Hi there, thanks for stopping by. I started writing as a way to process my spiritual journey. During that time, I was drawn to the idea of rest. That’s when the title, “Sabbath Cafe,” came to me. As sabbath is meant to be a time for rest and restoration, I hope this blog will bring peace and vitality to all who visit.
I’ve been watching lots of 15 second mini videos lately. It’s easy to forget how much time it actually takes to bake a cake or cook a meal. Real life moves at a much slower pace. The road to success often starts with small and ordinary steps and takes much longer than 15 seconds.
Welcome to the Sabbath Cafe Podcast. This is episode 123: Small steps lead to big changes
When I was younger, I used to want to do “big and great things” that can influence a lot of people. But as I get older, I’m learning that in order to do the “big things”, I need to start taking small steps because it’s these small steps that will help build up the skills and experiences that I need to eventually tackle something bigger and more significant.
I lived next to a piano teacher when I grew up. Everyday, I’d listen to the beautiful piano music that flowed out of her house. And after a lot of begging, my mom finally agreed to let me take piano lessons. However, when I started taking piano lessons, it was nothing like the beautiful music I’ve heard her play… Instead, I was only doing beginner exercises that sounded a lot like chopsticks, and I felt like I was fighting with my small and stiff fingers all the time.
Like everyone who’s ever learned an instrument can tell you, these early lessons are repetitive and very easy. But, even though these basic exercises feels simple and maybe a bit boring, it’s actually very important to practice them every day, and do them correctly. Because they build muscle memory and muscle strength that your fingers need to play the piano well. And eventually, one small exercise after another, I could finally play those beautiful and sophisticated piano pieces like my teacher.
Now a days, we’re so used to seeing a project competed in 15 second videos that we tend for forget that real learning takes time. And real change takes time too. And the process of learning and doing the work often don’t come with the “instant gratifications” that we get from scrolling on our phones. But, when we are persistent, and we continue to take small steps in the right direction. and that we take the time to do work of learning and growing, we get the ultimate satisfaction of finally having real and meaningful growth, and accomplish changes that will last.
I recently found my old sketch book. To be honest, the pictures looked like kindergarten art projects. Back then, I was simply curious about drawing and sketching, and I made all sorts of mistakes. But when I looked through the pages, it was amazing to see how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown in the last 10 years. When I started, I had never imagined that my skills can grow to where they are today. And all I did was simply to keep drawing, keep sketching, and keep creating. Some of my sketches went straight to the waste basket, and a few eventually made it into art shows. Now looking back, I can see that I learned something from every project whether they looked good or not. Every project taught me something, and they all helped me get to where I am today.
And I seem to follow the same learning process in the other areas of my life too… When I was working through my anxiety issues, I also started with simple daily habits that eventually helped me to manage my anxiety much better.
And through these things, I’ve learned the value of making small changes, and the value of doing the little things consistently. These little steps is what it takes for me to accomplish the final goal. I’ve learned not to despise my small beginnings, and to be patient with the process even when I don’t see the results yet.
Maybe you also feel discouraged about some of your projects, but don’t give up. Be persistent and do the next thing. Our journeys are all different. Take your next step, and do it well. Before you know it, you too will reach your destination. Real learning and real change takes time. Don’t despise these small beginnings because small beginnings can and will lead to big changes.
And that’s it for this episode. Did anything specific come to mind as you were listening to today’s podcast? What are some small steps you can maybe take in those areas? I hope you can take a few minutes and just write them down.
Thank you so much for listening, and I hope today’s podcast has encouraged you. Have a wonderful week, and we’ll see you next time.
Whether it’s a hotel room or a plane seat, I love getting upgrades. Wouldn’t it be great if life is full of upgrades? Here is my recent “upgrade” story.
Ever since the pandemic, I often hear about shortages of many things. I’m glad that I haven’t ran out of toilet paper. I’ve always been able to find exactly what we needed when we needed it. However, recently, I did run into my own “empty shelf” experience.
One weekend, I needed to get a health supplement for my husband. It’s a natural remedy that works really well for his medical condition. I used to get them from my local grocery store. But when I got there, what I saw was the dreaded empty shelf. In fact, it’s not just an inventory issue. It looked like the store simply stopped carrying it. It was really frustrating because I had a hard time finding it before. And now, it seems like the only store that was carrying it is not an option anymore. And I have to start the search all over again.
And of course my first reaction was panic. It was Sunday morning and we really needed it. And when my only option didn’t pan out, I felt frustrated. When I run into an problem, I often feel panic and my mind just blanks out. Frustration and panic aren’t very helpful emotions. They make me feel like I want to curl up into a ball and just hide in a corner… which doesn’t help at all to solve the problem.
Thankfully, I know my own tendencies well. I took a deep breath, and waited for all these feelings to pass. Deep down, I knew God has a solution. Even though I felt overwhelmed emotionally, they are just temporary. And when I calmed down, God reminded me that we actually had another store really close by that offered more organic products. Sure enough, a quick search confirmed it. When I got to that store, there wasn’t just one item like my old store had. There was a whole isle full of organic supplements. And many of these were even on sale! I never have to worry about finding these again!
Suddenly, I understood what this lesson was all about. I don’t know why, but when I run into problems, instead of asking for help, I tend to feel like I have to solve it all on my own. And for a while now, God’s been reminding me to learn to ask Him for help. But I’ve been hesitant because I don’t like to change the way I do things. So I’ve been resisting him. I know, right? Why do we resist the goodness of God? Well, change is inevitable in life. And God’s solution often is so much better and easier than I could ever dream of. When I run into problems, He really is always my best bet.
Walking with God isn’t just about changing the way I do things. It’s often about changing the way I think about things. Over and over again, God reminds me that He is ready and willing to help me through any challenge. If only I would invite Him into my situation, He is happy to work with me to resolve any problem I have. And this “empty shelf” situation was yet another learning opportunity for me. As soon as I asked God to show me what He has planned, I found an even better option. God has upgraded my supplier situation. And at the same time, He also upgraded my experience of Him as my provider.
When we run into an obstacle, because of our own perception, we often only see the problem itself. I’m starting to realize that what first looks like a “problem” often ends up being God’s way of showing me a different and better solution. The key is if I’m willing put aside my initial frustrations and my own perceptions and simply ask Him to show me what He sees instead.
So what obstacles have you run into lately? Maybe God also has a better solution waiting for you. Let’s invite Him into your situation and see what upgrades He has in mind for you.
Life is a great adventure with sunny days and stormy days. How do we connect with God’s Peace and Hope in every situation? That’s my “homework” right now, and here’s what I learned.
My husband has been recovering from a medical condition, and the process will take over a year at least. While we’re on this path, there are ups and downs. Some days are rougher than others. Recently, he just went through some complications that took 2 weeks for him to recover. I’m grateful that he’s doing quite well now, almost back to 100%. But when we’re in the middle of this downturn, I was often exhausted, both physically and spiritually.
Honestly, when you’re dealing with a serious life issue, any amount of self-reliance goes out the window. We come face to face with our own limitations, and it hits you just how much of life is really out of our control. Faith and hope can feel very elusive during these times.
So when we face hardships, how do we find our bearings? How do we connect spiritually? How do we find encouragement? These are the questions that came up for me, and I’ll share some things I learned this time around.
Taking things one day at a time
It’s very easy to feel discouraged in a season like this. Especially if the situation drags into weeks or months with no end in sight. One night, I was lying on my bed simply exhausted. The Lord reminded me of Matthew chapter 11 where Jesus invited all who are tired and weary to come to him… That He is gentle and humble. As we give our burdens and cares to Him, we will find rest for our souls. At that time, I was internalizing a lot of worry and concern, but I wasn’t conscious of it. I was kind of in a “survival mode” sort to speak… And when God reminded me of what Jesus said, I started to tell Him about what was troubling me. And one by one, I gave my burdens to Jesus in prayer. And in return, I accepted and received His burden that is light. At the end of my prayer, I felt much lighter, and had one of the best night sleep in a while.
There is so much wisdom in not carrying stress or anything negative into the next day. I found that taking things one day at a time was what really helped me not get burned out. In the morning, I rested in God’s mercies that are new every morning. And at night, I gave my cares and negativity that have accumulating all day to Jesus. As I received His peace, I slept better, felt more hopeful, and was refreshed next morning.
Giving thanks for every step forward
And another key lesson I learned was to Give thanks for every step forward… no matter big or small.
Our recovery process really felt like a roller coaster ride with lots of ups and downs. After a while, I felt kind of disappointed in the process because it took longer than I expected. That was when God reminded me to give thanks through out my day.
Thanksgiving has shifted me out of negativity and depression before. And it was also a gamer changer for me this time. I started to thank God for every small signs of healing and restoration even when I felt down. Right away, I sensed a glimmer of hope and faith rise up in my heart. I started to feel hopeful again.
Because we’re in the middle of this process, it’s easy to get too focused on the current problem, and forget the many things God has already done. Thanksgiving not only helped me shift my focus onto the positive things God is doing, it also reminded me of how God took care of us in the past, and that He will continue to help us in this process.
Looking back, I can see how God was leading me every step of the way. There was always an encouraging word or promise everywhere I turned. In my prayers, He was trying to help me change my focus… to shift from a grey and negative outlook to His perspective that is full of hope and joy. And as I found out, hope and joy are powerful things. I felt more positive and hopeful throughout the day even though the circumstances still looked the same to me. Focusing on one day at a time, giving thanks, and learning to have a positive outlook really helped me not to only survive this season, but to come out feeling more encouraged.
And that’s my podcast for this week. Working on this episode was really helpful for me to look back and remember what I learned. I hope it’s also encouraging for all of you out there.
God reminded me lately that I also need to drink in the love of God as I pray for others. And this is the perfect season to take a pause and just remember His deep love for us. Happy Easter!
I happened to finish this episode on Easter week. This is the perfect season to open our hearts to receive the deep love of God. Here’s a quick update on what God showed me this week. Enjoy and have a blessed Easter.
Recently, I’ve been praying for my parents. I have this crafted prayer written out for them, and I was praying for them pretty regularly. And today when I was praying for them, God sort of reminded me that I can pray for myself in the same way. And I thought that’s a pretty good idea. Because I was praying for God to release peace and joy in my parents lives. And I certain can use a lot of peace and joy in my day too.
And so I started to pray over myself “Michele, I just pray that the Lord will pour out joy and peace into your life today.” And as soon as I said those words, I just totally choked up. I was so surprised. That’s not the reaction I expected. I had no idea how tired I’ve been, and how much I really needed that prayer for myself.
I think for the last 2 years or so, I’ve been in this mode where I’m so focused on taking care of everybody else around me… that I forgot that I needed to take time out and take care of my own needs too. I’ve been in this task oriented mode. It’s funny because when I prayed over myself, suddenly, I stopped focusing on what I have to do. I stopped being a “Martha” – if you know what I mean. I opened up my heart to receive the prayers and all of these pent up frustrations just came pouring out.
I think for many of us who are care takers by nature, we tend to focus a lot on other people. So often times, we will ignore our own needs. And I’m grateful that today, God reminded me to just take a pause and pray over me. And that I deserve the kind of attention and care that I usually give to others. And that God also wants to give me His love and peace and joy. And that it’s important for me to stop doing, and just receive His loving kindness.
And that reminds me of that great verse that we should love others as we love ourselves. It’s not one or the other. But that even as we love on other people, we should remember to also love ourselves too… To pour out and receive the love of God for ourselves.
So I just wanted to share that quick note. To share with all my listeners. To share with everybody out there today, in this season, please take some time for yourself. Please do something nice for yourself. And if you’re used to caring for others or praying for others, please say a prayer for yourself, and embrace and enjoy and soak up that loving kindness of God.
So I just wanted to say that and share it with everyone. Just something that I learned and received from the Lord today. And that’s just a quick update from me!
As I mentioned before, I’ve been feeling a little worn out, so I took a little personal retreat earlier this year. I am working the next series which hopefully will be coming out soon. Thank you so much for listening. Have a wonderful week, and we’ll chat with you next time.
In the social media world, we all like to share our best sides. But when God shows up, even mistakes or missed opportunities are turned into blessings. Here’s one of mine.
Hi everyone, this is Michele, and welcome to Sabbath Café.
Most of the time, we like to share our “success stories”… Like when God answers our prayers or when life goes smoothly, and we live happily ever after! Those times are great, but honestly, most of the time, life doesn’t work out that way. Everyday life is messy. Most of the time, it’s not so clear cut. It’s not really black and white. There are many shades of gray. Often I don’t know if I’m hearing God or if it’s just my own thoughts. But you know, that’s all just part of life. As I found out this week… even when I don’t get things quite right, God will still make it a beautiful experience.
So this is what happened…
One afternoon, I was out running errands. I was driving along, and just had this thought… maybe I should take a left turn instead of a right turn as I normally do. And I just thought… taking a left turn would be… kind of out of my way. I was in a hurry. And I was thinking, “Why? That doesn’t make sense… Maybe it’s just my own thoughts… My adventurous side chiming in…” Some time that happens. And so I decided to ignore that, and kept driving along.
Sure enough, not a minute later, I came to a dead stop in this bumper to bumper traffic on a local street. Now it wasn’t really traffic hour…. so it was kind of weird why suddenly we’re kind of stuck. And I can feel people getting annoyed. I can feel the cars behind me getting impatient. Thankfully, I didn’t need to get somewhere at a certain time. So I just settled down, and follow the traffic. And about a couple of blocks down, I saw the problem. The traffic light went out at an upcoming intersection. Because it was out, every car had to stop – all 4 ways. And that’s what started the backup.
And that’s when I realized “Wow, if I had made a left turn back then… I would have just completely avoided this.” I even made a mental note to myself… that on my way back to take the other route… the longer route… so I can just bypass this whole mess.
Now what’s interesting is… if I had taken that left turn earlier, I would have avoided all this. And I’d never know that this route had problems. I would’ve drove to my destination with no issues, and thought to myself… “That was kind of weird… Was that just my own idea? What was that all about?” Because everything would have gone pretty smoothly.
It made me wonder… how often something like this have happened –where God was helping me out, and I had absolutely no idea.
I tend to look for “signs” to see if God is involved in my life…. And when I have a normal day where nothing special happens, I used to feel like God was aloof and not interested. But this whole experience showed me that God really is speaking… has been speaking… and is reaching out to me… even when I’m running errands, but I’m the one who didn’t see it.
And I think God is also teaching me about how He interacts with me in real life. It’s not a big deal to Him if I make a mistake. Everything really can be a learning opportunity, and His grace is big enough to turn my every mistake into a blessing.
So no matter what kind of week you’ve had, I hope you’ll also ask God to show you if He has any insights for you. He may turn your very ordinary day also into something extraordinary.
And that’s our podcast for this week. Thank you so much for listening. Have a wonderful week, and we’ll chat next time.
Hi everyone! Thanks for being patient. Life threw us a curve ball this last 6 months, so I’ve not been able to post here. Thankfully, things are settling down a bit, and I’ll be posting more podcasts and blogs here shortly. Here’s a mini-podcast to share a quick update with everyone.
What I learned is that God wants to talk with me. He loves the world, but He wants to connect with me, personally… And He wants me to get to know Him too.
Because at the end of the day, the real purpose in developing this connection with God is learning how to do life with God. It’s like having God as your… travel buddy. It’s learning to relate to God and developing a friendship with God rather than just being a coworker with God… like I think a lot of us grew up with.
I realized that in order for me to go deeper, I have to transition my relationship with God into a friendship. Into understanding how that works because Jesus says “I no longer call you servants, I call you friends.” So in your walk with God, there will probably come a point where it will transition. There will come a point where Jesus will want to take you to that next level. To relate also with you as friends. And that’s a whole different world, right there. And so that’s what I love about my time with God. It’s learning that there’s a freedom… an inner freedom. An internal freedom that does not depend on your circumstances. That does not depend on whether I get to go to church or not because now the focus has shifted. It’s shifted from what I do outside to learning how to be friends with Jesus.
Honestly, the time we spend at church and with our Christian community is only a fraction of our lives. If we only know how to relate to God when we’re focused on church life, then we’re missing out on the chance to experience God in all the other area of our lives…
It’s learning to experience God in the day to day things. It’s learning to see how God helps us to find solutions in the problems we face at work. And how God shares His perspectives about the latest news headlines. Even how He comforts and encourages us when we go through illness and difficulties.
I think most of all, that’s what I love most about bringing God into my personal life. In a sense, God stepped off the pages of the Bible, and became real. Even though I still can’t see Him or touch Him, but He’s become a closer friend than a real person can be for me. He’s someone I can depend on, and someone I can confide in. And someone who knows me so intimately, and yet is always on my side.
And that’s why even though many of us are unable to gather with our church community during this season, I actually didn’t see that as a challenge. In fact, it has been a wonderful opportunity for me to press even deeper into the things of God.
Now when I do get together with my friends, when I do get together in my community, that’s great. But my growth, and my relationship with God… and the depth, and my maturity with God… does not depend on any of this external things anymore. And actually, it’s quite fun… me being able to just explore and go as fast as I can, and explore anything I’m curious about… so that’s been very exciting too. I don’t really have to worry about what people think I should or shouldn’t do anymore. That really doesn’t matter.
I have the freedom to ask God any question that comes to mind. And God is not going to be offended or shocked… because He already knows anyways. It’s a relief to know that He accepts me as I am… always.
So no matter where you’re at in your life, it’s the perfect place and time to talk with God. He is always ready to meet you and I with a hug and some fun insights about your situation if you’re interested.
I’m excited just thinking about the adventure God has in store for you.
And that’s all we have for this week’s podcast. Again, thank you so much for listening, and have a wonderful week. See you next time.
Welcome to the Sabbath Café Podcast. You’re listening to episode #115. In the last episode, I shared on how I enjoyed having the freedom to just be me in my spiritual journey. In this session, I’ll continue with “Finding the Freedom to Explore.”
And also I was able to explore…. explore the things that I’ve always been curious about… but the people that I was with may or may not be interested in. I actually personally, I really am very curious about prayer. And I write about that, I talk about that here on the blog. But I’m just very curious about human beings having interaction with the divine… with the spiritual. That just always fascinates me. And so I started to explore a lot of things. I started to read books on that.
And I also love… this idea of “sabbath”. And that’s why the blog is named “Sabbath Café.” And this idea of “rest,” and why is that a command for us. What is it all about? I was very curious about that. That’s also… not a very popular topic for most people. So I started to read about it. I explored… I looked up scripture verses on it. I talked to God about it. God would show me different books and resources on it. So I stumbled upon a verse in Hebrews*. It says “make every effort to enter the rest.” I was like… what? “Strive to enter the rest.” It’s kind of like an irony. But yah, that’s exactly what the verse says. He’s not saying “strive to work more,” and we know that because Christianity is not a work-based faith. So what is it? And this is something where scripture tells us to be purposeful and be intentional to enter into that place of rest. And that’s just… wow. You know, for some reason that verse just stayed with me. And because this is a personal walk with God. It’s just between me and God, so I have the freedom to sit on that verse and to meditate on this idea. What does it mean?
Since I get to say what my journey looks like. So I decided I was going to put that verse into practice. And so for a season, I purposely practiced sabbath rest. And not just the actual event like sabbath… this is what you do… this is what you don’t do. It’s not just that. But also, the idea of rest. And I happened to run into … some teaching that focuses on why rest is powerful. And how rest can deepen your intercession and your prayer time. And I was like wow. That’s exactly… that’s my thing! And so that opened up a whole new season for me.
And from that season, I wrote… I had more understanding about pruning, and transitions, and so that was a big turning point in my spiritual life.
And so just kind of looking back in my own walk with God. I was kind of looking back, and I was like wow. Now, I love the freedom I get in my own personal walk. ‘Cause like I don’t really want to share this. I don’t really want to go back to the community based spirituality anymore. Now when I still have connections with friends, I still talk with friends. But that’s more… we come together and we celebrate, and we exchange what we learned about God. But my journey with God is not dependent on people outside of me anymore. So my journey with God, really, I know it’s just about me and Him. And it’s inspiring, and it’s so refreshing… to be able… to have the freedom to journey with God… to be with God… to connect with God however, whenever in whatever ways I want. And it just seems like God is always right there with me. He doesn’t cap you.
In my spiritual life, in my spiritual journey, often, in the groups of people I’m with, I often felt like I’m capped… because they don’t want to go where I’m going. I’m sure you feel that way too because every single one of us, we’re created uniquely. You know, your friends, will guaranteed, not always want to do what you want to do. Or not always want to learn what you want to learn because they’re not you! And you have your timing and they have theirs. So it’s almost guaranteed that there’s a part of you that can only be explored when you have your individual walk with God. When you embrace that solitude with God. Then God can take you places. Then God can go as high and as deep as fast as you want… or as slow as you want… in areas you want to explore.
And that’s the end of part 2. I hope that encouraged you about starting your own adventure with God. We will finish this series in the next podcast. Thanks for listening and have a great week.
In the last few podcasts, I shared some tips to help folks reconnect with God. I’m going to take a break this month and share some things I love about my journey. I’ll be sharing this in three episodes, so please stayed tuned. Have a great week!
Here’s the podcast transcript:
Welcome to the Sabbath Café Podcast. This is episode 114 – Finding Freedom – Part 1.
Hello! This is Michele from Sabbath Café Podcast. In the last few podcasts we explored some ways to help you jumpstart your personal walk with God. Today I thought we’d take a break from that and just share what I love about my experience.
The church I grew up in was very structured. My paster was always like “read your scripture”, and “have your daily devotions.” We always had prayer meetings on Wednesdays, and so it was very structured time and it was great. I felt like it gave me a great foundation to start with. But when I finished my last full time ministry position, I had transitioned out of that. And so to kind of moving away from a really tight knit community, I sort of went to the other extreme.
So I had a lot of time on my hands. And the thing was… to go back to my old routine of structure, it just reminded me so much of my old community, which I should be having closure with. And so all of a sudden, I went from very structured meetings to having no meetings. And I went from always having these spiritual exercises with people… because I was meeting with people all the time, to just having a personal time with God…. just me and God. And so that took a little bit of an adjustment.
So I was sort of burnt out with my old routines… And at that time, I came across ways of… like spiritual exercises that I’ve always wanted to try, but it wasn’t very helpful with people. Whether it’s silence or just soaking in worship music, just sitting there and soaking for like half an hour, 15 minutes … and just having the music playing. And what I discovered was I was actually really tired in my heart. I was really tired because when you’re with people, it’s great, it’s fun. But I was always weary, also, of how to walk together with them. I couldn’t really be me…. Because a part of myself… I couldn’t take the time that I needed… and so… when we start a meeting or start a bible study, you have to work with everyone’s pace and it was always a group thing. I really didn’t get to read up on the subject I wanted to read up on. So when I finally had time on my own… I realized hey, one of the good thing is I can now look into the things I wanted to look into… which probably nobody else wanted to read or nobody else wanted to learn. And so that’s what I did… for a season.
And that’s the thing… I felt, in my time with God, I would ask God about direction, what should I do, you know, finishing up one chapter, what should I do in the next chapter, what do I do in between. I just felt like God… you know, everything to me is yes and amen. And so He reminded me of that verse, and I was like okay, great.
I really loved, worship, like music. Music really speaks to me. So I would find certain instrumental worship music that I’d just loved, and I would soak on my own, and I would bring these music with me to prayer meetings before, but prayer meetings had a structure, so you had to, you know, worship…and then you know, you pray and you finish up. But when it’s just me and God… it’s whatever I like…so some of the time when I just hang out with God, I just play these instrumental music in the back ground. And I just sat. And I would brew myself a nice cup of tea. And I’ll just sat there. And I would just… just allow myself to be.
Sometimes if the music move me, I’ll cry. And I could never have done that before. You just don’t do that. Because it’s very traumatizing to some… it makes people uncomfortable, I think, when you’re overly emotional at some meetings. And it’s a very private thing too. I wouldn’t want to cry when I’m praying with a bunch of people I may or may not know very well. So I realized there is a safety in having that personal time with God. I could play the type of music I wanted to. I could soak for as little as 10 minutes. Or as long as an hour.
Sometimes in the middle of soaking, and just kind of sitting there, and kind of enjoying not having to say anything. Enjoying not having to be the leader… because I was working a lot. So all of a sudden I don’t have to be all of these things to other people. I don’t have to force myself to act a certain way. If I wanted to be chatty with God, I can. If I don’t, I won’t. God always knew where I was at anyways. So I have the freedom to just be with God. Be honest with God. And just be myself with God. Wherever and whenever I wanted to. And however long I wanted to. And that’s when I realized that wow, you know, there’s a freedom… I enjoy the freedom. I started to enjoy the freedom of having this private time with God.
And that’s the end of part 1. We will continue with part 2 in the next episode. Thanks for listening and have a great week!