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The prompt for this week is…

Release

GO

For the majority of my 30+ years I’ve had long hair. The only times I can remember when it has been shorter than shoulder length was probably before the age of 6 when I had a typical bowl Asian haircut. And I only remember that because of the pictures I’ve seen. In college I think I tried a bob slightly above the shoulders, but I don’t have good memories of that haircut because at that time it was accompanied by bangs, glasses, and braces. College is definitely not a time I’d like to go back to in terms of the looks department. I’m so glad Facebook and Instagram weren’t invented then and I will seriously unfriend anyone who will dare to scan and post any of those old photos now. (Just kidding, I won’t unfriend you, but I will vehemently deny it if you try to tag me).

My long hair has always been a security for me. At times when I wasn’t that happy with the image I saw in the mirror, I could at least still regard my flowing locks somewhat vainly. Doesn’t the Bible itself say that long hair is the glory of the woman? But since the birth of my second son, those flowing locks have been more of a drag than a glory to me, literally. It was becoming cumbersome to wash, to style, to tie up and I envied women who could effortlessly pull their hair up into a loose bun and have it stay and look good. For me it just never worked…unless I employed like 100 bobby pins and maybe a can of hairspray.

So I decided, enough was enough. I made an appointment at the salon and prepared my husband for what was to come. On the appointed day I told my hairstylist (whom I’d only gone to once before), “I need a change. Chop it, please.” She checked with me a few times just to make sure I meant it and then set to work. My head immediately felt lighter as I watched the black locks fall to the ground. It was such a release for me! I felt like I left my old tired mama self on the floor of that salon and skipped out of there lighter, freer, and a happier me. That is definitely not my usual after haircut experience. 

I know it’s not a big thing, you might even consider it somewhat superficial, but I’m glad I took the risk to change something about myself that I didn’t like. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut and take the plunge. For this summer season, I’m happy at least that I won’t be spending hours in exasperation wrestling with pins and ponytail holders in front of the mirror. I’m glad that weight is literally off my shoulders, even way above my shoulders. Happy summer!

STOP

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The prompt for this week is…

Hands

GO

I look down at my hands typing on the keyboard and notice how dry and worn they look. Product of washing dishes without gloves and being too lazy to apply lotion, because really why bother when I have to wash my hands every 15 minutes? These hands that are constantly wiping down tables, counters, little faces and little bums, handling food and sticky messes, folding laundry and papers for crafts…these hands that do so much in a day and need constant washing.

These hands that carry the weight of babies and my own heavy head at the end of a long day. These hands that are constantly responding to the cry of “Mommy, help!” These hands that wipe away tears of others and many times of my own. These hands that absorb the smell of garlic and baby skin and dish detergent. Thank You Lord, for giving me these hands and may You use them as Your own. Remind me to take care of them because so much depends on them. Okay, time to go put on some lotion.

STOP

A couple of weeks ago I got to visit my family back East and of course as I expected, my mother made comments about me being too skinny. It wasn’t the first thing she said when she saw me, but I could tell she was holding it in as she sized me up with her eyes. It finally came out on the last day as we were saying goodbye – she gave me the gentle admonition in Chinese “tai shou bu hao” (translation: too skinny, no good).

I was ready for it so it didn’t bother me too much. My in-laws had made the same observation the last time we visited them. They all seem concerned that my apparent loss of weight means that I’m not eating enough, that I’m too tired and run-down. Okay yes, sometimes lunch for me consists of toddler leftovers and yes, my energy could use a boost on most days. And yes, sometimes I’m so focused on feeding the boys that I forget to feed myself. But I think I’m doing a pretty good job of eating three square meals a day in addition to snacks in between and sometimes late night desserts. I’ve just been cursed with fast metabolism which I’m sure will eventually catch up with me sooner or later.

Apparently my father-in-law has the same problem. He’s been trying to gain weight for years and has tried all kinds of things. His latest diet scheme is to eat lots of good quality dark chocolate as a high calorie snack. Larry was down in So Cal last weekend and guess what he brought back from his parents? Yup, that’s right, bars and bars of dark chocolate for me so I can gain some weight. I don’t know if it’ll work, but out of respect for them, I guess I should just bite the bullet and give it a try? I guess I can live with comments about me being too skinny if it means I can indulge in free dark chocolate. :)

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We just got back from our epic summer family adventure to the East Coast and what an adventure it was! We hit three cities, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, in nine days relying on a single umbrella stroller, an ergo, and public transportation. The last time we were out on the East Coast was more than two years ago when CC could still fly for free. I was determined that we make it out there again before Turner’s second birthday in June. We had a long list of people to see so each day we set off to visit friends and every night we were in a different home enjoying food and fellowship around the table while the kids caroused happily with new found playmates. Some days we were so busy getting from place to place, catching trains and buses, that Larry and I felt like we were competing in Amazing Race, only with kids. (By the way, I think that would be a great idea for a show – Amazing Race, Parents with Kids Edition – I would totally watch it). We managed to fit in a little bit of sight seeing, but we didn’t stress out about having to see everything, and in all honesty the kids were usually more happy to just stop at a local playground or run around someone’s back yard than walking the Freedom Trail or seeing the Statue of Liberty.

 

Swan boat ride!

Swan boat ride!

Playing baseball in the park

Playing baseball in the park

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Taking the T to Amtrak

We took the Amtrak from Boston to New York where my whole family lives and introduced Turner to his brood of cousins. I have two siblings who each have four children, ranging from 19 years old to 8 years old. It was a challenge, to say the least, to do things with a group of 10 children and 8 adults and there was a lot of chaos and noise, but it helped that there were so many extra people to take care of and entertain the kids. It was so heart warming to see all the older cousins take a genuine interest in our boys. Being with the cousins was by far CC’s favorite part of the whole trip and probably what he will miss the most.

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Our clan

 

Waiting for our flight

Waiting for our flight

Normally when we get home from vacations, I’m exhausted and happy to be home. But this time coming home was a little bit bittersweet knowing that it will probably be a while before we’ll be able to see our family and friends on the East Coast again. Instead of being exhausted, I feel like this trip has refreshed me in so many ways. Now I’m a firm believer that families should take every opportunity to travel, especially with young kids. There’s something so healthy and beneficial about seeing and being with people from another part of the country or the world. It’s also a precious time to bond as a family; CC and Turner spent a lot of time fighting, but also played together in ways we haven’t seen them do at home before. The biggest reason for us not traveling more is the expense, but now I think it’s worth it to scrounge and save to give our kids and ourselves this valuable experience.

What is your experience of traveling with small kids in tow?

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The prompt for this week is…

Grateful

GO

Sometimes in the midst of my messy noisy life, it’s easy to forget that I have so much to be grateful for. It’s so much easier to focus on and complain about the little imperfections I have to live with – yet another marker stain on the couch, toys that refuse to stay tidy in their spots, little boys who can’t get along, a four-year-old’s constant non-stop whining. These little things cloud my brain and even though I’m always telling my boys the importance of saying thank you, I know with my sharp words and short temper I’m modeling to them someone who’s not very thankful or grateful.

So I’m so grateful for this week’s word, grateful for the reminder that for me to raise grateful children, I need to be a grateful mother. Today I will exercise to give thanks to my heavenly Father instead of using my energy to inwardly whine non-stop about all the trivial things. Thank you Lord, for providing for all our needs, marker stained couch and all. Thank you Lord, for healthy happy children, even though they bicker and whine and drive me up the wall. Thank you Lord, for the most understanding husband who after you, bears the brunt of all my complaining and whining. Thank you Lord, for friends and sisters I can not only commiserate with, but also pray with. Thank you most of all, for your daily unending supply of grace. Thank you for your life in me that can make me a thankful person. Amen and amen.

STOP

 

I know today’s not Tuesday and that yes, yes…I’ve been awfully delinquent with my Truth Tuesday posts. But I have been enjoying things in the Word; I just haven’t had time to write them down and before I know it, another Tuesday has come and gone.

So this portion of enjoyment is actually from a couple weeks ago. I’ve slowly been working my way through the Life-study of Genesis (I took a break for a while, but now I’m back on track!). I’ve read through the life of Abraham and Isaac and now I’m in the real meaty part of Genesis – the story of the life of Jacob. And what a story it is. I think Christians may sometimes tend to uplift people in the Bible like Abraham, Isaac, or Moses, but Jacob? Not so much. From the womb it was clear that Jacob was a clever trickster, hence his name which means “supplanter” or “heel holder.” Unlike David or Daniel, he wasn’t the kind of person you’d want your kids to emulate. He tricked his brother Esau not once, but twice, out of his birthright and his father’s blessing (although the second time he had some help from Rebekah, his dear mother). As a result he was forced to run away from home and ended up at the house of his uncle Laban. Unlike his father Isaac, Jacob’s life was a life of sufferings and dealings, some brought on by his own mistakes and some arranged by God’s sovereign hand. He suffered under the hand of Laban, who was even trickier than him. I’m sure you are all familiar with the story of how Jacob worked for Rachel but got Leah instead. He had numerous dealings when it came to his wives and children (can you imagine having twelve sons?). I would definitely not envy such a life. But at the end of the book of Genesis (which I haven’t gotten to yet), Jacob is a fully transformed person. In fact, he is no longer Jacob, but Israel. We see a maturity in this man that was not there in his father Isaac or even his grandfather Abraham. He started out a conniving and sly person who always had a back up plan, and ended up a transformed person who was fully accepting of his circumstances and environment. In the beginning he’s striving to grasp the blessings, but in the end, he’s the one who blesses even Pharaoh. What hope that gives us all! Our sufferings and dealings are not in vain, but if we love God, they will work together for good to produce more growth of the divine element in us (Romans 8:28).

Anyways, that’s just all background. What I really enjoyed a couple weeks ago in my reading was that a big turning point in Jacob’s life was in Genesis 28:10-22. Here Jacob had just run away from his parent’s house and is in a strange place by himself with no where to rest. When night comes, he takes a stone and lays it under his head as a pillow. Curious, isn’t it? Why a stone? Why not a pile of leaves or dirt, or some soft grass? A stone doesn’t seem to be that comfortable to lay your head on. But it’s very significant. A stone is solid, not man-made, and if you read in other portions of the Word, you’ll see that Christ is the real stone and God wants to transform us all from men of clay to living stones. Jacob realized that he couldn’t trust or find rest in his natural resourcefulness, his conniving ways, but that the only rest for him was to lay on this stone. In our experience we all come to a time when we’re lonely, out of ideas, don’t know where we are or where to go. It’s at this time that we need to lay our head on Christ as our stone. He becomes our real rest and satisfaction. 

It’s at this point that Jacob also first meets God. He has a dream of a ladder with angels ascending and descending upon it and Jehovah Himself speaks to Jacob from above the ladder. God promises to be with him and to keep him as He was with his father and grandfather. When he wakes up, Jacob takes the very stone he rested on and sets it up as a pillar and calls the place Bethel, the house of God. How wonderful! The pillow becomes a pillar! The very Christ we experience as our rest and satisfaction becomes the material God uses for building His house. To us this stone is a pillow, but to God, this stone is a pillar for His house. As we journey on in our human life and Christian life, which may be full of sufferings and dealings as Jacob’s was, I hope we would all have this experience of meeting God at Bethel. If we know Christ as this stone pillow/pillar, then whatever happens to us will work for our good to make us the real Israel of God.

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The prompt for this week is…

Friend

GO

This summer CC’s best friend will move away to New York City. He’s known her since they were both 10 months old. I met her mom at the weekly library story time and as we pushed our strollers next to each other on the way to the library, we found out that our children were a week apart and that we lived a couple streets apart. Our friendship and the friendship of our children was sealed on that day four years ago. Since then there’s been innumerable play dates, two years of preschool together carpooling everyday, toys and meals shared between the two homes like family. She calls CC “older brother” in Chinese even though she’s only a week younger and a whole head taller than him. They don’t ever seem to tire of playing with each other, begging to go to each other’s houses after school. Sometimes they fight like an old married couple and it’s hard for me to keep a straight face. I wish I could tape record all the conversations I overhear between them in the car on the way to and back from school.

But in a few months she will move across the country and there will be no more car pooling and no more play dates. CC will start transitional kindergarten at a new school without his trusty friend by his side. I don’t know if either of them realize yet the changes that are coming, but children adapt quickly, and unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) also forget quickly. It’s the adults who don’t deal as well with change. Soon there will be new best friends and who knows if they’ll even remember each other in five years. They’ll only have the pictures to remind them. Hopefully the next time they meet, she won’t still be a whole head taller than him.

STOP

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