Monday, June 2, 2014

Joy Luck

When you finish reading a book that you enjoyed, it's a bittersweet feeling for me. A part of me is has already moved on, with thoughts of what next i should read. and another part of me lingers. it does not want to leave these characters, experiences, and insights just yet. you feel like you've just met them and are starting to understand a bit of who they are; and it's already time to go. so before i depart from Waverly, Jing-Mei and all of the women in The Joy Luck Club, i want to present a few of the treasures i've gained from them.

"And then it occurs to me. They are frightened. In me, they see their own daughters, just as ignorant, just as unmindful of all the truths and hopes they have brought to America. They see daughters who grow impatient when their mothers talk in Chinese, who think they are stupid when they explain things in fractured English. They see that joy and luck do not mean the same to their daughters, that to these closed American-born minds 'joy luck' is not a word, it does not exist."

+one of the key things that i took away from this book is the distance i, so often, place between my mother and i. the older i got, the more i found my mother sharing her past with me. some were stories heard many times before, and others were unlocked to me for the very first time. i would say it's one of the perks of growing up. discovering the footprints of your mom, where her feet took her when she was once a young lady wandering this world. but we forget that the steps our mothers take were even more painful that ours were. weaving in and out of all of the stories in this book captured this truth. that our mothers, our fathers- the ones who came before us- are not as far away as we think they are.

+especially being a korean-american, i can relate so well to the daughters who chose to reject rather than receive the way our mothers or fathers may be. we criticize before we even give them a chance to explain their thoughts and intentions. and if we allow ourselves to pause, and listen i think we would gain so much more. we are always wondering why we act the way we do. why not ask the person who we resemble the most? why aren't we picking their brains to discover the root of their mannerisms, gestures, and words. we would learn so much more about ourselves with a lot less pain.

"I see my reflection. I cannot see my faults, but I know they are there. I gave my daughter these faults. The same eyes, the same cheeks, the same chin. Her character, it came from my circumstances."

the circumstances that my parents went through span two different continents. the circumstances that i go through, the ones they went through are from two different generations. two different cultures and languages. but let's not let these become walls and barriers to the life that we both share.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Goodbye C.S. Lewis, Hello Amy Tan

This post is long overdue, but last week i finally crossed off the first book on my summer reading list. i know i mentioned some of my thoughts about The Screwtape Letters in a previous post but i wanted to wrap up it all up into a nice bouquet of words.

this is one book that i want to come back to. i leave this book with deeper insight into how the Enemy interacts with humans. it's so much more subtle than we expect and he maneuvers in ways that we can't even imagine. if this is only C.S. Lewis' perception of the devil, a human trying to describe the vilest being, it scares me to think how evil he really is. Screwtapes' letters only scratch the surface of unveiling the character of the devil.

it's made me realize how even the smallest impulse of impatience and frustration is a seed that he has planted in us. we like to believe that these emotions are momentary and we are quick to defend ourselves, our character. we prove to others that we are patient, we are understanding, we are loving. but if you peel back the layers, you will see that this small seed is actually growing, and growing quickly. it's so much easier for us to listen to our flesh than to our spirit. but we need to catch ourselves when we first recognize that sinful impulse. if we choose to ignore it, we are choosing to fall deeper into his hands.

but there is also so much hope that Lewis reminds us of- that in end, we, as believers, still have the upper hand. the Enemy can and will never fully understand the intention of God. they can never comprehend the love Christ has for humans. and it frustrates them, it torments their every thought. God has and will succeed in this story. we shouldn't be hard on ourselves when we are left brimming with questions of what God is thinking and doing. if the very contrast of God can't figure it out, then how can we? thankfully, God has equipped us with His Words in a very special book. and it is there that we can find stability and understand a bit of His thoughts for us.

+ i have only read about 60ish pages into The Joy Luck Club and i am in full regret that i did not read this book sooner. being a woman and reading about strong women characters is something that resonates so deeply within me. because i aspire each day to become stronger- mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically. Lindo Jong is a character my heart beats for. despite her setbacks, she does not forget who she is. i can already tell that she is a well-grounded human being which is so admirable to me. i'm excited to learn more about her and how her relationship with her daughter is like.

here is a snippet of her story:
I was surprised at what I saw. I had on a beautiful red dress, but what I saw was even more valuable. I was strong. I was pure. I had genuine thoughts inside that no one could see, that no one could ever take away from me. I was like the wind.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tuesday is my Saturday

Was able to visit my alma mater this past weekend. though there were things to do and people to see, there was plenty of time to decompress. to lounge on sofas, futons and beds at our friends' homes. it felt good to have pockets of rest and nothingness in the midst of a busy graduation season. while we were awaiting the plans for one night, i grabbed the edition of Kinfolk to keep me occupied. it was a magazine that i caught sight of on a few friends' instagrams here and there. if it was instagram worthy, then i gauged that the content was sturdy. 

it was issue nine and centered around the theme of defining rest and finding a balance between work&play. one story was written by a girlfriend of a chef. she shares about the difference in their relationship compared to others; where her weekends are filled with times of solitude. being a chef, weekends are his busiest workdays. their definition of a "Saturday" does not come at the end of the week but during. it is on a Monday or Tuesday morning where they can wake up, make breakfast and sit at the table together. holding his hand and simply enjoying his presence.

i found this story comforting as i could relate somewhat. lately i've realized, in this season of my life, that my Saturday does not come on Saturday. lately it's been on a Monday, a Tuesday or even a Wednesday. and it's okay to have a unconventional work schedule. i'm learning to embrace it for what it is. in a couple of years, i know i'll look back and crave it. 

there are so many perks to it. while many humans are working in their cubicles, i can:
+make brunch/lunch plans
+binge watch tv shows 
+fall asleep on the couch while watching my shows
+go to the gym and not have to fight for a treadmill
+read books
+write on this blog 

and so much more...

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

From Screwtape to Seussical

+Started my summer reading challenge with The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. quite a brain-warping experience for any reader i would say, especially for a believer like me. i've never put myself into the shoes of the devil to understand how he operates and deceives human beings. but it makes sense- if you want to fully know someone, you try your best to see life from his/her perspective. it's true brilliance that Lewis is able to do that here. many may be wary of putting themselves into this position, but more than it being a danger, it's a powerful tool for all Christians. by knowing a little more about the subtle and sly tactics of the enemy, i'm more aware of when i see these manifest in my own life.

this passage, along with many others, gave me the chills...
"our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."

the books i purchased from the used book sale at my library

+ was able to make it for the last thirty minutes of the used book sale at my library. i've never scanned through so many books so quickly like i did that day. i'm actually quite impressed that i was able to find so many treasures in so little time. excited that i'm starting to build my own library of books for my future classroom to hold :)

+ enjoyed watching a couple of my small-group girls perform in their school musical, Seussical Jr. and was reminded of a valuable Seussical truth- 
"a person's a person, no matter how small
what are some other Seussical truths that you know of?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

[Book] Challenge Accepted

one reason to get the engines for this blog chugging away was this summer book challenge hosted by Megan from Semi-Charmed Kind of Life. i haven't intentionally read a bunch of books over the summer since i was in elementary school. i remember borrowing stacks of books at a time from the library and reading through them as fast as i could so i could get the treasured coupon booklet. looking back, i think the only coupon i really cared about (and used) was the free ice cream cone from McDonald's. funny how such small things can really motivate kids :)

there won't be free ice cream cones for this challenge but i'm excited to finally read through many books that have been on my list for quite some time. in the words of a mr. barney stinston, "challenge accepted!"

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 200 pages long.
— 1984 by George Orwell 

10 points:
 Read a book that was written before you were born.
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

10 points: Finish reading a book you couldn't finish the first time around.
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis 

10 points: Read a book from the children’s section of the library or bookstore.
The BFG by Roald Dahl 

15 points: Read a book that is on The New York Times' Best Sellers List when you begin reading it. Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo 

15 points: Read a historical fiction book that does not take place in Europe.
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan 

15 points: Read a book another blogger has already read for the challenge.
— TBD 

20 points: Read a book with “son(s),” “daughter(s)” or “child(ren)” in the title.
The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson 

20 points: Read a book that was/will be adapted to film in 2014.
The Giver by Lois Lowry 

25 points: Read a book written by a blogger.
Julie and Julia by Julie Powell 

25 points: Read a biography, autobiography or memoir.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou 

30 points: Read a pair of books with antonyms in the titles.
—TBD. any ideas?  

Anyone want to join me? :) 

Hey May

i'm finally here...writing. breathing in, and breathing out. hesitating, stopping every five seconds to press the backspace button because i seek to find the right words to represent these jumbled thoughts of mine. it's been a struggle to bring myself to this place. a place that is familiar yet so daunting. a place that i enter on a daily basis- the blogosphere. a place where i've only been a shy bystander, watching and waiting but never participating.

i would say it's one of my pastimes to click to my favorites blogs with excitement oozing from my eyeballs to see what new discoveries await me. i take away so much from these bloggers whether that be as tangible as a new recipe or as intangible as insights are about life. i respect how these women made a choice to let us into their lives, into their thoughts, into their mistakes and their successes. their voices are candid, down-to-earth and inviting. though i've never physically met any of the bloggers i follow, i feel that they are my neighbors. people who i can comfortably run to for a cup of coffee when i'm in need. and i enjoy that sense of community very much.

one of my favorite bloggers shared this quote on her site, "Anytime you're gonna grow, you're gonna lose something. You're losing what you're hanging onto to keep safe. You're losing habits that you're comfortable with, you're losing familiarity." | James Hillman. 

i felt safe as just a reader and follower of blogs. it was a comfortable place to be. but God's been tugging me [this year] to be uncomfortable. in whatever situation i may in, to stretch myself a bit more, to take leaps of faith, to go against my natural instincts, and say yes instead of no. i've always played it safe and done what i've wanted to do. but it's an unhealthy habit where growth is not possible. i'm unconsciously saying that i don't trust God to take care of me. 

and starting this blog is another avenue i know i'm being led to go on. and my hope is that this can become a safe place for me. a place to share the ups and downs in my journey. a place that my thoughts can safely call home. a place where i will be stretched, and grow in ways i never would've imagined. it's exciting that my thoughts can finally call this place its home.