Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy 2010!

Just a quick note before I head to bed- HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

I will be posting again soon... so stay tuned!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I'll be home for Christmas

For Christmas break (I have the week off from work) I am chilling at home. I'm really looking forward to the rest since January is going to be an intense work month. Anyways, I thought maybe I would let you all in on some of my doings around my house. You see, as each year passes I find I am getting more and more of a nesting complex. I want to make a home, to create a space that is comfortable and where people feel warm and loved. Ugh. Anyways, this means that instead of spending my money on other things, I am spending it on pretty lamps and other decorations.

My bed, my Christmas lights, my teddy bear (named Dorothy after one of my favorite theologians wife- right, I DO get nerdier by the year), and my humidifer since the cold+my heater= very very very dry air.

Here is my little work space. I got this very pretty lamp (but not before walking for over an hour around this HUGE shopping center looking for the best deal!). I really love my apartment. I feel so confortable here and I really feel like it is home. Hence, the title. Home for Christmas.

(sorry for all the post titles being corny Christmas phrases, but I just can't help myself!)

Holiday cheer

Well it's the day after Christmas, but is it ever too late to post Christmas photos?

Here are Sunyoung and I at lunch on Christmas day before we went to church. We went to an area of Seoul that I have never been to before (which is bound to happen in an urban area of 20 million people!). We had pork cutlets (seems like a popular dish here in Korea) and then headed to a church service for all the English churches in Seoul. Very cool.

So let me share something with you about my friend Sunyoung. She LOVES the color purple. She always wears purple and whenever we go anywhere she points out everything in the stores that is purple. So our church has a purple Christmas tree in the coffee shop and Sunyoung and I had to take advantage of such an awesome thing as a purple tree. So here she is posing with her tree.

Sunyoung introduced me to one of her English students named Joy. Joy is just beginning to learn English, so she took the opportunity to practice on me. She was very sweet though and I enjoyed getting to practice a little Korean while we talked.

Joy and I in my church's coffee shop

Thursday, December 24, 2009

and she shall be called...


That's right folks, 별이 (Pyeo-lee) is my Korean name. In honor of the blog template change, and it being Christmas Eve, I though this might be a cool time to tell you my readers about my Korean name. I've had it for a few months now but have only really started to identify with it (or honestly remember how to say it) for the last few weeks. I like the name though. I asked some Korean friends to give a Korean name since all my students get English names (most of my students go by Sally, Harry, or some other generic name). I told my friends that I wanted the name to start with a "b" sound so it would be similar to Becka. There aren't many names that start with the "ㅂ" (which is the b or p sound). So they gave me the name which means "star" in Korean. 별이. Sounds about right.
Anyways, I'm thinking of all of you, my friends and family as I work till 9:15pm on Christmas Eve. May this be a good holiday for you, may you enjoy the company of your loved ones, and may you remember the goodness of the Lord in coming to dwell among us.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


One of the more popular things for young (and old) Koreans to do is called Norae-Bong. It is like Kareoke but so much better since only your friends see you make a fool out of yourself. After the Christmas party, a bunch of us headed over to partake in this great Korean tradition. For about $2 each, we got a room for an hour. There were thousands of songs in English, Korean, and Japanese to choose from.
You choose a bunch of songs, and as the night progresses you keep updating the song list. When the song comes on, you grab the mic and you belt it out. And I mean, you BELT IT OUT. We were screaming our lungs out to Brittany Spears, Mariah Carey and of course, the Beatles!
In good Kareoke fashion, the words are on the screen, but there are no music videos to go with the songs. Well, no American music videos. Instead, all the songs are played along with a Korean music video from another song. Which means most of the time, the Korean music video's story made NO sense with the English song.
It was fun. Really fun. I'll have to take advantage of this great Korean tradition some time again.

All I want for Christmas is... singing lessons?

Here is a little video, totally prime blackmailing material.

shots with the big man

At the Christmas party I ended up sitting next to the owner of my school, Daniel (Sarah's husbund). Now in Korean culture, when your boss offers you something (especially alcohol) there is no saying no. So how could I refuse his very LARGE shot of soju?


maybe a little hesitation...

and bottoms up!

Christmas Party at SEA

Sally and me

Erin picking a white elephant gift

Maggie excited about her white elephant gift, note the plastic flower attached.

The spread of food for our party- everything from chinese and korean food to fried chicken and pizza. THe fried chicken, which LOOKED like KFC stuff, actually came with kimchi. I kid you not.

THe center piece of the meal was this turkey which I heard cost over $100.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

adventures in hair dying

I first dyed my hair in 7th grade. I remember I found a box of hair dye in the mess of things in the closet area under the stairs. I don't remember if my mom put up any argument against the idea of me dying my hair. But I do remember it being fun. We did it together and it became kinda our thing (along with watching sappy movies and me giving her pedicures). I would continue to dye my hair for the next 15 years. I think the longest I have gone without dying my hair has been 6 months. That first time I colored my hair strawberry blonde. I had always wanted to be a red head. As the years progressed, the color remained red, but the shades got darker. Around my freshman year in high school it was a dark strawberry blonde. Then light auburn. And finally when I hit my senior year in high school I started dying it really dark auburn. It almost looks black in some photos. Since then, I've kept it some shade of auburn. I like it. People always think I am naturally a red head and I'm okay with that assumption.

Toward the end of college, I found that if I tried to dye my hair certain shades of auburn, it would turn orange from long exposure to sun. That was when I began the tradition of winter darks. Every winter I get to dye my hair a dark auburn (the color I prefer) and in the summer I deal with the lighter shades, knowing that light auburn is better than orange. So tonight I bought a box of hair dye and continued my tradition. The dye is Korean, the instructions were all in Korean, and it was actually a little different than at home (it doesn't smell nearly as bad!). Here are some photos:



and the After photo will have to come tomorrow. Wish me luck!

so I walked into my classroom where 9 very energetic and loud children were waiting for me. One girl saw my hair and quickly told me, "teacher... black hair, not beautiful... yellow hair, beautiful." Thanks kid. Thanks. :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


No, not real hiking.
Often times, people describe their relationship with the Lord as a "walk". Well, my walk has become more of a hike these past few months. When I am just walking with the Lord, there may be a small incline somedays, but its no more than a few steps uphill before I get to enjoy the few downhill steps.
Usually, the Lord teaches me things slowly (or maybe I am just slow in learning them!). Usually I learn one lesson, or am confronted by one sin, maybe once every other week or so. But these past few months, and especially weeks, have been FULL of the Lord's dealing with me. I feel like every day is another steep step. The Lord has been working through so many things in my life that I am overwhelmed when I try to take inventory. It's like turning around and looking at how high up you have climbed. Last night I was tired of climbing. I prayed that the hike would be over soon. I wanted to reach the top of the hill to enjoy the view already. But God didn't stop the hike, instead He renewed my stregnth for the next few steps. I guess part of this hike is learning to depend on Him for the strength to do the hike in the first place. I can only imagine what the view will be like when I reach the top of this hill. I don't know when that will be, but I will let you know when I get there.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Happy Hanukkah!

Here are the fine ladies of SEA, chilling on my bed with my awesome hanukkah latkehs and wine. We never made it to watching a movie, but we sure did talk a lot. It was definitly a girls' night!

single unto the Lord

You may have noticed that recently I have been working through some of my views on marriage as it pertains to my life. I've been praying (as in my last post) that I would find joy in the place the Lord has me. When I was younger I prayed for contentment. But I think that is only half a prayer. Sure Paul says he has learned to be content in whatever situation he is in, but the Lord commands us to be joyful always. So that is my prayer. That I may truly relish the places the Lord has me. Even when they aren't what I had planned on.

So last night after all the girls left my apartment, I realized something. And it gave me great joy. My friends say that I was created to be a wife. I think the qualities that bring them to make that kind of statement (besides my incredibly attractive body! haha) are my love for hospitality and my deep desire to love people. I agree that these are qualities that would serve fairly well in a marriage, but it hit me last night: they serve VERY well in singleness. In fact, they almost are better gifts for singleness. In many ways, my personaility does well as a single serving the Lord. Instead of focusing my love on my husband and children, I am free to love and serve many people. Instead of cooking dinner each night for one family, I am free to cook for many people.

I took a friend to the doctor this morning, and was filled with joy once again as I got to serve her. I was praying on my way home, worshiping God for giving me the joy that I had begged Him for. And I realized that if I marry, God will call me to love and serve a man (which will be to my joy). But until then, my love and service is devoted to God. It is Him that I concern myself with, that I love, that I serve each day. But then I wondered, how does it actually play out. I don't get to cook God dinner. I don't get to take care of Him when He is sick. But Jesus said that whoever we feel and care for, for the least of people, we do for Him. So when I cook for the hungry, when I care for the sick, when I love God's people, I am really loving God.

Now I know this is boardline annoying (like how I went on "dates" with Jesus when I was in college). But just stay with me here for a moment. So I got to see how I would get to love and serve in a wifely way as a single devoted to God. But what about the role of a husband in my life? You see, a husband is called to love and care for his wife. And really, the moments when I MOST desire a husband is when I can't take care of myself. When I'm sick, or my car breaks down. These are the moments when I truly cry out to the Lord begging for a man. How does this work if I am single? Well, the moment the thought went through my head, the Lord laughed (gently) at me and asked if I really didn't think He was bigger and greater than any man. If I trusted a man to take care of me, could I not trust the Lord? He would provide.

So I am learning to find joy in my current place in life. It's a process and some moments are more joyfilled than others. But the Lord has heard my prayer and it teaching me each day to look to Him and to trust Him to be my place of joy.

Marriage and True Love Waits Dillusions

I wrestled with God today. Or really, I wrestled with myself.

When I was in high school I made a commitment to wait until marriage for sex. My dad gave me a ring and we had a small party where the elders in my life exhorted me to stay pure. Why did I do it? Well, honestly, part of it was just a trend for young Christian girls my age. But there was definitely a part of me that had thought through things. I knew that I wanted to get married, I assumed I would. The question was, would I do it God’s way, or my way? Would I go through life making my own decisions about love and marriage or would I trust God to pick out my guy for me. And even to my sixteen year old mind, I knew that God would choose better than I would. I realized today as I reflected on that decision that I viewed God as some yenta who would marry me off if I gave Him the chance. It made so much sense to me then. Give my heart to God and He would give it to a winner, saving me the pain of the losers.
So why did I spend my morning feeling like I had slammed into a brick wall at full speed? As I sat in worship, I realized that I was struggling with disappointment. Carolyn Custis James comments in her book that women need theology to deal with the disappointment that we face in life. I had easily accepted this concept when I read the book, but somehow thought I was above disappointment with God. Aren't I holier than that? It was humbling today to realize that I’m not. Indeed, I am very disappointed. You see, when I made that promise to God when I was 15, it was about something much bigger than my virginity. It was when I gave God my heart. I handed it to Him and gave Him permission to take it where He pleased. I assumed that meant marriage, but it doesn’t necessarily.
I am 26 years old now. While that may seem young to many of you, it feels like each day brings me closer to being single for the rest of my life (I may tend toward the overdramatic). I understand that is not how God works. But I also know that God does keep some of His saints single. Especially those called into full time service for Him. I want to be married and I want to be a mom. But when I gave God my heart, at age 15, I told Him that I trusted Him more than myself to make those decisions for me. For all the girl friends who have told me they are bewildered about my singleness, that I would be a blessing to a man, that I was made to be a wife, I am left speechless. There have been so many possibilities but none have come through. So what does that mean for me? Do I take back my heart from the Lord? Do I try to find a husband on my own? No, I have always put myself out there, I’m not hiding in a shell, but in His providence, no one has come. I have to believe that there is no other reason than God’s provision. I have asked friends what I can do to change. I have gone to singles events, gone to online dating sites, even gone to seminary (a good place they say to find a pastor for a husband!) and there is silence.
Do I trust the Lord enough to have my heart, even if that means it must be single? I agree with my friends when they tell me that I was created to be a wife. I love serving people. I love hospitality. I would LOVE to marry a pastor and get to minister as a pastor’s wife. But the truth is, God is bigger than my plans for myself. He knows my desires and I don’t have to worry that He has forgotten me. He has me in the palm of His hand.
Lord, may I truly believe in Your goodness. May I continue to trust you, even when your path for me looks nothing like the map I drew out for you.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Moving Pilgrims

Jubilee Church is in the process of finding a new building. We are being kicked out of our old place and have been searching for a new building for quite some time now. If I heard correctly, we have to be out by March. This isn't the first church I have been to that had to move. And to be honest, I like it. Most people in the church are stressed or upset during the moves, but I love it when a church has to move.
First, I think moving is a time that cements the people in the church together and the people realize that all the weight of the church cannot fall on only the pastor. It is a time for people to take responsibility for their church community.
Second, its a time of paring down what the church owns. Often a move (even a personal move to another house) means you take time to do inventory on what you have, what you need, and what you don't need. I think when we are honest with ourselves, there is a lot more of what we don't need. Churches should share their belongings with other churches. Older churches should come alongside church plants and help them with sunday school supplies or other things that usually just take up storage.
And finally, and most importantly, moving reminds a church that we are not settled here permanently. We are pilgrims moving around in a land that isn't our home. Moving to a new location should remind a church that she is not just her building. Heck, she is nothing of her building. God is not building His kingdom in the brick walls that surround us but in restoring relationships. When the Village Church (in NYC) had to move from our nice church building into a public school auditorium, I think some people had a hard time seeing the blessing in the move. THe new auditorium was cold, nothing was sacred about the building, and there was awkward space for the postworship fellowship time. But I was so blessed to see our church move, to go into a place where we weren't necessarily comfortable, knowing that God was leading us and He was going to have us worship Him where He called us to worship Him.
So my brothers and sisters at Jubilee, let us take comfort and count it our joy that we must move. For moving is a manifold blessing in our lives.

Marriage and all things considered

As I wrote earlier, it's been a week of reflection. I wish I could quantitatively judge how much I have changed over the past 6 months. Between graduating from seminary, going through the break and the valley that followed, and moving to Korea, I think it is safe to say that a lot has changed. But I have no one here who knew me before to judge. I will say that many of my regular conversations with God, about the desires and fears of my heart, have changed. While the subject matter remains the same, my prayers have changed. THe truth is, I do and always have desired marriage. I have wanted to be a wife since I was a little girl who dreamed of marrying Daniel Goldstein. I've wanted to be a mom since I was 3 and pretended to be mom to my dolls. But as much as my desire to be a wife and mom is ever present, my experience over the last year has taught me a radical trust in the Lord's goodness. My prayers have begun to reflect this new theology. As I have mentioned in previous posts, Korea has taught me to pray. But my fervent prayers are a little less "Give me!" and a little more "This is my desire, may Your will be done!"
There was some stuff that happened this week that brought up a bunch of fears. Fears of being vulnerable. Fears of rejection. Fears of more pain and hurt. I'm not sure how much more I can go through and there are parts of me that run away from any situation that may have the potential to bring pain. Even if that same situation may have the same potential to bring joy. But I have my girls to keep me grounded in the Gospel at all times. I shared this with Michelle who lovingly reminded me that there is no fear in the Gospel, and that God does not call us to live in fear, but in freedom. So I am praying that the Lord may teach me to walk in His freedom. Especially in terms of marriage. That is my desire, may His will be done!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

"Me is smart"

In this video, Harry repeats something he told me in class ("me is smart") and I try to get some footage of one of my favorite students Yoonwha. He is my little monkey boy and as much as he is a total distraction in class, I adore him. Sadly, he is camera shy, so he hid under the table. You can hear Sulley in the background saying, "Yoonwha, you on movie". So cute!

Six Months

Tomorrow marks the end of the longest six months of my life. Or were they the shortest. I feel like I was dead for so long, and now I've woken up and found myself in Korea. I don't really know how I got here. I think I was sleepwalking. It's been an interesting week. I knew that this 6 month mark was coming up and I felt my heart beginning to think about those days. I wanted to read what I had written in my journal those few weeks immediately following the break up, but by God's grace, that journal is safely buried in my dad's attic in California. I wanted to cry. And I did. All four times that I watched New Moon. That's right folks. I saw the movie four times and cried each time. But really folks, I am ok. I look back on the last half of a year and am overwhelmed by God's grace. Even in the darkest moments in the Valley, He stood with me. I never stumbled beyond His reach, but was securely fastened to His side as we walked this dark path together. I am so grateful for His goodness and faithfulness to me. There is definitly more I need to write, but it is late here in Seoul. So I sign off. I will face tomorrow with joy, knowing that God's goodness never fails and His mercies are new every morning.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Tourism Day with Rosanna

This is one of the first Starbucks I've seen that has its sign in Korean. Most are in English.

Rosanna and I weren't sure, but these looked like bugs they were serving as street food. So I took a picture and asked a friend. Sure enough- they were silk worms. No thanks!

So Rosanna and I went for the chicken skewers instead.

This street vendor guy was really nice and friendly so we stood and watched his presentation of making this candy. And then of course, we bought some!


Here are some photos from Thanksgiving:

Maggie and I at TGIFridays

We went to TGIF because it was the most American thing we could think of, but even TGIF had its own Koreanization of the menu. We all laughed when we saw the Kimchi Pilaf on the menu. We were all American (about 10 of us) except one Austrailian who was silly enough to actually order the kinchi pilaf. Then we all REALLY laughed.