Happy New Year friend!

Recently, my husband and I attended a Chinese New Year (CNY) dinner with our kids. It was an incredible 8-course feast – definitely one of my top favorite meals (especially considering it was $5!!!). It was a great time to celebrate the new year with Joe’s classmates and professors. 

Chinese New Year is the Super Bowl of holidays here in Singapore. Back in the States, the most I knew about the CNY was the different zodiac animals I would read about on Chinese restaurant placemats (rats: you are ambitious yet honest. Seldom make lasting friendships. Friends with dragons and monkeys, not horses).

Growing up in the US, you knew the holidays were around the corner when stores would start playing Mariah Carey’s Christmas album on repeat and Christmas trees/lights/everything are everywhere. 

Here, you can similarly see Christmas on the streets. But CNY is something you feel, smell, taste, hear, and breathe. 

Since moving to Singapore, I first learned cultural traditions in broad strokes and got to know their finer details in subsequent years. It’s a lot like getting to know someone. It comes in layers: there’s the first impression, then the immediate layer underneath that separates you from “real friend” and “Facebook friend”, and the layers further down that only time/commitment/connection can reveal. 

My first and most superficial understanding of CNY was that it is like American Thanksgiving and Christmas combined (and then multiply it by an auspicious 7).

Last year, I learned more about “lo hei”. It’s a traditional CNY meal where people wish prosperity upon each other through symbolic ingredients. It’s pretty festive where everyone stands around a big dish and mixes the ingredients by tossing noodles up with chopsticks.  It’s like “making it rain” prosperity – a description not far off from the actual translation of lo hei, “tossing up good fortune”. I especially love the communal aspect of this meal.

This year, I learned the nuances of ang bao. This is a tradition of an older person giving younger people money. With ang bao, the cash must be crisp, must be in even denominations, and must NOT be an amount with the number 4 (because 4 sounds like death in Chinese). 

When Joe and I first moved here, we received so many ang bao envelopes from the different stores we frequented during CNY. We had no idea what to do with it nor when to use it. At first, I thought you were only allowed to use the color red for CNY because they are called “RED packets”. So what was I supposed to do with the yellow, purple, orange ones in my drawer? Does each celebration require a specific color? Lost in the sea of envelopes, we would go out and buy new red packets for new occasions just to make sure we didn’t make a mistake. We weren’t going to fall into the foreigner trap of giving the wrong color envelope! facepalm.

While people explained all of these traditions to me when I first moved here, it was hard to make sense of everything. As I understand cultural context more, the better I’m able to understand its present-day practices. 

This process of learning the ins and outs of CNY is representative of the process of pushing past superficial first-impressions and embracing the deep history and culture of our home here: many new lessons, many new traditions, some face palm moments, and a big toss up of blessings.

Happy New Year friend.

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Relationship status: it’s complicated

This is an entry I began writing after I gave birth to my elder son (but never finished/posted). Now with my 2nd son, this still applies: 

I have a complicated relationship with my body.

I’m thankful that I’m healthy. I’m grateful that after battling migraines for 25 years, they are finally gone. I’m amazed that out of my body came a beautiful baby boy.

With all of these amazing feats, are whispers of needing to weigh less, wanting adjectives like “delicate” and “graceful” to match my frame, and wishing I could approach my closet each morning with joy instead of dread.

On a recent trip home, a relative saw me for the first time since I had Judah and said, “so you got fat, huh?” The shock of the affront sent ripples through me. I wanted to defend myself and my body – I just gave birth! I’m nursing! I’m tired!

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t try to shed off the baby weight as soon as I could. It’s not like I don’t know how to lose weight. But as soon as I tried to cut back and focus on my intake, I saw something depleting along with my unwanted weight: my milk supply. The stress and determination of losing weight had major impacts on me AND now my son. I wish I could say that this is the turning point of my story – that I suddenly matured into my role as a mother and saw that I have a deeper, and more profound purpose for my body.

But I felt imprisoned. Stuck between 2 “problematic” situations: either feed my child and accept my new body, or change my body and deprive my child. 

I scroll through the internet and am bombarded with photos of svelte mothers holding newborns. I’m not even trying to look for these photos! I was looking at reviews of a stroller and the stroller models were a pair of attractive and unnecessarily hipster looking parents. They were completely unrelatable. How do people have the time to look great, get a new wardrobe, go on multiple tropical vacations, teach their babies how to spell, and have such happy babies? And why is this not my portion?

——

And that’s where I stopped writing. Now i’m back, 2019 Diana.

Here are the thoughts I’d like to tell 2017 Diana and other women who may feel similarly. 

I don’t look the same anymore – fact.  I am beautiful – fact. Recently, Judah saw this cartoon of a pretty Asian woman. He pointed at it and said “umma!” (the korean term for mommy). Surprised, I clarified with him, “Do you think that looks like umma?” and he promptly said “yes!” *insert chorus of angels*

In the eyes of those who love me, I am beautiful. My beauty is not measured by numbers on a scale or the similarities/differences of my body now and from the past. Beauty is not measured at all. It is beheld through the eyes of a dear child, dear friend, dear husband, dear God. 

When I reduce myself to one, superficial aspect, I miss the bigger picture. I lose sight of the privilege of being healthy and whole. Of being able to lift up my son out of his crib as he says “good morning!” (or more frequently “i want car!!!”).  Of being able to nurse my newborn. Of being able to walk down a street pushing a double stroller while holding hands with my husband. Of being able. period. 

I have trained my mind to hate the toll that life has taken on my body. But that is my own deceit. Instead of warping my body to fit my mind’s delusion, I must teach my mind to accept what is true. 

Because this delusion is dead weight. Its burden tires and disheartens me. It distracts me from focusing my mind and energies on the purposes God has given me. 

Matthew 11:28-30 says 

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

I know I am not alone in this. We all intimately know the ache of shouldering an immense burden. A burden not carved for our shoulders. Whether it be the weight of chasing success, making a name, or living up to whatever “image” we’ve set before ourselves. These burdens keep us from seeing the bigger picture of ourselves.  May we lay down the mental/physical/emotional strife we bear from yoking ourselves to faulty definitions of success, beauty, and worth. May we learn truth from Christ and find rest in him and his purpose for us. 

How to: show up

I’ve done sit ups every night for 12 years. During a sermon on gluttony, the pastor challenged us to do something to take care of our bodies. After that message, I decided that every night, I would do 10 sit ups.

I chose 10 because after my 10th sit up, I’d think “Well, I’m already here, might as well do more”. Nights when I was particularly tired, i would stop at 10, and still fulfill my day’s quota. 

I’ve been reading James Clear’s book, “Atomic Habits”, where he underlines this exact principle: to build good habits, you need an easy and small entry point – a “gateway habit”

“People often think it’s weird to get hyped about reading one page or meditating for one minute or making one sales call. But the point is not to do one thing. The point is to master the habit of showing up.” James Clear, Atomic Habits

Pregnancy and birth have halted the sit-up habit. You can’t do sit ups with a baby in your belly and for many women, you can’t do them right after giving birth either. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet replaced the habit with something friendlier to my new life and body. 

This interrupted habit speaks to my spiritual life as well. 

Many of the spiritual disciplines I long cultivated during my late-teens and thru my 20’s have been affected by the nature of early parenthood. 

In college, it was easier (not easy – just easier) to read the Word, journal, pray for long periods of time, and spend time with people. When I began working, however, it got much harder. My free time was more limited and I was really tired after a long day of work. I was frustrated that I couldn’t give people and outside responsibilities my 100%. It felt like I maxed out at 65% efficiency. 

Becoming a new parent plummeted any semblance of efficiency/efficacy/e-verything. This is not at all a complaint, just an observation of my present life. 

Amidst fluctuating efficiency and availability levels, I’ve learned that it’s so important to keep showing up – to keep learning  and adjusting as you go. I’ve learned that the spiritual discipline is sometimes not about the details of the activity, but the commitment to show up, no matter what. 

When I was a newly working person, I soon realized it was unrealistic to continue my undergrad habit of spending late hours with people every night. Why? Because I had to wake up early and put in a full day’s work. So through much trial and error, I learned how to show up in that season. I reserved late nights for emergencies and special occasions. I made the most of my lunches, my evenings, my weekends. I learned how to go to morning prayer by waking up early (as opposed to staying up through the night to “study”, capping it off with morning prayer, and finally sleeping through the day. Ah… the days of university). 

Now, as a mom of young kids, I’ve returned to a place of trial and error, figuring out how I can still show up. I get to learn how to build a powerful prayer life piece by piece. I get to learn how to be radical and available for God, from home. 

Some habits that have helped me these past 3 years: 

  • Switching my Bible version from ESV to NLT (basically going from newspaper english to colloquial english). I would do this after giving birth to both of my kids because when you have a newborn, it takes 10000x more effort to comprehend anything. 
  • Restarting my prayer habit when it goes stale. I would commit to pray for 5 minutes every day for one week. I turn on the timer, and start praying. After one week, I increase it to 2 minutes (and then again the next week. and then again. and then again, repeat). What has this done? It’s helped me to show up when my prayer discipline has tanked. It’s relieved the burden of trying to figure out how to distract my kid(s) for a long stretch of time. Instead, it’s helped me figure things out in small chunks along the way. 
  • Sharing insights from daily Bible reading with sisters in the church. I love that our church does this. This year, we’ve started a Bible plan where we can share our thoughts through an app. It’s something I look forward to everyday.

Some new habits I’m working on:

  • Vocalizing kindness. Our family has been intentional about saying one thing we’re thankful for about each person in our family. In a world where negativity is abundant, we want to build a value and fluency in identifying and vocalizing goodness in each other. It’s something we do over our family dinners and it’s a highlight of my day.
  • Letting myself be bored for a few minutes before reaching for my phone. During a recent church social media fast, I noticed how I would automatically reach for my phone to mindlessly consume media. As I allowed myself moments of boredom, I found myself having deeper meditations, partaking in more productive activities, and discovering more of my heart’s desires. 
  • Writing twice a week. I’ve recently realized how much I love writing. Looking back, I’ve chronicled much of my life since high school: 2 xangas, 1 blogspot, 1 tumblr, and 1 wordpress – basically a blog per era. I was even on my primary school’s newspaper team when I was in the 4th grade (I remember going to Sizzler, an American family restaurant, for a food review. The manager gave me free dessert because I was a “reporter”. And then I never wrote the article because I was scared of doing a shoddy job. I still feel bad that I essentially conned him out of a dessert. And I’ve never returned to Sizzler.) 10-year old Diana’s trauma aside, this is a skill and passion I want to keep building and showing up for. 

Growing spiritual habits across life-stages has been transformative and restorative for me. These disciplines, in their varying shapes and sizes have sustained me through difficult times. I’ve found that times of crisis are NOT the time to build good habits. They are the time when your disciplines pay off. Because you’ve shown up everyday, you’ve built in space and availability to hear from God. And He shows up. Every time. 

Bracing for Impact: the threat of miscarriage

We recently celebrated Jaden, our 2nd son’s, 100 day celebration. In Korean culture, people would celebrate a baby’s first 100 days of life as a signifier that the baby is now healthy enough to survive the rest of life. To me, it was a celebration of Jaden’s 100 days outside of the womb and 9 months inside the womb.

With our firstborn, we went the traditional route and waited until the first trimester passed before we shared the news with everyone. Conventional wisdom advised to keep baby a secret because if you were to lose the baby during the first trimester (usually the time when it happens), then you don’t have to go through the painful process of untelling everyone about your pregnancy.

For Jaden, something in my heart told me to tell people right away. Precisely because if anything did happen to him, we would have community around us to be there with us. With how the past years had been going, I knew that for me, being isolated in grief would be too much to handle. So we told our family and church here in Singapore. We shared in the joy and were excited to see the pregnancy develop.

And then the spotting began. It started a few days after we announced our very new pregnancy to our friends and family.  We had just come home from a trip to the zoo when I saw evidence of a threatened pregnancy. My emotions plummeted so quickly my head spun. What is happening? Why is it happening? Is baby ok? Did I do something wrong? 

The next day we went to the doctor. The only thing I wanted to hear was “your baby is doing just fine”. But I didn’t hear it. And I wouldn’t hear it for 3 months. What I did hear was, “your baby is still there but you must not move around – you must remain in bed”.

I was in turmoil each day, wondering if this would be the last day I would have with the baby inside my womb. Each move I made felt like a gamble – fear that my next step would be too much and cost me my child. After I did more “strenuous” tasks like washing the dishes or cooking a meal, the spotting would return. Bedrest would literally mean rest.in.bed.only. The only exception would be my weekly visits to the doctor for hormone shots and ultrasounds to make sure baby was ok. 

I proceeded to cancel many of the meetings I had scheduled for the week (a pattern that repeated itself for most of the pregnancy). There was a scramble to figure out childcare – I could no longer carry/chase/run around with my 1.5 year old.  My church became a cloud of love and care covering over me and my family. A flurry of messages making sure we found childcare, people coming over to cook, clean, take my son out to play, and many many prayers for us.  This was my solace. This was God’s grace. 

In bed, I was afraid to do pregnancy-related things: read websites pertaining to all things baby, make Amazon lists of baby items, or take out my maternity clothes.  I stopped obsessively googling searches like “How to address morning sickness?”, “How to tell if baby is a boy/girl?”, “Top 10 things you need for pregnancy”. I feared that with each new article, my heart would become more and more devastated as my attachment grew. The fear was paralyzing.

Some doctors were telling me to stay strictly in bed. Others were telling me live life as usual because if the baby can’t handle my movement at this point, the baby’s not strong enough to make it through the pregnancy. It was as if everything and nothing made sense. I didn’t know what to pray. Do I ask God to save the baby? Is that selfish? What if baby is too weak and wont make it?

Where do I find the courage to pray and deeply attach myself to someone who might be ripped away from me? How do I brace for the worst and hope for the best?

All the while, I was pouring over God’s word, finding it to be a quiet place of comfort and stillness. And one day, I felt God speaking to me. He reminded me that my child inside of me was already my child. He was mine, and I had the privilege to embrace each day I had with my child now. It was as if a lightbulb switched on. I was already, at that moment, a mother of 2 kids, not a mother of 1 son and 1 “maybe”. And the first thing I did, was begin praying and deciding on a name for our baby with my husband. The baby was our child. The baby had a name. The baby was already ours.

Jaden means “Jehovah has heard.”

And from before Jaden was formed, God had heard our prayers. Our prayers to have him. Our prayers to protect him. Our prayers to provide for us while we guarded his life and the life of our older son as well. Prayers for hope and the courage to have hope. Prayers for a community to surround us and carry us through a devastating time. 

I’m beyond thankful that I get to hold Jaden in my arms. I get to watch my older son, Judah, give Jaden wet kisses and give him toys to play with. Our nightly “family hug” gets to widen and fit our baby boy. 

With heavy heart, I know that this entry may be hopeful for some and excruciatingly painful for others. I have only glimpsed into the grief of other women, who struggle with far deeper and longer pain. To those women, I pray that the grace of God would cover you and quiet the roaring cries within you for even a moment. 


I’ve read articles before about “how to encourage women through miscarriage”. I’d read them hoping to learn how to best support women around me struggling with these and similar issues. Now, having been at the receiving end, I wanted to add to their list with some practical things that helped (and did not help) me in my particular situation.

Practical things that helped:

  • Contact. Any contact at all. I could feel the absence of messages because of the fear of not offending/hurting me. I understood. I’ve been there. The fear that grips you because you don’t want to make things worse for your grieving friend. But the silence made it worse because it emphasized an already existing isolation in me.
    • tip: if you’re REALLY afraid of saying something dumb, you can simply say, “I love you. I’m here for you. Is there a way I can best support you right now?” A good friend of mine said “I’m sorry, I’m at a loss for words right now. How can I be there for you?” I saw that she cared, and appreciated how she would regularly check in on me, even though she didn’t know the “best” things to say
  • Prayer. Any prayer at all. Messages saying that people were praying for me were encouraging. Messages that contained the actual prayer were even more helpful – at times when I felt at a loss of words to pray to God, I could read those and pray by proxy.
  • Songs. A good friend of mine who went through a similar situation shared a song with me that she would play for herself in times of despair. As worship filled the room, it eventually filled her heart. And the same happened for me. In times when I was numb, I would play the song and it would sing words of hope that would make my heart fill and tears spill.
  • A hug. Sometimes words were unnecessary and my mind was too clouded to process anything. A hug was a physical expression of a thousand words.
  • Meal delivery/errands/cleaning. The last thing I wanted to do was take care of practical concerns. Especially since I was on bedrest too. I was so thankful when people sent over meals, insisted on washing dishes, and ran other errands, just so that there was one less thing to worry about.
  • Home visits. This one may be more personalized to me because I’m wildly extroverted. To be in the presence of people helped me process what I was feeling, be comforted by their company, and have an opportunity to laugh (if I was up for it).
  • Checking in after the dust settles . An interesting thing about having an ongoing issue is that the novelty of the “risk/tragedy” wears off. The first couple of weeks, when people hear the news, everyone is alert and attentive. But once the news isn’t new anymore, it becomes harder to process and ask for help. Having people consistently check in gave me space to recover physically and emotionally at my pace.

Things that didn’t help me:

  • Not talking to me. Above all other “errors” a person could make, by far the biggest one is to NOT reach out. If something inside of you nudges you to reach out, please do it. To avoid the risk is to say a million more hurtful things than a misfired word of care (ie. “my self-preservation outweighs my care for you”, “I don’t care about what you’re going through”, “I have no idea that anything is even wrong”, etc.) When you do reach out, please don’t expect a certain kind of response or be disheartened by the lack of enthusiasm.  The list above are not cure-alls. They are rather balms that slowly and subtly provide relief.
  • Telling me that the baby is definitely going to be ok (unless you’re a doctor and have been doing the scans. then this goes to the top of the DO list). Because what if the baby wasn’t going to be ok?
  • Avoiding the topic. It’s not that I wanted to only talk about this. There were times it was nice to talk about lighter topics or other people’s problems to get my mind off of things. But not talking about it at all felt like it was a non issue. The thing that was consuming me with grief was sidelined by “small talk”.

To my beautiful son, Jaden: umma and abba love you dearly. We’re so grateful that we get to hold you, hug you, kiss you, and be with you. May you always know that you are dearly loved and heard by us, but even more importantly, by our good God.

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Celebrating Jaden’s 100 day with our married couples’ LIFE group. The extensive “DO” list is all inspired from the way they came around us through the entire pregnancy and even now. I love our church. 

 

Remember, Rejoice

It has been a long hiatus away from this blog. Since the last entry, I’ve had another son. 2018 was a difficult and transformative year. Difficult first, then transformative. Which is often as life goes. 

6+ years ago, someone gifted me with a “one line a day for five years” journal. The premise is as titled: everyday for 5 years, you write one line to remember. I cherished that journal and took it with me everywhere. I never let a day pass without writing something down. It saw me through my mid/late 20’s angst as a single woman, into dating, into marriage, into life as a first time mother. 

As I wrote the last entries of the 5 year journal, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment, gratitude, and discipline. I kept at it for 5 years. They say that it takes 21 days to build a habit. 5 x 365 days must have built one unbreakable habit. 

So I started off volume 2 of my new 5 year journal with excitement. January 1, 2017’s line:

“Praying I’ll know more of God’s goodness in His character this year”.  

January 1, 2018 I was married, mother to a beautiful boy, living in Singapore, building a church. What would December 31, 2022 bring? With certainty, I thought that every page of volume 2 would be full. 

And then 2018 unfolded. To our great joy, we found out I was pregnant in January. To our dismay, the pregnancy faced significant troubles and much of the year was spent addressing those issues. It was physically and emotionally tiring. I held onto God tightly throughout the year, but I came to a place of such fatigue, that the thought of recording one line a day seemed to be too much. I was just trying to hang on, and I only had room to hold onto God. In the midst of unanswerable questions and long struggles, I saw that all I could do was lean on WHO God is instead of WHAT God was doing. Indeed, I learned God’s goodness. And no, I don’t regret praying that prayer. 

I’ve since resumed writing in the journal again and intentionally left the hiatus spaces blank as a remembrance of how hard things were, and the fact that I came back.

Similarly, the ebb and flow of this blog has reflected

  1. The fact that life was once too “full” to recount in real time
  2. A lack of courage to hit “publish” to some thoughts. The title “pray for Singapore” as a blog can set a lofty goal in terms of content to write and not write. Do daily musings of my personal life count as things to pray for in Singapore?  I’ve decided yes. The things that my family encounters on a micro and macro level are meant to be on this site. The minutiae of living as a missionary family in a metropolitan city can show a glimpse of the need to pray for our family, our church, our city, and the world.  

So I unabashedly resume writing on this blog to remember in real-time the lessons we’re learning from our experiences here in Singapore, and in life in general. Please pray for us as we continue this journey. 

Rollercoaster Realizations

My son turned 1 recently. His birthday party felt like a celebration of his life and our survival as parents. As I look back on this past year, it has been the most exciting and terrifying rollercoaster ride. Never before have I felt so turned upside down and inside out so much in such a short span of time. I have come to know and un-know myself as a person in so many aspects, but here are a few:

  • Sense of strength
    • Motherhood has helped me see how strong and simultaneously weak I am. I have been able to endure so much and discovered this herculean strength when it comes to protecting my child. I will jump in front of a car for my child and often think about how I can shield my son from danger in seemingly precarious situations. At the same time, I see how little strength I have to get through the day. There are many times where I will lie down in Judah’s room and just have him crawl around/over me because that’s about all I can do. This is a true story of many more days than I’d like to admit.
  • Sense of purpose
    • Becoming a mother has given mutual clarity and confusion to my calling. I’m constantly thinking about how to be a good and godly mother to my child. It’s a calling and privilege. At a time when my child’s demands are pretty high, it’s difficult to discern how to be faithful in all of the areas of my life. What does it look like to be a faithful church planter, wife, child of God, and mother at the same time? When people ask me what I do, I am at a loss of words to adequately explain what I do – because there’s no job title that fully encapsulates my life and purpose
  • Sense of love
    • My heart has grown so much since having my son. I didn’t know I could love someone so much. When he smiles, I melt and am so utterly thankful to have this privilege of being a mother. At the same time, I feel the limits of my love when the day goes awry and my son suddenly decides to stop eating/sleeping and bursts out in tears in a crowded mrt and we’re still 6 stops away from our destination. When I’m already exhausted and my son refuses to eat/sleep/etc, I feel betrayed by/inept/frustrated at my situation and ashamed that I have so quickly forgotten that mother’s love.

I used to think that I had to be consistently “insert adjective” in all areas of my life. In the course of one day, I can be confronted with a situation that will reveal that I am much stronger than I realized, and then immediately run into a situation where I realize how utterly weak I am. Both are true, and I need to be ok with that.

With all that said, the most consistent lesson I’ve learned is how much more I need God in my life. The more deeply I understand the complexities of myself and my sin, the more I see the blaring need for the only love that is capable of covering those sins, redeeming my weaknesses, and expanding my heart.

I read many articles that tell me that I’m perfect the way that I am and I’m doing great. And while they’re often refreshing words to read in an otherwise defeated moment, they’re simply not enough and sometimes not true. I am not enough, but God is. I am sometimes doing the best I can as a daughter/mom/friend/etc, but sometimes, I can truthfully do better. Sometimes I really need a hug and someone to say “you’re doing great”. Other times, I need a tough but loving reminder that I’ve got to keep pushing forward and not become complacent where I am (a hug would help at this moment too).

As I was reading the Bible today, I came across this passage:

“You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you —keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.” 

2 Timothy 4:3-5 MSG

I was challenged by Paul’s reminder to Timothy to stay focused in living for God and not get caught up in the day’s platitudes. When I’m feeling down and insecure, wondering if I’m strong enough, loving enough, purposeful enough, there is a strong temptation is to seek validation from anyone/anything. But as I go deeper into parenthood, building the church, and life in general, I see that I need God’s truth more than a catchy saying in cursive overlaying a scenic background.

Please pray for my family and me: through every up and down, may we may be rooted in God’s truth and keep His message alive through the way we live.

 

Show me a sign

We recently made a trip back to the US after 2 years of living in Singapore. It was a refreshing time to see family, friends, and churches that are near and dear to our hearts. During our time in New York, Joe’s sisters took us to see One World Trade Center.

After an epic elevator ride to the top of the building, they show a “teaser” video across the entire wall of the building, sharing the history of NYC. And with great pomp and circumstance, the video ends and the screens suddenly lift to show an amazing view of the NY skyline.

…except it was a cloudy day. When the screens lifted, all we saw was white.

NYC skyline

Sprawled across the ground floor were warning signs: “ZERO VISIBILITY TODAY”. So, we all knew what we were getting ourselves into. When the screens lifted and the crowd saw cloudy white, we all gave applause for the “theoretical” view: we knew what we were supposed to see, so we were cheering for the idea of it all.

Confession: I’m not a fan of the “show me a sign, Lord” prayers, but I did lift one up. Before our ascent to the top of the building, I prayed, “God, please part the clouds as an encouragement for our return back to Singapore”.

I’ll admit, in my optimism, I was hoping that when the walls lifted, we’d see a spectacular view and sign of God’s listening ear. So when I saw clouds, I clapped with half-hearted appreciation and a twinge of disappointment. Our group then made our way to the main floor which shows a 360 view of the entire city. For the first 10 minutes, we made a valiant attempt to see something. The guys in our group pressed their faces to the window to try to see cars passing. After a while, I think we (or maybe just me?) were resigned to the fact that we weren’t going to see anything. So we sat there and just spent time with one another, enjoying our time together and with Judah. The best view for me was seeing everyone together, playing with our son, and cherishing him.

Then after a LONG time, the clouds began to part. Not in any dramatic sort of way, just in a “hey! we can see a sliver of the skyline!” kind of way. The entire floor rushed to the same area to see a glimpse of the tip of a building. A while later, the sky parted  and revealed a larger block of skyline. And a while after that, we started to see more of the city.

It was not dramatic nor immediate, but it was amazing. The clouds slowly, yet steadily parted. And every single person appreciated every growing inch of visibility.

And that was exactly the “sign” I needed.  That God works and opens the skies the way He wants, at the rate He wants. That God will build our church – prayer by prayer, story by story, person by person – the way He wants, at the rate He wants.

It’s been a few months that we’ve been back in Singapore, and I can confidently say that clouds have been breaking. And I appreciate the view I see infinitely more than the “immediate and dramatic” change that I had asked to see when we first moved to Singapore.

To those who have been praying for our country, for our church, steadily and faithfully, thank you. The sky is parting. Wait a bit longer and enjoy more of the view.

New Year’s #2 in Singapore!

Happy New Year everyone!  It’s our 2nd New Year’s in Singapore as a family and admittedly, we rang in the new year sleeping as most parents of newborns would do (right?).

Joe’s family came to town for Christmas and we all had a great time. Speaking as someone who’s grown up in a typical nuclear family (4 members, 2 kids, 1 son, 1 daughter), it was really fun celebrating with a large clan. I loved spending more quality time with my new relatives, connecting on a deeper level, and seeing everyone welcome Judah to the family with SO.MUCH.LOVE. By the time everyone left, I suddenly became really homesick (or is it family-sick?) because it was so great connecting and being altogether.

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With the start of the new year, this is exactly the kind of family and community we want our church to be for one another. It’s been beautiful to see God add to our number with children, and we have more on the way! As the face of our community changes (with jobs, marriage, children), we want the intimacy and devotion of our community to keep going deeper.

In university, I remember our pastor would often warn us that as people age, their devotion to God gets tested more, and it’s common to see people take a break from their faith or completely walk away from it.

As our church grows, we want to go against the grain and experience a greater transformation and exhibit a deeper devotion that will challenge the status quo. At our recent congregational retreat, we were challenged to be victorious in this and to commit to growing in this area.

Please pray with us as we begin the new year! Here are some prayer requests:

  1. Our church community: to grow a deeper devotion to God and a greater commitment to one another
  2. Our campus ministry: to make solid contacts with local and international undergraduate students who are open to discipleship, in order to lay down a foundation for a campus ministry.
  3. The Yun family: for a deeper foundation in our marriage and for God’s provisions/anointing as we raise Judah
  4. Our leadership summit this Friday: for God to refuel us with His strength and vision for the rest of this ministry year

Also, with the start of the new year, we’d like to invite you to commit to continue supporting us in prayer and giving!  We are still trying to reach our support raising goals and would love your help.

Click here to give!

 

 

One week in October…

On this week in October…

32 years ago,  my beautiful wife, Diana, was born. I am tremendously blessed by her persevering spirit, her newfound joyous affection as a mother, truthfulness, and courageous heart. It’s my privilege that she said yes to me. How brave. I don’t deserve her.

fullsizerender-2(we spent Diana’s birthday at the hospital while waiting for Judah’s jaundice treatment – he’s doing OK!)

3 years ago, my beloved mother went to be with our Lord. I think about her a lot. I appreciate her more and more as time goes by – and it’s hard not to feel sorry sometimes that I didn’t appreciate my own mother fully when we were together. She pointed me to God. She was great. I miss her. So much.

img_4576(there was a certain way mom held my arm)

 

1 week ago, we welcomed our precious son, Judah. That’s really the only way I can describe my son, “precious”. I can just look at him for hours and be filled with joy – and he doesn’t have to do a thing. Imagine! How much deeper God’s grace is…

img_4563(precious)

 

Every October, this particular week is important for our family. This week is a celebration of fragile, precious life. It’s both heart-wrenching and heartwarming reminders of the blessings and burdens God grants us. It is also a time where I learn that worshiping God is possible in any season and every circumstance. I can praise God in the storm, I can praise God in the calm, I can praise God in my sadness, I can praise God in my joy.

This past week, I am reminded of all this by how God lavishes His grace to us through Christ:

“In Christ, He chose us before the world was made. He chose us in love to be His holy people – people who could stand before Him without any fault. And before the world was made, God decided to make us His own children through Jesus Christ. This was what God wanted, and it pleased Him to do it. And this brings praise to God because of His wonderful grace. God gave that grace freely. He gave us that grace in Christ, the one He loves.” (Ephesians 1:4-6, ERV)

 

 

Prayer Requests:
Deeper capacity for love – Please pray that Diana and I would grow in the knowledge of God’s love as parents, grow in our capacity to love and serve our family, and become a blessing to many others as we keep the focus on Jesus.

Anticipation – Please pray for our church. We are full of anticipation. Whether it’s a new season with new happenings, or striving to hope in God as we wait for breakthroughs and persevere in faithfulness. We’re looking forward to a year-end retreat in 5 weeks time. Please help intercede for us that we would encounter God together.

Provisions – Please pray that Diana and I would trust God would provide for our every need as a family as we continue raising funds. We have been tremendously blessed by our family, friends, and church’s generous support through the years. We are trusting God that He’ll continue providing through our partners in this season.

 

 

 

“Stand Together”

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Yesterday, our family of HMCC churches started a prayer campaign called, “Stand Together”.

Now, for us, this is both abnormal and normal at the same time.

It’s abnormal for us as the HMCC churches, because our normal pattern for the past several years has been a fairly regular one where we’ve organized a concerted time of prayer and fasting sometime in January across our churches. So, this prayer campaign is abnormally scheduled in our calendar year.

But prayer is also normal, because the way we actively build on our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord is through prayer. We can say that the main activity of the church is to worship God, or to make disciples, or teach and live by God’s Word. And that’s all true. But all of these are expressed by the church only when we are empowered by God Himself, as the church prays in utter dependence and hope in God.

Continually praying together is and should be normal for the church.

Several weeks ago, as the other HMCC pastors and I were meeting (over video-chat), Diana and I were sharing some of our church and family needs. At some point, one of our pastors asked me if I could name just one thing that would be a “game-changer” for our church in Singapore.

I realized in that moment that the things I wanted to request were mostly to do with some kind of quick, external change of circumstance. Now, I still believe and am willing to actively work for a change in circumstance, if possible. But underlying any external change, I realized that what I needed, what my family needs, what our church needs, is to be emboldened in our faith through prayer.

We need an overcoming faith that trust in God despite uncertain circumstances and our inconsistent heart-conditions.

At times, claiming “thoughts and prayers” may seem like an easy cop-out… good intentions without real action, and therefore, little consequence. But as I study God’s Word, have listened to testimonies, and have witnessed hundreds of real testimonies of lives transformed, I believe humble, faithful prayers always enable and empower action. It is God moving and inspiring the church leaders to assemble our congregations to pray. It was always God who moved and inspired His people to humble themselves and pray in the face of great odds, urgently and persistently calling out the name of the LORD.

As our churches “stand together” in prayer this season, I invite you to join us. As we pray, God does and is faithful to move His church to obedience. We will rise again. We will overcome, just as Christ overcame the grave!

 

Join us! Here’s how you can pray with us:

  1. Victorious Faith – Pray for an overcoming faith and a solid inner resolve for HMCC of Singapore. We want to grow into the calling God has for us through maturing in our faith! Pray with us for the next 2 weeks during our “Stand Together” prayer campaign!
  2. Navigating Transitions – Our family and our church are undergoing major personal transitions this season. Please pray for wisdom and patience as we navigate through expanding families, new jobs, moving, and sharing the Gospel to colleagues and new college students.
  3. Financial Provision – Diana and I are trusting God will provide the financial resources our family needs as we are expecting and planning on raising our first child. Please prayerfully consider partnering with us through prayers and your giving. You can check out more information here on our support page!