Sunday, November 28, 2010

Jeff forced me to rejoice today

today was one of those days....where my husband had to force me to rejoice.

jeff and i had a little tiff on the way to church...then the pastor spoke about 1 thessalonians 5:16-18 (the verses i referenced that inspired my "rejoice always" blog entries.) who wants to rejoice after a tiff? not me! the pastor had us right down things we were 'rejoicing' over... my bitter heart thought, "NOTHING, I REJOICE OVER NOTHING!"

jeff rejoiced over our marriage...he is just too good


then, a family shared about how they rejoiced this year after the birth of their beautiful daughter, who was born with down syndrome...whoa.. i have a lot to learn.. i cried through the entire service....

we briefly spoke with dan and cathy, who are our dear friends in our small group. cathy said, "did you get your hair cut or colored?" well, little did cathy know that i decided this morning that i no longer like my haircut, so i was wearing it up. it's too short, and has TOO many layers - scraggly is a good word to describe it...

cathy jested, "did she give you a chinese mullet?" after she said it, i thought to myself, "yes, actually..."

jeff and i ran around for two hours looking for materials for christmas gifts... two hours in brooklyn, queens and manhattan...and we couldn't even find the right stuff..


rejoice always..

i continued to complain about my scraggly hair, how i have recently gained weight and then asked to go to taco bell...HA

when we got home, before jeff would go on a run with me, he FORCED me to rejoice in FIVE things...FIVE things?!

I'll do it later.

Much Love.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Rejoice Always: My Chinese Family

Can I be honest with you? When I was growing up and imagined what my husband would look like, Jeff was NOT what I had in mind. Inundated with Disney movies, I think I imagined myself with a man who is white, tall and dark (hey, be honest, you don't usually dream of marrying someone that looks VERY different from you or the people in your family of origin.) God had different, and much better, plans for me.

While I'm being honest, I have to admit that when Jeff and I briefly broke up while dating, one of my reasons was, "My kids will never look like me!" I know it sounds egocentric, but truth is that Jeff's dark, Asian features are going to dominate all of the recessive-ness that is ME. And, let's continue to be honest ladies, as a future mother, you long for your children to look a LITTLE bit like you, right? Alas, I'm glad that this shallow quality didn't keep me from marrying my Jeff.

Today, I had quite a unique experience. I've been talking about getting my hair cut and colored for months (I have WAY too much gray hair for a 24 year-old.) Jeff's mom was the last person to cut my hair back in June, and I was long over-due. All of my friends, who also happen to be Asian, always tell me, "Go to Flushing, you'll get a great, cheap hair cut/color!" (Flushing is an area in Queens, NY that is heavily populated by Asians.) So, today, Mrs. Chin took me to her hair salon.

I don't have high expectations for my hair. As long as it's long, it's manageable. And, in terms of color, I just don't want to have BLACK or RED hair (it's really hard to get a dark brown color without the end result looking black or red.) When I walked in, I was a little intimated because the three hair stylists were only speaking Chinese. It's a little unsettling when you can't speak the main language of the person who is about to cut and color your hair. Eeek. Gratefully, Jeff's mom CAN speak Chinese and assured me that she communicated my desires for my hair to Janet, the hair stylist.

The haircut was fast, and exactly what I wanted. Phew, I was relieved. Then, as they started to color my hair, Jeff's mom explained to me that the hairdresser went to beauty school in Japan and they use different products compared to American salons. My anxiety started to grow as the color on my hair and scalp slowly turned purple. I kept asking Jeff's mom to communicate with the hair stylist that I didn't want purple hair - was my hair going to be purple?

I think Janet and the other workers sensed my anxiety. So, they brought me back to the hair washing station. I started to think, "Hmmm, are they washing the color out? What are they doing?" They laid me down, put a cold rag on my eyes and brought out a hand-held massager (like the ones they sell in Brookstone) and massaged me for the 40 minutes of hair-processing time. A little weird, yes. Just imagine: I'm in a salon, where no one speaks my language, with my eyes covered and the last visual I have is of my purple hair. There came a point when I thought, "Screw it! There is nothing I can do anymore!"

My hair ended up looking great AND I really enjoyed spending some quality time with Jeff's mom. She is so sweet and a great translator :)

As I was reflecting on my experiences with Jeff's family, who are obviously of a different culture than I am familiar with, I feel really thankful that I have this time in New York to learn more about Jeff's identity and family of origin. I have begun to understand him, and love him, a little bit better. And, back to the man I once imagined myself with versus Jeff, I am starting to find myself thinking, "Ohh, I truly hope my babies look more like my husband. Asian is so beautiful. My friends are so beautiful. My husband is so beautiful." (Jeff will kill me for calling him beautiful, but it's just the adjective that comes to my heart when I first think of him.)

I give my old-self a little break for being so egocentric, I really wasn't exposed to many races or cultures while living in Michigan (I only recognized black and white as races.) As the Lord has provided me with some beautiful friends (inside and out), I have really started to love, and appreciate, the beauty of race and culture that the Lord has created amongst human beings. I feel blessed that the Lord gave me something other than a white man to marry (no offense to my white sisters who are married/dating white men - God has good plans for everyone.) I get to taste a part of His kingdom by having intimate relationships with folk that are different than me.

Missed my home and family on Thanksgiving, but am equally grateful for my Chinese family.

Today I rejoice in my Chinese Family (and the salon in Queens) :)

Much Love.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rejoice Always: Morning minutes, Gym time, and chats with a best friend

More rejoicing for this girl...

Rejoice Always: Morning minutes with Jeff
Jeff always sets his alarm clock for 7:00am. Although he quickly turns it off and falls back to sleep until 7:30, I rejoice in those 30 minutes of quiet with him in the morning. I always find my way into his embrace (or demand it, "cuddle me!") Mmmm, i love it.

Rejoice Always: Gym Time
I used to freak out and feel like a failure if a client canceled during the day. But now, I'm learning to rejoice in those extra minutes I get to myself. I actually have started to head to the gym, mid-day, if I have a cancellation. I am so grateful for clients near my local gym and for some periodic canceled sessions :)

Rejoice Always: Catch-up Chat Sessions with a Best Girlfriend
So refreshing. Today, during a "break" i had (after the gym), I got to spend 30 minutes on the phone with my sweet Ashley. Catching up on daily things like our jobs, marriage, summer plans (ashely and kyle are headed to INDIA!) and workout routines AND sharing our dreams of motherhood, living close to each other and ministry direction. It was all very, very good. How I long for the day when we are only a drive away and can take our kids to the park, grocery store or school.

Much Love.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rejoice Always

Today I rejoice in New York's "Indian Summer". 63 degrees on November 22. Praise God.

2 years ago (tomorrow!)

The Perfect Proposal

Two years ago (tomorrow), Jeff asked me to be his wife. I said "yes" (of course.) I know many of you have heard the proposal story, but just as a refresher, I thought I would re-share it :)

I had been on Jeff's case for a couple of months regarding when we would be engaged. Being the snoopy girl that I am, or that I thought I was, I had decided that Jeff was coming in the weekend of December 5th, 2009 to do the good deed. Jeff had purposefully left a plane ticket to Detroit on his desk dated for December 5th. When I saw it while visiting Jeff for his birthday two months prior, I thought to myself, "December 5th?! He's not supposed to come in on December 5th! Ahh! This must mean we are getting engaged on December 5th! Pretend you didn't see anything!" To my surprise, Jeff had out-smarted me and showed up on November 23 - the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

Ashley and I had previously made plans to have dinner at the Detroit Athletic Club on Sunday, November 23. Little had I known that it was all a ploy - Ashley was in on the secret proposal. Ashley picked me up, reminding me of the dress code at the Detroit Athletic Club, and mentioned that she had to stop by our church on the way there to pick up a couple of things. Our church is kind of in the 'hood and when we got there, Sue, the church secretary, asked if we would accompany her to the sanctuary to grab her purse -- all of the lights were off and she gets kind of scared going in there late at night by herself. Sue opened up the doors and I was in awe: all of the lights of the sanctuary were off, lit solely by candles down the aisle, on the piano and on the communion table. Along with the candles, rose pedals were covering the ground, piano and communion table. As I began to walk down the aisle, Jeff began playing the piano and singing a revised version of "Annie" by Dave Barnes to me. I sat on the bench as Jeff finished the song--overwhelmed by the trouble Jeff had gone through to capture my heart. After he was done singing, Jeff got down on his knee and popped the question - not sure if I should cry or scream, I yelled "YES!".

Following the proposal, Jeff washed my feet - similar to how Jesus would wash people's feet to show them He desired to serve them. We talked a lot about how we wanted to serve and love each other the rest of our lives and even had the opportunity to have communion with each other.

It really was the most perfect, beautiful proposal :)

Much Love.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Potluck (and a shower in our kitchen!)

"Rejoice Always" (1 thessalonians 5:16) When my heart is in a constant state of rejoicing, praising the Lord for his abundant blessings, I instantly become MORE aware of the small ways God is moving in my daily life....all of the things I am grateful for.

When Jeff and I started dating (when we were 19!) we started a
Blessing Book. The Blessing Book was a daily compilation of ways the Lord had blessed us on that specific day. I truly believe that it's good for the heart to rejoice in all events daily life brings you. So, I'm committing to write down at least one thing I rejoice in on a daily basis - one thing I am grateful for. Sometimes I may rejoice in the pain, because the Lord is teaching me something good. Somedays I will rejoice in the beautiful things.

Today, I rejoice in the community the Lord has blessed us with.
I rejoice in the fact that the Lord has brought me from my beloved home in Detroit, from my "comfort zone", to New York so I can fully know what it's like to have a community of friends that love the Lord and love me.

On Saturday, Jeff and I welcomed 7 of our dear friends (9 including us!) to a Thanksgiving Potluck at our home. Fully anticipating the delicious food and a great time, we were NOT anticipating the free-flowing stream of water from our hot water heater just as our guests arrived.

Our hot water heater and boiler are conveniently (or not-so-conveniently) locked in a closet located in our kitchen. Jeff and I have had several problems with our hot water heater and boiler. When I first told my dad about our issues, his first reaction was, "Get renters insurance. I think your hot water heater may explode. We had this problem at our old house." Hmmm...

Our Super and Landlord have been to our apartment 6 times (in the 40 days that we have lived here) to "fix" the issue. Initially, we noticed that our hot water heater was not appropriately warming up. After that issue had been dealt with, and it was cold enough to switch on our heat, a high-pitched alarm sound filled our apartment (once every five seconds, BEEP!) Ahh, we thought our issues were solved once the beeping was terminated.

but we were wrong.

On Saturday afternoon while Jeff, Dan and I prepared some delectable food, we heard a shower-like stream coming from the closet where our hot water heater and boiler are held. We immediately called our Super and Landlord ("THIS IS AN EMERGENCY! COME NOW!") The ladies who live below us knocked on our door wondering why there was water coming through their kitchen ceiling. yuck. to make a long-story (semi)short, we ended up forming a line through out kitchen to empty and fill the buckets of water that flowed from our hot water heater while our Super attempted to "cap" the problem. To say the least, our Super had a shower in our kitchen.

Grateful for our dear friends who helped us sop up the dirty water on our floors, our delicious thanksgiving potluck was not negatively affected by this unfortunate event. we enjoyed some yummy deep-friend cajun chicken from
jive turkey, a sweet-potato casserole, a green-bean casserole, corn bread, homemade cranberry sauce, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, homemade macaroni and cheese, a big salad AND mexican corn. Jeff is in leftover heaven.

jeff and dan carving the turkey

the turkey was so delicious, we kept stealing "bites" of it before it was time to actually sit down for dinner

get it, girl

israel taking a stab at turkey-carving

hydie and i pickin' at the goods!


engrossed in the food coma

end of the night...i was already sleeping...everyone looks so tired!

Thanks Lydia, Alfredo, Hydie, Dan, Cathy, Israel and Brittany :)

As thanksgiving quickly approaches, I just want to encourage you to REJOICE ALWAYS - if you have fallen on tough times, I promise that the Lord is teaching you something good. If you are loving life right now, be grateful and look for ways to bless others.

Much Love.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mom & Grandma Visit NYC!

(mom, grandma and i at Sardi's)

I was so blessed this weekend by my mom and grandma's visit to new york. The last time my grandma was in NYC was when she made a special trip for my mom on her 18th birthday! It was a short, sweet and JAM-PACKED weekend!

As noted in a previous post, Jeff visited with fraternity brothers in San Francisco this weekend, so it was truly a "girls weekend." While we explored and enjoyed Brooklyn and New York City, Jeff biked over 20 miles exploring San Fran and visited Nappa Valley (I'm a little jealous of the Nappa Valley part of his trip - maybe we can go back someday together.)

Mom and Grandma flew in Friday evening. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at a local restaurant, Chez Oskar (the spicy lamb-burger was delish!) Mom and I decided it was time for my grandma to get on facebook - so we set her up with an account. Hopefully someone back in Michigan will walk her through the steps so she can actually keep in touch with all of her family (my grandma had 8 brothers and sisters; 8 children; 17 grandchildren and 2 grandson-in-laws!)

We got an early start on Saturday...had coffee at Dunkin Donuts (of course) and swung by Target. My grandma bought jeff & i a coffee maker - something we never bought or registered for because we aren't big coffee drinkers....BUT we are excited to serve our guests coffee - Jeff's parents like coffee with their dessert. After breakfast, we drove to Manhattan (about a 10 minute drive) and stopped by Macy's on 34th street. The inside was already decorated for Christmas :) After our shopping adventure, we headed up to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes! Festive and fun :) After the show, we went to Sardi's for a drink - my grandma took my mom here for her 18th birthday! It was so special :) Later, we went to Long Island to meet Jeff's mom for dinner....delicious Italian food, of course. It was nice to dine with 3 of my most favorite women :) We were exhausted by 7pm and fell asleep watching a movie on the couch.

(mom & i in front of macy's)

(macy's is all decorated for christmas!)

(officially in the holiday spirit after seeing the "rockettes"!)

(mom and grandma in times square - i love the advertisement behind them, "grab some buds" - haha)

My mom and grandma left at 7am this morning - I think it was a good thing that Jeff won't be home until later tonight...I still go through mini-meltdowns when my mom leaves NYC/I leave Michigan...Jeff is probably sick and tired of my emotional outbursts and obsession with home.

I think the funniest part of the weekend was when my mom, grandma and I were discussing death at lunch. My grandma said, "Sometimes I talk to Grandpa." My Grandma has Grandpa's ashes in her home. Grandma gestured by pretending to left the top off of his ashes, waved and said, "I say things like, 'Hi! Good riddance!'" I don't know why I thought that was funny, but it was.

Next weekend, Jeff and I will be hosting 8+ people (our bible study) for a Thanksgiving Potluck at our apartment. We are really looking forward to it! It so happens that my mom will actually be in town again while Allan attends some training -- so she's going to come to Brooklyn Saturday morning and help me prepare for the dinner :)

Alas, only 1.5 weeks until Thanksgiving and 6 more weeks until I'm home for a whole week at Christmas.

Much love.

Friday, November 12, 2010


my sweet husband is visiting some of his fraternity brothers in san francisco this weekend while my mom and grandma visit.  i was a little freaked out by sleeping alone in our new place last night.  predicting this would happen, jeff wrote me the sweetest note and slipped it under my pillow.

in the note, jeff talked about how fulfilled he is by our marriage.  

jeff and i both know a marriage cannot complete a person or fulfill our deepest emotional needs, only god can...but our marriage can be fulfilling.  and it feels good.

i was deeply touched by jeff's note.  jeff and i have been digging into the word (1 john) with our small group and hashing out some differences we have on finances.  god is forming our marriage into something beautiful. something more than i expected.  

the notes, words or affirmation and gentle touches throughout the day really make me feel loved. not only am i loved by my heavenly father, i am loved by a great man.  

i don't know why i posted about this - maybe it's too intimate.  

much love.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sara Bareillis!

Jeff took me to see one of my favorite musicians, Sara Bareillis...what a fun night! Thanks, hubs!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Skating with the Stars

big news! one of my life-long friends, brooke, will be one of the professional skaters on "skating with the stars." the show debuts on November 22 on ABC. i am overwhelmed with excitement for her. brooke has dedicated her entire life to figure skating and has been blessed with this great opportunity to funnel her craft and coaching skills on a national television show. (brooke's mom, denise, used to babysit for my brothers and i when we were young -- i clearly remember long days at the ice rink while brooke trained.)

my mom (mary) and brooke's mom (denise) have been best friends since high school. although life took us down different paths (schools, circles of friends, life events, etc.), my family has encountered no major life event without the love and support of denise and her family (i usually don't call her "denise", but am trying to keep some anonymity for their family.)

please join jeff and i on november 22 (and the following monday evenings!) as we watch brooke skate on "skating with the stars" (ABC.) please vote for her, too (10x by phone, 10x by internet!)

much love.