Winnis Chiang Newsletter
  Personal Note from Winnis
  Feature Article - Top 10 Ways to Have the Best Holidays Ever
  Real Life Story - Retirement Celebration of Dr. Richard Lin
December 10, 2013
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How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was great, even though just a few days before Thanksgiving, I was in the dentist office from 10 a.m. to almost 6 p.m. to have two implants installed. It was scary to have two screws drilled into my lower right side bone so I was praying and reciting Psalm 23 the whole time. So far my recovery is good and I was able to enjoy meals (although no nuts and carrots are allowed). Hopefully one day, two crowns will be placed onto those implants and I would gain two "new teeth."

Some friends were wondering why I had implants done before Thanksgiving. The truth is that last time my dentist tried, she found out that my bone (after the first bone graft) was not strong enough. To have a strong foundation, I received my second bone graft a few months ago and we had to do it when the bone density was at its peak.

For the first few days after the implant, my only food was juice, ice cream and yogurt. Thank God that I recovered well enough to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, and dimsum lunch for my birthday. I am most grateful that James drove me to Santa Rosa to attend the retirement party of my favorite choir conductor and music teacher Dr. Lin (see Real Life Story). On Monday night, we celebrated Christmas with other Bay Area Chinese Pastors. Praise the Lord for His faithful servants!

With oral surgery and all, I now have to get ready for Christmas; but it is not too difficult because I sort of celebrate Christmas every day anyway. Hopefully, the feature article, Top 10 Ways to Have the Best Holidays Ever, will give you some ideas as well.

Love, Joy and Peace to You,
Featured Article
Top 10 Ways to Have the Best Holidays Ever

Thanksgiving. Christmas. New Year. With each special day will come the hope that this one will be truly exceptional. However, many of us quickly get bogged down in busyness, stress and old patterns. Here are 10 ways to turn that dynamic around.

1. Give yourself a break. Perfection -- even perfect happiness -- just isn't possible. Let your best be good enough. Make a budget for both your time and your money -- and stick to it. It really is the thought that counts. What's the point of stressing yourself out? Remind yourself to "be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

2. Make conscious decisions. Get clear about what you really want to do over the holidays before compromising with others. If you don't have a clear plan and clear intentions, you might find yourself getting swept along by others' desires. Even if you compromise later, get clear first. Be loving and assertive, share your feeling and tell people what you want. Don't blame them for guessing your wishes wrong. Better yet, be sensitive to what God wants for your relationships.

3. Shorten your to-do list. What do the holidays mean to you? For many, it's about family and friends and spirituality. If an item doesn't add to your holiday spirit, scratch it off. Otherwise, be creative! Many years ago, James' younger sister (who has five kids) suggested each of us to bring one gift on Christmas Eve instead of buying one gift for each person. After dinner, we played a modified version of the "white elephant" game that allows you to steal a gift you really like. It has been a big hit ever since!

4. Say no when you want to. It's very liberating. Try it and see. It sounds simple, but too often obligation trumps desire. When faced with options, choose the one that would make you happier around people and pleasing to your Heavenly Father.

5. Limit obligatory activities. If you can't avoid certain events, limit the time you're there. Don't burn yourself out.

6. Take good care of yourself. The old standards help keep stress at bay: eat healthfully, exercise, drink lots of water, and breathe deeply. Schedule time for relaxation and fun. I love to spend extra time by myself with the Lord to reflect on His love, goodness and faithfulness during the past year. Count your blessings, name them one by one.

7. Start early. To avoid a last-minute frenzy that can bust your budget, start shopping or making presents early. If you are not ready for Christmas this year, simplify NOW. Jesus is the reason for this season!

8. Ask for help. Reject any notion of martyrdom. The burden of preparations should not fall upon one person. The more specific you are in your request, the more successful you'll be.

9. Establish new traditions. If you have experienced a major life-changing event, such as a death or divorce, consider doing something you've never done before over the holidays, such as traveling to another country or taking a cruise. Starting 2007, there were many years that James and I traveled on Christmas Day to Europe to serve in Discipleship Training conferences during the holidays.

10. Get support. If a glorious holiday season feels completely out of reach, you may experience the holiday blues. Many people do. Don't beat yourself up for feeling that way. Reach out for the support you need. Better yet, volunteer somewhere (e.g. soup kitchen) to help someone more unfortunate than you are.

Author's content used with permission, © Claire Communications

Real Life Story
It is hard to believe, but Dr. Richard Lin finally retired from Chinese Christian Church Music Institute for Worship (CCCMIW) on Saturday, November 30th. Dr. Lin devoted his whole life to worship and teaching others to do so.

In 2003, five weeks after I had a major surgery, my then college-age son and I joined more than one hundred people to practice singing Handel's Messiah in the CCCMIW choir conducted by Dr. Lin. For one week, we practiced from early morning to evening.

My son had no problem reading music. But as one of only two or three ABCs (American-born Chinese) in the choir, he found the Chinese text very difficult. He wanted to give up several times. We prayed to God about his decision as a family. Finally, my husband James read the Chinese characters one by one and let our son write down the phonetic symbols. This way, he could still practice his Mandarin during lunch breaks, learning from his Cantonese speaking mother. Thank God that after a week of practice, his Mandarin and my health both improved greatly. Finally we sang with the choir in St. Mary's Cathedral, San Francisco. Hallelujah. Praise the Lord!

I have always liked to sing, but after being criticized a few times, I was afraid to sing in front of people. After the Lord found me in 1989, not only could I freely sing among our congregation and small groups, a year later I joined our church's choir. By the grace of God, someone told me that everyone was welcome to sing the Hellelujah chorus in our Christmas service. I was reassured that "the only qualification is a willing heart to learn." I went from participating in one event to singing week after week in the choir for a few years with great joy and satisfaction. Later, only due to schedule conflict, I left the adult choir ministry when I started teaching children's Sunday School.

Unexpectedly, I had the opportunity to join the Thursday practice of CCCMIW choir in September 2001 with brothers and sisters from all over the San Francisco Bay Area. Dr. Richard Lin is a servant of the Lord by example and exhortation. "We are offering worship, not performance. Song leading is not preaching. And our purpose of praise and worship is to lead people to the throne of God." In the next few years, I also participated in his summer camps to improve my singing and learn how to lead singspiration and to select hymns and praise songs that match the sermons. With Dr. Lin's teaching, I always remember worship as a heart issue, even when we are singing and moving with children. Worship is to magnify the Lord. The hearts of song leaders need to be moved first before they can bring others to receive, enjoy, and feel the presence of our Lord.

Dr. Lin, thank you for teaching and mentoring us. We love you!

If you love church music but don't know who Dr. Lin is, you could check out his organization here.
Winnis Chiang Winnis Chiang is Founder and CEO of Parenting ABC, a company dedicated to teaching and coaching Chinese Christian parents from around the world how to make a difference in the lives of children, youth, and young adults. Her passion is fueled by the new life she received when she found Christ in 1989 after her marriage and parenting were no longer working. She specializes in helping Mandarin and Cantonese speaking parents to get along with, enjoy, and influence their American Born Chinese children.

Winnis is also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in California. She holds a M.A. degree in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling from Western Seminary and a B.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from U.C. Berkeley. Her former careers include being a software engineer, development department manager, stay-at-home mom, counselor of kids and teens at public schools, and children's minister.

Winnis and her husband (now a pastor) have been married since 1975 after only three months of dating. They enjoy their son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren!

Winnis Chiang, M.A., LMFT


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