Hope-ly

book-study-2015_2016I wrote this piece for 2015-2016 PW Horizons Bible Study, Come to the Waters by Judy Record Fletcher. It was published in Horizons Magazine, March/April 2016 issue.

Scripture: Revelation 21-22

I grew up with two wonderful parents who moved to the United States from South Korea almost 40 years ago. They moved to the U.S. in their mid-20s, and Korean is still their primary language of communication with one another. My siblings and I all speak what I fondly like to call “Konglish”-Korean and English. We move between these two languages fluidly. It probably sounds very confusing to anyone hearing us speak.

I honestly think my parents’ English is just fine, but I know they sometimes feel self-conscious about it. Comedienne Margaret Cho does many stand-up routines in which she imitates her Korean mother. I always laugh, but I am also always in awe of how carefully she must listen to be able to imitate so well. For me, I never hear my parents with an accent when they speak English. Instead, I think, I mentally auto-correct and translate what they are saying. I do not hear the incorrect grammar and wrong words. I understanding what they’re saying; I get it.

It wasn’t until my parents got an email account and started texting me that I couldn’t help but notice their particular use of words and sentence structures. It made me really happy, actually, to see them write exactly how they speak. One of my favorite words to this day-that my parents coined, and I never discovered until they used it in an email-is how they say “hopefully.” They say and write, “hopely.”

I love this word, and I think it fits in well with this final lesson in the study. The author writes that we are now living in an in-between time, “when we know the revelation of the Christ but not the revelation of the end times” (Come to the Waters, 73). The final revelation has not yet come, so this partial word-hopely seems to fit in well. God’s realm has not been revealed in full yet, but we live in an in-between space.

I think this in-between space relates well to many of us living in a multicultural, multiracial, multi religious world, which is why I must confess that I struggle a little bit with these passages from Revelation. As much as beautiful imagery pours out from it, the idea of hope coming from this vision of glory is difficult for me. In my limited human experience and limited vision, I cannot imagine a life or world without pain or struggle, where no tears will be shed. As much as this vision sounds like it is a good thing, as a “hope-ly” person, hope for me has always come from the struggle.

How do I live into hope when there is no more struggle or difficulties to overcome? Being intentional about living in the in-between spaces, in relationship with those who differ from me, requires sacrifice, compromise, truth-telling and struggle. But the beauty that flows out from that intentionality is worth its weight in gold…perhaps even streets of gold.

And along those pavements, I envision the river of the water of life that sustains different trees and different fruits. I love this imagery.

So, as we complete this water series, think about your life-giving water of hope. Where do you find it?

What sustains you for the journey in these days and in the days ahead?

How are you living in this in-between time? How do you desire to live in it?

What fruit have you been called to bear in this season of your life?

Hope-ly, we will always remember, through all the ups and downs of this life, that the gift of the water of life is always extended to us through God in Christ and Spirit. “Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as gift.” (Rev. 22:17).

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The wedded details

“You will find, as you look back upon your life, that the moments when you have truly lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.”
—Henry Drummond

(I started this post 3 weeks ago and I’m just posting it now. I just wanted to remember all of these things).

I had one year to plan a wedding… which means I had one year to pay attention to details and figure out what I wanted to do. Questions such as where I wanted to invest $$ and the places where I wanted to invest time (i.e. not spend $$)…there were a lot of details. And I LOVE the details. Even if no one notices them, I know it contributes to the whole, and thus why I care. So, I wanted to post a blog about the details of the wedding.

  1. First, my accessories. Click on each pic to see more detail about where I got them and why they are meaningful to me.

2. The DRESS: My gorgeous dress was from Trudy’s in Campbell. The service was amazing, they respected my budget, and their expertise led me to wear a dress I would have never thought to try on…and fell in love with. I never thought I’d be wearing a more form fitting lace dress on my wedding day, but it was the right dress. I knew it the second I put it on.

3. Flowers-Soooo… I LOVE real flowers, but I did not love the price of wedding flowers. I swear, it was out of control. I decided I wanted to invest $$ elsewhere and not on flowers for our wedding. So, I had a friend of mine, Gwen, MAKE the bouquets for my bridesmaids and for the groomsmen from fabric and bling.

As for my bouquet and Marion’s boutonniere, we also went the fabric flower route, but ordered them from My Vintage Wedding who I found on Etsy and is based in Australia. They were all beautiful, and I saved beaucoup bucks. PLUS, I get to keep my bouquet forever!

As for our parents, they insisted on real flowers…so when my mom found out that the price of real flowers for just the parents would cost more than all the fabric flowers for all 14 members of our wedding party, she volunteered to make them herself. The 3 roses and baby’s breath and ribbon? She bought the flowers from Costco and made them with love.

4. Our CAKE… or rather, cakes and tons of cupcakes!

Our wedding cake was from Jen’s Cakes based in Willow Glen, CA. I wanted a simple look with some kind of flourish. I bought the black ribbon and the brooches that are accenting the cake. It was a green tea cake with white chocolate mousse filling (AMAZING!) and white cake with raspberry filling. It tasted SO GOOD (yes I ate cake at my wedding!)

We also had a church reception in which we had volunteers make cupcakes of their hearts desire…and they were all GORGEOUS! People put so much love and care into each of them, and it was so apparent. We also had a beautiful coconut wedding cake for the church reception made by a church member, Emily. I won’t lie, someone saved that cake for us and I might have been found eating it throughout the following week. It was DELICIOUS.

5. HAIR & MAKEUP-Okay, I have to admit, this was one area that I wanted to invest because I’m vain and I want good hair and good makeup. I couldn’t have asked for a better stylist and makeup artist than Ann Ho from A-List MakeUp. The other truth is, I could only hire her because we had a January wedding and we got married on a Sunday, but holy crap, she was incredible. I wanted a natural look, but of course, beautiful…and I needed my hair to be up because of the opening in the back of my dress, and she just went above and beyond. She also had someone join her do hair for some of my bridesmaids who wanted that service as well. Check it out. WORTH IT! (P.S. I got that hair piece on Ebay for $2.50)

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6. Flower Girls & Ring Bearers

I had lots of kids in our wedding because I love kids. The flower girls wore dresses I found on Etsy through ekidsbridalusa, and no lie, each dress was only about $25.00 each! That’s a steal. I had our ring bearers wear black bow tie and black suspenders and black pants and white button up top. SO CUTE.

Since I had 4 flower girls, I had two of them throwing petals out of baskets, one holding a large oversized fake flower, and the other holding a sign that said “here comes the bride.” Our older ring bearer held the ring pillow and the younger one held a sign that said “ring security.” They were so fun to watch.

7. Ceremony details-I hand made each program (I cut so much paper), had fun ribbon wands that decorated the aisles and that were used at the end of the ceremony to wave us out (cut up crepe paper and scotch tape and sticks), our guest book was a book of our engagement pictures made into a guestbook, we had ribbon decor made by an amazing church member, and the AWESOME CRANES that came from friends and family from all over the country and world! I couldn’t have asked for more… all at the beautiful church I serve at the Stone Church of Willow Glen.

8. Our evening reception was held at the beautiful Silicon Valley Capital Club in downtown San Jose. The whole story of how we ended up booking this place is a long one…but let’s just say, it was totally a “God thing” in my book. We had struggled to find a place for a long time, and through connections and timing, we ended up booking a unique venue of our dreams!

9. The details of our evening reception included the crane theme in the name cards with tables named after our favorite foods. We also had a “selfie station” with props and a selfie stick and our wedding favors were chocolate covered Oreo pops that we made at home! They were a hit! We did floating candles and pillar candles for centerpieces and kept it simple on that front. The open window views of the city at night added so much to the ambiance in the evening, so it all worked out well!

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10. Videographer-EJ from Reel-Motions was amazing! It was actually my parent’s idea to get a videographer. We hadn’t considered that, but they asked for so little and were incredibly supportive, so when they asked me and Marion to get a videographer, we had to oblige! We were so glad we made that decision! I thought it would feel like we were on a reality show with a video camera in our faces the whole day, but honestly, I hardly noticed him and his team at all! They were awesome. Here is the highlight video he made for us! We are still waiting for our “full footage” video, but after seeing the highlight, I have no doubt that we will absolutely love our full footage video!

11. Last but not least, we hired an AMAZING photographer! We had interviewed a few photographers, but knew immediately that Quianna Marie Photography would be the right fit for us. Almost all of the images you see above were taken by Quianna! She has such a bubbly personality and passion for her work and it comes through when you talk to her. She got all the major shots and all the DETAILS that I had hoped she would capture! Getting the right photographer is so important and we definitely made the right choice with Quianna.

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So there you have it! All the little details that equaled a beautiful, memorable, and wonderful day!

One month ago…

 “I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you…”
(Philippians 1:3-4)

“Someone asked me today how to stop being afraid of Life & I though of you, so fierce & gentle with the people you meet & I told her what you’ve taught me: let Love guide you even in the smallest things because that is what all Life is hungry for.”
(Brian Andreas)

One month ago, Marion and I shared our vows and our love with a huge community of love and support. Before I go on, click on the link to check out our awesome 3.5 minute wedding highlight video made by our videographer EJ at Reel-Motions in the Bay Area.

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I think the short highlight in real time really captured the essence of how fun and how special that day was for us. Of course, I’m still floating from the wonder and beauty of that day. It was cloudy and overcast the whole day, but the rain did not come pouring down until later that evening.

We have always been like this, but we noticed it more prominently in our first month of marriage-and that is how much gratitude we are verbally sharing with one another for big things and little things. I think the “noticing it” part has bounced off the incredible

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Honeymooning in Maui

amount of gratitude we felt as a result of an abundance of the love and support we felt around that day. We kept turning to each other throughout the day and even throughout our honeymoon saying, “We are so blessed!” And not in the fake corny way you might imagine us saying something like, but in the way where you feel it deep in your bones and you’re kind of in awe at the love and Spirit that surrounds you.

As a result, we have noticed that we have built a relationship around gratitude, not just in the past month, but in its entirety, and we verbalize that gratitude whenever we can. I am sure some people might hear us and think it’s too much… and yet, I think for us, right now, it is what keeps us strong even in the midst of conflict. It’s amazing the distance a word of appreciation can take us.

And so, my prayer is that along with love and all that good stuff can come alongside us, that we will always manage to remember with gratitude all of the hands and hearts that came together on that day…and to always think of one another with gratitude, for the big things and the small things.

Our vows

 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
(Romans 12:9-10)

“You may not remember the time you let me go first. 
Or the time you dropped back to tell me it wasn’t that far to go. 
Or the time you waited at the crossroads for me to catch up. 
You may not remember any of those, but I do and this is what I have to say to you: 

Today, no matter what it takes, 
we ride home together.”

-Brian Andreas

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On Sunday, January 17, 2016 I got to publicly share my love and my vows with this wonderful guy. There is SO much to write and reflect on that day and I promise to do just that soon.

For now, I wanted to document our vows-so I can remember what it is I promised, but also so I can remember what he promised to me. It was such a special moment for both of us. The hundreds of people around us disappeared in that moment and it was just us. I’m so thankful for that. So-if you’re interested, here are the vows we shared and wrote and read.

Marion’s vows to me:

On this day, I give to you, in the presence of God, my family, and all these witnesses, my promise to love you, hold you and honor you,
I will respect you, encourage you and cherish you,
In sickness and in health,
Through sorrow and success,
For all the days of my life

I pledge to be your loving husband. To talk and to listen, to trust you and appreciate your uniqueness, to respect and honor you, and to support, comfort, and strengthen you through life’s joys and sorrows.

I take you to be my wife, loving what I know of you, and trusting what I do not yet know, I eagerly anticipate the chance to grow together, getting to know the woman you will become, and falling in love a little more every day. I promise to love and cherish you through whatever life may bring us.

I enter this marriage with you, knowing that it’s not about us remaining the same people, but following the path of change together, hand in hand.

I vow to have the patience that love demands, to speak when I should, but also stay silent when that is what’s needed.

I look forward to a future where we share everything, building our relationship and serving each other. When you fall, I will catch you. When you cry, I will comfort you. When you laugh, I will share your joy.

Under the guidance of God, I join myself to you. You are the hair spray, I am the gel, and together, we make crunchy hair.

I thank you for being so good to me, sacrificing so much and being so patient. You know me better than anyone else in the world and somehow still you manage to love me, and I will try in every way to be worthy of your love.

So today, I, Marion, take you, Irene, to be my wife, knowing in my heart that you will be my constant friend, my faithful partner in life, and my one true love.

And my vows to Marion:

Marion, anyone who has known me for a long time knows how much of a cheesy romantic I have been, pretty much my whole life. I could blame Disney movies, but my friends know I would probably be like this even without them. I just believe so much in love and believe everyone should have it and experience it…and I sought after it and kept seeking it even when it failed miserably. I was always willing to put myself out there …eventually even on a dating app where I would just swipe a screen after seeing just a picture of a handsome man with smiling eyes, and it would change my life. It is also probably the least romantic way to meet ever, but I think that’s just how God works with me sometimes. Never as I expect or hope, but always better.

I used to hate it when people told me “you just know” because that made no sense to me and still honestly doesn’t. But the truth is, from our first message exchange to our firIMG_0002st conversation to our first date, I just knew. And since then, you have made me feel more loved than I ever thought possible. It’s not been without bumps, but I love how we recover together, and I feel secure that we will walk this life together as best as we can.

So today, on our wedding day, I am honored to tell you in front of all of these people who love us, that I love you and I want to share the rest of my life with you. I take you,
and I choose you, Marion, to be my husband. I promise to stand by you and support you as best as I can. I promise to let you have wife-free time to just be with the guys or whatever.  I promise to take care of you when you’re sick, but still make you go to work when you are faking. I promise to pray for us and to keep God in the midst of our relationship. And I promise before God and these witnesses to be your loving and faithful wife. I vow not to just grow old together, but to grow together. I promise to laugh with you in good times and struggle alongside you in bad times…for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for all the days of my life. I love you. Thank you for loving me.

 

One week from today

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” Ecclesiastes 3:1

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” 
― Dr. Seuss

I’m home alone and it’s quiet. I am sitting among an explosion of paper, boxes, name cards, signs, pictures, cranes, hot glue guns, scissors, FullSizeRender-2markers and gift bags…etc. It’s a mess up in here. I’m planning on organizing it all soon and boxing it up with signs of where all the stuff will need to go… but for now, I’m sitting in the center of it all, and writing to try and remember all of this with gratitude.

Because one week from today, all of this mess will be shared with a wider community of people who love and care for me…and the guy I marry.

I don’t think words are meant to be enough to be shared for feelings and moments like this, but it really is awesome.

We have been blessed.

We have been blessed to have over 1000 cranes that have been strung up and will be hanging in the sanctuary… 1000 cranes that have been made by hands and hearts from all over the country and even from England and Brazil! IMG_9825

We have been blessed to receive a surprise blessing at the end of worship today, where Ken had both of us hand in hand in front of everyone and everyone extended their hand out to us as he gave us a blessing.

We have been blessed to get a beautiful bouquet of flowers from two friends, Joey and Irene, who just stopped by with it to help remind us to be present and enjoy the moments this week.

We have been blessed by a wide array and network of friends and family who are stepping up and stepping in to make our lives easier and to make the day so special for us.

We have been blessed.

And one week from today, a beautiful year of engagement and wedding planning will end and a different journey of being together will begin!

There truly is a season for everything, and my reality is definitely better than any dream I had or could have conjured for myself. Just going to soak it all in… and enjoy the ride.

A post of gratitude to the guy who’s marrying a pastor

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8

“Loving can hurt
Loving can hurt sometimes
But it’s the only thing that I know
When it gets hard
You know it can get hard sometimes
It is the only thing that makes us feel alive…”
Excerpt from “Photograph” by Ed Sheeran

11951779_10153578255435350_7011594926417333493_n Yesterday was one of those days in ministry where it was super hard, super long, super beautiful, and literally took the grace of God to get through with grace.

There was the usual morning worship service, a memorial service in the afternoon, and then about 30 minutes after that all ended, we had our youth group kick-off night. Some might not think that’s too much, but for this introvert pastor, I came home afterward and crashed. It was all wonderful and so exhausting.

Through that entire day of being the Reverend, Marion was there. And because my heart is bursting with gratitude for him and the ways in which he has been an amazing supportive partner to me, I’m writing this post of gratitude to him… to the guy who is marrying a pastor.

Now I feel like I need to say publicly (because, I mean, look at us, we look super cute and super happy and now I’m about to write a super sappy post about how great he is)…I need to say that we are not perfect. We’ve lived over 30 years of our lives without each other and trying to integrate our habits, lifestyles, and how we do things together after doing it our own way for so long has not been without its struggles. Add to that recipe that we are both super stubborn in our own ways and it can be ugly. But I think that’s exactly why I’m feeling especially grateful too. Because we really DO love each other and we have both worked hard at understanding one another’s quirks and learning to be patient with them. We both recognize this…and when we do take time to recognize it, our love continues to grow.

Okay, so back to the guy who’s marrying a pastor.

Dear guy who’s marrying a pastor (aka my awesome fiancé),

I am sure you never dreamed you’d end up engaged to be married to a pastor. I am sure that your friends are probably even more surprised that you’re engaged to be married to a Presbyterian minister. But truth be told, before I met you, I had given up on meeting someone who would be as supportive and “by my side” as you have been since we have been together as I live into this odd and wondrous calling. I just wanted to find someone who was okay with it, wouldn’t discourage me from it, and I expected us to live separate lives when it came to faith and church. I have friends who do this and live in happy and loving relationships, so I was cool with it.

God probably knew that I needed more than that though…for my own sense of sanity and peace. And when a day of ministry like yesterday happens, your presence and help and willingness to jump in when I needed you was a grace upon grace for me. That all sounds wordy and beautified, but really I just want to say THANK YOU. I’m writing this post, so I will remember all that you have done for me in this early time of our relationship as we prepare for a marriage.

Thank you for showing up week after week on Sundays. I know you began doing that to show your support for me, but I really hope you feel the love the church also has for you simply because of who you are.

Thank you for being patient with me as I finish writing sermons on Saturday nights… I know I’m always uptight and boring and sometimes freaking out on those nights, and you are a steady and calm presence reassuring me that I can do it.

Thank you for praying for us and our families and work at every meal we share together (I’m not exaggerating, friends…EVERY meal when it’s the two of us). It sustains me more than you might know.

And you know, I don’t know what it will be like being married to a minister. I’ve never done this before with a partner before. I know life tethered to a minister is very different from the life you led before you met me. A lot has changed for you. A lot has changed for me too. And I can only hope and pray that it’s for the better for you, because it without a doubt is better for me. It’s been an unexpected blessing.

I could go on and on, but I won’t. Just… thank you. I love you. I can’t wait to marry you!!!

Loves, me

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My speech to my BFF on her wedding day

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My Maid of Honor speech for Melanie & Colby’s wedding on June 12, 2015. My BFF is married!!

My Dearest Duckadee on your wedding day: I know how you hate to cry so I thought I’d try something new. Your one instruction to me was, “don’t make me cry” so this is the way that I’m gonna try to to abide by your wishes.

You see once upon a time back in 1994, two girls met each other, and at least this girl thought to herself, “Score!” Finally a friend who understands and respects my beliefs, who has fun and is funny and weird-it was such a relief. The friendship only grew closer as the years went by with nicknames Chickadee and Duckadee-some people gave us the eye…brow raise. And even when I left the state after college, our friendship blossomed and grew in different ways. We made time and space for each other and traveled to different places, mostly tropical. We danced, ate, and drank…mostly water. And here you are now on your wedding day-holy crap, you’re married, and this guy next to you is here to stay.

IMG_6843I’ve heard so many speeches where they say, “And now here is your new best friend” but you’ve been my BFF for 21 years, and Colby, you don’t get to replace that.
Sorry, but homie don’t play that.

But, but… Colby, and this is for you…but you do get to make her happy on a daily basis and care for her when she’s happy, sick, or down in the dumps. You get to hold her hand, give her a hug or a kiss when she needs it, and remind her of how beautiful she is inside and out. It is your privilege, an honor, to love and to hold her, because this friend of mine she will always give it back.IMG_6849

And you, I see how you make her happy, both of you have traveled together through a lot of thick and thin already. I’ve noticed and seen how you’ve been so steady, and all this friend could ask for is someone to make Melanie, my Duckadee, this happy.

Duckadee, you know how much I love you, we always say words cannot express it enough. Our friendship is not one I will ever take for granted, and I can only be thankful again for you on this new day.

And today, you have both made pIMG_6834romises to one another-promises to continue the journey you’ve already begun together. So blessings, love, and my prayers surround you. I love you both, congratulations, and cheers to you two!

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