standing Brave, it’s what she does

Singing in the midst of life’s engulfing fires, fighting back the treacherous storms of her heart & dancing through the unforgiving pain of failing strength… there she stands. She is brave. Braver than most. Fierce as lions. It’s just what she does. Simply because that is who her Creator made her to be. A mighty warrior, a celebrated princess & a light in the darkness of fear.

Who do you know that matches this description? I have been blessed to have so many strong women in my life. Some are family, some are friends & others I have scarcely met for moments. All of them encourage & inspire me with their talent for finding their moment. That moment of grace where Father steps into your situation & just takes over your response to it. When you face that which is meant to destroy you, without giving in or falling back. The day you finally stand tall, despite the attacks & the traps of the enemy. Bravery. It’s not the absence of fear or even the presence of courage or strength. It comes from something truer, deeper. A place of forgiveness & grace. A place of knowing, of been there/done that. It comes out of surviving & choosing to thrive. This, this is the difference that sets apart the lucky ones that made it out somehow from the BRAVE ONES that chose to never give up or give in or give out.. ever again.

I’d be writing for hours if I sat her listing all the people (guys too) I know that are the picture of bravery tonight. Instead I will tell you about the three I am praying for as I go to bed. Please, if you pray to our Father in Heaven, mention these dear ones to Him. He will know them, so I will leave out their names.

  1. A dear sister who has stood BRAVE in the Valley Fire that continues to rage here in CA. Her family evacuated from the area only moments before their home was completely destroyed. They have only the clothes on their backs with them. Every “thing” they ever owned is gone… She & her husband pastor a church, which was also overcome by the flames. The cement steps & metal railing are all that remains… Yet she is working tirelessly to put aside her own needs, in order to tirelessly care for those around her who are also facing the pain of loss & starting over. So very brave. Because she has spent time with her Father, she walks confident in KNOWING who holds her tomorrows & who restores all “things” in His time. He gives her beauty for the ashes she surrenders to Him. Beyond what she could ever even ask or imagine. She just KNOWS. The confidence of knowing makes her brave when everything around her is in ashes. There is a peace that she knows, beyond all human understanding. The soft voice of the Spirit, telling her He is never letting go of her. Surely she must BRAVE the winds that throw the flames, as she hears only the voice of peace that guides her ‘home’. A place she knows not where. But she casts aside all doubt, in exchange for bravery born out of past experience. He will DO what He said He will do.
  2. A friend who IS my sister. (If you don’t have one, I’m praying you will soon!) This week she BRAVELY walks into new things, a new job, which brings a new lifestyle of sorts. It stretches her. It strengthens her. It launches her out of her comfort zone fast & furiously. Yet she embraces the challenge & confronts her old thinking in order to make room for newly improved approaches. She takes time to evaluate the why & where of questions like ‘How did I get here?’ & ‘Where should I be going next?’. Instead of running from the change & newly found accountability, she took on even more by telling me about it all. Knowing full well that I will also ask her ‘So how’s that going?’ in the days & weeks to come. All this while raising her children in the fear of the Lord, & serving her husband & her mother in every way. She exemplifies a life of prayer & trust. Brave is the one that walks WITH the Lord, following His lead even into the high waters where her feet cannot stand. She has an understanding that others have not reached. One that comes only from being carried through the storm(s) once (or twice) before. The fear of the unknown is not a stranger to her, nor is it a crippling distraction. Rather, it is simply a reminder to refocus on the One who leads the way, remembering that His way is straight & narrow, & there will always be grace enough to travel it. And she REMINDS HERSELF that she will never walk alone. She is BRAVE, because He is WITH her always. She is His & He is hers.
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  4. My daughter. From the moment we first saw her face we knew, this one is BRAVER than most. Tiny, frail & weak. Yet full of such power & fight. She will not back down or give up on herself or her love. She survives. At all cost. Her world has been capsized more times than I care to count. Her heart has learned to fight love to protect her, & now it’s learning to let love in… to heal her. What whirlwinds have tossed them about, She & her heart. Often they have been bruised & battered by the very ones they thought would treat their wounds. But her Creator has placed a love in her, deeply knitted into her soul, that no evil or pain could remove. Buried in the rubble of breaking trusts & stolen dreams, that love is emerging & reaching for the light. Every day she finds new strength. She is tiny, but so very fierce in wanting only to love & be loved. She has felt the Father’s touch. I see it in her eyes. I saw it before I met her & it shines brighter each day. Surviving is her gift, it birthed in her a BRAVE SPIRIT that will not quit. What horrors & sorrows she has felt, we may never know. But the love that spills out of her we recognize. The Author of her soul has written her new song. She sings for me sometimes, a song of forgiveness, a song of renewal. She sings to Him too, praises & anthems of His glory & goodness. She bravely lifts her head & walks on broken legs, into the safety of His presence. Each day we see her overcome new obstacles that once stood between us, she is not waiting for ‘someday’, she walks on. One foot after the other, with a band of brothers following close behind. Her steps are not always sure, but she will not sit still while there are stairs to climb. Up & out of the sadness, she climbs higher than she could ever dream. Far beyond what her strength allows, she swims to the depths of grief in order to bring it all to the surface. The Spirit that dwells in her deepest parts is guiding her to wholeness & healing through His mercy & grace. Not every broken part of her can be casted like her legs, but she is LEARNING that she WILL BE MADE WHOLE one day. From the top of her head to the bottom of her feet. Ten she will dance in the freedom that come from understanding how He brought her out of bondage & pain, & into the freedom of His love!

Think of the ones that inspire you friends. Tell them. Encourage them. Then go out & find that strength to face some things that are meant to destroy you. Walk in the knowledge of He who made you. Tell the mountains to move & the giants to fall. Be strong & courageous, in the face of your fears friends… BE BRAVE…

-JK

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healing Pain {walking through it, literally}

“No Pain, No Gain!” used to be a phrase I laughed at, until I had another ankle check-up on Fri.  Something strange happened when the Physical Therapist told me I should be able to try walking without the crutches again. I had been hoping he would say that, I’ve been so bored with staying off my feet & my house has turned into a pigsty & we have this Team of helpers arriving… But in that moment I simply could not imagine being able to put the crutches down & walk on my hurting ankle. (Oh ye of little faith, right?!) I didn’t think I really COULD “pick up my mat & go home”. I was scared of how much it would hurt to even try & I feared my ankle was too weak & would crumple under me again…

Then, sensing my hesitation, the Dr. smiled & in his slow & careful English he said, ” Of course, we will do it step by step, not all at once. You will get there over time.” All of a sudden I felt a wave of relief. He knew it was hard to jump right up & back to normal. He wanted to show me ways to strengthen my muscles again & he explained how using them more each day will actually promote the healing process, & not using them simply allows them to get weaker… When I asked how long it should take to be walking normal again his reply was simple, “It depends how willing you are to overcome the pain. The more you practice, the faster it will heal.”

There is truth is his words. Often we would rather stay in our pain, unhealed, simply because we are afraid of the unknown pain that the healing will require. But the reality is, no matter the KIND of healing we need (physical, emotional, spiritual, etc.) walking through the pain is often the best & fastest way to heal. For anything that needs healing, there are exercises & training methods that will help. Since Friday, I’ve been using my ankle more & just 24hrs after seeing the Dr. I was walking around the apt. without any crutches! (ok, I KNOW it’s only 680sqft, but I was excited to be up on my own for the first time in 3 weeks!) Today, I walked the journey to & from the subway to get to church & lunch using only one crutch for balance. It was a good day… moving forward, and surprisingly not nearly as much pain as in previous weeks of NOT walking on it!

We can train our mind & exercise spiritual discipline, etc. Since we’re talking about physical pain today – check out what WebMD has to say about Chronic Pain:

Pain Relief: Walking

Walk more: It’s one of the best prescriptions we have to help chronic pain. Daily pain tends to make people less active, and that often makes pain worse. Exercise also releases endorphins — the body’s natural painkillers. Aim to walk — or exercise in other ways — five times a week for 30 minutes a day. Work up to it slowly, adding a few minutes a week. -WebMD

Jesus suffered much pain on the cross, so that each of us may be healed from all things in this life. Our Father God sent His Son Jesus to earth for that very reason. To heal us & restore our relationship with Him… Sometimes the fear of risking pain can keep us from that growth & healing. Sometimes the very pain we’re avoiding is required before the healing can even take place. I’ve learned this lesson many times in regards to spiritual & emotional healing. Now I’m learning to trust God for physical healing. In small things like my ankle… & in big things like our oldest son’s brain lesion. God is faithful. It’s myself I worry about – praying you & I can keep practicing, walking through the pain & allowing God to heal us.

“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” -3 John 1:2

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” -1 Peter 2:24

“LORD my God, I cried out to You, And You healed me. O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.” -Psalm 30:2-3

{Dedicated to our friends Pastor Duane Jordan & Danny Lund, who teach us more than they realize about faith, pain, healing & trust. We thank God for their example!}

-JK

2 countries, 2 tragedies – 42 Innocent Children {a call to prayer}

Go hug your kids, right now! Then read this & pray with us! This is YOUR CALL TO PRAYER for the world & the children in it! ~ ‘Violence against children’ is not new. It’s not isolated. It’s happening everywhere. In our home country, the USA. Where we live, in China. It’s not going away either. Why? It’s evil! So… We. Must. PRAY!

Today,  Newtown, USA & Beijing, China are not as far apart as they seemed to be last week…

China Post: 22 children stabbed  outside a school in Beijing, China on Friday – Dec. 14, 2012

Fox: 20 children killed in school shooting in Newtown, USA on Friday – Dec 14, 2012

Evil is everywhere in this world. Here are some things I shared on FB today. There was plenty of discussion & as a friend mentioned, we are so blessed to know we can think differently, process differently & see things differently – but still love & honor one another in the end. You may not agree with my thoughts or my take on things… that won’t make me love or like you any less! I’d love to hear how you DO see & handle these things that go on in this world. It is only by respectfully sharing with one another that we all might learn & grow from each other’s experiences & wisdom… Now is the time to come together in unity & love, comfort one another & simply ‘be there’ for those that are hurting.

“Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” -Romans 12:15

As I see it, hundreds of souls in the two countries that I love are hurting, due to evil & violent acts on children. Right now I am going to spend time praying for all of these families in both these countries… So instead of taking time to rewrite & make this all sound pretty – I will let you piece it all together in your own mind. I just ask that you keep all comments respectful & please… PLEASE take time to pray for everyone involved!!!
____________________________________________

The first thing I saw on my phone today was this notification “Carin Pasion shares Jesus Christ Savior” & then I saw everyone’s posts about the Conn shooting that happened while I slept here in HK… So glad that my friends know exactly what to ‘share’ at such a time as this… ♥

Hurting people hurt people… It’s a matter of bringing Jesus & His hope to those without it… Those of us filled with the Hope of Heaven, we must stand up & fight evil with LOVE, we must be angry with the devil who has come to steal & destroy – we are not fighting against gun control or even against people with guns – the battle is against the devil & JESUS has already won – Let us LOVE EVERYONE & use our God given POWER & AUTHORITY to kneel & pray! Binding evil & releasing love – fighting evil spirits with the spirit of the Living God!!

“And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be what has been bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be what has been loosed in heaven.” -Mathew 16:19

We are also praying for every soul involved & every family that grieves today (including the shooter’s family & the stabber’s family)… Jesus is the answer for them too. May the Holy Spirit be with each & every one! May they come to know Him more each day as they walk through this time & into their healing.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[a] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” -Ephesians 6:12
There are many problems with mental health all over the world, but I am certain the the root of most of those mental concerns is found in the schemes of the devil, the enemy of our souls. The destruction caused is no mistake, it’s his design to tear us all down & have every soul accomplishing his destructive plans for him…

BUT GOD said NO! His MERCY says NO! & we must continue to look to Him, read His Word (our Bibles!) & practice what we learn every day – let your light of Hope shine for the hurting & deceived people of the world to see that God is GOOD & that He is LOVE & that He is the WAY TO HOPE EVERLASTING!!! Pray more & use your authority in Christ to fight the battle with evil in the Spirit, where the victory is already won by the King of Kings!
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” -1 Corinthians 15:57
“Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” -Luke 10:19
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” -Ephesians 6:11
Thoughts posted by a friend – Food for thought & discussion:

I was listening to Tom Sullivan today, and I have to agree with him! If the FAA can license pilots to carry a weapon in a cockpit of a plane, why can’t teachers and principles be licensed to carry a weapon in our schools? After all, who has the most precious cargo to be protected? Would the outcome have been any different today if the principal or a teacher was packing? The only protection those teachers had was huddling in a closet and hoping the shooter did not find them!

How come people accept an armed guard around MATERIAL POSSESSIONS such as a bank, a mall, or even a convenience store, but not when it comes to our children?

We can continue to debate on whether or not guns should be banned, but lets face it, criminals will always get a weapon, and those who are disturbed will always find a way to carry out their plan. Ted Kaczynski (The Unabomber) mailed explosive packages to his victims, while Timothy Mcveigh blew up a Federal building with fertilizer and diesel fuel. We don’t even want to mention those who will strap a bomb to themselves. I say, until they figure it out, let’s protect our children!

— Aaron
I DON’T think teachers should carry guns… but ever since ‘Columbine’ I have been more & more ok with the idea of trained & armed security at school campuses. This is not the same world that you & I went to school in…
Another friend shared this:
I agree that criminals will always find a way to get what they need to carry out their insanity, I don’t know if the outcome today would have been better or worse, no one can possibly know that. I agree that our children are the most important thing in the world and SHOULD be better protected, but I do not agree that school officials should have weapons at school. Think about it, if they did have a situation where they had to fire the weapon and the kids saw that, they may be afraid of that teacher or principal for a very long time and that would affect everything at school. I won’t even go into the “what if” of a child getting a hold of the weapon. What needs to happen is roving police patrols at every school. Children, even young ones, understand that is a police officers job and how they protect them. Teachers teach, police protect. Just my two cents.
— Melissa
It’s not about guns people… Guns are very hard to find (& completely banned) in China, large knives are hard to find too… but evil does not give up easily – we should not give up either! 22 elementary kids & 1 adult were hurt in the Beijing attack, but the article reminds us of many other recent attacks where others were hurt/killed…
A fellow American living in China said:
I am thankful teachers can’t carry guns….it would have made the situation MUCH worse. The answer is not found in arming people… The truth is, I may feel different if my kids attended a public school in America. They don’t, so its easy to have an opinion when it will not effect me in any way…
— Josh
That rings true with me – when Tryston was in public school in CA I was always concerned about safety… & school violence was a lot less common 7yrs ago. Makes me even more glad to be homeschooling… Amid all the reactions of our hundreds of FB friends, both in America & in various countries near & far… everyone has a different take. Some say ban guns, others say correct the mental health system, still others talk about the stigma of admitting to needing counseling or psychological help… All I know is Jesus, so that’s my take. This world needs Jesus. If we love Him we will love others, if we love others we will make a difference by bringing light & hope into the darkness. Praying for all of you, everywhere. Let’s go out & love God’s children, One by One! Be the LIGHT & make the darkness of this world FLEE friends!
“Therefore God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth.” -Philippians 2:9-10
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” -Hebrew 4:12
“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” -2 Timothy 4:2-5

With Jesus, God & the Holy Spirit by our side – whom shall we fear?! Searching for answers?? The answer is LOVING people, in ways that show them WHO love comes from… HE is the answer.

I know Who goes before me
I know Who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always on my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a Friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
“Whom Shall I Fear?” -Chris Tomlin

-JK

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

-JK