Who Am I?

My Birthday is approaching.  In 3 days, I will be taking another step toward turning half a century.  If you’re wondering, I will be 47 years-old!  I’ve always looked forward to my birthday every year because there’s a certain wisdom that can only come from living life year after year; but 47 is hitting me in a different way because this is going to be a year of transition in my life as a mother.  My daughter is now driving her own car, making her own money, and she’s getting ready to do some traveling this summer without me or my husband.  The reality of her not needing me as much has hit me hard.  I feel as if I’m grieving the end of my daughter’s childhood.  I’m grateful for the fact that she is responsible, mature and has good sense of judgment; but — just like any good parent — there’s a part of me that wants to protect her from all harm.  So as I live this year of transition, the one question that keeps repeating in my mind is this: Who am I?

If you asked me who I was in the first 27 years of my life, I would’ve said, “I’m a dancer.”  After I got married, my identity became “Shawn’s wife.”  Two years later, I became “Jade’s mom.”  It seems like whatever/whoever took up most of my time became my identity.  I’m pretty sure that when I was in the corporate world, my identity was “Business Analyst,” “Project Manager,” or “Corporate Policies and Procedures Writer.”  But are any of these identifiers who I really was (or am)?

You may be surprised that I didn’t say, “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.”  I’ve always believed that me being a Christian/Disciple was a given and that I wouldn’t even have to say that, kind of like how I don’t need to say I’m Asian because I think that’s pretty obvious (see my photo on the left 😆).  If I said, “Hi, I’m Asian,” when meeting someone, they would probably be confused since that’s obvious, or they may just wait for a punchline.  So what is the correct way to identify myself?  How about my name?  Am I Jheni?  Not quite.  

The names we go by serve as identifiers to establish individuality and uniqueness; but our names are not who we are.  I may also be a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a friend, a student, a teacher… but none of these are who I am either.  These roles that we play here on earth are all temporary.  As I peel off the layers of temporary earthly roles and tangible titles, I am reminded that who I am is not the body that I reside in; the body that I get to live in is a vessel for who I really am, which is a spirit; and that spirit — which is the core of my truest form — belongs to God because I was created by God.  A song that comes to mind is Hillsong’s “Who You Say I am” (here’s part of the song):

Who the Son sets free, oh is free indeed. I’m a child of God, yes, I am.
In my Father’s house, there’s a place for me. I’m a child of God, yes, I am
I am chosen, not forsaken. I am who You say I am.
You are for me, not against me. I am who You say I am.

When I get tempted to focus on things that bring me immediate — but temporary — security and identity (such as trying to hold on to a youthful appearance, exercising to get back to the size that I was during my physical best, etc.), I remind myself that, “though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 10:16) 

So who am I?
I’m a Child of God, yes, I am.

 

With Gratitude,
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Deactivating an Emotional Bomb

Enneagram is a personality typing that  dives deep into one’s core motivations, fears, passions (tendencies that get you farther away from your authenticity), etc.  I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts about enneagrams (my favorites are Typology, Your Enneagram Coach, and The Enneagram Journey), but the other day, I decided to watch a YouTube video by a personality typing coach who I haven’t heard of before… and half way into it, I regretted my decision.

She started out with some great information (which I had already learned from my personal enneagram studies), but then she started to make harsh comments about a certain enneagram type.  Her tone was very condescending and downright mean.  She even went on to say that she knows she’s harder on Type 4s because of some character things that she sees in herself that are Type 4 characters and that it makes her mad and frustrated.  I kept on watching, hoping that she would turn it around… but it just kept getting more and more offensive to me, so I stopped watching it.  I was so upset that I could feel a knot forming at the center of my chest.  I had to stop everything I was doing and become still to do some inner work:

1.  BREATHING PATTERNS DON’T LIE

I closed my eyes and focused on becoming present:  I allowed myself to become aware of the ground underneath my feet that supports my entire body up to stand.  I then moved on to the awareness of my breath.  I felt the cool air going in to my nostrils and then going out of my nostrils.  I created an evenness in my breathing (inhales become the same length as the exhales), and then focused on the rise and fall of my belly while I consciously stopped my shoulders and chest rising each time I inhaled. (When we’re under any type of stress, our sympathetic nervous system gets activated and increases the cortisol level; these factors cause our bodies to become tense and start taking shallow breaths in the chest and not the diaphragm.)  Next, I placed my hands over my heart to send it energy of healing.  (The power of visualization is quite amazing.)  Lastly, I breathed in God’s Words in Philippians 4:6, as I chanted silently: (Inhale) “Peace that surpasses all understanding…”  (Exhale) “Guide my mind and heart in Christ Jesus, our Lord…”  After several minutes of this practice, I felt balanced, at peace and empathetic.

2.  DO THE INNER WORK FOR OUTER RESULTS

Once I was back to homeostasis, I was able to begin the the practice of svadhyahya (“self study”).  I realized that the reason why I reacted so intensely to a comment made by a complete stranger was because I felt threatened and attacked for the negative tendencies of my enneagram type.  I allowed her biases to cause within me a growing desire to defend myself and retaliate against what I saw to be an expression of her own perceived superiority.  I also realized that because I hold myself to a standard of inclusivity as a Yoga Teacher and Meditation Coach, I expect others in the field of therapy and wellness to live by the same standard.  In a perfect world, all Yoga Teachers, Meditation Coaches, Life Coaches, Typology Coaches, Counselors, etc. would leave their biases out of their professional platforms; but I know that we’re all in this process of growing and getting closer to our authentic selves.

The more I thought about the challenges and hurdles she might have had to overcome in her life, the more compassionate I felt towards her.  With a peaceful heart, I was able to pray for her journey to bring her closer to who God has created her to be and for her to be blessed in her life.

Next time you’re in a situation where you feel offended or angry, I encourage you to go against your desire to fix them; Instead, choose to fix yourself so that you can enjoy the rest of your day.  🙏


 

With Gratitude,
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Things I Learned From My Bestfriends – Pt. 4

As the final part of my 4-part series about “Things I Learned from My Best Friends,” I am dedicating today’s blog to all of the guy best friends that I’ve had throughout my life; but before I introduce you to all of them, let me give you a little background of why I had so many guy best friends.
I was born into a familial generation of all boys. I have an older brother and, other than one older female cousin, all of my cousins – not counting 2nd or 3rd cousins – were boys. In the Korean tradition (at least when I was younger), your cousins are your best friends. So, whenever we had family gatherings, I was the only girl under the age 16. I got along with most of my cousins, so I became comfortable being the only girl in a group of many boys. Once I got over the socially awkward stage of being a pre-teen, I found myself gravitating toward guys for friendship once again.

High School

I met M.G. in my geometry class during my sophomore year. I immediately developed a crush on him for his good-looks, quiet nature and the fact that he was an athlete. I made it very obvious that I had a crush on him by writing him notes and always finding ways to talk to him or flirt with him. Being that he did not feel the same way towards me, I decided that I’d rather have him in my life as a friend than nothing at all… while secretly hoping that I could win him over. About a year into our friendship, our feeling for each other became mutual, and we officially became a couple in the beginning of our junior year. We dated until the end of our college freshman year, and although we tried to stay friends, we just couldn’t make it happen. I was sort of the wild child who preferred to go clubbing while he was the down-to-earth, “dinner and a movie” type of guy. We were each other’s first love, so we made a lot of mistakes… but I’m so grateful for the lessons I learned while he was in my life. One of the greatest things I learned from having M.G. as my best friend was appreciating the simpler things in life.

J.K. and I started hanging out toward the end of my sophomore year. We both attended summer school (He was taking a class to get ahead academically while I was there to re-take Geometry because I got a D; I guess I should’ve paid attention in class instead of staring at M.G. and writing him notes 😬), and we just somehow ended up in the same group that would hang out in between classes.  He was every girl’s confidant; but he wasn’t “friend-zoned” because of his looks or social skills.  In fact, he was quite good-looking and had a great personality.  (And he did have plenty of girls that had crushes on him; I just wasn’t one of them probably because I was hung up on M.G.)  He became the guy that I would always call to vent about all my boy drama, and he would patiently listen and — without being judgmental — give me great advice.  We still keep in touch, and it warms my heart to get a text message from him once in a while.  I will forever be grateful for having him as one of my high school best friends and for his example of being grounded and emotionally consistent.

College

I met J.C. shortly after I became a Christian in college.  We were part of the same campus ministry, and we became best friends instantly.  We talked about everything and anything, and I felt safe and secure in my friendship with him. Just like J.K., he was very emotionally stable, sweet, and a loyal friend.  Whenever I was feeling sad about anything, he would play his guitar for me… and from time to time, I was successful at getting him to sing for me too!  I felt very protective of him, so I became that friend who would approve or disapprove of any girl that he was interested in. (When he met his future wife, I was so happy for him because she is one of the few girls that I approved of for him!)  The word that comes to mind when I think of J.C. is faithfulness.  He is a faithful Christian through and through, and I’m so grateful that we had the friendship that we did.

After College

D.G. moved from our sister church in St. Louis to help strengthen the singles ministry in our church.  One of my first memories of him is when he asked me out on a date… which I turned down because I had a boyfriend at that time!  I ended up breaking up with my boyfriend a couple of months after, and during my time of healing, D.G. became my best friend.  He was wise, fun and a great listener.  We have experienced so much of our single lives together, and I was so happy to be the one to set him up with his (now) wife.  It’s been a few years since I have seen him and his family as they live several states away, but I know that if I picked up the phone to call him anytime, we would just pick up where we left off.  I learned many things in my friendship with D.G., but one word that pops up in my head is LOYALTY.

G.C. and I had been good friends since our college years, but it wasn’t until after college that we became best friends.  He and I shared in our goofiness, sense of humor, and our love of salsa dancing.  In fact, he is the one who taught me how to salsa dance in college!  At one point, we became co-workers which actually strained our friendship temporarily (because we were constantly getting on each others’ nerves).  But even through that challenging time, G.C. was there for me.  Being that he was wise beyond his years (and a few years older in age and as a Christian), he saw past the temporary annoyance and extended grace and mercy in our friendship.  I will always be grateful for his example of spiritual maturity… and teaching me how to salsa dance!

The final one on the list is Shawn.  He needs no abbreviations because he is my husband.  He is the perfect combination of all the good qualities in my previous guy best friends.  He is uncomplicated and values the simpler things in life.  He is emotionally consistent and grounded.  He is faithful in every way.  He is loyal.  He is spiritually mature… and he let me teach him how to salsa dance!  😊  I can go on forever about my husband who is truly my better half… but I will save that for a future blog!

As I end my 4-part series on best friendships, I can’t help but to feel grateful for having been blessed with some amazing people in my life who helped me change for the better!


With Gratitude,
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Things I Learned From My Bestfriends – Pt. 3

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Last week, I mentioned that I went through a “dry spell” in best friendships during my 30’s.  There were several factors that contributed to my lack to bestfriends during that time: I was a new mom (I gave birth to my daughter when I was 30 years old) struggling through postpartum depression for months, and just as I was beginning to feel better, my dad passed away from lung cancer.

During my pregnancy, I was working full-time while taking my dad to chemotherapy, meeting with his oncology team (I was the translator at many of the appointments because my dad spoke limited English), and going to my own prenatal appointments.  These things filled up my schedule pretty quickly, and by the time I gave birth, I stopped making time for bestfriends.  By the time my mental health and emotional health improved, my husband, daughter and I had already moved out of California and had started building our new lives in Texas.  I lived in Texas for almost 10 years with a lot of great friends (including T.W. that I mentioned last week), but none of those friendships felt like the ones from my 20’s.  Even though I saw other women with their “ride or die” besties, I told myself that I probably wouldn’t have those types of best friendships as an adult… but that all changed when we moved to North Carolina.

We moved to Charlotte, North Carolina at the end of 2015 (you can read about the reason for our move here), and shortly afterwards, I met L.P.  L.P. was one of the moms that served in our middle school ministry in The Charlotte Church, and we bonded quickly.  She was (and still is) a drama teacher at a private Christian school, and I could tell right away that we were going to be really great friends.  Our first hangout was going to the Twenty One Pilots concert together.  Shortly after that, we made it a point to hang out as much as our schedules allowed.  Being that her younger son and my daughter became bestfriends also made it easy for us to spend time together.  L.P. is truly one of the most amazing women I have ever met.  She and I are both creative souls, but we’re opposites in many ways.  She has taught me how to be more compassionate and vulnerable, where I — according to her — have taught her how to have better boundaries in relationships.  We have made some wonderful trips together to Georgia, Tennessee, and California.  Although we now live over 1,000 miles away from each other, L.P. is someone I know will be my bestfriend for the rest of my life.  She has shown me that it is possible to have the kind of best friendship that I once had in my 20’s.

Another bestfriend I have in Charlotte is C.M.  C.M. and I have the kind of friendship where we don’t talk often; in fact, our keeping in touch averages about 45 minutes every other month… but when we do talk, it’s as if no time has passed between us.  She is never afraid to speak the truth in love to me, and I’m grateful that I can do the same with her.  I have learned to really push myself in loving people in spite of how they may treat me.  She is a woman who will love people with all her heart, not because of them but because of God’s love for her.

Now we come to 2021. My current bestfriend was one of my closest friends in my 20’s, but it wasn’t until my family and I moved back to Texas last year that our friendship became what it is today.  M.R. and I went to college together.  I have spent numerous nights at her house, and we have made many unsuccessful attempts to study together (they all ended in her falling asleep and me watching T.V.).  Even though we were close friends back then, I don’t think we really considered each other best friends because she had her circle of besties and I had my own circle of besties.  She and her family moved to Texas shortly after her second son was born, and once my family and I made the move to Texas in 2005, we tried to grow our friendship; but being that we were both moms to young child(ren) and lived about an hour away from each other, we found it a bit challenging to really invest in becoming bestfriends.  Fast-forward to today; we actually now live about 25 minutes away from each other, and her boys and my daughter are now grown… so this makes it much easier to spend time together.  I love how she is so down-to-earth, approachable and sincere.  I’m grateful that she and I share over 25 years of friendship and that God intended for us to be in each other’s lives for all this time — and for me to learn how to be a best friend as an adult — before M.R. and I became bestfriends.

One lesson I’ve learned as to why I didn’t have many best friends in my 30’s is because I didn’t know how to be the type of best friend that I longed to have.  I couldn’t have deep friendships because I closed off a huge part of my heart when my dad died.  Because I felt hurt by a lot of people that I felt weren’t there for me when I was grieving my dad,  I closed my heart from having vulnerable and deep friendships.  Of course, this is all in hindsight and I’m still working on these things, but I have been  seeing a huge shift in the quality and depth of my friendships because I am finally willing to open up and be vulnerable.

Next week, I will introduce you to all the guy best friends that I had and the impact they’ve had on me!

 

With Gratitude,
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Things I Learned From My Bestfriends – Pt. 2

“Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy,
for good friends are like the anointing oil
that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence.”
Proverbs 27:9

Last week, I started the four-part series on my best friends and the things I learned from each of them.  This week, I will continue the series by telling you about the best friends I had in my 20’s and 30’s.  I became a baptized Christian as a sophomore in college, so my social circle changed from people that I partied with and went to clubs with, to people who shared the same spiritual goals as me. Instead of filling my insecure heart with momentary pleasures, I filled my time with going to church, devotionals, studying the Bible with people, and hanging out with some amazing people who taught me the love of Christ.

I met F.E. through the girl that invited me to church.  I asked F.E. and a few other girls to study the Bible with me, to teach me what it meant to live a life of a disciple of Christ (aka Christian). The more open I became with F.E. and others about the “good, bad and the ugly” about myself, the more loved I felt by them because they accepted me and cared about me in spite of all the ungodly things I have done.  They also shared openly about their struggles which made me feel even more loved by them.  Even though all the girls that studied the Bible with me were amazing, F.E. and I just bonded in such a natural, sister-like way. She and I became the kind of friends that felt completely secure and safe with each other because there was no judgement, and there was nothing we didn’t talk about.  One of the many things I learned from her was that you can be cool and fabulous while living a life with spiritual boundaries and biblical convictions.  We remained best friends until she moved back to New York, which is where she was originally from.

I met my next two best friends, S.S. and T.R. when I was volunteering as a “Teen Ministry Worker” at my church’s Youth and Family Ministry.  They were both teenagers, so at first, our friendship was more of a Mentor-Mentee relationship, but once they graduated from high school, our friendships transformed into best friendships. S.S. and I spent a lot of time going to the beach, hanging out at the mall, and studying the Bible with people… and T.R. and I enjoyed going to concerts, and other live performances together as well as having late-night (and early morning) talks.  I was in both of their weddings (and they were in mine).  Life took us in different directions shortly after that, but one thing I learned from S.S. is to work hard to achieve goals, and from T.R., I learned the importance of a family bond. (She and her sisters — and their husbands — are still very close to their parents in distance and in heart.)

Once my husband and I entered the stage of being new parents, I went through a really tough time with post-partum depression and the loss of my dad to cancer.  It was also when we moved from California to Texas, so I struggled to connect with people on a spiritual level.  I met T.W. shortly after moving to Texas, and I told her that she was going to be my new best friend.  She was in the Singles Ministry at the church that I was now a part of (which is a sister-church to the one I attended in California), and I was encouraged to have someone in my life that made as much of an effort to spend time with me as I did.  (I found that a lot of my married friends were not as available to hang out as much as my single friend T.W. was.)  One of my favorite memories with T.W. was taking a girls’ trip to California together (along with another one of my single friends in Texas).  I loved introducing them to California and taking them to some of my favorite spots.  I’m so grateful I got to be in her life during her engagement, wedding, and the birth of her twin babies!  One thing I learned from my friendship with T.W. is loyalty.  T.W. is such a gentle soul with immense amount of loyalty to her friends, and that is exactly why God put her in my life when I was going through a hard time spiritually.

For most of my 30’s, I missed having the kind of friendships I did back in college and in my single days.  By the time I entered my 40’s, I convinced myself of the theory that I didn’t need those types of best friendships anymore because my husband was my best friend — he has been my best friend since 2000 — but I still missed having the kind of best friends that other ladies seemed to still have in their lives… and then I met her.  I met my next best friend in my early 40’s, and she proved my theory wrong!  You’ll get to meet her in my blog next week. 😉 

Also, if any of my guy best friends from the past are reading this and wondering why you have not been mentioned… I am dedicating an entire blog to you guys in Part 4 of my best friends series!  💜

 

With Gratitude,
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Things I Learned From My Bestfriends – Pt. 1

“Best Friend,” “Bestie,” “BFF”…  I have used all three terms to describe my best friends.  When I step back and evaluate my best friendships throughout the years, I can pinpoint many things I learned from them and how having them in my life — either for a season or more — allowed me to learn and grow in areas that I could not have otherwise.  So, let me introduce you to all my best friends throughout my life and the biggest thing I’ve learned from them (I’m only using their initials to identify them):


Pre-School to Early Elementary Years

S.L. and I both lived in an upper middle class neighborhood in South Korea, except she and her family rented the guestroom with an attached kitchenette from my neighbor across the street.  I never met her dad because I was told he worked overseas in Saudi Arabia, so as long as I can remember, it’s always been just her, her younger brother, and her mom who worked full-time.  S.L. and her brother liked to come over to my house because we had more space to play, and because my mom always made yummy snacks for all of us.  I remember being a total brat and bossing her around; Even though she would occasionally retaliate verbally, she usually just went along with whatever my bossiness demanded.  Looking back, I wish I was much nicer to her and her brother; but sadly, I knew I came from money and they didn’t, so there was a part of me that felt superior to them; but the one area I secretly admired her in was her ability to use a stove and cook meals at age 7.  I remember boiling water and making ramen on my own for the very first time at 9 years-old (just before moving to the U.S.), and I felt so proud that I was “cooking.”  When I moved to the U.S., we lost touch, but I never forgot about her.  She was always responsible and had a spirit of maturity about her, and I secretly admired her emotional stability at such a young age.  What I learned from S.L. is that you’re never too young to start preparing meals even if it’s just assisting by taking ingredients out for whoever is cooking.


Late Elementary to 9th Grade Years

I didn’t have many friends after moving to the U.S. until the end of my 4th grade year when C.H. and her family moved in to the same apartment complex where I was living.  C.H. was my age, and her sister M.H. was a year younger.  We became best friends pretty quickly, and I became a permanent fixture at their place.  Even after we both moved farther away from each other (into our own houses), I spent almost every weekend at their house, spending the night as much as I can.  C.H was more than just a friend to me; she (and M.H.) became like sisters I never had.  We took ballet classes at the same studio (although she and her sisters advanced quicker because they were just better ballerinas than I was), became frequent patrons at Northridge Fashion Center, and watched MTV when it really was Music Television with music videos on all day.  As much as I loved C.H. like a sister, I always had an inferior complex around her (are you seeing a pattern forming here?) because she was naturally thin, got great grades, everybody liked her (including boys that I liked), and she was so stylish.  I felt like the fat, dumb and ugly best friend because I often compared myself to her.  This was all on me because she treated me with kindness and never saw me as any of the negative things I saw myself as.  Our best friendship naturally drifted in such a beautiful, organic way.  There was no dramatic bestie-breakup; I started hanging out with a different crowd in high school, but we continued to love each other like sisters for many years to come.  In fact, we both attended each other’s weddings and we continue to keep in touch through social media and our annual Christmas photo cards.  One of many things I learned from my friendship with C.H. is her ability to see past physical attributes and see the beauty within people.


10th Grade to College Freshman Years

C.V. and I had been friends since 7th grade, but we became best friends in 10th grade through our love of dance.  We would choreograph dances together for fun and for the dance team that we eventually becoming co-captains of.  I wanted her to do every dance performance with me: She joined the professional Polynesian dance group that I had been a part of since 8th grade, and we eventually started auditioning for dance gigs together in Hollywood.  She pursued modeling while I pursued stage acting, but we always had dance in common.  After she moved to Indiana shortly after college, our lives took us in two different directions; but we still keep up with each others’ lives through social media.  In my best friendship with C.V., I learned how to be grounded even in the midst of pursuing a dream.


Well, this sums up my younger years.

Next week, I will introduce you to my best friends from college and the rest of my 20’s.  In the mean time, consider reaching out to your childhood best friends this week to say hi and catch up!  💜

 

With Gratitude,
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Missing a Streak

I’m not sure when the word Streak became a term to describe how many consecutive days you’ve been on a particular app (in high school, “streaking” meant something completely different), but I’ve become pretty obsessed with my Streak on the Bible App.  Even though I don’t always use the Bible app for my quiet times, I log into it daily to look up certain scriptures or to follow along during sermons.  It’s a very useful app, and I enjoy logging in daily to keep my Streak growing; but sometimes I forget to log in for a couple of days if I’m reading a spiritual book (these days, I’m reading more than one at a time).  This happened to me recently, and I got so annoyed that I missed a day, which resulted in losing my streak of triple digits!  “Hmm, that was an interesting reaction,” I thought to myself.

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts about Enneagrams lately.  Enneagram is a personality typing system, which is based on patterns of the way people perceive their environment and manage their emotions.  One of the common topic in these podcasts are the Why’s behind our actions, thoughts and feelings.  So with this recent reaction to losing my Bible app streak, I asked myself why it annoyed me and why it was so important to me that I keep up my streak.  It didn’t take long for God to reveal my heart behind my annoyance:  I was fixated on the quantity instead of the quality.  I felt a sense of accomplishment whenever I saw my Streak number go up even if I didn’t remember the scriptures that I read on the app.  Ouch!  This was very convicting to me!

Having a triple-digit (or more) Streak is not a reflection of an authentic discipleship.  My husband never uses a Bible app because he likes to have a physical Bible in his hands, which means even if he had the Bible app on his phone, his Streak number would always be at “1 Day”; but he is honestly one of the most genuine and authentic disciple of Christ that I know.  It is very common to see him reading his Bible and a spiritual book.  He goes on a couple of prayer walks every day.  He’s not someone with tons of “free time” either: He works full-time for a very big corporation, is finishing up his MBA degree, AND we lead a small group in our church.  He doesn’t do these things to increase his Streak or to validate his worth; He does it because he loves God and has a genuine relationship with our Father in Heaven.  His motivation is not public recognition but rather a recognition of his need for God.

It is important to do heart-checks on a regular basis because our flesh-nature easily loses sight of our authenticity in Christ.  According to James 1:23-25, “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”  This ability to discern and examine ourselves will allow us to grow in our spiritual depth and authenticity in Christ… and in return, our souls will be refreshed.

“My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them, for they will refresh your soul.”
Proverbs 3:21-22a

Let us all strive to live lives of biblical and spiritual authenticity and not allow an app (or anything/anyone) to determine the progress of our journey with Christ. 🙏

With Gratitude,
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It Can’t Be Summer All Year-Long (A Season for Everything)

I take a picture of Laguna Beach from this angle every time I visit!

I love the summers in Southern California.  Even though I love Texas and have been a Texan for over 11 years combined (2005-2015, and 2010-present), I will always choose summers in California.  There’s something magical about driving along Pacific Coast Highway, passing a beautiful beach after another beautiful beach… My favorite beach by far is Laguna Beach.  Whenever I’m there, I stare out into the ocean wishing that the moment, the day and the summer would last forever… 

BUT IT ALWAYS COME TO AN END.

In Ecclesiastes 3, the author (most commonly believed to be King Solomon) states that there’s a season for everything under the sun:

“For everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”


Now getting into my personal life… 

In 2016, God put on my heart to write a book and to start a podcast to encourage and inspire Christians in an “outside-the-box” type of way.  After doubting myself — so ultimately, doubting God — for three years, I finally obeyed his command to write a book on Biblical Meditation.  I rode the high of being a published author by doing a book tour from October 2019 to March of last year… until COVID-19 shut everything down.  Since then, I’ve been trying to write a new book, but God kept on telling me that my next “thing” was to be a podcast.  I told God that I didn’t think I was the one to do that.  The thought of launching a podcast terrified me; but because it terrified me, I knew I needed to do it for God’s glory.  So I started getting really excited about taking that leap of faith and entering the world of podcasting.  I got myself on a schedule and a plan to launch on March 2 of this year… AND THEN EVERYTHING CAME TO A SCREECHING HALT.

Let’s rewind a bit:  I have homeschooled my daughter since she was in 2nd grade (she’s now a high school junior), and this year, we joined a homeschool co-op where one of the parents from each homeschool family is required to either teach, assist, set up or clean up.  This semester, I’m teaching a Print Journalism class to 7th-12th graders, and I’m creating the weekly homeschool newsletter.  Last week was our first week back from break, and it was one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in a while!  To make the long story short, I realized that until this semester of homeschool co-op is over, my life is going to be mostly about homeschooling and a little bit about teaching my virtual classes… which means NO PODCAST LAUNCH ON MARCH 2.  Initially, I fought the inevitable.  I tried to re-evaluated my schedule to see what I can move around to make room for the podcast prep work.  I looked everywhere to see if God snuck in a couple of extra hours (in addition to the 24 hours that He’s given me), but I couldn’t find the 25th and 26th hours. 😭  So after many failed attempts at resistance and trying to make it happen, I surrendered to God’s new podcast launch date for me: May 4th.  Once I “let go and let God,” I felt a sense of peace come over me, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the week without feeling overwhelmed.

The season I’m currently in is a homeschool educator who teaches virtual classes.  And just like any season, it won’t last forever… so I better enjoy the beauty of this season, and then I will enjoy the beauty of the next season in my life.

 

With Gratitude,
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Lessons Learned from First Week of 2021

Alright folks, we’re now in Week Two of 2021.  How are you doing?  Some of you may have crushed the first week of sticking with your resolutions, but there may be some others that have already “fallen off the wagon” with some of their goals.

For me, I had a decent week.  As you may remember from my blog last week, I set physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and professional goals for the new year.  I bought foods that are recommended for my metabolic and blood type, and I’ve taken on the challenge of creating meals only using the foods on my list. (I pretend that I’m a contestant in an episode of Chopped, except I don’t give myself a time limit.  That would stress me out too much!)  After just one week of eating according to my metabolic and blood type, I feel less bloated and never hungry!  In regards to emotional goal of being more vulnerable, I spent time with a friend — in her backyard, 6 ft. apart and with masks on — and we shared our hearts and lives with each other.  There were some tears shed on both sides, and I felt so much closer to her as I left her house.  I feel blessed that God gave us that time to bond as sisters in Christ and as bestfriends in the making.  Now for the areas I didn’t do too well… 

I sort of slacked off on my reading of all THREE BOOKS!  I knew as I committed to reading these books that I needed to really stay on top of my reading; however, I did get behind… but only by a few pages in each book.  I’ve decided to reset my mental goal by holding off on finishing “Individualist (60 Day Enneagram Devotional): Growing As An Enneagram 4” until I’m done reading one of the two other books that I’m reading.

THE BEAUTY OF SETTING GOALS IS THAT YOU CAN ALWAYS STOP, REASSESS, AND RESET.

I didn’t do so well in my professional goal either.  I allowed my daily tasks and getting ready for second semester of homeschooling to distract me from working on the next steps to launching my podcast.  I justified it by telling myself that I was actually 10 days ahead of my scheduled tasks… but you know where that type of thinking got the rabbit in the story, The Tortoise and The Hare.  No bueno. I’m still technically a couple of days ahead, so I need to make sure I stay on task from here on out.

Spiritually though, I feel that I’ve been working on “getting over myself” daily.  I’ve started a 15-minute Yoga Flow series where I’m recording myself teaching a short yoga flow everyday and posting it for my paying clients to access daily.  Before the pandemic, I refused to create yoga videos because I hated the way I looked in videos.  But since I’ve been teaching virtually for over 10 months, I’m having to get over myself being insecure, body-conscious, and just overall appearance-conscious.  I’m enjoying creating these daily videos for people because this isn’t about me; this is about helping people take small (15-minute) steps toward moving more, increasing range of motion/movement, and introducing Yoga to those who may be new to it.

I feel pretty good about how I spent the first week of 2021.  There’s room for improvement, but I’m glad I don’t have to be guilt-ridden for not doing everything perfectly.  I’m only human, and I can be grateful for this fact.  I want to encourage you with this:

1.  WE’RE NOT BOUND BY DEATH TO ANY OF OUR PERSONAL RESOLUTIONS!
2.  LIFE SHOULD BE LIVED WITH SOME FLEXIBILITY.
3.  IF YOU HAD A NOT-SO-GREAT FIRST WEEK OF THE YEAR, IT’S OKAY; YOU GET TO START OVER EVERY MORNING.

 

I hope you have a wonderful week, filled with victories and flexibility!

With Gratitude,
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Hello 2021!

Happy New Year!  More than other New Year’s Day, 2021 seems to have brought more emphasis and excitement to many people.  Although no one is blind to the fact that COVID-19 remains to be the culprit of this global pandemic that we’re still in, it seems that most people are hopeful and optimistic about what this year will bring.  With this renewed hope, setting New Year’s Resolutions seems appropriate.  Through the years, my resolutions always included physical, emotional, mental, professional and spiritual goals… and this year is no different.


PHYSICAL GOAL:  TO GET TO MY OPTIMAL WEIGHT AND SIZE!

On January 1, I reached out to a health & wellness coach (and a very good friend of mine) named Vickie Griffith.  she is the creator of The Vickie G Method which is a individualized customized program of eating, exercising and wellness plan according to one’s metabolic type.  I have seen the results of her program in her clients for many years, so my husband and I signed up for her program.  My husband has the challenge of high metabolism (he has to work out to not lose weight) and I have the opposite challenge (especially since hitting my 40’s).  I will be writing about my journey in my future blogs, so stay tuned!  If you’re interested in finding out more about her program, you can contact her through her website (click here).  Tell her I sent you!  😉


EMOTIONAL GOAL:  TO BE MORE VULNERABLE!

Urrgh.  Sometimes I feel like I don’t know how to be vulnerable.  I’m really great at being open with what I’m thinking and feeling, but when it comes to that, “Here’s my heart; would you like to hold it?” kind of vulnerability, there’s a part of me that wants to reach for my place of stoicism.  When I was in my 30’s, I went to a therapist after my dad died of cancer.  During one of the sessions, I was telling her about a painful childhood memory.  After I finished talking, she asked me why I was smiling while I was telling her something that was so painful to me.  She said my words did not match my emotional expression.  So for the next two months, we talked a lot about my emotional disconnect.  The things we go through shape us, but they do not have to define us.  Since that time, I’ve been working on being more emotionally connected to my memories and expressing more empathy toward others.  It’s something I have to force myself to do.  In fact, it was beyond scary for me to write with such vulnerability in my book, “BE STILL: The Power of Biblical Meditation.”  This area of my life is a work in progress, so this continues to be one of my New Year’s Resolutions every year.


MENTAL GOAL:  READ ONE BOOK EVERY MONTH!

I have always loved reading.  I learned how to read at age 4, and the first novel I read was Gulliver’s Travels in Korean at age 6.  After I moved to the U.S. when I was 9, I learned English words by reading the dictionary and proper grammar through 80’s love songs (that’s when song lyrics were grammatically correct😄); but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a tendency to reach for magazines or articles online due to time constraints.  Once podcasts became popular, I found myself listening to podcasts more and reading books much less.  My goal this year is to read one book each month.  I have two bookshelves in my home studio filled with books: Books on Bible devotionals, Christian living, health, nutrition, wellness, neuroscience, Yoga, meditation, etc.  I’ve only read about half of my collection, so I have more than plenty to read this year.  Currently, I’m reading “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson with a friend, “God’s Perfect Plan for Imperfect People” by Tom Jones with the DFW Church, and “Individualist (60 Day Enneagram Devotional): Growing As An Enneagram 4” by myself.  After I finish these books, I am planning on reading just one book per month.


PROFESSIONAL AND SPIRITUAL GOAL:  GET OVER MYSELF!

I’m a dreamer.  I like to dream big… but those big dreams also terrify me!  Before I wrote my book, I second-guessed myself and really struggled to get started.  It took me a couple of years after God put on my heart to write my book, to actually write it.  Well, this next dream is no different:  God put it on my heart to start a podcast about living in step with the Spirit around the same time He told me to write a book.  But because of my insecurities (same insecurities I mention in my book), I kept finding reasons why I shouldn’t start a podcast.  But God made it very clear to me late last year that I needed to GET OVER MYSELF because this isn’t about me, it’s about inspiring other Christians to move past spiritual stuckness and funk that we all go through from time to time… and glorify God in the process.  So I’m doing it!  I’ll be launching my podcast on March 2, 2021!  I’m nervous and excited, so please pray for me!  I’m sure I will be dedicating more than a few blogs to my journey in launching a podcast… so stay tuned!


“Pray as if it depends on God, and work as if it depends on you.”
Mark Batterson, “The Circle Maker”

 

With Gratitude,
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