Podcast #123 – Small Steps Lead To Big Changes (5:26)

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. 

Podcast #107 Connecting with God in times of crisis

Like the rest of the world, we’ve been sheltering in place for over a week now. I felt tossed about in the storm, and overrun with fear. Where do I go from here?

Moving Break

Back in January, I asked God what He had in store for me this year. And the theme He showed me was “Upgrade.” Sure enough, the last 8 months have been full of changes that turned out to be upgrades. Continue reading

Dealing With Our Shadows

“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


When tragedy happens, we ask why. The reporters and social media flood us with various theories and responses. Why did it happen? How can someone commit such inhumane acts. We attribute the cause to religion, prejudice, advanced weaponry… looking for any and every external factor that could have culminated in the horrific events. But, I feel like there is one factor that we are afraid to really look into – our own human nature.   Continue reading

It’s all about the Heart

heart-762564_1920-pixabayMany years ago, there’s a really popular worship song called “Open the Eyes of My Heart.” One day, after service, a friend asked me “What are the ‘eyes of my heart’? The heart has no eyes?!” It stopped me dead in my tracks. I can see he was serious. Completely serious and baffled. To him, the heart was an organ in his body. It’s function was to pump blood through his veins. His heart had chambers, but it surely had no eyes. Continue reading

Lessons From A Coloring Book



Have you ever felt like there’s something gnawing at you, but you just don’t know what it’s about? Well, that’s how I’ve been feeling this whole week.  There was a heaviness on my heart, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t figure out what it’s about. For some reason, God was present, but quiet. And that almost made me more nervous.  I knew He has a message for me, but I just couldn’t decode it…

Continue reading

Growing In Your Season

Some days I miss being back in school. Don’t get me wrong. I definitely don’t miss those all night lab sessions or studying for exams. It is great to have a set schedule though. The school year starts in September and ends in May or June, and we move on to the next level at the end of that term. The transitions are clearly defined and it’s easy to track your progress. Real life, however, is not set up that way. Life flows in seasons instead of semesters.

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Thoughts from a recovering perfectionist… (Guest post at Abbey of Arts)

Recently, I wrote an article about my journey into the contemplative tradition.  I’m grateful that this article is now a guest post on Abbey of the Arts – a website that integrates contemplative practices and creative expressions.

Here’s a snippet from my article…

“Helpful Tips from the Recovering Perfectionist*

When I started practicing contemplative spirituality, I faced quite a culture shock. Being from the Silicon Valley, I was task oriented, perfectionistic, and goal driven… everything the contemplative ways are not. Where were the deadlines and checklists I’m so familiar with? It took quite a while for me to understand and adapt to this new and curious lifestyle.

The contemplative traditions are more “organic”.  You can follow a plan and do the exercises, but the results are not so concrete. It’s more like watching plants grow. From day to day, the growth are so minuscule that they are barely noticeable.  Similarly, when I started meditating and going on walks, I couldn’t really see where all these changes would take me. What would really come of just ten minutes of being quiet?  Then, little by little, the peace and quiet from the few minutes spilled into the rest of my day. The changes didn’t come overnight, but they did come.

…Continue reading on Abbey of the Arts.

* Thanks to my friend Liwen Ho for introducing me to the phrase “recovering perfectionist.” 🙂

God’s Classroom Rules

When I was young, our church hosted a summer camp every year. There’s usually a great speaker and we head home feeling really excited about our faith and God. However, after a few weeks, that excitement waned and our attentions were soon diverted back to the daily grind in life and ministry.  Eventually, after a few years of this cycle, we began to wonder if our summer camp was really effective.   It’s great to feel the conviction and initial excitement.  If only we can keep the momentum going.
Continue reading