Category Archives: and motherhood.

Anything But Ordinary

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When I launched my new website in 2013, I lingered on the amount of visitors and the number of “likes” that I received on Facebook. I felt vulnerable doing this, but I yearned to know that my new project mattered. Yet, if I was really being honest with myself, I know that I wanted to alleviate my feelings of inadequacy and fears of being seen as simply “ordinary.”
Why do I have such reservations of seeming ordinary? It is because in my teens and early twenties, I was discipled by my church and pastors to live life boldly and impact the world for Christ. This is why I served children in the inter-city of Chicago, traveled to the border of North Korea, and gave away shoes and clothes to those who needed it. I even worked as the Children’s Minister for three-years and eventually went to seminary school. Now, my days are spent in the suburbs, driving a mini-van, and raising two kids whose lives are on a set schedule. For me, the monotonous lifestyle is challenging because it requires me to go deep inside and be mindful about how to be kind to my children, husband, and even people at the grocery store. During my training to be a radical Christian, I was never told about living an ordinary lifestyle or how it should be done.

Christian women are always being told about their place in society and in the home. I love my young children and being married, but I often have days of feeling underappreciated or that I am not doing enough with my life. On those days, I have been known to numb the pain with chocolate even though it only pacifies the feelings for a temporary amount of time. When I was feeling that my ordinary life was not good enough or that I was not doing enough, I had to force myself to be aware of those hurtful lies and change my thinking about my season in life. I realized there was nothing wrong with being known as ordinary or doing ordinary things. According to Luther, “ordinary works, done in faith and from faith, are more precious than heaven and earth.” Ordinary does not equate to “not being good enough.” In the Bible, God chose the ordinary and imperfect people to do amazing things for Him. Moses lacked the confidence to speak when he had to confront Pharaoh and deliver the people from slavery. David was just an ordinary shepherd boy who was chosen to be the future king. Despite flaws or seeming common, God can see the high worth of individuals. The number of Facebook or Twitter followers should not measure what a person can do or their value. God says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

I miss the days of being radical for Christ, but my priorities altered because I have young children in the home. Though I do not always enjoy the mundane work of laundry or cooking, my eyes have been opened by my wonderful church community, and by the women in Redbud Writers Guild, whose lives have been dedicated to serving others through prayer, mentoring, and encouragement. Their faithfulness has made a difference in my life and has also taught me the real meaning of koinonia.

As Helen Lee reminds me in The Missional Mom, “I can be a purposeful mother, one who not only loves her kids but who wants to make a difference in the world.” I know this is my season of being a mother to young children, so I embrace it and all the challenges that come with raising a family. Though I feel it is ordinary at times, I want to look back at this period and know that I tried my best to make it a well-lived Christian life. I have made mistakes with my words or reacted when I should have comforted, but in the midst of my flaws as a mom, my children know they are my priority and I love them. I still hope that someday, there will be a time when I can ignite the fire or be part of a revolution, but for now I will bask in the comfort of my middle-class mini-van and enjoy the weekly play dates. Yes, my life is a bit ordinary, but I serve an extraordinary God and He makes living good.

Untwisting the Past

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Freckles

“If she didn’t have so many freckles on her face, she would be so much prettier.” These are the words that were said to me daily. I should have been use to the sting, but it always felt like a new cut that let me know how I did not measure up. My mom was born with a complexion that was the color of white pearls. She didn’t need to tell me that she did not like my skin color, she showed it through her side remarks and constant efforts to purify my skin through different toners, face masks, and creams.

As a person of color, my story is a common one. The practice of extending or withholding favor based on a person’s skin tone is called colorism (Millner). It can usually be found within a cultural or social group where skin color is divided into dark-skinned and light-skinned. The negative attitudes are not from outside groups, but from grandparents and parents who show favor toward the light skinned children; same race men who ignore the dark-skinned women; commercial and print ads that use pale skinned models to push how light skin equates beauty, success, and love.

So how do we change attitudes about skin color? When I was facing this issue with my daughter who was called, “ugly” because of her dark skin, I had to take a hard look at my opinions on the topic, and then I had to reorganize my attitude since it was clouded by my mother’s voice and that of my culture. This led me to find books, dolls, female role models, and enter my daughter into the world of professional modeling. I did this because I wanted to use these things to have open conversations about color, and for her to understand that people come in different shades, but our worth is the same.

It is hard to have so many negative messages affect my daughter. But ultimately, I want my daughter to understand what I didn’t when I was her age, she is beautiful and smart because she is “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God (Psalm 139:14).

Don’t let others label you. Too often when you are tagged, it can stick for long time. It is easy to believe what others perceive, but those things are often based on assumptions. Don’t let people limit who God made you to be.

Breaking Free of Your Past

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You are worthless.

You are stupid.

You will not amount to anything.

You are a disappointment.

Though words like these were told when we were children or by a co-worker, the words can still sting and crush how we see ourselves as adults. We tell ourselves to move forward and not believe the words, but they linger and stay with us, to the point of clouding our perspective and even tormenting us.

“Why couldn’t I do more with my life” or “Why am I such a loser?” As women and mothers, it is so easy to point out our flaws and the things that we didn’t do. It even makes us feel guilty and blame ourselves for not spending our time wisely or not doing more with our lives.

Sometimes when I feel like this, I want to be a turtle and hide in my shell. I want to close myself off from people because I am ashamed for lacking in so many areas. When I am like this, I can’t think about my future because I am so stuck in the past that is affecting my present life.  I also do not want to be around people because I have hardened my heart from getting hurt from another person.

It is a rough road to be on alone. Yet, we don’t need to believe in those negative words. We just need to turn to God who loves us and sent His Son to save us. Also, remember that no person’s life is so horrible that God can’t do something wonderful in His timing.

Rahab was a prostitute

David was a murderer and committed adultery

Paul persecuted Christians

Peter denied Jesus

It is easy to allow the past to dictate our lives and to numb pain through food, television, and keeping busy, but when Jesus died on the cross, he washed away every dirty stain, our tears, and past wounds with his blood. He transformed us into new creations. The old life is gone and a new life has begun (2 Cor. 5:17).

As Easter is coming, may this be a reminder to lay the shattered pieces of your life at the foot of the cross and be healed within. You are a new creation who is being molded daily to the likeness of Jesus Christ. Be free from the garbage of the past and remember that you were chosen by Christ for a purpose.

You Are More

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For the past year, my daughter has gone on auditions for print advertisements and television commercials. I go along each time and enjoy watching the auditions because the cameras and make-up all seem very interesting and exciting, and most importantly, my daughter enjoys it.

Last week, my daughter’s agent called me because she wanted to know, if I was above 5’3” in height, Asian, and might be willing to go on an audition. I adamantly refused, until she told me the pay for one day was $2000 minus her 15% cut as an agent. Well, she got me when she mentioned the pay because I have mucho student loans to pay off and $2000 would be very helpful!

The day after I auditioned, the agent called me to say that I got the part and that I would be playing an Asian doctor for a print ad. I was amused at the new position and did not think twice about it, until the day that I needed to go in and take the pictures.

I was told to come clean faced and wear clothes that I could easily slip off since they would be supplying a hair, make-up, and clothing stylist. When I sat to get my make-up done, I heard a lead producer say that she wanted my make-up to be natural and professional since I was playing an “Asian doctor.” I thought it strange that they kept emphasizing the “Asian” part, but tossed it to the back of my mind because I was determined to enjoy my day of pampering and money making.

Everything felt normal until the make-up girl went to put shadow on my eyes. She initially chose a natural colored of brown, but then put it down to pick up black eyeliner. She used it to line my eyes, but then also used it to draw lines that were one inch from my eyelids. I was hoping she was trying to go for a smokey-eye, but she never used a brush to smooth out the harsh lines.

When I was passed to the hair person, she again commented on looking “Asian” and then proceeded to put my hair in a bun. When I suggested a pony-tail would probably hold better, she dismissed my words and told me, “nurses wore pony-tails and doctors wore buns because it was more professional.”

After three stylists examined my hair and make-up, they all agreed that I needed something in my hair because it looked too “plain.” What they brought back were not hairpins, but chop-sticks that were placed in the buns of my hair.

At this point, I started to look around the room because I was hoping Candid Camera would pop out or someone would tell me, it was all a joke. Do people really think or act this way toward Asians in 2012?

The lead producer eventually came back to check on me and she commented on how natural my make-up looked. When she saw the chopsticks in my hair, she made a face and started to remove them gently. I was so relieved and was ready to hug her, until she asked that the Montblanc pens be placed in my hair instead. According to her, “doctors always use these pens, especially the Asian ones.” Really? I have met many doctors and have never seen one use any type of expensive pen.

Though I made some decent money that day, I left with a heavy heart because it made me think about my daughter and other women who are told by society to look a certain way to fit in or be considered “beautiful.”   Even Korea, a country that idolized full-figured women in the 1970s, is now one of many industrialized Asian countries where its standards of beauty have changed. The number of women seeking more Western looking eyes through plastic surgery has grown tremendously, and now high school and college age women are getting calf surgery to make their legs appear less like a “ Korean radish” and more Western.

If women feel the need to hide their uniqueness, then I wonder the damage it must be doing to their self-esteem? When I grew up in America, I struggled because I felt that I could not meet the American standard of beauty because of the shape of my nose and eyes, and I could not meet my Asian standards because I was 5’6” and wore a size 6 in clothes. When I visited Korea in the summer and wanted to buy clothes, it was impossible since most places only carried sizes 0-2. This dented my self-esteem because in America, I was considered petite, but in Korea, I was extra large!

There is so much pressure on girls and women to measure up with the standards of the society. Magazine, television, friends, and family are telling females how to look, how they should be performing in school, and what they should be doing with their time. All this pressure, can lead to destructive behavior that can leave a lasting imprint on their lives. Also, negative talk can keep a person from believing God loves or cares for them. Which can lead to inner questions and resentment that separates them further from Him. This is exactly where Satan wants them—isolated from God.

 

If anyone is feeling ordinary or yucky today, know that you are special to God because…

You are God’s child. (Jn. 1:12)

You are a disciple, a friend of Jesus Christ. (Jn. 15:15)

You have been justified. (Rom. 5:1)

You are united with the Lord, and you are one with Him in spirit. (1 Cor. 6:17)

You have been bought with a price and belong to God. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

You are a member of Christ’s body. (1 Cor. 12:27)

You have been chosen by God and adopted as His child. (Eph. 1:3-8)

You have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins. (Col. 1:13-14)

You are complete in Christ. (Col. 2:9-10)

You have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ. (Heb. 4:14-16)