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–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 we can do is submit to His commands in humble obedience, to care and love for our neighbors, make effort to do what I can socially (e.g., voting, supporting local businesses, etc.), and to be thankful for the life we were 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.

Life Lessons from Mom

Oh, my lov-e-ly lov-e-ly (pronounce the separate syllables to make it sound like her) mother. She may not be the most graceful and elegant woman she imagines to be, but she has her charms. She is boisterous and her laughter is contagious, she tackles problems head-on, she has a tender heart and is the opposite of my often unresponsive father, her enjoyment and commitment to studying the Word is honorable, and she is passionate. It took me nearly twenty years to appreciate her intended motives and efforts, and what I came to realize was: she tried to the best of her abilities. She wanted a better life for us (me and my siblings) and though things did not turn out the way she wanted/expected, we know that God works in mysterious ways. I was subtly rebellious and did not like the idea of obedience and conformity–so foolish, I know. To tame and love such a sinner–the Lord knows the grueling task that was given to her and the struggles, agony, tears along the way. I am humbled and ashamed by my sinful past, and now as I raise my own child, I hope I can cling to Him as she did.

Here are a few life lessons she has taught me by example:

  1. Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind.
  2. Read the Bible and pray every day.
  3. Love means sacrifice.
  4. Respect your husband.
  5. It’s never too late.

I love you, 엄마 (mom). Thank you.

Meal Planning: 10 Easy Asian Recipes (links)

Meal Planning: 10 Easy Asian Recipes (links)

(Image and recipe from My Korean Kitchen)

It’s week 8 or 9 of shelter-in-place for us and I feel the drain of cooking and cleaning after every meal 7-days a week (with help from the Hubs now and then, and gracious friends this past week ;)). Before the shelter-in-place order, we would eat out Friday evenings and the weekends, but now our home has become a 24-hr diner, and moms, I feel ya. If I was by myself, I’d eat simple things like eggplant spread on toast and call it lunch, but do my husband and daughter consider that a meal? Nope. And because I haven’t been eating red meat for the past couple of years, and I don’t cook chicken that often, I feel like my husband, especially, is not consuming enough protein, hence losing his hair (is my theory). Of course there are other factors like stress, age, genes, but his once beautiful black hair is now so scant and peppered with gray. Balding and gray–I thought it would be one or the other–but both! ’tis so cruel. Lord, you have taken away my hair but blessed me with regrowth and thick curly locks. Lord, please, please bring his hair back! T-T

I digress, so beyond the point. ehehe…

To inspire next week’s menu or meals during the month of May as the weather continues to warm up, here are some easy-ish recipes to incorporate into your meal planning:

  1. Cold Noodles (Korean Mul-Neng-myun (물냉면)): Easiest way is to go to buy a couple packs of these ready-made noodles (found in the refrigerated section in the Korean/Asian market), slice up some cucumbers and pickle them quickly in a vinegar mix (equal parts vinegar and water, with a little sugar), and add ice. For protein, add a hard-boiled egg and try to dig up some frozen meat. If you don’t have ready-made noodles or don’t want to risk going out, you can substitute buckwheat/soba noodles and use cans of chicken broth as the base soup. If you want to be fancy and take more time, here is Maangchi’s recipe, or if you want it simple, try My Korean Kitchen’s recipe. I personally don’t like pears in my noodles, but a hard-boiled egg is a must.
  2. Poke bowl or vegan poke bowl (회덮밥 or vegan): Add any veggies in the fridge and tofu/raw fish to rice and stir in some soy sauce and sesame oil if you don’t have red-pepper paste (home-made sauce: 2 tbs red pepper paste, 1 tbs corn/rice syrup, 2 tbs vinegar, 1 tbs sugar, 1 tbs minced garlic, 1 tbs lemon juice).
  3. Any of these 3 Korean noodles: These 3 noodle recipes are very easy to make with items most likely in your pantry/fridge. Her videos are calming and most of her recipes are somewhat approachable. Note: Her recipes are typed in the video’s description box.
  4. Unagi Chauke (unagi bowl): I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but it seems simple enough. I’ve tried her okonomiyaki and yaki udon, and they were both very good. Her recipes are solid so I’d browse through the site to see which ones would be more for your taste/effort. The yaki udon is simple and quick, so I also recommend that dish. The okonomiyaki is delicious, but it’s very time-consuming and requires special ingredients, so unless you’re up for a cooking project, it’s not a quick meal you can whip up with pantry items (it takes 1.5+ hrs of prep and 12-15 minutes to cook each okonomiyaki)
  5. Soba: The most similar recipe to what I usually make is Just One Cookbook’s oroshi soba. My quick tip is to use a pre-made soup base, i.e., Kikkoman’s Koidashi and forgo the whole dipping sauce/soup base prep. The pre-made soup base can be used for other dishes as well (udon, stir fry, etc.). There are many soba noodle dipping sauce soup bases options sold in Asian markets. All you need are soba noodles, the soup base, a small radish, and some green onions. I often add a silken tofu with soy sauce-based dip as a side-dish.
  6. Katsu sandwiches: Just One Cookbook’s or Bon Appétit’s spicy version. A change from a regular katsu rice dish. I can’t wait to visit Konbi. I may need to drive all the way there and order take-out if this quarantine isn’t over by the end of May. Until then, I’ll try it make a baked version at home.
  7. Peppered Steak: The Seasoned Mom’s recipe sounds like the meat incorporation my husband needs.
  8. Thai chicken thighs: add some chili sauce, fish sauce, peanuts, and cilantro to change up a chicken thigh recipe
  9. Hainanese Chicken Rice: a bit time-consuming, but easy enough with pantry/common ingredients (a pressure-cooker might speed things up)
  10. Veitnamese-style vermicelli noodles: This is a simplified version of what we’d find in a Vietnamese restaurant. Easy to make at home.

Basically, you can prepare a bowl of noodles/rice and throw on some vegetables, protein of choice, and a sauce and call it a meal. Change up the vegetables, protein, and sauce, and there you have it, Asian cooking. haha ;)

During this quarantine, if I could learn anything practical, I’d like to learn sauces and marinades.