Posted in Personal growth

Back on my blog after vacation…missed my readers and sharing.

It’s been weeks since my last post! In that time, we went and came back from vacation to San Diego and visiting family. I’ve been wanting to post but it’s hard to chisel out a time to sit and write. First weekend back, so we are finally getting back into the groove of our normal life.

Before our trip, our family was in knots. Going through with our vacation plans is always laden with challenges. So many things to consider and discerning if Ellis will be healthy enough to make the trip. We were a bundle of nerves.

This time was no different. Ellis got sick with sudden vomiting and tummy aches starting 2 days before the start of our vacation. Elliot looked sullen. He knew what this meant: postponing our trip. It broke my heart to see him pretend like he didn’t care, yet when she threw up in the car the day before our trip, he cried. Then, Ellis cried saying she didn’t want to be sick; she wanted to go to Legoland. My immediate response is childish, but it’s a reflection of how I feel about the uncertainties: throwing my hands up in the air, shaking my head, and just walking away.

However, we successfully made it to San Diego making stops every 2 hours on our drive. It was a super long drive but at least we made it to our destination. whew…We were all smiles, sighs of relief, and in good spirits.

Reservoir rest stop on the way down to SD

Chris and I were blown away that Ellis did not get sick once on our trip. A-ma-zing! It felt like a real vacation with going on roller coaster rides, getting our feet wet in the beach (Ellis’ first time), eating way too much ice cream, zoo outing, playing carnival games (sadly, I kept losing), checking out tide pools, visiting a lighthouse, etc.

I feel so thankful for God’s mercies and for His goodness. I appreciated this special time to do things that we haven’t been able to do in the past. We also got to squeeze in quality time with my parents and Chris’ family.

It’s hard to articulate in words, but I remember feeling that I will miss these moments afterwards. It was a blend of happiness, nostalgia, and sepia-tone memories. We may come back next time, but we will have grown and not be the same as we were then.

I inadvertently came across a book called Creative Evolution by Henri Bergson, a 20th century philosopher, at a bargain books bin. The dust cover has this old and worn-out look to it, and I knew instantly it was coming home with me. First published year was 1911, and second one 1944.

In the foreword written by Irvin Edman, his words about memory resonated with me in thinking how I felt in San Diego. I’m not completely sure what it means, but it rings a bell. Here it is:

“Memory in action is not a dead deposit; it is a living and functional focusing of energies. It is life at the acme of attention, creation and decision. Memory is life cumulated and brought to bear as alternatives of action, as impellingly realized possibilities of choice. Memory is the living reality, the past felt, those moments of heightened consciousness which we feel as suggested opportunities to make the future.” p. xiii

Posted in Faith journey, Personal growth

When depression surfaces

When depression begins to hover over me, I feel an immediate sense of dread. The other feelings associated with it are hard to articulate; they don’t make sense either.

It’s a vulnerable subject to talk about, much less write about it on my blog. But I started this blog to share stories about me and my life, and this dark stuff is part of that story. I tried writing an encouraging and happy blog post, but my heart wasn’t in it. Life goes up and down, and I’m down in the valley for the present. But I’ll climb out of it like I have in the past. These experience teach me that people are fragile, no matter the external, and a smile can hide many tears.

I tell myself that if I try a little bit harder and hold fast to that positive attitude, I can overcome it. Maybe if I keep busy I’ll forget too. Maybe I’m a bad Jesus follower and a poor witness of my faith. The more I push it down, the grumpier I get. One thing I detest about this is how it affects my family. My kids wonder why mommy cries for no reason and gets hyper-annoyed by things that were non issues in the past. Disowning it takes it toll on all of us.

When people I know share stories with me about their panic attacks and bouts of depression, I empathize. It’s tough enough dealing with those feelings without the extra stress of convincing someone that you are not feeling this way on purpose. I need to return that kindness towards myself.

Ready for battle…I’m feeling her attitude!

I’m grateful for God who knows and still loves me. He doesn’t get offended by this kind of stuff. Instead He draws closer and shows me, through various ways, that I am not forgotten. I have purpose. One thing I don’t want is for you to feel sorry for me. I’m just sharing what’s on my heart with you.

K, giving myself a big high five that I am not going to delete this post but will publish it. Eeeeek.

Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

— C.S. Lewis

Posted in Faith journey, Personal growth

God blessed me even when I was a reluctant giver

On a regular outing for coffee, I ended up getting unexpectedly blessed when I tried to bless someone else.

I had thirty minutes to myself before picking up the kids, and I was determined to use it productively: get my coffee, sit down, scroll through Instagram, and spend the last few minutes staring out into space.

Right outside Starbucks was a skinny man with grey hair wearing a faded red polo shirt and cargo pants. He made abrupt hand gestures talking to himself although it sounded like it was a conversation with another person.

In the span of less than thirty seconds, this “pacing” guy quickly shuffled up to a middle-aged patron who was busily typing away on his computer. Before he could even finish asking for spare change, he got turned down immediately with a stare and curt response. He apologized and walked away like he was used to this kind of interaction.

It’s difficult to articulate but I felt like God was prompting me to ask this guy if he wanted coffee. God didn’t ask me to make an earth-shattering move, just a small gesture to help someone out.

I learned how special a good cup of coffee can be during hospital stays with Ellis. She usually won’t let me out of her sight for more than five minutes, so I sit bedside dreaming about how lovely the first sip of iced coffee with a splash of soy milk will be and comfort food instead of Saltines and peanut butter.

So many times, my gracious friends delivered coffee (not from the hospital), treats, food, texts, and their company to ease my stress. Chris also delivered coffee, but he had quite a disastrous experience when he accidentally dropped and spilled a venti-sized coffee in the hospital lobby. I was still grateful he tried but grumpy.

Those memories taight me how a cup of coffee can turn someone’s day around and uplift a person’s discouraged heart.

That Starbucks drink was delivered by a friend that morning. So grateful. Made me more sociable and sane.

The guy smiled and said he would like a large coffee. Then, as I was ordering our drinks, his gaze turned to the refrigerated food section looking intently at the menu options as he pointed from one item to the other. I had an inner conflict that split second: do I ask him if he wants something to eat?; isn’t coffee enough?; and emergency advice-asking prayer…God, what do I do? Please give me a generous heart.

I felt disappointed in myself for questioning so much over this issue when it was clear I should get him something to eat.

“Come on, you can do this with a generous heart and help this guy out” I thought. Countless times people blessed me and my family extravagantly when we were in survival mode with Ellis’ constant illnesses. Sometimes those friends told me that God pressed on their hearts to reach out to me, and those were the exact time when I needed help and encouragement. I’m so thankful they acted upon it.

I resolved to buy this guy’s lunch. I asked, “Would you like something to eat too?” He said, “yea? Thanks” and chose a few items. I sighed silently to myself thinking this would be an expensive coffee outing.

When all our orders were on the counter, I handed my credit card to the cashier. The person must’ve been a supervisor because he wasn’t wearing the green apron. (This is my assumption which may be inaccurate) But this supervisor only rang up my order. I told him to ring up the other items to my card. He answered vaguely and said, “I’ll ring up your order first.”

Once he rang up my order, I was ready to insert the card again. Instead the smiling supervisor with clasped hands told the “pacing” guy that his food “was on the house today.” Huh?! What just happened here?!

I was taken aback because of its unexpected nature. He then looked at me and said, “Thank you for your kindness. I hope you have a great day.” I felt humbled and blessed by this person’s thoughtful act and was filled with gratefulness. It was strange that someone commented on my “kindness,” but he didn’t know the inner turmoil and my reluctance.

I thought I was going to do something  nice for a stranger, but in turn I got blessed so much more. I felt God was there in our midst. I was able to see God’s goodness in other people’s hearts. I wanted to be kind, but in turn, I was touched by the Starbucks’ guy’s kindness and thoughtfulness.

The “pacing” guy was very happy too and he asked the supervisor if he could eat inside. He got his food, sat down at one of the tables, and started to unwrap the plastic wrap from his sanwhich. I don’t know why but this sight made me want to cry.

Isn’t God amazing and good?? In that moment God showed me He will bless my feeble efforts and gifts, but I need to first obey His voice. But how many times do I ignore and rationalize why I can’t do what He wants. God is God of the universe and everything belongs to Him anyway, and He makes a way when there is no way. Geesh, such little faith on my part although God shows me his extraordinary love in big and small ways.

When I excitedly shared the story with my kids afterwards, they were interested in the details: what did this guy look like?; did he not have money to buy food?; which sandwich did he pick?; how could I go to Starbucks without them; and lastly, can they get a treat for being good students in science class that morning.

Kids can be so random. But in sharing my honest encounters, the fears and joys that giving produces, I hope they learn too that kindness matters.

Sharing love between little and big Apatosaurus…old drawing by Elliot
Posted in Personal growth

I can’t have enough planners – ever

Have you noticed all the brightly colored, creative-formatted, and happy-inducing academic planners in stores these days?? Pretty papers are my weakness: the texture, colors, and weight of each page between my fingers. I’m a paper nerd!

I bought a floral planner last year: it reminded me of the upcoming autumn season. I must’ve been in a mellow, winter-y state of mind when I chose that particular one.

Fast forward to this year, and I went the opposite direction. Bright and tropical. Ellis, my 6 year old daughter, said she’d get me a planner for my birthday, so she did the choosing. She immediately gravitated towards the one with the golden elastic band, smaller size, and bright prints. I liked it too.

I might have chosen a bigger one for practical purposes though- easier to find.

Whichever format you use, whether digital, a paper towel, the back of your hand, or memory, hope that this fall semester brings you creativity, happiness, and a heart of contentment!!

Bright and tropical – True to Lily Pulitzer style

Posted in Christian songs/ faith, Personal growth, Raising kids

Making meaning of this not-so-glamorous life of motherhood

Mommy life is full of growing pains along with your kids and it is NOT glamorous. It entails sorting piles of dirty laundry, cooking, cleaning after crumbs, getting annoyed by the sound of your own voice as you constantly tell the kids to brush their teeth, put on their shoes, stop jumping, etc.

Mother rubber duck leading several rubber ducklings
Getty Image from TIME Magazine website

One time my friend picked off dried rice pieces from my shirt at a bible study meeting. Last week I got annoyed with Ellis for losing the new nail polish I got from Target. I assumed she misplaced it after tinkering around with it on the drive home. Well, I didn’t expect to find it there but it was chilling out nicely in the fridge next to the carton of milk. As my kids would say in these situations: “doy- yoy- yoy-yoing.”

I thought it’s be fun to list some things I hear most often. Maybe you can relate and we moms can give ourselves a big hug: you’re not alone.

In the ellipses you fill in whatever your kids say most often. Each family dynamic is different and has a lot to do with kid’s and mom’s temperaments.

My list:

  • Could you..?
  • Can I…?
  • I need…
  • I want…
  • I wish you could…
  • I wish we could…
  • Do we have to…?
  • I don’t want to…(followed with huffing and puffing)
  • You always want us to…
  • You should’ve…
  • I’m hungry. What do we have…? (I prepare a lot of meals because of Ellis’ medication for weight gain issues)

I pray that today we moms will have enough patience and grace to pick the right battles with our little peeps. I so need to be encouraged that each day makes a difference in our lives and that it’s not wasted time. It is a beautiful thing that kids love us back with those trusting eyes and will forgive so easily even when we are feeling the effects of hanger and exhaustion.

Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “Do Everything” lyrics speak to me on those days when I’m still in my pj’s and cooking the 5th meal of the day.

Do Everything

Your picking up toys on the living room floor for the fifteenth time today
Matching up socks
Sweeping up lost cheerios that got away

You put a baby on your hip
Color on your lips and head out the door

While I may not know you
I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes, does it matter at all?

Well let me remind you, it all matters just as long

As you do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause he made you
To do
Every little thing that you do
To bring a smile to His face
Tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every little thing you do

Another day and praying us moms glorify God in raising our kids and loving them for who they are.

A child can teach an adult three things. To be happy for no reason. To always be curious. To fight tirelessly for something...Paulo Coelho
Kaleidoscope Behavioral Health