Be Contagious.

” Please get away from me. I don’t want to get sick.  You don’t want to get everyone sick here with the flu.” I guess you are not strange to those comments if you are sick. I bet some of you are used to this kind of comments when you know your sickness might be contagious for the people around your office, around your house, etc. However, do you know there is something positive that you can spread to others? It is contagious as well. But I am sure you won’t get many negative comments this time. The power of being cheerful and positive.

Years ago, I was living with a family in Charlotte, North Carolina. Needless to say, I was taught by each of the family members regarding to the principle of living in US. Each one of them had their own unique ways to present their maturity and understanding of life.  I was very drawn to the stories from the mother. Let’s call her “Rosemary.”  Rosemary was the youngest kid in her family among 8 brothers and sisters. Since she was little, she began to cook for the whole family. Her father was never around and her mother suffered from alcoholic addiction and other negative aspects in her life. Rosemary shouldered the responsibilities of the family while she was little. She made the dinner and helped the older siblings to do he chores. Life went like this until she was admitted to college. She finally had her own life and began a new journey for her. Little did she knew, after getting married to her husband, she had issues with depression and alcoholic addiction, too. Most importantly, her depression was getting worse after three years of her marriages. She became very depressed and negative in general. Her husband and children didn’t know what to do. She was beating herself up with words and thoughts. After going through numerous clinical treatment, finally, the doctor told her husband that the major caused her depression was her own thinking. Simple enough to understand: Rosemary couldn’t let go of the past. Subconsciously, she had some grudges against her mother and her older siblings as well.

Maybe you are asking yourself this question: why do I feel emotional or emotionally attached to Rosemary? Am I her? Well, Rosemary went through a hard time with her family and career until one day she met someone from her church who was a well-known psychologist in the United States. The psychologist told Rosemary two things after a in-depth conversation in the office. Number one: You can’t undo the past. Just let it go. Having grudges against others will only hurt you, alone. Second, started to see things in a more positive and cheerful way. People will be drawn to you sooner or later.

Rosemary decided to give a shot after thinking and pondering for a while. She started to walk with her husband more often after dinner. She began to share with her husband some funny stuff she saw on the way to the grocery stores. Whenever she was tempted to get down, she would get on her knees, praying and asking for the help from the Lord. At the same time, she dumped all her leftover wines and beers in the garbage can. To make long story short, today, Rosemary is healthy and strong. She is 76 years old and travels all over the world to widen her horizon. Just yesterday, she mailed me a postcard from Japan. Rosemary is in the process of building an orphanage there.

Looking back, Rosemary had issues with her past and her addictions. However, she chose to fight with it. She didn’t get bitter, she got better. Coming back to our topic, when I talk about ” being contagious” in life, what I am, trying to say is our positive energy will greatly affect the people around us. Just because we are upset about something, it does not give us the reason to be sour and bitter towards others. I don’t know about you. I never want to be around the person who always has a chip on his shoulder. We all have issues and troubles to deal on the daily basis. It is part of the journey. However, it is our choice to get bitter or to get better. When we are positive and encouraging to others, people are more likely to engage in a conversation with us. When we are spreading the joy to others, we are more likely to be more helpful towards other people.

When was the last time you had a good laugh?
When was the last time you had a good laugh?

Stop being the “sickness” to others. Maybe you don’t feel up to a par from time to time, that’s okay. Just ponder about the great moments that happened to you before. There is always a reason to argue or fight with others, between married couples, among co-workers, even at church between pastors and congregation.  Ruth Graham was once asked by someone what kind of person Bill Graham was in her mind, and whether she ever thought about divorcing him after disputes. Ruth said, ” divorce? No. But murder, yes.” What am I saying? When you are about to get depressed next time, do yourself a favor. Leave them behind before talking to others. Started to spread the joy and peace to others, not bitterness, not hatred, not coldness.

The last thing we need right now is war. I am not just talking about the war between countries. I am talking about the war in our homes, in the office, and most essentially, the war inside of us. Remember: you have something more powerful than sickness giving to others. Take actions today and you will be the “cut-up” for others.

What Students Remember Most About Teachers

When I was a high school teacher overseas, I was trying really hard to understand the principle of being the “teacher”. This article surely inspired me to know that the Lord placed me at the right position. Knowing students could make the difference in the life of an adult, that ought to be the gift from Him.

Pursuit of a Joyful Life

Dear Young Teacher Down the Hall,

I saw you as you rushed past me in the lunch room. Urgent. In a hurry to catch a bite before the final bell would ring calling all the students back inside. I noticed that your eyes showed tension. There were faint creases in your forehead. And I asked you how your day was going and you sighed.

“Oh, fine,” you replied.

But I knew it was anything but fine. I noticed that the stress was getting to you. I could tell that the pressure was rising. And I looked at you and made an intentional decision to stop you right then and there. To ask you how things were really going. Was it that I saw in you a glimpse of myself that made me take the moment?

You told me how busy you were, how much there was to do

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Who is American?

” Well, you are not an American, let me tell you how we do things here. You need to listen to the native speaker to tell you what to do!” ” Okay, take it easy. All I am trying to do is to have a decent conversation with you. I am not an American. But I am not stupid.” What you saw just now is the conversation happened to me last week at school. And I can promise you that this was the first time for me to have similar conversation. As soon as I walked away from talking to the person, I always ask myself this question: What’s American? Do they just know everything?
Not long ago, we celebrated one of the major holidays in US — Dr, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There is no need for me to go further on the reasons why we ought to celebrate this important holiday. It is Dr. King  who was rooting for the equality between white and black in US. His point was to ask everyone to be united as group. His battle didn’t tell us that equality ought to be for certain days, or limited years. As long as we are living under the same nation, pledging to the same oaths to the strips and stars, there should be equality in this nation. Today, What I am going to talk about the international students and their contribution to this nation.

Whenever I hear someone saying to me, ” You are not an American. Let me tell you how we do things here,” I always tend to tell them : you are right. I am not an American. I might not know everything about US. But I do know how to have a conversation with people without hurting them. Put your arrogance away! Upon this day, if we carefully look around, US has always been the nation filled with people from everyone. Those are the people who are willing to move to US for the greater future of this nation. I want to  say to my friend:
you are American. But do you know

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Simply, I am not showing this numbers to scare anyone. My point is the relationship between US and any other nation is vital and beneficial for everyone.  US is no longer the nation who grows and feeds herself. As a matter of fact, there is no one nation who can stand alone without getting the resources from their alliances.  There is no point to degrade other people who come from other nations. Instead of welcoming us, people put on the hat of the “ego and arrogance” to teach us how to  “be American”. Can I tell you the truth? We never want to be American. We always want to be ourselves. This is who we are.

Second, most of us don’t have the time to check out some of the important figures.  In the state of Virginia,  a small county called “fairfax.” Within this small county, currently, there are over 1500 people from South Korea, either living or studying there. Among them, one-third of the people are working in many important fields, such as hospital, auto industry, navy officers, etc.  1073 people are from India,  16% of them are working in the banking system locally.  716 people are from China, most of them are working in the manufacturing areas . 425 people are from Italy, etc. This is one of the small counties in Virgina. Can you imagine how many international folks living in US as a whole? What’s my point? There are so many people who move here to make changes for the place they love. They are not here to destroy this nation. Instead, they love Virgina. This unique place offers them greater opportunity to make a difference in the life of others. On the opposite side, according to CNN report in 2011, among 308 million US citizens, only 30% of the people have passports. With closer look, in 2009, 65 million people traveled to Canada or Mexico where passports are not required.  Clearly, majority of the US citizens have never had experiences in living abroad. They have no idea how to make a living in a foreign country. So, as my friend said to me, he is America and he knows how to do things right in US. Well, he is missing a word. “only!” He only knows how to do things right here ONLY!”  The world is getting more and more international, people ought to be mindful of all kinds of knowledge. With living abroad or knowing other cultures in-depth, people have better chances to make more friends and acquire better jobs.

Love

So, I would like to tell my friend. You are right. I am not an American. I might not know who to do some of the things here. But US is no longer a nation which can survive on its own. This nation is in need of helps from other nation, and vice versa.  By saying those comments will only hurt yourself, not us. In the end, we are here to help US to become better and stronger. You are right. We don’t possess the green card as we would like to. But we are happy that we are not those people who have the green card and try to murder US citizens. You are right. We don’t have rich parents to support us to buy expensive things. But we are the people who are willing to join the army or navy to fight for  this country. You are right our English might not be as good as you are. However, we are the people who work overseas, so you can have the products like, iPhones, HP laptops, Mercedes-Benz, etc. In this day and age, what we need is the brain and the spirit to work as a team, not the ego or arrogance.

http://http://gawker.com/senator-tells-the-surgeon-general-nominee-he-knows-some-1516317305

Sources:

Avon, Natalie. (2011)CNN. Why More American Don’t Travel Abroad.      http://www.cnn.com/2011/TRAVEL/02/04/americans.travel.domestically/

http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/government/about/data/

http://www.worldsrichestcountries.com/top_us_imports.html

 

Love is so ugly.

” Please, I don’t know understand it, either. I mean how could he just let her go!? ” As I walked into the room, at first, I had no idea what’s going on.

As you might know, yesterday was a big day for some of the football fans. The Superbowl was on and everyone ought to get together to enjoy the party and the companionship with one another. Although I am not a big fan of either team, ( I love the Panthers and always root for them) I still had so much fun by hanging out with friends and talking to them. However, as soon as the game was over, as I was about to head home. I heard one of the siblings was crying in her room. I asked my friends to check up on her to find out what’s going on. As we went upstairs, we opened the door and asked her why she was so emotional. It turned out, she was sad because  “the girl was let go by the bachelor.” She felt so bad for her and she thought ” these two” really had great connection with each other. ” I don’t know where I can find my love if man keeps on acting this way!” she said to us.

Let’s pause for a second. Maybe some of you have no idea what I am talking about. Have you heard of one of the reality TV show called “The bachelor?” Basically,  what happens in the show is one man is seeking love by picking out one out of 27 women he meets throughout the entire season. During the short periods and various ways to know each of them. In the end, only one ought to be the bride for the groom.. And he is supposed to be happy and live with the woman for the rest of her life.  If you are still puzzled about that, just think about our shopping experience. When we step into Wal-mart, say, let’s say we buy a bottle of water. Instead of having one option, you are presented with 30 brands. You read the label and find the differences, we look at the size and examine the quality of the bottle back and forth. Finally, you walk out the door with one in your hands, and you know this is the one you like.

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On the way home, I kept on asking the question: is this the way we meet women today? What kind of message does the media try to deliver to us? How do we know the one we marry to ought to be the one for goods?

First of all, I have to admit that media indeed has tremendous impact on the audience. ” entertainment only changes the way we live, also, it could change the way we perceive and understand the reality.” Says Dr. William Brown,who is the professor in Regent University. Dr. Brown has been studying Entertainment Education since early 1980s. It is true that viewers are highly engaged with the media we associate with through emotional as well as psychological connection.  Just like my friend’s sister,  as she was watching the show, she had great sympathy and sorrow for the characters in the show. She thought he might never find her true love if ” man keeps on acting the same as bachelor.”  I am sure she is only one of us who are emotionally attached to the media. To some extend, when we are exposed to media for too long, it is getting harder and harder to differentiate reality and ” TV reality.” One of the purposes to entertainment is to help us to alleviate the pressure from life. Just like traveling, hiking as well as play sports, watching TV is another way to allow us to feel relaxed after intensive work.

Second, let’s talk about the meaning of finding love. Since I was a child, my mom always tells me to treasure the people around us. As I am getting older, I start to ask the question on finding ” true relationship” Traditionally, my mom tells me to listen to my heart. She believes whenever we are in love, ” our hearts” will know it first. After giving my life to Christ, I learnt totally different ways to find love. The woman I love ought to love the Lord first. No matter where she comes from and her family background, as long as she is willing to be dedicated in this relationship, that’s good enough for me.  I know some of you might ask  : what about her looks? Chinese-looking? or Blond? To tell the truth,  beauty is part of the consideration for most of us. Scientifically speaking, male and female tend to decide on the duration of the relationship based on the looking of the people they meet. However,  outer appearance should not be the only factor which causes us to fall in  love.  Pastor in my church once said, ” the woman who is beautiful inside will never worry about wearing make-up. Because her true beauty will draw people closer than anything.”

Come back to the show,   I guess what I am trying to say is ” Bachelor” indeed distorted the meaning of finding true love. There are numerous reasons why we ought to stay way from the entertainment like this,  it will pollute the way we see the people as well as the society. If we examine what happens in the show closely, many things just don’t seem right.  First of all, when I see the bachelor hand out the roses to the ladies whom he decide to keep around, and the sad tears from the ones who didn’t get the roses, the first thought come to my mind is : does he really know them? How does one person knows 27 women within short moment? If we can know someone ought to be the person we want to marry in a few minutes, what’s the point of dating? Why don’t we just get on the bus and  start to talk to people?! Second, what kind of attitude we have towards women today? When we are seeking love or long-term relationship, we should know there will be ups and downs  in the long run. Not lie in the show, 27 candidates get jealous of each other, because the bachelor spends more time on one person than others. Or women become insecure about themselves, mainly, they don’t have the chance to talk to ” the bachelor.” What I am trying to say is women and men should be equal in a relationship.  the determining factor of sustainability of one relationship ought to be shoulder by both partners. Relationship is not dictatorship. Just because the man doesn’t think it is gonna work out, so the woman should give up as well.  If the relationship is based on competition and losing morality, what’s the point of having one?

Last week, I remember talking about “love” from the biblical standpoint. In the book of 1Corinthians, Jesus shows us the meaning of love and how to love someone. Just because the entertainment does not inform us the right methods to find and sustain relationship, that  does not give us the reason to believe there are no other ways. Truly, everyone is created beautiful and talented in various ways. However, we enjoy watching someone being picked up or degraded by some random person on TV, that makes the viewers believe that love is supposed to be “cruel and unjust”. Not only it brings detrimental impact on individual, also it changes the paces of the society.

So, next time, if you turn on the TV and “some bachelor” just happens to ” choose ladies,” do me a favor. Turn it off and remind yourself: They don’t know what they are doing!”

The Year of Horse

Today is a special day for all the Chinese people.  It is the traditional Chinese New Year! It goes without saying that Chinese New Year is always a big deal for Chinese people. No matter where you are. no matter how old you are, the joy of the celebration is irreplaceable in your hearts. I believe the simple way to understand Chinese New Year Celebration is to think about the New Year Celebration in US.

I guess some of you are wondering why Chinese New Year is a huge deal for Chinese people? Because Chinese New Year celebration represents three things in China: Unity, family, future. Let me explain each concept for you in detail.

First of all, Unity.  When I mention the word “unity”, I am not thinking about the unity of world. Neither I am talking about the unity of the organization. I am talking about the harmony of the family. Owing to the fast-paced society, more and more Chinese people are getting busier and busier. Most of the younger generation spend 90% of the time on traveling from city to city, or working in the office.  Their time on spending with the family is less than they want. Also, the current economic condition pushed the younger people to look for jobs more intensely. 8 out of 10 people are looking for jobs right after graduation from universities or colleges in China. Majority of their time are occupied with this and that. Parents at home don’t have time to see them during the week. Some of them have to work on the weekends as well.  However, when Chinese New Year comes around, there is no more work, no more traveling. It is the opportunity for the children to be united with their parents at home.

I clearly remember that my parents were working so hard while they were trying to raise me.  I still recall that some of my weekends were spent with my grandparents, instead of being with my parents. They were busy with jobs. My dad changed several jobs while I was little. Finally, he landed a job that he loved so much. I witnessed how hard they worked and how much time they gave to their jobs. I didn’t have many chances to eat the food that my mom cooked until Chinese New Year. I was so looking forward to it. My mom is always a great chef.

Chinese New Year is the time where family can get together and enjoy the companionship within each family. Unity and peace are much more important than anything for a Chinese person.

The second word is family. You might ask me” Mengfei, didn’t you just talk about family unity or family get-together?” Yes. I did mention little about the family. However, what I mean family here is different. When I say Chinese people care so much about the concept of ” family”, I mean Chinese people respect the older generation in one family. Take my family for example.

My  grandfather, my father, and I were born in Beijing. My grandfather was raised before China was founded. He witnessed all the changes in China through his own eyes. He had more understanding and knowledge about China than anyone in my family. He has certain ways of living and seeing things in life. Everyone in my family respect him so much.  People who are similar to my grandfather always has a nickname called “Lao Beijinger.”  That’s because he knows more than anyone and  has been living longer than anyone in my family. Basically, my grandfather always has the rules in the family. For example, no one is allowed to eat the food on the table until he sits down. As the younger generation, we need to visit him once a week. He is the person who can make the final decisions on the names of the grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, etc. My family has been living this way since my father was born.

So, when we talk about family in China, mainly, we are referring to the hierarchy of one traditional Chinese family. Since I was little, my parents always teach me on the concept of educating the older people in the family. I never forget that. Senior citizens in China play key roles in the growth and development of the Chinese society. I love my grandparents. Although they might be wrong on certain things from time to time, I never bother to correct them. I love them and they love me more!

The Chinese Calligraphy for " Horse".
The Chinese Calligraphy for ” Horse”.

The last word is “Joy”. I am sure you are not unfamiliar with this word and its meaning. For Chinese New Year Celebration,  spreading joy is part of the tradition. People sit together and share all the good news and bad news happened this year. There will be tears, there will be laughter. That is the moment that no one has enough. Joy is another word for happiness. Someone once asked the Chinese Confucius on the meaning of happiness. Chinese Confucius thought for a while, said, ” did you see the birds in the air? They can fly and never worry about the food. That’s happiness for them. Happiness is you laugh out loud and no one understands.” I think that’s the best explanation of joy or happiness.

If you are living with a Chinese family during the Chinese New Year, you will never be able to go to sleep that week. Because there is always something fun and exciting going on daily. Everywhere you go, you see people laughing and smiling to each other. That’s the most genuine smile you can ever find. I never get tired of taking pictures of all kinds of smile.  Scientifically speaking, whenever people smile, there is certain chemical released from our body which boosts our health. I know somewhere in China, there is a small village of people whose average is above 120. People called “Village of longevity.” Some scientists ask the secrets of their living habits. Much their surprise, the interviewees told the interviewers” we always laugh at things. Silly? I don’t know.But we live longer by laughing more often.” That’s why joy is way more important to Chinese family.

Friends, although it is the celebration of New Year, that does not stop you from having fun. Every day should be the “Chinese New Year” for you and me. Let’s laugh more and enjoy life!

The Present Tense

As the believer of the Lord, I have to admit that it is rather challenging to understand some of the verses within the Bible. I am certain that’s one of the reasons why people go to churches to understand the transformation from the languages. Maybe some of us are too immature to understand it at once, that’s why the Bible study is rather meaningful for our spiritual renewal as well.

Tonight, as we had the Bible study, we were discussing the attitude we shall hold when life throws obstacles at us. While we went around sharing our feelings and thoughts, one of the church members touched on the topic of ” patience in the time of waiting/ struggle.” similarly, we all know that the Lord did’t promise us that we won’t face ups and downs in life. He never wants to be defeated in during the hardships and tribulation. Instead, Jesus encourages us to be strong and firm in our belief. In the Book of 1 Corinthians, the most familiar chapter is 13 which talks about the issue of love.  The author opens the chapter by saying ” Love is patient, love is kind. etc.” The entire time the author uses the present tense to talk about love.

I was listening to the scriptures and thinking about my own life. it keeps me in perspective that ” love shall be patience.” Jesus has great patience with us, even when we are off the courses.  He knows when exactly we will fall. He knows when we leave him and take actions without asking Him. The point I am trying to make is Jesus demonstrates that ” to love someone truly needs to be constantly patient with his/her weaknesses.” When others make mistakes, stop judging them.  Throw ourselves in the shoes of others before condemning them. I am a big fan of NPR. One of the shows I enjoy listening to is called “wait wait don’t tell me.” It is the show where the guests are invited to answer the quiz while entertaining the listeners. This week, the host mentioned that a woman from US filed a law suit  for divorce. Because she couldn’t stand the way her husband eats peas. Apparently, he eats peas with his hands, instead of using forks. She tried to change his habit for two years and didn’t see any results. Without thinking twice, she decided to leave him for good.

While the audience were laughing, I didn’t. I thought to myself “what kind of reason was that?  Really ?!” Friends, I know it is easier said than done. Love someone is not an easy task. It takes time and patience to know the person in various ways. That’s why there will be fights and struggles we need to deal with. Coming back to the Bible verse, Jesus mentions that ” Love is kind and love is patient, love never fails. ”  Jesus uses the present tense to teach you and me that this principle ought to be used everyday. It is not for the past. Neither is for the future. At the present days, we ought to exercise it all the time. If you are a grammar guru, you know what present tense means. It means happens all the time. It means the thing is happening every moment we live. Don’t misuse the phrase.

Love is kind, love is patient. When you love someone, you know there is a process where disputes will appear over the periods. You understand where people need to give room to each other. If we can’t be ready for this, where shall we give the love to others?

love-is-patient

Tonight, I encourage you to tell the people you care that ” you love them.” Set a goal and determination with me that no matter what happens, you don’t be impatient with the people you care. Maybe your husband is not the person who enjoys going to the mall with you, but he could be the person who brings the food on the table for your family. Or maybe your husband is not like Jane’s hubby who always remembers to pick up the clothes on the floor, but your man never forgets your B-day and a gift for you. Even you think your wife is not as slim as the body coach in your gym, but she gave birth to your son and daughter. She raises them with you through 23 years. There is always something you can find to appreciate your spouses, friends, family members. Remember, people God puts in your life for a purpose. He didn’t randomly choose anyone for you.  Jesus chose the right for you to make sure you are the only missing piece of each other.

 

Say what you mean, otherwise, shut it!

I guess you might be confused with the title, you are wondering where I am going on this topic. Well, friends, let me ask you a question. Have you talked to someone in church or at work that they are very bad at communicating with people? Let me be more concrete. Did you realize that the person didn’t want to talk to you while you were ready to have a conversation?  The person just went through the motion, giving you a weak handshake without looking at your straight in the eyes. At the back of your mind, you were thinking: what’s heck! What’s up with that?!

Well, last Sunday, I was in church. Our church had fewer people, owing to the youth retreat. We had extra minutes to kill. The pastor encouraged us to get up and greet each other. I was very thrilled to meet the people behind me. while I was ready to shake their hands, one of the lady just ” symbolically” shook my hands without looking at me.  Immediately, I lost the passion for talking to them. She looked away while shaking my hands. And didn’t bother to listen to what I was about to say or ask. At that moment, I thought about one of the books I read before called “Unchristian” by David Kinnanman. In this book, Kinnanman used very simple and precise way to talk about the issues which Christians are facing today. Also, the reason why majority of the unbelievers have no desire to associate with the believers. Because we are ” fake.” Come to think of the lady I met in church last week. She might be one of them.

I am not even judging her. All I am saying is ” if you don’t mean what you say. Just shut it! Please don’t hurt other people’s feelings.” Think of it, what’s the most challenging thing to do when you try to communicate with a person? For me, that ought to be quick enough to come up with a topic. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am a people person. I love talking to people. However, when I try to open up a conversation with others from time to time, it is really hard to talk to the people sometimes. They have no life. They are not interested in talking at all. That’s where I learn my lessons over the years. You might be familiar with the old saying ,” if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” well, I dare to re-phrase it a little bit. ” If you don’t mean the stuff you say, just shut it!”

I don’t know if you know it or not, talking to people is a great thing. While we talk, we listen, we grow, we exchange ideas, that’s why the friendship or relationship  has the opportunity to grow. Let’s not take our talking for granted. When we talk to people, look at them straight in the eyes before saying stuff. So, they know ” we mean it!”

I have heard of an old saying  while I was in class. ” Some people talk in their sleep. Lecturer talk while others sleep.” 3831652004_Looking_into_the_eye_answer_2_xlarge