims in a new land, grateful to God to be alive after burying half of their fellow travelers… It’s not even clear if the Native Americans were invited to join the feast or if they invited themselves… But there was indeed a tentative peace & cooperative relationship between the two groups, which did last for a number of years, until more & more ships of Englishmen with different objectives arrived. Then the peace treaties were forgotten & it became a sad story of war once again. If you are looking for more info on the before, during & after of the REAL story you can check out the article & video that we liked best out of all the ones we went through, these had the most comprehensive overall info. (The Real Thanksgiving Story, We Shall Remain, After the Mayflower)

We finished out our lesson with crafts, hot coco & Charlie Brown… A little taste of ‘normal’ for these homeschoolers that are not used to being stuck indoors (getting over colds) on the 51st floor, staring into the foggy sky. Now I’m off to finish laundry & prepare the house for yet another lovely Team Member to visit for the next week. Blessings & Thankful prayers friends!






“I will praise the name of God with song, And shall magnify Him with thanksgiving.” -Psalm 69:30


full of Love & duck ~ a HK thanksgiving Pt.1

Peking Duck 北京烤鴨 (pronounced “Buck-ing Duck”, which is Beijing Duck) with the Team, all folks a good 20yrs older than Mark & I with no kids (or PIE!) in sight… was NOT exactly the Thanksgiving tradition we’re used to. Neither was the train ride home among hundreds of Hong Kong locals, or stopping for something resembling dessert at a mall, only to find ourselves running to catch the last shuttle bus home as it left ahead of schedule! But it WAS all an adventure we shared together as a family, everyone behaved themselves (although I had my doubts while we were getting ready, THAT was the same as every other year!), everyone got plenty to eat, we prayed a prayer of thanks with friends & loved ones, & we blessed each other in the name of the Lord! Sooo, in the most important ways, it turned out to be a familiar kind of Thanksgiving after all.

On Sunday, we got to ‘be there in spirit’ for our family Turkey Day in the States. It was Saturday in California when Grandpa called the boys to ‘skype them in’ after the big meal at Great Grandma’s house! What fun! Just a new way for the Kwong boys to try & stay center stage at every family gathering, even from across the world! Ha!! Although I (Joy) was feeling pretty sick & stayed clear of the camera, & Tryston was off at drama practice… everyone else got to say Hi & even “oohed & ahhed” over little Kyen, the newest family baby that was born just over a month ago. (Brings back sweet memories of another “Thanksgiving Baby”!) We are so thankful for technology! The boys are already talking about putting together a video for the family to play at the Christmas gathering next month… always a new adventure in the Kwong house!

The next stop on our journey is the ‘real’ Thanksgiving Day in a couple days. – Today however, was spent researching some tidbits about the first REAL Thanksgiving… We tend to dig a little deeper than the average school with our homeschoolers, so we found a few websites that give a bit more history to the ‘history story’ if you know what I mean. Here’s a link on just one that got us thinking, in case you’re into digging up the past as well. (The REAL Story of Thanksgiving). – Now, as for this Thursday, we may post-pone until next week. Scheduling a big day of cooking & feasting doesn’t really fit in when you’re living in a country that doesn’t declare it a holiday! LOL Which means we have a lot going on including drama, dance & work – all getting ready for a HUGE city-wide multicultural festival (1P1C – One People, One City) being organized by ICAHK. We’re ALL going to be helping all day for both days this weekend, PLUS we have a houseguest arriving for a week-long stay on Sunday too! – So look for another post on what we end up finding available to cook for our first Turkey Day w/o a Turkey!

No, Thanksgiving isn’t really the same w/ rice & noodles. Sure, we’ll miss Grandma’s snickerdoodles & cousin Kim’s berry pies… all my guys will be missing the sports & hanging out in Grandpa’s man-cave, I’ll miss being busy in the kitchen with all the girls & the annual “Fall Leaf Walk”… No, we can’t have all the food this year, we can’t have football or golf or a backyard game of anything up on the 51st floor… we can’t even have the people (except through skype) – but we have the most important thing, the LOVE! That’s what we are thankful for every day of every year! It’s enough to know that we are right where we are meant to be & doing exactly what we were called to do! We love our family & friends – we love the people of Hong Kong – love is what it’s all about – & LOVE knows no distance! If there is love in your heart, you WILL be thankful! Be thankful to God from whom all love is from, for HE IS LOVE! ♥

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” -1 Thess 5:18

*Culture Tips from Mark: A note on Peking Duck – 北京烤鴨 (Buck-ing Duck)

“We don’t actually call it that, although it IS named that after Beijing where it came from… Even the menu won’t say that. Instead it says 片皮鴨 (Pin Paay Naap) which literally translates to “Sliced Skin Duck” because that’s all it is, very little meat is served IN the dish. The actual meat is used for the stir-fry that comes later as a side dish.” -MK

Check out this site for a more detailed description: Peking Roast Duck


mind Yourself? or God?

~Please continue to pray for our teammate & friend Jamie Lund! May her miracle show God’s Love & Healing Power to many. Read more here.~

“And whatsoever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” -John 14:13

It’s been over nine months since our arrival, we’ve become experts at keeping up with the crowds, finding our way & managing the public transit – even with kids & many shopping bags in tow. Or so we thought. Today was a really reminder that we have not ‘completely arrived’ yet. We had three, yes THREE, crazy happenings today – & two of them resulted in injury! First, the younger boys & I took a wrong turn on our way to meet Mark at the center where I teach English to a group of local boys every Saturday. We were walking from the train & got confused after taking the wrong exit, once we got back on track, we were late… Of course, that meant we should run & running meant being less careful… that’s when Wesley’s foot got cut open by the escalator! OUCH! Soooo, we went slower after that, especially me because i was carrying a very big 8yr old boy with a gash on his foot! (When did he get to be sooo heavy?!!) That 1/2 mile walk through busy city streets, sure was a real workout this morning! Thankfully we got him to the classroom, all washed up & bandaged just in time for me to teach!

“Mind the Gap”, one of the first “British” sayings we learned here in Hong Kong. It’s on every subway train door & they play it on the loud speakers too. So we are well aware of “the Gap”… On the way home from the class, I had a wheeled ‘cart’ FULL of hardback books. (Gifts for our homeschool from our friends at Christian Action where our English classes are taught.) While switching from one train to the next, I forgot to “Mind the Gap” with extra care concerning my cart. It bumped too hard &rolled sideways, taking my hand right along with it! It was surreal, my mind was saying “LET GO!”, but somehow the decision had already been made by the hand – “Not letting go!” – OUCH! Hours later, there is no swelling, but I’m very sore from my hand/wrist, to my elbow & even my shoulder… That load of books really twisted my whole arm! Ice & ibuprofen have been my company tonight… On a sweet note, my thoughtful Joseph offered to teach Mommy how to eat her dinner with her left hand! What a great kid!

Lastly, while Mark was driving the STL van to make his weekly Cage Home visits tonight, he ran into a ‘bit of a jam’. As ‘they’ say, a picture is worth a thousand words: The white car is parked. The Big Rig can’t finish turning without wrecking the white car. So the traffic is stopped and over 250 cars are stuck in a traffic jam. ‘Hello, welcome to Hong Kong.’

hong kong traffic jamhong kong traffic jam

Have you ever taken a wrong turn, even on a path you know well? We can get confused & even shaken in places that are new OR familiar – thankfully our loving Father is always ready to help, His light shines on our safe path to the road He has already prepared for us. A road full of blessings & provision! — Have you ever been in a situation where your mind is saying RUN, but you know that you know better? Like Wesley, we often get ourselves hurt by going too fast & not taking time to do things the way we’ve been taught. God’s way is the best way, but His ways are not OUR ways… we must be willing to ask him & listen for the answers! — What about finding yourself being careless because of that same sense of familiarity? The same way my arm injury could have been avoided, there are many time we can avoid the snares of the devil & his temptations if we are careful & diligent. The bible tells us to be watchful & wise, so that we can avoid the hurts of this world. — Has that mind conflict ever happened to you? Where your mind says LET GO, but the message seems rejected by the rest of you? It’s the same when God tells us to let go & lay down our heavy burdens… Why? Because he knows that they will make us stumble ‘in the Gap’ between our sin & His grace. He wants us to take a hold of His ‘way of escape’ instead. That’s why Jesus died & came back to life again for you & me, so that we might have abundant life & spend eternity in fellowship with Him! — TRAFFIC, isn’t it frustrating!?! How do YOU respond when there seems to be a big hold up  with the miracle or promise you’re asking God for? Or with the ‘plan’ you thought you were following in life? Do you honk the horn & yell impatiently at the empty car hoping the driver at fault will hurry up? Do you manipulate things so that you can get around the problem instead of solving it? Or do you seek God in EVERYTHING & allow for His will in that ‘jam’, even if feels like just another delay??

I’ve learned to THANK the Holy Spirit for those delays. I learn so much in those few moments of honest reflection during that time of ‘waiting on the Lord’ – He always reveals Himself, confirms His will, & creates a way of escape for me! He will do it for you too, if you let Him! He will do more than you can ask or imagine, if you will just follow him ONLY & allow Him to be the one in the Driver seat of your life! In the end, are you willing to “Mind God” rather than “Yourself”???

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” -Isaiah 55:8

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” -Ephesians 3:20-21