R U Smiling?

Many people told me that they liked the “ru.smiln” that I used as my email account, various IDs, and the blog URL here. Since my first name is Ru and last name initial is S, they thought it was quite clever as well. Actually I didn’t come up with it myself. It found me.

It was in the winter of 2005, my mood was very low those days – stressful work, hopeless dissertation, failed marriage, seriously sick father. Everyday was a struggle. One morning, I woke up and saw a grayish overcast sky, I was immediately filled with despair and didn’t want to go to work at all. But I did anyway because it was the right thing to do. I drove out and stopped at the first traffic light, and the plate of the car in front of me was ‘RU SMILN’. My heart was struck to the core and tears rolled down my face at once, even before my brain got a chance to react. I knew clearly it was God speaking to me, “smile, my child, just because you are mine”. If it were simply ‘SMILN’, I wouldn’t feel much, but my name was there staring at me! God came to cheer me up even without my praying for it. His eyes were upon me and knew how I felt. I cried all the way in the car that morning, and smiled through my tears at the same time. I made up my mind to let God see my smile no matter what happens, because I am an obedient child and I trust Him; I will also show my smile to the enemies – my God loves me so much, what can you do to defeat me?

Not until months later did I realize the car plate actually was ‘are you smiling’, not really my name RU. God worked in amazing ways to get His personal message across. And I started to use “ru.smiln” as a constant reminder of His love for me.

God carried me through that darkest period of my life and kept blessing me in many ways since then. As time went by, I gradually became content and proud. I took things for granted and didn’t put Him front and center in my life anymore, but His love never left me. My heart started to turn toward Him again recently. I was listening to old worship songs while driving last night, darkness all around me. As I prayed and sang to God, many scenes in the past flashed through my mind. His peace and love once again filled me. Fear not, for the joy of the Lord is my strength. In a world of uncertainty, God and His love alone is everlasting.


Crisis, and Chinese Wisdom

jfk-crisis-danger-and-opportunityThe Chinese word for “crisis” is 危机. It consists of two characters: 危 (danger); and 机 (opportunity). Ancient Chinese already knew that there was an opportunity in every crisis, no matter how dangerous it seemed at first. Great wisdom.

Interestingly, I first learned about this awesome insight regarding “crisis” in Chinese from a British woman several years ago, who was our facilitator at a team training session. After she mentioned how Chinese interpreted crisis, I frowned my eyebrows and tried to retrieve the word – as I never heard of this saying before. Then it dawned on me that they were indeed the meanings of the two separate characters, and I was amazed. Later she asked me to write down the Chinese characters for her repertoire, and told me that she got really nervous when she saw the doubt on my face, thinking “OMG, here is someone who knows Chinese, hope I didn’t get it wrong!”

When crisis comes, let’s remind ourselves – there is an opportunity behind the danger, don’t miss it!

[Daily Post – Crisis]

Trip Brief – Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia

It has been a week since I returned from a wonderful 12-day trip in Europe:

Amsterdam, Netherlands -> Belgrade, Serbia -> Montenegro -> Dubrovnik, Croatia -> Frankfurt, Germany

The trip included five flight segments from four airlines, train, bus, ferry, and lots of walking (average 15,000 steps a day). It was a nice combination of city and nature. As usual, there are too many pictures to go through and too much fun to put into words – highlights for now and details in the future.



(Reception at the Royal Palace – our small tour group with Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia)

Montenegro (Kotor, Lovcen National Park, Sveti Stefan):

Dubrovnik (climbed the city walls):


In addition to enjoying the breath-taking views, we also appreciated Van Gogh’s masterpieces, drank Rakija and local beers, tasted wines, ate lots of meat (in Serbia) and fish (in Montenegro and Croatia), met wonderful people everywhere, and added precious moments to our memories… More details to come.


Books read in 2016 Q2

I can’t believe it is already time to post the second book report of the year. I finished 15 books in Q2, which makes a total of 28 books this year, ahead of schedule to reach the goal of 50. Well done so far. 🙂

Here are the books I finished in the past three months:

  1. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
  2. Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
  3. The Reversal by Michael Connelly
  4. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  5. The Nightmare by Lars Kepler
  6. The Mysterious Mr. Quin: A Harley Quin Collection by Agatha Christie
  7. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  8. Gathering Prey by John Sandford
  9. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
  10. The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom by Simon Winchester
  11. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
  12. Leading Change by John Kotter
  13. North Korea Undercover: Inside the World’s Most Secret State by John Sweeney
  14. Van Gogh by Ingo Walther
  15. Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Leonard Mlodinow

There seemed to be a shift from fictions to non-fictions during this time period. Most of the books on this list were enjoyable – the only books that I didn’t like much were #5 and #13. I am about to start a trip with Amsterdam as the first stop, and Van Gogh museum would be a must-see now that I read #14!

No telling what books will end up in my list for the next report, just keep reading!

Books 2016Q2

The Southernmost Place I Have Ever Visited

That would be the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina that I visited in February 2014. It is still a few hundred miles north of Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, but it is already “more South” than the tip of South Africa and New Zealand.


A detailed post with beautiful photos and more information about this amazing Glacier can be found here.

This is what I wrote right after returning from the trips two years ago… It was an exciting experience. How time flies! Looking forward to returning to South America in the near future.

[Daily Post – South]


A Foggy Night

Fog, heavy fog everywhere. Want to cut it into pieces and throw them away.

The road ahead is hidden, like my unknown future.

Can’t see the ups and downs and twists at all; can’t know what is going to happen tomorrow.

Go by faith, live by faith. Trust there is a way even when I can’t see it. Know the sun is still shining behind the dark clouds. Believe in a better future.

I have more dreams than memories. It has to be a good thing.




[Daily Post – Fog]

Books read in 2016 Q1

Now that the first quarter of 2016 is already behind us, it is time to post another book report. My goal this year is to read 50 books. I finished 13 in Q1, a little ahead of schedule. I shouldn’t be too smug though, since 2 of these 13 books were mostly done last year.

Here are the books I finished in the past three months:

  1. Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo
  2. 1Q84 Book 1 by Haruki Murakami
  3. The Chinese Dream: The Rise of the World’s Largest Middle Class and What It Means to You by Helen Wang
  4. Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life by C.S. Lewis
  5. 1Q84 Book 2 by Haruki Murakami
  6. Insomnia by Stephen King
  7. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  8. Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  9. Classic Christianity: Life’s Too Short to Miss the Real Thing by Bob George
  10. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
  11. A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II by Adam Makos & Larry Alexander
  12. China’s Megatrends: The 8 Pillars of a New Society by John Naisbitt & Doris Naisbitt
  13. To Have and Have Not by  Ernest Hemingway

It is quite a hodgepodge as usual. The books by Haruki Murakami and Stephen King are as good as can be expected; Kite Runner is a powerful book albeit sad; The Unbearable Lightness of Being has been on my to-read list for decades; A Higher Call tells an inspiring story; The two books on China have some good insights but are not among my favorites.

Keep reading… till the next report.Books 2016Q1