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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Upgraded life… 150sq ft > 40sq ft {1×1}

When I met Mr. Miu, he was in his 40’s & sick with cancer. (He is still doing Chemotherapy.) His home was a 40 square foot room in a sub-divided flat in Sai Wan, a very old area of Hong Kong with many Shark Fin shops. For almost 2 years I’ve been visiting him there every Saturday. We talk about life, we swap stories & we talk about how we both got to ‘where we are today’… we’ve walked a while together now, we’ve become friends. When I don’t find my friend at home, I go looking for him just to be sure he’s alright. I usually find him at his favorite haunt around the corner from his building. He goes there to find room to stretch out, even a booth at McDonald’s has more space than his tiny “apartment”.

Mr. Miu & I have lived two very different lives, but we have many things in common. We were both born in Hong Kong, we share our native language & love for HK street food, etc. But most important is our mutual need for spiritual wisdom & guidance in this life. I often tell the cage-home residents I visit about the different ways Father has helped me over the years & how much better things are for my family now that I trust Him with everything. Which is how we find ourselves spending many evenings, discussing the truths revealed in the world around us & taking turns praying for one another.

One of those prayers has been for a Public Housing Flat to open up for Mr. Miu. After 6 years on the waiting list, the call finally came. (Public housing flats are often much larger & cheaper than the cage-homes many of our friends live in.) So last month David , one of my volunteers, went with me to help Mr. Miu move into his brand new flat in a brand new building! My friend was worried about how to furnish his 150 square foot apartment, all he owned was a mini-fridge and a fan. Then, about a week before he had to move, I was able to get an appointment for us to take Mr. Miu to ‘shop’ for furniture at a place called Cornerstone. The warehouse is full of all sorts of donated furniture in excellent condition – all that you can collect in 2 hours is FREE. Like one of those shopping-spree game-shows where you can fill your cart until the time runs out… What a huge blessing that was for Mr. Miu! Watching peoples lives get upgraded… {1×1}

Below are the pictures of Mr. Miu’s old & new flats, he now pays HALF the rent, has almost 4x  the space & 100% privacy, without sharing a bathroom/kitchen with 10+ other renters, etc…. I think you will agree – he certainly got an upgrade!

Unfortunately, I’m not able to visit my friend as often now that he’s living in a new area, but I make a point to at least call him once a week. As long as I’ve known him, he’s been fighting cancer, but the bigger struggle is with his faith. We know God can heal him, & he can live with the hope of Heaven, if he chooses Jesus. Will you pray with me for Mr. Miu to have two more life upgrades, that his body will be healed & that he will find the peace that surpasses understanding? (Philippians 4:7)

-MK

Mr. Miu’s new flat

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Mr. Miu’s old flat

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is twilight Really evil? (family entertainment is a choice)

The question has been asked of us more than once. I’m not sure it’s my place to answer, but I will say this: “If blood sucking, murdering Vampires are the ‘good guys’, then who are the ‘bad guys’!?? And if main characters are having premarital or adulteress sex – it certainly doesn’t make our list!” It’s not just a bad influence in our kids lives, it’s potentially deadly to their Souls & Spirits…

Friends listen, there are so many things out there that fill our hearts & minds with good & wholesome feelings & ideas that we simply don’t have time to worry about things that are questionable. It’s not about the violence, we watch LOTR frequently. It’s more about the negative spiritual content. Frankly, we just avoid entertainment that doesn’t have a clear line between good/evil. Even Star Wars has a pretty clear line, sure, it gets crossed by more than one character, but the line is still there… Some shows on tv are just blatantly teaching horrible life choices & habits to our families & it’s no wonder that we have so many 14-17 year old mothers in our American high schools, with shows like “16 & Pregnant”! But others try to hide the depravity behind a storyline, like “Desperate Housewives” & “Jersey Shore” – it’s not surprising that divorce rates keep going up… Sit-coms these days often portray the Dad as an idiot & the Mom as the bossy/witch. What a skewed version of how God intended our families to be. Even actual KID shows teach that it’s cool & accepted to disobey parents & ignore all authority, have you ever sat down & thought about it while your kids watch “Zack & Cody”?? – This is nothing new, my generation had their own issues, although not quite as sleazy, there was the original “90210” & others. Do we really need to wonder why kids find it normal to act like adults when the adults in their lives allow them to watch such things? I could say the same about a lot of mainstream music & rap, it can be very degrading towards women & speak poorly about our differences in race & creed… Surely you get the point though. – These characters become our kids role models – when what they really need is a real life role model to model what NOT to allow into their Spirit!

How do we ‘avoid‘ it all? What do we say to our kids? Where do we start? – Well, for starters, we follow a “Family Media Covenant” that all of us have signed & renew it every year. (You can read about it here.) We hold each other accountable with family check-ins. Meaning we discuss a certain CD, movie or concert choice, etc. as a family. Pro’s & Cons. Then in the end, Dad has the final say if we are not in 100% agreement. But usually when it’s talked through, the kids decide exactly how we would… In your search for the good/bad in any given choice, there are many parental guidance websites that can help with excellent reviews of books, movies, tv & music choices. We use “PluggedIn”.

Try to realize it’s not a one-time “cleaning house”, but an ongoing process for your whole lives. The goal is to ask God what HE would have you see, read, hear & then follow His will for your life. He always wants the best for you & will always protect you if you let Him! For us, the family talks help to keep everyone balanced. We don’t want to become legalistic & cause ourselves to much stress over it, but we DO want to remain under God’s protection! Our kids often surprise us by asking tough questions about what WE read or watch, by helping them understand how we got to our decision, they learn how to get to one for themselves.

One year, Harry Potter was a long discussion that we all learned from. It will likely be revisited soon, as our younger boys are older & may become interested. We want them to think it through & know that they are all different. One might need to be older for a certain level of violent content, one might not. One might not be able to handle discerning good/bad behavior in a character & not need to see that show, while another might not have the same problem. It’s crucial for kids to learn their OWN habits, strengths & weaknesses. One day, we parents will not be there & they need to have the tools to make wise choices on their own! We teach our kids to choose what they allow IN their eyes/ears by the guidelines in the bible. While they are still learning, it is our job to protect them… Evil IS real & it can be harmful to our Soul/Spirit when we allow it to enter our mind/heart through our eyes/ears. We also show our kids how they can see these effects in each others lives… We use this verse as our measuring stick:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” -Philippians 4:8

Important Note: Scientists have proven that people, males esp. are very visual & that images can last in their mind for their entire lives, these images can pop up into their consciousness at any time w/o desire or warning. This is why God teaches us to guard our hearts & allow the Holy Spirit to transform our minds to be like the mind of Christ which is Holy & Pure = protected from evil.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” -Proverbs 4:23

No matter what country you live in or what age you are, there will always be people in this world that want to have you join in their folly. Often that leads to dangerous situations & leaves lasting scars on your heart & in your life. We know it can be a challenge to be different & say “NO” when everyone else seems to think it’s all so great… But we’ve always found something better in choosing to protect our heart/mind while following God instead of the crowd. That something is peace of mind. Literally, no fear, no bondage, no nightmares, no anxiety… just peace. It’s our prayer that all of you would have that peace today!

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” -Romans 12:2

Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see.
Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see.
There’s a Father up above, looking down in tender love,
So be careful little eyes, what you see.

Be careful little ears what you hear
Be careful little mouth what you say…
Be careful little hands, what you touch…
Be careful little feet, where you go…

Other helpful verses:

James 4:7, Corinthians 10:13, Psalm 119: 9-16

-JK

straight to God’s heart… with whispers

Have you ever heard a sound that pierced your heart? Been swept away by the sweetness of a flower’s soft touch? Have you ever witnessed a scene that made your ears scream? Or maybe felt a chill straight through your bones… tasted the warmth of a kiss from a butterfly’s wings??

I believe God means for us to respond to the world around us with His love & compassion. The closer I get to my Father’s heart, the harder it is to turn a blind eye to the overwhelming depths of pain & sorrow of my earthly companions. My heart aches within me. And yet, in the same breath I see my Father’s heart for them, & I begin to drink of His devastating beauty & goodness that filled the earth on the first day of creation!How glorious the gifts He’s placed here for us, the compassion & care with which our earthly home was adorned.

What is it about the human nature that keeps us in the dark for so long? But now that I see, there is no veil that could blind me again. I must fight for Love. I must work for Justice. I must live for Peace. Until His Kingdom comes to earth… until every ear has heard the story of the Son that came to free them, heal them, adopt them & bring them home to their rightful Father for all of eternity. THIS, this is my mission. This is why I was born.

My friends, I know what you seek. In the night of your aching soul, it is HOPE that escapes you. Let me shine a LIGHT from home, like a lighthouse on the shores in the storm of life… Jesus is waiting on the water. He stands there to catch you before the waves consume you. He holds fast to lift you before the rocks can dash you apart. He’s here to bring you to God, His Father & yours… Take heart, look up, say YES to life & reach for Him! Do you know this Savior? Have you heard His name & walked away?? It’s not too late friends… He waits for you still. He cries for you. Longs to hold you near, keep you from harm, give back your HOPE… give you a future that lasts farther than you can imagine.

Believe me Dear Ones, He hears you today. He knows your name. He’s ready to help you, always.

Your words speak straight to His heart… with even the faintest whispers, your cries pierce the very heart of God.

Speak His Name. Jesus. Yahweh.

“”Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.”” -John 14:27-28