Sunday, December 31


It's not right, I don't think, to say that I'm turning over a new leaf. To my ears, that implies that I'm going to become, or live, or be something else, other than what I actually am. And I don't want that. For all the ups and downs of 2006, I don't want 2007 to be a year where I am someone other than who I am or was. Rather, I will say that I am turning over another leaf. Revealing, learning and becoming another layer of my person and my being, another facet of my personality, another development of me.

I stopped making resolutions long ago. In recent years, I've started to state hopes. They're easier to hold onto (most of the time), and they make me acknowledge that my life is not written by me, about me, for me. Hoping turns my eyes, even when they don't want to be turned, towards God, and makes me talk to Him, even when I'm feeling surly on my end. And hope, by His grace, is often transformed into joy, sometimes muted, sometimes transcendent, sometimes explosive, mostly inexplicable. Right now, just hours from another turning of the calendar, my hopes are weak and wobbly, and there's not much firm footing to be found no matter where I look around me. But the joy transformation is proven and true, and so I wait for it anyway.

Thus, in faith, for the coming year, I hope for:
    - sustained good health for Gran
    - safety and health for Omma and Appa
    - protection over Cheech
    - continued revitalization at NHF
    - further deepening and intimacy in my friendships
    - peace with B
    - focus, diligence and determination
    - increased faith
    - a community understanding of and hate towards poverty, warfare, injustice, and the armor with which to fight these evils
    - the ability to fulfill my promise to live all out for God

Just a little bit from now, I'm on a plane to Ukraine to serve with six others from NHF at a local church in the middle of that country. Just for ten days; I'll be back before you know it. This trip fills me with trepidation, not because I'm going to a foreign country where I barely know the language and where it's going to be soooo cold -- seriously, who goes to the middle of Ukraine voluntarily in the dead of winter?! I'm not afraid of the traveling or the complicated logistics, the busy schedule or the unfamiliar cuisine, the work we have to do or the the possibility that our work will be fruitless. I'm afraid of me, and how I'll be, that I'll be useless, ineffective, not the ambassador of Christ that He envisioned when He sent out the faithful. I'm afraid of getting sick in my body and wearying the team for having to take care of me, or of getting sick in my mind and confusing the team who has no idea how to take care of me. I'm afraid of letting down my team and my God. After what He has been bringing me through in these last weeks and months, I can't even begin to describe what it has taken me not to pull out of this trip, to hand over leadership of the team and hibernate in my bed for the next two weeks.

But no, hope doesn't go to sleep, or succumb, for that is not hope at all. Hope speaks the truth, and in the spaces between speech, hope allows for grace and humility to seep in and teach wisdom. So I wait, too, for that wisdom, placing my trust in God alone, and in the compassion of His people.

Happy New Year. May His grace and wisdom seep into you throughout 2007, and give strength to your hopes.

Wednesday, December 27

38 . . .

President Gerald Ford, 1913-2006, thank you for your service.

Tuesday, December 26


Life goes on; we have no choice. I know this. But I still think it's not right that the gander gets to have a life.

Me, I need to have a life so that I can keep my head above water, so that I can know that love in its many wonderful forms still lives and breathes, so that I don't isolate myself and just weep all day and all night long. But the gander ... shouldn't there be mourning? Shouldn't there be some measure of locking oneself in one's room and weeping and not wanting to see anyone or go anywhere? Shouldn't the misery and loneliness be the same on both ends?

I wonder if the gander feels relief. There are people out there far more normal, far more stable, far more rational, far more entertaining and interesting, far more relaxing than I am. If I were a gander, I'd prefer to be with them and avoid me too, I guess. That would make the gander a liar, for all the sweet promises and hopeful words spoken before the fissure, vows not to avoid and vows to miss and mourn. But he's been called worse things before.

Still, it's not fair. Suffering shouldn't be endured alone, and I'm no sadist, but ... I wouldn't mind if what was good for the goose was also good for the gander.


WALL . . .

Holding my ground is becoming harder and harder. I have my own sweet words I want to say, alternating with fury and rage that wants to be ranted aloud. But when one vows to take the back seat and throw the ball in the other's court ... how long does that vow have to stand, exactly?


BASICS . . .

They keep telling me to eat and sleep. I do, I really do. It's just that it's not pleasant, is all ...

Monday, December 25


(OK, I know I promised I wouldn't dwell, but I just realized that today was Monday and that just stabbed my heart because I sure do miss Mondays and everything that Mondays were. And there were words that I needed to read again, to remind myself of when times were good and our hearts were full, and so I just spent some time reading through the past, and it just makes me long all the more for the love that there was. I want to send all those messages and replies back, not to throw them back in spite, but to remind, to ask -- are they still true? Or has too much changed? There was a promise that the embrace wouldn't be the last ... and if everything in those words from months gone by is true, then I can believe the promise. But if I'm the only one who remembers those words ... then what?)

I am so happy right now. Joyous, even. Eh, alright, let's not stretch it. We'll put aside the joy for a moment and I'll just settle for really, really happy.

Christmas was wonderful. I had really been anxious about it, for holidays in my household lately have been fraught with all sorts of topical land mines, the biggest mine being my unmarried status. No matter how the dinner conversation starts out, it always ended up at, "so really, there's NO ONE on the horizon?" Last time The Topic came up, there was even a discussion about my soon-to-fail eggs that might not produce any children at all if I wait any longer. It got to the point where I did not want to be with my parents, and did not want to spend any time alone with my mother, my best friend, my closest confidante for my entire life. Laughter was seldom heard, relaxation was a near-impossibility.

But God was gracious to our family this year, allowing peace to flow with ease between all of us, and filling our home with the best of days past. I was brought into the house in a flurry of hearty hugs, and settled in for a late dinner around the old kitchen table. We tossed jokes back and forth before deciding in a frenzy of childishness to open our gifts on Christmas Eve instead of waiting for Christmas morning. Everyone received exactly what they wanted, for the first time ever, I think. Then we snuggled under the heaviest Korean mink blankets to watch a DVD together -- the first time we had done that in years, easily. Cheech had an early morning to rest up for, so Omma, Appa and I sat up for another couple of hours chatting, easily, even about my unmarried status. They could not have been more understanding, more loving, more committed to making an effort to put me at ease. That's not something Korean parents often put their minds to -- putting their children's hearts at ease -- but I know that's what makes my parents different from most. They are truly special.

Today, we went to see "The Pursuit of Happyness" -- enjoyed by all (and the movie theater was so crowded! I never knew folks went to the movie theaters on Christmas Day!), before returning home for naps and an early dinner. Peace and aase all around.

I'm really grateful for this Christmas. I had really been dreading it, actually, anticipating the worst of the worst, and girding myself for the deepest of hurts, five people circling each other in isolated bubbles of resentment. But no. My family proves to me that if you try hard enough and love each other enough, then understanding and grace and love come easily, and peace doesn't cover as much as it lives and breathes.

Only one darkish cloud over the past two days ... I've been wondering if the withdrawal of love is punishment. Punishment for past sins, punishment for me not being a good enough person, punishment for all of my heart's deficiencies in caring and loving and understanding others. Maybe there is something to this thing called "karma." What goes around comes around, and Lord knows I've caused plenty of isolation and meanness and rejection to go around. Maybe now it's swinging back my way, and taking from me true love.

There are those who will say otherwise. I like listening to them, because they say things like, "This is a time that God is drawing you back to Him, to refine you for something better, to prepare you both for a better result." I hope that is true. I don't dare believe it, but I hope it. And I believe they are right, even if God's "better" and my "better" are not the same thing. Surely, He knows better, doesn't He? But still, I can't help this nagging thought that I am reaping what I have sowed. And that makes me sad. It makes me long for a sort of moral time machine, where I could go back through my life and right every wrong I've committed, heal the heart of every person I've wounded, restore every broken relationship and clear up every misunderstanding. Then maybe today, I wouldn't be abandoned and left cold.

Ah, well. I have long days and nights to torture myself with these thoughts. For tonight, I dwell on Christmas and my family, whom I love and who I know loves me.

Merry Christmas, everyone. May the joy of the holiday -- that is, the miracle and undying loving sacrifice of Christ, the power of God and the mercy of the Holy Spirit -- surround and protect you, and cause you to be happy.

Sunday, December 24


It is Christmas after all ... and after everything that's passed back and forth, it seems cold and unforgiving to not even reach out enough to say "Merry Christmas." An email, a note on the door, even a ring of the doorbell to speak it face to face would be better than carrying the weight of this cold rock in my gut. Wouldn't it? Wouldn't it? I can't tell if pride should trump Christmas, or Christmas should trump pride. Who gives in first? Is it a matter of giving in? Can't "Merry Christmas" be an equal-opportunity, boundary-less sentiment? My ego smarts already, knowing there won't be a response. My heart hurts already, knowing that an offering will be taken as giving in and acquiescing to a wrong result. But can't "Merry Christmas" just be what it is, a wish for a merry Christmas?

What would Jesus do indeed ...

Saturday, December 23


The storm is back. How I longed for it, and how much I want to avoid it, all at once.

But, in the calm before the storm, there is the old holiday standby, the one thing that can always, always draw me in and put a smile on my face and peace in my heart. From the early days of huddling under winter blankets with Omma and Appa while eating boiled chestnuts ... to the childish summer days of visits to the Motherland with all four maternal cousins sprawled lazily about the living room ... to the current days where nostalgia is sometimes enough to get me through the night in peace ...

There's just nothing like The Sound of Music, starring the radiant Julie Andrews and the dashing Christopher Plummer.

Friday, December 22

OUCH . . .

My heart hurts.
Pang after pang after pang.
There's just no end to this, is there?

So, in a few weeks, I have to find another position, preferably full-time (although I have developed a serious liking for the part-time "consulting" position). And I recently got my resume critiqued again and damned if my time off didn't come back to bite me in the butt. Never mind that I was up to my curly hair in work for NHF -- it was all unofficial and volunteer and I just didn't know how to explain it to anyone.

I finally inserted a paragraph about my "work" for NHF into my resume, and then immediately started to experience all sorts of pangs of guilt and immorality for doing so. After all, isn't church service supposed to be on a volunteer basis (unless you're on staff, I suppose), and isn't it supposed to be for God's glory, not my own? To put my "work" on my resume seemed like I was using what I had done out of the love I had for God and for the folks in my church family for my own benefit, to advance and serve myself. Yes, I spent a lot of woman-hours doing things, but I enjoyed it so much, it didn't feel like work. To qualify it as "work" and list it as a "job" and expect recognition for it, even from outsiders, seemed so ... base.

But this is why you have friends like the friends I have:

    hold up! Do not feel an ounce of guilt! Just because you write your work at and with NHF on your resume does not all of a sudden change any of it... God gave you time to serve Him like that and He will use that time to honor Him... think about every time you'll have to explain what you did during that time and how you can glorify Him in your description of that time and how you can possibly bless someone who interviews you... how you can play a part in planting a small seed in someone's heart or opening the door for someone to ask you more about Jesus...

    Lady... this is not about serving yourself - it's about glorifying Him... if you need to describe what you did for NHF on your resume... do it well and make it so that everyone will ask you questions about that time... do not be ashamed of that time rather let it be glorifying to Him in every way...

    sorry for the preachy tone - I just can't believe that you feel badly about writing your service on your resume... it absolutely shows a lot of your talents, passions and skills... any job interviewer should want to see that and know that about you... it sets you apart from others and makes them say "wow we want her to work here."

Her words have given me reason to pause and reflect on the last year. Indeed, it was such a unique and special time, both personally and for me in relation to church life and service. It certainly does seem true that God gave me these past months on purpose to do specific things, to grow in particular ways, to receive unique and amazing blessings and happiness, to endure especial hardships and pain, and to become the woman I am now. I'm not too different from who I was a year ago, but changes took place and I am different. All because I had a full year to change and grow and live. I am so thankful for it.

And she's right. People are going to ask me questions about that year, about what I did, about church. People might even (inappropriately for a job interview) ask me about my faith. (Heck, I might not even get to talk to some people because they'll think I'm weird and churchy, which is too bad, because I'm really fun to work with and I make good coffee.) And if I profess that I want everyone to know Jesus and live in His life-giving love, and if I profess that I want to live my own life all out for Him ... then it's time to start putting my resume where my mouth is.

So thanks, lady, for the uplifting and refocusing words.

I hope all of you are surrounded by friends like these. Else, how would you get by?

Thursday, December 21


All proceeds from the Kim Family Benefit Art & Craft Auction will go to the Kim Family Fund, assisting the surviving members of James Kim's family.

Check it out. Buy a lot.

Wednesday, December 20


I really thought I'd hear word first. I really did. This really hurts a lot more than I thought it would. And I'm not particularly confident that I can bear up under it.


I've been so preoccupied with my silly self that I totally didn't even realize that Yul Kwon won the most recent season of "Survivor." I don't watch the show, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate a good win by a good winner. Represent, my brother.


I am selfish, I know, and so when I think about the myriad reasons to have children, one of the first that pops immediately to mind is this: they entertain me.

I just think life is a touch fuller when you have a two-and-a-half-year-old toddler picking a piece of lint off your carpet and insistently asking, "Whose IS this?!"

Or when a three-year-old girl waves you over to her and makes you bend down so she can whisper in your ear, "Why don't I share my food?" And when you respond, "I don't know, but you don't," she responds back, "Why?"

Or when a little boy playing under your brunch table tugs on your finger and states very cheerfully, "There are monsters under here, so your feet have to be careful, ok?"

Or when you make a one-year-old imitate everything you do, including opening his mouth wiiiiide when it's full of food so that everything in there falls out. And then, when his mother turns around to scold him, you slink away quietly.


I'm going on the trip of a lifetime in less than two weeks, and I'm just not ready.

I am so clearly not ready. Yes, I have the prayers and good wishes of dozens of people around me holding me up ... but me, for myself, I'm not ready. It's really wrong how unready I am ....

It's a terrible thing: the state I'm in physically, mentally and emotionally, all I can think about is landing back at JFK Airport on the evening of January 10th, going home and sleeping. Goodness, I anticipate that if no one and nothing woke me up or needed me to be awake, I'd sleep for several days without stirring.

The prospect both thrills and frightens me.

God help me.

Tuesday, December 19


I hate Christmas music. Most of it -- minus a few select Christmas hymns -- fills me with rage and makes me want to (i) stab myself in the eyeballs with a sharp object and/or (ii) stab someone else in the eyeballs with a sharp object. Many people lately have been wanting to analyze me and figure out this weird Grinchiness. I don't think I'm being Grinchy. I love everything else about Christmas -- being with my family, people mellowing out and lovin' on each other the way they should all the time, celebrating love shared among friends, celebrating Jesus Christ's birth. But maybe that's what makes me feel Grinchy. People gettin' their panties in a knot about Christmas displays and religious icons and being all obnoxious at the mall and in the parking lots and acting all stupid about video game consoles and holiday sales.

LIKE IT OR NOT, PEOPLE, CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT JESUS CHRIST, so just deal with it, and shut up about the manger scene set up in the middle of town. It's HISTORY. It HAPPENED. JESUS CHRIST, and NOTHING ELSE, is the meaning of Christmas. So unbunch your panties and turn off that awful Christmas music. Global warming ain't never gonna let it snow again, so you can forget about walking in a winter wonderland!

Yeah, maybe people's ignorance (and it really is ignorance, for they are IGNORING the TRUTH) is what makes me want to stab them in the eyeballs with sharp objects. Vapid girls cooing "Santa Baby" over the radio just adds to the fury.

But I'm also Grinchy this year because I am highly, excessively, acutely depressed. Not because it's Christmas; I'm not one to be depressed by the holidays, although I am stricken by the winter doldrums as much as anyone else. No, not because it's Christmas-time ... but just because life happens and people happen and then bad things happen, and well ... what can I do? When one is balancing a wide smorgasbord of rejection, heartbreak, hopelessness and anger, one gets a wee depressed.

And so, I'm easily distracted. Thanks, Unlimited Mood, for the distraction ...

1. My uncle once: had to administer a 24-hour IV drip into my arm because I got sick during a trip to the Motherland.

2. Never in my life: have I known such pain as I am feeling now.

3. When I was five: I ran around the house with aluminum foil wrapped around my wrists pretending to be television's Wonder Woman.

4. High school is: one of my fondest memories.

5. I once met: the violinist Isaac Stern.

6. There’s this girl I know who: is really enjoyable to talk with and constantly makes me laugh.

7. Once, at a bar: I had the best cheeseburger I have ever eaten in my life.

8. Last night: I jumped up and down, waving my arms and chirping like a fool, to get a two-month-old baby to smile. Ultimately, he sort of ... smirked. A little.

9. Next time I go to church: I don't think it will be any easier.

10. When I turn my head left, I see: an architecture-inspired lamp that I really enjoy except it's hard to dust.

11. When I turn my head right: I see the matching lamp, equally hard to dust and equally enjoyable.

12. How many days until my birthday?: 315.

13. If I was a character written by Shakespeare I’d be: Katherine, from "The Taming of the Shrew." (Hey, you can't say I don't know myself or that I can't be honest with myself.)

14. By this time next year: I hope there is love between us again.

15. A better name for me would be: anything that doesn't create the natural diminutive of my real name. I really hate the current diminutive, but I have no other alternative.

16. I have a hard time understanding: how airplanes stay in the air. No, really. They tell me it's about this thing called "physics" ... but c'mon. Seriously.

17. If I ever go back to school I’ll: come out with a Ph.D. in English Literature, an L.L.M. in International Criminal Law, a Master's degree in Christian Counseling, a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts Management.

18. You know I like you if: I give you anything of me: my food, my home, my clothes, my money, etc.

19. If I won an award, the people I’d thank would be: everyone who got me there because for sure I didn't get there on my own.

20. Take my advice: there is such a thing as true love, but it ain't pretty.

21. My ideal breakfast is: A cup of coffee from MoMA and a McDonald's Sausage Egg McMuffin with Cheese ... or a bowl of miyuk-gook with rice and kimchi.

22. If you visit my hometown: you have to take a walk through the residential area downtown and check out the gorgeous old Victorians.

23. Why won’t someone: knock some sense into him and make things right again?!

24. If you spend the night at my house: truly make yourself at home. I'm not one of those people who just say that to say that.

25. I’d stop my wedding if: and only if I really had to.

26. The world could do without: this strange and inexplicable disbelief and hatred of Jesus Christ.

27. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: eat it.

28. My favorite blonde is: RM, my favorite non-Asian third-year medical student. Kobey comes in at second.

29. Paper clips are more useful than: staple-less staples.

30. If I do anything well, it is: by the grace, talents, skills, ability and intuition given by God.

31. And by the way: I'm not blind -- I believe in God and His promises, and I believe there will be a better day.

32. The last time I was high: it was on a Vicodin-based cough syrup, and I spent hours in nauseated agony. Never again.

Sunday, December 17

R.I.P. ...

October 10, 2005 - December 16, 2006.

Friday, December 15

RING, RING . . .

You know what's too bad? It's too bad that it's so hard to make prank phone calls anymore. It all started going downhill with the advent of caller-ID. But with cell phones and all that ... you just can't prank call anyone anymore. And it's just really fun! Too bad.

Wednesday, December 13


I'm not one of those folks who go around carrying a large (or even a healthy-sized) sense of entitlement. I don't assume that people are ready to celebrate my birthday, or pay attention to my accomplishments, or have me on their Christmas gift lists. I don't think it's because I think I'm worthless or easily overlooked -- my big mouth often prevents the latter. It just doesn't occur to me that I am on people's minds enough to be on the receiving end of goodies.

So I was really touched to receive a small and cheap gift that isn't even a gift, not for an occasion anyway. It's just something the giver thought I would like but would never purchase for myself, something the giver searched for because he really just wanted to get me something and wanted to find that perfect something. I'm more touched that the giver was thinking of me, had been thinking of me, and reminded me that he's always thinking of me.

Sometimes, these nuggets of care and love, these reminders that I am on the forefront of somebody's brain, are just enough to carry me through the hard and uncertain times.

My little goodie, given from a huge heart, is nothing grand. It certainly is small and inexpensive. But cheap? Never.

Friday, December 1

FUNK . . .

Why am I in a funk?

Because my normally vivid, exciting and colourful dreams are compressed and grey and shadowed. Because everything around me is dark, even when all the lights are on.
Because every person I look at and talk to is a reminder to me of how badly I fail them and let them down.
Because the days are passing and my life is not what I thought it would be at this point.
Because I don't have all that much hope that things will change.
Because I can't sleep a decent night's sleep.
Because my joints ache, and the headaches are worse, and my boob pain is back, sharper than before.
Because I still seek pain because at least then I'm feeling something.
Because I can't be everything to everyone at every moment.
Because I am not who I used to be ... and I like who I used to be.
Because he just can't decide.
Because I am misunderstood, and I don't know how to make myself clearer.
Because I speak harshly, even though my heart moves softly, and I end up hurting people's feelings.
Because I am no longer interested in food, or grocery shopping, or cooking, or baking, or feeding people with love.
Because Christmas music fills me with rage.

It's just a phase, I know. A season. Here's to wishing the season passes quickly.



The shadows don't prevent me from seeing reality. And the reality is this: you all are generous and loving. Sometimes so generous and so loving and so selfless that you take my breath away, make my heart actually skip a beat (it's a weird feeling), and make me have to sit down to stop the dizziness.

It's not a platitude or trite nicety when I say that I am taking you with me, that your generosity and love sustains me, that it is a manifestation of Christ in the flesh.

Nor do I say it lightly, in passing, without deep thought, when I tell you: God bless you and keep you and reward you for your faithfulness.