Recently, God opened doors for me to be invited to speak on an interview with EDHope. If you have a friend who is struggling this new year season, I hope this will bless their heart.

 

Love,

Wai Jia

 

Weekly Hope welcomes Dr. Wai Jia Tam to the show to talk about global health advocacy and her recovery story.

 

To find out more, visit www.kitesong.com or follow Wai Jia on Facebook at “Tam Wai Jia”. 

 

Wai Jia’s books are now available on Amazon at https://amazon.com/author/waijia

Grudgingly, I gave in.
 
It wasn’t the first time we had had this discussion, and it didn’t make sense to me to escalate it into a full blown argument.
 
“Okay fine,” I uttered, “But only if I get a good second-hand deal.”
 
For a house with an active, buoyant toddler, our home was pretty empty by most standards.
 
One day, like a loud gust being released from a pent-up can, Cliff finally declared, “We don’t have ANY toys in our house!”
 
While I thought it was an exaggeration, it was not far from the truth. I knew what he meant- all our friends we knew in North America who had kids had houses filled with toys- kitchen sets, train tracks, interactive toy models. Besides a few picture books, stuffed animals and Chinese word cards we’d been given, you mightn’t know we had an exuberant toddler running around our turf.
 
For a long time, I had put my foot down. Having lived among the underprivileged in Nepal and Africa and seen the face of poverty, I didn’t want to be sucked into the insatiable lure of buying more and more for our own children. The children I had lived with there were happy, not because of what they owned, but because they learned to cherish and enjoy what they had.
 
Defiantly, as Sarah-Faith grew, I made kitchen play sets out of my baking trays and raw pasta, tugboats out of cardboard boxes and string, and animal shapes from my own cut-out drawings.
 
“It wouldn’t hurt to buy SOME toys,” Cliff reasoned, “It’s not wrong.”
 
“It’ll be never ending,” I argued. “They get bored, we get another, and another. She’s a happy baby, we don’t need MORE.”
 
The truth was that, deep down inside, I felt a little guilty- guilty that maybe I WAS wrong after all. Maybe our toddler did deserve better.
 
But a part of me didn’t want to give into a materialistic, first world culture that my experiences in humanitarian work and living among the poor could not agree with. Besides, it hurt the environment, I argued- all that plastic, ah!
 
Knowing that someday we would, God-willing, return to a developing nation to serve, I didn’t want our children to suddenly feel deprived then. I want them to grow up knowing that we could be happy in abundance and in lack, and that God would always provide sufficiently for all our needs, without us spending more and more for ourselves. Deep down, I really wanted them to know that we could live simply, and enjoy the pleasures of a simple childhood without buying more.
 
But I gave in, not because I agreed with my husband’s philosophy, but because I saw his heart- filled with an extravagant love to bless and love on his child, the same love that pursued and won me over when I said no to him at the start.
 
I never told anyone about this discussion we had. Over the next few days, I didn’t find any good second-hand deals online either.
 
That very Sunday, an elderly lady we hardly knew at church came walking towards us, her hands full.
 
In a hurried fluster, she unloaded her bags on the floor and panted, “I know this is strange, but this week I was at my friend’s home and I felt God telling me to ask her for toys for your family. I don’t know why I asked really, it was so weird for me to do so, I’m sure you have toys- but I hope you don’t mind I did. These are all for your family.”
 
In shock, I stood there for a moment, before she hurried off, as if half-embarrassed. As I looked at the large bags, I saw colorful LeapFrog and Fisher-Price musical learning tables in mint condition, a musical turtle that sang as it spun round and round, an interactive ladybug that belted creative tunes about numbers and letters, and countless entertaining wooden puzzles of animals and cars and trains for our child. In total, they must all have amounted to hundreds of dollars.
 
My jaw must have dropped to the floor. Pressure built up behind my eyes. As my eyes met Cliff’s, I saw the biggest, widest megawatt grin spread across his face.
 
Suddenly, as I held back tears, I was overwhelmed.
 
It was then that I felt God’s unspeakable love wash over me like an avalanche.
 
His extravagant display of love astounded me- Cliff got his wish as a father to bless his child with lots of fun toys, Sarah-Faith was thrilled beyond her understanding, and I didn’t have to spend a cent feeling guilty for one moment for buying into our materialistic consumer culture. They were given to us, after all.
 
In God’s glorious out-of-the-box way, we all got what we wanted. It blew my mind.
 
Suddenly, I had flashbacks of all the blessings we had received from God over the year.
 
I had been worried about burdening our growing family financially by going to grad school as a young mother, but God astounded us with sufficient scholarships to graduate from my Masters program at Hopkins debt-free, with excess remaining for our family’s needs.
 
When we moved to USA when our baby was 6 months old, we had to travel light and live simply- I felt guilty for not having enough clothes for her or a proper crib. She slept in a hand-me-down play pen, and it was beginning to sag under her growing weight. But the moment we pulled into the driveway at our rental home, our new neighbor from across the street came over and said, “I have a two year old daughter and we have so many clothes to give you. Would you like some?” When I opened the large bags he gave to us, they were mostly 6-9month old clothes, the age group that I needed most urgently. Later, he said, “Why don’t you come over and take a look at our crib? My baby doesn’t want to sleep in it.” So that brand new $600 Toys R Us crib which we never would have afforded became Sarah-Faith’s.
 
When we moved to Canada, I felt guilty for not knowing where we would stay. Within the first two months, we were gifted a home we did not, still do not, deserve. When we discovered the home did not come with air conditioning and I worried about how the hot summer would trigger Sarah-Faith’s eczema, we found out our housing agent had installed a brand new air conditioning system for us as a housewarming gift, a gift that we later found out cost him $3000.
 
When I started Kitesong Global, there were people who told us not to, that it was a mistake. Less than a month later, a random donor wrote us a cheque to cover all our legal set-up fees and more. Before the year closed, as I dwelled self-piteously upon self-doubt and whether what we were doing was meaningful or not, we received another donation from a donor who said, “Your work is an encouragement to many.”
 
All this while, God astounded us with His lavishness- even through my moments of resentment towards Him, through the hurdles of multiple transitions, depression and pregnancy challenges. Yet, as I stood in awe of His love for our child, amidst the bags of toys, I realized that it was a reflection of His love for me, too.
 
It reminded me that every day, He is watching over us, listening to our needs, even when those prayers are only uttered in the innermost depths of our hearts, when we can’t find the words to express them, even.
 
It reminds me, of the lies that are overthrown in the light of His miraculous provisions- that He is too busy for us, that there are more important things in the world for God to worry about than whether my child has enough toys, or my job woes or whether we’ll have a roof over us, that He doesn’t really care for me.
 
They’re all untrue.
 
When I get overwhelmed just thinking about how we will cope with yet another newborn and moving back to Singapore later this year, for me to start work and finish my contract as a physician, where we will stay (we have no house in Singapore anymore), where I will work, how I will cope as a working mother of two, I am reminded of God’s lavish provisions and His promises when He says, “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.
 
Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” – Mt 7:9-11
 
So this new year, as you grapple with the disappointments, hurts and failings of the year gone past, I hope that His still small voice gently reminding you of the blessings you’ve received might give you fresh perspective on the incredible love God has for us.
 
Our lives are messy, broken and filled with unresolved circumstances.
Yet, God gives us an unwavering hope that He cares for us
intimately, passionately and extravagantly.
 
As you enter the new year with joy and thanksgiving,
our prayer is that you might experience His lavish love and provisions
as a Good Father for all you need, and more.
 
From our family to yours,
Blessed New Year.
Wai0071

The tension grew.

As I stood my ground, the lady across the counter became increasingly annoyed, saying once again, “You need to have the other forms.”

“No, I’m only here for the ultrasound to see my baby,” I said. “So I’ve only got one form.”

As her voice got louder, and her tone, more irritated, I explained myself, “ I don’t want the blood tests, I’ve chosen not to do them.”

She frowned, rolled her eyes and then tsk-tsked at me. In one moment, I felt thoroughly uneducated.

I understood her frustration. The tests came in a set and she wanted the full set of forms, but as a patient, I had the right to decide whether or not I wanted to do the full Down syndrome screening for our baby.

Given we would keep our baby in any case, and tests would not be fully conclusive, we made the personal decision not to do the extra tests. Our midwife had assured us this was fine. My medical background told me this was a patient’s right. Administrative bureaucracy was secondary.

But it was too late. By this time, a belligerent, matronly lady who looked like her supervisor had trudged up to me, her sleeves rolled up and her arms folded.

As she towered over me, a little Asian mom in her shorts and lululemons stained with my toddler’s yoghurt handprints, with little Sarah-Faith trailing behind me, a loud, dragon-like bellow echoed through the waiting hall, “Look lady, you gotta have ALL the forms okay? You understand me?”

“Yes, I do understand,” I said quietly, a little intimidated and embarrassed, with pressure behind my eyes.

With my face flushed, I half-whispered to her, “I’m a medical doctor. I understand these tests and their implications very well. But that’s exactly why I only want the ultrasound, and not the blood tests.”

Immediately, both sets of eyes fell onto the desk. Within a second, the air, fraught with tension, had dissolved into a furious typing and scribbling. “You’re next.”

As I walked back to my seat, Cliff gave me a look and a huge “yeaaah” smile. He knew, I had put a trump card on the table.

But it felt awful inside. I never, ever like to have to tell people that I am a medical doctor, especially not under these kinds of circumstances.

As I sat back down on my seat, I was overwhelmed by the difference a label meant. My request had not changed. I had not changed from my exercise tank top into my lab coat. I had not become angrier, more demanding.

All I did, was let them know, that in my past life, I was a doctor. That I was well-informed. That I spoke English with an accent but it did not mean I was uneducated.

Everything changed in that moment. Suddenly, I was no longer “just a mom”. At once, I was somebody smart, somebody useful to society, somebody worthy of respect.

Was I not all those things before?

As I stared blankly into space, Cliff, perhaps not entirely oblivious to how overwhelmed I was, tried to lighten the atmosphere by his usual joking. He leaned over and whispered, “You should have told them you were chosen in ‘Forbes 30 Under 30’. And you’re top ten percent of your cohort at Hopkins.”

I took weeks to get over this incident. It played over and over in my head like a nightmare.

No shred of smugness that I had “won” comforted me in any way. This was not a victory, but a brutal revelation.

It was a friend who articulated it for me- that there are differences between “jobs of success” and “jobs of significance.” While they may not always be mutually exclusive, the world tends to look to jobs of success, even when we have left them to choose a different kind of job that is of deeper significance to us.

Like being a full-time mom, or starting a non-profit without salary, or serving the poor in a humanitarian setting.

Weeks after the event, I felt an unusual rage. Somebody called me “Mom” at a play center non-maliciously and it made me angry. Suddenly, I had so much to say- I wish that people knew that moms, too, were, are people with a trajectory- that I once scheduled your grandmother’s cataract surgery, and wrote your father’s prescription for his discharge medication when he was admitted for a heart attack. That I recently started a global non-profit that I hope could make our world a better place.

But above that, I found myself in an existential crisis. What if I hadn’t been a doctor before, what if I had never won all those accolades and awards, would I still be worth the same to others? Would people treat me differently?

The incident over the counter shook me, because it spelled out these answers with brutal and chilling honesty.

So who am I now? Now that my peers are earning five figure salaries and using their higher degrees to buy cars, go places. Who am I, this little mom who now gives her little one hugs and kisses at a neighborhood library, who works at her next book behind her desk when her little one is asleep, who cries at times because there are days she misses her old life, that old, crazy-busy, high-achieving, no-time-to-process-life kind of life.

It took me a while to remember, that heaven is a place that measures everything differently. It preserves only what cannot rust and what moth cannot destroy on earth.

And while it may not keep record of the wealth, or status or privilege that we’ve accumulated here, the love we have sown as seeds on earth, things which our human eyes see as fading and small and meaningless, grow as eternal fields of gold there.

In heaven, our deeds and character, not our earthly success, become fields of eternal significance.

Perhaps you’ve stopped working to look after an ailing parent, to look after children. Perhaps you’ve taken a pay cut to be with your family more. Perhaps you no longer work as an architect or a lawyer, but as a chef or a teacher or a swimming instructor, because it’s what you love. It’s what you find significance in, to bring joy to others.

You may be invisible to a world so eager to applaud a strictly-circumscribed definition of success. But you are not invisible to God.

To Him, you have always been the same you. And His love never changed for one moment, not even when the world stopped clapping.

In the recent Fall season when all the trees changed into incandescent golds, when they started losing their leaves and a bit of their glamorous summery lustre, I learned, not to despise but admire them for the season they were in.

Because Spring will come again, and they will grow and blossom soon.

I am learning, with excruciating pain on some days, that my worth is not dependent on my productivity, my identity, or on my label that day as “Mom” or “Doctor” or “Award recipient”, that my ability and inherent value do not diminish because I am doing “less”.

I am learning, that everyone goes through different seasons in life, and we can all be kinder, gentler, more gracious to those who are going through Autumn, because even winter will come and fly by.

And at the end of everything, we will come to see, that God made seasons for a reason, and He made everything beautiful in His time. We will see, that our inherent worth lies not in what we’ve done or achieved, but in Whose we believe we are.

Somewhere up there, fields of gold await.

Wai0014

 

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After yet another negative pregnancy test, my faith faltered.

Ever since Cliff started work in Canada in June, I had prayed that he would have the chance to serve in his role for a reasonable length of time.

Yet, I knew it was impossible. After all, I was due to fulfill my obligatory work commitments in April next year, back in Singapore.

After receiving a prophecy in January that I would be expecting again “very soon,” I started to lose hope.

Months passed. Every time I thought I was, the test would be negative. I became resentful, wishing that hope was never seeded in me in the first place.

Shortly after we began the tumultuous transition from USA to Canada, where we moved again and again from one basement home to another, I started to feel unwell from all the transitions.

Hopeful but too afraid to be disappointed, I didn’t dare test again till I was certain. Weeks passed.

When I was sure, by my own medical knowledge, that the test would be definitive and not “too early,” I finally tested, only to be devastated to see a negative test, yet again.

As I sat down in tears, I felt ridiculous. It wasn’t a miscarriage, it wasn’t like I wasn’t already a mother.

Yet, the sense of hope deferred from a promise that had lifted my expectations was heartwrenching. As my little 18-month old saw Mama’s grief, she tottered over and gave me a kiss, a rare gift for a busy toddler.

I thought about the prayer I had prayed about having a second child and wanting Cliff to feel settled into his role before we uprooted soon again, and blamed myself for being so silly. I had so much to be grateful for.

On my knees, I then felt God say to yield- to surrender to His plans and ways, even if it meant moving again soon, and even if it meant never having more children.

As I grieved, I lost sleep and my appetite… only to find out weeks later, while doubling over the sink, that I was expecting, and, in fact, had been expecting all this while, even when the test had been negative.

Worried that I now had to rush back to Singapore to deliver a child and start work soon after in April, and that this would mean an even earlier truncation of Cliff’s work, we learnt that the baby would be born just two days before my work was to start in Singapore.

This meant two things- that I was graciously granted a little more additional leave and that Cliff could serve in his role a little longer.

We were speechless. How God answers our prayers in His own uncanny and unexpected ways.

It was then that He spoke to me, that so often when we think our dreams are dead and have no hope, He has in fact already planted a seed to grow the dream, even when we “test negative” and everything points to the fact that we are barren.

It was then that He spoke to me about Kitesong Global, that as much as I had dreams for it to grow and was facing all kinds of setbacks and challenges, He had started a good work and would be faithful to bring it to completion.

No one is more desperate than Him to see our dreams come to full fruition, but only when we are willing to crucify our own plans and surrender them.

Perhaps, with regards to all the hopes and dreams we have and continue to wait to come to fruition, we can take heart. Because even when we don’t see any “positive test” outcome for months or even years, could it be that He has already begun a good work in us, that our dream has already begun growing, even when all we see is nothing.

Whatever your dream is, take heart.

Keep sowing, keep hoping, keep waiting in expectation.

You may not know exactly when,

but a seed may long have been sown,

even before you know it.

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It felt like quicksand.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get out. Over time, I blamed myself. The more I did, the worse I felt.

It’s an awful place to be, to be mad at God.

I had rationalized what had happened, talked myself through as if I was counseling someone else. It would work for a little while, but the heart-head disconnect always brought me back to a place of grief, and then anger.

From asking “How could this have happened?”, I began to ask the unspeakable, “God, are You really good?”

After all the extravagant, amazing things God had done, I could not believe finding myself in a place of pain and bitterness. It was stifling. Even worse was the guilt that weighed like a 6-tone hippo, and the frustration of not feeling able to talk about it. I did not want pat answers or worse, Christian comfort talk. There were simply, no words.

Perhaps, we have all been there before.

Then, in the darkness, a ray of light shone in.

Knowing how excited I had been to experience my first real Autumn (since I had grown up in tropical Singapore), Cliff had planned a surprise trip for me to see the changing leaves, in all their colorful, spectacular glory, at a place near our current home called Muskoka, over our wedding anniversary.

Awe-inspired by the magnificence of the endless landscapes of gold, red and violet leaves, I remember thinking about the huge window at our home which overlooks a little forest and said aloud, “Oh, I can’t wait for all the leaves to change into beautiful colors back home.”

Cliff, not wanting me to be disappointed, jumped in quickly to manage my expectations. “They may or may not,” he said. “Remember last year?”

In the States where I was studying the year before, I had gotten all excited about Fall, only to find that the leaves in our neighborhood simply changed to an ugly brown before falling. And by the time I had lifted my head from beneath my pile of books to see daylight again after my exams had ended, the trees along the roads had become as bare as bones. I had completely missed Autumn.

So, Cliff had a point. After all, in that forest behind our home, we had noticed that the trees either remained green or had turned a homogenous yellow. Unlike Muskoka, the florid reds, dazzling purples, and golden yellows against the lush evergreens just did not happen here.

As I took in the magnificence of the breathtaking trees over our wedding anniversary, I said aloud for the first time, “I resolve not to be angry at You, God.” It felt silly, bizarre, futile even.

But something changed. The day we arrived back from Muskoka, something changed. As I walked into our living room, I stood in awe of what had happened.

Right there, in that square of a window we had in our living room, was a red tree, a violet tree, a yellow tree and a green tree all glowing incandescently under the sun.

There and then, I had goosebumps, because in that entire forest behind our home, was only one red tree. And there it was, in that window of ours, to create a beautiful multi-colored picture of Fall.

As tears built behind my eyes, I suddenly felt ridiculous. That for all my rage against God for my inability to comprehend or process what had happened over the months, I was immediately undone.

Yet, I know it was, is true- that in spite all I had been struggling with, in spite of all the theology I had been grappling with, in spite of all the accusations I had hurled at God over the recent season, He was, is, and always will be good.

He cares for us in ways so deeply, and so specifically, that no one else could understand.

I am learning, that even as we grope through the darkness, we are never alone. He is always with us, always caring.

For every situation, He gives us a ray of hope, a red tree to remind us that He is, through it all, good.

He does not give pat answers. He simply, shows up.

If, like me, you’ve experienced pain or disappointment, if you’ve felt defeated or hopeless, don’t give up. It may take some time for you to see, but God has never left you, and He has had your red tree right there, all along.

It was there, green, before Autumn came, it was there before the mess happened. It was there, because He knew it would mean something to you, when you needed Him the most.

May you see your red tree, soon.

Fall

“Yes, these are for you! Sorry I came so late!”

I sat on the stairs and cried.

As soon as he had come, he left in a hurry, leaving me in my own puddle of tears and the three gifts.

You see, we had moved five times over five weeks into five different Airbnbs, over our epic road trip from the States to Canada, of which during our first night we found ourselves scooping water from the basement home we were in at 2am when a water pipe had burst. In the third home, we found ourselves stumbling in with our crying toddler, our hands busy packing groceries into the fridge and unpacking our suitcases, all before discovering the stove, fridge and air conditioning were not working.

Never before had we yearned more desperately for a place to call home, after having moved more than 20 times over 4 countries in 5 years of marriage.

Suddenly, after the fanfare and glitter of graduation, I found myself floundering in a new role of being a full-time mother without a salary, a pastor’s wife (whatever that meant), in a new land, with a new routine that I had little control over. I could not drive, missed home and felt utterly disoriented.

Then, in what was only called a miracle, we were gifted a new home, a place to call our own. A place we did not have any means or rights to own.

The night we moved in, I sat on the steps. It felt surreal.

When the doorbell rang at 1030pm, I jumped.

There the housing agent was, a frazzled grandfatherly old man, huffing and puffing. I was taken aback- was something wrong? Did we need to move out? Again?

Looking quite comical with his hands full, he panted, “I’m sorry I came so late- but I overheard you telling the previous owner of the house about how much you loved her orchids. So I got some for you after my work ended! Enjoy!”

Just a day ago, we had found contractors working away at our home. “What are you doing?” I asked.

“Oh, the housing agent asked us to fit a brand new air conditioner for you as a gift for you and your family,” they said.

I found out it cost more than $3000.

As I sat on the stairs, overwhelmed by the orchids, the air-conditioning in a scorching summer, and our first real home, I couldn’t hold back tears.

The orchids could not have been more timely, not only as a thoughtful housewarming gift, but as a gift from God for what they represented.

Just a week ago, I had asked the previous owner how she had cared for her orchids.

“Oh, it’s very easy,” she said. “You just water them once a week. But know this, they bloom for three months and then lie dormant for three months. Most people throw their orchids out when the flowers die, but they actually do bloom again after three months if you water them. I’ve had mine for ten years.”

All at once I had goosebumps, as I felt God speaking to me about this new season- that it might not be one of great fanfare or outward productivity like it was back at Hopkins, but it was an important one nonetheless- one that would grow one’s roots deep, that was regenerative. A season of rest, but not death.

Nonetheless, it was painful.

Suddenly, for the first time in a long while, I found myself on the receiving end of remarks that stung and a different kind of store service because I now go out with a toddler in my lululemons, occasionally stained with mini yoghurt handprints. I have felt the tangible difference between the eager conversations at shops when I still went out in a blazer and my power suit, and now.

But I had never changed. I was and am still the same me, only perhaps more compassionate, less judgmental, more forgiving.

In the same way, just as how my orchids which bloomed for three months are now withering, they are still alive, growing.

They are in a different season, but they are the same orchids nonetheless. And while people may treat us differently and stop watering us as eagerly because of the different season we are in, I am learning, that God does not see us differently.

He loves us in the times when we bloom and flower, and He loves us in the times we need to wither and lay low.

So if you’ve been struggling with a dormant season in your life, frustrated that nothing seems to bear fruit, know this- that it is too soon to throw your orchids away. Keep watering, keep waiting. Remember all the times He came through for you, the unexpected gifts He delivered to your doorstep, and more.

For at the end of this season, will we not see and enjoy yet another season of greater beauty, richer grace and deeper wisdom.

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“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;

and every branch that bears fruit He prunes,

that it may bear more fruit.
– John 15:1-2“

Someday I will get something done
Without a child stuck to my hip
Hands glued to my knee
Eyes saying,
“Mama, mama, pick me up.”

Someday when my hands are free,
I will get something done.

Don’t you know, little one?
There’s a world of work
Out there to be done-
Emails, crises, meetings to handle,
Laundry, dishes, errands to settle.

There’s a world of Important work to be done,
Don’t you know, little one?

Someday, perhaps, I will see,
All these moments of just you and me,
My lips in your hair,
You twirling with flair,
Were the makings of Important
Dreams to set free.

Your arms I caressed,
Your smiley mess,
Those cheeks like a rose,
And that round little nose,
That I blew and I wiped and I squeezed and I kissed,
Will soon be the makings of
Legacies, missed.

So the days I’d wished I could get something done,
Have actually been all these days clothed in fun,
Between that quiet suckle,
And tying your buckle,
Were Important moments
Under the sun.

Someday when my hands are free,
I’ll have time without you- just me.
I’ll have time for emails to write,
Important people to meet,
Maybe even have eight hours of sleep.
I’ll be important to many again- that’s quite true,
But still, none as Important as I’d been to you.

In a twinkle and a dum, you’ll be grown,
And we’ll see the fruit of great seeds sown.

Today I got some Important things done-
I held your heroic hand,
I kissed a stout heart on the mend.
These seconds and minutes and hours of loving,
Will one day be seeds to an oak tree that’s growing,
For hundreds and thousands and millions of hearts,
To give shade and respite from the world’s fiery darts.

Today,
With hands that aren’t free,
A child glued to my hip,
What many Important things I’ve done

With you.

Love,
Mama

Love, Mama

Seven years ago, I had a dream but buried it.

It was too embarrassing, too outrageous. After all, who did I think I was?

I was little 24 year old girl from Singapore, a country that’s literally a tiny dot on the world map. My name “Wai Jia” was, still is, un-pronounceable to many people. I confess that I had wondered before- what kind of destiny could be found in a name like that? 

But above all, I struggled with shame.

Shame that I had a problem. Shame that I was about to graduate as a medical doctor then but had become a patient.

Most of all, shame because people had told me, “Don’t let anyone know because they’ll say things,” which I interpreted as “Your story does not matter. YOU don’t matter.” 

Struggling through medical school and other family challenges at the time, I first used exercise to cope. But before I knew it, an insatiable pain gnawed at me. I lost my appetite, and what was a harmless thing became an obsessive control tool I used to cope with life. The sicker I became, the less hope I had.

The worst part was wondering, was God really real? Did I even have the right to doubt that? Yet I did. In my darkest times, I did.

During my recovery I painted a series of drawings and but when it was time to publish it, I people told me, “Don’t do it. What would people think of you? Are you a doctor or a patient?” 

I was afraid. Afraid that I would shame my family, my friends, the medical community. Afraid that no one would read this book and confirm that I did not matter.

But God said come. And against all fears, He gave me the courage to step out.

I learned, that courage is not the absence of fear, but stepping out in spite of it. I learned, that faith is not the absence of doubt, but believing in spite of it.

Little did I expect that one day, against all odds, God would send me on 3 unexpected scholarships to Johns Hopkins University to pursue a Masters in Public Health- not because I was smart or capable… because in that room of scholarship applicants, I was probably the only one with a transcript filled with Bs and Cs because of my illness through medical school.

Yet I’m standing here today, speaking with you, fulfilling an incredulous dream I had 7 years ago to speak in America about Hope, because a woman who organized this conference called me one day, because her friend who was the sister-in-law of a faculty member at Johns Hopkins had walked into my professors office and picked up a copy of my book, A Taste of Rainbow, by accident and decided I needed to share my story in America.

We serve an amazing God. He never forgets the littlest of our dreams.

And when God brought me to America, He opened doors for me to pursue another lost buried dream of starting Kitesong Global, an international social venture that uses the power of narrative to inspire people to pursue their dreams and empower underprivileged women and children.

One day, as I watched the sunset and wrestled with a sense of lostness, I asked aloud, “Has this all been a mistake?”

For the first time in my life, I then felt God tell me the meaning of my name.

The background to this is that I’ve always hated my name. When I was five, I went to class telling everyone my name was Christine because I didn’t want the embarrassment of being called something no one would remember or say right. Friends who made friends first were those with easy, catchy names. So imagine the fit I kicked when my older sister went to school and rightfully informed everyone that my name was most certainly not Christine. How prophetic, that back then, I never knew that Christine meant “follower of Christ.”

As I watched that sunset, I felt God speak to me, that the meaning of the first character of my name 蔚wei describes the splendor and majesty of the sky, and 佳jia describes goodness and excellence.

There and then, I heard Him tell me, “Wai Jia” is a reflection of what He wants Kitesong to be, a reflection of God’s goodness displayed in majesty and splendor across the skies.

You might hate your name, you might hate the very essence of something so integral to who you are and think you can never be apart from it. But that very thing that you despise, could very well be the thing that God wants to show forth His glory.

Have you ever thought what yr name means? Have you ever wondered what it means in Ephesians 1:4 when it says, “Even as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world….” Doesn’t it blow your mind that He chose us before the foundation of the world began? That He gave you a name with your destiny written in it, and He’s waiting to reveal His purposes to you if you would press in and ask.

Two months ago, I argued with God and said I could never set up an organization in the US. Who did I think I was? This little girl who doesn’t even speak English with a good accent? A lawyer through a friend of a friend of a friend had written an elaborate roadmap for me for Kitesong Global and told me it would cost $6-10K to set up. There and then I threw in the towel and said, “No God, I can’t do it. So there.”

A week later, an elderly friend drove four hours through a snowstorm and showed up at our doorstep and gave me a lecture in our living room. I will never forget his words, “If God heard your little prayer as an 18 year old and raised more than $100K to build a children’s home in Nepal, if He raised $100K for you to come to US for yr further studies against all odds, can you not trust Him for $10K?”

The very next morning, while our friend was still in our home after we had breakfast, I received a phonecall from someone who wanted to catch up. I didn’t solicit, never advertised, never shared it on my blog, and there and then when he demanded to know what I was up to and why I wasn’t registering Kitesong in US, he said over the phone, “I am going to write a cheque for you to cover all the legal costs for you to get Kitesong registered in the States. Keep me updated!”

Friends, God is above and beyond all that we ask or think.

Truly, He does not need perfect people. He wants people who are willing to step out of the boat when He says come. He wants people who are willing to surrender and yield to His wind when He says go. He wants broken people, like you and like me to be a display of His goodness in the skies.

So go, give your littlest dreams to Him and fly.

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– Excerpt from the keynote closing speech at the HFH Summit in Nashville, Tennessee in June 2018. 

Thank you Cliff, for being the amazing husband and father you have been.

And to God, for making Incredulous and Impossible, Incredible.

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