Candor vs Tact

What kind of friend do u find most likeable on FB? Mine… a friend comes into mind for her candor.. I like her posts because she can be candidly funny.

What kind of inspirational speaker do u find most inspiring? Mine.. two friends come to mind: one speaks of all her achievements and how she achieve them; the other shares her success stories and candidly tells of her not-so-successful ones. Of these two, i prefer the latter.

And so I want to talk about candor. What does it mean to be candid? To be candid is to be honest, frank and speaking the truth without a facade. For me, the word seems to carry a sense of happiness and brightness. I searched for its origin. In latin, it is whiteness. Words associated with candor are integrity, sincerity, fairness, guilelessness and naiveté.

To be guileless and naive is to be childlike – without deceit. How does a child do that? At times, to the point of being rude, right? But we know that behind his truthfulness, he did not mean to hurt. Let me illustrate an example: I was embarrassed when my young daughter candidly told a friend that her gift was too small to fit her. She answered in reply to the friend’s asking. She was too young to be tactful about it.

Tact is sensitivity, understanding and thoughtfulness in dealing with difficult situations. Its Latin origin is to touch, or sense of touch.

I appreciate the candor of my adult friends and I observed that my child needs tact in her candor. What is the difference of their candor? The candor of my friends is illustrated when they shared truths about themselves – even their own weaknesses or the not-so-good stuffs in their lives to share lessons they learned. Candor is authenticity. On the other hand, I teach my child that she needs to be tactful even as she is honest.

The Bible sums it up nicely: Speak the truth in love. (Eph. 4:15) Paul taught the Ephesians to grow in Christ. To be mature in Christ is about integrity and about love. How? We need to be honest with each other and we need to be sensitive to one another. Candor with tact – speak the truth in love.

Are you a wise judge?

Question: When you see a wrong, how do you respond? Do you say something, do something to right the wrong? Or do you maintain status quo, or mind your own business?

It depends. Whenever I see people not queuing properly, my conscience urged me to point out the wrong. There’s the end of the line.

When friends share with me their struggles or candidly tell of their stories, I sometimes need to control myself from speaking out and remind myself not to judge even when instinctively I think something’s not right. I confess that it can be tricky – when to right a wrong or point out a mistake; when to speak the truth or when to stay silent. It takes both discernment and courage to make the right choice.

To judge or not to judge?

Jesus taught his disciples in Matthew 7:1-3
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

The principle behind this teaching is not to measure others by another yardstick with which I use for myself. When I am critical of other people, I need to examine myself whether I am doing the same. This principle applies to the family of faith – fellow Christians – believers and followers of Jesus.

What about the outsiders – those who do not know Jesus? Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5 an important principle.

12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.

The background on this teaching was that there was someone sleeping with his father’s wife in the church. Paul rebuked them for condoning immorality in the church. (vv.1-2)
Paul’s response: He condemned the sinner for his adultery. (vv. 3-5)
Paul taught a parable on the leaven and unleavened dough. (vv. 6-8) Leaven is a substance like the yeast that makes the dough rise. As a verb, it is to cause (dough or bread) to ferment and rise by adding leaven. “leavened breads are forbidden during Passover” Paul pointed out the importance not to let sin influence the whole church. Instead, the sinner should be reprimanded and taken out.

Do we associate with immoral people or not? No and yes. Read vv. 9-11.
When Paul said not to associate with immoral people, he did not mean sinful people of the world. Why? Because that is not possible – because to do so, one has to be a hermit. v.10
But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. v.11

When we maintain status quo, when we turn a blind eye to sin, when we do not speak the truth and point out the wrong, when we continue to befriend a sinner, we are allowing the person to continue in his sin.

To ponder:
When I am critical of fellow Christians, let me check myself… What would I do if I were in the same situation? Would I do the same? Is there perhaps something I am not aware of? What would it be like to be in his/her shoes?

On the other hand, why am I keeping quiet? Is it time to speak the truth? What are the consequences of my silence? Is my indifference and apathy a cause for others to continue in sin? How does it affect fellow believers when I keep quiet?

Lord, help me to be wise – to judge or not to judge, May your Spirit teach and guide me to search inward and look upward so that I can be light and salt in the world.

Musings from the Garden

The parable of the sower is a familiar one for many: 4 kinds of soil with 4 results. Only 1 seed = gospel (good news of Jesus) yet there are two categories of the results: the saved and the unsaved.

Matthew 13
18 “Listen then to the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one sown with seed beside the road.

20 The one sown with seed on the rocky places, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution occurs because of the word, immediately he falls away.

22 And the one sown with seed among the thorns, this is the one who hears the word, and the anxiety of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

23 But the one sown with seed on the good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces, some a hundred, some sixty, and some thirty times as much.”

I used to wonder a bit about what is the difference between soil 2 & soil 3. One thing is similar: both are affected by the concerns of the world = affliction, persecution (v.21) and anxiety of the world (v.22). The difference is soil 2 falls away. The person received the good news with joy but he turned away from his belief when hardships come. Soil 3 becomes unfruitful. This person is like the plant that grows with the thorns. The cares of the world prevent him from bearing fruit:1) fruit of the Spirit; bearing fruit like 2) sharing the gospel to make disciples of people.

To be like soil no. 3 is to be like a believer of Jesus yet not bearing the semblance of Jesus. To be unfruitful is like having no joy, no patience, no love, no peace, no faithfulness, no gentleness, no goodness or kindness and no self-control. To be an unfruitful Christian is because his focus is on the “anxiety of the world” and the “deceitfulness of wealth” not on the ‘Power of the Word.”

To be fruitful, I need to ‘hear’ (really listen, read and study) the Word, ‘understand’ (really live and apply it to my daily living). To be fruitful is to bless my neighbor as I obey God’s command to love him with all my being. How do I bless my neighbor? I love them like Jesus loves me. I forgive as I am forgiven. I give as Jesus gives. I multiply the gifts and make more givers out of my giving = that is making disciples of all nations. That is the great commission of being a fruitful follower of Jesus. So help me God.

Today is another day to bear fruit and be fruitful, dear friend.

A Love Letter to Hannah

What does a mother say to her child who bravely left her family in the pandemic to get married thousand of miles away from home? How does a mom feel when she could not be with her in the journey ahead? Would she be lonely? What if she catch the virus? etc. I guess I chose not to dwell too much on the sad possibilities. Instead I thought of how to embolden and empower her for the journey ahead. God is good. He was with her all the way.

So here’s my love letter to my child – 3 days after she left home. She flew out of the nest on 6/12/20 – literally to be independent as it’s independence day of a country in lockdown! Today is 1/5/2023. I woke and it’s 4:15am. I looked in my files and found this letter which I need to read for myself. I need to apply the lessons for myself this time. As I share it, dear reader, I pray the Holy Spirit touch your heart to be brave and realize what matters most in life!

My dear Han,

You are my first born. You are God’s gift to enroll me in the school of motherhood. A new lesson for me today is letting go of my child and setting her free.

Today as you enter a new milestone in your life, I let go of your hand even as I hold you always in my heart. I pray that the Holy Spirit empower you to be a wife of noble character that God intended you to be. Just as God created Eve to be a helper to Adam, you are to be a helper to Jensen.

I ask that the Lord enable you to bring him good, not harm, all the days of your life. May our almighty God strengthen your arms and hands to work eagerly. May His loving kindness touch your heart to be generous to the poor and needy. May His presence embolden you to step out in faith amidst life’s challenges. May His Spirit grant you a heart of wisdom to make good choices in word and deed. May you laugh at the days to come as His peace covers you in strength and dignity.

Remember charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. May you yearn and work for the words of your master: “Well done, good and faithful servant… enter your master’s happiness.”

Remember to be humble always for
This is what the LORD says:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. (Jer. 9:23-24)

Love as God loves you. Forgive as God forgives you. Be gracious as God is gracious to you. Take delight in the things that the Lord delights in. Boast that you know the Lord God who is kind, just and righteous.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5-6)

Thank you, Lord for listening to the prayers of my heart. I let go and entrust my child into the palm of your loving and righteous right hand. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

To Forgive and not Forget

How can I forgive.. let me count the ways…

It just hit me now… how do I forgive again and again?

I can forgive if/when I remember the good about the person – what he/she did to help me in the past, even if it were just only one good thing..

I can forgive when I remember how God forgives again and again – the bad things I did again and again..

I can forgive when I see the good in the person who God created in His own image.

I can forgive when I choose to focus on the good in the person – when I step into his/her shoes, to understand and see through his/her eyes where he/she is coming from…

Let me share a story to illustrate my last point.

A friend once pointed out to me that hubby is faithful to me. He is responsible in providing for his family. I cannot remember exactly how we arrived at these observations. But I know it was because I was sadly sharing how I struggled in my unforgiving and hurting heart.

I realised that loving my neighbor as myself calls me to love as I want or need to be loved. We all love and seek to be loved in different ways. The sad thing is often we love others in ways we ‘like’ to show our love. We love to give gifts that we like. We love according to the manner that we think is best for us.

My mom-in-law liked to cook for hubby. For her, food is the most important thing to keep her son healthy and well. She would cook late at night, asking what he would like to eat. She would ‘nag’ him to eat because that is what she does best – cooking and feeding him, taking care of his needs since young. She loves her only begotten son more than anyone in this world. She forgives again and again because in her eyes, he is all good – the gift from God 天赐.

Going back to my friend showing me the way to forgive… she pointed out to me how hubby showed his love to/for me which I was too self-focused to see. She opened my eyes to see a side of hubby which I have taken for granted. Sure, I know that he is loyal and faithful as husband. I know that he is generous and providing for the needs of our family. But it took a gentle nudge from my friend to point me in the right direction – how I need to forgive again and again, how I can forgive again and again through the eyes of love.


Life is not easy especially in today’s world – pandemic, wars, famine, calamities, health issues, relationship breakdowns and the list goes on.
I often think that mankind needs more wisdom to make the right choices so life will be better. Wisdom is a gem that money cannot buy yet it enables us to live a life beyond fame and fortune.

When God asked Solomon what he wants Him to give him, Solomon ‘wisely’ asked for wisdom. And so wisdom was given him. What can we learn from Solomon about wisdom?

Do you want to be wise?  Here are some tips from the wisest person on earth. Why was he wisest? Because he prayed for wisdom to be a good king and God gave him what he asked for!

Proverbs 1
1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel 2 for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; 3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior; doing what is right and just and fair; 4 for giving prudence to those who are simple; knowledge and discretion to the young— 5 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—6 for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

As Psalms are mostly credited to King David, Proverbs are to his son, King Solomon. Solomon was known to be very wise because he asked God for wisdom so he could rule his people wisely. More than wisdom, God gave him long life, riches and glory. There’s no king like him before or after his reign.

As reading Psalms enlightens the soul, reading Proverbs enlightens the mind.  What is the secret of the king whose wisdom came from God, the source of true wisdom? The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).

When/if I fear God, I will be prudent; doing what is right, just and fair (v. 3). Prudence means cautiousness. Synonyms: wisdom, good judgment, common sense (sadly not common nowadays).

Proverbs 1:4 The Hebrew word for simple in Proverbs means a person who is gullible, without moral direction and inclined to evil.  A gullible person is easily persuaded to believe something. Synonyms: naive; over trusting; easily deceived. For me, it’s being childlike and without ability to differentiate right from wrong. 

That’s why v. 4 continues with giving knowledge and discretion to the young. A discreet person behaves and speaks in a non-offensive manner. To be discreet is to know ‘how’ to say (or NOT to say) ‘what’ to ‘whom,’ ‘where’ and ‘when.’ Synonyms of discretion are carefulness, caution, guardedness. Discretion = Prudence.

Proverbs are not only for the simple and the young.  They are also for the wise. v. 5 says let the wise listen and be wiser even. Let the discerning get guidance.  What does it mean to discern? It is to judge well – to see the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, true or false. The wise person is teachable. He becomes wiser because he listens to wise instructions.

The fear of the Lord leads to knowledge, wisdom, discretion, discernment, guidance. Fools despise wisdom and instruction. (To despise is to feel contempt or look down. Synonyms: belittle, hate, dislike). The Hebrew words for fool in Proverbs, and often elsewhere in the Old Testament, means an immoral (wicked) person.


I realized that often times, I am foolish when I do not tame my tongue. I was not wise when I kept talking when I should have kept quiet. I was foolish when I did not listen to wise instruction. I learn new things when I am teachable.

Bottom line: Wisdom comes from God and from my own choice – whether to LISTEN the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As I read God’s Word, the Spirit teaches me in the right way to go. He is within me to show me how to live wisely. So help me, God!


101 on Raising Millennials and a Gen-Z: A Mom’s story

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. –Psalm 127:3 (NIV)

In the Chinese tradition, it is important that a son carries on the family name. Being married to an only son, who was raised in a traditional Chinese family, I have learned to be thankful and contented even when I do not have a son.

The Bible teaches us that godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Tim 6:6). When we are content, we are at peace and happy. We cease striving, burning ourselves out in the pursuit of material comfort, power, and affirmation.

I thank God for my girls. When people praised them for their good behavior, academic achievements, and church involvement or, simply, presence, I am gratefully reminded of God’s gifts entrusted to me—my reward from Him. Whatever good other people may see in my girls, it is to God’s credit and glory alone!

What people do not see, however, is just as important. I am accountable to God for who I am, what I say and do as a mother. To be a good mom, I need God’s grace. So, let me share the lessons I learned and am still learning.

First, I cannot teach what I have not learned. I cannot give what I do not have. When I tell my children veggies are good, do they see me eat and enjoy them? If I want them to read the Bible, I must do the same. If I expect them to care for me when I get old, how did I attend to their grandparents? How I am as a daughter/sister-in-law influences the kind of in-laws they will one day be. As a follower of Jesus, do I deny myself, carry my cross, and obey Him daily? My walk validates my talk.

Most life lessons are caught than taught. Children are observant. Their eyes and ears see and hear beyond my ‘lectures.’ What legacies from my parents do I want to pass onto my children?

My mother was a lifelong prayer warrior. I must admit I sorely need to catch up on this. Mom prayed for family, for and with friends, and relatives regularly. I become who I am today because she prayed for me. Do I live my life dependent on God in prayer? What is my first resource when challenges arise? I taught my children to memorize scriptures as my mom taught me. Many verses I memorized are helpful to me today.

Just as I was trained to be a diligent student, I tutored (not tortured) and helped my kids in their studies. At the ripe time, I passed on the duties to Han, then to Abi. They not only became responsible learners, but also served as good examples to Mimi. Academic achievement comes by God’s grace as they do their part.

Practice makes perfect. Habits are formed early in life. It is good to train children while young. They need firm principles and clear boundaries to guide them. As a parent, I teach them to value respect and proper recognition of authority (e.g. obedience). They realized they are under my authority just as I am subjected to God’s sovereignty. As they continue to grow “in wisdom and stature,” I must eventually let go, so they can take flight and be personally accountable to God.

Parenting is not a one-time, single-step journey. When I fail, I learn from my mistakes. When I err, I apologize to my children. The first time was not easy. Swallowing my pride needs practice, especially at times when I assume to know it all. I know I must treat my ego-tripping moments with a heavy dose of Christ’s humility. My children become teachable only when I am.

What values am I passing on to my children? Do they know the Lord and the work that He has done for me, His acts of grace and mercy? Do I recount the blessings and good deeds that God gave in our lives? Do my children know that the most important thing is to love and obey God? What treasures am I passing on to the next generation? Will this wealth last in eternity?

Lord, thank you for parents who loved me with your love. Help me to nurture my children in your love. May we all walk with you as you lead us in your way. Amen.

The Path from Whiny to Happy.. coping with conflicts

Sulky… Grumpy.. whiny cry-baby? That’s how my fleshy human nature wanna do at times when hubby and I had our arguments. I often had to ‘storm’ out of the house to drive around to vent my anger, frustration, grief etc. I wanted to go pour it on someone – to vent on a ‘sounding board.’

The last time I had such an episode, I was tempted to check myself in a hotel and not go home that night. I also searched my mind who to go to – to cry and gripe about the incident. Sadly, I could not think of anyone I wanted to tell it too. Not even to my one and only sister. I did not want to bother her, she might be having her bible study at home.

And so I drove and drove, not knowing where to go, I parked the car and went into a restaurant to sit in the corner by myself. So alone even in a crowd of people. I ordered food and remembered a couple friends thousand of miles away. This couple is our pastor friends – hubby’s and mine. I sent them a what’s app message to tell them to pray for me. I told them how sad I felt. I narrated not the details of our conversation but the context of my hurt and why I was sad. The lady friend responded to me in understanding with kind words of encouragement. Most of all she prayed. She told me they both prayed for me right at that moment when I needed their prayers. And through the tears and the pouring of sadness and outpouring of prayers, the Holy Spirit worked in such wonderful ways that I felt peace beyond understanding… I felt better. I ate my food, paid the bill and went out and walked some more. Then I went home.

Another time, similar incident happened, again i got in my car feeling the same thing… wanted to not go home… thought of going to someone to gripe… same thing.. could not bring myself to go to anyone.. what did I do? I went to watch a chick-flick movie. After watching, I felt better coz I laughed and cried in the movie. I even learned something from the movie. “Even though our love is not perfect, it is real.” See, there is something to learn even in a romantic comedy-drama, chick-flick! And I applied it to our love story – mine and hubby’s…

What’s the point of these stories of mine – of conflicts and arguments, of being drama-crying queen?

First, this is my way of coping with the trials of marital journey. It is a reality of life. No marriage is pure bliss and no conflict. It is also human nature and woman instinct to want to get out of it asap, to sulk, to complain, and to cry. It’s either to be angry and gripe how wrong he was or to be sad and cry indulging in self-pity how wronged I was.

Second, it is good to go out or get out of the situation to clear my head. It is good to watch a movie whether to cry or to laugh – that is how it often works for me. It is my self-therapy. It is also good to sound it out to a friend who prays for me. Prayer works. It amazes me always how God sends his angels to my rescue at times when I felt like crying or even while I was crying. Either He sent them to me or He let me find them.

Third, for all the friends that I found, I am thankful that none added fuel to the fire. None of them sided with me to comfort me to make me more right and hubby more wrong. Yes, they acknowledged my sadness, they encouraged me and comforted me with prayers. Prayers work!

Bottom line… I know God works out ALL things (good and bad) for my good… so that I learn how to be more Christ-like – humble and patient…. I’m so far from perfecting it – being the submissive wife.. it is not easy. But one thing I know, God called me for his purpose – his purpose to sanctify me and show people how good He is – to glorify Him.

So dear friend, next time you and your hubby/wifey have a fight, go watch a movie or whatever it is that will bring you happy hormones… clear your mind and lift your soul!

When Silence is Gold…

Have you ever been accused of anything? I have. How did you respond? I had the need to explain myself – to defend myself. I felt wronged. I had to right myself.

Jesus too was accused. He was put on trial, accused wrongly. And what did he do? What did he say? Let’s see..

The Inquisition of Jesus
Matthew 27:11-14
Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He did not answer. Then Pilate *said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so the governor was quite amazed.

Whoa! How did he do that? He did not answer (v. 12) He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge. (v.14) Not a word, not a sound!

So the governor was quite amazed.

Ahhhh.. Jesus’ silence amazed his accuser. Jesus did not need to explain or defend himself because he knew he did no wrong. He knew he was sent to do the Father’s will.

Bottom line: There is sense of quiet confidence in solitude, standing alone even when everything and everyone is against you. There is assurance of self-identity. Who am I? I’m the beloved Son of God. There is confidence of a purpose-driven act. What do I need to do? I have to obey my Father in heaven. In this, I rest my case. I can be quiet. No need for words.

The Power of Influence

Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character. ~ (1 Corinthians 15:33)

I remember in Chinese class during high school, there’s story of a mother who moved house 3x because she didn’t want her son to be influenced by bad neighbours.

The background on the verse Paul wrote the Corinthians was that there were people who didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead. Easter is coming. Some call it Resurrection Sunday. In the passage, Paul argues that the resurrection of Jesus is an important truth of our faith. Paul taught the Corinthians not to be misled by bad company. Indeed we need to beware who influence our thoughts and who influence us in our daily life.

Today, we are constantly bombarded by billboards, TV ads, social media, and information technology, etc. Popular movie and sports personalities, religious and political leaders all have their say and are greatly impacting the lives of many. Parents, we need to teach our children to stick close to God – read the Bible and pray for wisdom to differentiate the right from wrong. We must be hands-on in our guidance. Do we influence them or do their friends influence them more? Are their friends God-fearing? Are we aware what they are reading? Who their friends are? What they do when they are together? What kind of music, movies and video games do they like? All these in different minute ways affect their thoughts, speech and actions. In the end, they shape the character of the person.

When I was young, I followed my more influential and more dominant friends around – they were the leaders in school and at church. I am thankful that my mom was a great influence in my life. Being a teacher, she taught me the disciplines of responsibility and diligence. I didn’t realise that in things that I do at church, people also followed what I did. I discovered that I too can influence people instead of just being influenced. As I grow older and after I got married, hubby influenced me a lot. I learned and am still learning to pick up the good and discard the bad.

Bottom line: Good company promotes good character. Bad company corrupts good character. Birds of the same feather do flock together but flock with the good birds and you’d be transformed to be a better bird. 😉