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  • Jenni Lien

2022: A Year In Review

I’ve always liked adventures… My last post of 2021, started with the line:


I’ve always been a person who likes change — new adventures, hooray!


And the words in the graphic was something I’d felt God whisper to me as I prayed over the new year.


The Yay Project art by Jenni Lien

I’ve been praying for big change for 3+ years, and probably pray it every year so while I was still believing for it, I was not necessarily expecting this year to be the year that God did some life-changing changes.


Journaling and e-journalling (via social media) is so special to me, because not only does it help me pray and connect with God, it helps me remember how faithful God has been in a way that’s not always obvious at the time I journal. You know what I mean? So this year, for the first time, I wanted to reflect on one post from each month as well as one or two (or a few more than this for some special months!) and have a clearer glimpse at how God was weaving things together this year. If you do this as well (try it!), please let me know / leave your blog link in the comments! Would love to see what God did in your life this year and rejoice with you.


January


Launched The Yay Project on YouTube! I’d felt God opening my heart to do this for months, and wanted to create spoken affirmations, meditations, prophetic words, and soaking prayers. It was a huge learning curve to edit videos, but I wanted to try because I hoped others would listen / watch them and feel closer to God, comforted to God, the way I did when he comforted and encouraged me.


… Then later in the year, I worried that maybe they weren’t high quality enough aka they didn’t get that many views. Only to have a few messages asking where they went — because some people did really like them!


Reminder for us: Let’s not feel ashamed about our work-in-progress efforts. God knows and loves our heart for him. Also if you want to take something off YouTube, make the video private — don’t delete it like I did! Maybe I’ll repost the earlier videos at some point. Will keep praying about YouTube.


February

Instagram graphic from The Yay Project by Jenni Lien

Felt so strongly about sharing that life on earth is preparing us for eternity. That what we do on earth is preparing us for eternity. And I still do! Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship says:


Heaven is not some mysterious, atmospheric realm of smoke and mirrors. Heaven is a real place for real people where we do real things. The things we go through in life are not just preparing us for the opportunities God will reveal during our time on this earth. God is also preparing us for heaven.

More on You Are You podcast, episode “ Working on Earth as It Is In Heaven?

March




Reels finally opened up in Hong Kong! Started experimenting with videos — perfect timing, as Hong Kong went into its fifth lockdown. So most of my 2022 reels were set in my apartment — every corner of my 1 bedroom! It wasn’t easy being locked down (again) but thank God for opportunities to stretch our creativity, amen?


April


Instagram reel with Jenni Lien of The Yay Project

On April 5, I posted a reel that said:


We hear about crazy faith and how with it God can do the impossible… but what happens when you had crazy faith and it didn’t work out and now it’s hard to have even 80% faith? I recently took a four-day prayer retreat because I felt God encourage me to do some things and I was struggling—thinking what’s the point of dreaming/planning (thinking about life at age 40!) when you’ve dream/planned before and it didn’t work out. And I pondered: Is it ever worth it to guard our hearts against God? To trust in God a little less? To rely on things we can control over the one who controls everything? (We know the answer don’t we 🙃)

More on You Are You podcast, episode “32… Going On 40?”


Little did I know how much my life would start to change just one month later!!!


May



I turned 33! While I had lovely celebrations with friends and even in an unusual way (a date!), one of my favourite May moments was a late night spent chatting on a rooftop with my small group.


Hong Kong rooftop party at night

On May 7, I wrote:


Last night, I stayed up with my small group until 3am! Restrictions have lifted, we can now meet in larger groups, and we enjoyed a meal out (KBBQ) before visiting our friends’ new apartment for guava cream cake. They invited us up to their rooftop and—after taking in their spectacular view—we sat and talked… and talked and talked. About life in Hong Kong. Hopes and dreams for the future. The difficulties of travel and visiting family with hotel quarantine rules and other responsibilities. But as we do as small groups, amidst all that’s happening in life, God is with us. He’s going before us. He’s guiding us. He is pouring out so much love—may we be like sponges and soak it in.


I feel God has been taking me through a lot of changes, mostly in my heart and maybe in my life soon too. One thing I’ve been thinking about this week is God’s clear answer.


Do you ever look back and see milestones that were *so* clearly God? That the God answer was *so* obvious? In various ways, I’ve been waiting for the *open door* (and getting frustrated if I didn’t feel like the answer was clear) and then this week, it hit me. Not in a still small voice like usual. Or when my pen hit paper like usual. But in a thought turned revelation that at the time of those *so God* life changing experience of my past, it wasn’t always so obvious at the time.


I had to take those steps of *maybe this is you, God* faith. Reach out to that person. Apply for that thing. Research that option. And then wait and see and trust that I wouldn’t miss what God was doing. I just need to seek him and walk with him and include him in everything. Sound obvious? But sometimes we can’t we forget some obvious truths :)


So this week I took a step of faith. And shared with my small group yesterday. And they shared their hearts with me. And together we got to enjoy life in community while we wait with eager expectation—God’s adventures are best.


God’s got plans and we’re part of his body. May we encourage one another to keep our eyes fixed on him in this season—and as we pray on what’s to come. 🥰


If you’re open, comment an area that you’re praying about? Let’s pray for each other (location for me) ❤️


At this point, I was really actively praying about my next steps. The UK, Canada and Taiwan were the three places on my mind. The UK because… London sounded really glam. I’d never lived in Europe as an adult. And… I don’t think this was a real struggle but I’d had a few thoughts choosing a path that looked traditionally successful vs. taking a risk and pursuing a path that I felt I was meant to take. May we not go to that glamorous city or pursue that prestigious-sounding thing just because other people think it’s cool. E.g. it’s not true that world class cities are always better than the ‘middle of nowhere’ — ahem, Jesus was from Nazareth not Capernaum or Corinth. And as he reminds us:


If you love me, you will obey what I command. (John 14:15)
But the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. (John 14:31)

Jesus, our perfect role model! May we seek God’s will and do it. For me, the next step was Canada. :)


June



Last day in my apartment... boxes shipped, getting ready to head to the airport! Loved my Hong Kong apartment


Things are happening!!! On June 21, I wrote:


Right now my apartment is full of moving boxes. I’m packing 11 years of expat life into about that many cardboard boxes (and some suitcases…!), and it’s been a fast-faced and exhilarating few weeks. In this season of my life, I sense God speaking to me in whispers more than shouts. And as I prepared for this episode, it’s dawned on me — maybe it’s a sign that I need to wait on him and listen more closely than before, something that’s been hard to do amidst all the moving and preparation.


I’m the kind of person that loves it when God tells me what to do — because I’ve experienced that his way is best. Doing it his way is far better than any plan I’ve ever tried to make. And in other seasons of my life, I’ve felt him give very clear directions. Of course God’s ways are best so it’s me that needs to adapt to his ways rather than expect him to fit my expectations. But all this to say… when we notice God starting to shift things, may we pay attention. Remove distractions as much as we can. And ask him to clarify.


More on the You Are You podcast season 3 finale: God-Sized Hope



Before I left, I also got awesome portraits done by Lawrence of Cadenza Studios. Highly recommend him if you’re in Hong Kong!



This was also a month of exciting food tastings, with many events now that the fifth wave restrictions had loosened. Some were casual, but I also experienced a few truly outstanding meals including a new Spanish menu at the Rosewood's Bayfare Social, a new "Local Bites" promotion at the Island Shangri-La Hotel, a spectacular champagne dinner with Maison Mumm and Cultivate, a 'tori kappo' omakase at new opening Kicho, a decadent French bistro dinner at new opening NEZ Wine Bistro, and a staycation complete with lounge access and dinner at Lobster Bar and Grill at the Island Shangri-La Hotel. I felt these were little God winks at me, experiences to enjoy and close out my time in Hong Kong in a sweet way.


July


Hong Kong International Airport
Waiting to board my flight to Toronto

On July 3, I left Hong Kong for Canada. Only July 5, I wrote a post called "Hong Kong to Canada... Why?" which started with the line:


This morning, I felt God nudge me with a “Write about what you’re going through.” To which I responded, “Lord, give me the words. I don’t even know where to start.”


The full post is here!


Woman by the Vancouver waterfront at sunset

July was honestly such a special month. Highlights include travelling to LA for the 70th anniversary of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, staying in Vancouver for two weeks visiting my baby brother, many road trips and just daily life adventures with my parents, redecorating my loft, and through it all resting and seeking God for healing from burnout, etc. It was and is SO good to be home and with family.


August


Exploring my hometown

The goodness of July continued into August. Here’s a post from August 4, something I felt God whisper to me during my quiet time:


You remember when you wanted to be sparkly and shiny when you were a teen? Be sparkly and shiny because my light shines on you (not for materialistic or selfish reasons). You already shine bright but remember to be humble. Keep praying this prayer. Keep asking me to use you. Keep preparing as I lead. You are resting but you are also going to be discovering — being molded, transformed, emerging out of your cocoon so you will fly, shine bright, soar, display my creation and my majesty to those hungry for more. Keep pursuing me. Soak in my love for you child, and let it transform you. You’re already on my wild ride for you. Stay hopeful. Have faith. Stay close and let me take you deeper before you soar.


It hit my heart and still does. And if you read this, I pray it hits home for you too. There is so much need in this world — so much darkness, so many people that don’t know the Lord. Shining bright for God isn’t an egotistical thing — may we reject any fear that’s keeping us from pursuing God’s plans for us. He is the one who shines — may we enjoy worshipping and serving him, taking those opportunities he’s given to us (ahem, remember what happened to Jonah!), and give all glory back to him.


September


MBET students at the University of Waterloo

I started the MBET (and my group won our Ignition Week startup pitch competition)! But before that, God had some more reminders. This is a post from September 9:


From my journal: Sitting here asking God to reveal. I can tell there’s blockage but I can’t pinpoint it — need God! And sense God showing me that insecurity and fear of man is making it difficult to love others the way I want to be loved. And the only solution is time with God. The more time I spend in his presence, the more I’ll see myself, my season, as he does. I don’t need to put up a front or control anything. Literally all I need to do is be with my Father and ask him for help. And obey! It’s simple. So may I do it. Surrender *all* to him and take things one day at a time. Be expectant. Write down praise reports, too, giving thanks everyday, one day at a time.⁣


October


University of Waterloo graduate students
First hockey game in a long time! Here with fellow MBETs, cheering on our classmate who's on our uni hockey team

Still feeling like I’m transitioning. Making new friends, learning new things — but haven’t yet felt settled or like I’ve narrowed down my focus. More reminders from God, love this reminder from October 5:


Root out evil and deception. ❤️ You are not alone—I am with you! But you must be vigilant and focused. There is no time to waste. Where you’re going… I’m so excited. So don’t fear but spend time in my presence—talking, soaking, praying, interceding, hoping, loving me. Trust me and enjoy your life. You don’t need to be perfect. You just need me. And know I love you. You can always come to me and ask for more. I love you. Live and work from this place.

Things will get busier. So much busier—but more exciting too! I have called you here. You’ve rested and you are ready. Pray and worship as you do—plan your work, pray for opportunities, enjoy your life. Everyday, my child. Pray and seek me as often as you can. It’s a wonderful new season—I’m so excited to see you grow. How I love you.


November


MBET students at the University of Waterloo
Heading back to campus after celebrating someone's birthday... first major snowfall of the year!

This was THE busiest month yet! God knew what he was saying! :) Loads of business model validation and pitch prep, ahead of the November 28th day of pitches. Was on campus until 10/11pm most days, but amidst the busyness was so much sweetness: I was so excited to make steps into this God dream and thankful to be surrounded by so many wonderful classmates. Friendships definitely bloomed this month!


December


Toronto Girls CN Tower View
With my friend N

After pitch day, something in me just wanted to have fun. My classmates and I had so many spontaneous moments in late November and early to mid December. There was a week-long period where some of us hung out every single day, culminating with a wonderful and very spontaneous trip to Toronto! Here, I felt God birth new dreams and answer a few of those ‘thought’ prayers. You know, the things we think about/desire and then forget to even pray about… but God doesn’t.


At church, after Christmas service!

And of course, December also brought the Christmas break and my siblings came home from the West Coast. It was the first time our family’s been together since the pandemic started. As we’ve gotten older, I feel we’ve also gotten more understanding, selfless, loving — and it’s such a joy to be around them. Lord, help me love my family well.


In sum…


This year was definitely a year when SO many things changed! Where things I’ve been praying for for 3+ years actually happened! And new doors opened meaning there are new dreams to pray over (excited for the January fast to seek God more on the year ahead!), and more and more I’m remembering the JOY of appreciating each day and each season.


I hope I’ll reflect and write more on the topic of content creating, but the end of the year also reminded me that I only really want to create content after I’ve spent time with God. Otherwise, I’m tempted to just live life for my enjoyment. But after spending time with God, there’s so much to share about how truly great he is — you can’t shut me up! :)


And I’m praying that I bloom more into who God has made me to be — that I love, serve, testify, enjoy him with my whole heart.


I pray the same for you, dear friend.


We’re in God’s family — let’s lift each other up x


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