California Grandma

Our kids have given their grandparents geographic names.  So far, they have called them the Hawaii Grandparents and the Maryland Grandparents.  We are thankful to say that now we have California Grandma.

Over the past several months, she sold the house she lived in for 20+ years, left the community in Maryland she and Mike’s dad built for 30 years, and moved across the country to build a new life close to her children and grandchildren.  It is bittersweet to see that now we get to see her as often as we like, yet understand that it came at a tremendous cost to her.  We continue to dearly miss Maryland Grandpa and pray that California Grandma will adjust quickly to her new life here.

I have a feeling the kids will help smooth the transition a bit.

And not only that, but she’ll get to bond with her daughter (Mike’s sister) while sharing an apartment together.

We’re gonna enjoy the fact that Grandma will always be around for impromptu trips to get yogurt

And she’ll be able to see for herself how the kids are growing.

Welcome home, California Grandma!

Mom

This post is a week late, but I’ve been wanting to write about my mom.  I love her.  I miss her.

I think about my worst fear as a mom, and that’s  seeing my children suffer.  Then I think about my mom and she is living out this fear.  Not only does her heart break for her grandson, but she’s watching her own daughter suffer as I go through the valleys of special needs.

But she’s my rock.  Ever since Marcus was diagnosed, she has never shown me any doubt in God’s goodness, any anxiety about Marcus’ health, or any worry about my well-being.  Although she may worry or be sad, she lays her tears at the feet of Jesus and shows me only the peace she receives from Him.  Whenever I am sapped of strength or hope, I am held up by the fact that she showers my life with her early morning prayers.  She prays for me even when I’m too weak to pray for myself.  She trusts unwaveringly in our loving Father and reminds me of how trustworthy He is.  What a gift she is to me and my family!

For Mother’s Day, I didn’t get to see my mom, but I spent the day as Mom to my kids and celebrated with them.  What my mom is to me, I want to be for them.

From my mom, I’ve learned that God is generous, kind, merciful, and in control.  I’ve learned that trials and conflicts and pain are God’s gifts to bring us closer to Him.

She never sat me down to teach me these things, she just showed them to me through her life.  I pray my children will one day see the same in mine.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

It’s my dad’s birthday tomorrow.  Many of you know that both Mike’s dad and my dad are pastors and that they are both extremely musical.  My dad (and mom) majored in music and then he became a music teacher before he came to the States where he continued his musical talents and conducted many choirs at different churches.  To this day, he still uses his musical training at church and also to reach out to the community through music classes.

I thought I’d try to give my dad an appropriately musical birthday greeting from the kids to show that his musical talents have been passed down to his grandkids.  Little did I know that it would also be a chance to show him that his rascally qualities have also been bestowed on his grandson.

Happy birthday, Dad.  We love you and miss you!  Enjoy!  (And please excuse my son.)

3 Weeks of Love

Most people get just one day to celebrate Valentine’s.  We scored and got 3 weeks of love with Mike’s mom staying with us.

She left the 10-inch snow to take a breather in the mild California winter.

And she finally got to meet her newest grandson.

Before his passing, Mike’s dad came up with Derek’s Korean name:  Tae Hee, which means “great and profound joy”.  It turns out he’s living up to his name.

Grandma also got to see how much Audrey loves brother #2.

And how much Marcus loves him too music.  Here he is, jamming on the new saxophone he got from Grandma.  We’re seriously considering throwing him on a busy street corner to start him on a part-time job.

A visit from Grandma wouldn’t be the same without a trip to Yogurtland…which is always a spiritual experience for my children.

And she knows it’s never too young to start them early.

The older ones were so thrilled that they erupted in spontaneous kisses.

It was actually a full day of love for Marcus.

He and his gang at school exchanged Valentines.

And hugs.

And I got to crash the party.

Audrey was full of the Valentine’s spirit as well.

Derek has got a thing for grandmas.  Boy, was he spoiled with cuddles and giggles and kisses.  After the sweet bond they’ve forged over the past few weeks, he is going to have some major G-ma withdrawal after she heads back to Maryland tomorrow.

When Derek was born, I thought he was God’s gift to us.  But now, I’m wondering if he was actually meant to be the balm to Grandma’s soul.  The timing of Grandpa’s death and Derek’s birth seem to be weaved together from above, and though the loss of her love can never be replaced, we’re seeing that Derek is doing a pretty good job of making her fall in love with him.

With Christ

My father-in-law passed away last Sunday, January 16, 2011 at 7:33pm.  Mike, Miriam, and their mother were by his side as he slipped out of this world into the presence of His Lord.

He leaves behind a son who didn’t get to have one last conversation with him before slipping into a coma, yet who is left with the firmest impression that his dad loved Jesus, served Him passionately, and is undoubtedly singing his heart out to Him now.

He leaves behind a daughter who didn’t  get to be walked down the aisle by her Daddy, but who left her life in CA to spend the last few months by his side, caring for him and seeing first-hand the grace of Christ in his heart and in his marriage in the midst of tremendous suffering.

He leaves behind his wife, the love of his heart, who for decades  served Christ right by his side.  He loved her fiercely and for years, secretly stashed money into a Bible to buy her the diamond that he never got to buy her as young loves.  And through the months of painfully nursing his ailing body, she entrusted him to the Lord and even today, continues to do so.  She is now without half of herself, but remains strong because after all, “I have Jesus,” she says.

He also leaves behind a daughter-in-law and 3 grandchildren.  His oldest grandchild (Audrey), when she found out that Grandpa was now in Heaven, gasped in shock and after a short pause, exclaimed, “Lucky him!” and in thinking about him for days, realized that Grandpa was in Heaven and was lucky because he gets to be with the “real Jesus.”

We are so thankful for all our family and friends who have been praying.  Mike and the family are so encouraged by everyone’s love and look forward to coming back to CA for the memorial service here.

Many of you have already watched this through Mike’s facebook, but here is the wonderful slideshow tribute that Miriam made for her dad.

Another Newborn Baby Boy

When Mike went back to work after a 2-week break, my parents came to visit from Hawaii to spend time with their grandkids and to help me adjust to being a mommy of 3.  I loved seeing my dad walk around with Marcus and play music with him and seeing Audrey play endless rounds of Hide & Seek with Grandma & Grandpa.  The sweetest was seeing my mom bond with Derek as she used her Grandma magic to soothe him and help him sleep.  Something about being held by her made him the happiest baby in the universe.

Derek is almost 4 weeks old and he’s doing a great job of stealing our hearts.  What a gift he is!  I cannot and must not complain about the lack of sleep or the craziness of having the 3 kids because the Lord has given us this most precious little one and so far, has answered so many prayers.  When I hold him, I can’t help but pray in tears and thank God for His graciousness, His gentleness, His lavish love in giving us Derek.

Taking care of another newborn baby boy brings back so many memories of when Marcus was little.  Putting Marcus’ old clothes on Derek reminds me of when I held him and stained those onesies with my tears while trying my best to cast my anxieties at the feet of my Lord.  I remember my mom came with me to his very first ophthalmology appointment when he had his unexplainable head tremor and when we thought that he could have been blind.  And now seeing my dad walk around with him and hearing my mom say that he is a totally different boy than 5 months ago because he’s talking so much now, reminds me of how far we’ve come in this journey and how faithful the Lord has been in keeping us near the cross.

This time around with Derek, I’m not as scared and anxious and fearful as I was with Marcus.  Instead, I’m filled to the brim with extreme gratefulness.  I don’t think I could be this thankful if it weren’t for the valleys we’ve walked through with Marcus.  Derek’s got an older brother to look up to and to learn from, and now he’s got parents who cannot take his little life for granted.

Visit with Grandparents

We got to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday this week.  They flew out from Hawaii and it was such a treat to spend time with them.  They’ve been such a huge encouragement to us recently, so we’re thankful to have been able to fellowship together.  It’s always sad saying good-bye, but we hope to see them again this summer, Lord-willing.

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One day, we all got to go to Disneyland together.  Audrey got to do a lot of this…

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And this…

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And this…

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Which eventually led to this:

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Marcus seemed to enjoy it too.

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A Full and Blessed Past Month

What a full and blessed past month!  My little sister got married, we got to spend time with my parents and cousin Annabel from NY, went to (in my opinion) the best Lou Priolo retreat we’ve had at our church, and I’m continuing to learn what it means to honor the Lord as a mom by trusting in Him and pursuing Him.

We’re still waiting on the Lord for a few health/developmental issues for Marcus.  Nothing life-threatening or physically painful, but humbling for us as parents nonetheless.  But God sure did know how to minister to me by allowing me to hear almost all the messages at retreat.  I think the biggest thing I learned from the retreat was that I need to constantly preach to myself with God’s word.

Just thought I’d share some verses that have been a huge encouragement:

Psalm 42:11

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?  Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.

Psalm 135:5-6

For I know that the Lord is great; and that our Lord is above all godsWhatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.

Psalm 28:6-7

Blessed be the Lord, because He has heard the voice of my supplication.  The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him.

And now for pictures:

Marcus & Halmunee

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Annabel flew all the way to Cali for Jane’s wedding.  She was such a servant to us.  Pretty much my live-in nanny and housekeeper for a week.  Hopefully next time she comes, it will be a real vacation for her.

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Does this pose look familiar?  Same face from last year, just a bit more hair.

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With Gomo

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This clip cracks me up in SO many ways!

Attack of the Lizard Part 3 & Other Family Updates

It’s confirmed.  Lizard Jr. has a death wish on our household and wants to avenge his father’s death.

He was lurking behind the bushes by our front door when Audrey and I got back from the grocery store today.  As I let Audrey into the house, I saw him jet inside.  This lizard gained some weight since we last saw him.  Not only was he bigger, but wilder, faster, and more feisty. Glory and praise to our sovereign God who providentially had a neighbor walk by just as I screamed.  He asked if he could come inside to help, to which I responded with a desperate “yes!” and then I got him a broom.  As I watched him battle the lizard, I don’t know what I looked or sounded like, but Audrey could sense my fear and asked me to hold her.  So the two of us hid out in the kitchen while my neighbor tried to sweep the creature out the front door.  It was quite a fight, though, because this guy did NOT want to leave.  After a few minutes, my neighbor (who worked up a sweat) got the lizard out and I thankfully shook his hand and expressed my deepest gratitude.

Whew!  What would I have done if my neighbor had not walked by?  I am SO thankful to the Lord for two things today:  helpful neighbors & brooms.

I wonder when Lizard Jr. will make his next siege on our house.  What if next time he has kids and brings them too?  I must not be anxious.  The Lord has delivered me 3 times already.  I must trust in Him.

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My doctor told me today that Baby’s head is down now (which explains some of my achiness) and that he’s a pretty good-sized one.  He’s due to arrive next month, so I guess God is putting his finishing touches on him before he joins the family.  We’re really excited to meet him!  I’m a little anxious about sharing a room with him in the beginning, especially since Mike has to go to work.  But hopefully, Mike’s selective hearing (which all father’s have) will kick in and he’ll get enough rest for his work day.

Mike’s mom came to visit from Maryland and spent the past 2 weeks with us.  She left this morning and thankfully I was wearing my sunglasses when I dropped her off, because I got teary when we said our good-byes.  Before marriage, I never thought that I would cry when saying bye to my mother-in-law, but God has blessed me with such a godly, loving, selfless, considerate mother-in-law, that it’s always hard to part with each other especially after a long time together.  Thinking about Mother’s Day coming up, I’m so thankful for my own mom and for Mike’s mom, who are both such blessings to our family.

Here are some pictures of our time together:

Grandma Lee’s favorite activity – feeding Audrey.

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Newport Beach

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Sporting the new shades that Gomo got her.

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Sunday at church with beef jerky

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Redondo Beach Crabhouse a.k.a. Korea

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Next month, we get to see my mom who will come from Hawaii to spend time with TWO grandkids.  Yay!

Grandparents

Audrey misses her Maryland and Hawaii grandparents very much and they miss her like crazy too!  Here are some pictures for you, hal mu nees and ha rah buh jees!

Audrey with Maryland Grandma

And her Hawaii Grandparents

She can’t wait to hang ten in Hawaii with her first bathing suit!

Audrey in her bath robe

Close your eyes, boys!

She’s really smiling a lot recently.  Especially right after Mommy and Daddy give her a big smooch on the lips.

She’s already showing her depravity.  Audrey, it’s not nice to make fun of people.

Here, she is either posing like her friend Mr. Ty, or she is trying to be intimidating.  You choose.

On a side note, Mike’s really been enjoying grilling up steaks on Joan and Dale’s little grill (thanks for letting us borrow it, Shims!).  He makes a mean rib eye.