Friday, September 10, 2010

Thirty-one years

Has it been thirty one years already? On one hand I was married forever and on the other hand I was young once and where did the time go? My youngest is almost sixteen years old.

I remember those early years as I formulated how life was going to turn out. Looking back, nothing turned out as I planned. Tom and I are so different, yet somehow the long and winding road of life has melded us to travel together as we become like each other. Sometimes I look at us and am amazed that we can still love and be compatible with one another.

We spent a few days in St. Joseph, Michigan, a little town of nine thousand. The beautiful beach on Lake Michigan, the dunes, the hills...oh I love this little town. We strolled along the empty coast for miles. It is hard to believe that across from the lake on the other side is Chicago with its ever bustling beach front.

We married at the right time of the year. It is still warm and breezy yet all the people and children are back in school and work. We have the lake, the hills, the dunes all to ourselves.

Our friend Tami told me that she has a dream. She would like to buy a two-flat house here at St. Joseph, live on the first floor and rent out the second floor to vacationers. She would open up the second floor for church friends from far and wide so they can have an affordable vacation no matter what their budget may be. I told her I would love to jump into her dream.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Commute

It was a long commute to Rochester Indiana, an hour and half each way. Leaving for work at 6:15 am is not exactly what I look forward to. Yet as I was driving, I realized I really love quietness of country road. The long stretch of road as it winds and turns and there is no cars behind me trying to push me to go faster, then swerves around my car, seeming to say I gotta get there, there is no time. There are no trucks rumbling towards me which can unsettle my tired little Toyota as it passes. I just have the road and the farmland that spreads its wing on either side of the road, wall of corn husks on and off, and houses or barns dotted along the way.

I arrived at familiar Kroger grocery store. How long has it been since last time? Maybe 6 months. The ladies (my staff) remembered me and inquired about my life. And I hardly remembered their names. I really like this group. They love their job. I wouldn't mind coming to this store again.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Simple Joys

Lately Tom and I have been driving together to take Lizy to LoveWay stable. This is where Lizy found out she loved horses. She started to volunteer during the summer, to take care of the horses, to walk the horses with children on them as they meander through scenic paths.

I love the twenty minute ride; the rolling hills, the beautiful trees that canopy the small roads which we sometimes have to share carefully with horse and buggy. Tom chooses different route each time to amaze me. It does not take much to amaze me. I have such a limited ability in sense of direction, I always take the most boring and most straight way so that I don't get lost.

At times nothing happens that is exciting. Life goes on and these are the precious little moments to relish.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Horse Riding Lesson

Lizy had her first horse riding lesson. She looked beautiful, lean and graceful as she walked, cantered, and trotted her horse. I could imagine her one day, a skilled equestrian riding her horse in a beautiful meadow.

When I brought her to a stable, my friend Gina and her mom greeted us. Betsy, Gina's mom commented to me." I am so jealous of your daughter. She has a perfect build for riding horses; look at her long legs." I was bothered by my short legs as long as I could remember so I was beaming at Betsy's comment. Then while Gina was prepping her to get ready for her first lesson, Betsy talked on. "You know Indy (the horse Lizy is on) is God's gift to us. We have not had a lesson horse for a long time. You need a well trained horse for that. My passion has always been horses and children (to be able to give lessons) and I did not have a lesson horse. To my surprise my husband also wanted a lesson horse. I waited and prayed. I did not mention it to my husband again. One day my husband came home. He contacted someone in Warsaw who was giving away two horses to LoveWay stables (non profit stable for disabled children.) Well, LoveWay did not want Indy because she was too old. She is 20 you know. My husband requested her and we got her for free!!! Now we can give lessons to children!"

As she was talking I saw her other horses, who are not trained enough for giving lessons. They were in yonder pasture nibbling on sweet grass. They must be for riding for the owners who always had horses.

Lizy was already learning to canter and trot and I marveled how beautiful she looked on a horse who used to be a show horse. Lizy decided to volunteer at LoveWay stable during this summer and learn to take care of and lead horses with younger children during their trail walks. Her love for horses grew. She wanted to volunteer every day as long as possible. Then as summer was winding down she wanted to ride herself.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

South Side Diner

When I came home from work, I was thinking we would eat left overs. Tom suggested that we go out to eat. Lizy did not feel like going out & requested that we order in. What to eat, where to go...when you do not have a repertoire of places to go or things to eat other than fast food, it becomes a problem; Kentucky Fried chicken? Steak & Shake? Pizza? Don't ask me. I would always call for Asian food.

Lizy suggested South Side Diner at the end of the block. We agreed. In my mind I was getting ready for a typical cafeteria type of American food; Hambergers & fries, Meat loaf & mashed potatoes, fried chicken...just OK, another meal of bland American food.

When the waitress recited today's special, Tom said you need to look at my wife. This is her type of food. I ordered today's special Sea Food Delight.

Soon I was presented my meal; steamed shrimps, oysters, and clams along with steamed red potatoes & corn on the cob with salad. My eyes pop-ed, my stomach danced and my mouth watered as I opened the hot pot placed in front of me. Oh how long has it been since I ate oysters and clams and those large shrimps. I started to dig in. I was so engrossed in eating and every once in a while I looked up. Tom was sitting across from me. He was thoroughly enjoying the sight of one lost in eating heaven. He had Ruben Sandwich basket and Lizy had Turkey Croissant Sandwich basket. Neither of them were interested in tasting my bonanza.

Tom said, "I guess we found Jack Pot of restaurant!" We always meant to visit this place so close & we finally did.

All Because We Fell In Love

To day we went to Maple Syrup Festival in Wakarusa; Tom, Gifford his dad, Lizy, and I. It was cool and breezy. We were going through little shops with interesting wares, browsing through food vendors, and walking around eating pop corn, chicken wrap and buying things like roses made of wood shavings, dress made by Indian hands...

Tom called me. Shop of plaques had wood carvings and one caught his eyes. Isn't that beautiful? he asked. All because we fell in love...
I looked at it for a while. As he walked away I noticed another one. Grow old with me, the best is yet to come. This one moved me deeply.

I am not a poet. I don't know the rules of poetry yet I am inspired.

All because we fell in love
was it marriage made in heaven?
Could not imagine anything could go arye
We dreamed of future in bliss
A young hopeful hearts

All because we fell in love
Four beautiful children came into being
The joy of watching them grow as they explore life
The pain of watching them as they fall
And smile as they pick themselves up

All because we fell in love
you and I were intertwined
When we were tossed in icy storms
And thought we would be torn apart
Shimmering sun brought us back.

All because we fell in love
A patchwork of art; you and me
I am from East where everything is so foreign
You are from the West where things are a puzzle
And we try to make sense of our differences

All because we fell in love
As life turns in direction we cannot see
We continue to love when things don't make sense, a miracle.
Somehow our love deepens
Darling, Grow old with me, the best is yet to come.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Trip to East Coast - Day with John & family

Today was a busy day. After a lazy breakfast, we went to a park where Zach and Asia played soccer. Once Zach's game was over, we sat & watched Asia play. John and we came back home for a barbecue lunch. Elise stayed behind for Asia to finish off her game. After a quick lunch at home we went to Zach's violin recital. It looks like he has potential to become a great violinist.

Back at John's home we had couple of hours before we headed back home to Goshen. John built a fire on their patio. Oh it felt so soothing to absorb the warmth of the glow in the cool of the afternoon.

Christian (age 26), Lizy(15), Zach(9), and Asia(7) were lost in their playing.
They were building forts, playing with ball, and they were so occupied all the way till it was time to go home.

It was a wonderful trip.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Trip to East Coast - Breakfast at Irish Diner

Seth is able to see us this morning for breakfast. He took us to a very interesting Irish diner. It looked very much like what I would expect a diner to look like. They brought us very interesting breakfast, each dish unique to sight and very delicious. I love to watch my kids as they are eating and totally enjoying themselves. I thought of who they are. Christian, Seth, and Elizabeth. None of them have the drive nor ambition that consumed me as a young person and as an adult which brought a lot of pain and kept me a tortured soul( a term I learned from John, my brother in law). Seth is so intelligent; will he be a philosopher? Christian is so creative; will he be an artist? Elizabeth has love for animals and wants to be a wild life biologist.

My father's words ring in my ears, do not become anything that cannot lead you to a financial not waste your life...Yet as I watch my children I have come a long way, to just love them as who they are as their lives unfold before them. Yet I still struggle with desire to push them to more secure future.

I wish for them that they could experience financial security and job security. I have to lift them to God. I can hear the longing in my mother that her grandchildren were doctors, lawyers, engineers so many children of her friends.

I Snap back to reality and oh how sweet this is. We take Seth to library and we are on our way to Gettysburg PA. We drive all afternoon to Gettysburg PA. Tomorrow after breakfast we will visit Gettysburg Park. We only have couple of hours at the Gettysburg Military Park. One of the battles of the Civil war that occurred on this site changed the course of US history. Once we got to the park we realized there were too many things we wanted to read, too many sites we wanted to visit and we did not have time. We will come back here and spend a whole day or two.

We are on the road again to John and Elise's house. My kids adore their children. They cannot wait. Now we are traveling through hills and mountains and even through the mountains. I love hills and mountains. It makes me very emotional. I absolutely love hills and mountains.

We pull in at John's driveway. Meeting of excited cousins begin. John has made a reservation at an Indian restaurant for dinner. MMMmmmm so delicious. Elise works full time from home. Some times when my health interferes with life, I too want to find a way to earn a living from home. But how?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Trip to East Coast - New York

Tom drove us to Union Station at New Haven, Connecticut. This was the familiar train station he used as a child. Christian, Lizy and I will be taking a train to New York. This station is quaint. It probably was built during the era of trains as the mode of transportation. To go to New York city is bit unnerving, yet there is strange excitement.

New York, Manhattan, down town felt very much like down town Chicago except that there were at least twice as many people and a large fleet of yellow taxi cabs. It appeared that there were more cabs than ordinary cars. Could it be much dustier and dirtier than down town Chicago? Christian told me that Chicago downtown has areas that are dirty like this. We were walking a lot in the dust and in the heat (New York hit record heat of 90+ degrees that morning of early April). The dusty buildings on either side of us and a long stretch of concrete road ahead of us filled with cars and cabs. Sidewalk teamed with people so dense that you could smell the surrounding pedestrians. We stopped to buy hot dogs from street vendor. Oh what a disappointment. I always loved Chicago style hot dogs. How could they ruin taste of hot dog like this.

From the Central Train Station we were to go to our fist sight, elevated park; an elevated train track turned into a park. Once we climbed the stairways onto the elevated park, I felt warm breeze. It felt wonderful. Looking at sparse patch of greenery did not do much for me. Yet I was glad that in the midst of concrete jungle there was a walkway with greens. After a little rest, we continued on in the elevated park. Soon bushes and trees welcomed us, then many attractive benches and more dense greenery and more trees. At the end of the park, I looked down through glass wall the bustling downtown of concrete jungle and it's people and cars.

I should not judge a park by first impression...

I told Christian that I wanted to see Central Park next. Even after being at an elevated & crowded park, I wanted to experience the majesty of nature, old trees, rocks, ponds etc, yet surrounded by New York skyscrapers. (Yes I realize that Central Park is probably man made). Christian who was leading the expedition said it will be a long walk to there and we will pass Times Square and Madison Square Garden. When we arrived at Times Square, the famous land mark of Manhattan New York, my impression was busy neon lights of pictures of Hong Kong, or bustling downtown of BuSan Korea. Christian told me that this gives him impression of a busy megapolis of some city in China. There was a man dressed in just his under ware and guitar and cowboy hat. Christian said "That is New York naked cowboy. He was very famous many years ago. He is still around. He could be the same guy." Many women were in line to take pictures with him. I guess that is how he made living.

When we finally reached Central Park, it was getting dark already yet light enough for me to see what could be breath taking beauty. I imagined away all the garbage that was overflowing from visits of humanity during day hours. I saw the early morning before any crowd comes to this park, the serenity and peace that calmed anxious souls. Everything about it was grand; the trees, the water, the rocks...and the park seemed to go on & on and somewhere far away you could see tops of tall buildings. I would love to come back here and enjoy this early in the morning.

We spent the whole day and into the late evening, visiting shops and enjoying all the bustle of the infamous New York. Meanwhile Tom had dinner with Seth in quiet Middletown Connecticut.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Trip to East Coast - Lunch with Gifford & Jane

We were talking about where to visit in New York. This morning Tom told us that he did not want to go to New York. He wanted to stay back in the hotel with Sammy (our little dog) and tomorrow would be a good day for an outing to NY if we wanted to visit. I was profoundly disappointed. I was debating whether I should go there without Tom. Well it will be our adventure.

What to do for today...(We did not plan out anything for this trip)and Seth was very occupied with his classes. I called Gifford, Tom's oldest brother. He just got laid off from his job as a carpenter so he and his wife is able to see us today. Jane prepared a quick last minute lunch but it was wonderful. We ate and talked as if we had all the time in the world. We went out to their yard and Jane showed me of all her plants and vegetation.

Tom, Christian, Gifford, and Lizy were very much involved in their conversation. Jane and I talked about our life, our marriage of 30 years...we both were married that long. I got to know Jane more this time than ever before. We talked about coming out again and going on a hike with them.

During our visit, Henna called us en route to Croatia and Seth texted us that he does not have time today until 10 pm. He got excited when we told him that we will meet him at 10pm and go out for a snack.

At 5pm we drove to a scenic river bridge at down town Hartford. River walk was created at 2nd floor level. There were Plaza, blooming trees, flowers, grass and shrubbery along manicured walks. So pleasant on this lonely path. How could such a location in downtown Hartford be empty of humanity? We were the lone family breathing in all the beauty. Tom said, well they just had a flood, and it's Monday evening. Somehow that did not seem like a satisfactory explanation.

Christian is taking a lot of creative pictures. He is really enjoying our travel. Then we drove on to a dream shop (Cabela's sport & goods). Gifford said it was like a museum. You could see all the stuffed animals and .... If you hunt, this is your place to be. I stayed behind to jot down the last 3 days events...

Seth took us to a Greek diner after 10pm. We ordered a dish of appetizer for 2 and Seth ordered a sandwich. Oh my... we had so much food left over, it seemed like Seth will be supplied with food for next day. It was fun. I commented of how I love to have all my children together, well minus Henna. By now I was thoroughly exhausted. Tomorrow will be a full day in New York ...without Tom.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Trip to East Coast - To Middletown CT

At 10 Am we drove to Middletown CT. We stopped at a Chinese fast food place for lunch. I know Tom did this to make me happy (I always prefer Asian food). Unfortunately the food were less than satisfactory. We nibbled at it and packed it for later use (hopefully it will taste better.)

Once we reached Seth's campus, we hiked up to a hill, a cemetery. Some tombstones dated back to 1700s and 1800s. My active imagination went to work as I looked at the names of the deceased and their family and extended family.

When Seth got out of his class, we all went to his apartment. It was so good to see him. His roommates hung around to chat with us a bit. Due to time constraint on Seth's part, we opted to eat our left overs today. The food tasted better. Probably hunger factor did it.

Seth wanted us to trim his hair which I did and visited with him as long as we could. We will take him out tomorrow.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Trip to East Coast - Stop at Ohio

The plan was to have everything ready and leave by 8:00 am. On Friday night I came home after 10pm from work and very little was done to prepare.

Our first stop would be in Cleveland for the Easter conference for afternoon meeting which would continue the next morning. On Sunday afternoon we would meet Patricia and Tom at their house for lunch. Tim and Christy Barker with their little baby Sophia came to see us. Julie gave us big hugs and updated us about so many exciting things happening in her life. The weather was beautiful. I realized it is these moments that I must capture and treasure. It is relationships that must be fostered. Relationships can be so fragile, broken by just being so busy with life.

We had wonderful time just talking... of what is happening in our lives. Julie is in the midst of changing jobs. She is looking forward for an interview in South Africa for humanitarian organization. Tim got a new job as a mechanic for airplane upkeep and repair. He seems to be at a very happy stage in life, a secure job and a new family. After lunch we viewed photos of the kids when they were toddlers (Tom is capturing the negatives onto digital format). Where did time go? A day well spent and memory captured.

During our drive oh about 7 hours to Scranton PA, Henna and Andrija found a way to still buy our home in Chicago through land contract...I hope it will work.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hope in the midst of rubble

It was interesting meeting Kara. She was a doctor who took in an Ethiopian woman, Sara, during her last days of life. This woman was young. At age of twenty six she contracted illness which required surgery which Kara felt would heal her. Kara orchestrated donation of time and skill by anesthesiologist, surgeon, hospital, and others to bring forth the necessary surgery. Kara and her husband Robert brought her from Ethiopia to do just that. Kara called my pharmacy to inquire about pain killer for Sara since she did not have insurance or money.

Through that phone call Kara and I found each other to be sisters in Christ. I have met her and her husband Robert twice since then. Her husband Robert goes to Ethiopia to do mission work amongst the natives. Kara joins him as often as possible. Sara, in spite of the surgery and medicine made available through Kara, died about a month after I first talked to Kara.

Robert goes to Ethiopia with one hope - getting as many people as possible to receive Christ into their heart and thus change their lives. He is working on cell unit principle. Get a handful of people to receive Christ, develop a unit where they grow in Christ and help them to reach out their friends and neighbors and propagate God's life amongst people and create a new cell group. I hear now there are about one hundred sixty such cell groups. He says "the growing is happening amongst themselves. It is incredible what God is doing there." The demand for Robert's time is beyond what he is physically able to give. Right now Robert is looking for a businessman who is willing to give his time to teach these new Christians the principle of starting a business to sustain themselves. Robert finds many people in Ethiopia who is so skilled yet has no know how regarding how to capitalized in it. The country as a whole has been provided for by well meaning donations by West, people never developed the means of survival themselves.

Fusatu, one of the Ethiopian new believer of Christ told Robert that he will give his life to God. He wanted to bring many people to Christ. He wanted to go beyond his own little village. He needed a vehicle yet they do not have paved roads. Going through hills and valleys in mud or brushes are very difficult. He told God, "I give you my life savings of $5000(US) and You provide the rest for a four wheel drive." A used US vehicle would cost $22,000 and impossible amount. Government places 120% tax on such vehicles. I received an email from Kara. I felt compelled to give. Kara told me that an anonymous person volunteered to match dollar for dollar for each donation. In just one month the whole amount was raised. Fusatu is now a full time preacher bringing the good news that changes lives.

Hope in the midst of rubble

It seems ironic that when I have time and energy I am just too busy to be creative; be it writing or drawing/painting. Here I lay in bed from overworking myself and not sleeping enough in a condition called “under the weather.” So now I rest without thinking of million things that I must accomplish on my day off. My job is just to rest so that I can get back to “too busy to find time” life.

(names are changed yet stories are factual )
Hope is all around us....

In Plymouth I see Melinda. I love to work with her. She is so lively. Yet she has shadow in her life that hung heavy continually. She is surviving in loveless marriage and trying to uphold 2 very difficult teenagers through life. She just went through a major female surgery with out any insurance. Her income is very minimal and her husband is stuck in a job he hates, yet due to the down turn of economy his options are nil. She says it will take rest of her life to pay back her medical bill. After listening to update on her life I asked her what is going on with others. I have not been to Plymouth pharmacy for almost a year. She said, “JaeHi, something happened in my life. My surgery is nothing compared to this. Are you ready for this?” I was wondering what could be so dramatic. Could she be telling me that she is getting divorced? I said, “Tell me!”

End of November I got a call from Andrew. He is my half brother that I have not seen since he was a small boy. My dad left me when I was two and I visited him when I was eight. And that was the last time. I always felt that he left us because I did something wrong. Maybe I was bad, maybe I was a girl and he did not like girls. I felt so alone with the feeling that I don't belong to anyone.
My dad died and my three brothers really really wanted to tell me this. It took them some time to actually find me. When I heard I knew that I had to be there for funeral no matter what. My family met my brothers, their wives and children. I cried. Within those few days I felt like I found my family. I loved them. I love their wives and children. It was like as if I always knew them. My sister in laws would tell me that so many of my motions and speaking is just like their husbands'. Amazing! We have same father but different mothers. Since November we have gone back and forth five times and it is five and half hours of drive each way (it's only been 4 months since we discovered each other).

I asked “Did this restore your relationship with your husband?”

Yes, yes. My brothers and my hubby are like peas in a pod. They love same hobbies, they have same interests. My husband loves my brothers. We are planning to move to Illinois soon to be near them. For me if I get upset with my husband I could call my sister-in-law and I could empty out my anguish.


Last Thursday in the art studio at Goshen Painter's Guild I was moved by Yvett's story. She owned a very successful catering business at one time. Her company supplied lunch and snacks for many factories around Goshen. It was a booming business. She had over a dozen hot food delivery trucks. Now most of them are just sitting at their parking lot now. She will not sell them. She said she will get about a dime on a dollar if she wanted to sell. She was going through a very difficult time. Now she was supplying lunches for few factories and they were eliminating work force regularly. Bad economy has swallowed up what used to be booming factories. Her husband who was a critical part of the catering business had to move to Denver for a job opportunity. I also knew that for over a year that she did not collect any salary for herself from her company.I asked her how she was doing. What followed was not what I expected.

My crew came to me some time ago. They knew that I did not want to lay them off and that I would prefer to close my business. They wanted 30% pay cut until the business can stand on its own. A year ago I did have to lay off one person. They had a meeting amongst themselves. They all decided Sonya will be laid off. She is only person who still has a husband who has a job. All the others' spouses were laid off from their jobs. Sonja volunteered to be laid off. But last week I was able to bring her back to work. I always had Profit/Loss statement posted so everyone could see how we were doing. My girls are so conscientious about saving every penny. Whether it is heating, electricity, or whatever they are overly careful. My janitor, you should see how he tries to save money for the company.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

It's been a while since I last wrote. I wish I had more hours in a day. Still within me there is the need or is it the desire to accomplish maximum each day towards something.

There is work, there is painting guild I am always trying to squeeze in. Don't forget, there is grocery shopping and cooking. Oh why do we have to eat. Life would be so much simpler if we bypassed all the eating and cooking time. Then there are all the happenings at home, at work, with those around me in the neighborhood. Lizy is going to Atlanta trip and needs a new dress, or rather a nice outfit for her five day trip which includes a fancy ballet attendance. Did I send Seth the money he needed? Oh Christian, how is he doing? How is Henna and Aki going to manage our home in this fearsome economy. Today I had a whole list to accomplish. Now it is 11:30 pm and I could use about 4 more hours to write. If I don't capture those special happenings, it will be lost forever in the mist of life, just a shadow.

After watching our retirement IRA dwindle in the collapsing of financial infrastructure of the country with added damage of current administration, I decided that I should learn how this whole thing works (at least our share.) Hence I started to read, study, and try to understand this vast forest of unknown world. So after work I sit at my computer until my head hurts. Oh tomorrow I can escape to a few hours of painting with my comrades in art. Oh that reminds me that I need to submit a payment for couple of classes I want.