Always a Foreigner, Never Home

13324282_10154288765190159_1900862299_oMy face is the filter through which people see me. It can’t be helped. When people look at me, they see an Asian girl. To some, it’s the face of familiarity, but to most it’s the face of a foreigner. It creates distance, division, and tension. It brings up questions of heritage and place and home. It stirs mixed feelings of embarrassment, being respected, kindredness, shame. I wish I could be seen without the filter of my face, without the filter of what my face represents, but it’s not that simple. I understand why I’m asked where I’m from- no, where I’m really from- because sometimes even I forget who I am. At work, at Christian conferences, at gatherings, I’m often the token Asian among mostly white people. When I look at myself in the mirror during a bathroom break, I’m shocked at the face looking back at me. I look so… Asian. So un-white. So foreign. Why is my face so round and flat? Why are my eyes so small?? God! You could’ve at least given me double eyelids! I’m ashamed of what I see because what I really want is to look just like everyone else…

This month at The Mudroom, they’ve invited only women of color to submit their stories on race, culture, and identity. It’s not an easy topic to write on or to read, but they’ve created a safe space to listen with openness and respond with love, and I’m so grateful I get to share in that space today. Go to The Mudroom blog to read the rest! 

What I Learned about God through Breakfast

What I learned about God through breakfastI’m always hungry right when I wake up. I pretty much think about food for most of the day. What should we eat for lunch? What should we do for dinner? Do we have anything to cook at home? Do we have snacks in the pantry? Where’s the chocolate?? Food is one of my love languages, but it wasn’t until recently that I started appreciating the process of cooking good food.

I grew up on boxed mac-n-cheese, McDonald’s cheeseburgers, and the usual staple Korean foods- rice + roasted seaweed, rice + kimchi, rice + anything that could add flavoring, even Kraft cheese singles (that one probably isn’t a staple). Those things stayed with me into adulthood because quick, decent food was the only standard I had when it came to eating.

But then I got married to a chef. Our stomachs come from different backgrounds. His parents and grandparents owned restaurants, so he grew up in the kitchen- eating, watching, learning. He came to appreciate the slow process of making good food early on in life, and over time cooking became his thing too.

Our different approaches to creating a meal never fails to amaze me. Even though I’ve gotten better over the years, my instinct for quick and easy is still there.

For breakfast, I usually eat over easy eggs with toast and a cup of coffee. I measure out the grinds, pour the water in, and as I hear the sweet dripping I slice my bread in half and put it into the George Foreman grill to toast (we unfortunately don’t own a toaster). I throw a chunk of butter into the pan, swirl it around, and crack two eggs into the buttery layer. I’ve learned to stay at the stove when I cook instead of wandering off so I mindlessly stare at the egg whites as they turn opaque. I flip them over as I’ve been taught by the husband and smile inside when I don’t burst the yolk. I check on the toast every once in a while, but the Foreman grill is taking its sweet old time to heat up.

The coffee’s ready, the eggs are ready, but I get bored waiting for my bread so I turn to my phone to pass the time by. Facebook. Instagram. Scroll, scroll, scroll. Like. Comment. Scroll. By the time I remember the bread, it’s beyond toasted. Darn it. I never get that part right.

Regardless, I eat my breakfast, charred bread and all, and I’m OK with it. It’s decent, my hunger is no longer there, and I’m satisfied.

When James makes his breakfast later in the morning, it’s a totally different approach. He is in love with food, in love with the making of it, and it’s a wonder to watch it.

He gets out the bacon, eggs, cheese, ham, lettuce, and his homemade spread. He slice his bread, smears butter on either side, and puts it into the Foreman grill. He gets the bacon going in one pan, and starts the eggs in another. Everything is cooked to the right crispiness, the right toastiness, the right taste. He proceeds to assemble the perfect breakfast sandwich with all his ingredients. It takes him 10 minutes longer to make his, but I know his probably tastes 100 times better.

As I watched him eat his delicious meal while my mediocre one sat in my stomach, I understood a bit more about the slow work of God.

James’s breakfast reminded me how we’re too easily satisfied with average, quick results. We’re too impatient for God to handle, to weave, to work His plans out, so we step in, we take shortcuts, we take things into our own hands. But our efforts are always mediocre compared to His. His is bacon. His is homemade spread. His is slow, wisely planned, perfectly timed, and beautiful in its final form.

It may feel unnecessarily slow or roundabout, but His priorities are unlike ours. We can only see the short view of what may be good for us, but He takes the long view of eternity to filter through what’s really best for us. He cares about the inner work of honing our character and takes His time to build our spiritual strength, our soul strength. He disciplines us, He lets us wander, He brings us back with grace and gentleness. He knows our natural pull to resist, to be reluctant, so He woos us, He draws us near with kindness and reminders of His past faithfulness and goodness.

The slow work of God is so deeply good. Lean into it. Let it lead you to levels of intimacy with Him you couldn’t have experienced otherwise. Let it test your impatience, your distrust, and prove that you can rest on the Rock of Ages.

It may feel slow to you, but His pace, just like His timing, is always perfect. Stay with Him.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (MSG)

We Need Whitespace to Create

File_000-2The responsibilities keep piling on. The calendar gets filled up with more events. We’re moving from one thing to another with barely a moment to breathe. I run the family around from home to church, on errands, on playdates, to Target and back. Everything is always rushed. My temper is short, and my patience is never in stock. Everyone peeves me. I’m not myself anymore. I become only the things I do- the roles I play- and it’s suffocating me.

Writing is the first thing to go when I get busy. It’s hard to justify creative work when there’s laundry to be done, when the kids need attention, when someone at church has to be ministered to. “It’s just a hobby,” I tell myself. “It’s not important” or “It’s not as important as…” The lies start to pour in and make more sense than all the true things I’ve felt in my gut about my gift with words…

Join me at The Mudroom Blog to read the rest!