Winnis Chiang Newsletter
  Personal Note From Winnis
  Feature Article - Life Goes Better With Friends
  Real Life Story - What A Friend We Have In Jesus
December 23, 2014
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Growing up in Hong Kong, I watched my older cousins decorating and partying with friends at Christmas, and I couldn't wait to be old enough to join the fun.

But I did not pay attention to the true meaning of Christmas until December 1988 when two friends invited me to their church. At that time, even after achieving my American Dream, I often felt lonely and asked myself, "Is this what life is all about?"

I hope the feature article Life Goes Better With Friends and my real life story What A Friend We Have In Jesus will help you find the true meaning of Christmas and reassurance of your real belonging.

"For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; ... And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).

Love, Joy, Peace to You!
Featured Article
Life Goes Better With Friends

Everyone knows that friends make life better, but there is a growing body of evidence that shows people who have good friendships and strong social circles live longer—as well as happier—lives.

In study after study, researchers have found that those who have friends are less likely to become disabled and, if they do suffer a period of disability, more likely to recover. Further, people with fewer friendships are more likely to have a heart attack and to die as a result, while people with more social contacts are less likely to suffer cognitive decline.

The message from all this research: If friends are gifts we give ourselves, it's good to be generous.

Why are friends so good for us?

Health-wise, friends encourage us to do what's good for us: eat better, drink less, exercise and seek medical care when we need it; friends listen to us when we need to let off steam and cheer us up when we're down. We stress less when we have friends who support us and help us along the way.

Frequently, family and friends are lumped together when people talk about support. However, friends don't usually make the same demands that family members sometimes do. The old saying goes, "We choose our friends, but we're stuck with our family." Granted, we may have a supportive family that we're very happy to be "stuck" with, but friendships allow us to experience ourselves in a new way and grow beyond the patterns and expectations of our family.

While friendships can be passing, we generally hang on to the ones that are meaningful. As we grow older, we may have fewer friends, but our pleasure in them grows. The reason: "People become more selective and get better at knowing the kind of people they like and don't like," says Stanford psychology professor Laura Carstensen. "And they steer away from those they don't care for."

These days, in our mobile, fast-paced culture, it's more difficult to make and maintain social relationships than when folks stayed in one place and had more leisure time. People move across town or across country and jam-pack their lives with schedules that leave no time for finding and nurturing friendships. Consequently, at the end of a too-full day or when a free weekend finally arrives, we may discover ourselves longing for the kind of easy pleasure friendship offers. Without friends, life can get lonely.

If you've moved to a new location, or your friends have drifted away and you need to restock the reservoir, reach out through joining groups and pursuing hobbies and interests where you're likely to find kindred spirits. Extend a hand and an invitation.

Like any other living thing, friendship requires care and feeding:

• Give your friendships priority, not just when you're lonely.

• A weekly date can provide the scaffolding for an enduring emotional relationship.

• When you can't be together physically, keep in touch by phone, email, letters. Send pictures, too.

• Celebrate occasions together. Be there for the big events and the small. Create celebrations of your own.

• Make time for old friends, even if it might be an inconvenience.

There is great wisdom in the simple lines from the childhood song, Make new friends and keep the old. One is silver, the other gold.

Friends can come from anywhere, and definitely can include members of your family and church. May you find deeper meaning of friendship in Christ!

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:12-13 ESV)

Author's content used with permission, © Claire Communications

Real Life Story
What A Friend We Have In Jesus

You've heard how James and I got married after only three months of dating. We thought we were best friends who would live happily ever after... but life is not that simple!

By 1988, there were times that I thought it was inevitable that we would either go our separate ways or remain miserable living under the same roof. How could we start all over?

Before Christmas, we accepted the invitation from two friends to their church's Christmas celebration. The drama that night compared and contrasted the lives of two women, one with and one without Jesus Christ. Somehow that gave me a glimpse of hope.

On January 1, 1989, I started attending church in Palo Alto. Then on Saturday, January 28, I attended an evangelistic meeting in the evening. The speaker was a medical doctor from Hong Kong. My high-tech career successes seemed small compared to his, yet he had felt the same emptiness I was feeling! Facing terminal illness, he had cried out and God gave him double healings. I sobbed when I heard how God restored his relationship with his wife, and that he had written letters to be mailed to his children as they grew up without him.

Then someone led us in singing a song I had never heard before, "What a Friend we have in Jesus." The verse "Oh, what peace we often forfeit? Oh, what needless pain we bear? All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!" That night, I received Jesus as my personal Savior. Who could have known I would one day share my story and sing that song with a multi-cultural praise team?

As you gather with family and friends, don't forget Jesus is the reason for the season.

"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation." (Romans 5:6-11 ESV)

Without Jesus, I don't know how to live. Jesus gave me a new life and a new marriage. My story is recorded in my article, "Love, So Amazing" that was published by CCMUSA in the April-June 2011 Edition of Challenger Magazine. You can read it here.
Winnis Chiang Winnis Chiang is Founder of Parenting ABC, an organization dedicated to training and coaching Chinese Christian parents from around the world 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 three grandchildren!

Winnis Chiang, M.A., LMFT


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