Skip to content

Posts from the ‘memories’ Category

But God.


JE and I talked about how the artwork our parents hung in our childhood homes are seared in our memories to this day.  He remembers the Korean Scripture that hung over his mantle, I remember the Serenity Prayer that hung in our bathroom, as well as other pieces our parents chose for the home.  A quote here, an image there, a verse here, a portrait there.

So we’ve been thinking a little more strategically about the things we want hanging in our kids’ memories.  A map of the world to hopefully give them a perspective and heart for the unreached.  Our life verses.  Hebrews 13:14, which I have yet to make.  And a little square  with just two words — But God.

I wondered at what age our kids would begin to ask us what “but God” means and why we have that strange, incomplete thought on the wall.

So I painted But God on an 8 x 8″ piece of watercolor paper today.  Cub watched me paint it from afar as he was reading during Pup’s nap time.  When I finished, he came next to me and read it.  “But God.”

And then he said, “But God…..still loves us?”

He was asking if that was what it meant.

I was so surprised all I could do was kiss him.



This afternoon, while Pup napped, Cub read books and played in our room.  After an hour or so, he picked up his blankie, duck pillow, and monkey Uncle Ted, and climbed onto the bed to “snuggle” with me, he said.

I happily cuddled him, and as I was giving him kisses on his head, he said to me — out of the blue, “Umma, when you become so older that you can’t wash your butt anymore, I will wash it for you.”

HAHA.  What in the world?!


Mama lecture.

Last weekend, Cub did something that deserved a meh-meh, but thinking this might serve as a better opportunity to win his heart, I decided to talk it out with him.  A little heart to heart.

I kept it concise and tried to give him a taste of God’s grace through our conversation.

But as I was talking about God’s forgiveness, he gave me a half-desperate look and asked, “Are you done yet?”

God is holding us.

In the past month, certain conversations and events have triggered memories of abuse and violence in my childhood — abuse that I’ve witnessed, violence that has happened in and to my family, and the destructive force of sinful fury.  And I never noticed it before, but when something triggers these memories, even though I feel mentally fine, my body begins to shake.  And I can’t stop.

One memory.

I remember the night when my mom was nearly killed by a family friend.  She escaped and called us frantically to lock all the doors and turn off all the lights.  She told us he was coming after us, too.  She told us to hide.  And when I had to go into our dark garage to lock the back door, not knowing if he would be around the corner or trying to break in to harm us, my legs almost buckled as I ran.  But I made it.  I locked the door and hid with the cordless phone in my hand.

I was 13.

That night, as the police sat in our dining room and asked me questions, I couldn’t stop shaking.  My legs and arms and body shook uncontrollably, twitching, flailing, trembling apart from my will.

And to this day, when someone asks me about that night, when my brother and I talk about that night, when I hear someone scream in tones that remind me of my mom’s voice that night, my body shakes with similar intensity.  My mind may be fine, I may not feel emotionally distressed, but my body shakes.  And I can’t stop it.

I’m 32 now.  But even my body doesn’t forget.

Similarly, I’ve read of others who have dealt with the abuse of trauma.  Others who have suffered and deal with post traumatic stress disorder, many to a far greater degree than I have.  And they deal with similar, unexpected triggers that paralyze them again in the midst of everyday life.

Where is God during those times?

Where is He when we are shaking with the intensity of unerasable memory, incredible trauma?

This is my conclusion and growing conviction after all these years —

He is holding us.

Based on Scripture, experience, and the marriage of the two, this is what I am convinced of: His sovereign, gentle hands are holding us during the times when we tremble with the memory of trauma.

The answer is simple, but the healing process is not.  The answer is simple, but our belief in it is not.

But thank God — He isn’t done with us yet.  And until He is finished, and even then, He is holding us.

Redeeming love.


Moving up and down California (born north, moved south for college, moved back home post-college, moved south post-marriage and two kids), I feel like I leave bits of my story every place I go and every place I leave.

San Jose is full of babyhood, childhood, high school.  San Diego and parts of the OC have slices of college tucked away in them.  Santa Clara and Campbell echo with both the sweet and painful memories of my single years — teaching, finishing grad school, church planting, and falling in love as my family was falling apart.  Oakland and Castro Valley have all the first scenes of marriage and motherhood.

But a line from a hymn comes to mind and drowns out all the sounds of transition and struggle: Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be ’til I die.

God’s redeeming love has been the chorus of every bit of my story.

We aren’t settled yet.  The narrative of OC life is just starting.  I have no idea what to expect.  But I have no doubt that God’s redeeming love — His ongoing gospel work in our hearts and lives, and pouring out to those around us — will continue to be the theme … to His glory.


I forget exactly how it started, but sometime during the transition, I would cuddle Pup and call him my “baby.”  Cub, too, but Pup especially loved this.

So now he’ll ask me several times a day for “baby.”  When he’s tired, when he’s sad, when he just needs an extra dose of love.  He’ll throw his blankie on my shoulder and lay his head on my chest and snuggle for a few minutes.

And when I ask him, “Are you my baby?” he’ll nod his head vigorously.



If transition is like an ocean voyage, I’d say we’ve made it past shore (packing, moving, unpacking), past the breakers (the first month here), and are now adrift at sea.  How long ’til we reach sight of land?  ‘Til we have some semi-permanent home, routine, community?  I don’t know.  But I’m just grateful that we get some repose, even if it’s only for today.

Evidences of grace.

This is a rather rambling post, just some things I want to write down before I forget —

It’s felt non-stop since we moved down to SoCal a little less than a month ago.  I’m realizing that my ability to actually care for Mama and Papa Kim is limited by my need to care for my own littles.  And since Mama Kim has been going through an aggressive period in her disease, part of my care for my kids has meant keeping them home and out of the path of danger.  Very sad about this.  So most of my participation has been in the way of researching, making phone calls, putting options before Papa Kim, helping with meals as I can, and — probably the hardest of all — freeing JE to serve them without complaining, without adding to his burden.  The many phone calls throughout the day, the afternoons and evenings and weekends when his dad needs him.  We’ve agreed this is a transitional period.  We’re trying to find a new normal not only for us but for his parents.  God give us strength during this period.

Some evidences of His strength-giving grace lately:

Last week, I was at cracking point, but we were able to visit my parents and our church in NorCal for a whirlwind trip (less than two days).  We almost canceled the trip because of the complications with Mama Kim, but JE delayed the trip only by a day so we could help his parents figure out a solution while we were gone and said, “Let’s go.”  We packed in an hour and went.  It was worth it to go, even if just to see the reunion between my parents and the kids.  They missed each other so much.  And seeing dear friends at church, friends I could cry to and share with and be encouraged by … God knew.

I also developed a stress-related infection shortly before leaving for NorCal.  I didn’t realize how severe it was until we came back.  So I went to urgent care and had some medicine prescribed to me.  I worried about the cost since I’d be paying sans insurance (insurance for JE’s new job doesn’t kick in ’til March 1), but the pharmacist at Vons was extraordinarily kind to me.  She noticed my driver’s license had a different address than my medical records, so that launched us into a conversation about my move to SoCal.  She signed me up for a discount program for my medication.  So my total for the medication was $7.  She also gave me a $25 Vons gift card as a welcome to SoCal/urgent care referral bonus.  And then — this was the part that tipped me over the edge and made me want to cry — she spent about five minutes tenderly telling me to take care of myself.  This sounds so silly, but being in a season where it feels like we are helping everyone but have no one to ask for help (I’m sure this is an exaggeration, but it’s one that my wavering emotions tempt me to believe sometimes), having a complete stranger see my burden and care for me was so moving.  It was clearly God using this woman to remind me that He sees, He hears, He knows.  And His arms never fail to hold us up.

I’m so grateful.

“The eternal God is a dwelling place and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33:27a)

Missing loved ones.

Last night on the way home from visiting with his cousins, Cub asked me out of the blue, “Umma, can we go to CV?”

I asked him, “Awww, why, Cub?”

“I miss my friends.  William and Elise and Landon.”

Of course he’d miss them.  Friends from the womb.  We saw each other at least twice a week almost from the time they were born between book study, play dates, and church.

And then Pup started calling to me, “Umma! Umma! Umma!”



“Pup, you miss Harabuji?”

“Mm.” (How he’s been saying yes lately.)

He’s been waking up asking for Halmuni and Harabuji (my parents) and saying their names throughout his play times.

Makes my heart ache, though I know God has us down here for a very good reason.


But He loves me.

I was fuming at Cub in the car on the way home from homeschool co-op because of some bad decisions he made there.  Is that how we treat our friends?  Is that how we respond?!

And in the midst of my rant about how he would get a meh-meh when we got home, he asked tearfully from the backseat, “But God still loves me?”



“I am a wayward, foolish child. But He loves me! I have disobeyed and grieved Him ten thousand times. But He loves me! I have lost faith in some of my dearest friends and am very desolate. But He loves me! I do not love Him, I am even angry with Him! But He loves me!”

(Elisabeth Prentiss)