Starts May 26th
Sign up at: https://stig.ca/alpha/
“Just do it!”
It has been such a beautiful journey as I meet people from different parts of our world. Using Zoom as the tool to connect, I got the opportunity to meet people I otherwise would never have met. Alpha brings together people from all walks of life. On a personal level, it provided me with a platform and opportunity to share and talk about my faith and discuss all those questions that I don’t normally discuss with my friends or family. More importantly, it is a safe space.
My group was international with some joining from outside of Canada. Bonds and affinities are made between each of us as we journey together in a deeper understanding of ourselves and how we fit into the bigger picture called life. Each week, I enjoyed sharing my personal story, and greatly looked forward to hearing their stories. Together we shared in understanding some basic truths about life and our journey in it.
It has lead to my own personal growth. Now, how awesome is that?
Prayer to St. Joseph:
Joseph, by the work of your hands
and the sweat of your brow,
you supported Jesus and Mary,
and had the Son of God as your fellow worker.
Teach me to work as you did,
with patience and perseverance, for God and
for those whom God has given me to support.
Teach me to see in my fellow workers
the Christ who desires to be in them,
that I may always be charitable and forbearing
Grant me to look upon work
with the eyes of faith,
so that I shall recognize in it
my share in God’s own creative activity
and in Christ’s work of our redemption,
and so take pride in it.
When it is pleasant and productive,
remind me to give thanks to God for it.
And when it is burdensome,
teach me to offer it to God,
in reparation for my sins
and the sins of the world.
(Note: This prayer was taken from the booklet “Devotions to Saint Joseph” by Brian Moore, S.J., printed and published by the Society of St. Paul.)
A mothers’ quiet thoughts as she observes her children speaks volume about her strength and fortitude. As a mom, one of the most challenging aspect of being a mother is the multifaced roles and characters we have in caring for our children.
We are the caregiver who hide our inward fears when our children are sick. We nurse our children back to health keeping night long vigils by their bedside.
How many times have I held my tongue from making a hurtful retort. I recall the many times I literally bit my tongue to refrain from sounding like a nag. Being a mother is also balancing act, especially when it comes to positive reinforcements. It is also having a firm fortitude, and giving sincere praise when it is due, and not giving it when it is not.
A mother’s silence is her keep watch over her child, and letting them grow as you stand by them. It is guiding them to be the best they can be, and to learn the skills of critical thinking by providing them with the opportunities to hone in life skills.
As a mother, Holy Mary “treasured” all the things she heard, witnessed and learnt from her son, and ponder them she did – she was both a reflective and discerning woman with humble and quiet strength. There is much I can learn from Mary.
God Bless 💖
(Personalizing Christ the King Novena)
(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.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.Proverbs 3:5 NIV
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.
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/