(In the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit)
Jesus, my Savior, and King
I humbly pray before you
May you grace my heart to love and adore you more,
to give me the grace of deepening faith
to give me the grace to place my trust upon you above all others,
and to give me the grace to be confident you are ever present in my life.
I proclaim you Prince of Peace and lift you high above all in this mortal realm.
As I wait for your second coming, let me not waste a moment
I ask that you grace me – this unworthy sinner –
with the inspiration and confidence to use the gifts you have given me
to share your story and love with others.
So that they may also rejoice in having a living God in their lives.
(In the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen)
I started praying the Christ the King Novena yesterday, and following the lead of my sponsor, I have reflected upon it, and personalized it. As I think in the abstract, one of my challenges is to bring it down a notch – or to bring it out of my headspace into the everyday.
Through prayer, especially the Rosary, I feel the depth and width of my love for Jesus growing with each passing day. There has been a few instances when during prayer I have been overwhelm with emotions and tears as visons of sin unrealized and unconfessed come to mind. Jesus has also shown me through prayer that He has always been with me, and He has also shielded me on numerous occasion from falling into the clutches of darkness. Just as he has opens my eyes, He also comforts.
Once a part of the darkness, the road back to the light is soul wrenching. There is no other way to describe it. I know that meeting my husband was God send – His unconditional love for me never faltered through our 30 year plus relationship. Just as my children were gifts from God – to me – a woman who fervently claimed I would never bring children into this world. God blessed me with two adopted children.
The goal is making Jesus Christ real in every facets of our lives.
Since the start of the Advent, my sponsor and I have each chosen a Novena to focus and pray on. Through the process of sharing our thoughts each day via phone or text, I have come to realize how each of us have personalized and made praying real based on our personalities and character.
Through a process of self reflection and reflecting on key words or concepts, it opens up for each something uniquely special and personal. It leads to a journey of deepening faith and love for Christ. It guides us to prepare our hearts for celebrating not only Jesus’ arrival to us through His birth, but preparing our hearts and soul to receive Him upon His second coming.
Having a partner during this prayerful period has enriched me. As I am a person of extremes, my prayer partner reminds me to maintain a balanced life. This has been an enriching experience for me, as I realize through our conversations and text messages that not only are we two unique individuals, with different approaches to prayer, she has shown me her own process of personalizing the Novena. This has helped me to bring abstract concepts from my headspace into my daily life. Coming down to earth so to speak – as I think in the abstract – personalizing my Novena, brings it down to my everyday.
From the Mouth of a Child
My daughter often says to me, “Mom, use normal words, I don’t know what you mean.” Upon which I would stop and rephrase my sentence, or explain to her what I mean.
The other day I reminded Aleeza to pray (and ask Jesus for the confidence to stand in front of her class for her oral). Her adamant response was, “Mom, I don’t pray. I talk to Jesus.” I smile now as I recall her statement. Yes, that is what we do when we pray, we talk to Jesus. I like the way she has personalized her relationship with Jesus. He is her friend.
Finally, from the mouth of a child, “Jesus is our friend”.
Aside: God has a way of grounding us through our friends and family.
One of the keywords we hear in education – especially in the field of early childhood – is the word autonomy. Young children from as early as infants are taught to hold their own bottles, eat with their hands, and use a spoon or fork. By 18 months, toddlers start to learn to dress themselves (with minimal assistance) and prepare their mats for nap (again with minimal assistance), and by 5 years old they are completely autonomous. Yes, I can see how this can be beneficial to working parents, as it helps them get their children out the door with minimal stress and effort. What most parents don’t realize is that early autonomy in young children leads to other consequences as they get older. One of them is asking for help.
As I was tidying up my daughters bed this morning, I couldn’t help but smile at the way she made it. Her duvet carelessly thrown over her bed to hide her messy sheets and pajama underneath. Yes, I tidied it up. As a mom, I really don’t mind taking the extra time to do little “extra” things for my children. I get a sense of joy in doing it. There is something instinctive in me about taking care of their needs, just as it is painful to for me to hold back and watch as they “fall” and encourage them to get “back up”.
The mom in me loves to guide and nurture them, and I often imagine in my mind eyes the many times Jesus stepped in to take care of me. I had a replay of this image in my mind while praying the other night – of our Lord Jesus leading me back into his herd.
Early childhood education has changed over the last 10 years, shifting back and forth between nurture and nature. Coming from a Chinese cultural and Evangelical background, I grew up with a stay at home mom who took care of our needs. It was only when we were all grown up that she went into the workforce. As parents, my husband and I made a conscious decision to always have one parent at home. This meant an adjustment to our life style. My husband worked the night shift and I worked during the day. This way our children would always have a parent at home. Our children were nurtured for a longer period of time. This was something unheard of in western culture, where children as young as a few months go to daycare, and keywords like autonomy and independence become their mantra.
What sparked my long spew today?
This morning (6:30 am), I looked around for spare change because we had not renewed Aleeza’s bus pass (special thank you to my 18 year old son who keeps a jar of change in his room). As she is in school 2 or 3 days a week, along with online school on days she is at home, we forgot to renew her bus pass. Normally she is driven to school, and it is either her dad or brother who picks her up. Today was one of those days when neither of them were free to pick her up (Covid – 19 and the changing school schedule) from school.
Searching for spare change (sheesh who uses cash in a cashless society of online shopping or swiping cards) – I told her to explain to the bus driver that we (her parents) forgot to load her bus pass. To my surprise she said, “don’t worry mom, I’m gonna lie.” “Huh?” I said, “What are you gonna lie about? Just tell the driver your parents forgot to load up your card!” I also gave her spare change in case the driver refuses to let her on the bus.
To my shock, my daughter refused the money and said, “Don’t worry I am good at lying.”
“What? Are you telling me you lie to us, your parents?”
“No”, she says.
“Who do you lie to?”
“Why do you lie to your teachers?”
“Mom, do you think my teachers will be able to accept it if I am honest and tell them I don’t like whatever they are saying”
“Mom, if I tell them what I think about a story they’ve read, or if I give my honest opinion, I will have a harder time, and it will reflect on my grade.”
“Wow”, I thought to myself.
Well, needless to say I am a bit flabbergasted and then remember a similar conversation with my son about teachers and courses he had taken in the past. At the time he was concerned about having thoughts or ideas contrary to his teachers in High School. He said that voicing his opinions can lead to negative consequences.
This reminds me about my own experience as a graduate student in a Wittgenstein Seminar.
I will never forget my professor throwing my paper back at me. It’s ironic as I think about it, as we all sat around a circular table – to promote the idea we were equal thinkers. I’ll never forget the shock on my classmates face as I ducked my head in embarrassment to avoid getting hit by my paper. “I cannot grade this”, bellowed my professor.
I thought I had written a brilliant Greek play – a dialogue between Plato and Wittgenstein – a philosophical discussion about language. I was quite proud of this play, as I had done a lot of research. Also as a Fine Arts graduate student, I wanted to present the topic creatively, but as it was contrary to what was acceptable in Philosophical discourse, I go a bit fat 0 (marked “ungradable”). I accepted the 0.
What is my point?
I feel that from as young as early childhood, teaching autonomy is counter productive. I personally feel it leads to a generation of young adults who are afraid to express or think critically so that they can fit into status quo. By the time our children go through daycare, elementary, high school and higher learning (they have not only been institutionalized), their survival instincts kick in – which often means avoiding going against the flow to succeed.
I am glad I had my 6:30 discussion with my daughter. First, I reminded her not to lie, and to tell the bus driver the truth. Worse case scenario – pay for your bus fare. The other thing I was able to do was direct her towards asking Jesus for help. I also discovered she was feeling stressed about an upcoming oral presentation. She has fear of being ridiculed by the “mean girls” in her class. This gave me ample opportunity to share with her and to tell her to talk to Jesus, and to ask Him for the confidence and strength.
Asking for help is something I would like to hear from my children. It creates a bond between us, of me, the mother who cares and willing to meet their needs. Just as we let Jesus into our hearts and we can talk to him and ask of him to meet our needs.
I think by focusing on autonomy and independence in young children, we unconsciously start a chain reaction of negative consequences. They learn to be self sufficient, and don’t ask for help. They think they can do it on their own. It also alienates the “other”. To survive, they may resort to telling little white lies instead of voicing their own opinions. They feel a false sense of security. In turn I believe telling “white lie” will inevitably snowball into one “big lie”. It is better to tell the truth and deal with the consequences.
It also means for my husband and I to take the time to talk, listen and have meaningful conversations with our children. This also means we need to be calm and able to discuss with our children contents which we may find uncomfortable.
As a parent, I am thankful I can guide my children to research and examine the whole, and above all – think critically – before drawing a conclusion. As long as we can share with them our human vulnerability, I believe we can share with them how Jesus is our steadfast rock when we feel challenged and stress. Autonomy means being able to do things alone and makes the idea of being needy a negative, when in fact being or feeling needy is very much a part of being human.
It is in our neediness that we can fall upon our knees and ask for God’s help. By teaching children to be autonomous and independent is denying an important part of being human…the need to nurture.
My dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the hiding places on the mountainside,
show me your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.
Song of Solomon 2:14
Thank you for reading – it is my personal viewpoint based on experience as an early childhood educator and mother.
I have been reflecting upon this after my daughter asked me why I pray the Rosary. I simply told her I am asking Holy Mary – who was Jesus’ mother on earth – to intercede on my behalf. Very much like when she asks me to talk to her math teachers because of a bad grade due.
There are many views by well meaning individuals who have written at length about their views on praying the Rosary. They give warnings and use scripture to reinforce their claims that praying the Rosary is a form of idolatry. On the other side of the pendulum are Catholics in defense of the Rosary. I will not comment on this debate, and for those readers who are interested, you can do your own research, and then draw your own conclusions. This is what I did when I found myself moving towards Catholicism. There is a difference between viewing from the outside, without understanding the context within.
For myself, the rosary is a deep contemplation of the journey and major events of our Lord Jesus Christ. His time on earth is represented by decades. It guides me to think more deeply about his life. It starts from the beginning of his human life in Mary’s womb up, and includes His crucifixion, and His resurrection. I am deeply moved when I pray the Rosary. Not only is it auditory, but I visualize in my minds eyes His extraordinary journey here on earth. His cry to God in the garden of Gethsemane , His humanity, and His Crucifixion are all made real for me. There are moments I find my eyes well up in tears as I relive those moments in pray. It is a living prayer, and it moves me to deeply meditate. It also enriches my understanding God’s love for me.
Holding the Rosary in my hands is something that is tangible, and it’s smooth surface helps me concentrate on Jesus’ journey as my hands move from one bead to another. It keeps me focused and on track in my prayerful journey.
Praying the Rosary, is asking the closest human to Jesus during his mortal time on earth – His mother – the Holy Virgin Mary to intercede on my behalf. It is that simple.
Social media – whether it be Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Parler, has a way of drawing me in so that my time is sucked away and my mind starts to look like the inside of my vacuum bag – full of the debris of my world – ominous and darkly troublesome for my soul. Before I know it, I’ve wasted 2 hours.
Two hours later, I feel overwhelmed by a deep sense of sadness. From this I start to feel angry. I see the great divide between the truth and the narratives being pushed on social media and main stream media outlets. I see one side pushing a narrative that hides corruption, and lies to cover it. After the anger, a feeling of helplessness sets in. Then depression as I feel the demised of our humanity. Is what I am reading real or fake? How can we discern the truth from the lies?
I recently deleted FB, Twitter, Snapchat (I miss taking cute pictures with it!), and use only Instagram, Pinterest (for sharing recipes), and Parler. I also adjusted my browser settings (on my laptop) so that I don’t see the newsfeed (MSN news).
One thing for sure – I can only put my absolute trust in Jesus. With the Holy Spirit working in me, I am thankful, I can discern the difference between light and dark. The word of God – Bible – becomes my foundation for Truth. It also ignites within me a fire to seek out the truth, and that means doing my own research and being responsible for what I believe in.
I pray for God to give me the confidences to live in these stressful times, and despite all the negative news around me, guide me to grow deeper each day in Faith in HIM.
The Gospel reading for today’s Mass (Luke 21:5-11), gives me the confidence that what is unfolding in front of me is expected to happen before His return. I don’t know Gods’ timeline, and it may not be in my lifetime, but it gives me the confidence to know that HE is in control.
16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Ephesians 6:16 NIV
Thanks for reading. I pray each of you find the confidence to follow Jesus. Peace and Love to all of you. God Bless!
Today was one of those hectic Mondays where I went totally off schedule – all because I decided to stay in bed for one extra hour. That snowballed into a manic Monday! I worked through lunch, and at one point was multitasking between my iPad, laptop and my iPhone. I also didn’t walk the dog. What was my excuse? “It snowed the night before, and it’s too cold and slippery out!”
I really think the one thing I got right today was reading todays scriptures while I was still in bed (I am being a bad role model here). Another was logging online to participate in my daily morning Mass surrounded by my devices. I had to mentally slap my hands a few times when I heard my iPhone ding with incoming text – “Ignore them” I said to myself. I had this mental image of me in front of God on judgement day – of my hands moving towards my tablet or iPhone. Oh Lord God, forgive me…my flesh is weak!
Partaking in the Eucharist is a daily must for me (virtually these days) – to let the Body and Blood of Jesus spiritually heal and grounded me for the rest of the day.
Alone my flesh is weak, and I thank God for His Grace and Gift of Faith.
Your love for me is something my mind cannot totally phantom
It’s depth and magnitude too much for this mere mortal to comprehend.
I imagine it to be as far reaching as the endless sky above me
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Psalm 104:24NIV
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/
I’m embarrassed to show my watercolours, as they are often quick ink sketches. They are like journal entries, expressing of my thoughts about Jesus and my relationship with Him.
They are also about finding hope in Christ in our lost humanity. His Salvation and Glory is free. All we need to do is accept it as Zaccheus (Luke 19: 1-10) did.
Jesus died for the mankind’s original sin (The Fall of Man in Genesis 3) so that we may be redeemed if we believe in Him. When I think about His death on the cross, I am thankful that an unworthy sinner like me can be forgiven all my sins. I thank God for letting me draw closer to Him.
In return I send praises to my Almighty God, to Jesus the Son, and to the Holy Spirit for giving me the gift of faith. I, in turn, share my faith with all of you.
That each of you find the time to pray and draw into a closer relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.