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Posts from the ‘memories’ Category


While making pizza together for dinner tonight —

JE, sternly: Cub, are you eating the flour?

Cub, quoting Pooh: You never know with me.

JE and my mama.

Part of a note my mama sent to JE today (the original was in Korean):

You aren’t just like a son.  Although I didn’t birth you from my womb, you’re a son birthed from my heart.  I love you so much!

That mama of mine.  And that husband of mine.

My heart is bursting with gratitude.

Full healing one day.

My mama-in-law’s Alzheimer’s has been accelerating into the final stages lately.  Her body has become more stiff, and she’s very hunched over while trying to walk or — as it gets later into the day — hunched over on the floor, unable to rise.

Last night, when JE was there with Cub, JE was trying to get her off the floor and into a more comfortable position.  Cub bothered him in the process, and he told Cub, “I’m trying to help Halmuni, because she’s sick.”

And Cub stopped bothering him and thought for a bit.  Then he said, “When Halmuni gets to heaven, she won’t be sick anymore.”

Hope from a little mouth in the face of Alzheimer’s.

Baby talk.

This morning, Cub asked me for some books from the top shelf.  As I reached up to grab them, he said, “You’re the tallest!”  I better savor the very, very short time I have before he realizes his mama is actually very far from being the tallest. 😉

After dinner, as the boys were playing, we were reviewing the names of certain things with Pup.  And JE noticed that he ends every word with a glottal stop (e.g., map is ma’, pillow is pi-o’).

And as JE was bathing the boys right now, I heard him and Cub laughing as he tried to correct Cub’s pronunciation of steamroller.  Cub kept saying steam-wo-wo and steam-ro-ror.

My favorite from today was when we were driving home from the beach and as we were listening to Shane and Shane’s Forever in the car, Cub said, “Umma, I remember the crown of thorns.  And the cross.”

I hope my boys always do.

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.