September 2017 part 2: “Hey, I’m with you”

August was the longest month ever it seems.

Last two weeks of August were dark and deep. Like this heavy cloud was above our home and the thickness just couldn’t seem to let up. Looking back, I don’t even really remember what the month consisted of except that it was really sad.

The fog started to clear a bit for me, and it began with a fun day. I had a lovely respite sharing one of my very favorite places (Symphony!) with a dear mentor & friend. She and I sang along to a well-beloved musical’s score and shared laughs and turkey wraps from her favorite sandwich joint.

We talked about our week, about how the kids were back at school and swapped chicken marinade recipes. I say “swapping” nonchalantly, but there was actually no swapping (hah, in my food network dreams) more like just her telling me that there’s no way a naïve cook like me can mess up a simple chicken marinade.

Oh, my little tank running on empty was filled, not only by the music but by the sweet company and conversation. I had a feeling that my people back home needed a similar change of environment and needed to share laughs and everyday conversations and time with their some of our loved ones, who were just a state-line crossing away.

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Sometimes it’s not the deep or moving words that help the most, many times it’s just a hug from others who say “hey, this is messy and sticky- but we’re with you.”

That’s exactly what God did, when you think about it. He sent Jesus,  and in some places in the Bible, He’s called Immanuel, which translates to “God with us.” Jesus came to be with us, in our mess, in our trenches and we He plants Himself and says He’s never leaving.

So soon after, my little clan of three plus one (mom, dad, me and our ever loyal and sweet-looking but fierce bichon-poodle mix, Henry) packed our bags for a last-minute escape to Arizona, where the 2/3 of the Enverga daughters and their people do life. It used to be where I did life at GCU too.

One of my favorite memories of the trip was when us three sisters gathered together in the living room and recounted stories of how mom worked to bring the best out in us—some things we couldn’t quite understand, but at least we were all laughing about it now. Mom provided commentary, and answered our dying questions like—“Why did you make us all eat oatmeal every day?!”  “Did you really send 10-year-old Maui to the supermarket?” “What were you thinking letting me wear those ugly shoes?”

To which she responded:

Yes, because my parents did that with me and it [oatmeal] helps with constipation.
Yes, she was so shy- it brought her out of her bubble.
Yes, Deb- you were so hyper and those shoes protected your toes.

Mom, what were you thinking?

I was trying to hone your character.

What about my feelings?!

Your feelings don’t hone your character.

… said like a true Asian mom.

Later in the week, I made a quick visit to my old stomping grounds, GCU. It was the place I called home for a single semester before our world turned upside down.

I found my friends moving into new apartments, entering nursing programs, hanging new pictures, unpacking their boxes… I thought being back would make me sad, but as much as I missed campus and everything it stood for–I just knew I didn’t belong there anymore.

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My forever school bestie, Ruthie and I got to catch up as she started her very first week of nursing school! She and I tackled the first semester at a new university together, both as pre-nursing students. We were the friends each of our moms back home were praying we would find. We had so much fun being together (we even have a whole video of our very fun semester), we had even planned to coordinate our future RN work schedule and get our future kids into the same homeschool co-op (naturally, since we were both homeschooled).

This was so us. We dreamed about our future like it was as easy as planning our weekly movie nights and downtown outings or organizing our shared Spotify playlist.

Oh if only things could be always as easy as that! Even though I entered September wishing for no more cloudy days, I realized that the cloudy days only make the sunny ones much brighter. That sounds like a line, and it probably is, but it has truth behind it.

As Christians, we realize this: Jesus didn’t promise us a trial-free life, or blissful days on earth with no trouble. In fact, he guarantees trouble, because of the fallen state of this world. But He says that we don’t have to go through it alone because He’s right there with us. He’s overcome it all, and we can overcome through His working in us. Oh, for grace to trust Him to be enough!

My clan has been back home in our breezy San Diego for awhile now, and there have absolutely been cloudy days- some days of uncertainty, fear and sadness and pain. Though, there have been moments of great joy and growth all the same. I can’t fathom or seem to explain it, but God uses the hard things- the hurt- to get to a place in my own heart, that only He can work on and get to. Fears and insecurities are exposed in times of crisis, and trying to plunge the hurt on my own can be maddening because it never seems to stop. We weren’t meant to fill that void- Only Jesus can.

And he so willingly jumps in my trenches, the hard places where the real work is done and says- “Hey I’m with you.”

 

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Potsticker Pity

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This was originally supposed to be posted before Christmas… But things got busy. (And I may have been not ready to re-live this experience, just yet). Anyway, here it goes.

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I work for a really nice couple somewhere in San Diego- I keep the Mrs.’ sweet ol’ mom company, and pretty much hang out with her a few days out of the week. We watch Shirley Temple movies, take long walks, exchange silly stories about our childhood, and talk about good-looking Cary Grant is. And sometimes, when we are feeling a little rebellious, we might go to McDonald’s and order some senior coffees.

Who knew a 19 and a 91 year-old would have so much in common?

Ok, I will admit… Not exactly your typical 19 year-old.
I also have a collection of cat sweaters.
I’m kidding. Really.

What does this all have to do with Potstickers, you ask?
Read on, lovely person.

So, one night, I had to whip up dinner for myself and sweet “Alice” (not her real name). Lemme just tell you- lunch was a hit. I heated some rotisserie chicken, mixed veggies and rice pilaf with almonds (it wasn’t from scratch- but “semi-homemade” as the young ones are calling it these days).

With the freezer door wide open, as I peered into the icy plethora of frozen foods that had the potential of becoming my next masterpiece, I smiled and recalled the earlier success.

I’m pretty sure my eyes twinkled (like in the movies) when I saw the bag of frozen potstickers sitting on the 2nd shelf. “Booyah!” I thought to myself. “Wife material. Right here.”

Disclosure: I’m Asian. And potstickers are an Asian thing, yeah? my little niece loves potstickers and, My sister, her mom, swears by them.

My parents on the other hand, don’t buy frozen ones cause they have preservatives and yada yada yada- they are sort of health nuts, and it gets a little annoying sometimes, but these days- I’m turning into one (Shhh. Don’t tell them).

The bottom line is: heating frozen potstickers was a foreign concept to me.
(Still is)

So I yank out the bag- it read- “ready in 10 minutes!”

“This can’t be that hard”

Cue the scary music.

10 minutes later, I have a huge ball of half-cooked, half-not cooked potstickers on the pan- all soaking butter and 1/2 cup of water. Picture this: uncooked brownish, pinkish meat, oozing out of slimy dough. I felt like it was gonna come alive and jump out of the pan… All Frankenstein-style.

I started to panic, knowing that the people I work for were in the next room (with their cats and dog)- not that they would fire me or anything. I just thought that I was gonna impress them somehow.

While I poked the “evil blob” (I named it, yes) with a fork, trying to relentlessly salvage my wounded pride, I tried to think of the positive side of things.

“If this thing attacks me, at least they’ll hear my screams.”
“Who needs a wife who can cook anyway?”
“My kids will just have to learn”
“At least the dog won’t be hungry tonight”
“One day, I will laugh about this”
“Today is not that day”
“Darn it, should’ve worn the cat sweater.”
“Pride cometh before the fall”
“I wonder if they have cat sweaters that ‘meow'”
“The Asian community should disown me”
“Heck, I’m going to disown me”
“I will never touch a potsticker in my life”

Somewhere among those musings,
the pan turned black.
Something started to smoke.
Someone entered the kitchen.

And I was going crawl under the dining room table.

They held their composure, but I could hear a nervous laugh, here and there- and I’m pretty sure they wondered if the smoke alarms were on.

I mumbled a few stupid things I’m sure about how directions on frozen food packages lie, and how I’m pretty sure it’s a conspiracy started by the government.

But the one thing that I cannot forget was when I thought I seemingly found a loophole out of my misery: “OH look!” I said in jubilation, “it’s expired! It expired a month ago!”

And I was oh so close to adding, “so this mess is not my fault! I am still wife material!”

Then, my false hopes were shot down when the Mrs. responded, by telling me that it’s fine to freeze stuff before the expiration date and she just had some potstickers the night before.

I knew that. I do that at home all the time.

“Shoot me now,” I thought to myself. Right about then, I was ready for “evil blob” to jump out of the pan and kill me.

Actually, The Mr. was kind enough to help me salvage what was left of the bunch of potstickers. And, thus, some of my pride.
Maybe the 2% that remained.

A little part of me likes to think he did that cause he knew I was embarrassed.
But a big part of me knows it’s cause he was afraid I might burn his house down.

Well…The Mrs. did seem a little jumpy that next time I put a pan on the stove.

~fin~