It’s Starting to Feel Like Christmas

Many homes in my area have already decorated for the holidays. It’s so nice to see the outside adorn with pine garlands, Christmas wreaths, and lights.

After being pestered by our children to decorate for Christmas, my husband finally took out our artificial tree and several boxes of decorations.

Joy to All

As my daughter and I decorated the tree, I shared with her the stories behind some of our ornaments. There were “Baby’s First Christmas” bells and balls, to their first kindergarten Christmas crafts, to their own collection (my husband’s best shopping day is Black Friday and Boxing Day. He delighted in a yearly trek amidst the crowd to let them chose a decoration for their own collection – at 50% off). There were also decorations gifted by my mother-in-law, as well as decorations to Meimei from her aunt.

Meimei’s Tree from Aunty Joanne as

It’s touching to see our children decorating their rooms this year. They wanted to personalize their room with their own decorations.

For many, it will be the first Christmas alone or with the immediate family. We normally travel to Toronto to see my side of the family, but due to Covid-19 restrictions we are not traveling. My side of the family decided to keep it simple, and we’ll have a zoom gathering on Christmas Day.

Christmas Past

In Montreal, Christmas has changed in the past few years. We live in an age of political correctness. Christmas is now refer to as the “Holiday Season”. Festive window decorations in stores are a thing of the past.

People of all ages use to come downtown just to see Oglivy’s Christmas window.

There was a sense of wonderment when children watched the mechanical display. I use to bring my children to see this display after the Santa Claus parade.

Oglivy’s has since donated their window decorations to the local museum.

Since the onset of Covid-19, one of the things I miss most is going downtown. I have fond memories of walking along the main streets to look at all the colourful Christmas lights.

Boulevard René-Lévesque lined with trees wrapped with lights is beautiful at night.
Along Mountain Street, Montreal
Hotel Crystal
Along Mountain Street, Montreal

Christmas Present

My husband and I have always focused on the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Pre Covid-19 Christmas Eve, we would attend Candlelight service and sing hymns.

This year most churches will have a limited seating capacity of 25. Most have adapted to COVID-19 restrictions and will use zoom or live stream to celebrate the birth of Christ. I pray that all of you will be able to celebrate Christmas via one of these technological platforms.

Today as we live and adapt to new norms, I find we need to create our own Christmas tradition. A tradition that embraces and envelopes those around us in love and peace. After so many years of celebrating Christmas with the family, we are kind of forced to isolate. We shouldn’t let this stop us from sharing with one another. We can text, zoom, email, or call someone on the phone. We can use snail mail and send a card. I think the important thing is to not leave anyone out.

I really appreciate my neighbours decorating early this year. They drew me into their warmth. This helped create the mood in me to decorate and celebrate. My neighbours added to the Christmas ambiance by sharing their joy and love of the season. I think this is the most precious part of this year’s Christmas – sharing the peace and love of Christmas with one another with a festive heart.

From our house to yours, God Bless❤️

My Story

How many are your works, Lord!
    In wisdom you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.
Psalm 104:24 NIV

I have always painted, sketched and took photographs, but I hated the gallery process of submitting my work, and every rejection was a blow to my ego. I have often incorporated narrative in my work as well. As sharing with others was never really my goal or intent, hence I put minimal efforts in showing my work. I was happy to simply express creatively and silently. However, since I have been called to walk closer to Jesus – He probably also got tired of my many request for “signs” – I feel the push to step out from being a lukewarm believer, to one who will gladly share my faith. The “Parable of Talents” (Matthew 25:14-30), and the another in Luke on the “Parable of the Money Usage” (Luke 19:11-27) reminds me that Faith is freely given by God. We are call to invest and build up our faith and share it. Just as the “nobleman” in this story calls his servants and gives them “ten minas”, what they do with this “gift” is up to each servant. However, there are consequences. Those that reap more are given more “authority” over cities, and the one who beget nothing more is cast out.

I don’t want to find my self before God with empty palms.

This is my main motivation for creating a resource page. The goal is to help those who would like to explore their own spiritual journey. My testimony can be found by clicking this link: https://rejoiceandpraise.ca/testimony/

I also created a Portfolio page, and this actually arose out of a discussion with my son who is an active social influencer on Instagram. Our discussion centered around photography. His aunt had given him a digital camera, and we were discussing all the difference between the old days when I studied photography and today. In my days, using a manual camera meant understanding the mechanics of a camera. One also had to understand how and when to use different features such depth of field and aperture settings, along with a slew of filters and lens. Developing negatives was another thing the purist in me had to do. To get special effects, also meant hands in toxic solutions. Special effects was based on trial and error. Today, special effects are easily achieved by a touch of a photo apps. Whether using a digital camera today or one on any phone, one can create awesome images which would have taken me hours to achieve in the dark room.

With the handy apps and camera on our phones, I/we can literally create beautiful images out of the most mundane. This literally changes how I/we view my world.

I enjoy my daily walks with Candy our keeshond. It gives me the opportunity to look at the beauty of God’s creation – the life around us, and to see or capture some of that beauty in every day snapshots.

Snapshots and the photo images I create are used as conversations in my journey to God. Sometimes I work with an idea or theme, and sometimes, questions arises out of this journey. It is another vehicle in my walk with Jesus: https://rejoiceandpraise.ca/portfolio/

Let Us Offer Up a Prayer

“I Am Alpha And Omega, The Beginning And The Ending,” saith the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty. Revelation 1:8 KJV

What a wonderful attestation!

I was feeling lazy today especially as it snowed last night and it’s a bit cold outside. I was enjoying the cozy comfort of home, and really had to make an effort to go out.

From the many sound of children’s laughter in the park enjoying the first snow, to the dotted footprints in the snow, and the sun shining its warm rays, I felt the presence of God. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

First Snow November 2, 2020

In my journey call life, He was with me in the beginning, He was with me in the past, He is with me now, and He will be with me in the future.

Praise be to God!

Today, I just want to offer up a prayer for all of humanity, especially my brother and sisters in Christ in the U.S.A. I pray for the Hand of God to be upon all Christians regardless of denomination or creed – May my fellow Christians have the strength to stand against the darkness that looms over them in the U.S.A., as well as for those of us in other countries. I pray for protection for those of you who are facing challenges for your belief in the truth, and for believing in what is right and just, and, as you stand in solidarity for Jesus.

I pray to God to open the hearts and minds of those who do not know you. May your breath of life open their hearts to see and awaken from the dark veil that blinds them.

Finally I pray the Lords Prayer:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.

Amen.

Matthew 6:9-13

God’s Breath

My favourite season is Fall, especially when it’s sunny and the skies are a beautiful shade of cyan blue. The air is fresh, and even though it’s a bit nippy, with a warm jacket, a scarf and boots, I feel snuggly warm.

I used walking the dog as an excuse to get my 14 year old to accompany me. Like every teenager, she delights in staying in bed until 11:00 am on weekends. After some insistence along with the promise she can chill and have a lazy Saturday, she agreed.

I love the sight of leaves falling. It creates a breathtakingly beautiful backdrop of yellows, ochre, red and rust. Although all the trees in my neighbourhood are starting to look bare, there is a silent understanding that God’s hand is the maestro behind the intricate design – the masterpiece is called life. For me, it is the profound realization and sense of awesomeness that it is God’s majesty.

God is the Breathe of Life

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2: 7

I imagine God’s Breath of life upon my birth. This understanding gives me great joy – life is wonderful because God’s Breath (Holy Spirit) was within us from the very beginning.

The realization we all start with God’s Breathe at the onset makes me realize that it’s our choice whether we remain close to Him or not. God’s Breath is free.

I pray to God in thanksgiving for your grace and love. You gave each of us Your Breath of life.

I pray your Holy Spirit continue to guide me throughout my day – filling it with an inner happiness. It is an attestation that life is wonderful.

I pray for those who for whatever reason do not have Your Breath of life. I pray the Holy Spirit opens their heart and fill them with Your abundant Breath, that they may experience the joys in knowing you.

Praise be to God.

Amen

The Rapture of God’s People

The time draw nears.

Revelation 16:15
English Standard Version

15 (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”)

He will take us up onto the clouds.

High above the earth we will gaze into our Lords eyes, and be comforted.

Joy

The time to prepare is now.

As this day draws near, Lord guide me to talk to those around me. Let me sing and shout with joy, “Jesus is coming soon.” “Get ready!”

The time to put my to my house in order is now!

Family! Friends! Strangers!

Repent!

Jesus forgive me for all my sins past and present. Most of all, help me recall the sins I have forgotten.

I pray that the hand of Jesus is upon each of us, as we prepare for the return of Jesus. I feel in my heart the time is near – days, months – it is very soon.

Am I ready? Yes! I want to be with Jesus! I worry about my children and husband, and I pray for God to open their hearts so that they can be guided by the Holy Spirit.

Trust in Jesus.

I remember as a youth asking Jesus to come into my life, and since that moment, He has never left my side. He has guided me throughout the course of my life. There were many times I didn’t listen to Him and went astray. God has always guided me back. He is the Shepard and takes care of his herd. God has always placed people along with serendipitous situations in my life and guided me back. I am continuously awakened by the Hand of God – to walk the path of His light and not fall onto the path of the wicked.

5.Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6. In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Dear Jesus,

I lift my prayer to you today so that you can open my mind and heart to your will. In the coming days show me all the sins that I’ve forgotten so that I can repent each and every wrong I’ve committed. Let my sins be cleansed with the blood of Jesus.

I pray for my loved ones. I pray for The hand of God to open their hearts and mind. That in the coming two days they will feel your Holy Spirit awakening them to your love and grace.

Jesus, I pray that no loved one is left behind.

I also pray for those around me – friends, colleagues, acquaintances and strangers. I pray for my nation. I pray for my world. Please open all hearts to Jesus. Awaken all to walk towards the Light of God.

Please help me reach out to them with sincerity and love through this blog, through my words.

It’s not too late!

Out of the depth I call to you, Lord God hear my prayer!

Amen

After writing this blog post, in my quiet time with God, I was directed to this verse:

In Christ Jesus, we are

being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Colossians 1:11 EVS

I am given the strength by God to endure my day with joy in my heart. I praise God for his mercy and everlasting love for me. Let me give thanks to God.

I pray for those who have caused me pain. I pray dear Lord that you let me put these people behind me. That I move beyond the hurt, and walk in joy and freedom. I pray for blessings upon who have hurt me. I pray that you may open their hearts to the joy of our Lord Jesus.

Praise be to God!

Amen, Amen, Amen!

The above study arose out of my quiet time with the Churchome app.

Look for the beauty…

God’s act of creation – life! I am in awe by the beauty created by His Hand.

I often take out my iPhone XR and take snapshots of my surroundings. I am the creator (photographer), and, I can see the beauty even in my most mundane images.

Beauty radiates within and without if we keep the light of Christ shining. It’s when we fall into a negative mindset – of fear, stress and anxiety – that we feed the demons without and within.

I explained this to my my son the other evening – no matter how boring or mundane a composition appears, as the creator, one can see the beauty that can resonate from the image.

Going for walks with my son is perfect for some mother and son bonding. It’s also a time we can talk and discuss things on his mind. He is at a stage in his life where he has to make some decisions: his mind is occupied with which university to apply at, along which which program.

For many years he had his mind set on architecture, and was focused on this as a career choice. With looming deadlines, his thoughts have since changed.

My husband and I have always guided our children to think critically. This means they are encouraged do their own research, and ask questions. We guide them rather than impose what we think is the ideal career choice. We encourage them to set their own goals. After all, it’s not our dreams and goals they will fulfill, but their own.

This is also the perfect moment when I can remind him to share his burden with Jesus. To tell ask Him directly to guide with His Holy Spirit.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

I tell my son,

Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day. Psalm 25:4-5

There is a beauty in all challenges. No matter how troubled we may feel, there is a beauty and strength that arises out of our challenges.

As long as we keep positive and walk in the light of Christ Jesus, no matter how mundane or chaotic, stressful and demanding life appears – there is a beauty if we let the light within is shine.

Staying positive amidst our life journey also means we keep negative energy at bay, and, we keep the demons in this world from feeding off our fears and anxiety.

Happy Mother’s Day

I wanted to celebrate and wish my mom and moms everywhere – Happy Mother’s Day💕

Happy Mother’s Day💕

A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. John 16:21 NIV

When I think of my mom, I thing about her strength and perseverance as well as her deep love for God.

She first came to Canada in the 50s as a young bride to my dad. It was based on a prearranged match made by her mother and future mother in law. I cannot even imagine the sense of uncertainty, anxiety and anticipation she must of felt as she got off the plane and met my dad for the first time. I can’t imagine the loneliness she must have felt in those early years as a young mom with no friends or support network.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25

I must say I lived my childhood within a hazy bubble (until my rebellious years surfaced when I became teenager. Then my angst and disagreeable personality took over.)

My mom was a homemaker who decided when we were old enough to go into the work force. How daunting it must have been for her with no English proficiency skills and no work experience. She really wanted to work and have financial independence, so my dad gave her the go ahead. My siblings and I were too young to understand how lonely and difficult it was for her.

I remember her sitting on a stool crying one day, but my immature self as wasn’t able to process it. It’s only now as an adult I can look back and feel deep empathy for my mom.

My earliest memories of my parents becoming Christians was when my mom was baptized while she was pregnant with my youngest brother. I remember sitting in the pews and thinking, “What would happen if the paster dropped her?” – the thinking of a young child!

When I think of God’s amazing love, I think how it changed my parents to become different people. Thinking back, I can see how the Holy Spirit moved in them to do the will of God. My parents opened their home and hearth to the Chinese community. Welcoming new Christians to Wednesday night woman’s group to Friday night prayer meetings, to opening our kitchen to international students. My earliest childhood memories is of my mother as a strong woman who over time grew closer and closer to God. After the death of my father, and as she got older, she came into her own person as a servant of God. Today, she is active in her church, as well as a role model to those around her.

My relationship with my mom has also grown as I also became a mom. I think a big part of it is excepting my mom for her experience, insights and wisdom, and letting go of my own baggage and misconceptions of what I want my mom to be like.

Her process and journey was not a smooth one. For one she had to deal with me – the prodigal daughter who during my late teens and early adulthood was rebellious and disobedient.

The journey of mother and daughter relationship also mirrors my own journey of understanding and acceptance. It’s a journey of becoming my own person within the socio-cultural confines of embracing two opposing paradigms – the Chinese and Western – and of Christianity. It is also the story of God’s love and of the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Thank you Mom❤️

As I grow older, the depth of my appreciation and love for my own mom, grows stronger. Thank you mom!

God bless all mothers❤️