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Too Quick to Discipline?

I used to work at a preschool many years ago. Lauren was a full-day child… and she just had the hardest time waking up and getting herself going after nap time. I remember subbing in her class one day… and after the lights came back on and we woke up all the kids, Lauren just looked absolutely miserable. But our protocol is get all the kids up, send them on a visit to the restroom, wash hands, and go outside for snacks and play time. Lauren just looked up and me and whimpered, “I’m freaking out… I just need to chill!” Yes, awfully cute coming out of a 3-year old’s mouth. After I sent all the other kids out, I stayed in the room just tidying up while Lauren chilled out. About 5 minutes later of being left alone, she got up, picked up her sleeping mat, put it away, came up to me and said, “Okay, I’m ready to go outside now!” To my surprise, Lauren was a different child. She was smiling and ecstatic to go play outside.

I also had a child in kindergarten class at church that used to slam doors, throw chairs, and turn over tables. He was an angry child, to say the least. You could just see the anger on his face. Every time I looked into the room, he was seated in the corner with his arms folded. I let his leaders know that next time he acted up, to page me so I can converse with him. It was only 2 weeks later. We walked to the common area, and I sat next to him.

Me: Did you have a bad morning this morning?

B: Yeah!

Me: What happened?

B: I got into a fight with my mom and my brother. I’m just so mad!

Me: Yeah… sometimes I get mad at my brother too. And sometimes I don’t know what to do because I’m so angry.

B: Yeah!

Me: Well, what I’ve learn to do is just walk away from everyone. I just need some time to myself so I can calm down… Sometimes I’m still mad at my brother but I know it’s not good to take it out on other people. And being by myself helps me to calm down. So maybe next time you’re angry, you can let me know and we can just sit for awhile until we feel better. Sometimes we think throwing things help us feel calm but it doesn’t. It just makes us feel even more angry. Not to mention it’s not safe for you to be throwing things around in the room when other kids are in the room… and that’s not okay.

B: Uhm… okay… I’ll try that!

I’m happy to report that he is in 2nd grade now, and he’s doing phenomenal. He learned to control his anger. In fact, he’s a super happy, compliant child!

I’ve woken up on the wrong side of bed. It usually takes me good 15-20 minutes before I can get myself out of bed after my alarm has gone off. I’ve felt angry and frustrated for no apparent reason. I’ve just felt like not doing anything or talking to anyone at times.  See… I’ve had the same experiences as these two kids described above. The difference is that I’m an adult and I know I can’t hurt other people nor demand things to be done my way. Kids are still learning how the world works. They’re slowly learning that they’re not the center of this world. They’re slowly learning that they can’t act out whenever they want to.

Kids have all the emotions that we feel as adults. But they don’t always know what to do with them. However when we see kids not behaving the way we want them to, our first inclination is to discipline them rather than trying to understand what they’re experiencing and feeling that’s causing them to act out or misbehave. We’re quick to put them in time-outs. We’re quick to single them out. We’re quick to “threaten them.” And we’re quick to judge them.

So next time a child acts out in your class or small group… or even in your home… why not take the time to just sit with them to “chill out,” or converse about what’s bothering them? It’s through these times kids learn how to cope with different emotions, and that they’re not a bad child for not being who the adult wants them to be. These conversations could go a long way… and eliminate the need for “discipline.”

Hard to Love… Hard to Trust…

TrustDo you have people in your life that are pretty much impossible to love? You keep trying… and trying… and trying… You’ve given a second chance, third chance, fourth chance… so many chances that you forget how many times you actually gave them benefit of the doubt. And you have told yourself that you don’t need their negativity and the stress in your life, and you vow to write them off… except… they’re family and it makes it pretty darn impossible to cut them out of your life!

Yeah, I have few of those in my life. And I truly feel like I’ve done all that I could do to reconcile, to forgive, to apologize, to love… but relationships are two-way street, and it can’t just take effort on my part. I’m not 100% innocent… and I’ve told myself that I can let go of the past… but when I think about it, it comes down to this: TRUST! They’ve broken my trust so many times, that I no longer have faith in them. Every time I’ve given them another chance, I was willing to trust them even against my better judgment… but then, they screw up royally again… and that trust is broken again. Because I no longer have trust in anything they do or say, I find it extremely challenging to love.

I tell myself it’s because they really need love the most and they have a funny way to expressing themselves. I tell myself that Jesus loved a horrible sinner like me thus I need to forgive and love those that have sinned against me. I tell myself that I’m a hypocrite for loving strangers more readily but not my own family members. I tell myself that I’m no better than a murderer if I have such bitter feelings toward them. I tell myself that I need to deny myself and love them regardless. I tell myself that I cannot continue to be a doormat to those that take advantage of me. I tell myself that God must have placed them in my life to teach me patience, forgiveness, and depth of His love. I tell myself I’m a horrible person for not being able to love. I tell myself a lot of things…

And 25 years later, I’m back right where I started. Just when I think I got it figured out… another conversation or incident happens, and I just wanna crawl into a hole and wish them away. I know the right answers… but the right answers don’t change the way I feel. Why is it so hard to love certain people? And how do I learn to love them despite all the trust they’ve broken… despite all the hurts, pain, and tears they’ve caused… How do I learn to trust them again?

Surviving, I mean Thriving, during the Holidays as an Introvert in Ministry

HolidayStress-SS

Yes, it’s true… I boycotted Thanksgiving the last two years. I stayed in bed and watched movies all day long. This year, I decided to be a good sport and participate in the festivities with family (although I did hibernate on Friday after Thanksgiving).

I don’t think it’s just me… but come November & December, everyone needs something from me… and my stress level just skyrockets! Between family needs, scheduling time with friends, and trying to meet all the demands of ministry needs towards the end of the year, I’m easily put over the edge! Let’s just say Gloria in December ain’t so pretty. I literally just wanna crawl into a hole and hibernate the whole holiday season. For those of us in ministry, every week feels busy because Sundays always keep coming right on time! But add all the deadlines of budgeting, calendaring, and all the Christmas events to the list, and you start to think why you should bother going home just to be back first thing in the morning…

As an introvert, all the demands that are put on my plate is very overwhelming… not necessarily because of the workload but because they all require dealing with people… and lots of people! Don’t get me wrong… I love people! If I didn’t, I would not have stayed in ministry. My passion is to help people grow… but as an introvert, even what I love to do is very draining. I often come home feeling completely depleted. Unfortunately this leads to cranky Gloria. I’ve been feeling horrible because I’ve been so impatient with my family, especially with my dad. I’ve been feeling like the worst daughter in the world. So how do we survive, I mean thrive, during this stressful season?

For me, I need to remember to take more “Gloria Time” for myself. I usually take “Gloria Days” where I go to the beach or do whatever I need to do to refuel! I usually go by myself or with one other friend who I find live-giving and refreshing! As this busy season is upon us, I find myself needing to take more “Gloria Days…” but since it’s just not possible to take that many days off for myself, I take shorter time increments but I take them more often or as needed. I purposefully block off certain morning or evenings to go and do what replenishes me. It could be a walk on the beach, locking myself in my room and relaxing, getting a shoulder massage, getting good coffee or a meal with a friend, etc. Refueling yourself is so important… because when I feel depleted, I just become cranky to everyone around me… and honestly, who wants to be around a cranky person? I know, I don’t!

I need this reminder to take the time to refuel myself regularly, and I find this practice to become especially more important during the holidays as demands and busy schedule grows. If you also feel like you’re on a survival mode, let’s thrive together by doing what we need to do to refill ourselves!

Elevate & Celebrate Fathers…

Disclaimer:  I’m a little sensitive about this… but you’ll find out why if you read on! If I remember correctly, about three weeks prior to Mother’s Day, I started seeing blogs, facebook posts, hallmark commercials, articles, and ads about mother’s day… about how we need to appreciate mothers and stories and stories about how awesome mothers are!  Don’t get me wrong… I don’t mean to underplay the role of mothers!  I think mothers have very difficult jobs, and there are many women that are worthy of being recognized.  Many mothers work tirelessly… and I applaud them! Father's Day in SA Now, you have to understand that I grew up without a mother since age 8.  She passed away suddenly, and it literally took the whole village of extended family to raise me!  I often say I was raised by many mothers… but I was raised by one father.  He probably had no clue how to raise a pre-adolescent girl… but he tried his best.  He made a lot of mistakes (we can both admit it now) but he did what he believed was best.  He made me instant noodles for breakfast.  He tried to act cool in front of my girlfriends and embarrassed me.  He was mean to all my guy friends and embarrassed me.  He let me drink 3-5 cans of soda per day.  He made me sneak in popcorn to movie theaters.  He let me have lots of junk food.  So my dad was far from an ideal picture of the perfect father.  However, he was always there.  When I was physically separated from him during elementary school years for 4 years, he called me every saturday night (this is the 80’s… so that was a big deal).  Whenever he traveled, he brought back earrings and necklaces for me.  He tried his best to talk to me, guide me, and even give me girly advice (yeah, he wasn’t very good).  He cooked for me.  He bought me clothes (although his taste wasn’t always the best).  He took me to hair salons to get my hair done.  He tried his best to be the mom and the dad.  He went into overtime to make sure I was well taken care of.  He never complained… he just tried his best.  And even to this day, he apologizes for not having done enough for me.  He’s far from perfect (and I know that really well…) but he’s the closest thing to a mother I’ve always wanted. So I get sensitive that fathers don’t get the acclaim and the celebration that mothers get.  I know that my dad had to step up to his role because he had a daughter without a mom… and he probably never imagined that he’d have to do all those things.  However, it’s one week before Father’s Day, and I have yet to see something out there talking about fathers (except for bunch of email ads to sell father’s day ties, shirts, and golf accessories).  Call me biased, but I think father’s job is just as stressful and difficult.  They just have different stresses, and they deal with them differently from mothers.  But that shouldn’t diminish how we celebrate fathers.  Fathers are more often portrayed as being lazy, sitting back and watching tv with beer in their hands, etc.  But even if it’s done in humour gest, how often do we see pictures of good and involved fathers in comparison to man’s man lounging in mancave?  I know that there are more households with mothers than fathers.  But get this… On Father’s Day of 2009, I was at a church in Khayelitsha Township in Western Cape, South Africa.  Because fatherlessness is a prevalent issue in many townships, they really wanted to celebrate fathers!!!  The whole service was led by fathers!  The praise team all consisted of fathers!  They called all the fathers up on stage to sing, dance, and to pray for them.  They really wanted to elevate, celebrate, bless, and encourage the fathers!  It was one of the coolest things I had experienced.  And then the little kiddos came up on stage, and sang a song that moved me to tears.  The lyrics said:  “we pray for you, you pray for us, we love you, we need you to survive.” We often talk about importance of the role of fathers… but I don’t think it’s elevated enough.  I don’t think it’s celebrated enough!  What if we raised the bar!  What if we elevated and celebrated fathers as much as mothers!  What if we blessed, appreciated, empowered, and encouraged fathers as much as mothers!  I wonder what that would do to our perception of fathers in the society…

a simple act of kindness

It’s no secret that my passion lies in working with kids… I want to be the voice for kids.  I want to minister to kids so they can feel loved.  I want to help kids love Jesus.  Well, my dad has a different passion… his heart is for the elderly.  Awhile back, my dad told me that he would love to just give the elderly rides so they can get from one place to another as needed.

My grandfather has been ill, and he finally came home after being hospitalized for three weeks.  Between my aunts, uncles, dad, and myself, we’ve been going over to my grandpa’s to help out.  Tonight, we got my grandpa settled and my dad and I went out to grab a quick bite to eat.  As we drove back, just about 6 blocks away from my grandpa’s, my dad quickly spotted an elderly woman who lives in my grandfather’s apartment building.  She was waiting for the bus to come, and it was starting to get dark outside.  My dad and I decided to drive back to pick her up.  She was a very small, cute grandma, probably in her late 80’s.  She couldn’t thank us enough for stopping by to pick her up.  We walked her to her door, and she said, “No one has ever done something like this for me.  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  I pray that God bless you in everything you do.”  I’m sure that between her, my dad, and myself, we exchanged about 20+ bows (yup, she was Korean).

What we did tonight was a very, very simple act of kindness… but we knew that it meant so much to her.  We told my grandpa the story.  My grandpa reminded us that simple acts of kindness can have big impact on people.  As I have seen and experienced all four of my grandparents get older and become less independent, I understand my dad’s heart for the elderly.  I would want someone to be kind to my grandpa if they saw him in need.  I’m thankful for my dad’s heart for the elderly, and teaching me to care for them.  And tonight I was reminded to always display kindness to everyone…

This is one of my favorite pictures! My dad helping my grandpa walk at Redondo Beach Pier.

Christmas and Family Dysfunction…

I like to feel warm & fuzzy on Christmas…  who doesn’t?  If you’ve watched a lot of TV Christmas specials growing up, then we all dream of this perfect Christmas that makes us feel all warm & fuzzy!  Perhaps this is why one of my favorite Christmas special is The Christmas Story… because it makes me feel better about my own dysfunctional family!  😀  I don’t have a perfect family–in fact, far from it!  Since high school, I’ve come to realize and accept the fact that our family will never be picture perfect, and we’re way beyond pretending.   Thus, I guess I gave up the hope of having this ideal Little House on the Prairie Christmas special time with my own family… I came to expect very little during the whole holiday season since the dysfunction seems to heighten during the months of December and January.

Yet I still watch all the warm & fuzzy Christmas specials… the ones where people realize that Christmas is really about family, loving one another, and being together… well, it’s a good message… but as I share my story with people, I realize that more and more people also don’t have this picture perfect family like I thought they did… so many people have gotten really great at pretending and ignoring their issues… and playing “nice” during the holidays.  For some reason, we all feel the need to be that family that appears on Hallmark Channel TV special, at least during the holidays.  And it got me thinking just how many people are sick of pretending or how many people are actually hurting during this time of the year…

For me, I’ve learned over the years not to dwell on what I’m “missing out” by not having this picture perfect family… being reminded that Christmas isn’t about having the perfect family time… rather it’s about reflecting upon the GREATEST GIFT that was demonstrated to me through the birth of my personal Savior.  That’s what Christmas is really all about… but media and marketing tells us that it’s about having the perfect family time, and it’s really easy to get sucked up in that idea.  I don’t share this to gain sympathy… TRUST ME!!!  but I just wonder how often we get sucked into this idea that rarely plays out in reality.  I think that’s why we like to fantasize and dream… because it takes us away from the pain of reality.  Family time can be a very painful time for some people, especially during Christmas time.  I hope and pray that if you happen to be reading this and it speaks to your heart, that you’d understand there is so much joy and hope to be found in this season because Christmas is really about the birth of Jesus!

Okay.. here’s my random thought for the evening… back to work!

 

indebted…

I am ridiculously blessed…

I have been a recipient of unimaginable kindness and generosity of family and friends throughout my life… I thought about writing them all down, but it would literally take me days, but here are few to give you an idea:

  • My grandparents along with my aunts & uncles took me in and raised me for four years after my mom passed away.  At the time, I had no idea how much they gave… but they put me through school, very expensive piano lessons from a college professor, and everything else I needed.
  • 2 Grandmas and 7 aunts stepped in to take on the role of my mom… they did a bunch of mom-duties such as taking me to get my ears pierced, taking me shopping, life talks, etc…
  • A relative wired me $2,000 when my financial aid took forever to come through during my sophomore year in college.  With that money, I paid for my rent, food, books, etc…
  • Many friends put me up on weekends when I attended seminary in LA, and commuted up to SF to do ministry for three years!  All of them were gracious hosts, and some even gave me a spare key.
  • My friend gifted me a $500 digital camera when I mentioned that I wanted a camera to take photos on my trip to Brazil (this is when digital cameras first came out, and costed this much–that was for 5 mega-pixels, and we were “wow” over it).
  • My friends lent me their car to drive for months after my car was broken into for the 3rd time out of my driveway.
  • And of course, I have to mention countless free meals I have enjoyed from my pastors, friends, and family members… and this is important to mention because FOOD is my love language!
  • I’m constantly told that I’m being prayed for… via email, text, facebook, phone calls, and in person!
  • And the latest… a friend voluntarily paid for my airfare to Dominican Republic, a service trip coming up in less than 2 weeks.

I have mentioned a lot of BIG things above… but I’ve been blessed in so many small ways as well… including all the rides my friends gave me to airports, which is A LOT!!!  When I think about how much I have received from so many people, I feel indebted to them… and there isn’t enough “thank you’s” to express how grateful I am.  What’s even more amazing is that they all did it without expecting anything in return!!!  Seriously???  Each one of these amazing people in my life have extended the love of Jesus to me in tangible ways!  It’s overwhelming to be on the receiving end!

I know some other people in my life whose mantra is “don’t let anyone do anything really nice for you because they’re always going to want something in return.”  They calculate everyone’s kindness… and it makes me sad.

I couldn’t possibly repay everyone for their generosity in my life.  I feel indebted to so many.   Most of all, I’m indebted to Jesus, my Savior.  Thankfully, Jesus willingly died and rose again for my sins, and He doesn’t expect me to repay Him.  What He wants is for me to love Him with my heart, soul, and mind… and to live a life that overflows out of my growing love for Him.

I have been incredibly loved and blessed by so many… I can’t help but to feel indebted, but it’s being replaced by this thing called love & grace.  It’s not about feeling the need to repay, but being humble enough to graciously accept love and generosity of others… and to extend that love and generosity to others…