-Eating a lot of very yummy food and I must say I was careful but didn't get sick once
-Visited relatives and it was so good to see Gary's aunts and uncles again
-Went with YeYe to the Science Museum
-Visited by boat an inactive volcano site and hiked a tall hill on a wonderful sunny day http://www.geopark.gov.hk/en_s2d2.htm
-Hiked to the top of another hill to fly kites where Gary flew kites as a kid
-Shopped a lot with my new sister
-Visited Disneyland and I must say we could've ended our trip then because it really is the most wonderful place on Earth and you can't help feeling joy there
-Played in an indoor game area/playground and indoor sand pit with Declan
-Spent a night in Toronto with 8 degree weather on our way back - not a fun part of our trip at all!
Now to God's message to me. It was very loud and clear.
It began as a wonderful sunny day. If you know me, I love the sun and I love to be outdoors if the sun is shining and it is warm. So, with the cold days we had before visiting Hong Kong I was wanting to be outdoors. Gary's dad loves to show us things and be a tour guide when we visit. This day, he took us to the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark to see the remains of Hexagonal Rock formations that were left behind by a volcano which erupted a long time ago. This was the entrance to Sai Kung Waterfront Park.
We walked through the very small museum and then took a short boat ride to see the hexagonal rock columns. After the boat ride (I will post photos later to this post), we were dropped off at a small island. The island was attached to a beach area. We were told before being dropped off that the small walkway which connected the beachfront to the smaller part of the island was dry but that when tide came in would be covered in water.
After getting off of the boat, we began to walk across the beach front picking up shells. We then began the walk across the small path in the water which led to a trail up the hill on the other side. Walking across was somewhat difficult because it was all rocks, but it was dry because the tide was out.
As we walked across, I was reminded of the story of Moses and the Israelites. This, I later realized was no coincidence that this story came to my mind that day. I commented to Declan that us walking across this rocky path on dry land was like the Israelites who traveled across the Red Sea on dry land as they fled from the Egyptians.
After commenting on this, I didn't much think of it until later.
Visiting Hong Kong usually allows us a chance to meet up with people we haven't seen in a while. Each time we have visited, we have been able to see friends of Gary's that he hasn't seen in a while. A friend named Jefferson saw on social media that we were in Hong Kong and he happened to be in HK as well for the same reason - a wedding. For some reason, he had decided to stay one more day and we were able to meet up with him for dinner. He is a Christian and Gary met him when Gary worked in Canada for summer missions during college. This was a Saturday night and we mentioned that we really missed church the times we have visited HK. He said, "I attend a church here when I visit. Why don't you guys come with me tomorrow?" So, we decided to visit.
The church is a Hillsong type church called The Vine. It is a mixed congregation of several nationalities including Chinese, Australian, English, and American among others. Declan loved the idea of going to church too and was able to play with kids his own age.
I was apprehensive about church. I knew I needed a word from God, but I didn't want to bawl my way through service. Every service since my dad passed has been difficult for me. I cry when I sing and I cry when I listen. I really don't like crying in front of others as I am a bad cryer. You know the kind - snotty, red faced, swollen eyes.
But, I was there for a reason. The message spoke to me in a really big way. I wrote down just about everything the pastor said. These are my notes.
The past is what determines your future but learning from the past is what you really need.
Live life facing the future, head on, not looking back. (I thought of Sarah and Lot). Move forward to God's good future. Stretch forward to what has been promised even if that means the unknown - FAITH. or you can look back to what is comfortable even if that means slavery. (DIRECT REFERENCE HERE TO THE ISRAELITES).
Matthew 19:23 We must realize we need God - the pastor then shared the parable from Matthew 19:23-30. Jesus had just spoken to the young rich man about how to enter God's kingdom. After the man sadly walked away unwilling to give up his riches, Jesus turned to His disciples and shared this.
Jesus said to His disciples that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.
The pastor shared where this came from since Jesus often spoke in parables. This reference was actually a reference to a real place. The Needle's Gate was a tiny gate in the wall of Jerusalem where merchants had to come in with their goods. The camels would be laden down with the goods and the merchants would have to remove the goods in order to get the camels to fit. The camels then had to crawl on their knees through the gate and the goods would need to then be passed through.
Of course, there were merchants who would try to not follow the system. They would leave some goods on the camels and the camels would inevitability get stuck in the passageway.
I tried to find reference to this gate online to post here and there are some varied ideas on if it was a real passage or not. So, if any of my Bible scholar friends can find this reference online, please post it here.
But, at any rate, whether a real place or not, God uses this reference in His parable. It was used by the pastor for this sermon just for me.
The pastor closed with this - remove your baggage and follow God. What baggage do you need to leave in 2017? God doesn't want your worst moments of 2017 to impact your first moments of 2018. I could say my worst moments have been following me year by year for a while.
What did I bring away from this? I need to break free. I need to break away from the anger I have from my past. The blame I have for people in my family for our childhood. The blame I have for my health issues. The anger I have at infertility. The anger I have for the adoption system and its costs. The anger I have that my dad was taken from us. Etc Etc
I know that leaving all of these things in 2017 will ultimately lead to my healing of my health issues. I truly believe God is calling me to a life of joy without the anxiety I have lived with for so long. Anger and anxiety that has caused a lot of my symptoms. Yes, my Hashimotos and thyroid issues could partly be due to genes and environment etc, but a lot is due to my anxiety and not trusting God in our circumstances.
At the end of the service, the pastor asked people to stand who needed prayer. I stood. Gary stood next to me. The pastor, not knowing us and having never met us, came to pray over Gary and I from the stage. I know that this was a God thing for sure.
From our trip across that dry land path at the volcano site to our chance meeting with Jefferson and our first ever visit to church while in Hong Kong ending with the pastor's message, God was sending me a strong message. Learn from your past, but let it go. Have faith that God has a plan and He will see it through.
The Israelites saw their promise fulfilled. They did enter the Promised Land.
I am in the process of clearing the cobwebs from my mind and trying to move forward. I will need to set boundaries and really focus on what God wants for my life and where He wants me to spend my time and where my efforts need to be placed. Whether 2018 brings us more children or not, whether it be adoption or fostering, I am ready to follow His calling. I pray that I will be reminded of this daily.
I pray I begin to find true Joy once again in my life.