Tag Archives: growing up

Tears.

It’s 1:57 a.m.

I just finished reading Nicholas and Micah Sparks’ book, “Three Weeks With My Brother.”

I cried.

I didn’t intend to stay up this late reading and it’s been awhile since I have. It was worth it.

For whatever reason, I used to pride myself in the fact that I didn’t cry reading books or watching movies. A proud entertainment stoic, I’d frequently tell to others this in response to their sharing about shedding of tears.

I did cry though, don’t get me wrong. I am a very emotional person. I just usually didn’t cry during books or movies.

Now, everything has changed. I find myself crying more in general and in books and movies. And I am OK with that.

Being a stoic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I cried watching Toy Story 3 the other night. Toys held, and still hold, a special place in my heart. Just like Andy in Toy Story, my toys were close companions. I believed they were real and took their feelings into consideration always. It tore me up to give away toys. Just ask my parents.

When I was younger, I’d line up all of my stuffed animals on our couch so they could watch TV with me. I also had imaginary friends, but that’s for another post.

I cried when Woody made the choice to write a note suggesting that they be given to Bonnie. I was snot-nosed and sniffly in the last scene when Andy gave away Buzz, Rex, Slinky and especially when he gave away Woody.

Growing up is hard. Adulthood is hard

I cried reading Nicholas and Micah Sparks’ book. It is an intensely personal book. It’s a memoir. The Sparks brothers lost both of their parents and their younger sister. I promise that wasn’t a spoiler, it’s given away on the back of the book.

Reading about their losses profoundly touched me. It reminded me, not that I needed reminding, about how strong the bonds of family are. What tends to make me cry is when I relate a certain sad incident to my life.  Reading “Three Weeks With My Brother” made me think about losing family. That hurt.

I cannot imagine the pain the Sparks brothers went through. My family is so important to me, so integral to who I am, I just simply can’t imagine. I don’t want to imagine.

My extended family has dealt with a lot of loss. I lost one of my grandfathers, two uncles and a young cousin. Reading this book opened some of those wounds. It was painful.

In the book, faith and trust in God is a crucial part of the book.

I think what God’s teaching me is that crying when reading a book or movie can be good. That sounds really elementary, but I’m realizing that different books and movies can bring out our past so we can remember God’s grace, so we can remember lessons learned and so we can value and treasure life.

Media imitates life. The stories we read and watch are snippets from our lives. Spark’s book, “A Walk to Remember” is based off of his sister. His book, “Rescue” is about his son who has developmental issues. Since media imitates life, there are applications to each of our lives if we’re willing to take them.

It’s important to be in tune with feelings and emotions. It is so important to process and share feelings — especially when tragedy and loss are involved. Holding tears in doesn’t help.

Reading or watching something sad that strikes an emotional vein can bring reflection and healing if we let God work.

No longer will I brag about being an entertainment stoic. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Trust me.

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A Painting of Life


A child stomps down the sidewalk head down, chin tucked, hands in his pockets and dragging his feet along. This child is angrily headed to a piano lesson his mother is insisting he attend and enjoy.

Growing up there are many activities parents insist upon kids trying. Parents maintain that their children will thank them later. For many it is piano lessons, for some it ballet, others choir. Children participate in these events begrudgingly–going to the piano lesson because they have no choice–all the time knowing their parent is wrong and they will never thank their parent later. For me this dreaded activity was Chinese painting lessons.

Born in Dallas, Texas, in Baylor hospital at seven pounds, two ounces, I was feisty from the get-go. I threw tantrums with the best of them. I wanted to do things my way in my time for my reasons. I was very strong-willed and I still am.

At the not-so-tender age of two I moved with my parents to Taipei, Taiwan. After completing language school in Taiwan we moved to Hong Kong, not long after moving into Sichuan province in China. One of the first Chinese friends my mom made was a fairly well-known Chinese painter. This painter sold her artwork to traveling prominent businessmen from Taiwan. My mom continued to develop a friendship with this painter, Long Ju.

My mother arranged for me to take Chinese painting lessons from Long Ju in exchange for me teaching her daughter English. This, taking lessons and giving them, in no way sounded appealing to me. Every time it was time for a lesson I would argue and throw a fit. I was the spitting image of the child described in the first sentence. I went in to the lesson sulky and sour. I could think of a million things I would rather be doing, such as playing with my American Girl doll Addy.

Long Ju’s hand would guide mine as I clumsily clenched the bamboo paintbrush. I imagine many of the valuable and expensive horse hairs fell out of the brush because of my lack of dexterity. I watched Long Ju paint many a beautiful painting, only realizing and recognizing its value later.


Long Ju came to know the Father, but not through me and my resentful attitude, but through my mother who loved her unconditionally. My mother knew I would one day appreciate those lessons. She was right.

Chinese painting lessons did not fit into my world of Pet Shop and Polly Pockets. However, my mom knew as I matured I would realize what an opportunity that was.

After living for two years in Chengdu, my dad accepted a different job in Thailand. This change did not strike any chords with me. I was adamant. I loved China and wanted to stay. Thailand was a nice place to visit for meetings and such, but was definitely not somewhere I was interested in living long term. I would not believe that this move would be for the better later. Once again I was proved wrong. The seven years my family lived in Thailand were amazing, and I would never have traded moving there from China. I grew to love the food, people, shopping, the culture and the scenery. It became home.

Isn’t it annoying how parents tend to always be right?

The summer after my freshman year of college I went to Virginia to work and hang with my family. Many years have passed since I was the rebellious 9 year-old girl who refused to enjoy and appreciate the painting lessons. Later, in middle and high school, I wished I had tried harder. I was determined to look for another chance.

An opportunity arose for me to take lessons from a seasoned Chinese painter living in Richmond. This painter was well-known and her grandfather is a famous painter. I jumped at the opportunity to make up for my previous obstinacy. I learned how to paint bamboo, cherry blossoms, peony flowers, orchids, chrysanthemums and butterflies. It was a great experience. I feel privileged to have had another chance. I valued it a lot more this time ’round.

It occurred to me that this is a painting of life. We now know what we should have known earlier. Hindsight truly is 20/20. If I counted how many opportunities I’ve missed–well, let’s not think about that. God knows things we’ll only know and appreciate later.

Whether it’s painting or piano, the joy is knowing we haven’t finished the painting. We don’t know the value of what we’ve been asked to do until later. That’s where faith and obedience come in. What is faith if there’s no mystery, no risk or reward?

The joy’s in the journey, in knowing that we’ll see the fruits of our painting, or labor, later.

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known,” 1 Cor. 13:12

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Thaichinese, Chithai

That’s what I’ll do.

I’ll create a new language that’s a glorious hodge podge, or potpourri if you’ll allow for it, of the two languages I flutter back and forth from to study. I’ve studied Chinese and Thai since I was little but haven’t seemed to master either language. Just when I get to a point of good standing it’s time to move back to the other language.

During my younger years, (approximately years 3-10) we lived in Chinese-speaking countries. Well, there was Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong, but that is an entirely different blog post. From ages 10-17 we lived in Thailand. I took Thai in high school and one year of Spanish.
In college, I took two years of Chinese. My junior year of college, I studied abroad at Tsinghua University in Beijing for eight months. Now, I am back in Thailand studying Thai.

Sadly, now I fear my Chinese is fading. It almost has to be pushed to the back of my mind because in language class my sentences are coming out half Thai and half Chinese. Sometimes it takes a confused look from my teacher to realize I must have used a Chinese word in my sentence. Thai and Chinese are both tonal languages. Thai has five tones and Chinese has four tones. The second tone is said differently in Thai than it is in Chinese. This has caused a few problems.

I’m not complaining–but I’ve realized that in studying one language I inevitably forget the other language. What’s the remedy? Since pushing a magic button for fluency in languages isn’t feasible quite yet, (maybe it will be in 2012 if the Mayans aren’t right in their predictions) my only other solution is to propose the creation of a new language. This new language would be a combination of Thai and Chinese. I’m thinking of possible names, Thaichinese, is one choice, but I do feel that is slightly predictable. Here’s another Chithai. Thainese?

Thoughts? I am open to suggestions.

สวัสดีค่ะ , 再见 Sawatdii kah, Zai jian!

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