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Change: Seasons of Life

By Pedro Fernandes

By Pedro Fernandes

By Wendy Choy-Chan

The trees outside my window are changing colors. My daughter is happily taking the sweaters out of her closet, while I am dreading about having less daylight and more rain. As each season approaches, we make adjustments. Sometimes, just when we have settled in with the changes, another season comes. Sometimes, on the other hand, we get tired of the same old season, and we gladly welcome the next.

Life is often described as seasons. Born into spring, growing into summer, slowing down into fall, and then finally winter leading to the end of life. Perhaps, I would be at the end of summer, transitioning into the fall season — the girls are still in school but almost ready to leave the nest. My husband and I had talked about moving into an apartment once both our girls have left for college, and then we could just lock the door and travel the world! However, just as seasons are not linear but cycle and return every year, I find that’s the case with my seasons of life. As God called me into seminary and eventually into ministry, my summer season seems to be starting anew.

After leaving the workforce for almost twenty years, I will be returning to a part-time job at church and also participating in another teaching ministry, amounting to a full time schedule. I recall what it was like the last time around —  fresh out of college, ready to venture into the world. That was my summer season. I couldn’t wait to step into the warm sunshine, into adventure. Everything looked a little intimidating. And being inexperienced and sometimes overly enthusiastic, I made mistakes, in my tasks and in my relationships at work. But “no fear,” for I was ready to conquer. It was the beginning of my summer season after all, full of possibilities.

This second summer is looking to be the same — fresh out of seminary, ready to venture into ministries. I couldn’t wait to get into my car, not to run errands but to say, “I am going to work.” What an adventure it will be. Things still look a little intimidating, but having been through one summer season before, I gained some experience. I know better my priorities and my limits. And so, “keep calm,” for I am ready to conquer. It is the beginning of my second summer after all, full of possibilities.

Seasons of life. I am thankful for having another summer season — to live again in the rush of youthfulness and vitality, but at the same time, having a bit more wisdom and maturity to face what lies ahead. It is indeed a season full of possibilities — no fear, but keep calm.

Wendy Choy-Chan came to North America from Hong Kong when she was 15.  After graduating with a MScE, she worked as a telecommunications engineer for 5 years before becoming a full-time wife and mom.  Wendy just earned her MA in Theology at Fuller Northwest and is looking forward to what God has planned for her next. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Seattle, WA. 

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Photo by Carlos Gotay Martinez

By Tina Teng-Henson

I have just spent the past two days in the company of saints. And the Lord apprehended me, showed me I was on holy ground, when I listened to their reflections.

I ran into an amazing individual I had the honor of first meeting 11 years ago, in a small group she led for those of us who were going through orientation for new staff. Years had passed, and we’d both long since transitioned from that organization, but here we were, a decade later. Continue Reading »

Change: Catalysts

Photo by usehung

Photo by usehung

By Liz Chang

I drive the same route to work everyday. I probably even switch lanes within the same 50 feet each time. It’s efficient, and the traffic becomes very predictable. But, there are several situations that turn my autopilot mind off: bikers in the lane, cars backed up on a street that I usually fly 30 mph on, and so on. Sometimes my impatience with the traffic leads me to find new routes to work, even though it ends up lengthening my commute anyway. Without obstructions, I’d go right through my morning commute on autopilot and occupy my mind with whatever thoughts that come up. Continue Reading »

Photo by Carol Ball

Photo by Carol Ball

By Debbie Gin

Last week, I overheard a conversation in a furniture shop in Ohio, in some town that bordered Pennsylvania. What initially piqued my interest was the statement, “Liberalism is a mental disease.” The registered Republican that I am, I naturally had to hear the rest of the comment and inched closer to this group of White individuals. What I heard saddened me to no end. It went something like this: Continue Reading »

Photo by Leo Hidalgo

Photo by Leo Hidalgo

By Sharon Lee Song

I’ve called the summer after my senior year in high school “the golden summer.”  I didn’t have a care in the world.  I think that may have been the only time in my life that I had ever felt so carefree.  My destination for college was set, and all I had to do was show up for work, and hang out with my friends all summer.  The memory of it shimmers in my mind, and the feelings of being so carefree tap into a deep sense of longing. Continue Reading »

Photo by seminairecom

Photo by seminairecom

By Dorcas Cheng-Tozun

Last week I was supposed to be on a plane, heading home to California. My husband’s four-month project in Nairobi, Kenya, should have been completed. Today our family should be resettling into a comfortable, familiar life, full of family and friends and some semblance of normalcy.

But we’re still in Kenya. Instead of packing for home, I’m preparing to enroll my son in another term of preschool here. Instead of being reunited with loved ones, I am anticipating four more months of loneliness and isolation.

You’d think I would be used to this by now. It’s been about eight years since I’ve been able to plan my life in anything more than three-month increments. That’s when my husband and I went all in with his multinational startup, setting aside everything else in our lives to move to China.

Since then we have been on a wild ride of business successes and failures; opportunities and slammed doors; and nearly annual moves, both across town and across the world.

The company, and what it has asked of us, is perpetually changing, evolving, pivoting. Our personal lives pivot in response. Nothing feels certain or established.

When I was younger, I thought one of the ultimate signs of being a successful adult was to reach a point when I had everything figured out. I would know exactly who I was, what I loved doing, and my life would be organized accordingly.

But my thirties have turned out to be nothing like that. If anything, the only thing I know for certain is how little I know—about myself, let alone the rest of the world. I have little sense of where in the world I will be located or what I will be doing in just a few months.

Have I failed, then, at being a responsible adult? At living the way I’m supposed to? It certainly feels that way sometimes, especially as I think about the kind of life I want to model for my young son.

Yet there is nothing in the Bible that calls us toward a well-organized, well-planned life. If anything, the greatest biblical heroes were perpetually open to the call of God, willing to change their life plans in an instant.

Abraham packed up his entire household, including scores of relatives and servants, and large herds of livestock, and moved more than 800 miles at God’s command. David, with prior experience only as a shepherd, was unexpectedly anointed to be the next king of Israel. The prophets were regularly asked by God to do peculiar things—eat scrolls, wed a prostitute, lie down on the left side without moving for 390 days—with no further explanation from God as to what would be coming next.

If anything, their lack of plans, or their willingness to release any plans they did have, allowed God to invite them into more extraordinary things than they could have imagined for themselves.

To be honest, I would love nothing more than an ordered, predictable life. I sometimes catch myself daydreaming about having a regular day-to-day schedule, of being able to commit myself long-term to a stable job, of being able to live in a home for more than eighteen months.

But this isn’t the way most of humanity lives—throughout human history, and even today. A well-planned life is a construct of those of us who have fooled ourselves into thinking we can control our lives. All it takes is an unexpected illness, accident, pink check, or loss for us to realize how little we can actually control.

If there’s anything I have learned while living in Kenya, it’s that only those of us who are privileged think we can control our lives. Most people in the world must work with the circumstances they’ve been given. They have a far greater awareness of how little they can control, and instead focus on doing their best with what they have.

For me, it has been a long, painful road to learn this lesson—and I am still very much in the process. God has had to humble me significantly to break the illusion that I can dictate my own life path. Only then could I be open to learning the far greater lessons of perseverance and faithfulness. Only then could I release control of my life to a much wiser Father.

This adventurous, unexpected journey that God has me on certainly doesn’t feel comfortable. I wrestle with anxiety and frustration each time our lives take yet another unexpected turn. But predictable and well-planned isn’t what God wants for me. He wants something better, something greater than I could have imagined for myself.

Dorcas Cheng-Tozun is a writer and editor who has found healing and hope through words. She is a columnist for Inc.com and regular contributor to Christianity Today and The Well. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, BlogHer, RELEVANT, and more than a dozen other publications. Previously she worked as a nonprofit and social enterprise professional in the U.S. and Asia. She currently lives in Nairobi, Kenya, with her husband and adorable hapa son. Find her online at www.chengtozun.com or on Twitter @dorcas_ct.

Photo by Tim Green

Photo by Tim Green

By Jerrica Ching

I am a planner, through and through.  I love making to-do lists, I enjoy filling out planners and calendars, and ideally I plan ahead for a 3-month timeframe at the minimum.  I have embraced my Type A nature and have found that throughout college, graduate school, and now in the working world, being a planner has helped me succeed.  Although it may seem ironic and slightly humorous that a young woman who loves planning is writing about “The Unplanned Life,” I have come to realize that a lot of my life has actually gone not according to my original plan. Continue Reading »

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