Podcast #122- Turning A Problem Into An Upgrade (5:20)

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. 

Podcast #121- Finding Peace & Hope in the Storm (5:49)

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.  

My Anniversary Reflection

This year will be my fifteenth wedding anniversary.  Yep. That’s right. Fifteen years. It is hard for me to fathom the fact that I’ve been in a relationship or even a friendship with someone for this long. Unlike most couples, I was the one who had an issue with commitment when we got engaged.  It’s not that I didn’t love my husband, but the sheer enormity of a lifetime commitment simply blew my mind. My husband, Mr. J, had no such concerns. Even though we’ve only known each other for a short time, as an intuitive visionary, he can already see us together for the long haul. Our differences were quite obvious even back then.

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Pruning – A Spiritual Perspective

I don’t have a green thumb. When I first met my husband, he gave me a cute potted miniature rose. One morning, I put it on the patio for some sun, and promptly forgot about it… until a week later. Alas, the tiny rose was no match for the fierce California sun. Needless to say, my husband never gave me plants again. My dad, however, grew up on a farm, and plants thrive under his care. Recently, I wanted to plant a rose in the backyard of our new home. With my dad’s help, we planted a healthy and robust rose bush. The first bloom was glorious! The beautiful blossoms were as big as a grapefruit, and bloomed for days. After the flowers wilted, I continued to water and care for the plant. However, when some of the leaves started to shrivel and yellow. I knew something was wrong.

pink petaled flowers

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Trust & Rest

I had a pretty hectic schedule these last few weeks. We patched up an unexpected leaky roof, filed taxes, and celebrated Chinese New Year (which is kind of like Christmas for Chinese families except kids get “lucky money” from relatives instead of gifts from Santa.) Only now can I get back to my normal routine. Feeling drained, I made sure to take things easy the week after the festivities to rest up. Usually, a few free afternoons are all I need to recover and feel rested. However, last night, when our internet had a slight hiccup, I went into full-on panic mode again. The sudden wave of anxiety shocked me. The week of rest I had before didn’t seem to matter much. Emotionally, I felt like I had not rested at all.

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