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It was the second day of school. I stood waiting outside the school entrance and had my phone camera ready to take a picture of my daughter walking out with her classmates. I surprised her from behind but she didn’t look too happy. We started walking towards the car and I asked her how her day went. That’s when she stopped and I bent down to look at her face which was half-covered by her mask. Her forehead was dirty and it looked as though she had a black eye. “What happened?!” I blurted out in shock. Her eyes turned watery as she held her tears back and she told me she got hit by a ball and fell. She showed me her scraped knee and elbows and she was trying hard not to cry in front of all the kids around us. My mind whirled with the worst case scenarios: Did someone deliberately throw a ball at her? Did someone bully her?! I was about to march into the office to demand why I wasn’t notified and to find out who threw the ball at my child. Before Mommy’s wrath was about to unleash, she told me she fell in the playground while running around during lunch recess. I inquired further and found out she ran through the basketball court while some kids were playing ball. Oh dear, Elaine. I checked her eyes to see if she really had a black eye, but it was just dirt. She must have wiped her eyes with her dirtied hands while crying in the nurse’s office. My heart tore to pieces imagining what happened and to see her in such pain and sadness. I had been praying every day for her protection and that she wouldn’t get hurt in any way.

Later that evening when I was browsing through my phone, I found this picture as the last photo I had taken. I must have taken a photo instead of shutting my phone off. It was the exact moment when my daughter told me she fell and I held out my arm to see her face. The photo captured her pain and my heartbroken state. Is this what it feels like, Lord? As our Father, to see us so hurt and broken?

I was once again reminded that He is in control and that though sometimes things happen that seem contrary to our prayers, He is our loving Father. He is not laughing at our pain; He is not waiting for us to break. In a broken world where we run around oblivious to our surroundings and His purposes, His arms are outstretched before us. As stated in John 10:11, Jesus is the good shepherd: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

(Isaiah 53: 4-6)

Dear friends, family, and readers, this is my last post.

Thank you for reading along these past years. Thank you for reading my little stories and being a part of my life. Know that a load of my burdens have been lifted along my cancer journey because of your thoughts and prayers. My journey isn’t over and much like everyone else, I do not know how long I have left in this life, but I will continue to press on, marching forward to what lies ahead. We each have our own battles, and though I do not know your story, I pray His love and light may illuminate your path.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

With love,

Jeanee

God’s Grace

One of my favorite activities is filling in my agenda/calendar. One year, I was really into bullet journals and customized each month with a theme and drew out my monthly and weekly calendars, adding illustrations, using washi-tape, creating different kinds of lists, experimenting with calligraphy and different letterforms, etc. I had so much time (haha), and it was so much fun! But 2020 happened and the rest of the world and I suddenly had absolutely no plans. What an eventful year, though! Now it’s already the middle of 2021 and the world is slowly coming back to normal; which means, I’m back at it with the planning. No longer bullet-journaling, but planning nonetheless. I started planning last August, hoping this pandemic would end this spring/summer, and thankfully my early planning allowed me to find great prices for travel. As soon as my daughter finished her school year, literally on the last day of school, we flew to Hawaii and dove into our vacation. From there it has been like driving from zero to 60 mph in 2 seconds. Now that the initial acceleration is over, our summer is on cruise control and we are enjoying our leisurely time at home.

Sometimes in conversation, my family and I discuss our future plans, but under my nods and okays, in my mind, my planning has always been limited to one year. Even within a year, I keep in mind that God is in control and He controls each day. With so many distressing (local and national) news this past year (and every day!), I say a little prayer each time we step outside. Forget cancer; there are so many other life-threatening things happening everywhere. My husband tells me to stop reading the news/headlines, and I have been trying. Because of cancer though, I have the privilege of waking each morning knowing that each day is a gift. And it’s been a 5+ year gift so far. Thank you, Lord.

5 years. 60 months. 37.5 years. Thank you, Lord.

My daughter celebrated her 7th birthday a couple days ago. Thank you, Lord. We went to Disneyland (they had been closed for over a year). We were standing in a long line to ride the newly updated Snow White’s Enchanted Wish and I asked my husband to take a photo of me and my daughter while standing in line within the Royal Hall area. He unknowingly captured the moment with a lens flare. Unlike other lens flares, this one appeared as a rainbow arching right above and around us. On a cloudless, hot and sunny day, a rainbow appeared within our photo. I was reminded again of His presence around me. I cannot control my tears when I think about how undeserving I am of His love and mercy. I cannot control my tears when I think about how thankful I am for these past 5 years and every day I wake. Thank you, Lord.


I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.

Psalm 145:1-3 (ESV)

2021

2021 sneaked up on me and I can’t believe 2020 is over. I didn’t set aside any time to think about resolutions and plans for the upcoming year. But then again, if there’s anything 2020 has taught us/me, plans go awry and with the pandemic still causing havoc in our country, there’s not much I can plan to do in the foreseeable future.

So here’s to living life a day at a time, singing His praise as we ride the waves together.

Psalm 96

Sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
    proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
    he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and glory are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his[a] holiness;
    tremble before him, all the earth.
10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”
    The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
    he will judge the peoples with equity.

11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
    let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
    let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
13 Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes,
    he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
    and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Jan. 1, 2021

Gift Guide: for the boy (ages 5-7)

I am not a boy expert, so for this post, I asked a friend to suggest some gifts for boys of ages 5-7. Thank you, friend! :) I think it’s interesting how the girl and boy lists are pretty similar. Kids from ages 5-7 seem to enjoy building things, reading books that involve imagination or interesting facts, and they like to engage in cognitive activities/games.

  1. LEGOs. As my friend states, “You can’t ever go wrong with LEGOs.” It’s no surprise because each set is made with such detail and it is satisfying to build as pieces snap into place like a 3D puzzle. And if that’s not satisfying, it’s only because it leaves you hungry to build more. [Star Wars: Anekin’s Jedi Interceptor, Batman: Pursuit of Joker]
  2. Hands-on, sensory/Stem activities. Kids at ages 5-7 are more creative than their younger 3-4 year old selves and can build animals, castles, and entire towns without instructions or guides. They begin to tell stories and use what they build to play with their other toys. It’s fun to watch and listen to what they come up with. *Note: Kinetic sand can get messy very fast. I recommend a large container in which to hold the sand and advise having the child play with it outdoors. [Kinetic sand, Magna-Tiles, brainflakes]
  3. Games. Kids are able to understand rules, follow rules, and play competitively as they learn to strategize and navigate moves. They also learn to lose and not take losses personally–not to make the same mistakes and understand why certain moves are not advantageous. Interactive games are fun and they love it when parents play with them. [Ticket to Ride, Battleship, Spot it!, SushiGo!, Bananagrams]
  4. Bows and arrows. This was a surprise and very original. Don’t worry; these arrows have rubber tips so they will not pierce through people/animals. According to my friend, her boys have been loving the Green Ember books and the latest one was about archery. I think it’s a great gift idea and I’m sure the boys will love it. They can later read other adventure books involving archery, like Robin Hood or The Hobbit, and imagine themselves as characters in the stories. [2-pack handmade bow and arrow set]
  5. Weaving kit. Another surprise! I don’t know why it surprised me to learn that boys could also enjoy crafty activities, when of course! Most kids enjoy making crafts. Funny and true story: My husband said he went through a crocheting phase when he was a kid. Yes, crochet–as in, looping yarn with a small hooked needle to make scarves, doilies, hats, etc. As mentioned in the gift guide for a man, my husband is the most barbaric man I know, and to imagine such a wild child sitting down, crocheting… haha, what! That simply validates how boys, too, can enjoy what would usually be perceived as girly activities. Such crafts promote concentration, patience, and creativity. Why not encourage boys to learn to sit still and concentrate without the use of video games. With the weaving kit, kids can make coasters, dust wipes, quilts, or weave different patterns just for fun. [Ultimate Weaving Looms & Loops]
  6. Chapter books or Illustrated informational texts. As mentioned above, the Green Ember series are a hit with kids this age. I was also recommended this series by another friend and she said the library provides free audiobooks to download (according to the library’s digital lending period). I downloaded the first book onto my phone and my daughter and I listened to it in the car as we travelled. We don’t go out so much, so I haven’t played it for her as regularly, but I also borrowed the book onto my Kindle and have been reading it with her throughout the week. Another recommended author was Julia Rothman. She writes and illustrates informational texts and there is so much to learn for curious minds. [Green Ember series, Last Archer: Green Ember Story, Julia Rothman Collection]

Thank you to my friend who recommended the items. I may have bought my daughter some of these gifts as well. ;)

Gift Guide: for the Girl (ages 5-7)

Before my daughter turned six, all she wanted were things that sparkled and glittered. She still does, but now that she owns everything sparkly made within the past five years, she’s learned to branch out to less colorful, cognitive play things, like board games. It does require us, as parents, to expand our patience and play the games with her countless times, and to let her win, sometimes. We have also learned to make it fun: My husband and I play Apples to Apples (Disney edition) like a game within a game, us against each other and wife vs. husband–a game to see who knows our daughter better. A funny moment was when she was the judge for the word ‘trustworthy’ and the cards he and I put down were ‘fireworks’ and something that actually related to trustworthiness. She looked at the cards with a serious expression and said, “Hm, these are both really good,” and proceeded to choose ‘fireworks,’ which was my card. It was such a funny moment as my husband sat there with mouth agape. Why did I put ‘fireworks’ down for ‘trustworthy’? Because I had no cards related to trustworthiness, and out of all my cards it was the sparkliest, which I thought would intrigue her. And I was right! haha. She is the most trustworthy to choose the pretty cards, and fireworks was pretty trustworthy to her. No matter what the word is, she will always choose the princess card and anything cute or pretty; so when it’s me against him as our daughter plays the judge, it’s ultimately about who has the prettiest card.

Anyway, here are some things she has enjoyed this year and I hope may give you ideas for the girl in your life who is of similar age.

  1. Board games. The junior games are perfect introductions to learning the adult versions. Monopoly has so many themes, I’m sure you can find one to your kid’s liking. And chess! Have you watched The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix? I never learned to play chess, or any board games for that matter, and the show has sparked my interest. I started reading about how to play, but reading about a game is confusing and I couldn’t wrap my head around all the different moves without physically seeing how they would play out. If I get the chess board, my daughter and I can learn together. [Monopoly Jr., Apples to Apples (Disney Edition), Scrabbles Jr., chess board]
  2. Book sets. My friend recently held an Usborne book party online and I bought my daughter several sets since she’s now able to read chapter books. She especially enjoys reading the non-Disney version fairy tales and lift-the-flap informational texts. Another friend and I got to talking about how we grew up reading American Girl books, and how she’s been rereading them with her daughter and found them just as entertaining. She lent me a few sets, and I really enjoyed Kit’s story, especially because it takes place during the Great Depression and it resonated with today’s economic climate and social unrest in a kid-friendly way. Each girl has 6 short books, and if you can get a hold of the collection that’s all in one hardcover, it’ll be easier to keep organized as you collect all the girls’ stories, as I’m sure you will. ;) [Usborne: Questions and Answers, Usborne: book sets, Usborne: Anne of Green Gables, American Girl: Kit story collection]
  3. Digital camera. You may not need to buy one if you have an old one lying around, even if it be 10 megapixels–they wouldn’t know the difference. My daughter and I used to visit museums and gardens before covid, and every time we’d go, I would take pictures with my phone. She started asking if she could take photos too, so I’d give her my phone and she’d walk around taking random photos with me standing nearby feeling uneasy she might drop the device. I recently found an old digital camera collecting dust in my closet and I gave it to her to see if she’d play with it, and she’s been having so much fun recording stories with her Barbie dolls, and one time she took photos of my husband throughout the day and it was funny to see her unique angles and candid shots of her father going about his day–on his computer, washing the dishes, organizing the garage, watching football, walking, etc. When we’re able to go out in public again, I’m sure she’ll have fun taking photographs and videos with her own device. [Polaroid 16MP Waterproof digital camera]
  4. Scooter. The ones made for kids nowadays has two wheels in the front and one wheel in the back. This is supposedly more intuitive and helps them navigate and control the scooter better as the child leans in the direction in which he/she wants to turn without needing to turn the handles. [Micro Kickboard]
  5. Terrarium kit. Any craft kit is a good gift as long as it’s within their interests: unicorns, jewelry, fairy gardens, etc. I found this terrarium kit on Etsy and it’s perfect for my daughter as her recent interests have turned to fairies and gardens. [Terrarium Kit, Big Gem Diamond Painting kit, Enchanting Craft Kit, Crayola Glitter Dot Key Chains]
  6. 3D puzzles. I found this product online and it seemed fun as it comes with a book. There are different stories from which you can choose. [Storytime toys]
  7. Osmo for the iPad. If you’re okay with screen time, Osmo has fun, interactive, and educational activities that uses the child’s work to translate onto the screen. It’s fun to watch drawings come to life and math becomes play. [Osmo Genius Starter kit, Studio Disney Frozen 2, Math Wizard Bundle Game]
  8. Sparkly shoes. I had to include one sparkly gift. ;) I’ve learned that quality and cost doesn’t mean anything to my daughter. In fact, the cheaper and tackier it is, the more she’ll like it and actually wear. I’ve then learned to embrace her unique fashion sense and give up the notion of making her look normal in public; because the truth is, most girls her age dress in tulle and sparkles and that is, in fact, normal. [glittery dress up shoes, printed ballet flats, leather padded sandals, toddler lily ballet flats]
  9. LEGOs. Surprisingly, I have been the one interested in LEGOs this year (due to covid confinement), and my daughter has learned to help me organize pieces and read visual instructions as I’ve built my “small” Harry Potter collection. She has her own LEGO sets and now she’s able to build them completely on her own. [Dolphins Rescue Mission]