Kindred Spirits at KidMin

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

That’s exactly how I feel about KidMin people! They’re my kindred spirits! Perhaps that’s why I look forward to conferences or gatherings where I get to be with KidMins! I say this over and over… but they get my life! There is so much comfort and joy in being with people who get your life…

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It’s been a full week since I’ve been back from KidMin 2014 in Columbus, Ohio, and I spent some time reflecting on what God taught me last week. Well, to start… God taught me how selfish I am! Ugh, I know.. not a great start! Well, let me explain. One thing I was so looking forward to doing at KidMin was just to sit with my friends and just gab, gab, gab… gab about life, gab about ministries, and laugh a lot! I have so much fun with my KidMin friends that I have made in the past… and it’s always a big reunion to be with them! The biggest thing I was looking forward to at KidMin was to just sit, relax, and laugh a ton with my friends!

IMG_3134During Presenter & Staff dinner on the first night, we prayed over this verse on the left and for all the attendees as we colored outside the lines. I also specifically remember Chris Yount Jones telling us to be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading to those that may need a friend, a hug, or someone to listen to. Yeah, yeah… I know…

Well, that was Thursday night… and before I knew it, it became Monday, the last day of the conference… And i had barely seen my friends! I thought I would be up late with my friends every night just laughing our heads off, but that barely happened as I was busy getting ready for my next workshop or I was meeting with certain individuals, etc. I was bummed… super bummed! This is where God said “Gloria, stop being so selfish! I know you love being with your friends… but you’re not here just for you to be with your friends. You’re here to connect with others and to encourage them! Remember when you first started out in KidMin and how alone and lost you felt?” BAM–a total rebuke! Yup, I was selfish… (I never seem to learn that lesson well).

As I was confronted with this rebuke, I took a look back on my KidMin weekend, and I realized what a blessed time it was! I did get couple meals with some old KidMin friends that refreshed and encouraged me… but the bigger blessing was in connecting with new attendees, connecting with KidMins in my workshops and getting very encouraging feedbacks from them, getting to know new people through “Here Alone” connect group, and being a listening ear and praying mouth at The Shelter. A lot of these conversations took me back when I was a newbie, when I was struggling in ministry, when I felt like I didn’t have anyone to talk to, and when I felt like no one understood my life. I honestly don’t know if anyone I talked with really felt like they got something out of our time… but I was reminded that there are many that are still looking for their kindred spirits and I hope they realize that there are many in this KidMin World. My prayer is that everyone at KidMin left with at least one more kindred spirit in their lives… and that God would continue to use me to bless those that are discouraged and struggling in their roles as a KidMin because without my kindred spirits, I wouldn’t be where I am today!  Thank you God for last weekend and this great reminder!

Elevate & Celebrate Fathers…

Disclaimer:  I’m a little sensitive about this… but you’ll find out why if you read on! If I remember correctly, about three weeks prior to Mother’s Day, I started seeing blogs, facebook posts, hallmark commercials, articles, and ads about mother’s day… about how we need to appreciate mothers and stories and stories about how awesome mothers are!  Don’t get me wrong… I don’t mean to underplay the role of mothers!  I think mothers have very difficult jobs, and there are many women that are worthy of being recognized.  Many mothers work tirelessly… and I applaud them! Father's Day in SA Now, you have to understand that I grew up without a mother since age 8.  She passed away suddenly, and it literally took the whole village of extended family to raise me!  I often say I was raised by many mothers… but I was raised by one father.  He probably had no clue how to raise a pre-adolescent girl… but he tried his best.  He made a lot of mistakes (we can both admit it now) but he did what he believed was best.  He made me instant noodles for breakfast.  He tried to act cool in front of my girlfriends and embarrassed me.  He was mean to all my guy friends and embarrassed me.  He let me drink 3-5 cans of soda per day.  He made me sneak in popcorn to movie theaters.  He let me have lots of junk food.  So my dad was far from an ideal picture of the perfect father.  However, he was always there.  When I was physically separated from him during elementary school years for 4 years, he called me every saturday night (this is the 80’s… so that was a big deal).  Whenever he traveled, he brought back earrings and necklaces for me.  He tried his best to talk to me, guide me, and even give me girly advice (yeah, he wasn’t very good).  He cooked for me.  He bought me clothes (although his taste wasn’t always the best).  He took me to hair salons to get my hair done.  He tried his best to be the mom and the dad.  He went into overtime to make sure I was well taken care of.  He never complained… he just tried his best.  And even to this day, he apologizes for not having done enough for me.  He’s far from perfect (and I know that really well…) but he’s the closest thing to a mother I’ve always wanted. So I get sensitive that fathers don’t get the acclaim and the celebration that mothers get.  I know that my dad had to step up to his role because he had a daughter without a mom… and he probably never imagined that he’d have to do all those things.  However, it’s one week before Father’s Day, and I have yet to see something out there talking about fathers (except for bunch of email ads to sell father’s day ties, shirts, and golf accessories).  Call me biased, but I think father’s job is just as stressful and difficult.  They just have different stresses, and they deal with them differently from mothers.  But that shouldn’t diminish how we celebrate fathers.  Fathers are more often portrayed as being lazy, sitting back and watching tv with beer in their hands, etc.  But even if it’s done in humour gest, how often do we see pictures of good and involved fathers in comparison to man’s man lounging in mancave?  I know that there are more households with mothers than fathers.  But get this… On Father’s Day of 2009, I was at a church in Khayelitsha Township in Western Cape, South Africa.  Because fatherlessness is a prevalent issue in many townships, they really wanted to celebrate fathers!!!  The whole service was led by fathers!  The praise team all consisted of fathers!  They called all the fathers up on stage to sing, dance, and to pray for them.  They really wanted to elevate, celebrate, bless, and encourage the fathers!  It was one of the coolest things I had experienced.  And then the little kiddos came up on stage, and sang a song that moved me to tears.  The lyrics said:  “we pray for you, you pray for us, we love you, we need you to survive.” We often talk about importance of the role of fathers… but I don’t think it’s elevated enough.  I don’t think it’s celebrated enough!  What if we raised the bar!  What if we elevated and celebrated fathers as much as mothers!  What if we blessed, appreciated, empowered, and encouraged fathers as much as mothers!  I wonder what that would do to our perception of fathers in the society…

I’m human afterall…

J:  oh glo, you’re a mess!

me:  i know!

J:  it only shows that you are human … grin

me: hahahaha… darn, thanks?

J:  hahaha… what, you’ve always be all together most of the time.  almost like my wonder woman.

me: and i kinda like it that way!!! or at least i like to give that illusion.  LOL!!! i wanna be WW!

J:  but it’s all good … you’ll bounce back and maybe this is God’s way to telling ya to slow DOWN!

 

So it’s no big surprise that I’m obsessed with Wonder Woman… I think I’ve always liked her because she’s always been so super strong–physically, emotionally, mentally (yes, I know she’s not real… just let me have my moment!)  I’ve been a fan of Wonder Woman since I first saw Lynda Carter rope in all the bad guys with her lasso as a 4 or 5 year old.  As I got older and probably due to circumstances, I felt the need to take care of myself and be strong.  I felt the need to always be in control of my own life–or as much as I can.  So I became this “I got everything under control” person… and I played the part super well–with my whole extended family, in my ministry, and everywhere else…

So when I came unglued this week, I seriously felt like I was having an out-of-body experience.  And for those who had to work with me this week probably never saw me coming apart… but I was a total mess.  Thankfully, I have some of the most amazing friends that came to my rescue… and helped me laugh–literally LOL!!!  And just as my blunt yet loving friend reminded me, I’m human afterall… and it’s okay to be vulnerable!  In fact, I’m so blessed to have girlfriends that allow me to be human in front of them (or over the phone or text) and be glued back together with gentle reminder that God is in control even if I’m not!  Thank you God!

One of my favorite lines from my friend over our phone convo:  “At least we’re still not in our 20’s–naive and dumb.”  haha… if you’re still in your 20’s and think that was insensitive, just wait ’til you hit near 40’s/40’s, and you’ll see what we meant by that!

Don’t Tell God What To Do…

Yup… I did just that!!!  I know, I should have known better… but I was burnt out. I was tired.  I was hurt.  I was frustrated.  I was annoyed.

When I left my last church, I took few months off.  When I started to talk to God about my next ministry, I put a huge condition on Him.  “God… I’ll go anywhere… ANYWHERE… to another city, another state, even another country!  I will go ANYWHERE–just don’t send me to an Asian church!!!”  I started making my own plans… I began several conversations with churches and missionaries… I even started cleaning out my stuff, and even started packin away things I didn’t think I needed right away.  I was so sure that God was going to call me to leave Los Angeles, and I was excited to see where He was going to lead me.  However, even when great opportunities came up, I just didn’t have that conviction nor confirmation to go… so I became indecisive and just sat on my decisions.  Well, fast forward 5 months. Yes, I had received phone calls from few Asian-American churches… but I had immediately said “no” to all of them except for one only because they had different ideas and vision, which intrigued me.  But deep inside, I couldn’t see myself there.  Well, fast-forward few more months.  God often speaks to me through amazing people in my life… and they all started talking to me about how I was letting my baggage get in the way of the most amazing opportunity.  I really fought it… I really struggled through it… but you can see where this is going… I was willing to do anything for God, but I put a huge condition on Him.  And the story of my life is… God called me to serve in the largest Asian-American second generation church in the country… what in the world???  I just have to look at the irony of my life, and just laugh!

I don’t believe God just sits back and enjoys messing with my life… and laughing at my life.  But I believe that God is telling me that He has a perfect plan for me that is WAY better than what I have planned for myself.  Yes, it’s another lesson learned… but God did give me a firm conviction and confirmation that this is where I am suppose to be… at least for now.  I have to admit that I was disappointed that God didn’t listen to me, but I have no doubt that His plans for me are far better than mine… and I AM excited to start kidmin at a church right near where I live–in Los Angeles!!!  It’s gonna be an exciting journey!!!