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

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

where is HOME?

We spent the 4th of July here in HK preparing for our one & only official Homestudy visit for our adoption paperwork. But we DID manage to grab a hot dog & a cinnamon roll at Ikea – plus I made some “4th of July mini-cupcakes” for the kids a few days in advance… forget that the only sprinkles we could find were Christmas colors! LOL – But that’s just life living overseas & we love it! Good, bad & ugly, we know that we are right where we are supposed to be. So we celebrated in little ways with each other (not many other Americans nearby or in our ‘circle’), we called a few friends & we watched a couple movies that remind of us ‘our USA home’ this week. – Turns out the kids LOVED ‘the Three Stooges’! 🙂 Anyway, many people from both sides of the world ask us, “Do you miss home?” & another hard-to-answer question is the even more frequent “Where are you from?” – My answer is either “It’s complicated…” or the below, which is much LESS complicated!

As world travelers, expats & TCKs… Our home is wherever God plants us!

We have been transplanted several times.

Each time we experience some homesickness for certain experiences & people we love.

But when God does the planting, he always surrounds us with exactly what/who we need in every home we’ve had.

There have been lonely days when I thank Him for reminding me that He is our closest friend.

As well as amazing friends/adventures we never would have if we hadn’t trusted Him & left our ‘home’.

One day we will all be in our ‘forever home’, our eternal home in heaven.

Until then…

Home is in the center of God’s will.

Happy belated 4th of July Friends/Family!!!

We are blessed to be US citizens. 4 of us born into it, 1 (soon to be 2) of us ‘naturalized’ into it. We celebrate the Freedoms & Privileges that come with being American. This is a day that we DO miss being with friends/family & enjoying our traditions of BBQ, pools & fellowship – BUT we are grateful that those very freedoms give us the opportunity to share love & hope with others all over the world! With much privilege comes much responsibility my friends. We pray we use ours wisely…

Sacramento - Our 'USA home'

Sacramento – Our ‘USA home’

God Bless America! ONE OF our ‘home’ sweet ‘home(s)’!!


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?


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!