Sunday, December 16, 2007

Slice of Life

Slice of Life Index


On December 1, 2007, Elizabeth got a dog, an adorable eight-week-old Bichon Frisé. He weighed about two-and-a-half pounds and was (and still is!) so cute. The first night both the puppy and Elizabeth were so excited that they could not sleep. She set her alarm clock for 2 AM so that she could take Sammy outside for potty. I was so happy that it was not me responsible for midnight care.

After two weeks at our home, Sammy has trained us quite well. We are taking him to his potty box every time he wakes up from his naps and after meals. We praise him profusely for a job well done and give him treats. He takes naps on our laps as we work at our computer. When he wakes up and licks our faces, he gets such loving hugs.

Elizabeth’s view of Sammy:

I got a new puppy! I have been wanting a puppy for many years. I have begged my parents for so long and my wish came true.

My dad and I went to get my puppy, when we got to the seller’s house, the first thing I saw was two little puff balls wobbling around. I didn’t expect to see them that tiny! I got to spend time with both puppies. I finally made my decision to get the more energetic puppy and named him Sammy.

In the car as we were riding home, I thought this really was a dream of mine. When we got home, it was funny how Sammy would be running full speed and stop with his front paws and end up in a full hand stand. It was hard to walk around Sammy because he would run in front of our feet and stop and we would kick him across the floor. We ended up dragging our feet as we walked in the house.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Slice of Life

Slice of Life Index


In South Bend Kroger, I work with Roxi, a delightful and hard working woman in her fifties. She came to work hobbling. It was her first day back to work after her foot surgery. I tried to keep her sitting down and do paper work or computer work. Soon I realized that she was the familiar face and I was the stranger for the day. Everyone knew Roxi. She knew their name as well as their loved ones. When they called her name she would hobble to the window. Soon they would ask “What happened to your foot?” She would tell her full story to each one of our patients. Every time she told her story, she was just as animated as last time and kept our customers keenly interested. Each one of our patients went away thinking that he or she got the special inside story from Roxi.

Helping an Elderly man

One day a elderly man, oh in his eighties, came to my pharmacy window and asked me to help him get some OTC medicine for his bed bound wife; she had stomach problems. He told me that she had all the ailments you could possibly think of and was paranoid of so many things. He cooked, cleaned, and took care of her. He said, “You know I am a man. I don’t know how to do many things. So I hired a housekeeper to help me. My wife fired her. You can’t have two women under one roof.”

He got married to this woman in 1944. She was so beautiful; more beautiful than a famous actress at that time. He was warned by friends and family that she will bring with her large medical bills due to her paranoia. He said, “Well I loved her. She was so beautiful. What could I do? I married her. They were right. Her medical bills never ceased. I am so tired of her nagging and all her illness and it may all be in her head.” He looked at me with his sad eyes. “I guess that is my lot in life.”

Wabash Store

A pharmacist drove 60 miles to relieve me. Next shift pharmacist had called in sick. This is Kathy’s first day at this store. She eagerly accepted overtime for Christmas expenses. She said she had six children. I looked at her in dismay.

“You work not only fulltime but overtime? How do you do that?”
“Oh I have a friend that takes care of them while I work”

This friend lives with her so that her children have a caretaker. She said each of these children started out as a foster child. She loved them and after some time she could no longer give them back. So she started to adopt one at a time. They range from age twelve down to age four. They are all very smart and wonderful kids. They also have syndromes from their natural mother’s abuse of alcohol or drugs during pregnancy. She just stopped taking in foster children. She said six kids keep you hopping. She is planning a trip to Disney World this coming summer for her family.

My Dog Ate My Pills

A woman walks into my pharmacy. She was in desperate need for the pills that was filled just 3 days ago. She explained to my technician that her dog ate them. Indeed when I saw the bottle, it was all chewed up and cracked. She pleaded that I call her doctor for replacement prescription. I did not even ask her if her dog was dead or alive after eating all those pills, eighty of them. Upon calling, the doctor said, “No refills.” He had just received an anonymous call saying that she is selling drugs on the street. My technician told me that there are many such customers. They will wait for a pharmacist like me who do not know them or their history and try to plead. I learned that both her and her brother had been in jail for selling drugs.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wings to Fly — 18

Memoir Index

Turning Point in Business

It was January of 2005. My mother-in-law Marjorie was very sick. In fact she was dying of cancer. Mannatech, a nutraceutical company, had invited Tamara and I to come with them to their corporate trip to Hawaii. We were very excited. Yet I was not sure if I should go with Marjorie being sick as she was. She told me. “Go for your trip. I want you to go.” By now Tom was spending most of his days with his mom. With Tom at his mom’s side daily I felt it was OK.

Even as I was planning to go to Hawaii, I knew my days with my business were soon over. I realized that business success required more than excitement, vision, diligence, and long-suffering. I lacked the key ingredients; The business savvy, the street smart, and the stomach to take what a business can throw at you. I had difficulty discerning who will eat us alive and who or what will actually help the growth of Proevity. And I was the president!

In Hawaii, the weather was beautiful. The scenery was breathtaking. Meals were exquisite. Luau I attended was so enjoyable. I was carefree and even volunteered to go up on the stage (along with children and many other volunteers) to learn hula dance. We would try to follow the professional dancers and we were so comical that the audience laughed until they cried.

There was a longing tugging at me. I missed Tom so terribly. I was at a place so beautiful and I was here with Tamara, not my husband. For the first time since the start of the business, I would miss him so much in my business trip. Every beautiful place we were at, the beautiful mountains whose trail is dotted by more beautiful ponds where we would stop and dip in the water, I would wish for Tom’s presence with me.

I am not sure what we accomplished those ten days. Tamara felt that we accomplished a lot. She was full of hope and expectation as always. I wanted my husband more than business success.

I came home on January 9th. On January 10th Tom and I went to be with his mom. The next day she passed away. I was thankful that she told me to go to Hawaii and I was thankful that she waited until I came home to see her before she passed away.

There would be even more testing for me regarding Tom’s calling to serve God. By this time it has been a year and a half since Tom had asked me if we could “live by faith” alone; meaning no support from any one other than ourselves. My respond to him had been “absolutely NOT”.

He wanted to give notice to our church that he did not want any full time minister’s stipend. There was a political force coming from Southern California in our church and he was not willing to be dictated by their creed in serving Jesus.

My business was not making money. Typically by the time we paid all of our employees and vendors we had nearly nothing left for the owners. Although many spiritual men in the past entered into service for the Lord without any expectation of any support in sight, yet I was not such a person. These great men of God also encountered so much human suffering. This I did not want either.

I reconsidered Tom’s request to go into next level of living by faith. Whether I liked it or not I was bound to Tom with love I could not shake. I considered going back to work as a pharmacist for the first time in about ten years. The thought scared me. Yet to stay in my business was not an option. My business can not support our family. Tom felt God always took care of us and will take care of us no matter what.

There was a problem. I could not just walk away from my business. We had three employees who relied on me for their wages. I was held by my deep belief that if my actions hurt others, even at the point of my own destruction, I couldnot and will not do it. It would be nine more months before I would have enough courage to tell Tamara that I must leave the business; that she is on her own. And this also would require deep healing of my inner being before I could walk away.

Wings to Fly — 17

Memoir Index

Thanksgiving Tradition

On November 20, 1983 Christian was born. I believe that thanksgiving was two days later that year. I thought I would have to be home and miss a very special holiday. My mother-in-law said, “How about we have Thanksgiving at your house. I’ll do all the cooking. You invite everyone and we will all enjoy the holiday gathering AND Christian.”

Thus our Thanksgiving family tradition began. Every year afterwards, all of Kim family and all of Neill family in Chicago land area would gather at our home. My Ohio sister-in-law Patricia and her family started to join us. Sometimes my Texas sister-in-law Yvonne joined us and others from California would join us. It soon became the favorite holiday for my children. There were so many children running around. Paul and Mary who did not have children at that time came on Wednesday evening and kicked off our holiday. As their family grew to three children and a dog, sometimes they still came on the eve of the Thanksgiving. Oh how our children looked forward to those times.

Mary and I made the Turkey and dressing and everyone else brought a dish or two to create a feast. There was so much food that we could not fit it all on the tables. The number of people would continue to grow as the young people got married and already married couples started to have more children. As our families grew, we needed three long tables between dining room and the living room.

Who would have thought that a birth of a child could have created a wonderful family tradition?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wings to Fly — 16

Memoir Index

Crippled Within


I was a new pharmacist. I was working at a small clinic owned by Grant hospital. I worked about ten hours a week after Christian was born. My customers liked me very much, and some would even make their doctor’s appointment based on when I was working in the pharmacy.

We had one doctor whom I will call Dr. Gulinskii (not his real name). He was a family doctor. He would bring his patients to my pharmacy with his arm around their shoulders and would proceed to dictate their medicines to me. He was liked by his patients.

One day a woman walked into my pharmacy and asked me out of the blue, “Do you know any good dermatologists? My son asked me to find one, and Dr. Gulinskii did not give me any names.” I replied naively, “We have one upstairs. She is an excellent dermatologist named Dr. Banuchi. Her husband is a surgeon.” As I was speaking, Dr. Gulinskii walked in. His face turned red. He waited until I took care of the lady. After she left, he started to raise his voice. “I will not have you taking my patients away from me. You will hear about this. I can get you fired!”

I was so disturbed I did not know what to do. How could I tell him he misunderstood me? For the next many weeks, he stopped coming into my pharmacy. He called me several times, threatening to put my job in jeopardy. Yet he would not allow me to explain anything. I told my supervisor what was happening. He told me, “Don’t be bothered by his empty threat. He can’t fire you. He does not own the pharmacy.” Yet I was so distraught by this that when I went on vacation with my family, I could not enjoy a minute of our time. Tom and the kids were on vacation, but I was not there emotionally.

Sometime later I drafted a beautiful letter in calligraphy explaining the total misunderstanding. I gave it to his wife who was his receptionist. She took it from me and promised to give it to her husband. I felt she sympathized with me. Two days later, he walked into my pharmacy with his arm around a patient and dictated her prescriptions to me. He acted as if nothing had ever happened. There was no apologies.

Business Partners

Tamara and I started our business on a shoe string budget. Two years into it, we were $30,000 in the hole on my credit card and were seeking investors. It seemed we had everything but funding to make it really work. I approached Jack Kippengel (not his real name) whom I had gotten to know in business conferences. He was a grandfatherly type whom I was immediately drawn to. He sympathized with our dilemma, really believed in our vision, and was enthusiastic about participating. He told us that he would raise one million dollars for us in exchange for 10% ownership of the company.

From the start Tamara had a strong distrust for Jack, but because of our desperate need she accepted him. I had no such feelings. He was raising money. He convinced someone to invest $5,000, and he was working on more. He told us that in so many months he would have all of the money raised. He opened up a checking account for the money he raised, which only he could access. I don’t exactly know how that came about. Maybe both Tamara and I were too naive. Soon he had $10,000 in the company checking account. Within a short time, he was spending money for what he believed should be done, like creating expensive brochures and hiring professionals to produce them.

By now Jack also had a strong disliking for Tamara. Neither trusted the other. They were both talking to me saying we needed to get rid of the other. I was paralyzed. I could not think logically. Since they were both so totally dedicated to the business now, I was afraid that getting rid of either one of them would be devastating to that one. They would be hurt, and they would be bitter towards me. I went through days where if my family talked to me, I was not there. My mind was totally preoccupied.

One day I took a walk. I was deeply perturbed, and I started to talk to God about this situation. I had a sense that I needed to let go of Jack Kippengel. Tamara and I called him and told him that he was no longer a part of Proevity. He had already spent the $10,000 he raised and still owed $2,000 to designers. We also had to hire an attorney to make sure he was completely out of the picture. The man we had brought on board to solve our financial problems had left us with an additional $12,000 debt.

These are two of many experiences where I was paralyzed because I had a need for others to like me or appreciate me. I also felt that I was responsible for their well being, their livelihood, and their dignity, even if it meant I should be destroyed. Later I learned where this ingrained belief system came from and how to deal with it.

Wings to Fly — 15

Memoir Index

The Possibility of Inner Healing

My business trip to New York left an indelible mark on my life. Not only did I experience the Lord in a profound way, but I was now looking at human life from another angle, getting new insight into human behavior and response from an analytical view. The two-and-a-half-week program left me in total awe and respect for God and His creation of the human mind.

When I came home, Mary, my sister-in-law, began to tell me about a new discovery regarding emotional healing. Her description paralleled what I learned in New York. One was a secular approach, and the other was a biblical approach.

Mary told me about her inner healing. Her experience was so profound and her freedom was so grand that she could not keep silent. I was curious. I purchased the book that she got so much benefit from. It was written by a dear Christian brother named Ed Smith. He is a Christian counselor who works with emotionally wounded people unable to function. He could not understand why Christian counselors were not able to achieve better results than their non-Christian counterparts. In the Bible, when the Lord told the lame to walk and the blind to see, they were healed completely. Ed Smith wanted to see this kind of result in those he was counseling. He was lead by the Lord and learned to achieve the complete healing of debilitating emotional wounds through Jesus.

What amazed me was that this was Mary speaking to me. In my estimation, she had a perfect life. Paul and Mary were crazy in love. Mary opted to stay home to take care of her family and to serve the church even though her family could benefit from extra income. In church service, Paul and Mary excelled. They took on high-school and college-age young people’s work. They hosted dinners for 20+ young people weekly. Mary made herself available for anyone who needed an ear. She was not distracted with a professional career like I was. She was definitely Tom’s sister.

Yet she suffered. “I am not a good enough wife, mother, sister, serving one....” The list went on and on. “I would be sick and I would apologize to Paul for not having cooked dinner. No matter how much I served in the church, I felt I didn’t serve enough. No matter what I did for my children, I was not good enough as a mother.”

We talked for hours. We talked about how similar the results were between Ed Smith’s work and the New York human potential work. We realized that in God’s creation, if His principles are applied, the results are the same. There is always blessing in honoring your parents. The most satisfied human beings were those who give back to humanity with their money and person, whether they are Christian or not. Yet the inner life of a Christian is something that non-Christians cannot experience.

At this time, I looked at myself. I was enjoying my business tremendously. Something may become of it. I was looking towards becoming very successful and Tom would continue to serve the Lord. Yet I thought of the moments of despair, loneliness, abandonment, absolute desire to succeed at all cost. Though I told myself I did not need emotional healing, I was curious about Mary’s experience, and the thought, “Maybe I also need to be healed,” kept me looking into this.

In Ed Smith’s book, he gave an example I could relate to. In fact, everyone I know can relate to it. My social world for the last 30 years was with devout Christians trying to live according to the Bible. We know God cares for us in all situations, yet if we lose our job, panic sets in. We are filled with anxiety until we find another job. This is a small example of our belief system. We believe the Word according to our knowledge, yet in the depths of our being we don’t believe it. Our job becomes our security instead of the Word, or Christ. As we come to Jesus, we experience peace temporarily only to be filled with anxiety until the problem is resolved. Yet if the Word were the truth in the depth of our heart, we would not be traumatized by any calamity. We would be at peace.

In our congregation, we had so many high teachings and practices, yet I was not experiencing true peace and rest. Could Jesus really bring me this peace and rest? I was on a quest to find out.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wings to Fly — 14

Memoir Index

Spice of Life


Recently Tom and I had a conversation regarding when our extended families started hugging to greet and to say good-bye. Hugging was not a tradition for either the Kim family or the Neill family. We both concluded that our dear friend Tricia started the tradition. I used to invite the Kims (my side) and the Neills and Tricia for Thanksgiving dinners. She is my very dear friend. She is a very outgoing and delightful person who brings warmth wherever she goes. Hugging comes naturally for her from her Italian heritage. When she says hello and good-bye, she hugs us. She came with us to Neill family reunions and everyone loved her. The kids—my children, nieces, and nephews—accepted her as a part of the Neill clan. By the time our first camping trip with her was over, we were all transformed into huggers. Thank you, dear Tricia. I treasure this display of affection.


Amy is one of my dearest friends. Amy’s oldest daughter and my youngest daughter are best friends. They claim that they will be the best of friends forever. I hope so.

I first met Amy when I was in college. I was twenty years old and she was a baby. Yes, we are twenty years apart. Her parents were a young couple, oh maybe five to seven years older than me. They invited many college students for dinner. I remember the cozy apartment which was within a large building which our congregation used as our church meeting place. Her dad was in college with me as was Tom, my future husband. Baby Amy was so cute. I held her. I watched her crawl. She was so adorable. Little did I realize then that our daughters would bring us together, and I would love her as a friend and sister.

Family Nights

Henna, my oldest daughter, says this was her idea. A couple times a year we would all gather around our fireplace. We would roast marshmallows, make campfire pies, and drink hot chocolate. We would haul our queen-size mattress over by the fireplace. When the kids were young, they would have pillow fights with dad. As the kids got older we would play board games, talk, listen to music, or any other various things, always keeping the fire alive and blazing. The biggest part was the whole family sleeping together—mom and dad and anyone else who could fit on the queen-size mattress...the others very close by.

One winter, Lizy decided that we would all be in our bathrobes to participate. It was in the middle of December. Christian, my son, called his friend Andrew to join us, but let him know the required attire. Christian picked up Andrew. When they walked in, there was Andrew with a bathrobe over his jeans and sweater like the rest of us! It was fun.

Roasting Socks

We were in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Stevens and we were planning on a two-week vacation. Our kids were very young. The Stevens did not know where we were going. It would be a surprise. It had been so hot in the Chicago area for so long that we could not even imagine packing long pants and long shirts, never mind jackets, extra socks, and such. The first day in Michigan was damp and cool. Every day it was misty, rainy, or cold. We packed one pair of long pants for each child for emergency cool weather. Soon their socks and pants needed to be washed and dried. We built a fire for cooking and at the end of dinner, Christian brought out his socks. He was tired of wet socks. We put them on the grill over the coals to dry. It wasn’t long before our noses told us his socks were actually roasting. They were turning black and smoky. The next day we went into town and bought clothes, clothes, and more clothes...sweat pants, shirts, jackets, and socks for everyone.

Slice of Life

Slice of Life Index

People of Kroger Stores

I was hired to be a part-time pharmacist at Goshen Kroger Food and Drugs. Because I chose NOT to work full time, when Goshen Kroger near my home hired a full-time pharmacist, I became a floating pharmacist. I go to different stores as they have need. The long drive is arduous, but Kroger pays gas and time.

Typically, I don’t work with other pharmacists. We rarely overlap. I work mostly with technicians who are an integral part of the pharmacy.

When I go to Kroger pharmacy in Wabash, Indiana, Dave is there—a retired part-time pharmacist who loves to work there. He once had his own pharmacy, and oh, how he loved it! He had a fountain bar, oak cabinetry, and all of the old beauty that was the “pharmacy” of the bygone era.

He moved from the Chicago area to a small town south of South Bend, Indiana. He bought a failing drugstore and gave it a face lift. His wife ran the store, and he was the pharmacist. Soon his pharmacy came alive. His amiable and caring personality did much to rejuvenate the dying business. Those sixteen years were bliss—he loved it. His store was the center of town happenings. Dave and his wife were closely involved in town affairs…until politics made the work harder with no matching financial gain, so he sold his pharmacy to CVS. I asked, “What did they do with the beautiful addition and fountain bar?” “They got rid of it all,” he replied.

Prior to owning a drugstore, Dave worked on an Indian reservation as a clinical pharmacist. "It was like M*A*S*H, the TV program. It was just like it,” he said. “It was so much fun.”

“Why did you move?” I inquired. He said, “We wanted to have children. White children are not accepted among the Indian children.”


In Goshen Kroger, I work with three technicians. Brandie is a hard worker. She holds the pharmacy together with the help of Penny and Laura. Brandie told me her story. When she was nine years old, she was coming home from a birthday party. The whole family was in the car—her dad, mom, and the three children. They were hit by a drunk driver. Her dad was killed instantly. Her mom and the two older brothers were in the hospital for months. Her mom was fired from her job because she became an invalid. She worked for a health insurance company, and they did not have wheelchair access. Brandie came out okay—or so she thought.

Now, at age twenty-eight she has many unexplained pains that can immobilize her for hours or days at a time. In October of 2007, her husband of one year was killed in a car accident outside of Goshen. Yet she is a strong and wonderful person to be around. I pray that her future will be richly blessed.


In La Porte Kroger, I work with Crystal, a bright young girl with strikingly clear blue eyes and very blond hair. She tells me that she will get married today (11/15/07) at the local courthouse. Ricky, her fiancée, is German. She will go to Germany to re-marry her husband there the same way. In the spring, they will have a formal traditional wedding with all the fanfare.

Crystal wanted her grandfather’s approval before marrying. He is in his mid-eighties. When he was nine years old in Russia, German soldiers came into his town. The Germans killed his whole family but spared him. He had beautiful blue eyes and very blond hair; the rest of the family did not. The Germans took him into the army. He was the boy who would patch their pants and run any errands for the soldiers. Crystal said no one in her large family knows anything about his childhood. As a teenager, when the war was ending, he was asked by the American soldiers if he wanted to join the US army. He said, “Yes.” He was an orphan with no place to go. After the war, he came to the US, met a nice American girl, and settled down in Michigan City, Indiana.

Crystal says her whole family is very close and live within blocks…all of them. It was very important that her grandfather accept her husband-to-be. With much anxiety and hope, she explained the situation to Ricky. She arranged a meeting between them. When the two were brought together, Ricky began by speaking to him in Russian, her grandfather’s mother tongue. Her grandfather responded to Ricky in German. Her grandfather came out of the room with his arm around Ricky’s shoulder. Crystal knew that Ricky had received Grandfather’s approval.


Joshua is a young college student who works in the La Port Kroger store. He is taking pre-pharmacy courses. He would like to be a pharmacist one day. He knows that he will have to put himself through school. His mother and father just got divorced and finances are very limited.

“It must be very difficult for you.” I commented.

“Not really. I am very busy. I am glad that mom is happy now. She found a boyfriend who makes her happy. I don’t see her much,” he said.

He asked me what I like to do. I told him that I started to write and found myself loving it. Joshua loves to sing. He brought me a CD to hear him as the baritone in a choir. He also sings in a barbershop quartet.

He has very definite ideas about the rampant illegitimate child births in the US. After some conversation I said, “Maybe the political route is your calling.” “Maybe,” he said.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Wings to Fly — 13

Memoir Index

Medical Mission to Ecuador

Proevity, my education company, would lead me to a medical trip to Ecuador. It was such an unusual thing for me, participating in a medical mission with a group of health care providers. There were two doctors (a cardiologist from Northwestern Memorial Hospital and an internist from Rush Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center), a dentist from downtown Chicago, a pharmacist (me), a medical technician with heart equipment, a nutritionist from Northwestern Hospital, and several other support personnel including Tamara, my business partner.

Zuly, one of our team members, had been an orphan in Ecuador. She was adopted by an American missionary, and now she is a successful business woman. She wanted to bring back to her country some of the blessings she received, so she created this medical team.

I was bringing two large suitcases full of vitamins donated by Mannatech, a nutraceutical company. One-third of our vitamins got stolen at the airport in Quito, Ecuador. We had been warned that theft was rampant. I was the one carrying the vitamins that got stolen, but I was not in the habit of securing suitcases. Was I naïve to think this would not happen to people on a humanitarian mission? I was not the only one. One of our two sets of medical equipment was stolen. I had camaraderie in my misfortune.

As we met with the mayor of a small town where we were setting up a temporary clinic for two weeks, we heard a loud speaker going down the main street. I asked what was being said. “Oh, they are announcing that a medical clinic has come from the US. Anyone who wishes to see a health-care person is to come and wait at the gate by eight in the morning. Many people have never seen a doctor or a dentist in their whole life.” The mayor promised to expedite things so that our clinic would run smoothly.

The first day, it must have been 90°F by 8 AM. Our bus brought us to a makeshift clinic, which was a grammar school vacated for our service for two weeks. This school consisted of a long roof and pillars. There were no walls. On a windy day, the dust blows right through the classrooms. I saw masses of people. There must have been 200 to 300 people. I am not accustomed to estimating such a large number of people waiting for service. I was sure that many of these people who would not get to see a doctor. Every day was the same story. If they were lucky enough to see a doctor, they would come to me for whatever medicine they needed. My pharmacy consisted of two suitcases full of medicine donated by pharmaceutical companies (mainly because they were reaching their expiration date). I placed some medicine in plastic bags and made a motion, “Take this pill X times a day.” I quickly learned to say that in Spanish. Of course I could not explain anything else—how to take it, what to avoid, food and drug interaction, etc. My pharmacy supply ran out days before the end of our program.

My friend Maria, a very successful dentist with a plush downtown Chicago office, told me, “I have never pulled so many teeth in my whole life.” She spoke fluent Spanish. My doctor friends from Northwestern Memorial Hospital and St. Luke’s Medical Center had never seen so many patients as they did in those dusty school rooms. My friend the nutritionist, who also spoke fluent Spanish, spent the time giving twenty minute classes on hygiene and good nutrition. We agreed that the vast majority of the illnesses in this town were due to the lack of proper hygiene.

There were no chairs for those waiting. They stood in the hot sun for hours. We had no water to give them. They were so thankful for our service—I never heard a complaint from any of them. As I was “practicing pharmacy” in the shaded classroom pharmacy, I wondered how the “patients” were doing as they waited in the scorching sun. I saw one father with a small, deformed child in his arms stand for hours in the sun for hours waiting for that ever-so-slow line to move. That child was fourteen years old and looked no more than five. We were told that she had never seen a doctor—the family had no money for such a luxury. I wondered what our cardiologist and internist could do for such a child.

At five in the afternoon, we told everyone that the clinic was closed. Those who had waited all day without seeing a medical person were in tears. We told them to come early the next day. I never knew when the earliest one came. At 8 AM when our bus arrived, there were hundreds in line already. We talked about how helpless we felt. The doctors felt so inept. Yet my friend Maria felt most satisfied. She was able to pull out more rotted teeth than she had ever done in her practice in any given day. All in all, it felt wonderful that we made a small dent for the humanity in need.

Sunday was our first day off. We were going to a beautiful and famous beach. It was hot everyday, yet on that specific Sunday it was chilly. We were on a two hour bus ride to go to a scenic beach that foreigners loved. We huddled in our sweaters under gray clouds. It was almost too chilly to enjoy each other’s company. We went to a quaint food shop for lunch. I looked at my plate. There was a crack in the plate. It crossed my mind, maybe I should ask for another plate with new food. I discarded that thought. The food looked so good. I ate it all and it was so delicious. That evening I was so sick I thought I would die. I was crippled with violent nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. For the next three days, I couldn’t get out of my room. Other than my run to the bathroom I was bound to my bed. My doctor friend told me, “That is why I did not eat anything the whole day.” She only ate at our “Hacienda” where food was prepared according to foreigners’ delicate make-up.

My hacienda’s hostess took care of me. She made special chicken soup and other dishes that I could tolerate. As my health was improving, she took me to downtown to help me pass my time. She told me, “ I own this building, that building, and several others.” Each building was impressive. These were high rises for business and tall apartment buildings. “My father owns the next whole block. My grandmother and grandfather …” It seemed this one family owned all of downtown. “I have a home in southern California where I spend six months. The other six months I run Hacienda here. My husband spends his six months in our home in Germany, but I don’t go there. It’s much more interesting here taking care of folks such as yourselves.”

She continued to talk about her life. She went to college. After graduation her dad bought her a home along a beautiful beach in the town of her choice in California (I don’t remember which town). She enjoyed her life. she came home to Ecuador only to visit. Her dad sent her living expense all her life. Now she was in her forties, this is the first work she is doing; running a hacienda which she loves. She sees lot of politicians for their political gatherings, lot of foreigners for different reasons; vacation, mission, and others. She liked us. We were doing good for “those poor people”. She referred her countrymen as “those people”. She never called them “my people”. She made many special foods for me and we thoroughly enjoyed each other.

We all formed a close bond. When we were at the air port, some of us hired an anti theft luggage service where our luggage would be saran wrapped many times over. This was pre 9-11 of twin towers of New York. As we were coming home we were so glad that we live in United States of America. Each of us had many special experiences and memories of this trip.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wings to Fly — 12

Memoir Index

Taking a Stand

I loved having an education business—Proevity. Tamara and I were partners, and we fit so well. Tamara took care of all the practical business and bringing clients to our company. I developed, designed, and produced education curriculums with help from speakers. I then submitted the programs to Medical associations to get a formal approval which can be translated into continuing education credits. It was exciting. There is a part of me that hungers for academic achievement.

I became the moderator who introduced speakers to our audience which comprised healthcare professionals and other interested people. To my surprise I did not get nervous in front of audiences of one hundred or more. In fact I loved it.

I found my work fulfilling. I dreamed of my company growing and having real impact on the health care industry by moving it toward preventative medicine. I worked with passion.

In 2002, Proevity was contacted by a human-potential school in New York. They wanted Proevity to accredit their courses so their students would earn educational credits. My first project was a two-and-half-week course. In order to see if the program was worthy of accreditation, I needed to participate in it.

I had never been away from home or from my Christian community that long. I asked the Lord to be my supply and reality during the two-and-half-week business trip. On the airplane I realized that I only had a small New Testament without any footnotes. At our church we all used the same daily devotional book, and I had forgotten to pack it.

I started to read the Bible without any notes. I said, “Lord, You must reveal Yourself to me. I don’t know how to interpret Your word.” I always relied on others’ exposition of verses. After each full day of the workshop, I would read and talk to the Lord. His presence was so dear and so rich. His word came alive.

As I would be amazed at the intricacies of biology and worship the Lord for His wonderful creation, I found myself totally amazed by the intricacies of the human psyche that I was learning about during the day, and I would worship the Lord for His creation of the human mind. Again at night I would come to the Bible. I would continue where I left off the previous night. Some nights I did not cover more than two or three verses in two hours. His riches, His speaking, His love, His wisdom filled me. I would fall asleep and wake up with the sensation of total immersion in the Lord’s love. This love overflowed from me and found expression in the public setting of the workshop sessions in a way I was not accustomed to. I was surrounded by unbelievers. I loved them.

There were about 30 of us. All the participants thought that I paid for the program just like them—$7000. The participants were business owners, physicians, politicians, executives, and other people who could afford such a program and who wanted to enlarge their human potential. There was one memorable event where my Lord manifested Himself through me. Two weeks into the program, we had a session discussing the topic, “Religion and Man.”

“What is religion?” asked our facilitator. Different people started to answer. “Religion is obligation and duty against your will”; “Religion is something someone created to appease man”; “Religion creates war”… I was fine with anything they had to say. But once they started to equate this religion with Jesus, something started to happen within me. I was experiencing God in such a real way that I had to defend Him. I thought of all the consequences of such action. I could see them leading me out of the room and slamming the door. As the discussion progressed, I was becoming infuriated with these people who were talking about my dear Lord in such a degrading way. I stood up without even realizing what I was doing. I started to speak. “Yes, religion is all these things that you are stating. However, don’t you dare connect Jesus Christ in these terms. He is not an obligation. He is not unwanted duty. He is not something created to appease man…” My voice was getting louder and louder. I was actually shaking. I don’t know how the words flowed from me. They just came. I was going through the chapters in the Bible, talking about the Apostle Paul who gave his life for this Jesus who empowered him inwardly. I talked about Peter who was not afraid to confront the thousands of Jews who had killed Jesus…. I did not know I had so much of the Bible in me. I must have spoken for ten minutes or more. Then I stopped.

You could hear a pin drop. Everyone was looking up at me. I was ready for any consequences. I was not afraid. Someone started to clap, then the whole room joined in. Then they all stood up and formed a line. They were coming to me. What were they doing? The first one came and gave me a huge hug. “Thank you that you stood up for Jesus. I am a Christian, and I was too afraid to defend Him.” The second person hugged me and said, “I was so afraid for you when you started to speak. I was praying for you desperately the whole time you were speaking. Thank you for your courage.” Every person in the room came to shake my hand or to give me a hug. Our facilitator said, “Let’s call it a day. Our quiet JaeHi has blossomed with our program.”

Slice of Life

Slice of Life Index


Biking on a trail near my home.

We started to go on a bike ride, Tom and I. The last time I was on a bike was when I was in high school ….more than 30 years ago. It was exciting getting re-acquainted with a bike, a long lost relationship... To ride a bike in a trail canopied by trees and woods as long as your eyes can see is so beautiful.

Music is back in our lives.
Tom has been spending time going through some classic hymns and matching them with beautiful old tunes. He is always looking for tunes old or new that will enhance ushering us into our spirit. He is singing at home, and I love it. There are experiences only songs can portray. Tom has written so many songs decades ago…and the spark of music is reignited in him.

Amish country
Last night , as we were driving through Middlebury, we passed so many buggies and horses. Tom said, “they must be going to an Amish ball.” We laughed. I wondered when they decided that world was evil and thus they will not continue with modern advancement? When did outward manifestation replace the inner life?

A music weekend at Ashland Woods.
This weekend we were at a music workshop with about 70 musically inclined Christians. I don’t have music gift, but Tom does. The purpose of this weekend was to usher rest of us back home… into heavenlies through music…I wish you were here to experience this with me. To be brought into the love of Christ, to soar above the sky with joy as my spirit is ignited by Christ Spirit… So many new songs written by young and old bubbling from their spirit…a sign of enjoyment in life

Today one of our work-shop was learning to write a song. Mark gave us some techniques and we all participated. In 45 minutes we came up with 2 verses and a chorus with a new tune… before the day was over we had a song with 4 verses and 2 chorus. For the evening session; each group performed their music. Some were classical hymns with 4 or more part harmony with no instruments. Some were hymns with matching classic old folk tunes; others were completely new songs. Instruments ranged from piano only, guitar only, and/or combination with viola, base, and drums depending on the song...

One group consisted of 2 adults and 3 children; their songs were so moving we all stood up and sang with all of our heart in our love for Jesus. I wish I had the lyrics for myself and for you. Our group sang 2 songs that we have written within last 2 weeks.

It’s been so long since I was awakened to my love for Christ through music. It was so reminiscent of my earlier years as a Christian when I poured out my love to Christ through music, and the Lord spoke to me through music.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wings to Fly — 11

Memoir Index

Diverging Roads

Tom began a new life. Now he was in a full time ministry. His official W-2 title would be minister of the gospel. His actual function was always behind the scenes. He desired to develop a children’s Sunday school curriculum. There was a great lack in this area in our congregation as well as in our sister congregations. He worked with two others. He worked tirelessly. Often he would be up till two in the morning working on the curriculum, researching stories, writing and creating magazines for children. He wanted to develop something that would instill love for God.

At this time I started a network marketing business. It took much of my evenings and weekends. As Tom’s time was consumed with his work, a sense of loneliness flooded me. There was some excitement in my business, and I put more and more of my time into it. I did not know how to be a restful wife accepting life as it comes. Tom wanted me to do well in my business. I could work from home and be with our children. As time went on I was doing my work to hide from the intense loneliness developing within me. Taking care of children, keeping a house, being busy with church activities and doing business kept me more than occupied; yet as long as Tom began to be so consumed with God’s work I could not shake off the feeling of loneliness.

I longed for balance in life. My yearning was to have a working husband with income whose first concern was for his family then serve the church according to his ability. It seemed to me such a balanced life was never to be. Tom began to be very unhappy with me as I drowned myself in work. If my success meant losing me, Tom did not want it. He wanted me. I had another struggle within me. I needed to replace Tom’s income. Eighty percent of his salary was cut by quitting his work to serve. This was not okay for me. I could not tolerate what felt to me like a hand-to-mouth existence.

In 2001 I started another business with a friend who also recovered from her chronic illness. Tamara had a kitchen and bath business which folded due to her fibromyalgia. When she was healed through nutraceuticals, we teamed up to create an education company that would teach health care professionals that there were healing modes other than medicine and surgery. I became a firm believer that natural foods and food supplements can heal body ailments.

Now I worked during business hours. I felt that Tom’s concern would be abated. My company name was Proevity. I traveled all over the US with Tamara. We established education seminars that would give continuing education credit to health care professionals. I was working with speakers: professors and medical doctors well known and not so well known in the United States and in the United Kingdom. It was exciting. Tamara and I fit well together in our ambition and vision. Most of our employees had love for Christ. As we traveled we would often pray together before the day began.

Tom and I were going in our different directions. For me this was covering up the feeling of Tom’s abandoning me with his life choice and I hoped that my business could succeed to replace the income he left behind. Thus again the cycle of unhappiness caught up with us. I felt that I could not live in his world and be the wife he needed and he could not be the normal husband I yearned for. I came to him many times, “Tom, maybe we should get divorced. The life you need to lead leaves me desperately unhappy. You need a wife like Shirley, your sister, who willingly will serve Jesus along with her husband and be happy doing it.” Tom always told me that he married me because he loved me and no one else could be his wife. Even in the depth of unhappiness he held on to our love. I loved him yet I could not shake off the pain of loneliness and insecurity.

I would spend the next many years in emotional valleys and hills. I would often ask Tom to go back to work. I could not live like this. Yet whenever God became real to me I was totally at peace. Tom told me, “JaeHi, I cannot go back to work every other month as you experience insecurity then quit again to serve when you are at peace.”

To bury my pain that I could not explain, I immersed myself more and more into my business. Now I was working all the time from home and I was filled with business dealings and frustrations. One evening I approached Tom, and said, “Tom, I will release you and maybe help you find a wife more suited for your life calling.” He held my hand. “JaeHi, we never exchanged marriage vows at our wedding. I know you made many vows as a child, and you have always been faithful to those vows. Would you be willing to make a marriage vow now?” I knew what he was talking about and we both cried. We had been married for over twenty years and had four beautiful children before making these vows to one another:

“I, Tom, take you, JaeHi, as my lawfully wedded wife, to love and to cherish in sickness and in health, in abundance and in poverty, for better or for worse till death do us part.”

“I, JaeHi, take you, Tom, as my lawfully wedded husband, to love and to cherish in sickness and in health, in abundance and in poverty, for better or for worse till death do us part.”
We cried and embraced each other.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Wings to Fly — 10

Memoir Index

A Decade of Pain

1988 to 1997 was the hardest years of our marriage years. Tom had gone back to work. I had my guard up that I could not give Tom all of my heart – I needed to protect myself from hurt. I developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 1991 which continued till 1997. Physically I was out of the picture. We hired out for cleaning. Luella down the street cooked for us. I did grocery shopping via internet. Our office was upstairs. Often it would take me half an hour to get myself upstairs. I had to stop and recoup at each stair. Once I was up there then I could order groceries on internet.

But worse than that was Tom’s spiritual health. As time went on he no longer was the dynamic person I fell in love with. He became listless, restless, and downright unhappy… maybe even depressed. He was playing a perfect husband for me yet zeal for life had gone out of him. When I was upset, he no longer was the person full of irresistible love which always restored my soul and spirit. I realized that my withdrawing from him had a detrimental effect on him. Then it became very scary to realize I had broken a wonderful man. For this reason alone, I started to seek Jesus. I did not care how I ended up. By now I had no appreciation for Christian life, our church life or even Jesus. I would take care of so many things in the church, faithful to go to meetings... yet all for what? My heart was not in this mundane Christian life.

In this seeking to save my husband, I realized that only Christ can do that …. and my prayer life began. I stumbled across Isabel Kuhn’s book and I was touched to the core. I begged for God’s mercy to restore Tom. I needed to pray. My baby Elizabeth seemed to have a sixth sense. If I woke up at 7 AM, she was up with me. If I woke up at 6 AM she was up with me. It seemed that I could not work around her. I began to ask the Lord to give me time for daily prayer. I started to wake up every morning at 4:30 and that was my personal time with the Lord. It was no struggle. When I opened my eyes it was 4:30 AM. After an hour, I would go back to sleep and wake up again with Elizabeth. Although I did not see any change in Tom, I realized that something was happening within me that was affecting Tom deeply.

In 1997 I heard that there would be another one of ten months time in the Word and Training to serve Jesus. The first one nearly killed me and I was contemplating that it might be good for Tom to take a year off and immerse himself in the Word. My health was restored back to me and I was seriously getting involved in Net Work Marketing of this nutraceutical. I started to give public speaking on the science why body can heal with proper nutrition. My business was growing. My ambition was that I would be able to replace Tom’s income and still stay home and be a mom to my four children.

Another conflict began to surface in our marriage. Tom began to hate all the time that my home business was requiring. He had lost me to illness for seven years and he was not ready to lose me to “business”. He did not care for the money I could earn. He wanted me for the family. What I did not communicate was that I wanted to release him from a job so that he can choose to serve Jesus. As my determination to be successful became stronger the more intensely unhappy he became.

We both agreed that he would take one year leave of absence from work and join the ten month Bible & Training program. This was September of 1997. Ten years from the last one year leave of absence for a Bible Training. We lived from our savings. Tom promised me that he will go back to work when the program was over. As he began to spend hours daily in the Word and in Christ, I was beginning to see the dynamic Tom resurface. When he was half way into the program, he went in to work for job review and such. His boss said, “Tom, you are not coming back to work, are you?” Tom responded by saying “I will come back to work. Why did you make that comment?” His boss said, “I have never seen you so happy and content. You will not be coming back” When he reported to me this, I was extremely bothered. During the rest of the months, Tom never brought any comment regarding any possibility of leaving his job.

I was invited to come with Tom to spend a week with him and be with him in his program. It was Thursday night. The Lord gave me clear feeling that I should let Tom follow his heart. I told Tom, “Tom I am scared to say this but if it is in your heart to pursue full time service, DO IT! We will manage somehow.” I could not believe that I was saying this. Tom hugged me. He said, “ I told the Lord that if I am to go into full time service, it would have to be JaeHi coming to me and telling me to quit my job and enter full time ministry”. He did not believe that I would actually come to him and release him to serve. To him this was an impossible prayer answered.

Thus our new life began. Tom has been serving full time for the last ten years now. Last three years have been with out any support from any churches.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Wings to Fly — 9

Memoir Index

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Years

My sweet marriage life had turned into inevitable waiting for that dreaded day—when Tom would quit his job to serve God, and we would have a hand-to-mouth existence which I did not even want to imagine. Also I had to be on guard. I could not allow myself to love him and be devastated again.

In 1988 Seth was born. Now we had three beautiful children. We were busy with “the church life.” That was our social life and spiritual life. I continued to work as a pharmacist part time.

I was very aware of all the verses that talked about building up your riches in heaven and not on earth, that God takes care of lilies and how much he will take care of you, to have Christ as my all in all …on and on. I desperately prayed those verses, wished from depth of my heart that I could live those verses.

In 1991 I came down with illness, known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which lasted until 1997. I was sick all the time. When my older children came home from school and sneezed, I was deathly afraid. Small cold for me meant being bed bound for a month. I no longer was able to walk up or down the stairs. We moved from our second floor bedroom to first floor so that I could be near the kitchen.

When Seth was three years old, I was not able to enroll him into pre-school, swimming, or any other activities. I no longer had energy. Even spending time to teach him alphabets became too exhausting. I found myself in bed most of the time. One day, Henna’s school called me saying I need to come and pick her up. She was sick. I could not get myself out of bed and driver to her school and bring her home. I pleaded with school secretary “please keep her at school. Have her lie down and put her on school bus later. I am sick and cannot come.” I felt that I was the worst of moms.

When I was sick for one full year without a day of relief, I realized that I could be sick for a long time to come. Tom tried to maintain the house, the children, the laundry, and whatever else came along our way … my heart went to him. I watched dust accumulate on our dresser yet helpless to do anything about it. I did not tell anyone of my health condition. I did not want any of their comments; couldn’t doctors do anything about it? Did you try to do this or that? My journey to get help medical world had still left me sick.

Yet in 1992 we made a grand plan to go to England with Nigel, Shirley and their three children and spend two and half weeks there. For five of us that would be quite an expense. That money could have remodeled our second floor bathroom. In my mind I may die soon. I wanted my family to remember me having fun with them…instead of someone who was sick all the time. I would rest in our rented home as much as I required.

Oh those were so memorable days. I watched from our kitchen window, our 6 children playing in bliss. We had rented a farm house in southern England. In front of this old English home was a beautiful flower garden. Beyond the garden, was a pond our kids loved and hills partitioned by hedges. Every morning one could see sheep grazing on green grass of beautiful English hills. The dogs often would romp about in nature’s ecstasy. Henna and Faith were ten years old. They were lost in their dream wonderland. I often would find them in the midst of flowers. Oh they made such a beautiful picture. Christian, Nathan and Seth were lost in their games of adventure. There were so many hills, rocks, and gardens to explore. Jesse Tomes was a baby. Each day we would have an outing to the beach, or towns with so much history. Somehow, in this atmosphere of peace and tranquility my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome seemed to subside. I loved it.

In 1993 our family went on another long vacation. This time it was to Guatemala. There was a stark contrast from the previous year. We were visiting a couple, Mario and Anna who we became very close to in Chicago. Because of Mario’s work injury, he was no longer able to support his household in Chicago so they moved back to Guatemala. They took off two and half weeks to travel with us. They were our guide. We saw the Mayan ruins, black sands from volcanic ashes, natives who still lived very primitively in their mud huts, a small boy who hung a lizard on a tree and was beating it…it was their family dinner. When we were on a small boat going to an island, there was a woman with boisterous chickens under her arms, a man with his motorcycle, half-dozen others who stared us as if we were from Mars. Tom was a white man and I was an Asian woman. There were no others like us. And we had our three children with us.

That was the last of our vacations until my CFS days were over. Looking back, those times did much for me in the healing of our marriage. The wall within me was coming down somewhat.

Back home, Tom was becoming restless. His spiritual life was waning. I began to wonder if it was I who was causing this. Slowly his fervor for our church life diminished. I could feel his unhappiness. My CFS continued. We have both fallen into the world of duty rather than the world of contentment. I realized that he needed me and I was still protecting myself from hurt. Our ability to be involved in our church activities diminished due to my health. Now I was up about four hours and spent twenty hours in bed.

Elizabeth was born in 1994. How was I to take care of my new born! I could not even take care of my three older children. I watched Tom, Henna, Christian, and Seth actively involved in helping me bring up a new born.

Tom became more and more listless, discouraged, and unhappy. I started to pray for him and I also started to pray for myself. My sensation was that I may die soon and I wanted to get to know Jesus before I died. All of my ‘building God’s house’ meant nothing to me when Jesus was not real to me. It saddened me greatly to see Tom so unhappy. One time he said to me, “…I need your support. The churches...the ministry...” He never told me what bothered him so much until many many years later.

In 1997, my health was restored to me through using nutraceuticals. This was nutritional supplements with pharmaceutical properties yet without any negative side affects that always accompanied pharmaceuticals. Now for the first time in seven years I experienced normal health. Oh the glory to be able to take my children to the beach whenever they wanted. Oh the glory of doing simple things like grocery shopping and cooking.

I was introduced to net work marketing or multi-level marketing for these nutraceuticals. A light bulb had popped in my thoughts. I can have a home business and be with my children. If I can create a successful business that would take care of our needs then Tom can quit his job to serve. It appeared to me that the only way Tom would be perfectly satisfied was to be in full time service to Jesus our savior.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wings to Fly — 8

Memoir Index

My Marriage — The Unraveling

When Tom was 10 years old, he received the Lord through his Sunday school teacher. He told me he always fought with his brothers and sisters. He had an unbelievable temper, and it was always him against his siblings. He noticed after his salvation, he did not remember such hostile confrontations… My sisters-in-law confirmed this to me. Soon after this he told God that when he grew up, he would serve Him full time.

When I was 10 years old, I was filled with desire to avert pain for my father and mother. My poor father was constantly trying to earn a living where no earning was found. I made a vow that I would succeed so I could take care of my father. Embedded in me were all of my mother’s woes, all of her hidden anguish of life. I determined that whatever it took, I would make life easier for my mother. Then there was my grandfather’s dream—I would be the daughter in the family to bring kingship back.

Such an irony in life—two children with such conflicting determinations grow up, fall hopelessly in love, and get married.

The first eight years of our marriage was bliss. Tom was a wonderful husband, father, and excelled as an engineer. Oh how I loved being his wife. The only agony for me was that he was tireless in serving our church, after 40 hours of work. It seemed to me he had endless energy in the evenings and weekends to take care of church needs. Yet it was okay even though I was keenly aware of my growing loneliness. I loved the feeling that we were secure; I would never have to experience my parents’ pain. Tom would often forget about his pay checks in his wallet because we could live on half of my paycheck. My dream of fulfilling abundance in life was happening. I longed to be a Christian whose abundance was able to bless God and humanity.

In 1987, my blissful life was shaken to the core. I remember one day Tom came home running. He was so excited. He wanted to take a year off from his job to be immersed in a Bible study program. Up to now whatever we requested of each other was happily consented; I was still living a honeymoon marriage after eight years…I did not know how to answer his request. We had just bought a home, we had 2 car payments, and our children had very busy schedules. In the end I said, “Yes”. He longed for it so much that I could not deny him.

In July of 1987 Tom went to Anaheim, California, for our bi-annual conference lasting ten days. He came home and went to Cleveland for three weeks, which involved serving young people’s summer programs. Thus the year was initiated. All the pain that I had suppressed in the depth of my being resurfaced that year in unbearable agony. The searing loneliness of my childhood that I thought was gone forever when I married Tom resurfaced and was staring me in the face. The pain of abandonment, the sense that I don’t matter, I am being used, he does not care for us, flooded me constantly in his absence. Yet I did not tell him of my inner turmoil. After all, it would be over in a year. Let him have his enjoyment.

In Tom’s absence, I experienced such severe depression that it scared my friend Linda—the only person I confided in. She told me, “You must tell Tom. Your depression will destroy not only you but your children.” Yet how could I tell Tom? Whenever I was with him, somehow everything was OK. So all things were kept in my heart, brewing and growing there—this loneliness blacker than death, desperate unhappiness, fear of him abandoning his family to serve Jesus. I kept telling myself, “Everything will be okay in one year.”

As I experienced this rollercoaster, I started to hate the man I so adored and loved. I determined that at whatever cost I could not afford to love him. During that year, I realized deep in my heart that one day Tom will serve God full time. I felt it was my intense love for him that caused me to suffer; if I didn’t love him, he could do whatever he wanted, and it would not affect me.

As promised, when the program was over Tom went back to work. He came home every evening to find me cooking or being busy with kids. I was no longer the wife who was crazy about him. In one short year he had lost me, and he did not know how to restore our sweet intimacy.

Henna was six years old and Christian was four. They were adorable children. I would watch Tom—oh, he was such a good father. I always thought my children were so fortunate to have a father who loved them so much. I knew how to take care of them, yet the ability to connect with them emotionally eluded me. I knew how to read to them, teach them, help them with school work, and take them to all kinds of lessons and parties. Tom knew how to play with them, discipline them, love them, and connect with them in their soul. He knew how to have fun with them. My love for our children had a very different flavor than Tom’s love for our children.

We continued to be very active with church functions. I attended all the meetings, sister’s tea, prayer meetings, home gatherings, and Sunday meetings. Our church always had many conferences. I opened my home for hospitality. I attended bi-annual Bible trainings. My life was so filled with activities, including taking care of “new ones.” I was falling deep into religious obligations. I had lost my zest for life.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wings to Fly — 7

Memoir Index

My Marriage — The Early Years

I am often filled with so much sadness and longing for what I cannot have. I married a most wonderful man who loves me so much. There is so much inner conflict within me. Why is it so hard to accept him as he is? During our 28-year marriage we went through one struggle… his values and my values are at opposite extremes. We compromised at great pain yet I continue to long for what I cannot have.

Tom grew up very different from me. His childhood was full of playing and creativity. He was the fourth of seven children growing up in Connecticut. His father was an engineer who had his company at home… and his mother was… her family was everything… mom. He had woods for a backyard. Neighbors were too far away, so his best friend was his younger sister, Shirley. To me, his childhood seemed like a dreamland. He recalled his younger years as such. It was always Tom and Shirley. Their play consisted of creating an on-going drama with their stuffed animals and dolls. The theme and story would continue for months. He told me of creating a newspaper called The Weakly Weekly when they were in fourth and sixth grade. They were the news collectors, writers, editors, and printers and then they sold the papers for 5c a piece. The paper existed for years. They were so lost in their child’s wonderland. There were so many adventures of carefree childhood, and I would compare that with my sad childhood in the war-torn land of Korea.

Tom and I met during our college years. We were both in the same church, the church in Chicago. Yes that was our name, and we were affiliated with other churches which were named after their city. We were Bible-based, Jesus-loving, Jesus-centered people. Those were wonderful years. Oh the joy of being lost in Christ... Our young people’s gathering was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I saw life bigger than all the struggles of individual beings. I saw life bigger than what I had ever imagined human life could be. In 1974, Tom’s family moved to Chicago. He was tall. I never thought he was handsome, yet I was so attracted to him. His quietness intrigued me. When he played guitar and sang, it absolutely melted my heart. I also observed that many other young girls in our gathering had a “crush” on him. I thought it is better not to consider him. I refused to be in a one-sided love affair. Also at that time I was the only Korean in the gathering. With so many American girls trying to get his attention, I could not possibly be one of the contenders.

We were married in 1979. I was the happiest young woman on earth. I met the most wonderful man there could ever be. He loved me so much. And I could not imagine a day without Tom. I was a pharmacist and he was an engineer like his dad. In this new life I saw my future. I knew how to conserve and accumulate our earnings. I saw that in a few years, we could buy one property, then another in a couple of years. I saw that by the time we were 50, we would have a small empire of estates. I would fulfill all my passion and destiny that was ingrained in me. It was an inevitable thing. I would raise my family to be kingly, and that would somehow fulfill my grandfather’s wishes. I would fulfill my mother’s dream. She would tell me during my growing years, “You just study …I will clean and cook so that you do not have to do this when you grow up.” Cooking and cleaning were for servants.

I had a passion within me to be a significant somebody academically. Yet I was a Christian now. My priorities had changed. I would settle for being a part-time professional, raising children, yet underneath creating and fulfilling my destiny. Little did I realize that Tom shared none of my passion or drive for building up wealth. He had no desire to accumulate wealth. All he wanted to do was one day to serve Jesus, whom he loved, full time. I wanted to be a famous somebody; he did not care if he was nobody. I desired to have recognition; he needed no recognition. In our churches, we sing songs he has written, yet no one knows he wrote them.

Tom worked as an engineer from 1980 to 1998 and served the church. He allowed me to accumulate much of our earnings in a 401K. I insisted on doing this because I knew in my dread of dreads that he would enter full-time service to Jesus, which would knock our income 80%. The pain that would encompass me was intense. Yet he would not do that without consulting me.

Tom took a leave of absence from work in 1987 to be in a full-time training program for a year. He was in the heavenlies daily. It was so good to see him so happy. Yet I was suffering. I could not handle this. To me every day he did not work was a day wasted. I continued to work part time, and that was enough to pay our bills. To me the right way to live was to save 70% and live on 30%. To do otherwise was destroying me. To live from pay check to pay check was despicable and lowly to me. It was fine for Americans but not for me. Tom was gone for weeks at a time. The feeling of abandonment flooded me. This one year would damage our marriage. Yet I said nothing to him. I just kept telling myself, “After this is all over and done, when he goes back to work, everything will go back to normal.” It did not. We were on a rapid downward course, and our marriage was in trouble.

I felt unloved, uncared for, abandoned, and used. Yet when he came home, he loved me so much, I was lost in his love. Then he would leave, and I would enter an intense cycle of suffering.
I remember one evening, I could not face another day of being “used.” I determined that I would leave my two children at our babysitters and leave Chicago…go somewhere and start my life all over again. I could no longer go against everything that was me…. As I was thinking this I got a phone call. It was Tom. He said, “JaeHi, I am leaving now. I will be home in seven hours. That will be around 2 or 3 AM, and I did not want to scare you.” I said OK and fell back on my wet pillow.

He spent the next two weeks just with me and promised me that he would go back to work after the training ended. I asked him what made him come back that night. He said, “The Lord told me that I needed to take care of you. I felt I could take on the world, but the Lord told me to take care of you first.” I cried. God was real. That was 1987.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wings to Fly — 6

Memoir Index

High School Years

My Christian life is similar to wild and windy storm with volcanoes erupting … to be followed by calm peace of soft wind, reflection of rising sun, warmth of embracing sunshine, and grazing of deer in a safe pasture. …then long struggle of walking in deep dark tunnel, when it became too much to bear I would see the light…Yet my outward life seemed very peaceful, many people have told me that I am so calm and cannot imagine me getting angry or mad, and that my life seems so steady…it was always my inner turmoil.

I remember as an insecure immigrant girl, always being so lonely. The loneliness was so intense I would sometimes find myself crying…”maybe I would not have children when I grow up”, I thought. I did not want them to experience what I was experiencing. American kids were into having fun, parties, TV programs…I could not relate to any of it. I have seen too much sufferings of aftermath of war, mainly through overhearing what people went through. The radio program I listened to faithfully was a testimony program which consisted of struggles of life, how the war robbed them of their loved ones and possessions. The general theme was suffering in rising from street life due to war to a respectable life....Most of the songs on radio, in my growing up years in Korea, was the heartache and pain of losing loved ones.

When I started Carl Schurz High School in Chicago, I realized that I must do something about my loneliness. I must change who I am and have friends. I must accept the way of American kids…oh such superficial life. Before long I was called “Jay bird” because I talked much. I went from silent, invisible child to a chatter box. Soon I was realizing that making friends was not that hard. During the first year I experienced another extreme of loneliness. I had many friends now. I would spend many afternoons with friends, yet I was so lonely. I was so lonely in the midst of a crowd. I still felt no one knew the real me. In this backdrop of loneliness in the midst of a crowd I got saved as described in the beginning of my memoir.

During the first two weeks after receiving the Lord, He filled my loneliness. The painful loneliness that I carried for 15 years of my life was gone. He filled me with love and embrace. I have never experienced this. I found a bible in our apartment. My little sister had gone to a bible study with her friend and brought home a bible. That was 1970. The girl who introduced the Lord to me wrote to me every week. She told me that I must seek other Christians.

I remember walking to many churches. I did not yet know that churches had their services mainly on Sundays. I would walk to a neighboring church on Monday morning, Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday evening, and other odd times only to be met by forlorn buildings with hollow sound of emptiness as I knocked on their doors. One day I actually came at a right time, Sunday morning. It was a long room with many long wooden chairs. The pattern of people’s seating arrangement was big U. The front of the speaker was empty. People clung to the edges and towards the back. I seated myself at the end. In about an hour the program ended and everyone stood up to leave. I was so excited to meet these “Christians”, yet they passed me by. It seemed no one saw me. When the hall was about empty, one man noticed me. “So you are new here. Welcome”. We shook hands and then he left. Was that all? What about this wonderful “Christian Family” that I was getting?

Well there must be another place. I waited a whole week until the next Sunday for I knew better. This time I did not go to service. I waited outside. I wanted to find a welcoming people before going into their building. This time it was a Catholic church. I immediately was drawn to a friendly family. I walked up to the mom and said, “Are you a Christian? I just became one!” She said “Well, we are Catholics, and you could say we are Christians”. I wasn’t sure what she meant but that was good enough. That family took me out to breakfast that morning. They talked about a retreat they were going to and invited me to come along. It was a Catholic retreat in Canada. They could give me a ride. I remember saving up all my babysitting money that summer so that I could go to this retreat.

That retreat was memorable. It was a conference with many special speakers. There was much love and acceptance. I spent my 15th birthday there and they gave me a surprise party. I would spend many meetings with these people over the course of next years. Yet something bothered me. There were many young students. When ones declared that they would give their life to stay single for Jesus (to go into life of celibacy) there was the most applause. I was told that they would go into Brotherhood or Sisterhood. They lived in Brother’s home or Sister’s home, and had normal jobs. They had serenity about their person. I was 15 and with new love for Jesus, I was not ready to give up having a family life.

I remember as I was entering sophomore year in high school, I prayed, “Dear Jesus, I am not sure if you are real or not. Please do not bother me any more. I do not want to give my life to you.” Soon I forgot about Jesus and my life began in pursuit of academics.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Wings to Fly — 5

Memoir Index

Who Am I?

I tried to understand who I am, where I came from, why am I so complicated…Why is it so difficult for Tom, my husband to understand me. I am realizing that I am my mother, my father, my grandfather, and all the important characters I heard from my grandfather, and so many people I read about…

My mother was 19 years old when she married my father. The war had just ended. She moved up to Seoul where my father had prepared a small apartment for them. He had arranged for his parents and siblings to live somewhere else, yet all the financial support came from him. I don’t know what went wrong. Eventually the large family moved in with this newly wed young couple. My mother, being the only outsider of the family, was treated as such and before long, my mother realized that she was not much more than a servant. Her husband was gone long hours in his entertainment band he created. She was serving a very demanding in-law family.

I was born 2 years later, a second born daughter. Her first born was frail and sickly baby who died 3 months later. At my birth she felt panic. She had borne 2 girls. She herself was an unwanted girl. She did not have any companions to share her sufferings. I doubt my father knew of all the inner torture she was going through. She would cry when no one is looking, pouring out her heartaches and agony of life to this little baby. She said, “You were the only friend I had…. I told you all my sufferings…” I don’t know when I started to understand her deepest sharing. All I know is that I always remember as far as my memory could go, she would cry and tell me her stories. Her stories of growing up under her step mother who did not love her, stories of her own mother who loved her so deeply yet she was taken from her by death, of the grief and injustice her young brothers and sisters in law were causing for her. She begged her husband to take all of his family and give her a small apartment just for her and the baby. He could stay with his parents and siblings.

Eventually she did get accustomed to this new life. She did not visit her folks. She had married against her father's wish who wanted only the best for her. Her stepmother would only gloat at her sufferings, or so she thought. She never told them... I did not see my maternal grandfather and stepgrandmother until I was 7 years old. Even then, my mother would tell me later, they never knew how poor our family was and how much in agony she lived her life, and I was her only outlet.

I grew up under heavy cloud of “woe is life.” I don’t remember having a joyful childhood. Mother did everything she could to be a good mother, and would let us know how a step mother would treat us in each circumstance. I grew up as a loner always believing that I was not liked, always believing that I was not interesting, and no one would want to be my friend, and no one could love me. I had deep fear within me, if anyone gets to know me, they would find out how boring I was and leave me. I could not bear the thought of abandonment. As a small child, I was a tangle of fear.

My brother came 2 years later to my mother’s great relief. She had borne a healthy and beautiful boy to our family. He was an adorable baby. He had all the characteristic of what a beautiful child should be. Later on I would watch him in amazement, he is loved by all. He knew how to get adults’ attention as well as children. He always had half dozen other kids following him as a leader of the pack. World was child’s play land. I loved him. He was my only friend in my childhood, when he was not with his friends... I was able to be with this little brother without having to worry about how he would accept me...I was able to enter into the land of imagination in our playing. We would collect caterpillars and imagine that was our caterpillar family. We would collect flowers and rocks and create a home for our little creatures. We climbed our rock garden and we were climbing a high castle wall, we would climb our gate for …I don’t even know what… it was fun.

My grandfather loved to read to me. I was his student of Confucius teachings. Sometimes I would sit for hours as he read. Oh I remember so many stories of great scholars and generals of China and Korea. One story that played a great part in my life was; One mother who was very poor had a son. She sacrificed everything to educate this only child. She sold rice cakes. From morning to dusk she worked. Made her cakes, went to market to sell her cakes, and came home late at night. She sent her son to China to be educated. Being separated for the first time, the son came home to visit his mom whom he missed so intensely. Traveling long distance on a mule can be costly and take up much time. Mother was not happy to see the son. That night she gave her son a writing parchment. She said, “When you can write with fluency of how I can cut my cakes, that is when you can come back home.” In the pitch black night, the two began to work. When she lit the candle, his writing was all over the paper, and her cake was as even as could be. Cutting long sticky rice cake required skill even in light. He returned to China and did not come home until his education was finished and eventually became one of the most well known laureate in asia. I determined that I will not stop until I achieve the success, whatever it was…

He would tell me that we are descendents of Kim dynasty of so many years ago. Our direct for-father was the 5th son of Emperor somebody. Therefore I was a princess. He believed that it was my destiny to bring my family to that level of honor…It was rather strange that in a male oriented culture, my grandfather would determine that I was to fulfill the honor of bringing our family fame back. I was determined somehow I would make that happen….how I did not know.

I was slow to move, slow to think, and did not have much personality…I was not cute, I did not have quick sense, I was too fat…these are the comments I heard all through my childhood. It seemed there was nothing that I could do right, be right, or look right…there was always something lacking. My cousin, who was being raised by my mother, had the adorable looks, personality, quick sense…and everything I did not have. When mother would take us both shopping, people noticed my cousin and no one noticed me. They thought my cousin must be my mother’s daughter. After all, my mother was very beautiful. And this adorable little girl must be her daughter. It was not possible this clumsy JaeHi could be her daughter. It was difficult for my mother, to have her own daughter be slighted. Eventually it was easier for my mother to take my cousin (then age 5) with her in daily grocery shopping and leave me (age 3) behind with my uncles. I understood that something was very wrong with me.

In school, I was good in art, even through my child’s eye, I could tell that I was often the best. Yet my teacher would praise other children. They had nice clothes and their moms were always at school bringing little gifts for the teachers, and sometimes money. My mother had no gift or money for my teachers. I knew this much, even to get praise for my work required gift or money for the teachers. I longed for recognition that I should have gotten. I determined that somehow I would succeed in life so I would not be slighted.

I watched my father, studying, always studying…Why wasn’t he playing with us... War was over. He no longer had his entertainment troop. During unemployment time (most of Korea was unemployed), that is all he did….always study. All the money he earned was spent on his large extended family and nothing was left for his own little family. I hoped within me I could do something to alleviate his pain that I could somehow provide for him. I knew I had to succeed to take that pain away from my father.

I was nine years old. My father had been in the U.S. for two years earning money and preparing to bring his family to the U.S. One day, without any announcement, he appeared at our front door. I immediately recognized him. He winked at me. I understood that I was to play along with him. My brother was seven and had not seen our father since he was five. My father called out to him and asked, "Did I get your name right?" My brother said, "Yes." Saying my mother's name, my father asked, "Did I get your mother's name right?" Again, my brother said, "Yes." I could see that my brother was getting uncomfortable. My little two-year-old sister had no idea what was going on. He knelt down, spread out his arms and said, "Come, I am your dad." There was uneasy silence. I ran to him, soon followed by my brother and sister. My father was home.

School academics were getting intense. My peers were getting private tutors who would help them after school. We were all studying for our 6th grade exam, which would determine which Jr. High school you would go to. Sometimes that determined your whole future. The one who went to best Jr. High would then go to the best High then to the best University. Somehow we only saw in terms of best or nothing. Time was ticking. My family did not have the luxury of hiring a tutor. My parents had sacrificed enough to send me to the best public grammar school at that time. I would do my best to keep up….ultimately I was saved by coming to the U.S.