Thursday, September 19, 2013


(#5 excerpt from Introductory Ch.1 "Climbing to the summit")

Life lessons learned

I eventually accepted the fact that I can’t solve everything, understand everything, or fix everything. I'm still learning and relearning that lesson. I tend to try mending or correcting every situation or relationship that seems broken. A long life and watching God do His work in His own way are teaching me to relax, step back, pray, be available, but “leave the driving to God.” He may want to allow people to go through some difficult circumstances to teach them His own lessons. God has not appointed me to be His Rescue Squad. I don’t have to retrieve every ball that someone drops.

I refused to live with regrets or guilt about my mistakes, failures, or sins of the past or present. God wants me to view them as He does: after I have repented and confessed them, to accept God's forgiveness and move on. I made mistakes even in later years when I should have known better. I am still making them and still learning. God is incredibly loving and patient with me. I never ask for His justice but always for His mercy. 
I may not be writing the last chapter in my life story yet. In fact, I may not really have reached the summit of my mountain. I am still climbing. Certainly I haven’t attained, but I press on toward God’s high calling in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:12-14). This slogan is so true: Please Be Patient With Me, God’s Not Finished With Me Yet! 
I decided to be willing to sacrifice whatever God wanted since I discovered that God always more than compensates me for anything I might give up. He is a God of increase, not deprivation. Whatever sacrifices I’ve made are not worthy to compare with the generous “exceedingly, abundantly above all I could ask or even think” blessings that God has showered on me (Ephesians 3:20). 

To hold back anything from God is to lose it. To give up my life for His sake, Jesus said, is to save it (Mark 8:35). In Mark 10:29,30 Jesus promised that if anyone “left houses or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for His sake and for the gospel’s sake” he would receive “a hundred times as much now in the present age and in the age to come eternal life.” Jesus said that if I seek first His kingdom and righteousness, all material things I need will be added to me (Matthew 6:25). I have proven this to be literally true in the past, and it is still being fulfilled in my life.

Late-in-life climbing adventures

I determined to become a survivor not a victim. When I was diagnosed with cancer, a defining moment was my decision not to allow a potentially terminal illness to interrupt God’s purpose for my life. I learned that “goodness and mercy (lovingkindness)” (Psalm 23:6) does follow us all the days of our lives through adversities, valleys of the shadow of death, and other painful experiences. Whatever has come into my life, I’m learning to genuinely say, “Thanks, Lord, I needed that!” God developed compassion in me through those God-ordained painful events.

Each such experience enabled me to write another book to minister to others who walk similar paths. My adversities launched me into new ways to encourage others. I learned to celebrate each day of life as a loving gift from God while He continues to give me bonus time to live, serve, write and speak.

I decided not to let widowhood define my life. I chose to move forward and continue with God’s assignment when my beloved husband died. God had a purpose for our lives together as a couple, for our parenting, and for our ministry together. In God's plan, that purpose was obviously completed after 46 years. 

Nevertheless, I realized that God still has a purpose and agenda for me as a single woman again, as a single mom, a single grandparent, and single great-grandparent. God has had a continuing ministry and a fulfilling life for me that was part of His original plan. I am not living in some “Plan B” now. Nor am I only half a person. I am still “complete in Christ.” My new single status allows me to minister to others who are walking life’s path alone and has given me the opportunity to write several books to help them.

Late in life God surprised me with a serendipity: I came to joyfully accept my ethnic and cultural heritage as God's perfect arrangement after having resisted it most of my life. A defining event late in life was my discovery, through the adventure of searching for my genealogical roots, of the meaning of my Czech heritage and where it fit into my life puzzle. I now wholeheartedly identify with it, value it, and understand God’s sovereign intention to enrich my life through this appreciation.

I began to pursue my own ethnic identity more fully after Ted died because that event seemed to put some measure of closure on my total involvement with Chinese culture and ministry that had been my life. I thank God, however, that while Ted was still living, we were able to share the initial experience of exploring my Czech heritage by traveling to the Czech Republic together. I knew I had his blessing in my pursuit.

The crowning joy, which God saved for whatever His perfect reasons until the late season of my life, was that I have become a Catholic Christian after a lifetime of faith and ministry as an evangelical Protestant. That step was in no sense a denial or abandonment of my past biblical faith but a fuller discovery and understanding that there is MORE to the Christian faith passed on faithfully from Jesus and His apostles through His Church.

If I could live life over again, would I make any radically different choices? Of course, I definitely wouldn’t want to repeat some mistakes and detours I've taken. I might change some secondary choices. But no—I haven’t regretted any of my major life decisions as I climbed the life-mountain to my present summit. I have no complaint about the colors which God, the Master Artist, is even now choosing to paint on my life canvas. “Father [God] knows best.”

Now here I am!

The foregoing is how I climbed to this summit, the long trek uphill. These were some of the decisions which made me who I am at this point in my life. The journey has been rich and adventurous. I trust God that “the rest of the way” I am still in His hands as the Potter being molded into the vessel He intended before I was born.

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