Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Bernie and the Messiah

A couple weeks ago, we talked about the Messiah in my Bible class. Isaiah 52:13-53:12 talks about the Savior that will come. He will be beaten. He will be punished. He will be innocent. He will take our punishment. He will be condemned on our behalf. He was sinless. We are the sinners. We deserve the punishment.

After discussing the passage, we related it back to the Penalty Offering (Leviticus 5:14-6:7). It talked about how each person had to sacrifice a sheep/ram for their sin. Whether they knew they sinned or not, they would still be held accountable. Each time they sinned, they were to give this sacrifice or offering. So, over a person's lifetime, they would offer thousands upon thousands of sheep. We connected that fact that the Messiah was the Final and Ultimate Penalty Offering. There would be no need for sheep anymore. Then I said, "I'll tell you a secret, Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is so important and talked about so much by all people because of what He did and what it means. All your sins can be forgiven, IF you believe in Jesus and his sacrifice for you."

Bernie had a question, of course.
"So, it doesn't matter what we do? We are forgiven, if we believe in Jesus. So, we can do whatever we want without consequences. It doesn't matter what we do because we are forgiven."
My response:
"No. And Yes. Imagine this. You kill someone. You are guilty. You have broken the law and you are sent to prison for the rest of your life. You will die in the prison. You will never be able to leave. But your friend comes one day. He says, 'You don't have to stay here. I am going to take your punishment. I'm going to stay here forever. You can go free.' What will you do? Will you go and commit more crimes? Will your friend's sacrifice mean nothing to you? No. It means something. It's important. It's your friend. If you go out and break the law again, it's like spitting in your friend's face. His sacrifice means nothing then. You leave and you want to honor your friend with the rest of your life. Doing your best. Trying your hardest."


Our meeting started as usual. We got right to work. Or I did. This is our thing: I make some baked good. She videos me and asks questions. Then we wait. I make coffee. And we eat the baked good. Then it gets to the good stuff. We talk about God, Christianity, beliefs, philosophy, boys, life, friends, etc.

This Saturday wasn’t any different. Or at first glance, anyway. We, as in I, made the cheesecake and since I was out of coffee beans, she brought coffee for us. 

Then the conversation began. But let's back up. June 2014 she had told me she had made a decision to become a follower of Baha’i. I have to admit, I don’t know the ins and outs of Baha’i, but what I do know doesn’t make sense. Since June, I was under the impression that things were pretty set in stone and I wasn’t sure how much I was going to invest in her. But a recent discussion in my Bible class made her feel insecure about our friendship. A student had asked me what I thought about Baha’i. I made sure to preface what I said with, “This is just my opinion.” I went on to say how ridiculous it all seems. Baha’i says all beliefs lead to the same god. How can one, two or even three different beliefs being saying the same thing? A lot of belief are based on works; doing good things, being a good person. But Christianity’s base is in faith. It’s not what we do, but what Jesus has done for us. He’s sacrificed his perfect body, mind and soul for us. We deserve punishment and banishment from God, but he took that for us. We are therefore exempt. 

As we began to talk, she revealed she was still searching. She feels lost and frustrated. She doesn’t want to be in the middle. She wants to make a choice. But she wants to make the right choice.

Heaven and Hell.
Christianity is clear. Those who believe in Jesus and follow Him are going to be with Him forever in Heaven. Those who don’t are going to a Lake of Fire, aka. Hell.

Baha’i has a more fluid belief about eternity. There is no hell. The more developed your virtues (honesty, kindness, etc.) are the closer you are to God. The less developed your virtues are the further away from God you are. The more developed you are, the more complete your spiritual body will be. I posed the question, “So, there is no punishment for people?” Her response was, “Being far from God is a punishment. It’s like Hell.”
Me - “But people that don’t care about God and virtues, don’t care if they are close or far from God. So, there is or isn't a Hell?”
Brea - “It’s like Hell, but God is sad if the people are not close to him.”
Me - “But if the people don’t care, it doesn’t matter if they are close or far away from God.”
Brea - "But it will make God sad."
Me - "But they don't care if God is sad."

Virtues/Good Works vs. Faith in Jesus and what He has done
Of course we had to hit this topic. She insisted that developing kindness and honesty and other good character qualities was not self-centered. She said developing those virtues was actually focused on God. I told her it sounded like Baha’i was centered on self-development.

But Christianity was centered on what Jesus had done for people. His sacrifice compels people to show him honor, praise and please Him. But ultimately, what we do is “filthy rags” to Him.

She reiterated that the development of virtues is about God. I asked how.
Brea - “Because we want to become better people. So, then we can deserve God.”
Me - “See that is a huge difference in Christianity. We deserve death because of our sin. Baha’i doesn’t say anything about being enemies with God. It doesn’t say that people have disobeyed Him. We don't deserve to live. We deserve death. But God is gracious. He erases our sin, if we believe in Jesus’ sacrifice for us.”

Different messengers with one message from one god
Baha’i says that different “deities” or religious leaders (Muhammed, Jesus, Buddha, etc.) have the same message to share and are different messengers sent for one god. I started with the statement that all those different leaders had different messages. Muhammad said you had to follow the pillars of faith. Hinduism says try and try again until you reach the highest level of enlightenment. Jesus says I love you and I want to take your punishment for you so that you can live. None of those are the same message.

Brea - “But the essence is the same.”
Me - “What essence? They all have a message, but all their messages are different. They can’t all be real or true.”
Brea - “God is the essence of all those messengers.”
Me - “Then why does the message change? In Christianity, God is the same. God is constant. He is faithful. He is loyal. He doesn’t change. People do. He sent many messengers, prophets. They all said the same thing. The Bible is consistent. But different religions have different messages. That's why they aren’t the same.”

Saturday, October 25, 2014



Oh Bernie. He was in my English class last year. He's in my Bible class this Fall. I have to say, I was a little surprised to see him sitting there when I walked in. He always had things to say and challenging questions. He loved talking about politics, history, the Pope, religion, among other things. He just LOVED debating. He always had something to say. And when I challenged him back on his views, he would just smile and say, "Well, that is what you think. You are American. But Chinese do no think this."

So, Tuesday (Sept 2) was the first Bible class. We talked about some Bible history and basics. We practiced navigating through the Bible a little as well. I told them we would start in the beginning. So, page one, chapter one. They took about 15 minutes reading the Creation story. A former teacher/mentor of mine, has created a wonderful study of lessons for people seeking the Lord. And it kind of targets Asians. So, that's what I use in my class. We were walking through the first 3 days of creation; light, darkness, sky, water, land. I asked, "What did God create the first day?" Bernie shouted, "The sun!" I smiled and said, "The sun isn't created till day 4. Look. He created light and darkness. God is so powerful, He doesn't need the sun to create light." Bernie looked down at his Bible and was quiet a moment. He looked up and smiled, "Okay." Hahaha, it was just too funny. I think he'll be a great addition to the class and says and asks things others might be too shy to say or ask. And when his inquisitive attitude, he may conclude Christianity is not for him. But his curiosity could help others to believe. We will see where the story goes...

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Venus, a stellar person, not planet

This post is a little late. But I have to "finish" the story. In tears.

Venus. Oh goodness, do I love that girl! Hence the tears. She is someone I will forever keep in contact with. And forever remember.

She's spunky, opinionated, cute, gutsy, crazy, kind, deep, thoughtful, stubborn, loving, loud and much much more.

Our last meeting was in June. She came over to my apartment for one last chat. I have always enjoyed talking to her.  The variety and depth or our conversations over the past 3 years is quite amazing. We never seem to run out of things to say. The topics of our last chat were Kevin, sex and dating in grad school.

Kevin. If you don't know who Kevin is, you should check out this post or this post. She had finally broke it off with Kevin, who was her lesbian girlfriend for the past 2 and a half years. She had debated for a while about when to do it, next term or this summer. She thought a slower break (over a couple of months) would be easier to accept. But they had a calm, collected conversation and "mutually" decided it was time to end their relationship. She wasn't broken up about it at all. She was revealed to be finished with it. She had become irritated and annoyed with Kevin's immaturity level and neediness and carelessness and lack of dependability. I told her some of that was Kevin's age and some of that was expectations that couldn't be met in another person. She was looking for love, stability, and fulfillment in a person. That was only going to lead her to heartache and disappointment. I reminded her I believed what she was looking for could only be found in God. Even if she found a man she thought was perfect, he was going to fail her, disappoint her, or anger her at some point in time. That ache/desire in her heart was only going to be fulfilled through God. She heard it all before and listened and understood. But ultimately, said she thought she could still have a good and happy marriage with out God or belief.

Dating. She had so many questions for me. What would I do and not do with my boyfriend, physically. What kind of things would we talk about. Just to clarify, my students all know I had a boyfriend in high school and college. I've shared various stories with them. Some of her questions were hypotheticals. Let me go on a tangent for a moment. Another thing to note is the maturity of level of college students in China. I may have said this before, but they are considerably less mature than the average American student. They don't usually pay for their tuition, food, cellphone bill, dorm fees, etc. They rely primarily on their parents. Some might rely on them less, but over all that isn't the case. Some might have a part time job. But most of them don't. Their parents believe they should focus on school.  SO, when I talk about boys and dating and sex, they get all sorts of giggly. They snicker and can't seem to help but cover their mouth in shock and awe of what I say. Venus, isn't that way. So, I shared some of the naive physical boundaries my boyfriend of the past and I had. She was intrigued. She said, "How can you stick to them so strictly, Nila?" I laughed. I said, "Sometimes, it wasn't easy. And, to be honest, most of the time, I had to say 'Stop' or 'That isn't ok.' I think men and women see and feel physical things very differently." I also told her said boyfriend and I were friends for about a year before we dated and we dated for about a 1 year and a half to 2 years. She was really surprised. It's not uncommon for Chinese to date 4-5 years before tying the knot. She said most people that date that long will stay together. I told her I stayed with him too long. I should have broken up earlier. About a year after dating, I was sure I wasn't going to marry him. Even after time and growth, it just wasn't going to work out. I encouraged her to know what she is willing to accept and what she's not. And if she needs to change those expectations from time to time, it's okay. But if she really can't accept smoking or lack of independence from family, then she should wait. Of course, it's "easy" for me to say all this. I'm American. There's "little to no pressure" for me to get married or have kids. But Asian families and parents are very opinionated and put a lot of pressure on their youngsters. She said she doesn't mind waiting, but she's not sure how her family will accept that idea. But she was very excited to see and meet new people in grad school. And possibly find the love of her life! There were endless opportunities in grad school.

Sex. Hahaha! I honestly can't remember how we came to this topic, but we did. I think I asked her what she would do if her boyfriend was pressuring her to have sex. I have heard this from so many young Chinese girls. They don't want to have sex. But they fear their boyfriends will leave them and find someone else. Which may very well be true. She said, very confidently, "I will never have sex with my boyfriend. I don't think it's ok. Girls should protect themselves. They should have confidence. And if my boyfriend tries to pressure me, I will say no. And if her continues for a long time, I don't need him. Maybe he's not right for me." Bravo! I love her tenacity. She expressed her thoughts about how sex is very intimate and special. She does not want to do it with everyone. She would like to wait to get married. I felt happy for her. To be so sure and so secure in her convictions. I wonder, if she will feel the same when/if the situation arises.

I hope to go visit her at some point. She is studying in a place that is called "Spring City" in Chinese. I've been there before and it has wonderful weather and lots of foreign goods. I suppose I could make some time to go ;)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Boundaries and Margin

A couple weeks ago, I went to Thailand and met and re-connected with some incredible people. I was encouraged, challenged, refined, humbled and loved. Deeply. We are often so busy doing our own work, we rarely remember each other or make time to catch up. Or at least, that’s the case for me. Out of sight, out of mind. One of the lessons I took away from Thailand was about boundaries and margin.

Spring 2014 was grueling. It was wonderful. But grueling. I was challenged in ways I didn’t know needed stretching. Father brushed away some cobwebs and dusted the crannies of forgotten parts of my heart. Well, parts I had forgotten about, not that He had. 

I can honestly say and see that I was on the verge of “burnout.” I didn’t realize it at the time. I just felt tired, empty, useless and ineffective. While in Thailand, I learned that was a symptom of a life without boundaries and margin.

Boundaries: a limit, imaginary line or unofficial rule of what can and cannot be done. Acceptable and non-acceptable behavior. 

Margin: a reserve, extra time, money, supplies or space used in a the time of need for you or others. (You should have a DAILY reserve. A little extra time every day for you.)

See the difference in boundaries and margin? I didn’t at first. Boundaries are guidelines for your personal life and work life. What are you willing to do and not do? How much can you invest in something or someone? Margin is extra time/money/space for extra stuff that might come up. Is your schedule so full that you don’t have breaks? Do you have free time? Are you always running from one thing to another?

Don’t forget to communicate these boundaries and margins. You should be able to say “no” to things/people in love. When you have decided to cut something out, stick with that decision. But say “no” with love. Hopefully, this will also help you say “yes” in confidence. You will know you have extra time, money or space to help an out an unexpected friend. Or if something fun comes up, you have the ability to say “yes” with out having to cancel something else or move things around. Do not suffer from the “Disease to Please.”

Consequences of no boundaries/margin
  1. Burnout
  2. Stress-related disease
  3. Relationship problems
  4. Lack of productiveness
  5. Lower quality of life, work and overall satisfaction
  6. Eventually results in a chaotic life
  7. Potentially career-ending
Rewards of boundaries/margin
  1. At your personal potential
  2. Have reserves to help people
  3. Healthier relationships
  4. Good example to others
  5. Sustainable life and work/ministry
So, now you see the benefits and dangers of boundaries and margin. How do you make it happen? Here’s how! Make 3 lists. List EVERYTHING that takes up your time, all things that keep you busy.

God-given Obligations
These things are nonnegotiable.
Things might include; a quiet time, a Sabbath, worship, exercise, sleep, ministry, work, etc.
If this list is bigger than all the others, something is wrong. Maybe you are carrying a burden that’s not yours to carry. Maybe it’s time to ask for help. Maybe you need to delegate some things.

These things are negotiable.
There are expectations others may have for you; going to dinner, hanging out, babysitting, work parties, event planning, etc.
There are expectations you have for yourself; meeting with a certain number of people a week, following-up on certain relationships, planning, weight loss goals, etc.
Are these things realistic? Are these things binding? Are these things worth your time and effort? Can you really do those things?
Some things might have to be cut out. That’s why they are negotiable!

Bucket List
Things you hope to do this month, this year, the next 5 years!
It’s always good to have dreams and ambitions.
This can be fun stuff; travel, learning a language, learning how to play an instrument, etc.

Okay, now you have lists and categories and you’re organized. What’s next? Planning!!!

Print off some calendars; daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.

Do what works for you! If you are good with a weekly plan, do that. If you are a little more detailed, do it daily-style. If you know you want to take a vacation in January, put it in there. Don’t allow yourself to change that. Stick to it! Vacations are ok. If you want to work out every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, put it on there. And do it. This is all Part One of the process. Part Two is execution. I haven’t gotten there yet. But I’m a go-getter, so I feel confident I’ll do it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

My Cousin Vinnie

Do you remember that movie? I don't remember much. But I remember the title. I think someone was on trial and he had a crazy cousin from the Bronx that was going to be his lawyer. Anyways...

This is my friend, Vinnie.

He is just a pleasure. I loved having him in my class and loved how active and inquisitive he was in the Bible class I taught. And last Spring, we studied further in the Bible with several other girls. This past Fall, the tradition continued and we all studied together again. However, this Spring, they had to get real and do an internship in order to graduate. So, in December 2013, we all had dinner together and said good-bye until graduation in July of 2014.

I prayed for him and the others off and on over the past months. But that was about it. Then I got a text.

Wait. A little back story: In Spring of 2012, he completed my Oral English course. At the end of the oral final, a small group discussion, he asked, "Did you give me a bad grade because I'm gay?"

I was a little shocked and stricken. But I smiled and replied, "Vinnie, you received a bad grade because you weren't a good student. I LOVED having you in class. When you came. But you rarely came and sometimes, you would play on your phone the whole time. Do you think coming to class half the time and playing on your phone deserves a good grade for an Oral English class?"

He laughed. "Okay, okay. I understand."

"Honestly, I never knew you were gay. I thought, maybe. But until you said something NOW, I assumed you weren't. It's rude to make assumptions based on appearance or actions that may not mean anything."

"Thank you, Nila. Wow. You have such principles."

Fast forward to June 2014: Our text conversation...

my dear Lina, thank you for teaching me the Bible and I do enjoy the days when we talk about everything related to christianity .I leart a lot of things from you and I cherrish it very much. I am back home now ,because something terrible is  happening to me !I beg that you can pray for me by the name of God and I do hope you can have a good life wherever you are!  from your lovely Vinnie!

Oh Vinnie!!! You are a dear dear DEAR friend. I will definitely pray for you! Thank you for asking! I'm sorry to hear your bad news. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you. And if you ever want to talk, I'm always ready to listen 

maybe it is not the right time to tell you that and actully I dare not tell you . I got a terrible disease which will kill me gradually , but if i take pills everyday i can have a normal life as you have! I know you are a nice girl who i can trust,so i want to share my secret with you and it will realax me a lot! dont ask me what disease i am with now,i will tell you when necessary.what i want now is your praying and a normal life. i hope that i can see you again in the future!

Ok. I will still pray for you. And I will wait for you to tell me your secret when you are ready. I hope you know I will accept anything. I think you are a very good friend of mine 

:-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) i need to have a rest.good night,my friend!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Venus, Mars, Jupiter…

Venus is one of my former students. We spent gobs and gobs of time together when I was her teacher. She was currently obsessed with a male upperclassman at that time. After she moved on to her junior year, we still meet monthly. But Kevin, a female sophomore at that time, would join us. Finally, about Christmas time, she wanted to have a serious conversation. We met and she told me about how Kevin wanted to be more than just friends. I wasn’t shocked, but saddened. 

Venus’ reasons for entering into a homosexual relationship:
  • Kevin was really kind.
  • They were really comfortable together.
  • They knew each other for a long time.
  • It would be like a normal relationship.
    • She is like a man.
  • She just wanted to try it.
  • She eventually would get married to a man.
    • She wanted to have a baby and her parents expected her to get married and have a kid.
  • She was still attracted to men, but just wanted to see what a homosexual relationship was like and didn’t see what the harm was.

My reasons for NOT entering into a homosexual relationship:
  • God created man and woman for each other.
  • It was unnatural. There was no way for them to have babies.
  • No matter how much Kevin acted like a man, talked like a man, dressed like a man, SHE was a SHE.
  • Men and women are meant to balance each other out.
  • It wasn’t going to go beyond college.
    • If it did go beyond college, gay marriage is NOT accepted in China, what then?
    • If it wasn’t going to go beyond college, why even engage in it?
  • It was going to have repercussions in her future.
    • What would her future husband think?
  • People were going to judge her for being so flippant about her sexuality.
  • What were her parents going to think?
After several dinner dates and conversations, going over the same things, she decided to go for it. Going into her senior year and Kevin’s junior year, they were still together and we still had dinner or coffee monthly. They even met my mom when she came to visit in October 2013. We have celebrated birthday together this year. But several times over the year, Venus and I meet separately to talk about the problems she and Kevin were having.

Present Day: We just met this week for coffee. She said she wanted to have some girl talk. I knew that meant Kevin Talk. I braced myself and prayed constantly the day before we met until we met.

Several weeks before she had travelled to a university in another province for an interview for grad school. She got in and was really excited about it. BUT she didn’t know what to do about Kevin. 

Questions I posed for her:

  • Did you want to have a long-distance relationship?
    • No. We have been having so many problems and I am tired of trying and being more mature than her.
  • So, how will you break up with her?
    • I don’t know. Some of my friends suggested I just slowly push her away. Just say I don’t have time, I have too much homework or something when I go to grad school.
  • Why wouldn’t you do it sooner?
    • I don’t want to be so cruel. I think it is terrible if I just tell her I don’t want to be with her anymore. And if I break up now, I will just feel sad and lonely and get back together.
  • Don’t you think it’s selfish to stay together? You don’t love her, if you really loved her, you would let her go and move on.
    • You are right. I don’t love her. And I will get married someday. To a man.
  • Why would you want to stay friends after you break up?
    • It seems so cruel to not communicate after being together so long. We can still be friends.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Almond Milk

When I moved to China, I knew one of the more materialistic things I would miss would be milk. I love America’s milk. It’s so full of flavor and rich. China milk just disappoints. Well, it disappoints me anyway. So, I only used it sparingly in my coffee for the past 3.5 years. But recently I discovered ALMOND MILK. Let me tell you, it has changed my life!

My friend and I had almost finished Whole30, it’s a 30-day cleanse if you will. We were discussing our new found love of almonds. And of course we asked, “Can you milk an almond?” You can, folks! Here’s how it’s done!

You need:
• 1 cup raw or not raw almonds, soaked in water. I usually do 8-12 hours. But you can do as little as 2 hours. Or so I’ve heard. 
• 3 cups filtered water
• 1 Tbsp of honey/syrup OR any old sweetener. I prefer honey.
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/4 tsp cinnamon. This is optional. I like it though.
• small pinch of fine grain sea salt, to enhance the flavor. I don’t usually do this because the almonds I buy are a little salty.

I buy almonds at the store when I can. 
But if I’m just hanging around campus, I’ll just buy this at a little shop. 
Before we get started, here is a photo of raw and cooked almonds. The raw ones are on the left and cooked on the right. I have tried both. I like cooked better because it just has more flavor than raw almonds. Raw almonds are smaller and darker in color. 

First step SOAK:
Like I said the almonds are slightly salty, I kind of rinse them off and then let me soak up the water! I usually do 8-12 hours or overnight. I have yet to try just 2 hours. But Angela Liddon, writer of Oh She Glows Cookbook, says it can be done! This is her recipe with a couple of tweaks. 

Second BLEND:
Put rinsed almonds, water, sweetener and vanilla in your blender.    
Then blend, baby, blend! For about a minute. 


I usually get my dish towel and pitcher ready. I put a photo of the brand and towel. This is what I used when anything says, use cheesecloth. I have yet to find cheesecloth in China, but these little towels do the trick. 

Place the towel over your pitcher, like so. 

Pour the almond milk slowly in to the towel. It will begin to drip through the towel. 

Eventually, you can pull the towel up and squeeze the rest of the milk out. This usually takes 4-5 minutes. I usually pour about half and squeeze, remove pulp, pour the other half, squeeze and then remove the rest of the pulp. Speaking of pulp…   

When you open the towel, you have almond pulp. But there are all sorts of stuff to do with the pulp. Crackers, hummus, add to granola, pizza crust, or really any baked good.  

I usually put the pulp in a bowl and set it aside. 

You’re almost done!!!
Fourth BLEND:
Rinse out your blender and then pour all the milk back in. Add the cinnamon and salt if you wish. Blend on low, just enough to combine it all up.  

Viola! You have made Vanilla Cinnamon Almond Milk! 

Lastly POUR:
Pour the milk in to a glass container and it can be stored for up to 5 days. Shake well before each use because the almonds and water tend to separate.    

I hope you fall in love with Almond Milk like I did. Feel free to play with the recipe. Another friend suggested chocolate. I might try adding some cocoa powder sometime. Or maybe you want to keep it simple and just add vanilla. Or you don’t want it sweet. Or you want it sweeter. Do whatever you like. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Glasses Twins

Every fall term I teach a class called The Bible and Christianity. This alone is very rare and special in China. I have never heard of any other person doing this. And I highly doubt I will ever. The students in that class are my old sophomores. When they are juniors they have the choice to take several electives. I’m always encouraged and excited to see 50+ students in my class that first day. Some take the class because they are truly interested, some just like me as a teacher.

Let me tell you a little about Ocean. He has one of the most gentle and kind souls. Even in English class, he was attentive, active and so insightful. So, I was excited to see him in class.

Throughout the fall semester, he was SUPER active and a GREAT participant. As we walked through creation, the first sin, the Law, the Messiah, Jesus and his parables, Ocean lit up each week. He asked wonderful questions and had thoughtful insights. And half the time when other students posed questions, he was quick to jump in and respond with accurate answers. He just GOT it. It was great.

From earlier posts, you may have read about some Kentucky friends that came to visit. While they were here, Ocean had some time to hang out with Ben and Tyler. I don’t know the details of what they talked about, but I did hear that both parties enjoyed talking with each other. The information I got from Tyler and Ben was that Ocean considers himself a believer or at the very least, very close to becoming one.

In the spring, I always offering to study further with students from the Bible class that desire to study more. Ocean was one of those students. We’ve been studying through James. And once again, he just GETS it. 

Continue to pray for him and his journey towards the One True God.

Isn’t he the cutest? We’re glasses twins. I couldn’t resist a photo.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Linda and her heavy burden...Part Two

If you haven't read my previous post, Part One, you should.

Ok, picture it. August 2013. Linda calls and asks about my upcoming Bible class!!! I'm so glad she remembered, or Father reminded her. I told her the time, place and date. She said she could come the first couple weeks because she doesn't have class. She teaches freshmen and they start later in the semester. I was excited and told her I would meet her and we could walk together.

The first couple weeks we cover Creation, the Fall, freedom, The Law, etc. Some good ol' good Old Testament stuff. She loved the Creation story. 
"God must be so creative and so powerful to do all those things. But I still can't understand how there is light, but there is no sun. He is also very organized."
When we talk about the Fall, I pose the "What is freedom?" question. And "Are rules necessary?" "Can you have rules and freedom?"
"This is such a good question. It really makes me think and I think it makes your students think too. I always thought freedom is doing what I want. But there must be rules. If there is no rules, things will go crazy. Maybe society can not be under control. And God gave the man and woman one rule. It's very easy, but they didn't follow. Before I knew the whole story, I thought God is so cruel. But I can understand more. We must follow rules. We should follow rules. Or there will be chaos."
After a couple weeks, she couldn't come to class anymore. We met a couple times outside of class and talked more about the Bible. I also gave her one to borrow. She said she had been reading it and loved all the stories. They were very interesting.

Around November 2013, she told me she didn't want to be separated from her husband anymore. She was really upset about this. But he was unwilling to move back after graduating in May 2014. He wanted her to go there. But she knew the difficulties of moving and how hard their life would be. He didn't have a promise of a job after graduation. She also wasn't sure if she was going to be able to find a job. Many Chinese people say, "The competition is fierce." There are SO many people with much of the same certificates and qualifications. You have to be exceptional in order to stand out and be hired. She wasn't confident that she would be noticed in such a massive city. All these worried about her marriage, finances, her in-laws, her son and job weighed heavy on her. But she was pretty sure, even if she didn't want to go, her husband wasn't going to budge. She would more than likely be moving in summer of 2014.

I told her I would be praying for her and her family. I would be really sad if she would to go, but I understand. If I was married, I would most DEFINITELY not live in a different city. I told her to keep reading the Bible I gave since it gives her peace. And that she is more than welcome to take it with her. Join me in praying for her.

Whole30 rocked my world...

Oh yes. I have followed the trend. If you don't even know what Whole30 is, just goes to show how much cooler I am than you ;) 

But seriously, I don't want to be dramatic. However, Whole30 has kind of changed my life. I'll first tell you the Purpose...

It's like the healthiest, most intense detox of your life!!! It's meant to boost your energy levels, give you more regular bowels, up your metabolism, boost your immune system, eliminate certain conditions or aches. The food we eat has more of an effect on us than we know or can to admit. Stripping certain foods from your diet for 30 days can have wonderful health and psychological benefits.

The Rules...
  • No sugar of any kind: raw, organic, artificial, etc.
  • No dairy: no raw milk, goat milk, soy milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, etc.
  • No legumes: no beans of any kind, black, kidney, white, pinto, lima, peanuts, etc.
  • No alcohol or tobacco.
  • No grains: wheat, barley, oat, corn, rice, etc. This also includes quinoa and couscous, the pseudo-grains.
  • No white, red, purple or gold potatoes. In any form.
  • No carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. It's really important to check the labels of things you are buying or going to cook with.
  • No paleo-ifying baked goods, desserts or snacks. You are trying to break those habits of snacking unnecessarily and eating "junk food." For the next 30 days, don't try to replicate food you miss. Just eat good, real, wholesome food.
My Whole30
I'm going to do my best to put it all into one paragraph. In the beginning, I honestly thought I was going to fall asleep at the wheel. Well, hypothetically. I live in China, so I don't do much driving. Okay, I do NO driving. But if I was behind a wheel, I think I would have fallen asleep during the first week. Depriving my body of sugar was the hardest part. I mean, I didn't gorge myself on it before, but my morning coffee always had sugar and milk. Which leads to my second challenge. COFFEE. I thought I wasn't going to make it! I was sure I was going to give up coffee altogether before the 30 days was up. But other than that I had fun cooking and trying to create new dishes with what seemed limited ingredients and spices.

Okay, I can't do one paragraph. It's going to be more like four. Week Two. I was feeling it!!! They call it Tiger Blood. I was SO energized. I was sleeping better, more fully and deeper. I was guzzling black coffee. My bowels were better than they have ever been. If you know me, I've never had good bowels. I'm almost always constipated and I usually have to drink a special tea to get things going. TMI? Get over it. I was even feeling lighter. And I was past the icky bloated stage, so that was nice too.

Week Three. Not much to say. Things were still going well. I was getting a little frustrating/bored with food. I was having a hard time feeling like I wasn't eating the same thing over and over again. And I was craving sweets and breads more than ever. But I didn't give in!

Week Four Plus 2 days. At first half of the last week, I had this anxious, can't wait to be done feeling. All I wanted to do is eat chocolate and pumpkin bread and banana bread, ANY bread! But I didn't give in or entertain those thoughts too much because I knew I was almost done. The second half was full of ideas and thoughts. How was I going to go on after Whole30? What habits did I want to continue? Was I going to allow sugar again? How can I be healthy about the amount of breads and grains I eat? Why did I EVER taint my coffee with sugar and milk before?! I'm trying to figure it all out.

Cons/Hard Stuff
  1. Don't let my optimism fool you. It was tough to stick to. And I did mess up a couple times because I was a little absent-minded. But I'm not a die-hard Whole30ist, so I didn't start over at day 1 when I did.
  2. I was super tired the first week-ish.
  3. There was one day around day 9 or 10 that I had really bad stomach cramps. Like fetal position style.
  4. After a while, it got hard to be creative with food.
  5. Living in China, it was tough not having some things that could be easily purchased in America. Like seasonings or sauces other Whole30ists used.
  6. At first, cooking/prepping/planning was a hassle!! What a time consumer.
  7. I had trouble with breakfast. I'm not a breakfast eater. So, that was tough to do.
  8. I also had trouble with the portion sizes. It felt like SOOO MUCH food sometimes.
  9. Always having to cook at home. China is a social-eating society.
  10. Having to go to the grocery store more often.
  11. I missed yogurt a lot!

Pros/Things I've learned
  1. I feel like my tastebuds have been enhanced.
  2. I have more energy.
  3. Better bowels and movements.
  4. Sleep has improved. I fall asleep faster and longer and deeper.
  5. I lost about 12 lbs/5.5 kg. Arms, legs, tummy overall skinner.
  6. For the most part, I've broken my nasty snacking habit. AND if I ABSOLUTELY have to have a snack, I make it a healthy one; fruits, nuts, etc.
  7. My close fit better.
  8. I feel healthier and lighter.
  9. I know I can live without sweets, sugar, breads and other things I thought I couldn't do with out.
  11. My mouth salivates when I think about wholesome, all natural, unprocessed food.
  12. I don't crave bad foods or junk food.
  13. Having a healthier relationship with carbs. And food in general.
  14. Enjoying cooking again and getting better at it. Or at least I think so.
  15. Connecting with my body. That sounds so "spiritual" and "hippie." But I mean, I know when I'm truly hungry and when I'm not. And making a wise decision accordingly.
  16. I have a good sense of how different foods effect my mood, body and energy levels.
  17. Starbucks will be a special treat. I won't over do it.

Here's the site. Check out Whole30 and decide if it's something you want to try.

Hahahaha, and please ignore my face in the photos above.