….”In the light of Your grace You end my darkness In the light of Your grace My burdens lose their weight In the light of Your grace You lift my head up In the light of Your grace My sin is washed away….”
Recently I wrote about When God’s Works His Miracles…
As I was reading a Christian article today, I came across the subject “Stop Worrying that you’ll be wiped out financially.”
This brought me back to when I lost my job in September 2019. I was fortunate that I have stacked up some savings. Because little did I know, that losing my job was only the beginning of an eight-month journey of unexpected things to happen. People say when life’s circumstances change, you never know what it brings. Some life-changing events may mean good fortune. Like those who unexpectedly win the lottery, those who get a promotion at work through help from friends, life inheritance from long-lost families, or businesses that were passed down to generations.
However, not all life-changing events turn into a goldmine. Losing a job, the death of a loved one, or being diagnosed with cancer are simply not one of those.
When my mom passed away in October of 2019, I had to borrow money to send her casket back home so she can be buried next to my dad and my brother. My family has decided not to cremate her but to send her whole casket so our other siblings back home may also view and pay their respect.
When I was diagnosed with Breast cancer, I started using my savings to pay my monthly medical insurance through a government program. I found out that they are not free, you pay a certain amount which is a discounted rate they have negotiated with private insurance companies. I must admit it did help me a lot. I continued receiving bills from the hospitals each time they need to run any lab tests, or when they did my two surgeries and my radiation. All of these I paid through the savings I have stashed over the past years.
One time while writing checks, I stopped for a moment and asked myself, what if I do not get a job immediately and these bills continue coming? Suddenly worries crept into my thoughts. As I look into my savings account each week and see my funds are dropping, thoughts of prayer came to me.
I continuously pray my morning devotionals and my evening prayers. In between doing a job search, I paused and prayed for encouragement. Surprisingly, I did not panic, I just trusted the Lord. I know He is holding the reins of my life.
I remember praying before each job interview. I learned how to put up a brave face and spoke with a smile and confidence. That same evening, I would thank God for being with me and providing me the confidence and the wisdom that I needed.
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. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6
Weeks have passed, as I was writing a check and noticed that I am now down to my last $350 and I know that there are still a few upcoming bills to pay. I said to myself, I am very close to getting hired. Yeah, it sounded crazy if you come to think of it. If you heard my thoughts, you would probably ask me “how do you know that you will be hired?” The answer is – I didn’t. The strangest thing is – I just felt it. As if God is saying, “your struggle will soon be over.”
Remember in my last article when I said that I started my job four days after my radiation? Well, I was offered the job two weeks after I saw my savings went down to $350.
You see, I have always felt that God was guiding me throughout my life. There are so much unexplained little miracles that I have experienced which is only now I am beginning to recognize that He has always been there and all I need to do is talk to Him, seek Him, and ask.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened ~ Matthew 7:7-8
I was raised as a Christian but being a Christian to me means that I must walk in Faith, and I need to talk to God each moment. It is the same as when you are building a relationship with someone – you discuss your joy and pain, you share each moment of events of your life, you give your respect, love, trust, and almost everything that you can imagine. It is like getting excited that at the end of the day, you can’t wait to share your thoughts and your day with that someone. Prayer is exactly like that and so much more. Prayer builds that relationship with God. He responds to you in increments of miracles in your life.
Now more than ever, it’s important for your immune system to stay in tip-top shape during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the best ways to stay healthy is by maintaining a nutritious diet. UC Davis Health registered dietitian Tiana Carey shares some foods that can help boost your immune system.
Vitamin A (Beta Carotene)
This vitamin assists with the health of your intestines and respiratory system. Vitamin A-rich foods include carrots, sweet potato, spinach, broccoli and red bell peppers.
Vitamin C helps stimulate the formation of antibodies. Citrus fruits, strawberries, red bell pepper and kiwi are all rich in vitamin C.
This nutrient promotes the neutralization of free radicals by working as an antioxidant. Foods full of vitamin E include vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and avocado.
There are many zinc-dependent enzymes in our body and deficiency has been linked with immune dysfunction. Zinc-rich foods include beans, seeds, nuts, meat, poultry and seafood.
Specific amino acids found in protein are essential for T-cell function, which are cells that protect the body against pathogens. Meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds all have lots of protein.
These nutrients have been shown to help your immune system work most efficiently and effectively, but too much of a good thing can be harmful. Eat these nutrients in moderation and don’t go overboard. If you eat too many carrots, you may just turn orange! As always with preventing the spread of illness, wash your hands frequently.
Today I finally received the news …. I am one-year cancer-free!
It has been a year when I was diagnosed with DCIS Breast cancer. No one ever forgets the initial shock when they are asked to come back for another test. For the past 57 years that I have been going for my mammogram, I usually leave the place feeling sore and life goes on. I get the results in the mail after five days and I am cleared from anything. But not last year. I did not get anything in the mail. Instead, I got a call to come back for another exam.
Ironically, the day after they did my biopsy was my last day at work. The new job that I took in January 2020 did not work well for me. It was not the right fit for me. When you cry in a job, you know it is not the right place for you. The year before that, September of 2019, I lost my job of seventeen years because of a new administration that walked in and took over our agency. Then, my mother passed away in October of the same year in 2019.
My entire life fell apart in those eight months. The stability and the routine of my life disappeared in an instant.
In March of 2020, I had a double lumpectomy surgery two weeks apart. My second surgery is the first week that it was declared a complete shutdown and only essential surgeries are allowed. I was extremely fortunate and blessed that I have a wonderful compassionate surgeon who quickly decided to book me for surgery before anyone else signs up for surgery that day. I remember that there were only seven patients scheduled for that morning in the entire hospital. I was scheduled as the second patient on March 20, 2020.
In between my diagnosis and surgeries, I was applying for a job continuously. I went for a physical interview on March 10, Tuesday morning four days right after my first surgery. I could not postpone my job interview. I walked into the interview room with a smile and there was a panel of five people who interviewed me for an hour. I courageously responded to questions with tact and poise. Focusing on the questions. Another half-hour for a written test. My mind is a blur but trying to answer the best that I can.
The same week, I had two more video interviews with two different organizations. At the same time, my surgeon asked me to come back to her office to tell me that I need another surgery because the first one did not get the entire cancer out. A tiny portion was underneath the cup though luckily, she noticed it. The following week, March 20th I went for my second lumpectomy. I remember being dark outside while my partner drove me to the hospital at 6:30 in the morning. I recall the hospital was quiet and the protocol of the locked-down is pretty much obvious from the outside, where securities and medical staff taking your temperature and asking Covid-19 questions, the hand sanitizer, and all.
As I was being prepped for surgery, I kept a silent prayer to myself and asking God to stay with me while I am under anesthesia. The feeling of just being by yourself in the hospital and none of your family or friends were allowed to come in with you- was overwhelming. After a few hours of waking up – I felt so overjoyed to see the sky and the sun from the window where my bed was sitting right next to. I knew right there I was given another life to live. An opportunity to see life from a different perspective. I was given more time to honor and praise the Almighty God.
For the next six weeks, I went through radiation. Each morning, while waiting for my turn in the small cubicle in the waiting room, I pray….
1 Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you, I have no good thing.” 3 I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” 4 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips.
5 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. 6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. 7 I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night, my heart instructs me. 8 I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay. 11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
During the weeks ahead of my daily radiation, I continued to do job interviews. Remember the job interview that I went to after my first surgery? I did not get that job after the grueling interviews and written tests. But I did not get discouraged, I persevered. I know that God got my back on this. I figured, he allowed me to survive this far, there must be something else designed for me.
Towards my last week of radiation, I got a job offer! A job that I felt was right for me. A job in a health care system that cares for the elderly in the community. The last hurdle was to get a TB test. But it was scheduled in the morning right after my radiation. You see I did not tell any employer while applying for the job that I have cancer nor told them about my surgeries or radiation. I just know that I need a job and that God will lead me to the job that He knows is right for me.
When I went in for my TB test, I had to tell the nurse in private about my situation and that I am undergoing radiation. I was afraid that it will affect the result of my TB test. So, she went inside to speak to the doctor to get approval. Lo and behold! The doctor rearranged my TB test and went for a different route. Instead of the skin test, he just requested the Lab to do a blood draw. I don’t know the difference, but it worked! The results were forwarded to my prospective employer the following week.
My last day of radiation was May 21, 2020. I started in my new job on May 26, 2020 – four days after my last radiation. The best part of my current job is that I am surrounded by good and compassionate people who share my passion providing care for the community. Do you know how amazing that day for me? I have not told a lot of people of this testimony and to those, I have mentioned this, I am not quite sure if they truly understand how I felt that day and how I still feel at this moment. It is the day that God lifted my life!
I had a successful stable job for seventeen years before the enemy struck my life. When my life started falling apart, it reminds me of the story and life of Job in the Bible.
20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.[c] The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
God taught me to persevere. To find humility and patience in my darkest hours. Although the enemy could inflict me with misery, pain and stripped me from everything good in my life, God consistently reminded me that I was never alone. He surrounded me the blessings of family, church friends, and a new fulfilling job with the right people. He brought back goodness into my life.
And just as it is written in the Book of Job 42:10-14, He restored my life, healed my soul, and continues to heal my body.
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver[a] and a gold ring.
12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.
We do not need to look farther where God is in our lives.
Walking is my favorite past time. It gives me time to renew my spirit and energized my mental and physical being. It allows me to empty myself to God and welcome His love in my inner soul. It also reminds me that there is good in His creation. That His agape love supersedes all mistakes and bitterness of the world around me.
The beauty of His creation brings us closer to His love and allow us to open ourselves to the opportunity to live His Word in us.
How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. 25 There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small. 26 There the ships go to and fro, and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.
27 All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time. 28 When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. 29 When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. 30 When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.
31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works— 32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke.
33 I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord. 35 But may sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more.
It’s that time of year where the guilt around what you ate at the holidays is in full swing and New Year’s resolutions have begun. Although most of us start the year with the best intentions to become a healthier person, many fail to reach or maintain their resolution goal.
The key to success is to set SMART goals, according to UC Davis Health registered dietitian Tiana Carey. She walks us through what it means to be SMART:
Specific: Be as clear and concise as possible when setting goals. Solely stating “I want to be healthier” doesn’t provide a specific goal. What does healthier mean to you?
Measurable: Provide a quantifiable indicator to determine if you have met your goal.
Attainable/Achievable: Be realistic! If you don’t currently eat vegetables regularly, don’t make your measure of success eating 5 servings a day. The same goes for reducing your intake of something that you regularly consume. Don’t go from zero to 60 or slam on the breaks. Try to limit the number of resolutions – if you set too many goals, you may get overwhelmed and not reach any.
Relevant: Check in with yourself and look at the big picture. Answer these questions (honestly): What is important to you? Is this resolution a priority to you? Is this important to your overall life goals?
Timely: Indicate a target finish date. For many New Year’s resolutions, the end date is the end of the year, but you can always set a sooner end time. Maybe you set a shorter end date initially to check in and assess if the goal continues to be SMART.
Examples of SMART goals:
Consume at least two vegetables daily, five days a week
Exercise for 30 minutes three times each week
Drink two liters of water daily
Along with setting SMART goals, it’s also important to remember that no one is perfect. Just because you didn’t obtain your goal today doesn’t mean you have to give up. Tomorrow is a new day.
This can also apply if you got a late start and this goal isn’t a New Year’s resolution. We should be setting goals throughout the year and re-evaluating as needed to ensure that the goals we have set for ourselves are SMART.
“Eat to live, don’t live to eat.” ― Benjamin Franklin
[I originally wrote this in 2015 during the peak of my success working for this agency who I have focused my energy for seventeen solid years. In 2019, my heart and my eyes were open to the truth that our life are never measured in the stuff we believe that quantify success. Thus, sharing the original manuscript below as I believe still stands true today…]
…Lately I have been challenged in the office taking up more work than ever. Right before Thanksgiving, I found out that the only two people in our accounting department are leaving, one transferring and one retiring. To give you guys a background, I started in the accounting department before I got promoted to management in 2006.
During my four years in the department, senior management used to request a lot of research work for different projects. For those who do not know me very well, research is my forte, next to project management. I have this principle that when people request me to do something outside my job scope, I would simply take it on and tell myself that it is beneficial to take the challenge ~ a “good addition to my resume” is what I always put in mind. You never know when someone will read those experiences.
Over the years, that has been my attitude when I get asked to do something beyond my role. In fact, this is what I normally teach people as part of my mentoring. I encourage people to always learn other things so they can grow professionally. My lecture always ends with this affirmative phrase “these are the things that you can add to your resume to make you more bankable for future promotions or other future prospective jobs.”
Next week, I am taking on two additional positions while waiting for replacements. Then, training them is another different ball game. While driving this morning, I began thinking the same phrase ~ a “good addition to my resume.” But this time I paused for a long time on that statement. I realized that I am now a different person with a diverse perspective and priorities. Then, questions poured in my thoughts. Why am I building my resume? For whom am I building it for? I know I already have a lot to offer in any job field and yet it seems that there is still a need to add more to it. What is the need for?
I was so focus on building my resume over the years that I have forgotten that the only resume that is profoundly important to build is for the Kingdom of God. For many of us, we spent half of our lives building something in this world. Others probably spent more than half of theirs filling their worldly resume to the brim of achievement, achievements that we cannot even take with us when our time is up. We are so glued to accomplishing tangible things in life that often, we have forgotten to build our resume in the spiritual realm.
When you stop for a moment and write two separate resumes, how does your spiritual resume look like compared to your professional one? What does it say in the Experience category? What about your Skills category? What have you learned or acquired to improve to deserve God’s glory? What about Affiliations? Where have you spent your time fulfilling God’s work? Obviously, we cannot write any References since His beloved son Jesus is the only witness to how we conducted ourselves during our entire life in this world. You see, whether our resume is short or long, in the eyes and in the heart of our Abba Father, what matters most is that whatever we do, we do it to glorify Him.
Hence, this New Year let us take on the challenge to help others discern God’s teachings, to be present to the lives of the vulnerable, and be a part of an outreach community. Let us not forget a simple act of kindness goes a long away. And when we get sloppy, we just need to remind ourselves ~ this is a good addition to our spiritual resume. You will never know when the day will come that we get examined by our Almighty Father.
May this New Year inspire us to bring positive changes to the lives of many….
[ Today while listening to a church service online, Pastor Seth McCoy (Church of Emmanuel) emphasized “Jesus Christ is the rightful ruler of every nation, every family, and every community. Find your security in Jesus in time of chaos.]
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” ~ Matt 28:18
I love orchids and I have a few of them in my apartment. I have been taking care of orchids for almost ten years. I also had a few in my old office. Orchids have a different temperament. Some of them bloom in the summer and some are in the winter. Yes, I said winter…I know very strange (exactly what I said to myself too).
Anyway, the one thing I am sure of is that I only water them once a week. And when you water them, make sure to let all the excess water drip so their roots do not rot. My orchids are always positioned by the window, facing sunlight. Although I never repot my orchids, it would be best if you do. In my case, my Orchids are super sensitive. They must be at the same position or spot to continue to bloom. They do not like to be moved around.
Another thing that I do. Believe it or not, I say nice things to my orchids…yup ~ I talk to them, and it seems to be working because they bloom at the same time each year.
The amount of food you eat matters. Take time to savor every bite, which will lead to better satisfaction with less food.
2. Stay active
Time is often limited during the holidays, but make sure you carve out some time to exercise. Walking with family and friends after a holiday meal is a great option.
3. Put the leftovers away
As soon as everyone is done eating, put the food away. This prevents snacking after meals because of boredom or anxiety.
4. Pay attention to beverages
Many holiday beverages ― such as eggnog, punch, wine, mixed drinks and ciders ― are high in calories. Have a holiday-themed drink to toast with or have a small glass of wine with dinner. Then switch to water or diet drinks.
5. Eat breakfast and snack throughout the day
Skipping meals often leads to overeating. Plan to eat breakfast in the morning and have a light snack before holiday events.
6. Prioritize sleep
We know the holiday season is a busy time of year, but try to get as much solid sleep as you can. Everything is more manageable when you’re rested. Plan to wind down for the night about 30 minutes before you go to bed. You’ll fall asleep sooner and sleep more soundly. Quality of sleep is linked with how much and how often we eat.
Traditional holiday foods that are also healthy
Many common holiday foods have heart-health benefits, Barone said. Explore toppings and add-ins like low-sodium broths, olive oil, lowfat or nonfat Greek yogurt, unsalted nuts, fruits, veggies and spices. Thicken sauces with homemade vegetable puree instead of white flour and butter. Check out these other holiday foods that are also good for you:
Cranberries: These little berries are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, which are organic substances that can help prevent heart disease and stroke.
(Healthy) Stuffing: Although this holiday staple is usually high in fat and sodium, there are healthy ways to make it. Use a multigrain bread to add fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol. Replace butter with vegetable broth to reduce saturated fat. Increase the vitamin and mineral content by adding onions, peppers, carrots or even chopped fresh fruit. For flavoring, use antioxident-rich herbs like sage and rosemary instead of salt.Sweet potatoes: These are rich in antioxident beta-carotene and provide a lot of other vitamins, including vitamins A, B, C and E, along with calcium and potassium. Check out this recipe for chipotle mashed sweet potatoes.
Vegetables: It’s no secret that veggies add fiber, minerals and vitamins. Carrots are especially rich in beta-carotene. Dark, leafy greens like spinach and brussels sprouts are rich in vitamin C, beta-carotene and other antioxidents. Broccoli also has vitamins A and B66, well as riboflavin, folic acid, calcium and iron. Beware of high-fat dressings and sauces that are often added to holiday veggie recipes.
White potatoes: Packed full of vitamin C, fiber and potassium, which is linked to lowering blood pressure and stroke risk, white potatoes are a healthy option. Instead of adding butter to mashed potatoes, use Greek yogurt or olive oil instead.
“Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do” ~ 1 Corinthians 8:8