Let’s Publish a Children’s Alphabet Book!

It’s a little out of the blue, but in the past couple of months I have started writing content for a children’s alphabet book that I plan to self-publish. Eventually, I want to throw it up on Kickstarter for direct funding, but, for now, I’m just trying to gain a little momentum and visibility to help launch the project.

A little bit about the book: A mother/daughter duo go on a camping trip. Throughout their journey they learn, discover, and find fun in different elements of the trip. Thus, each letter of the alphabet would be represented by different objects/elements from the trip:

A is for Adventure

LoLo and Rain are going on an Adventure!

To discover the world and make memories together.©

Fortunately, Fatherly, in association with the United Nations Foundation, has selected my book project as a finalist for their Fatherly Fund! This means that if my project receives the most votes by 2/15 (by the way, voting is very easy), I will be awarded a $1000 grant to go towards my project.

Here’s how you can help! (steps below)

  1. Visit https://www.fatherly.com/jeremy-chan-1578384635.html
  2. Sign up for Fatherly or sign in with Facebook or Twitter (don’t worry, there’s no spam)
  3. Click to vote for my project
  4. SHARE SHARE SHARE <—- this is the real money maker and how my project will get major visibility

I’m pretty excited about this for a couple of reasons. The first being that this idea, which practically began with me trying to come up with words that rhyme with “adventure,” was even considered and evaluated by a popular network like Fatherly (they’ve got like, 168k followers on Facebook). Second, regardless of whether or not I receive the grant, I’m going forward with the book! I’d love to create something tangible that my daughter can hold in a few months and would be ecstatic to see her face when I tell her that she was my main inspiration for this book.

So, please take a quick minute (literally) to vote for my project and another minute (also, literally) to share with your network and let’s publish this book together!

Let’s Publish a Children’s Alphabet Book!

Response: Why We Pray

Today, the New York Daily News released a front page design and short video critiquing the Republican candidates’ response to yesterday’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, using it as part of the narrative for gun control. Proponents who share this viewpoint argue that it’s not enough to pray, that those prayers are meaningless unless there’s some type of action taking place afterwards. Some would even say that they rarely see any type of “follow through” from people who pray (i.e. Christians) and that people (i.e. politicians) should enact some type of legislation to prevent future atrocities and episodes (i.e. gun control) – never mind there’s a greater concern with this situation. While I’m not entirely “qualified” to discuss the theology of prayer, as a Christ-follower I do think the critique of “meaningless prayers” is offensive and inaccurate for a couple of reasons.

For one, I actually know of more people than not who don’t do nothing after praying. They don’t pray then go to sleep, or work, or school. Instead, they encourage. They speak out and speak to. They get involved and campaign and may even write a letter to their Congressman. If don’t believe me, I invite you to my church where I’ll be more than happy to introduce you to some of these individuals. Second, praying is doing something. For many people, it [prayer] provides hope. For some, guidance. For others, it actually is a way for them to get clarity and direction on how they can take action and what to do from here. It’s not just sitting around. It’s not just watching tv. It’s not scrolling through my feeds to get enough sound bites to come off as informed. It’s a deliberate, thought- and heart-filled action that believers are called to do, in seasons of praise and in seasons of need (James 5:13).

Prayer is so important that we should do it without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17) and even more so that the Holy Spirit prays on our behalf (Romans 8:26)! God prays for us! Our prayers to God aren’t futile or meaningless just because we’re not in a public office to make change (or laws), just as your condolences aren’t meaningless if you attended a funeral for my daughter who was in a fatal car accident while riding her bicycle on the street (will you call for legislation for safer bike riding?) It’s much simpler – it’s a direct and accessible way of interacting with the Creator of the universe. It’s also, in the least, our way of doing something, anything, if there really isn’t much more we can do. When you chime in about how ineffective our prayers are or assume nothing more is being done, you are passively demeaning a deep, spiritual conviction we may have. Would you do that to a Buddhist in meditation? Would you do that to a new age healer? Would you go to the Muslims praying in their mosque?

As individuals, the least we can do is pray just as the least you can do is write a letter to Congress. After all, it’s not the greater institution that helps or heals or will enact change – it’s God within the people who are praying to and for Him to move. When we, the Christians who pray, come together under the Church, there is a change and transformation that takes place through our prayers.

“The problem, however, is that institutions can’t really help people. Only spiritual families will bring people to spiritual maturity where they themselves can reproduce.

Charles Simpson has made the point that institutions never save people. He has noted, for instance, that hospitals don’t save people; doctors and nurses do. Likewise, it’s not churches that save and restore people, but God working through the individual members of that church. Institutions and bureaucracies don’t care for individuals. But families do care for the individual. It makes a huge difference whether we build our churches to be institutions or families.” Mark Hoffman / The Joshua Principle 

I’ve seen and experienced incredible things with prayer and know how destructive things could have been without it. If you are still skeptical or don’t believe/agree with me, that’s okay. I’ll still be praying for you.

Response: Why We Pray

Redemption on the Horizon

Some of you know, many of you don’t. Grandmother (on Rheanna’s side) was diagnosed with dementia a few years ago. I was lucky enough to meet her while she was still coherent, but her condition has visibly worsened over the past few years. Last month, Rheanna and I took a trip to Idaho to visit her extended family and introduce Grandmother to her great granddaughter, #ShilohJo. Whether or not she could acknowledge who Shiloh was, the tenderness and care with which she held her showed that Grandmother was still Grandmother – a woman of class who is/was especially fond of babies and has nothing but love to give. If anyone is fortunate to have met her, it’s obvious as to where Rheanna’s compassionate heart comes from.

This image means a lot to me for the above reasons, but also because it represents more. There’s something special and unique when grandparents come into contact and interaction with their grandchildren in this precious way – a hint that the bonds of generational curses have begun to break off and redemption is on the horizon. It also alludes to a future generation waiting/needing to be released and advance the glory of His kingdom – not to wage war or to judge, but to love and transform. Let revival come.

Redemption on the Horizon

Why I’ll Never Stop Exploring with The North Face

As I was packing up to leave work Friday afternoon, I grabbed my North Face Recon backpack from the corner and threw in my personal belongings – reading glasses, portfolio, Hydro Flask – along with my work laptop. Suddenly an overwhelming sense of excitement welled up inside me. Maybe it was the anticipation that Friday afternoon brings or maybe because I was watching “Congo” when I wrote this or perhaps The North Face does that good of a job with storytelling, but I felt like I was preparing to head back into the field on some important mission, grabbing nothing but the essentials and hurriedly stuffing them away. When I finished zoning out, backpack zippers in hand, it occurred to me that I’ve now owned this pack for over ten years. Queue the nostalgia…

When I graduated high school, my dad thought it was also time for me to upgrade my backpack. The old, trustworthy JanSport still had some juice left, but my dad and I both felt like it was time for me to adopt a newer, mature companion for my next journey to adulthood. So, we took a trip to REI to purchase my first North Face backpack (and first TNF item for that matter). Combing through the aisles of myriad product and eyeing every hang tag, I couldn’t believe packs could cost that much; this was no longer a $30 trip to Target! Though I was but a naive teenager at the time, I now realize that it was a lesson in investing. Not only did this pack take me through college, it carried me through graduate school, a two year stint in Mammoth Lakes, numerous road trips and day trips, and 10 countries not counting the re-visits (that’s more than one country per year that I’ve owned the pack!) During the summer months, when it wasn’t serving as my book bag or carry-on, it sufficed as a beach bag. For the short getaways, my overnighter. Now, as a responsible adult and family man, it’s my office bag (but still a trustworthy carry-on). And to think, I considered getting something else for work. For shame…

Earlier I said this was my first TNF backpack, but it was also my last. In actuality, I haven’t needed another one. Sure, I’ve purchased a couple of different packs here and there, but they haven’t lasted nor lived up to my expectations set by TNF. However, a couple of years ago I purchased my second TNF pack – the Base Camp duffel. To a good extent, and sometimes to my wife’s discontent, I can be a brand-snob; I really care to buy products from specific companies. Maybe it’s my consumerist habits or that I worked for a company who taught me about proper brand management. In most instances, I simply appreciate quality – and the companies that “get it” and do things right, those that respect and help to progress the industries of which they’re a part. That said, I was very particular and intentional when purchasing this bag, so much so that I had to sell a heap of belongings, including an Ikea futon, at a local swap meet just to make enough money to purchase this specific duffel. And just like my Recon backpack, this bag has carried its weight (pun intended). It’s my go-to when traveling  – locally or internationally, overnight or week-long. Keeping with tradition, it now serves as the family beach bag in-between camping trips. I even convinced my brother to purchase his own, and I’m pretty sure his has been promoted from daily gym bag to Ragnar relay supplies carrier.

I hoped to write this letter in another decade, when 20 years seems more significant than ten, but I felt compelled to share my story and express my affinity for The North Face. I can’t say for certain that I’ll still own these packs by then, though with their track record I wouldn’t be surprised. Besides, all that’s been damaged to my backpack so far are the zipper tabs for the main compartment and the elastic draw chord for the beverage holders. No other rips, holes, or tears.

So, for the loyalty that my backpack (and, as an extension, The North Face) has shown me, I am grateful and hope to return the favor. In 17 or18 years, when my daughter graduates high school (and God willing any other kids we have), I hope to take her to REI to purchase her own TNF backpack. Maybe we’ll do it sooner, maybe not. Either way, I’d like to think that this little trip will act as a rite of passage where I, too, can teach my kids about investment, value, and quality – and to never stop exploring.

Why I’ll Never Stop Exploring with The North Face

Do It For Her

My daughter is four weeks old today, and she’ll officially be one month old in two days. Even before she was born, many parents were telling me how quickly time goes by when one has kids. In one instant they’re born; then all of a sudden they are graduating high school or getting married.

The past four weeks have definitely gone by in a blur, much like my sleep pattern, and to say it’s been an adjustment would be an huge understatement. My baby isn’t too engaging yet and is really only operating out of biological necessity – eating, pooping, sleeping (repeat) – but I’m constantly learning – about her, myself, my wife, and my marriage – because of her. And because no one gave me any practical or specific ways to “adjust,” here are some helpful tips from one newbie dad to another.

Be engaged.

When you’re around baby put down the phone or tablet and be with her/him. One recent morning, I had baby in my lap while momma was still sleeping. I thought I could use this time to catch up on my news feeds (because, instagrams) until I came across the following post seconds later. Enough said.

Take some time to unplug from all the “digital distractions” and focus on your marriage and family. It could do wonders for your relationships and your overall health.

Posted by Marriage on Saturday, 3 October 2015

Be proactive.

Don’t ask your wife if she wants you to take the baby or change her. Just do it. Chances are she does and would appreciate it. Asking for her preference may imply that you don’t want to be involved or care for baby. Unbeknownst to you, it may actually reflect how you feel. I’ll admit that I’m guilty of this, but I’m learning to get over myself and rethink how I offer to help. Instead of asking, “Do you want me to take the baby?” you can simply say, “I’ll take the baby for a little bit. Why don’t you __________ (fill in the blank with something momma wants)?”

Your own time may be important to you, but your time with baby is limited.

I can’t get enough of my baby. I love looking at her and kissing her, wondering what her voice will sound like, when she’ll start smiling at my lame dad jokes, etc. I also know she’ll grow into an independent teenager asking for my car. That’s why I’d rather postpone my morning run and help baby pass some gas. If I can’t help her with that, how can I expect to help her when she, God forbid, breaks an arm from snowboarding? Besides, I can double up on dad-time by taking baby on a run with me when I get home from work.

Give momma a break.

Even if it means holding the baby for 10 minutes in the dark hours of the morning, it could feel like an hour of sleep for momma. I experienced this first hand just a couple of days ago, and I actually enjoyed the morning stillness while I held baby. Bonus tip: don’t be expecting a high five. Give momma a break because you love her and know she’s at home all day caring for baby while you’re at the office writing blog entries.

Do it for her.

Leaving for work is hard and being at work is even harder, but I know it means I can still be of use to my family even if I’m not home to physically help. Picture messages of her snuggly face also remind me why I spend most of my day surrounded by grey walls and why it’s actually worth it.

Do It For Her

“All the people among whom you live shall see the work of the Lord.”

This verse (Exodus 34:10) made its way to my inbox via the Moravian Daily Texts. At first read, I became extremely encouraged and filled with a hope for what seems like, at times, a hopeless battle. It’s a promise to current and future generations of His presence and power – that all will knowingly or unknowingly bear witness to His goodness and glory.

But after reading through the rest of the email, I came to the closing prayer:

How amazing are your ways, O God. We marvel at your designs. In Christ you have shown us the awesome, divine presence that is ours. May our heavenly humanity be a witness to your earthly divinity. Amen.

Our heavenly humanity. I chewed on those words for a minute. Then it hit me. He doesn’t actually make Himself known by riding in on a white horse like a Disney prince. Nor does He move with our beckoning call like a puppet on stage. The implication of this verse is that we, as believers, are to be the instruments and facilitators of the manifestation of His work. That is when people bear witness to His glory.

Some time in the past, and even now when I don’t catch myself, I would have believed God to have done something if I prayed for it. Filled with excitement and eagerness as well as an immature understanding of who He is, I thought that He would have made Himself known through some “miraculous” happening and that’s how I’d experience His presence and power. After all, He gives us the desires of our heart, right?

While I do believe in miracles and that He does move in faith, I would say that a major flaw in my logic and initial read of this verse was and is my lack of conviction. What am I doing to best reflect and portray the loving kindness and compassion that Jesus has for humanity? Am I doing enough? Am I giving enough? When people think about me, do they set their hearts on the Lord?

I know the answer to all of these questions falls somewhere on the spectrum of “Maybe” to “I think so,” which means I’ve got a lot of work to do. And I believe we as Christ-followers do, too. We shouldn’t be known for conservative traditional views. We shouldn’t be picking fights based on political correctness or the nuances of Christian theology. We should be standing up for righteousness, caring for the widows and orphans, and healing a hurt and lost generation. We should be known for our love and compassion for people.

In the end, I want our charge to be that our heavenly humanity is indeed a witness to His earthly divinity. Through this will He be honored and glorified. Through this will all who live among us surely see the work of the Lord.

“All the people among whom you live shall see the work of the Lord.”

God and Country Crucified

I came across this podcast from The Village Church the other day and pulled out a couple of nuggets I wanted to share, each worthy of more than 140 characters, as well as encourage readers to listen to/watch this sermon. In a time where major cultural shifting is taking place and the Church needing to take more part in the conversations, it’s important to keep perspective of our role as the Church and our relationship with others.

“2 Chronicles 7 is not about getting America in step with the Church; 2 Chronicles 7 is about getting the Church out of step with America.”

“It’s much easier to preach God and country than Christ and him crucified”

“If you’re in Christ, the worst thing that can possibly happen to you has already happened; it’s coming face to face with the wrath of God in the judgement of your sins; If you’re in Christ, the best thing that can possibly happen to you is that you would be raised from the dead, seated at the right hand of the Father and hear from Him ‘there is therefore now no condemnation for you.’ That has happened for you in Jesus Christ.” 

God and Country Crucified