Confessions of A Pastor's Wife

We all define ourselves through titles. Titles like who we are in relation to our families, i.e. father, son, mother, daughter, husband and wife. We define ourselves by our profession, banker, teacher, manager, doctor lawyer. We define ourselves by our race Asian American, African American, Jewish, Italian, WASP, ... and the list goes on. But what happens when one title, one aspect of who you are eclipses every other title, every other aspect? What happens when people judge you, interact with you, talk about you, only in relation to this one aspect? I know what I am struggling with is a universal emotion and though it relates to my title specifically I'm sure many others with the same title or same problem can relate.

I am a mother, a wife, a Christian, and a Pastor's wife. I am a lot of other things too but that last title defines me to the rest of the world me more than any other part of who I am. Don't get me wrong, the fact I married a pastor is a BIG part of who I am. The fact that I chose to serve the church and be a part of the church as my full time calling is a HUGE part of who I am. Do I have any regret? Absolutely not. I know I am beyond blessed to live this life and be a pastor's wife. But it's not all of who I am. I know I don't talk about being a pastor's wife much on this blog and I think its because on a day to day basis that is all I am to people. I think in some ways this blog has helped me to express myself, to show the world that there is more to me than this title. That I have thoughts, faults, insecurities, fears, struggles, and a sense of humor, parts of me that I know would never see the light of day or beyond the four walls of my home, if it weren't for this blog.

Moving to Kaneohe has been great. I have been falling in love with the congregation and the community. I want to build friendships with other women and others in our community. At church we'll have a great time talking to people our age, other couples with kids, but when I extend an invitation to have a play date or hang out, I immediately sense hesitation in their voice. I realize it's because they see me as the pastor's wife. They might be thinking,

"The pastor's wife is asking us to 'hang out'. What are we gonna do sit around and sing hymns and pontificate about this weeks sermon?? Is she trying to ring us into becoming a member of the church?? I have to put on my 'church face' outside of church??"

I don't know what they are thinking exactly, but I know their hesitation stems from the fact that I'm not just another mother in the same life stage, that wants to hang out... I'm the pastor's wife, a different species. I can't want to just hang out, talk story, and have a good time. Though I am very fulfilled in the company my husband provides me, there is a part of me that wants to connect with other women, especially other mothers.

I've been wondering why this bothers me so much. I keep telling myself "

Why are you surprised?? Didn't you know what you signed up for when you entered ministry and then married a pastor??

" I know this shouldn't be news to me. I know in the big picture its a small price to pay, but it still distresses me and I think it boils down to three reasons.

For one I'm an extrovert. Being around people has always revived me, energized me, and it has always been refreshing. But like poison to a plant the connections I try to make are tainted, affected, and withered by this title. People tend to see me with rose colored glasses, they assume nice things about me, because of my title, but that is all they are willing to see. To me it becomes a rose colored glass box.

The friendships that I need and want as the extrovert God designed me to be, the connections I need as a human being, are unable to penetrate through that glass.

Also, it bothers me because people assume I am extending an invitation because I have some pretense related to the church. People assume I am connecting with them because I want something from them. What could it be? Volunteers maybe? or more people at our service? I can't be connecting with them because I genuinely want to get to know them and build a meaningful friendship.  The fact that people automatically assume this about me is especially hurtful.

Lastly, it mothers because I am a mother. As a mother you always wonder how your identity will affect your children. I want my son and daughter to make friends and connections with other kids in the community as well. I wonder will they be put in the same rose colored glass box? Will people define them, judge them, and interact with them based on the fact they are pastors kids? Will they find themselves isolated and separated in some ways from their peers?

As hurtful and discouraging as some of these recent interactions have been, I am all the more resolved to not give up. I want to keep trying, keep persisting in putting myself out there, hoping to crack the rose colored glass. The image, at first will be distorted, and people may be pleasantly surprised and/or disappointed that there is more to me than this title, but that is the only way people will see me with clarity. I am resolved to make friendships, show people that I care, be there for them when they need me. God never gave up on me so I don't want to give up on them. Looking back in my life there are certain relationships that I didn't give up on. I wish I can say there were more, but it was only a few. In these relationships I would not let up, despite the good the bad and the ugly. I knew they were worth fighting for. I feel that same determination inside me. If I try, enough seeds will be planted and relationships will grow. If I try enough, the glass will be broken and people will see that I bleed, heal, and connect like anyone else.

On a lighter note. I need to stop putting them in one cart....

Being Grateful: Star Wars and Beaches

This past week I have been cranky. Usually I start out on the weekend on full steam and then by midweek I run on empty. I'm pretty sure it all boils down to lack of sleep. I am normally a pretty even keeled person, usually I have a happy disposition, but when I lack sleep, I slowly creep over to the dark side. I am but a lightsaber swing away from "giving in to my anger" and joining Palpatine and the Death Star (Sorry for the random star wars reference I never know where my caffeine rush will take me).

Is it just me or did every Korean kid growing up in the 80's watch Star Wars, Rambo, and Rocky with their parents?

 Everything gets on my nerves. I slowly start seeing the world through Darth Vadar's mask (ok last one). Luckily my husband is extremely patient with me. Like the gravitational push and pull of the moon on the tide, our five years of marriage has eventually brought us to a decent balance of our daily responsibilities. He does a lot for me and our kids. When I am cranky I have no one to blame but myself =T

This past week we took a mid week break. We broke out of our normal routine and went out for dinner and had dessert (We Never. Ever. Buy dessert at a restaurant). Then we went to the beach and played in the sand, didn't worry too much when Kaitlyn started to consume the sand, and danced with our kids with the ocean as our audience. It was absolutely delightful. I've come to see how great it is to take a step back and see how big the world is and how small I am.

To remember God as a creator and not as my personal self help couch.

To remember how blessed we are and how much we take for granted.

To remember to be thankful for all His gifts and the chance to live a life of gratitude.

From here Kaitlyn begins to eat sand...

Check out Daechoong Mama's Facebook page for the rest of the pics!

10 Life Lessons I Want To Teach My Son

I always keep in mind certain lessons I want to teach my son. He is only 3 years old right now so teaching him anything is limited to things like "Don't touch the toilet and rub your eyes!!!!!" These lessons always cross my mind and I keep in mind how I would try to convey my thoughts on these topics. Here is a rough list of the things I would like to teach him one day when he is at an age he would understand. 10 (of many) Life Lessons I want to Teach My Son:

1) Work Hard
- You are smart, you come from a good family (most days), you were born in one of the greatest countries on earth, and you have an endless amount of resources available to you, BUT that doesn't mean anything unless you work hard. My mom used to say "1% idea 99% sweat!" now looking back I realized she took that quote from Thomas Edison and passed it off as her own, but that the time I thought she was a genius. No one owes you a living. You won't be thrown a bone unless you work for it. Be the kind of person that only blames yourself when you fail (you better not blame me!) but credits everyone who stood by you(Like me!) when you succeed.

2) Learn to Speak and Write Well
-One of life's greatest assets is your ability to clearly communicate what you are thinking through the spoken and written word. Read quality writing and read a lot of it. Your own level of speaking and writing will always be a bit worse than your quality of reading. When I was young my parents always took me to the library during the summer because it was free. Your mother was an avid reader as a child because she had no toys and nothing else to do and till this day she is grateful to your grandparents for being so cheap. Also, try to make every effort to learn about the world around you, current events, politics, culture, literature and art. People around you will take notice and you will attract others who do the same.

3) Surround Yourself With Good People
- My hope is that you have mentors, good friends, and those you can mentor, in your community. Be especially careful of the friends you choose. Second to your mom and dad, your friends will be the next greatest influence and for a long period of your life, they will be the greatest influence. Surround yourself with people that want to make you better in every way and accept you just as you are. Surround yourself with friends that care enough about you to be honest with you. Find friends that don't take themselves too seriously. Lastly, your dad and I worked really hard to raise you, don't surround yourself with people that will screw it up!

4) Be Wise With Money
-The world splits people into two categories: those who manage their money well and those who don't. Also known as good credit and bad credit. Those with good credit, have many opportunities available to them. They can easily get a cell phone, a mortgage for a home, a car, and the list goes on. Those who have bad  credit have the world shut to them. If you have a credit card, always pay your full balance and never ever spend more money than you have. Always keep track of your spending and save something each month unless you want to sleep on our couch for the rest of your life.

-Finally, one day a lovely girl might want to spend the rest of her life with you, but if you're broke with a lot of debt and bad credit, you'll have nothing to offer her but a hard life.

5) Treat Women with Respect
-Remember, your mother is a girl and your sister is a girl. Always treat women with respect.  This world is carried on the back of women, as you can tell from your mother, woman are amazing people, we are stronger (pain threshold wise (thats why we are the ones that give birth),  more adaptable, and as you can behind every great man there is a greater woman. When you hear other guys objectifying women, remember that.

-On a side note I have seen many guys who claim to be "godly" men. I call them "Holy Rollers" however their "faith" is a guise for self righteousness. I have seen many guys like this be verbally and physically abusive to their girl friends because they are to be "respected" and they believe they are in a position of authority in the relationship. If you see one of these guys smack them. If you turn out to be one of them I will smack  you and disown you. In the end your actions give away your true character. You can't be a godly man without first being a good one.

6) Beware of Any Kind of Addiction
-Where I grew up kids started smoking in 6th grade. One girl in particular was my friend and I watched her battle cigarette addiction for years afterwards. The deceptive thing about addiction is that it seems to make life better at first. Then after awhile, it makes life seem miserable and the addiction is the only way life becomes tolerable. Life is hard enough as it is. You don't need addiction chained around your neck.

7) No Sex until Marriage
-I'll try to keep this short so as not to traumatize you. Contrary to what the world around us says, sex means something. It's a physical act of giving yourself to someone. Sex has emotional, spiritual, and physical affects on both genders but it especially affects girls in this way. I believe that is why God intended only a man to have sex with a woman if he was committed to loving, cherishing, protecting and providing for her, for the rest of her life. Without that commitment keep your angst in your pants.

8)  Find Your Passion and Be Creative
-My math teacher in high school used to say this mantra "God, Family, then Math". After her faith and family, her passion was next. In the same way after God, Family, find your passion, something you love and can devout yourself to whole heartedly. A wise woman once said "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." No it wasn't you mother, though I was tempted to pass this one off as my own (like my mother). It was Eleanor Roosevelt. Be the kind of person that is always discussing ideas and always ask yourself "Is this making me and the world around me better?"

9) Find the Perfect Imperfect Woman for You
-I believe you can only be as great as the person you are sharing your life with. You will be making plenty of important decisions in your life but none are nearly as important as choosing who you will marry. First off narrow the pool by finding someone that shares your Faith and passions, someone who makes you feel comfortable, someone you can laugh with. Then, I would say the most important factor in finding the right woman is her character. Find someone that will put her family above her own needs. Will she always have to do this? No, but the important thing is that she would. You want to find someone that would be willing everyday, to put her needs aside for your family, from the little things to the big things. Then spend the rest of your life loving her, making her happy, and showing your gratitude. Lastly you can't find a great woman without first trying to be a great man.

10) Live in light of eternity
-Most importantly, live your life remembering that life is short and one day we will have to give account of how we spent our days. Remember you are a child of God created with a plan and purpose for your life and in every decision that you make consciously or subconsciously keep that in mind.

How much of this list is compiled based upon my success in doing these things, or learned from regret? More of the latter than I care to admit. Some of these I had to learn the hard way, some I am still learning.  Hopefully I can effectively convey these things one day in words, but my heartfelt desire to teach them by example.

[For my daughter it would mostly be a different list. This list is directed at my son and I wrote it in the way I would speak to him, which would be different in the way I would say things to my daughter. Also I make my views about certain things very clear in this list. That does not mean that I judge anyone for believing  or living differently, please keep in mind this list is a rough outline for a conversation, Lord willing, I would like to have with my son one day.]

A Mother's Worst Fear

As much as the life of a mother is full of joy, it is always laced with a modicum of fear.

Before having kids your worst fear is something happening to you or your family but it's never hovering over your head, you just think "I hope that never happens." However, when you have a child, it's like fear becomes a permanent part of your conscious. Almost to the point where I look back and I barely think I knew what fear was until I became a parent.

I would put fears as a parent into two categories, chronic and acute. Chronic fears are the long term fears that are forever over your head as a parent. These fears are about your child's education, health, and their spiritual and emotional well being. Then there are the acute fears. These fears are related to situations, like when your child gets hurt, sick, or when you think your child is in harms way.

My worst fear is someone taking my child. I think part of it is because I live Hawaii where drug related crimes are prevalent. Some one I know almost had their child abducted by a drug addict. I'm always very aware of my surroundings when I take my children out.

Which brings me to an incident that happened this past Tuesday..

Another daechoong moment, I let my son dress himself which means theres a 99.9% chance he would wear his swim suit.

We went to the mall because it was really hot and humid that day. Hawaii was suppose to have been hit by a tropical storm but it ended up fizzling out and leaving us with incredibly moist air. We went to a little indoor play area for kids. The rubber playground complete with extra padded carpet was ideal for that day. Only it was majorly crowded with kids. With all the moms off to the side looking at their iPhones and the kids running around wild and jumping on top of each other, it looked like  scene from The Lord of the Flies. While my son joined the bedlam, I was getting my daughter to try to walk. After awhile the mosh pit got to be a bit much, so I had my son put on his shoes, while I attempted to put my daughter back in her stroller. My son was next to me trying to figure out how to get candy out of the gumball machine, then I noticed Kaitlyn's strap was stuck. I turned around for 5 seconds to fix it and when I turned around, lo and behold.

Joey was gone.

He was gone. No where to be found. I frantically looked in the play area but I didn't see his bright blue swim suit, he wasn't there. I looked in the perimeter, not there. Then immediately i think, "Someone took him!" I frantically yell.


Bill Cosby was unto something when he said "Always end the name of your child with a vowel. So that when you yell the name will carry." Well said.

At that moment, like a pack to a wolf's howl, all the moms looked up from their iPhones, while their kids went along with the mosh pitting, just another mom screaming I guess.

From about half the mall away I hear my son yelling "Mom I'm here! Come get Ice Cream!!" He was in an ice cream truck ride.

Same truck. Taken a few months back.

I ran to him, my eyes wide with rage. He sees me and smiles and hands me an invisible ice cream. "Here mommy eat chocolate."

On the inside I was thinking....



I grabbed his wrist, took him to the bathroom to give him a spanking but wouldn't you know it, it was filled with other moms and kids sooo.... that didn't happen. I raced them back into our car and started lecturing my son. I replayed the scene in my head over and over again. He was gone for only a few minutes but it felt like the end of my life.

Driving back home I calm down and suddenly memories of my parents swirled around in my head. My parents were pretty protective of me and my brother. Every person we interacted with, they had to know who they were.  My parents were suspicious of people, all people. I always chalked it up to ignorance and I resented them for it. It's because they grew up in a highly competitive dangerous society recovering from the ravages of war. It's because they are Korean and they have to worry about everything. Its because they don't see what a safe country America is. Now I see that it was me who was ignorant. My parents feared for us because they were parents period.

Though my son drives me crazy I know I love him more than life, that if anything were to happen to him I don't know what I would do.

On a lighter note... More evenings at the beach!

Epic Meltdowns: Mother and Child

For all the experienced (post terrible 2-3's) mothers out there, I have a question for you. What is up with all the epic meltdowns? How much longer does this phase last? Some advice as to how to deal would be great.

I know I am one post short of renaming this blog "Trials of Raising a 3 Year Old Boy," but this is certainly what has been consuming my mommy days. This past week wasn't too bad but the last few weeks have been meltdown-tantrum central at our house.

I know what the root of the problem for the most part, lack of sleep. My son on many occasions will wake up at 6am, will be bouncing off the walls all day with boundless energy, and sans a nap will still not sleep until 10pm! O and we try. Some days we throw the book at him, everything from corporal punishment to bribery and manipulation. In the end, my son is still wide awake and we are exhausted. Then after 3PM he starts his meltdowns. Everything from the weather, to the sound of his sister's voice will tip the scales. Screaming, crying, whining. It doesn't matter if we are in public either.

A couple weeks ago, I decided to take him to a "happy place" like the Hawaii Children's Discover Center. We have a membership there and my son loves it, I often take him hoping to tire him out for a nap. The only thing is, the place closes at 3PM on Saturdays, the "Danger Zone". When we are about to leave he pulls out all the stops. The Children's Museum, the happy place, complete with balloons and rainbows becomes an ironic backdrop to this screeching meltdown. This  time he had his meltdown right in front of the entrance. It was so ridiculous I took pictures.

Look at people ignoring the crying boy, it is a happy place afterall...

Lets just say everyone saw me drag a kicking crying screaming child, with one arm, while carrying my one year old daughter with the other, out the door.

This happens at pretty much any place he finds amusing. By afternoon, right around nap time, we will try to leave and there he goes again. I think my son purposely picks the most visible and highly populated places  to start his meltdown show. Maybe he thinks that I will crumble under the embarrassment. Don't be fooled, 3 year old's are smart.

Like this time for example. He had his meltdown right between Ala Moana Mall (the largest outdoor mall in the country) and Nordstrom.

As you can see, I'm not the only one amused.

Refusing to budge even though I say that I'm leaving.

 While carrying my daughter I had to drag a crying boy at the mall, through the parking lot

Honestly, these meltdowns alone don't bother me much. I find them funny sometimes and often think it's cute. I am usually able to remember that they are only this young for a short time. However I'm starting to realize what my buttons are, and I'm realizing that I am just as prone to meltdowns myself. My meltdowns are when, days go by of him waking up early and sleeping late without a nap. Over the course of a few days of this, exhaustion sets in, and I am ready for meltdown central myself. 

Take last Tuesday for example. Just another day after a few consecutive days of him waking up early and refusing to nap. 10+ times he came out of his room refusing to nap. Suffice it to say I was tired. I started to say childish things like "Joey, why do you do this to mommy? You only think about yourself!" As if a 3 year old could possibly empathize with his 31 year old mother. Then, in the afternoon we had a major plumbing problem. The bathrooms were flooded with toilet water, and our sink was clogged. My husband and the plumber were running around the property trying to figure out the problem. I decided to take our kids to the playground. While holding our daughter, my son was playfully running around, then I noticed he started to wobble. O no... don't tell me.

He pooped in his pants.

Not just any poop, an epic poop, to the point where itwas running down his legs and collected in his Crocs. So here I am, holding my one year old, no plumbing in our house, and a 3 year old laden with poop. 

I literally wanted to drop kick him.

Don't get me wrong. I love him more than life, but exhaustion plus this scenario was a recipe for a mother meltdown of rage. However God, in His divine wisdom, intervened. I firmly believe, He divinely appointed our next door neighbors, a loving middle aged Hawaiian couple, to be at the playground at the same time. The wife saw what happened and tenderly touched my shoulder.  The creases around her bright eyes gave away a full happy life, as oppose to old age.   Her concern and empathy made evident through her comforting smile, "I'm sorry mom, we've all been there." She took Kaitlyn into her arms so I could tend to my son. I got a hold of myself, grabbed my son and pretty much gave him a bath at the park bathroom and washed his clothes, underwear and Crocs. We still had to stay at the playground because the plumbing situation was not yet resolved. Luckily no one looked twice at my son running around in his underwear. I heart the country. 

Afterwards the couple walked us back to our house. She said she had 6 kids and now has 22 grandchildren. "Its tough sometimes, just can do what you can do." She said. 

We got home, had dinner at Zippys, then my son finally passed out at 10PM. Watching him sleeping I was reminded. Thankfully I evaded a major meltdown.  I realized in many ways, as an adult, I'm just as childish. I learned that I see so much of myself in him, in the same way I see so much of my mother in me. Do I have a right to go nuts on him when I'm just as prone to do the same thing as an adult? Hopefully I can keep it all in perspective for the next time around and avoid another epic meltdown.

on a happier note. Other highlights from last week:

Evenings at the Park!


Nice sunsets

Ode to Finn

Last night I heard the shocking news. THat Cory Monteith was found dead at a hotel in Vancouver. My husband mentioned it in passing.

"Hey that 'Glee' guy died." I stopped in my tracks in shock.

"Who?? What!?!?" I race to his laptop to see a picture of Cory Monteith. I thought it must surely be an internet hoax or something. Let me look at a reputable website... like the New York Times... Lo and behold it was all true.

I'm still processing it all. Oddly enough, as his goofy awkward adorable character on Glee would sing "Don't Stop Believing"... I can't believe it.

I got into Glee starting season 2. After tasting the goodness of the 1st episode I was hungry for more. I watched all of season 1 and becoming a faithful Gleek anticipated every episode of season 2 with bated breath. I loved the music, I loved each of the characters, and I loved Finn Hudson. He was what I wished the popular football jocks were like when I was in high school. I wished that any high school boy I knew had the moral compass, sensitivity, talent all wrapped in the approachable goofy awkwardness he had. I loved the music. I grew up loving musicals. I grew up watching Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Singing in the Rain, and anything Barbara Streisand. I always wondered when we would see music come back to television. In Glee, music made its grand entrance to TV and pop culture. I loved having my son watch the show with me at times and sing with me. "Last Christmas" (I know the irony keeps coming) was his favorite song. My son would stand on the coffee table and shake his hands in uncontainable joy. Though some people would criticize his singing, I loved his voice and felt he captured with every song.

But the thing that makes the whole thing even more sad for me was this interview with Ellen. I remember watching this a couple years ago and I often think about this interview. My 30's was just around the corner, my son was about a year old and I was going through a 1/3 life crisis I guess. I loved being a mom but knew it would be hard to start anything new, while growing a family. In this interview he talks about working at Walmart as a greeter and meeting someone that had been a greeter at Walmart for 15 years and wondering... "Is this what I want to do with my life?" I don't know but that truly resonated with me. Seeing this guy who was my age, finally finding what he wants to do with his life, made me hopeful and made me love Glee all the more. In a sense it was as if his character Finn wasn't much different from Cory, only we knew that Cory did find himself and what he loved to do. Now, its a different story. This interview is different.

Its a reminder that life is short and tenuous. That when opportunities come we need to seize them, hold them tight and as best as we can, not let go. That I need to cherish the blessings I have now as a wife, as a mother, as a friend because tomorrow is never guaranteed.

We will miss you Cory.