Grateful

October 28, 2009

One evening, my twelve-year-old son said, “I have a charmed life.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“In class, when our teacher asked us about the most difficult thing that happened in our lives, I couldn’t think of anything. No one I love died. Grandpa had cancer, but he recovered,” my son explained.

I should point out that my son is the most optimistic person I know. I love that about him. My husband and I joke that our son would get a box of poop as a gift and holler, “With this much poop, there’s got to be a pony!!”

“During prayer time, I never can think of a prayer request. God already gave me everything,” he continued. “I have loving parents, grandparents, family, and friends. I have a good life.”

What a blessing, as a parent, to hear my child say these things. Makes me praise God.

We agreed that since God bless our lives, he and I can spend more time praying for others.


A Miracle Healing

September 25, 2009

Several years ago after donating blood, my heart began racing at random intervals. The intervals were short enough (somewhere between seconds and minutes) to distract me and cause problems.

I ran out of breath easily. Couldn’t run or play tennis anymore without thinking I was dying of a heart attack. This went on for a couple of months before I made an appointment with my doctor.

They attached wires to my pulsing veins for 24 hours and the doctor concluded that yes, indeed my heart raced at random intervals. I told him that, but I guess he had to see the result from the machine before he believed me.

My doctor prescribed me medicine that will slow my heart beat and told me to check back in two weeks. During those two weeks, I experimented. When I took the medicine, my heart went back to beating at a normal rate. Then I would skip my medication and the random racing would return. I did this several times and always getting the same result.

After two weeks, I went back for my follow-up. My doctor listened to my heart.

“Is the medication working?” he asked.

“Yep,” I answered.

“Let’s keep taking the medication then.”

“For how long?” I asked. I really hate taking medication.

“For as long as you need to,” he answered. “You may need to take it for the rest of your life.”

I was bummed. I was in my early 30s and the prospect of having to be on heart medication for the rest of my life really depressed me. I know that there are a lot of people with more serious health problems who have to take medicine. So compared to others, my problem was nothing, really.

But I’ve always been very healthy and strong and while I didn’t mind dying of a heart attack, the thought of living the rest of my life on heart medication depressed me. I left doctor’s office with a heavy heart.

As I drove, I felt the Holy Spirit urging me to pray for healing. I obeyed. I went home and knelt down beside my bed and prayed. By the time I finished my prayer, I knew I had been healed and that I would not take the medication.

I never took my heart medicine again, and it has been several years. My last two annual wellness check-ups had my heart beating at 54 and 48 beats per minute.

For whatever reason, God chose to heal me. I am grateful.


Arranged Marriage

September 17, 2009
My parents

My parents

My parents had an arranged marriage in the 50s, shortly after the Korean War ended. Although their families lived within 10 miles of each other in a small town, they had never met until the wedding day.

Being in the military, my father was stationed somewhere close to the North-South border at the time. He also had a girlfriend, and according to my mom, they were living together. Gasp.

Some 200 miles down south, their parents arranged the marriage with the help of a professional matchmaker. My father received a letter from his parents, letting him know of the arrangement and to come down for the wedding on his first available leave.

He chose not to take his leave for a long, long time.

My mom had to endure rumors and gossips flying around the small town. In those days, a young woman like her, tall with big eyes, were considered ugly. Totally opposite of today! A rumor was that the groom-to-be saw her picture and was refusing to come for his wedding. How humiliating for my mom!

Then finally one day after several threatening letters from his parents, he came to town. The town buzzed with news that the groom-to-be was getting a haircut at the barber shop. Her neighbors ran to the barber shop to get a look at the long-waited groom.

A couple days later, the wedding took place without a hitch.

My father stayed faithful to my mom. During their first year of marriage, he did receive several love letters from his former girlfriend, but he always showed them to his wife and didn’t hide his past from her.

The ancient style arranged marriages like my parents’, I think, were cruel because it allowed no room for a participant’s free will. Nowadays in Korea, arranged marriages are more of arranged dates, and the couple can either agree to or refuse the marriage.


A Gift from God

September 14, 2009

When I was pregnant with my son, I prayed everyday that my baby would be born with a sweet heart, a heart that would love God.

And God answered my prayer. My son does love God and he has a sweet heart. He is a gift from God and an absolute joy. Ok, I’ll admit when he was a baby, I was just trying to survive his colic-y screams, diaper changes, and tamper tantrums. I loved my baby, but it was difficult to feel joy when sleep deprived and dead tired.

As my son’s vocabulary and mobility developed, his personality seeped out more and more. And his sense of humor was one more dimension of him that I really grew to love and appreciate. Watching my son, I realize once again that God is an abundant gift-giver.

It’s interesting to watch my son as he grows. He was born with blue eyes. That was totally unexpected. Yes, I had heard all Caucasian babies are born with blue eyes. Yes, my husband has blue eyes. But I didn’t think my baby, born of a Korean mom, would have blue eyes. Now at twelve years old, he has big hazel eyes.

We live in a Midwestern state where minorities are truly minority here. My son attends a Christian school where students are mostly white and all of his teachers are white. He has always been very proud of his Korean heritage and tells his friends and teachers that he is part Korean. But because he doesn’t have Asian features, mainly slanted
eyes
, no one believes him until I come to school. Although, people tell me that he looks more and more like me as he grows older.

After the last spring concert at school, my son and I were walking down the hall. I caught a girl starring at me then at my son with curiosity. I’m sure she was surprised that my son has an Asian mom. She smiled and said to me, “Oh! You do look like him!” LOL. Kids are so blunt and funny.


The night God revealed His Heart

August 24, 2009

Because I liked the way they studied the Bible the week before, I attended it again the following week. This time, I drove myself. I don’t know what I expected, but certainly had no suspicion that I would be changed that night.

Scripture was read about how Jesus loves us. Yeah, I heard that before, along with how God required us to obey him completely before He would save us from His wrath. What good was His love when I could never be good enough to earn it?

But that night, I heard the promise in the Scripture about His Holy Spirit, to be with the believers, to guide them, and enable them to live godly lives. That the salvation wasn’t about my perfection but His, it wasn’t about earning it but a gift from God. The gift package contained Jesus’ blood that paid for my sins and the Holy Spirit that marked me as one of His Own, and that it was His Holy Spirit that enables me to please God.

Psalm 139 particularly touched me.

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

I longed for a close relationship with God the psalmist had. It seemed like every scripture we read that night was aimed at my heart. The Word tugged at it, breaking down my walls, and revealing God’s loving heart to me.

As soon as the Bible study ended, I left without saying much. I couldn’t talk because tears were choking my throat. The moment I drove away from the house, tears flooded out. So much so that I could barely see the road. So hard that my shoulders shook. 

Why did I cry? God’s love overwhelmed me. That night, for the first time in my life, I believed that God loves me. No, I didn’t surrender my life to Jesus that night. Nor did I say a sinner’s prayer. I wasn’t thinking about doctrines, religions, or sacraments.

I simply knew God loved me.


My First Inductive Bible Study

August 22, 2009

I had a tennis buddy, Janice. At least six inches taller than me and super athletic, Janice was intimidating when she stood on the other side of the tennis court, even without her trash talking. During warm ups, she’d say things like, “Gina girl, I’m gonna beat you. I’m gonna beat you baaaaad.”

I really miss her trash talk. 🙂

The only advantage I had on her was youth. I was about 15 years younger and could run all over the court and still outlast her. But when we competed as a team, I really appreciated her “intimidating” presence.

Janice and I also used to work at the same place and quite frequently had lunches together. Many times, we talked about our games, the previous or upcoming matches. One day, she asked me if I believed in heaven or hell, and what I believed would happen to me if I died.

Janice was not a believer at the time, which goes to show that God uses anyone for HIS purpose. I answered her questions honestly and was very curious about the Bible study she was involved in. Growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, I was taught that the so called Christians didn’t study the Bible. My friend invited me to come and check it out. I agreed.

On Tuesday evening, when my husband drove me to the home where the Bible study group met, I regretted my decision to come. He pulled into the driveway and waited for me to get out of the car.

“I don’t think I want to go,” I said to Andrew.

“I drove you all the way here so you’re going.”

His swift verbal push was the only thing that forced me out of the car. Once inside, I witness the most amazing Bible study—not just any Bible study, an inductive Bible study—which amazed me. Why? Because they were studying the Bible. Not commentaries. Not a magazine or a pamphlet. Not even a book written by people with their interpretation of the Bible. I was used to those studies, but no, this study was nothing like what I experienced.

They were studying the book of Romans. The Words were read directly from the Bible. To better understand the text, similar verses were cross references—guess from what book?—from the Bible. A study that let God’s Word interpret His Own Words. This impressed me, and that is the only thing I remember about that night.


Is this it?

August 19, 2009

When I was little, I couldn’t wait to grow up. I wanted to have a good job, make my own decisions, have someone to love me, and live happily ever after.

Andrew and I got married at 21 and 18 respectively. We worked hard to complete our college educations, got jobs, and bought a cute house. We played tennis and travelled quite a bit in our 20s, enjoying the money we were finally earning.

But I couldn’t shake this question from the back of my mind. “Is this it?”

I had everything I dreamed of and more. I had a great job and a husband who adored me.  We won trophies from tennis tournaments, had an awesome group of friends, and thoroughly enjoyed our lives. Honestly, I could
not find one thing to complain about. My life was perfect.

Yet, I felt hollow inside. No amount of travel or amusement could fill that, I knew. Another trophy wasn’t going to satisfy the empty feeling either.

Now that I accomplished everything I wanted, I was supposed to live happily ever after, but I felt incomplete. One day I told Andrew, “I feel like something’s missing from my life, but I have no idea what it is.”

He tried to talk me out of my funk, but he couldn’t. I knew no one could. I began to think this was all there was to human existence. We live, laugh, cry, and die.

Why didn’t I seek God? I grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness. The God I’ve been taught expected me to live a perfect life to be saved, which I knew I couldn’t. I’ve also been taught there are no heaven and no hell. When you die, you just don’t exist anymore, which wasn’t a bad alternative for an unredeemable sinner like me, I thought.

So there I was. Outwardly, I had a great life. But inside, I felt hopeless. I found my existence meaningless, and yet I wasn’t good enough for God’s approval.

If it was up to me, I would still be in that place of spiritual despair. But God didn’t leave me there. HE knew my heart was ready to kneel before HIM. So HE reached for me . . .