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Family

It’s Olympics season, and I’ve gotten swept into the craze over the gold medal U.S. women’s gymnastics team, especially the story of Gabby Douglas.  This video on CNN shows her mother talking about the sacrifices it took for Gabby to achieve her gold-medal destiny.
Their family had to send Gabby away to Iowa to train with a new couch, and as a single parent she even sold her jewelry to pay for Gabby’s training.  It moves me to think about how she had to release her baby girl, in this case literally sending her away, so that her daughter could achieve her destiny.

I’ve been struggling over this idea of releasing my loved ones lately, not in the case of my child, but with my husband.  About a year ago, God gave him a vision to start a company, and while it’s a really exciting endeavor, it definitely takes a lot of his time, energy, heart and soul.  The recent weeks have been particularly tough, with him leaving home after dinner each night and coming back anywhere from 2 to 4 in the morning. I’ve been feeling a bit like a single person, and although I know it’s temporary, but I can’t say that it hasn’t affected me emotionally.  However, I truly believe that he’s living out his God-given destiny, so the question is, can I release him to do what he’s called to do and willingly make sacrifices along the way? It’s my hope and prayer that I will, and that one day we can celebrate his gold-medal moment together.
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We recently celebrated my son’s first birthday. I can’t believe it’s already been a year since God plopped this incredible little human into my life.  As I reflect on my first year of parenthood, there are so many lessons that I could dedicate a whole blog to them. I’ll just share a few here:

Raising a baby is a crash course in partnership:  My husband and I have partnered together in the past: we led a LIFE group together before we even liked each other, we went on a couple missions trips together, we planned a wedding together. But there was no greater test of our partnership and communication skills than raising a baby. I’ve never been so thankful to have a husband who is always asking, ‘How can I serve you more,’ and is willing to sacrifice until it hurts.

Wow, my parents really are pretty great: Having a child of my own has deepened my understanding and appreciation of my parents. I think back to some of the heartaches and headaches that I caused my parents, and I imagine how I would respond if Joshua did those things to me. It leads me to give them much more grace for the few times that they failed, and appreciate them so much more for all the times that they gave their best.

I can’t control outcomes:  I often wonder what kind of person Joshua will become. I hope he’ll be smart, athletic, musical, popular (but he won’t know that he’s popular so he’ll also be humble) … that’s not asking for too much, right? But in the end, Joshua will become whoever God has destined for him to be, and God will use whatever it takes to mold him into that person. The question is: can I relinquish all control and give God full permission to have His way with my son?

God truly does love me unconditionally: As cliched as this one sounds, as I think about how much I love my son, who can’t even reciprocate the love, sacrifice, sleepless nights, and labor pains that our relationship has cost me, it gives me just a tiny glimpse of how much God must love me.

And to leave you with a few practical lessons I’ve learned:
-Oxiclean is miraculous: it gets out even the worst poop stains.
-I can save money on gym memberships by using a baby to do arm curls and lunges.
-I can throw out my alarm clock because I have a little human alarm clock that is stuck on 6:30am and a snooze interval of ‘every 3 seconds.’
-Always have a camera within arms reach, because these little people do something new and exciting every day.

A missionary couple came to share God’s Word and God’s heart with us in Ann Arbor last weekend. Out of the many testimonies and powerful things that God did during the revival, the most impressionable thing that I remember is the time that they spent with our leaders. As they were sharing from their humility and own brokenness as parents, the pastor’s wife said something that really sank deeply into many hearts- “On behalf of your parents, I wanted to say that I’m sorry- we’re sorry for our mistakes and shortcomings.” We had spent a mere .75 days with them, and yet their surrogate apology was medicine for a lot of aching hearts in that room. I could hardly contain my tears as I thought about my own struggles with my parents.

Coming out of those few days, we headed into our One Desire Fast. Oddly enough, God laid a lot of burdens about my family on my heart, which led to some very long, hard, yet rewarding conversations with my mom that week. I grew up having to get used to not having her around a lot. She was always working to provide for our family, coming home for a late dinner, often without sufficient energy to spend time with us due to her failing health.  It wasn’t until college that I started building a relationship with her over the phone (text messages will never replace a good old fashioned phone call!) Even over time and distance, I realized that she had always been my advocate, my friend, and someone who was able to show me grace in the midst of all of my rebellion and waywardness during my teenage years.

 

This past week was no different. I felt so ashamed as I painfully delivered yet another confession of my failure in an area of my life that God has been trying to correct. I didn’t want to tell her because I didn’t want to disappoint her, but I realized that it was not honoring to them to try and deal with this situation on my own. I feared the wrath that I thought was sure to come, but was instead met with a humbling response of rebuke, grace, and love. The main thing she wanted to know was why I hadn’t told her sooner. She didn’t hide her disappointment in the poor decisions that I had made, but she was also unwavering in her commitment to helping me in my situation. Her sacrifice to make up for my mistake was a tearful reminder of the gospel message. While they aren’t perfect, I’m thankful for my godly parents. I am finally understanding the truth and wisdom in this:

Ephesians 6:1-3 1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.2 “Honor your father and mother”–which is the first commandment with a promise–3 “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Perhaps you don’t have godly parents or maybe grieve over a broken family. May I encourage you to remember that you are rich in Christ through the spiritual family of believers? Has God placed anyone within your church community that plays the role of a spiritual mother, father, sister, or brother to you? Indeed, I’m more thankful that my parents are my spiritual family more so than that they are my earthly ones!

Coming back full circle, I think the way that this missionary couple ministered to us specifically in a “parental” manner really made this passage come alive for me:

1 Timothy 5:1-21 Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.

I’m praying for more inter-generational relationships to be built within our church community. I believe that we can be a powerful demonstration and vehicle of redemption of what it truly means to be a family- the way that God meant for it to be.

Earlier this month, my father’s extended family got together in California to celebrate my grandma’s 90th birthday. It is incredible to imagine living that long (she’s more than 90x
older than my son!) There were 4 generations gathered together in one place, since my cousins and I now have kids.

My grandma is an incredible woman of faith and courage. She and my grandfather led their children out of Northern Korea during the Korean War before the border was shut. I’ve heard stories of how my grandfather was imprisoned at one point, and she went daily to the prison to fight for his release. They eventually brought the whole family out to Argentina and then to the U.S., all so that future generations could have a better future. It’s stories like theirs that remind me to never take my life, freedom and opportunities here in the U.S. for granted.As I looked around and saw 4 generations gathered in one room, I saw my grandma’s legacy of faith and courage right in front of me. Most of our extended family is walking faithfully with the Lord, thanks to the prayers and discipleship of my grandparents. I was truly challenged to live my life so that I could one day leave behind such a legacy of faith, that my son and his chidren and grandchildren could be blessed.

I love this song, hope it blessed you too:

There’s nothing like a malfunctioning GPS and immediate family that brings out the kid in me – and I mean that in the worst way possible.It was Thanksgiving afternoon, and my husband, son and parents were in the car driving back from Chicago’s Chinatown, after lunch with my husband’s family. We plugged our end destination into the GPS and jumped on the highway, but a few miles later the GPS suddenly changed routes on us.  After a few minutes of frustration, I was ready to throw my husband’s new phone out the window.

After the incident, my husband asked me why I reacted to poorly.  I realized that, for better or worse, I felt free to act however I want in front of my own parents. I reverted back to some pre-teen bratty version of myself. Believe me, I would have been a LOT more patient and restrained if HIS parents were in the car!  It was a healthy dose of humility to realize that despite my status as wife and mother, I am still a [misbehaving] kid at heart, who needs to continually grow in patience, grace and consistency of character.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m reminiscing about past Thanksgiving holidays, particularly the ones back when I was in college. I remember feeling a mix of emotions:  excitement for a break from school, the fusion Thanksgiving feast with turkey, stuffing, rice and kimchee (Korean pickled radish), extra sleep… mixed with dread of the same old lectures about my GPA, why med school is my best and onlyoption, and how I spent too much time at church. (I know, crazy, right? What parents complain that their kids go to church?!)With the luxury of hindsight, I look back and see how my relationship with my parents has come such a long way. If ‘present me’ traveled back in time and told ‘past me’ that our relationship would be what it is now, I would have laughed. ‘Past me’ thought that changing my parents was ten times harder than parting the Red Sea and walking on water, combined!

But over the years, God has truly done a miraculous work both in my parents and also in me. Somehow, He has taught them to release their control over my life and entrust my path to God, and He’s taught me how to see things through their eyes, especially now that I have a child of my own. I never thought that we could find ourselves on the same page, but the God of the Red Sea, the God who walked on water, has pulled another trick out of his sleeve.  In the words of my husband, “Yay God!”