Friday, June 22, 2007

Homeschool Update

At one point this past year, we had contemplated the possibility of eventually sending Caleb out for school due to my chronic ailments. But God's grace has sustained us thus far with the conviction to continue to homeschool Caleb. God has taught me so much in seeing the sufficiency of His grace each and every day. His mercies are indeed new every morning no matter how much my flesh tells me otherwise.

It's been almost a year since I started with a formal curriculum for phonics with Caleb. We are halfway through the book and it has worked very well. The phonics primer was recommended by a friend from my sisters' study group, a faithful blogger and mother of 4. I would highly recommend this guide as well because it uses no gimmicks and is very systematic and easy to use. Even I myself have learned a few new things from it!

As for math, Caleb does not demonstrate any sign of an engineer despite the presence of two in the home. He has trouble even counting to 20! And for writing, he can write his own name without any guiding, and that's about it. The Startwrite writing software recommended by the same sister has been very useful. I can customize each writing assignment according to Caleb's development and interest. We also print out bible verses that Caleb has learned and he'd trace over them during part of Pastor Ken's sermon on Sundays.

I had always thought I could do teaching. But not until Caleb came along did God show me more each day how much patience I lack and desperately need. It is no wonder children are a reward from God for He has used mine to humble me and break me and mold me.

I don't know what the future years of homeschooling will look like as it gets more formal academic wise. But we just take one step at a time. And for one, I am simply thankful for God's grace in blessing us with the means and conviction to impress His commandments on our child, to talk about them when we sit at home and when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up (Deuteronomy 6:7). It is worth infinitely more than any earthly education we can give him--all by His grace.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Mini Vacation in Monterey

We spent a couple days last week in Monterey after the Memorial Day rush was over. I had lived in Monterey for a year and worked there for five before moving up to the Bay Area telecommuting for the remaining seven. As a result, I was supposed to know the area very well, and had indeed vacationed there often. But I guess there are just places you wouldn't frequent or things you wouldn't do before you had kids. So for our past few visits, we finally did some family things and visited places that many friends and relatives had recommended long ago.

It was our first time visiting Dennis the Menace Playground, Monterey last week and I was impressed by how involved and well-kept a public park can be. There were five or six different play structures, tunnels, slides, steam engine exhibit (pictured), suspension bridge (pictured) and more that even adults enjoy playing on.

Andy's co-worker recommended Carmel River State Beach as an alternative to the nearby popular Carmel State Beach. It was our second time visiting, and we really enjoyed the serenity and beauty of this less known retreat with lagoons, sea birds, rocks, sand, and ocean waves.

And we never go to Monterey without stopping by Lovers Point in Pacific Grove. This time, we happened to pass by the guy in charge of renting the bike surreys and decided to try it ourselves!

Thanks to all who have given me pointers to these family activities by the Monterey coast. I am grateful for the beautiful creation of God for our enjoyment, and in the midst of it, enjoying God Himself as our Giver and King.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Bruised Nose

Caleb had a bad accident a couple days ago. He was playing with daddy in the room before his bedtime, ran toward his bed, tripped over daddy, and fell flat-faced against the edge of the wooden bedframe. When I heard the loud crash downstairs, I ran upstairs only to see Caleb's face and mouth all bloody from his bleeding nose and blood all over on the carpet and daddy's shirt. I had no clue what happened and just panicked as I had never seen so much blood squirting out of a person's nose before. After calming myself down a bit with a prayer and finding out from Andy what had happened, the bleeding stopped and Caleb seemed to be functioning normally despite the swollen nose and remaining blood clots. We were very grateful to God the damage was not worse and his eyes were spared (there is a big horrible-looking purple swollen patch right between his eye and nose now).

With a very bruised nose, Caleb was asked many times today at church what had happened. Another mother so happened to share that her daughter had just had stitches on her head this past week from a boy accidentally tossing a rock at her. Though the daughter is perfectly fine now, the bloody scene haunted the mother for nights and she could sympathize with me as I shared my story. I guess there will be many more accidents to come and I am to get myself ready for it, though we are extra diligent now in warning Caleb not to run in the house and just dash his head against things. God is gracious in all of this.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Four Years of Friendship

Since mom of Caleb's friend of four years is blogging over here, I am taking the opportunity of posting a couple pictures of the two friends taken four years apart, one taken at our home in 2003 and the other at Emma Prusch as blogged by our friend...

How fast time flies and how grateful we are for God's abounding grace in their lives. May they both be drawn to our Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior and grow in faith in Him!

A Mighty Fortress

In our morning devotion, God has blessed Caleb and me through the Psalms and now we are on to Proverbs, a good book to read together for parent and child! As for our hymn of the week, we are singing "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." I am not very good with the old English language and so I sometimes find myself not fully understanding what I am singing when it comes to certain old hymns. Now with Caleb, I am forced to study more carefully what the words mean because he asks for its meaning after every single phrase. It sometimes takes us over 15 minutes to sing just one hymn!

It might have been easier just to sing "Jesus loves me" with Caleb. But I am also convinced of the value of teaching him from young great hymns of the past and to exult in foundational biblical truths through praise. And what wonderful opportunity God is using to teach me as well. Indeed a mighty fortress is my God as Martin Luther penned it, "Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing."

Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God's truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

These words from Martin Luther's hymn ring so true to me, especially after having listened again to John Piper's message entitled "Doing Missions When Dying is Gain" on Desiring God's podcast yesterday. I pray that my hope is built not on goods or kindred (yes, kindred!) or my mortal body, but on my Lord Jesus Christ alone, a bulwark that never fails!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Spring Break at Yosemite

We were granted a few quiet days at Yosemite Valley last week to enjoy family time and the beauty of God's waterfalls, pine trees, and more. Andy's work has been very busy. He receives an average of 100 emails a day at work, which is quite absurd. How does one survive in the Silicon Valley in this environment?! He went back to work this week with over 700 emails to process. So the little getaway was a much needed time of refreshment for the three of us.

We did much hiking around the park and up to waterfalls. Getting splashed by the waterfalls was a big thrill for Caleb. Anywhere we went, we were surrounded by the beauty of spring. Whether in a grand waterfall or a tiny pine-cone branch the size of Caleb's index finger, we see God's design and beauty. We are humbled by His gracious allowance for us to experience all this despite our fallenness.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter Message

Yesterday, Pastor Ken preached from Hebrews 13:20-21 for his Easter message. The week before he had mentioned that it was going to be an evangelistic message and for us to invite unbelieving friends. I had completely forgotten about this until after the worship service yesterday, at which point I realized there was nothing about his delivery that was different from all his other ones. This was not because all his other sermons were also "evangelistic" but because he didn't package the gospel message any different than when he preached from other passages in the bible. In fact, the gospel was always preached in every single sermon of his.

Another fact that came to mind was that I actually did bring with me (as far as I know) an unbeliever. And that is my four-year-old. And I am grateful to God for the whole gospel that is preached every Sunday. No cute little re-packaging of the gospel to make it attractive in the world's view. Even if 90% of it goes way over Caleb's head just because of his age-related comprehension, I am grateful for the 10% of unmodified truth that he can understand.

This morning, as the song "He is Lord" from one of our children CD's was playing, Caleb looked at me when he heard the line "He is risen from the dead" and gave me an emphatic nod and a smile. I think he's gotten the Easter message down for as much as his little head can understand. "Christ the Lord is Risen Today, Alleluia!"--this is our hymn for the week.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Reward from God

Ever since we became parents, we've been often reminded by friends and relatives of the fact that children are a blessing from the Lord and we are to enjoy them. If you know Andy and me, you'd quickly say this couple doesn't readily exemplify the truth of Psalm 127:3-5. Our quiver has a lone arrow and as Andy would say, it is already killing us! As much as we'd like to give the excuses of having a child at an older age and just not having that kid-loving personalities, the ultimate reason for our lack of "joy" is our fallenness.

Those who've met Caleb would often say "What a great kid!" and would have a hard time understanding why we "complain" so much. But the truth of the matter is, Caleb is just another sinner, the reality of which is only manifesting itself more each day as he grows. And his parents are no less one who has fall short of the glory of God. Raising a child has thus far been the biggest challenge and struggle for both of us. Our need for patience and trust is as big as Caleb's need to know his Savior. As Andy was sharing on this topic with our Pastor at his home last Saturday, they have both arrived at the conclusion that children are indeed a gift from God, yet this gift or reward or blessing should not be confused with one the world understands as a gift. We can testify that our reward so far has been one of being broken, molded, and refined for the sole purpose of becoming more Christ-like. God is breaking us for His glory. That is our reward.


Friday, March 16, 2007

The Nearness of God

Mom and brother have left for Hong Kong, which means readjusting to having control over my kitchen again--which is not a good thing when it comes to meal times! Cooking is really not my strength. But as the apostle Paul exhorts, I will gladly boast about my weaknesses, that Christ's power may rest upon me. Even in tasks that can get mundane such as preparing food for my family meal after meal, it is God's workings and His grace.

As for my chronic ailments, I have gone to different doctors to seek treatments this past year and have gone through even acupuncture recently, but I know my hope is not in any doctors or medications (or good health or a child who does not whine and fuss or a good marriage and so on), but in my Creator and King who has a totally different theology in suffering than this world does.

I grew up seeing suffering (troubles/difficulties/trials) as something unwanted. Even Christians who say in the midst of suffering that God has a purpose in it do not in actuality believe that suffering is something to be desired. I often have a hard time dealing with suffering because I view myself more highly than I should. C. J. Mahaney is known to give the answer "Better than I deserve" each time he's asked how he is doing. I try to learn from his example, yet Andy has often challenged me in how sincere I am in my answer, and whether I actually believe what I am saying. I find the phrase "I wish..." coming from my mouth often times, and I quickly catch myself as contending with God when I do that. Andy reminds me that any moment I am not experiencing excruciating pain, I am doing much better than I deserve. Yes, I deserve eternal condemnation, yet in Christ there is now no condemnation for me (Romans 8:1)! John Piper once said even if we suffer every single day of our life for 80 years, God does not owe us anything, and the glory we receive in heaven for many many 80 years far outweighs the suffering. "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Corinthians 4:17) Indeed, my suffering is light compared to many others' and ultimately my Lord's. And my troubles are momentary, for in the twinkling of an eye, I shall see Him in glory.

Through John Piper's teaching, and sermons that I've heard Sunday after Sunday from Pastor Rick at Berean and Pastor Ken at Lighthouse, I have been blessed with a cross-centered view of suffering and am learning to embrace it rather than shrink from it, which is very counter-human, and hence I am in need of total dependence on God's grace.

Suffering can do much good as any Christian can probably tell me, like developing perseverence (James 1:2-3), helping in comforting others in the same situation (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) etc. But ultimately, it is in God's glory and His nearness that my suffering finds its worth. God's own word speaks for itself:

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:9)

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:17)

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. (Psalm 73:28)

Indeed, in all of this, the nearness of God is my good. And He has sovereignly made it so.


Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Family visit

My family is visiting from Hong Kong, and as always, my mom would pamper me with her delicious cooking. Needless to say, their visit is accompanied by many family activities.

We headed up Lake Tahoe for my brother and Caleb to see snow for the first time! We were blessed with good weather for the day's trip.

The family also got to spend Chinese New Year together. And of course Caleb got to receive many red packets from relatives.

A visit to the Great Mall is a must for my mom, and Caleb and my brother got to enjoy a ride on the kiddie coaster together.

My dad left for Hong Kong today and so we had a pre-birthday celebration over the weekend for Caleb's 4th birthday tomorrow.

That is the update for February...


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New Year of 2007

Happy New Year of 2007! Caleb and I started this new year with coughs and colds, and Andy is grateful for God's mercy on his bronchi thus far.

Since Caleb and I didn't make it to church with Andy this past Sunday, for the first time, we tried downloading John Piper's video sermon the night before and Andy set it up on our projector so Caleb and I actually watched John Piper preach his new year message in 2006 on Sunday morning. If just listening to Piper is enough to make his passion for God's glory contagious, imagine being able to watch him in action!

New year resolutions for 2007?--"More love to Thee, O Christ," as echoed in Elizabeth Prentiss' famous hymn. I just started reading her biography for a sisters' study group in which God has so graciously placed me by the invitation of a dear sister. I hope to write more about what I am learning from God through the book. But for now, I am reminded that I, though still suffering from physical illness, am not exempt from God's call and His commands to love. I tend to give excuses for my lack of patience and kindness during times of physical trials, now more so as a mother. God's commands are not conditional. I am called to be patient and kind, not patient and kind only when I am well or when circumstances around me justify so. Yet, His commands are not burdensome, for He is the One who will give me the grace needed for all that He asks.

This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. --1 John 5:3-4

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. --2 Peter 1:3

Faith in His Word I ask, that I may abound in His love!


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

One hymn a week

During our morning worship time together, Caleb and I would read a Psalm and sing a song and pray. I had previously picked songs randomly from a song book for this time. But recently, I began this "one hymn a week" thing with him. On Sundays at church, the first song we sing is usually a hymn. So I decided to use that as a guide. On Monday mornings, we would look up that hymn in our hymnal and sing it for the remainder of the week. Caleb sometimes joins in at the chorus, or he would just pick an instrument from his "instrument basket" and play along. This is a good way for him to be familiarized with hymns.

This past Sunday we sang "Angels we have heard on high" at church and so this is our hymn for the week. Gloria in excelsis Deo!


Monday, December 04, 2006

From phonics to folklores

Caleb loves to play with Andy's older brother Chris who lives quite close to us. Recently Chris has started playing little "magic" games/tricks with him and he is fascinated by them.

This morning, as we were doing our phonic lesson on words that end with the two-consonant blend lf, we came across the word "elf" and Caleb asked me what an elf was. I didn't know the exact definition of it and so I said, "It is a little magical being." He asked me, "What's a being?" I said, "It is a magical person." He responded, "You mean like Uncle Chris?" "Well, not quite..." which then diverted me into this little research on elves and folklores. Perhaps this is the fun part of homeschooling?!


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Free gift

The broadcast on Desiring God Radio these past few days has been entitled "The Free Gift of God is Eternal Life" on Romans 6:23 which says in ESV: "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." I realized the word "free" is not in the NIV. Though I know that's usually what a gift is--something free. But I am reminded once again that there is absolutely nothing we can do to earn or deserve this gift of God. It is absolutely free. It is all by the substitutionary sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ for OUR sins.

This Thanksgiving, above all things, we as a family want to give thanks to our God for this free gift. Caleb has learned this past year to say prayers. Whenever we gather to pray, he calls it a "prayer meeting." What joyful opportunity it is to give thanks to God and to teach a three-year-old for what he is ultimately giving thanks.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Though the fig tree does not bud...

No breakthrough with my chronic stomach ailments--some of you may want to know. But this is good--to keep me from becoming conceited, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, and to once again put in perspective what the prophet Habukkak says:
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the
vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no
food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the
stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my

How does one do that?? All by the grace of God, and recognizing that "in this life, our suffering is never as great or as serious as our sins.... it will always be less than what we have deserved for our sins." (Humility: True Greatness, C. J. Mahaney) Blessed be the name of the Lord!


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My Pride As Well

What a blessing it is to be able to be ministered to even in front of my computer in this day and age. Mark Dever's post on Pride as Impatience reminds me that impatience has also become my pride's disguise often. Spending almost all my waking hours with Caleb does uncover much of my impatience (pride), especially when he keeps asking questions after questions or wants to play games in which I have no interests.

Mark shares:
I further confess as I have meditated on it, it becomes clear to me that this is not a nice, junior kind of sin (at least not in me). It is a disguise for the sin of pride, the ugliest of all sins, and the most direct rejection of God's authority and of a humble joy in His provision for me in the Gospel of Jesus Christ... My tendency is to be patient in situations I like. And that's no patience! Patience is endurance through things that challenge us, and it is rooted in humility, as surely as my impatience is rooted in pride.

Indeed, I often consider MY agenda more than I do others' and God's. My mind is preoccupied often with what interests ME and as a result I brush even my own son off. I've been given so much more than I deserve. Yes, I deserve Hell, yet I have gained Christ out of God's infinite mercy. And my son wants to play a game with me. I need to pray for a humble reception of God's authority in my life and "a humble joy in His provision for me in the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Power of the Word

Caleb is at an age where he wants to exert strong independence yet does not have the maturity to handle his desires and emotions. There are times he would get into a frenzy or burst into crying and whining when he does not get what he wants or cannot get what he wants done. Of course, the bottom of this is he's a sinner. One day, while he threw a fit for not being able to do something he was fixed on doing, I remembered one of the Foundation Verses he'd been reciting: "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below." Exodus 20:4 I prompted him with the first part of the verse and he completed the rest in a progressively calm manner. I then explained to him that he had made that something and his desire an idol and that our happiness is found only in God. Ever since, we've been able to use this verse to explain to him the different forms of idols we make in our lives, and apply an increasing number of the 76+ verses that he has learned from the pack.

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." 2 Timothy 3:16 God's grace has enabled me to see and apply this truth even with a 3-year-old. And it is a sober reminder for myself as well that I am a sinner desperately in need of the daily sanctifying power of His Word.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

"I can read!"

Caleb had shown interest in learning how to read early on. For the past months, he'd been only reading out words by recognition. One of his favorite words was "God" and for a while he would scream out "God!" each time he saw it on the screen during singing in Sunday worship. And he started recognizing "O LORD my God" since we've been reading through the Psalms in our morning worship.

I started teaching him systematic phonics using The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading back in July as we embarked on a more structured homeschooling schedule. After going through the vowels and consonants and their sounds, we finally got to the first lesson last week where he was asked to read three complete sentences. I watched as he moved his little finger across slowly but surely sounding out the words. What joy! Thank you God for the giving of the ability to read!


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Echoes in our hearts

Here's a wonderful article from Christianity Today that echoes much with the convictions God has placed in our hearts these recent few years... Enjoy!


Monday, September 18, 2006

Twenty Years...

We spent a day Saturday up in Davis biking around the campus of our alma mater (with Caleb in the trailer), visiting the good old farmers' market, and just reminiscing on God's wondrous doing some twenty years ago when I met Andy, who was still a pagan... It was a spur of the moment trip, and I guess we could call it a 20-year anniversary trip! Summer school just ended and so it was nice and quiet. The hog barns by the engineering building have long been removed but the smells of cows and horses are still a signature of the Davis air. Caleb enjoyed the trip and the ride, and his mommy and daddy got to have some exercise. We thank the Lord for the blessing of a 20-year friendship.