Saturday, October 15, 2016

Peace for Seoul grandmother

Sometimes writing is the best outlet when grieving, so here I am. 4 months ago today An Bong Shik passed away in Seoul.

She was my last grandparent and a very sweet (and funny) grandmother. It's really hard having loved ones in other countries because when I found out her health was failing, I felt like she was an eternity away from me already and that there was nothing I could do. Although I desperately wanted to go to Korea and see her and give her lots of hugs and kisses, there were competing priorities. Ultimately, I decided that letting my mother go and spend time with her mother was more important than forcing my way and leaving my father behind.

My mother had a tearful goodbye that was also filled with lots of love and I am glad that she was able to do that.

I was able to do FaceTime with my grandmother when she was in ICU. She was having trouble breathing but I was able to tell her that I loved her one last time.

My favorite photo with her. <3 td="">
Two days before she passed, my other grandmother (my dad's mother) visited me in a dream. My dad's mother --we called her Oakland grandma, passed away 4 years ago. In the dream, she told me that she was coming to take my Seoul grandmother with her to Heaven.

My eyes opened on June 15 before my alarm had gone off. I checked my phone to see what time it was and instead saw a couple of missed text messages from only moments before. She was gone.

Growing up, I wasn't very close to my Seoul grandmother. Distance was an obvious factor, but as the years passed and my Korean got worse, we could barely communicate. I took Korean classes in college and it helped our relationship a lot. During my last 2 visits to Korea, I found out that she was actually very funny and liked to poke fun at people (and was a food critic). She was also fun to shop with and we both liked the same kinds of snacks. Granted, my Korean isn't perfect, we were still able to have fun conversations.

We also got to talk about God, which isn't something I get to do very often with my family. During my last trip, we went to church together on Sunday. It was a very nice and special time for me, because it was the last time we hung out just us two. We had to take breaks on the way to the church so that she could catch her breath, but she made every step with determination. She was a very strong woman.

I'm very grateful for the times we had together and hope that she is having a blast in Heaven. I hope she is finally at peace, free from worry or guilt or pain. For such a tiny lady, she carried many burdens, and I know that God has freed her from those.

Loss is never easy to deal with, but I feel like I was in the most denial about losing my Seoul grandmother. Since I didn't talk to her very regularly, it's easy for me to say I'll call her later or that if I visit she will still be there waiting for me. It's hard to face the reality that she is not in her apartment. She will no longer sit across from me while we eat fruit. I can't look over and see her sleeping next to me.
She loved doing crossword puzzles;
I'm sure she's doing oodles of them in Heaven.
She's visited me in a couple of dreams since she's passed and I know that God is comforting me, because she is always smiling and glowing with joy. Rest in peace, grandma. 사랑해요, 할머니!!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

quality (time) assurance

I should be packing for the upcoming FamiLee trip... but I felt like writing. We haven't taken a trip together as a family since I was 13 or 14, I think. (I could be wrong... ha ha.) It should be fun, right?
I'm feeling pressure because it's been so long since our last family trip and I want to make it as great as possible.
You never know how long you have with your loved ones and I want to look back on this as a beautiful memory. But what if it's awful? Boring? Mediocre?
I want to avoid the sting of failure. 
While my family is very loving and caring, we are not ones for quality time. We show love by saying loving words, giving gifts, doing acts of service, and lots of hugs and kisses. And now I feel like we are at the end of the line and have nothing to show for quality time, and it upsets me.

I want to make the most of every moment. Pack it full of laughter, joy, inside jokes, smiles, everything happy. 
It's a tall order and it's not possible.
There will be moments of quiet. Of nothing. 
I'd like to be okay with that. But right now, when I think of these faces that I've loved for my whole life, I only want to see them happy on this trip.

What is quality time to you? For me, I'm not sure, because it's never been something that I knew how to handle or create. But maybe it's not something that can be handled or made. 
I truly hope the trip will be something great to look back on. I hope my dad has a lot of fun and feels peaceful and satisfied. I would love for my mom to relax and feel supported. I pray that Unni, Sabu, and Sejong will create wonderful moments for their family.
It feels silly to be worried and stressed about a vacation, but with our time together ticking down on some figurative clock, I can't help it.

Heavenly Father, please help me shut out the stresses of perfection, and focus on just being present with my famiLee. Even if I feel like I've failed or I make a mistake, surround me with Your grace, Lord. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Monday, February 9, 2015

deviled details

There are times in my life where I become obsessed about analyzing every little thing, overthinking becomes my hobby, and I can feel the knots forming in my back with each thought...

When I become this way, it typically means I have some sort of overwhelming stressor and I decide to shove myself into a corner with a bunch of insignificant and most likely inconsequential musings. It brings a new meaning to having a devil in the details, because the details became my personal tormentor. @_@

Recently, I've been enmeshing myself in decisions that I've made, words that I've said, decisions for my future, etc. I don't have all the answers (and sometimes I feel like I don't have any) and it's been bumming me out. Most importantly, because I let it.

As I get more and more tangled in these matters, I realize how little God has to do with it. And then it hit me. It got to this point because of how little God has to do with it. When God is at the forefront of my life, a lot of my worries fall away. I have peace and don't let every little thing drive me mad. It felt like a wake up sign.

I went on chat and asked my pastor to pray for me because I felt like lately I haven't been wise with my words and that I needed to fix myself. I said that I should read me some Book of James (which has many a passage about reigning in your tongue). My pastor suggested that I also remember our ministry's Bible verse of the month Lamentations 3:22-23:
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

Then my pastor said, "Rather than trying be better, rest in His love first."

All the scrambling to get myself back on track, the constant reprimanding I gave myself... I felt it pause. I had forgotten His love for me and what it means.

Of course, the next thing I did was do a Google search for "Bible verses about God's love." :) The results, like this one chock full of great verses, did not disappoint.

[Galatians 2:20] I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God. who loved me and gave himself for me.

I need to stop beating myself up. I'm not perfect and I've been making mistakes, but I forgot that Christ lives in me and that in my faith he will lift me up.

[Zephaniah 3:17] The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

This verse made me feel warm fuzzies. God is pretty big and mighty and yet He rejoices over little old me.

The inner turmoils have been quieted by God's love for me and I'm super glad I got to rest in His love today. Yay :D

I'm mulling over some of the things that were on my mind lately, but now I'm thinking generally about them, not obsessing over every tiny thing. At least for now. This is a reminder to myself about how nice it is to remember God's love and that I need to rest in it a lot more often.

Here's to the rest of the week. May we remember to rest in Him. Amen! 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

understanding myself

Whenever I tell people that I'm shy they don't believe me. Maybe it's because I'm usually laughing maniacally and love small talk and squealing about random things. Yea, I guess those things don't translate to "shy." Ha ha.

And I'm not sure if I'm the only one that's struggled with figuring out if I'm extroverted or introverted. That whole Myers-Brigg thing tells me that I'm somewhere in between, but mainly extroverted. In truth, I always feel more energized after talking with a friend or being around people, ergo, yes, that seems correct. But some days, talking to people is like going to the gym: It's always a battle to get there, but when you're done you feel better.

Some friends call me the super introvert because I like to be independent and block out days in my schedule for "me-time." I say it's to re-charge, but I think there is something else going on, too.
Some days I really dread talking to people. I act busy so that I can avoid small talk. I keep my head down. In these moments I think, See! I am shy!

But I'm realizing more and more, it's not shyness. I was looking at my Facebook feed this morning and I saw someone posted an article about outgoing introverts. I read it and thought, okay, yea, I'm not an introvert. I love small talk too much.

So I started a Google search about shy extroverts ("What am I?!?!?"). And then for some reason I did a search for "depressed extroverts." 

I found an article that I honestly think God was leading me to. It was the first search result and the piece was written by a Christian woman. As I was reading it I kept thinking that we were very very similar. She was so eloquent in how she described her experience with depression and I really wanted to share it. 

This is the part of the article where she talks about regular thoughts that go through her mind when she gets depressed. Source: http://www.ctghq.org/commentary/depression-confessions-how-extrovert-learned-live-clinical-depression
I know a few people in my life who live with depression. At first I didn't really understand it, because they seem fine, or I even thought that they just weren't trying hard enough. And for those thoughts, I am so sorry.

It's a real thing! It makes you feel powerless and so so so tired. When I fall into an episode, I feel like my body is made of lead. It's not all the time, but it comes and goes in waves. Depending on the outside stressors of my life, it can be mild to severe, although you might not be able to tell. When it happens, it generally takes me much longer to gear up for the simplest things. I look for distractions. Lately, I've been running from God. And yet, even though I'm sorry that I ran, I am very glad He stayed with me through it all.

Through each valley, I've been lucky to have friends and family and my small group to just be there for me. I rarely if ever put a name to these depression episodes, because, like the author in the article, you kind of want to think that you're not like everyone else:

"Part of my embarrassment comes from the fact that it seems like everyone suffers from some sort of anxiety or depression these days and I've always prided myself on not being like everyone else. If that sounds really stupid...it is."

Some of my friends "get it" but they don't really get it. I've been yelled at by some people or told that I'm just being weak. I understand the concern and appreciate the pep talks, but words like that made me want to sink deeper into denial. And that's the wrong way to go. To deal with this, you have to face it head on and take action. If you deny that there's anything to face, how can you face it?

I super duper recommend this article to everyone. For those who have ever been depressed, it gives a voice to your struggles. For everyone else, I think it might help you understand another person's story.

[2 Corinthians 1:3-4] Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

As with other hardships, I will gladly take up this cross so that I can comfort others who struggle with it, too. You are loved. You are beautiful. You're not less than human because you struggle with depression. And to God through Jesus Christ, you are perfect.

All my love,
mjl.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Japanese Dating Phrases - as taught by Haruma Miura

Whether you're learning Japanese or just want to get the lingo of your favorite sho-comi or dorama, Japanese dating phrases are good to know. If you're not yet familiar with Haruma Miura, he's a very popular actor in Japan (and my current super fave!). He'd be a great teacher for these expressions as many of his roles have him spouting romantic phrases. So, without further ado, Haruma-sensei, take it away!

1) Will you go out with me?
“Tsuki atte kudasai” (formal) --> “Please go out with me” … like English, the phrase can also mean “Can you come out/go out with me (to someplace)?”

*from "Kimi ni Todoke"

In this movie, he uses another way of saying the phrase: “Ore to tsukiatte kuru?”


Unfortunately, she takes it literally. *she’s checking her watch… ahaha!! Poor Haruma-kun…


2) Will you marry me?
“Kekkon shite kudasai” --> “Please marry me.”

*subtitles by DramaFever.com, from "Last Cinderella"

"Ore to kekkon shitakunai?” (Haruma really likes to use “ore” which is a typically masculine and very informal way of saying “I”)

Ne, Haruma-kun…. You’re asking me, right?? *o*

3) Please stay by my side. 
"Tonari ni ite kudasai" --> "Please stay by my side." Basically a superfrickin' romantic way of asking someone to be with you. (eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee)

*subtitles by DramaFever.com, from "The Hours of My Life"

Haruma-kun says: "Ore no tonari ni ite kudasai." (Again with the "ore,", haha. Kawaiiiii!)

Kyaaa, mouuuu, Haruma-kun. Mechya mechya romantic, da you ne?! :) We can all learn a love lesson from this guy! Sigh~~ Yoshi! Arigatou, Haruma-sensei! And until next time, minna-san!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

kewlies...

I typically avoid reading old journals. I don’t know why. Actually, that’s a lie. It’s because when I read about past experiences, I basically relive them, and most of the time, it makes me want to crawl into a hole. Thoughts like “I said THAT?!” “I did THAT?!” I thought THAT was cool?!?!?!?!” Sometimes it’s funny, but mainly mortifying.

But as I was settling down in my old room for the Thanksgiving stay at my parents’, I saw my diary from high school… I told myself it’d be fun to just read the first entry. Then I sat there for an hour reliving parts of my sophomore, junior, and senior year, and even into the summer after graduation. My writing was enthusiastic (so many "!!!!!!"!) and… hilarious. I used to write “it was so kewlies,” “I dint have to go to skul,” and “this is a secret, don’t tell!” Ha ha ha!!!

Omiglob! This was written TWELVE years ago!!!!!!!!
The very end of the journal went into the summer after I graduated high school. I came upon an entry where I first talked about my dad's stroke. There were details that I had forgotten that made me relive moments of despair. But the thing that stuck out to me the most was how thankful I was. From what I remember, the months following this event were wrought with strife and battles against hopelessness. But, somehow, at the onset I had been just completely grateful that my dad had survived. Doctors had actually told us that the stroke should have killed him. They even used the word “miracle.”

God is so good to us, and over the years, my gratefulness sort of dulled. Sometimes when I hang out with my dad I forget how lucky I am to still have him next to me. The journal also had entries that reminded me how good my mother was to me as I went through my rebellious adolescent stage. How my sister always made time for me, and often invited me over to her place when I was feeling overwhelmed from studying and wanting to escape home. And even how my brother-in-law was a true source of comfort and help that fateful summer. Bittersweet memories, but overall, stories that make me feel super duper blessed. I think I shall give my FamiLee extra big hugs and kisses tomorrow (but only after I get my drumstick).

And although it was still painful and embarrassing to read through that diary (“kewlies”??! … KILLMENOW), it also reminded me of everything I’ve overcome by God’s grace. Even while in the thick of hardship, I guess there is light from both ends of the tunnel.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! And thank You, God, for your ever-present goodness! :)

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." [Romans 5:3-5]

Monday, June 30, 2014

Online Dating for a Christian Girl, Part 2

Hullo!

I actually meant to write the second installment a week later, but life happened. Left my job, went to Paris, got a boyfriend, started my new job, all that jazz. And now, I'm back!
So, as advertised, this blog post will have some funny anecdotes and advice for Christian Guys With No Game (CGWNG).

Let me get this out there: Christian women who are dating online are definitely looking for a man who truly loves Jesus and walks with the Lord. But, the buck doesn't stop there.

So, I want to write this post to hopefully help some Christian brothers who are looking for love, but may be lacking know-how in online dating.

Let me introduce you to some CGWNGs.

1. Tunnel-vision Tony

Ding! You got a new message in your online dating inbox. Now, men, this is your initial chance to really gain the lady's interest. Make the most of it. I always read my messages to see what the dude had to say.

Tunnel-vision Tony is someone who I've encountered a few times. His entire profile is all about loving Jesus, which is great, but he sends me a message all about himself. No questions, just a big brick of text. 
"Hi, I'm Blahblah. I love Jesus and see that you do, too! We must be meant to be. Let me tell you about myself: adfj;ksjdfaskjdfjsdflkjsdlkfmdkkfjsdkf. I want a Christian woman. I want this. I want that. You seem like you fit what I want." The end.

Whether it's true or not, it just looks like you copied and pasted that message to any lady you found via the "Christian" filter in Advanced Search. 

My boyfriend actually got me, hook-line-and-sinker from his first message (don't tell him). He told me a little about himself and weaved in questions for me, that obviously showed that he read my profile and actually cared about what I wrote. He mentioned our shared love and fear of the Lord, but didn't make it seem like that fact alone meant that we were meant for each other. It was a simple, well-thought out message that could definitely not have been Ctrl+Ved, and with no grammatical errors. Hubba hubba.

Before, I introduce the next CGWNG, let me say that left and right I hear Christian guys say "I only date for marriage."
But I think this phrase idea gets so heavily misconstrued, that brothers start to excuse certain behaviors in the name of Dating For Marriage. IMHO, dating for marriage means that you don't just date whoever the heck lands up on your doorstep. You don't waste your time chasing the wind, you want something solid that can eventually turn into something serious later. You're picky, but hopefully don't people as incarnations of your future spouse laundry list.

2. Business Bob
Business Bob knows what he wants. He wants to date someone for 1 year, get married and then live the dream of having a house and 2.5 kids. What he needs to ask you before he can consider you as the mother of his children is:
"What's your 5 year plan?" (Does it fit with my vision?)
"How many other people have you dated?" (How much baggage do you have? Any exes I should be wary about?)
"How do you feel about kids?" (HAVE MY BABIES)

(Parentheses indicate what he's really asking, ha ha)

And Business Bob gets down to business. He has no qualms asking a girl these questions within the first 30 minutes of meeting her in-person.

Some chicks dig it (most do not).

My best gal pal S says that this shouldn't be a big no-no since this is the online dating scene and you both know that you're looking and don't want to waste time with someone who doesn't want what you want. This reasoning makes sense, but I'm just saying that, as a girl, it's just kind of scary to get into that kind of conversation when you first meet. I want to find out what your laugh sounds like, not how many kids you want us to have together.

3. Whiny Will
Whiny Will is usually past 30 and on your first date he will lament about how all of his friends are in relationships, married or already having kids. He will look at you with hopeful eyes that say: "Please jump up and down and say that you are in the same boat."

One guy actually told me this before we even got the menu to order for lunch. He literally said: "I know it's early, but... I want kids. I WANT IT." o_o

I get your feelings, Whiny Will, I'm looking for luv, too (that's why I'm on the dating site!). But, yea... Don't whine about how all your friends are getting married and having kids. It kind of feels like you just want to get a girlfriend so that you can join your friends, not because you actually like the girl.

Later, "I WANT IT" guy asked me if I changed my nephew's diapers and nodded approvingly when I said that I did. (Way to make me feel like I'm just a huge walking ovary!)

4. Eager Edgar
Oh, Eager Edgar. There is no question that he is interested. Which is nice, for a change. I've been on the sad end of more than a couple of unintentional Ambiguous Alans who ambivalently pursued some weird amorphous relationship-type thingie only to pull disappearing acts whenever convenient.
However, Eager Edgar is like Ambiguous Alan's polar opposite. Like, South Pole.
Eager Edgar didn't really do anything wrong. He just wears his heart on his sleeve... and doesn't read the mood. His favorite thing to do is to ask for a second date in the middle of the first date, without really thinking how his date feels.

I've been asked out on a second date in the middle of a first date that was really not going well. But I wonder if that was his trump card. And it kind of worked, because I was put on the spot and couldn't say 'no.' In my defense, I was in his car while he was driving and my choices were: 1) cringe and say 'yes,' 2) say 'no' and feel unsafe while in an enclosed moving space that was under his control, or 3) say nothing and jump out of the moving vehicle.

That's not all. And, I don't mean to make fun, and it was slightly flattering, but the guy asked me for the second date THREE times during the first date, and then text-confirmed with me right after we parted...

Eagerness can be cute. Over the top alacrity, not so much.

Calmeth downeth, Eager Edgar. (Or at least wait until the end of the date to ask.)

**Also, just a note, if a girl is interested, she won't make you initiate everything. After a couple days of not hearing from you, if a girl likes you, she will most definitely contact you.

And remember, these are just general guidelines heavily influenced by my own (hilarious and uncomfortable) experiences.

If it's meant to be, it'll happen! For realsies, There is a time for everything, including a time for learning. Trust in the Lord-- He's got it all it in His hands. :)