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How I Celebrated Starting Year 33!

Jenni Lien food blogger

This year, I turned 33! It's been quite the year so far.

Last year, with all the church hurt happenings, it felt like a year of restoring order in many aspects of my life. God gently guided me through making decisions based on his principles—teaching me to stand up for what I believed was right even when others disagreed. Though it was a painful process (and honestly, still a bit painful to think about sometimes—I had a friend ask about my experience today, as she's going through something similar), once I took steps of obedience, God opened doors and provided opportunities in such clear ways. When I feared losing community, he provided friends I clicked with instantly, mentors and pastors who called out budding gifts. So I was excited for all the good changes to come... and then we went into a fifth wave.

Though the pandemic has been going on for 2+ years now, Hong Kong had never experienced a surge in cases like this fifth wave. For two months, I mostly stayed at home. And I got creative! Reels opened up around the start of the fifth wave and (you may have noticed) I tried to shoot in every nook and cranny of my Hong Kong-sized apartment. It wasn't easy seeing so much of the world opening up and travelling and seeing friends and family and exploring when it felt like we should only leave the house for essentials. But our thoughts and words are powerful, and we can choose to think and speak according to godly principles amen?

And while I stayed home, I sought God. In fact, even before fifth wave started, I literally felt God say to spend extra time with him from February to April. Have lots of journal entries as evidence, which really helped to hold onto God's clues and enjoy seeking him. We can still remember those times when life was so busy right? Where socials, vacations, events etc. were ever flowing and we had to turn down even good things to keep from burning out? The Hong Kong lifestyle has always been GO GO GO—part of the draw of moving here I suppose, the energy! I had a few complain-y sessions, I will admit... (sorry, Lord, thank you for your forgiveness and helping me through it!). But getting extra time to properly soak in my King of Kings was a blessing.

While I was at home, God was at work. And he still is. I don't know all he's doing (stating the obvious!) but I've experienced his hand in bolder ways than I have in a long time. This past week, it hit me. For awhile, I've felt frustrated about God's (seeming) lack of answering my *I need a clear answer* prayers. Looking back at when I got my first job in Singapore, when I relocated to Hong Kong (all expenses paid!)—the *change* my life moments seemed so obvious. I prayed, shortly after God opened a door. But this past week, I had a thought. (Usually God speaks to me through a still small voice, vision or words in my mind/when pen hits paper—a reminder to not pigeonhole God!) That maybe it *wasn't* so obvious at the time?

For the Singapore example, I saw the Facebook post of an acquaintance, sent her a message, she suggested I email her boss, a few short emails later her boss had created a position for me... and a few short months later *voila* I was working in Singapore. But I had to make those moves. When I was doing endless life research, God had never said *You will move to Singapore right after you graduate and work for the National University of Singapore*. I think I might have taken a Facebook break during one of these research sessions and messaged the acquaintance on a whim. It was a step-by-step surprise— a life-changing experience, that I wouldn't have even dared dream/plan for, that I will forever treasure.

So this week, the week after my 33rd birthday, I made some moves. I feel God has given me some clues. And I'm excited to see where the step-by-step surprises lead for I TRUST MY LORD!

These few months have also shown me that some of the dreams I was holding on so tightly to... sometimes it turns out you want something different. If we're willing to seek God on his best, there's no telling what adventures are in store. My desires for marriage and motherhood, now I see it may be changing (not that I no longer want it, but what it looks like and when). My hopes to do ministry full-time one day somehow, ditto. What I'm grateful for at the start of this 33rd year is a soft, tender, flexible heart that perhaps feels extra soft, tender and flexible because of these few months waiting on the Lord. Where ALL I wanted to do (to the chagrin of some people in my life hah) was wait on the Lord. Sing to the Lord. Cry out to the Lord. Because truly only he satisfies! And now that I am SO ready for the rest of the year (Lord, bring it ON!), Lord, may I not lose this desire to seek your face everyday. May you be the recipient of my most precious thoughts and moments.

It's also not lost on me that Jesus was resurrected by the power of the Holy Spirit on his 33rd birthday (not exact I know, but commonly thought of). A friend who turned 33 earlier this year, had sent me a VM of her reflections for this year saying something like "Resurrect me... things that are dead in my life that should be alive, resurrect them!" Amen x 100000000. Lord, I cannot wait to see what you do. I pray my heart continues to soften so your love will pour out of me to serve others as you would.

As for this year's celebration, I really believe God used some special angels-on-earth to organize a special birthday celebration. I was able to try new things, eat wonderful food (a tried and true favourite, a new surprise, and a Michelin-starred treat), and live in a fresh lashing of his love. It was the kind of celebratory weekend I'd prayed about in years past, hoping I'd get to experience again. Sweet.

Here are some of my favourite moments—hope they might spark some inspiration. If you have any questions or want specific details, feel free to reach out! Comment below or DM on IG.

Brunch at The Optimist

239 Hennessy Rd, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2433 3324

The Optimist is Spanish comfort food at its best. Everything is fresh, comforting and classic—no real surprises here. The broken eggs "huevos rotos" with Iberian ham, chorizo, fried potatoes, and egg is THE best in town. (La Rambla is my favourite Spanish restaurant in town, and still this huevos rotos beats theirs in my opinion!) For our main, we got the signature juicy lobster rice—which is kind of like congee-meets-risotto in texture. It's great if you are a huge lobster fan (and not you need to top up for it!). I'm so-so and would probably go with the red snapper or rib eye next time. Also, funny moment, at one point my dining companion went to the restroom, so I took the time to check my phone. All of a sudden a man in a large sombrero and guitar was looking at me and singing happy birthday but then looked confused, because I looked confused, and then everyone around me clocked that my dining companion wasn't there... and started laughing. So he abruptly stopped, apologized, laughed and came back again shortly after haha.

Resin workshop at RCube in PMQ

4/F, BlockB, H408, 35 Aberdeen St, Central, Hong Kong, +852 9254 1460

I hadn't done anything crafty in awhile! Well yes if you count digital drawing, making videos etc. but not with actual physical paint/resin. No undos here... fun! We went to Rcube and the team helped us chose colours, then we practiced on a coaster before decorating wooden trays. An easy-to-learn process and felt similar to painting.

Top tip: choose contrasting colours and let gravity do its work! I chose mostly pastel colours—white, lavender, blue as well as hot pink. My friend chose black white and gold. My end result looked quite blended. His looked stunning! I mixed... and then asked our instructor to help me mix. He just rolled his tray around a bit. A really fun way to spend 1.5 hours.

Dinner at Lau Haa Hotpot

Shop A, B/F&G/F, Lockhart House, 440 Lockhart Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2214 9388

This day was literally the coldest May day Hong Kong has had in 100 years. It made the news! And I was really underdressed in a sundress, linen shirt, and sandals. Could have used a parka! Plus it was raining. So dinner plans were swapped last minute and we went for steaming spicy hotpot. I rarely go to hotpot so was happy to go wherever. The Lau Haa Hotpot shopfront seemed traditional but then we got downstairs—super retro and cute! AND the food was excellent.

We went with the Sichuan broth and chicken broth. Now I love spicy food (happy that I tick 'extra hot' when I order Twelve Flavours) but I could barely eat anything from the Sichuan broth. I dunked a fried bean curd roll in there first, ate it, and then stuck with the chicken pot from then on. Great food, great service, perfect for cozy date nights (assuming you both like messy eating, and garlic) or group/family dinners. 10/10 would go again.

Special Dinner at Arbor

25/F, H Queen's, 80 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong, +852 3185 8388

Jenni Lien food blogger
10 years in Asia, 6 years as a food writer, will forever take photos of my food :)

I was really blessed to dine at Arbor (2 Michelin stars) on my actual birthday day. Maybe it's unnecessary, but I just love doing something special on my birthday. It doesn't have to be fancy but once in awhile it is and I enjoy every second of the experience. Hong Kong prices are already quite high for this Canadian, so—though I love it—I rarely pay for fine dining (think I've done it once when my sister visited on her 25th and have been blessed to review a few for Foodie). Beyond grateful to be treated to this meal. Perhaps surprising but the cubes of monkfish liver mousse was jaw-droppingly delicious and my favourite course of the night.

It's been awhile since I've done any long-form blogging but I hope to do it more. I'm in the mood to really soak in life and document precious memories if only for me. Life as we know it... well it doesn't stay the same forever. God is moving, and may we move where he wants us! I'm up for more adventures.

If you're reading, thank you for sharing life with me. Reach out anytime x