A Lesson from a ‘false’ Tick Bite

One of the things that really aggravates me is having to cancel a plan due to the rain(or snow, or any weather conditions that limit the human activities). We just cancelled a fishing trip for three weeks in a row, and now we are cancelling our plan to go to tour the nearby farm. What’s a little rain? What’s a little wind? I just don’t get it. We are not here to wait for the storm to pass but to learn to dance in the rain, says the front of my favorite journal book. I remember one heavy rain storm evening, dancing to the local Hawaiian rhythm in the pouring rain with my best friend E. It was one of the nights that I will remember forever. It was a dance of liberation, and freedom and I don’t think I was ever as happy as that night… except, this one night. It was a first week in Hawaii, and in the middle of praying, I suddenly decided to run outside, and ran through the rain shower all the way to St. Michael’s Catholic Church to continue to pray in front of the Mother Mary Shrine. That was an unforgettably happy night.

So now I have a whole day ahead of me with no plan. I try to hide my disappointment, and  do my best to suppress my negative feelings derived from that disappointment. It’s building up really fast. I don’t deal with disappointments very well, and if I am not careful, it can ruin my whole day. But I can’t let that happen. I have to do something enjoyable because I go back to work tomorrow early in the morning, and I also have an unwelcoming appointment waiting for me at 3 this afternoon. The doctor will check my abnormal Pap Smear test result.

Oh well. Life happens. Interruptions happen. You got things to do even when the things you really want to do get cancelled. Planning is half the fun they say, and that’s as far as we can stay in control, I guess.

My sister was excited to take her all of her three children to indoor the swimming pool in the evening. Marcus will take a swim lesson, and in the meantime, her two girls will play on the other side with their little friend. And my sister and her friend will enjoy a relaxing chat time in the hot tub. That was the plan, but voila! When my sister was helping Elaine put on her swim suit, she discovered an abnormal dark spot on Elaine’s thigh. She yelled for me, half panicked, and asked me if I think it’s a tick.

“I think it already went into her skin!”, my sister diagnosed. Elaine knew what a tick was, as her mom warned against it all summer long, and her eyes started to tear up.

“I think it’s just a scratch or something, and it’s a scab.”, I said, trying to look on the bright side, but to be honest, it did look like a tick got into her skin.

“But it’s winter now! Tick bite in the snow? No way. Surely, it’s nothing?”, I added hiding my concern.

My sister examined her daughter’s leg for a good 10 minutes, and the fear was building up fast in my niece’s mind and heart, and so I offered a solution. Go to the clinic nearby and be at peace. So the fun plan of swimming was now on hold, and instead my sister and my niece rushed to the clinic. One hour and half later, they returned with a good news. It didn’t seem like a tick.

It’s so easy to rescue simple children from a disappointment. All you need is their favorite candies. They each got “Fruit by the foot”, their favorite snack in the world, and the night had a very happy ending.

Perhaps, the sudden drama of a tick bite last night happened for a reason. Maybe it happened to teach me something. When life is interrupted, find another plan that’s even sweater. We are not here to wait for the storm to pass, nor we are here to tend the nagging emotion of disappointment. Life is too wonderful to waste any time for anything less wonderful. And I am sure my fix won’t be as easy as one pack of Fruit by the Foot sugary snack, I have no doubt that I will find something that will make my heart and soul sing for the joy on this dark rainy day.


Peculiar Winter

It’s snowing again this morning. Everyone is surprised by this late snow. This year has been nothing like any other. They even had snow in Jerusalem this winter. I think that sums up the peculiarity of this winter.

This winter was a peculiar season for me as well. It was the winter I lived through the most dilemmas I ever had to deal with in my short 33 years. The fact that I am still here typing in my happy state of mind despite it all suggests many positive outcomes. Healing is a gradual process, perhaps, something that I would be striving to achieve until the day I am perfected in Jesus in heaven. I would never be so imprudent to say that I am completely healed, and that I am free from depression, because, the fact is, once I am far away from God, the evil of depression will always sneak back into my life to drag me into the blackness of darkness. This winter, however, was different. I overcame every obstacles, every unwelcoming surprises, and unexpected events with confidence and patience. I still have much to learn on this walk in becoming the mature faithful, but I am growing, and nothing tells me that more clearly than the fact that I have made this winter through without major breakdowns, depressive episodes, or even a single panic attack.

Thanks to all your prayers about my discernment, a bible verse was given to me a few days ago that offered so much answer. It was a stunning experience, and I was so moved to have a miraculous experience in the power of Holy Spirit in such a way. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for all your prayers!

The answer came in the verse from Galations 5:13.

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

This short verse personally provided so many answers for me, and I have once again realized the great power of the living Word of God. It really does have power to reshape your life and direct you to the path God designed for you. Love, charity and service- these three things will be my compass no matter where I may find myself. I finally applied for my master’s course, and I take my first little step with confidence and faith hoping that this walk will lead me to many who are suffering so much from depression like I once did. For I know that God has set me free from depression, not for an occasion to the flesh, but to serve another like me by love.

I can already feel the one that I am walking towards. I can feel the heavy weight of life and mental torture of darkness the person is going through. The scary storm is upon, but not so long. By the power of love, we can serve one another, and become the door for God to expand his Kingdom of heaven here on earth. How amazing is that? How wonderful would that be to be the part of the story of liberty for the rest of your life?

Happiness is living the purpose driven life. A sacred mission is a call to happiness, and I see now how easy it is to be happy when you have that seed of sacredness in your heart. The liberty to do what you have been called to do, and the mission you carry out with love for God are the true joys of living the Christian life. And they are my ultimate medicine for living the depression-free life.

Prayer Request

I have a special request that I have never really done before here. Lilyboat has been a great blessing for me, in many, many ways. Most of all, It has been a critical catalyst for my healing of depression. I know that many of my readers are servants of God, and I trust in the power of intercessory prayer. I have a humble request of prayers for discerning my next path– as I have revealed without any reserve here on Lilyboat, you know that I am a little confused and a bit chaotic in thoughts!

Please pray for me that I may know God’s will in my life– I always relied on my foolish self to provide me that answer. Even after I accepted Jesus, it has not been easy for me to discern the will of the Holy Spirit.

My day has been full of blessings and joy. Under the late afternoon sun light, the familiar sensation of piercing pain of depression was knocking on my memory, but, there was no trace of depression in me. I remembered those pains, but it was no longer inside me anymore. The memory only lived inside my head, not in my heart or soul. I presume, pretty soon, the memory will fade away completely from my head as well. Instead of feeling the pain, I continued to feel the sense of wellbeing, surrounded by my loving family. I was so very grateful that I was alive. Praise Jesus!

I wish everyone a very peaceful night!

Be Still and Know that I am God

Why is it so hard to stay still?

Two weeks of no work have suddenly befallen upon me and on my day three, I am already anxious about paying my bills, paying for food, and paying for the TESOL certification course I have already decided to enroll. We only have five kids at the preschool for the next two weeks as several kids have gone on their vacation. Trying to cut the labor cost, my boss told me to come only on Saturdays for the next two weeks to teach two classes. Ok, I answered, helplessly, because, what else can I do other than obeying?

So now I am suddenly focused on keeping the house in order. Dirty dishes never pile up and the sink is spotless. The carpeted floors have been vacuumed in the entire apartment. My constant search for a new job is on again, because, it turns out, my preschool teaching job is really unstable. Yoga jobs, English or Korean teaching jobs, or any entry level jobs that might work for me. I submit my resume to a Korean Christian broadcasting station for their writing staff position. I already started another blog site where I can teach English during my free time. After that, I stay on the computer looking for a promising degree for my master’s. One day, I think I should go for a Christian ministry degree. Especially, the Christian counseling course really appeals to me. I try to envision myself as a counselor helping those confused and lost in their direction. Then the next day, I feel like I should stay in the education field, especially, English. And today, I surprised myself by looking at some physical therapy schools. That’s when I realized, that I need to put a stop to my incoherent thought patterns, and my constant search without any set direction. And so, I made some hot lemon tea to calm me down. I came to Lilyboat to go back to my center.

The moment I typed in lilyboat.me and hit enter, a bible verse came to my mind. “Be still and know that I am God!(Ps 46:10)” It was as if God was directly telling me that these next two weeks of down time was designed by Him so that I may be still and know that He is God, all over again. After all, it’s not like I have lost my part-time job. It’s still there, though unstable it may be, I know that I will be back in the class room with the eager preschoolers two weeks later. Then I’ll be fighting against yet another kind of anxiety: My fear of failing my boss’s expectation.

Peace… I breathe out that one word. But it’s not enough. Not for me. And that has been my problem. I always want more. I want love, happiness, hope, joy, and all the good things that we humans are entitled to enjoy while we are here on earth. But I’ve gotten so used to being in a constant state of anxiety and fear that when God does grant me peace, love, and happiness, I just don’t know what to do with those. I don’t know how to grab and hold on. I don’t know how to keep the momentum going. Peace seems like a very strange sensation. It’s another name for boredom. Love seems a very brief thing. It’s always up and down, worse than my mood swings. Clearly, I don’t know how to handle the good gifts God is giving me these days. I don’t know how to accept the good things when I have mastered at accepting the sufferings, agonies and trials. I have become so good at accepting the bad side of life that I have gotten to the point where I was going after the tragedies and hardships.

Don’t you see? God is trying to give you peace. It’s a gift from Him. Be still and accept! Look, happiness and love are all right at your door knocking and knocking. Stop ignoring. Stop rejecting. They are already here for you. Hold onto them while they are here. Before you lose the opportunity, open the door and accept the gifts. Be still and know that it is He who is bestowing the goodness onto you. You are on the path of blessing, a shower of blessing is right on your door step. Step out, and enter into His mercy and kindness. His Love is ever-lasting, and unchanging, unlike your mood swings. Step into that unconditional Love and all will be well.

Be still. Today. Tomorrow. And all the days of your remaining life. 

This morning, I am my own Christian counselor, though I hold no degree of that kind. I am no expert, but somehow, I successfully reach the turning point. Peace. Be still. Know that He is God. Those simple three things will guide my way for the next two weeks. After that, maybe, things will clear up and I will find my next stepping stone.

Bye Bye Winter Blues

Deep snow is still on the ground but melting fast. Finally the sun’s out, setting me free from the persistent winter’s grasp. So many fantasies came and went throughout this winter. I daydreamed of moving back to Hawaii, or trying a new life in Florida. Every morning, I woke up yearning for another place, anywhere but here, somewhere warm and cozy, where beach is not very far, and watching a wonderful sunset in short sleeves and short pants would be my nightly ritual.

Today I finally cancelled my newspaper subscription. It was something that had been pending for a good few months now. I have tall stacks of newspapers, unread, and still in fresh plastic bags in the corner of my parent’s living room. It gave my heart a warning that cannot go ignored every time I walked by. But like a child covering her eyes to hide, I ignored, I covered my eyes, and I tried to cover up my heart that was welling up with fear: fear of the comeback of my depression.

I couldn’t stand being inside anymore. It was still as cold as it could be, still snowing, even windy on this day. I put on my heavy black winter coat, and walked out with no particular place to go. I thought I’d go to a grocery store and return the chocolate I have bought the other day. Nothing seems to rejuvenate me, even the chocolate covered strawberries. Feeling down, and getting comfortable with my gloom was not that difficult. The hardest thing was to pretend. The hardest part is always lying to myself, to my parents, and to those who love me the most. I don’t want to worry them. I don’t want to worry me. So I pretend that I am ok.

But the day comes when your will just runs out. After returning the chocolate and getting my 3 dollar back in return, I walked back to my black car, in my black coat, secretly whispering inside, ‘I don’t want to live this life.’ There it was again. I tried not to say that all winter long, but finally I’ve said it. I pictured my students at the preschool. Their joyful laughters untouched by the darkness temporarily worked up some smile on my face.

My closest friend at the Catholic church on Big Island once told me about a member of the church that committed suicide few years ago. I’ve never forgot about that story. She jumped from the high stone wall on Walmart parking lot. I used to go there aimlessly when I first moved to the island. It’s located atop a big hill, and parking lot is so spacious that there is always an ample parking. If the island is hit with tsunami warning, and you want to witness the thrill of the massive killer waves without sacrificing your physical safety, then this Walmart parking lot is the place to be. It is there, on that stone wall with one of the most beautiful ocean views in town that she killed herself. It came in her 50’s, after fighting depression all her life.

For people who have not experienced a life time of depression, it is hard to imagine doing what she did. Why would anyone living on a paradise island, with a perfect house, and a nice husband, with a loving community of Catholic church, climb onto a stone wall at Walmart and take her own life? Until one experiences what took her to stand on the stone wall on that last day of her life, it is impossible to measure the degree of her pain. I understood the horror of the pain the fallen must have carried on the day Cynthia told me about her. Walking to my car on this parking lot of a grocery market few years later, I still understand.

This aching sadness carrying me through like powerful current underneath is always there no matter how much I try to mask it. But I didn’t live my life wooing my sad inner being. If I say I don’t let her dominate me, then clearly, I would be lying. She dominates me with her enormous power. I lived my life in a constant power struggle and the battle is always on between me and her. It has been such a lonely fight when I didn’t know about Jesus.

Despite my deep understanding of the pain that caused the fall of many lives in suicides, I have another set of understanding that far exceeds that of the pain. I understand why we are here and where we are going. I understand the final destination of this human journey. The joy of the upcoming paradise in heaven always wins over the heavy sadness that comes from living in this limited, defiled human form. It’s the kind of joy only God can remind me. And sometimes, it is the only source of my joy when I am struggling deep in my dark pool.

Whether I want to live this life or not is not up to me. I don’t live this life.

It is lived by the Holy power that does not come from me, but only God. I know I am not strong enough to carry this life through till the end. But with God, all things are possible, and even death is defeated. From that knowledge comes my strength, and I am finally able to say, bye bye winter blues. Though I am not going to shop around for another newspaper subscription yet, I know pretty soon, I will be back to normal enjoying my morning activities of reading newspapers, and going for a nice, long run.

Life is Preschool

On the morning that we got the heaviest snow of the season, I finally ripped off the insolation on my window that my dad layered to make my room warmer. His intention was nobel, and I deeply appreciated his effort, especially on those cold freezing nights, but I always missed the view and the openness. Recently, it got to where I stopped hanging out in my own room.

The storm from the south is finally here, piling up at least a foot of snow on the ground. Cars are buried, and my small Volkswagen sedan is nowhere to be seen. It’s somewhere under the snow covered blanket, and if I don’t remember where I parked, I won’t be able to locate my car until the snow is well gone. My mom is off for the day thanks to the snow, and so, it’s my coughing dad recovering from his bad cold, my work-loving mom that I never get to see anymore, and me. The three of us in this little condo on the third floor enjoying the beautiful snowy view from above this morning. And I thought, it’s time to unveil my windows.

Life can be so funny. One moment, you feel as if you will never be able to walk out of the dark tunnel you are placed in. ‘How did I get here? How did I fall into this sink hole, again?’ You do what you can, while you wait out, sometimes patiently, sometimes desperately, and then you get so hopeless that all the efforts come to a complete stop. Giving up? Maybe. Calling it quits? But I did my best. This is as far as I can go. I’m hopeless, helpless, desperate, and this ceaseless agony is wreaking havoc on my soul. I am thirsty, but not for water. I am thirsty for hope.

But then, just as night turns into day overnight, life is back to normal. Some new challenges surface, a new opportunities appear, and like a big helping hand, they descend down through the sink hole to to grab you, to pull you out of your darkness, out of your helpless misery. And just like that, life resumes again. You, then, realize, that it was all about waiting. It was all about clinging to the rope of life to your best ability until the help arrives. It was all about believing.

Yesterday, I said my final goodbye to my long coffee shop career that ended without a coffee shop of my own brand. Maybe my shop will come down the road. I haven’t given up that hope. But for now, I have decided to walk on a new path that opened up during my long dark waiting hours. It came like the salvation light that suddenly lighted up my black sky. It rescued me from falling back into that unending vortex of hopelessness. It showed me the way out. Surrounded by my innocent students at the preschool where I work, my whole day goes by laughing with them, teaching and feeding them, and playing with them. And it feels so good to serve them. I feel so blessed to have this new life.

At preschool, life is always overflowing. Children grow up, children dream during their nap times, children are so eager to learn more, to play more, and to laugh more. They run to me and hug me without any notice. I am startled by their pure expression of love that knows no boundary. At preschool, I learn about life all over again. Every day is a new day with new activities, new lessons, and new lunches. But one thing that never changes there is that every day, you get to love. Every day is a school of love at the preschool.

And life should be that way.

Then we will never get sick.

We will never have to walk down the path of darkness.

Until Love comes in the name of Jesus to surround us, and envelope us completely, I am blessed to say, that I have my beloved students at the preschool to share that Love that comes from God.

“But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Allow little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” – Luke 18:16


The Jump Start


* * *

When you feel like losing your grip, that is the best time to pray. Clasp your hands and hold on tight. Kneel on your humble knees, turn off the light and look inward. Hear your heart crying out… HELP!!!! And start to engage in the conversation between the heart of your soul and your God. Now you are praying. Now we are talking. Welcome to the life of a believer. 

* * * 

“Once more into the fray. Into the last good fight I’ll ever know. Live and die on this day. Live and die on this day.” 

– Ottway, from The grey

* * *

I am swimming through the murky water. It’s been a longer swim than I would have liked. But I am here, still navigating and pulling myself through…

* * *

Once the dark times have passed, you always remember those who walked with you. You remember who held your hand when you were on the ground. You remember who gave you a hand to lift you up. You remember who stood by you cheering you on and encouraging you to go on. You remember who made you want to continue. You remember who helped you through. You remember the guiding light that appeared in your times of darkness and trials. 

When no such person is around, rejoice. God is about to show up Himself without any disguise. You will be able to witness His pure super powers. 

* * *

Above are all the words that I have written or scribbled for the last one month or so. I couldn’t write anything at all, no matter how often I sit in front of my computer.  I started to think that my path as a writer had finally come to its dead-end. Winter is a hard month for all, especially this winter that was full of winter storms and polar vortexes. But without this hardening of the land, this freezing of the earth, life won’t have chance to rest and restore. Life will bloom again because it had been given a time of sabbath.

But these months of inactivity, and stillness do something very harmful to me. Stillness is hard to endure for someone who was raised by anxiety and constant chaos. It is usually during these quiet, still winter months that I conjure up something that would turn my life upside down. I come up with something that would change the course of my life. I usually wait until spring time to execute my plan but this winter, I didn’t have time to wait. I was getting too anxious to do something different. And so I became a preschool teacher at a small scale Korean-American preschool.

When I memorized all the names of the kids in the school by the end of the day, I knew I had found the right job. I sincerely loved all those little people. Every word that came out of their innocent minds never stopped to amaze me. My whole day just flew by, and by the time I got home, I was sorry that I was hired to work only on saturdays.

So with the new change already in place, my spring is already here. Though I am swimming through murky water, and I cannot see what lies ahead, I do what I can to take that one more step forward. I write down my prayers quickly on a piece of white paper, and put it in my prayer box. That is something that I can do. Sometimes that is the only thing that I can do, like this morning when I feel so weak.

You probably know this, but I will tell you anyways, because it is the only thing that I know. When you are stripped down to prayers alone, you have a good reason to applaud. You have finally arrived at a place where you will witness the mighty power of God’s intercession. Keep praying. Because it will change your life. Keep hoping. Because you are heading to a very good start. Not just any start. It’s a jump start. You will see.