A Time for Everything

~2009, in my Oakland apartment

I’m amazed at people who say they don’t regret anything.

I regret so many things…

Why didn’t I do this? Why did I do that? What was I thinking? Why wasn’t I thinking?

But as I look back and think about my present, I accept that the past was a season in life, however foolish I may have been, it was a season.

What have I learned from those seasons of regrets and mistakes?

What can I do now that I won’t regret later?

That is the conundrum I face these days…

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-17

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

15 Whatever is has already been,
    and what will be has been before;
    and God will call the past to account.[b]

16 And I saw something else under the sun:

In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,
    in the place of justice—wickedness was there.

17 I said to myself,

“God will bring into judgment
    both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
    a time to judge every deed.”

In the Heat of Summer

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Lately I’ve been experiencing intense, action-suspense-filled dreams. It’s been stressful to sleep and I often wake with my head and body aching from imaginary jumping from building to building, crawling through a basement somewhere, and getting chased by imaginary assassins. What is this madness.

I blame the heat. (Currently 95 degrees at 7:20pm).

Here’s what I’ve been doing to escape:

  • Wake up early and head somewhere cooler, i.e., the beach. In my experience, beaches are pretty empty in the mornings on weekdays.
  • Watch Cari Cakes on YouTube. She lives in Seoul and her vlogs feel very inviting. I especially like her music choices and snippets of street views as she visits different parts of the city.
  • Make shaved ice. Recently my sister bought us a Japanese shaved ice machine that shaves ice to milky smooth consistency. We grew up with the manual kind where the ice turned out uneven and crunchy, so this fancy machine is a major upgrade from our childhood. I love a good bingsoo (Korean shaved ice). Because of covid, we haven’t been able to visit any of our favorite shaved ice shops, but now we can make them at home! Y says he grew up with the manual machine as well and his parents would pour orange juice on the shaved ice and that was it. That is so funny to me! Just shaved ice and orange juice. He made himself a bowl recently and closed his eyes to savor the one flavor, saying, “Ah, this is my childhood right here.” Elaine seemed to like it too. Maybe there’s something to it. haha.
  • Read in the evenings with the windows wide open and the fan on. There is something nostalgic about reading in the evening in the summer “breeze”.
  • Plan next year’s vacations. Now’s the time to book those flights and hotels. Hopefully, it’ll be safe to travel and covid will be (nearly) gone by next summer. Please Lord, please disintegrate every molecule of its existence and may there be no mutant variants. If anything, flight and hotel agencies have lenient cancellation policies, so there’s no harm in wishful planning. My future may be uncertain, but looking forward to something makes life in the future a little more tangible..

Faith & Prayer

From Mark 9:14-29:

There was a boy who was mute and suffered seizure-like episodes because of an unclean spirit. The disciples couldn’t cast it out and Jesus answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me,” and continued to inquire from his father how long this has been going on. The father later states, “‘But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” At the end of the passage, the disciples ask Jesus why they couldn’t cast out the spirit, and Jesus responds, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

From Mark 11: 12-25:

When Jesus was hungry and approached a fig tree without any fruit, he rebuked it and the next day it had withered away to its roots. When Peter asked Jesus about it, the lesson was “Have faith in God.” This was an odd connection, I thought, because what does a withered fig tree have to do with faith? I first assumed the lesson would be about how a tree that bears no fruit would be cut off (like John 15:1-5). Jesus states, “Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” [Side note: Matthew 21:18-22 shows how Peter asked, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” compared to Mark where it states that Peter said, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered, ” and Jesus responding to him to have faith. Jesus’s response makes better sense in Matthew but the lesson is the same.]

Do I pray with such faith? Faith to move mountains, faith for the impossible? Do I believe in the power of prayer to know that it is a superpower God has given us, that truly, “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37),

O Lord, please provide me faith for the impossible,

and faith not to worry or be saddened about what will happen to my beloved, knowing that Your plan is good and perfect.

5 Fun Things

We live in the desert and it’s beginning to roast. For now it’s mildly in the 90s but we know it’ll soon hit above the 100s and the Husband will blast the AC whenever he is home. When he’s not home, our house stays at a cool but comfortable 78-79 degrees. He prefers temperatures equivalent to his work/hospital setting, which is basically freezing and I cannot stand it–the constant AC rumble and air blowing into my perpetually runny nose. If only we could build him his personal cold room.

But enough of my rant.

There is so much to sigh and complain about, especially when I think about society at large and Kanye running for Presidency (what!); it takes conscious effort to refrain and change my mindset to gratitude, to think about His sovereignty and that everything, no matter how absurd it may seem, is according to His plan. The least I can do is submit to His commands in humble obedience, to care and love my neighbors, make effort to do what I can socially (e.g., voting, supporting local businesses, etc.), and to be thankful for the life I was given, the life that was purchased through His Son’s blood. Though there may be much chaos in the world, peace can be found within Christ and the gospel, and that gives me hope and sanity when I feel myself beginning to spiral down my mental blackhole.

We still have many months ahead of social-distancing: of crafting, creating, exploring, reading, reflecting, and studying.

Here are five things that allow a bit of unwinding and de-stressing:

  1. Cooking new recipes: If you’re like me, you might have already been pinning, saving, collecting recipes from cookbooks, magazines, blogs, etc. Lately I’ve been referring to Alison Roman’s Dining In. I know, I know; she’s been recently scrutinized for her insensitive, callous remarks regarding a few well-known non-white female entrepreneurs, which was/is horrible and it was so disappointing and saddening because I’ve been a fan of her cooking/videos, but I purchased her book before the incident and her recipes are…well, pretty good. I hope she does make effort to change her way of thinking and speaking. One cooking lesson I learned in my 30s is that I have a flavor profile and chefs/recipes also have flavor profiles, and in order to find a “good” recipe, our flavor profiles must match. Not only must they match, they must also be accessible. Alison Roman’s recipes match my flavor profile and her ingredients are (mostly) simple and accessible/adjustable. Recently I tried her bronzini recipe, which was basically baking/roasting 2 bronzini fish from H-mart with slices of lemon, and it was simple and delicious with rice. Anyway, my point is, experimenting with new recipes and finding ones that are tried-and-true will be worthwhile even after this pandemic.
  2. Netflix’s Eurovision Song Contest starring Will Ferrel and Rachel MacAdams was a lighthearted film with catchy songs. Dan Stevens also stars in the film, and his character is so ridiculous/funny! Because he played my favorite character in Downton Abbey (as Mathew Crawley), he has become one of my favorite actors, and because his character in Eurovision was the complete opposite of his Downton Abbey character, it was all the more hilarious to watch.
  3. Disney Paper Parks: Disneyland closed its doors since late March and having been an annual pass holder last year with hopes to continue to visit this year, we’ve been missing the monthly excursions. So sad. hehe. Disney Parks Blog released a paper craft activity that recreates Main Street with parade items. I haven’t tried it yet, but I printed it out to craft with my daughter this month.
  4. Gardens: We haven’t ventured out to public spaces, especially ones that are indoors, but I think we may be able to visit gardens this summer/fall. There are a few botanical gardens I have had in mind, and they have been slowly re-opening with limited capacity/tickets. As long as everyone adheres to wearing masks and these outdoor venues are limited in capacity/tickets, I may dare to venture out of my home.
  5. Drive-in Theaters: There are a couple drive-in theaters around where we live, and we’ve attended Street Food Cinema once or twice in the past, and the change in scenery allows for a brief refreshment, even though the activity of viewing a film may be frequent and mundane. My daughter is always down for staying up late, watching a movie, and eating snacks.

Hope you are well, friends.

Life Lessons from Dad

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I didn’t realize how similar my dad and I were until recent years. He and I are drawn to the arts and philosophy/literature, we are reclusive/introverted, skeptical, insensitive realists. Sympathy and empathy are difficult for us, whereas my mother (and sister) are more of the dreamers and emotional, passionate types. But I didn’t know I was like this and I didn’t know why my dad was how he was while I was growing up, so as a child, I saw him as a distant, often angry, figure.

Now that I’m older and I somewhat understand his history and personality, I appreciate his efforts in trying to be the father he never had. Life was never easy for him, and to make it more of a challenge, he chose the most emotionally, mentally, and psychologically draining career–ministering to people. Similarly, I chose a career in teaching, which took a toll on me in similar ways. For introverts like us, it was an odd career choice where it was our duty to be close to people, talking to them, and teaching/leading them. (What were we thinking?!) But alas, the Lord uses the odd ones, often the inadequate, to reveal His power and plans. After decades of toil, my father has finally settled as the Lord has used him and grown His church and he lives his life shepherding God’s people while physically working on his land as God has intended man to live.

Here are a few life lessons I have learned from him:

  1. God comes first, in everything.
  2. Cling to God, trust Him, call out to Him.
  3. Study the Bible.
  4. Have faith; do not be anxious; God will provide. (Luke 12:22-31 is his way of life) — this is how we’re different. I am an extremely anxious person, which affects me mentally and physically. I think my brother is similar to my father in this regard.
  5. Never stop learning.

I love you 아빠 (dad). Thank you.

Happy Father’s Day.