If Only There Were More News Like These. . .

Yesterday, I saw a segment of ABC’s Good Morning America online that so touched me that I just want to tell everyone I know.  It’s a story about a man named Ralph Hanahan and what he did for a fellow co-worker and friend.  You can watch the segment by going here (it may take a while to load), but if it’s been a while since I posted this and the link no longer works, just do a Google search for “Good Morning America Ralph Hanahan Christmas Thank You” and you will find it (or at least a retelling of the story by others who are touched by it).

In case you couldn’t see the original source of the story, here’s the synopsis:  Ralph Hanahan worked along side Mike Camp as “the computer guys” at a college in South Carolina.  Upon hearing of an impending layoff resulting from the worsening economy, and knowing that as the more senior of the two, he would be the one to keep his job, Ralph did something that is so rare in today’s world:  He volunteered to be laid off so that Mike could have the job.  Ralph did not do this because he was lazy and wanted to quit the job, or any other self-serving reason.   He did it because he put his friend Mike ahead of himself.  He was motivated by his love for Mike, and did not think of himself at all.  You see, Mike has 4 children, the youngest of which has severe autism, and his family was struggling under the burden of the medical bills.  Ralph was thinking of how being laid off would affect Mike and his family, and in Ralph’s own words, “sometimes you just have to take a hit for your friend.”

What Ralph Hanahan did reminds me of  a sacrificial love that “lays down one’s life for a friend” that’s in the Bible,  and it warms my heart that such love can still exist in men’s hearts today.   This story reminds me of a great story in January 2007 of a New York man, Wesley Autrey, who, uppon seeing a stranger fell onto the subway train tracks, threw himself on top of the young man and used his own body to protect a stranger as the train zoomed by over his own head and body.

I have to believe that there are many more men (and women) with such selfless hearts, but news like these are so rare.  I wish they weren’t!  I wish the news media would focus more on stories of the goodness that can be in human hearts instead of all the evils that we are capable of.   We’re always disheartened by the statistics of the rise in crime (both in frequency and magnitude) over the years.  Well, it’s no wonder things are as they are!  Impressionable kids are growing up seeing examples of terrible crimes all the time and becoming accustomed to them, thinking that’s the norm.   I wonder what difference it would make in the next generation, if, starting today, the media would start reporting more about men such as Ralph Hanahan and Wesley Autrey, instead of the men who cheat, steal, rape, and murder.  I wonder what the world would be like if each night when we turn on the evening news, we hear more about people being loving and kind to one another instead of being mean, hateful, and vengeful.  And how refreshing it would be to see more stories about people putting others’ welfare above their own, and less stories of people cheating and hurting others for personal gain.  What will happen to the crime rate then?  Actually, come to think of it, why do we focus on the rate of crime instead of the rate of good deeds?   What would it be like if there would be annual reports on “good deed rate” instead of crime rate in the neighborhoods?

What an interesting concept:  To report on good instead of evil; to inspire people to be good by showing them others being good; to show impressionable kids examples of how good they can become instead of how bad they can let themselves be.   But alas, the news media usually don’t think about how a story would impact the world for the better as much as how a story would impact their profits, i.e., how many newspapers they would sell or how much more advertising dollars they can demand as the ratings for their shows go up.   Hmm. . . self-serving motive.  I think I’ve got my answer for why we see more news about self-centered and self-serving acts than selfless acts now.

Dare I hope that there can be a change in the news media industry?  Dare I dream that there will be more and more news media professionals who would think of how a story would impact the world for the better (or worse) instead of what they will gain from it?   I just have to believe that there are selfless people like Ralph Hanahan and Wesley Autrey in the media industry too, and I pray their number will increase.  I pray God bless them and give them more opportunities to make a difference.  I want to see more news stories of men and women such as Ralph Hanahan and Wesley Autrey.


O Benadryl, O Benadryl

Well, I’ve been sick for the past week or so, and sleeping like a baby (except for when I’m having a coughing fit).  My mind, especially when influenced by the variety of cold remedies, is often warped when I’m sick, and this “song” is the result.  Hope you appreciate the humor!


O Benadryl, O Benadryl (Sung to “O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree”)


O Benadryl, O Benadryl, how ditzy you have made me.

O Benadryl, O Benadryl, how ditzy you have made me.

You’re good at clearing up my nose, but where I’ve put my keys, who knows?

O Benadryl, O Benadryl, how ditzy you have made me.


O Benadryl, O Benadryl, how groggy you have made me.

O Benadryl, O Benadryl, how groggy you have made me.

The real time may be 10 AM, but to me it’s still 3 AM.

O Benadryl, O Benadryl, how groggy you have made me.


O Benadryl, O Benadryl, how drowsy you have made me.

O Benadryl, O Benadryl, how drowsy you have made me.

I have so much I need to do, but all I want to do is snooze.

O Benadryl, O Benadryl, how drowsy you have made me.


O Benadryl, O Benadryl, how drowsy you have made me!  (Sing this line while yawning and folding hands to sleep.)

We’re Never Alone In Our Leaky Boat

Like many single-income families,  it’s always a challenge for us to pay all our bills and keep everyone fed and clothed, and hopefully have some fun along the way too.   We are thankful for folks who have shown us kindness over the years through our tough times, and we pray daily that God would bless them many folds for their generosity.    In between hard times, we’ve also had times of plenty when we’re able to share from our surplus with others, and that has been fun!

Over the past few years, we have been dealing with the issues surrounding an adult child with a disability that came as a surprise to us.  He was already 18 and going to college, when his personality began to change and, after many tests, he was diagnosed with depression.  We did not see it coming, and it has been an emotional as well as financial adjustment for us.   It has been quite a journey, and to be brief, after much internal struggle, we have pretty much come to a point where we have let go of whatever expectations we had, and have ressolved to embrace and love our son unconditionally as we have been loved by our Father (I’ll probably write more about this in another post, if you’re interested), but we are still in the midst of the financial mess, trying to dig our way out of the mountain of debts that have accumulated for the past few years.  And though there have been some surprise blessings here and there, we would inevitably fall behind again just when we’ve made some progress.

I often think in imagery, and to me, our financial situation is like being in a leaky boat in the middle of the deep sea.  We struggle hard at bailing water out of the boat to keep it afloat, getting more and more tired and frustrated.  Each time we think we’ve patched up a hole (paid off a bill), there would be another leak (a new bill would arrive, or something would break and need repair, or our son would need more medical tests and expensive medication).  In this discouragement, I cried out to God, asking Him why things are getting worse instead of better for us.   And yes, I did ask, “Where are You in all of this?”

“I am in the boat with you, and I will not let you drown,” came the answer from Jesus.

Then it dawned on me that I had been so focused on patching up the holes, I had forgotten that Jesus was in the boat too.  I also realized that I was making faulty assumptions about God based on circumstances that always change (what’s happening, what I perceived God doing or not doing, etc.), instead of on His unchanging character.  I was focusing so much on WHAT was happening that I forgot WHO was with us!

And my, what a difference it made in my spirit when I consciously change the way I think about our situation!  When I keep remembering that Jesus is in the boat with me, my fears and worries subside.   I mean, why should I be afraid to be in this leaky boat, when the Master of the wind and sea is with me?   Why panic when the boat sinks an inch or two, if I truly believe that in an instant, Jeus can calm the wind and patch up all the holes?

Now, I don’t mean that Paul and I should do nothing at all and let the chips fall where they may.  We should still do what we can, within the limit of the resources we have available to fulfill our financial obligations, of course, but there is now no reason to fear the worst, because whatever happens, Jesus will be there with us.  And though we may not understand why He’s allowing the wind to blow or the boat to sink a bit further, or even to sink all the way, it brings us peace to know that He is with us and will not let us drown.

This is a major change in me.  I’ve always been a worrier.  I like to know what’s going to happen before it happens.  I don’t like surprises, and prefer to have plan A,  B, and C, for everything.   These past few years have been anything but predictable!    Very few things went as Paul and I have planned.  There have been many good times, as well as many sad times, not to mention times of frustration and anguish.   But the one thing that has been consistent in all situations has been God’s presence by my side, to comfort, to guide, to offer wisdom, to join in the laugh, or simply to hold me and tell me I will be OK.   I think I’m getting more comfortable at not knowing what lies ahead in this leaky boat now, although, given a choice, I still would like Jesus to give me a little warning if a big wave is coming, so I can open up my umbrella!  LOL!

Healing of a Memory Long Forgotten

I didn’t grow up with the typical home life; not by the standard of any culture.   My family was in Bangkok, Thailand, when my father left my mother and his 3 young children in 1968.  I was a month shy of 6, and the oldest.  When my mother tried to take all of us to go live with my grandparents (her parents), she was told that only she could return home, and my 2 younger brothers and I were to go with my father because we were his responsibility.  My father came to get us, and immediately placed us in boarding school.   My mother would come visit us periodically at school, and on some weekends we’d even be lucky enough to go home with her.   Those weekends were always too short, and I can still recall the dread of the Sunday afternoon’s drive back to the school.  When school was out during the Summer, we would go stay with our father, and not be allowed any contact with our mother.  Actually, we weren’t even allowed to talk about her.

Last night, I remembered a long-forgotten incident that happened during one of these Summers at my father’s house.   I was about 9, and was missing my mother very much.  I secretly wrote a letter to her, telling her how unhappy I was at my father’s house, how I wish I was with her, and how mean my father’s new wife had been to my brothers and me, but that she didn’t need to worry, because I would do my best to take care of my little brothers for her, and I hope the Summer would go quickly so we could be back at school and she could come visit us again.  There was one major obstacle to getting that letter to my mother:  I didn’t have any envelope or stamp.   I decided to ask for help from the one adult whom I thought I could trust, the servant.  I gave her the letter, asking her to put it in a stamped envelope and mail it.

That night, my father called me into his room.  As I walked into the room, I was horrified to see the letter in my father’s hand, without an envelope, and he was very angry.  Obviously he read the letter and didn’t like the colorful words I used to describe his new wife.  I told him I was sorry, that I said those things because I was missing my mother and just wanted to see her.  But he remained angry.

It wasn’t the first time my father beat me, but it was the worst beating I’d ever received from his hands.  I couldn’t remember anything my father said to me that night, only the swishing sound that the long handle of the feather duster made as it came down, and the hot searing pain I felt when it made contact with my skin.   It seemed like time stood still as one swish came after another.  I remember not being able to stand up anymore when he finally stopped.  Somehow I got myself to bed (a sleeping mat), my whole body still throbbing with pain.  I cried myself to sleep, longing for my mother to comfort me, wondering if God even cared.

That’s how it happened, or at least how my young child’s mind remembered it.   Such memories used to bring me a lot of sorrow and bitterness, along with the feeling of abandonment, wondering where God was at such times in my life.  But this time, as I saw this replayed in my mind, I saw Jesus there by my sleeping mat, with one arm around me and the hand of His other arm stroking my hair, whispering to me that I will be alright.  I no longer felt abandoned, but loved.

In my heart, I had decided to forgive my father back in 1984, but the emotional wounds were so deep, it seems the healing process still continues to this day.  It’s been my experience that when I come to God with my brokenness, God heals me, not by telling me to forget what happened and bury the pain, but by walking with me back in time to look at everything through His eyes, and literally takes the pain away.

As I watched this memory through God’s eyes, I was not a bad little girl who’d betrayed her father and deserved his wrath (as I had seen back then through my father’s eyes), but a deeply loved child of God who’s being treated cruelly.   What literally happened in this walk back in time with God was that the adult me was there in the memory along with the younger me, and the adult me was able to understand what the younger me couldn’t in the past.  The amazing thing was that now both the child and adult me could see my own father as a child of God too, and that he also needed compassion.  He couldn’t love me because he had not known love himself.  He simply didn’t have it to give.  He was abused too as a child.  Jesus was hurting for all of us!  And now the child version of me was extending forgiveness to my father, and she was no longer in pain, and her face was one of joy and peace, not of sorrow.  Then, I suddenly zoomed back to present day, and my heart was filled with the same joy and peace.

So, one more sorrowful and bitter memory is conquered.  Maybe that’s the last, maybe not.

My father passed away in June of 2001.  I still grieve that we didn’t have a chance to reconcile with each other on this earth, but I am glad that he is now free from his earthly bondage, and I hope to reconcile with him someday on the other side, with both of us fully healed in the presence of Jesus.

The Difference

There’s a poem called “The Difference.”  It’s one of those poems written by unknown authors that became popular back in the 1980’s.  I had this poem hung on the wall of my dorm room back when I was a student at UCLA, and it’s been on a wall in every home we’ve lived in, until today.  I just took it down, because it no longer resonates as true in my current relationship with my Father.  I’d had it up there for so long, I’d forgotten about it.  But today’s thought reminds me of this poem and how much I disagree with it now, so I’m removing it.

The gist of the poem is that when I get up in the morning, I need to pray first, otherwise I would have a horrible day and feel distant from God.  There was a time when I would have believed this was true, and I even hung this poem on the wall to remind me to pray each morning.   There was a time when I felt distant from God and would try to figure out what I did or didn’t do to cause God to withdraw Himself from me; a time when I thought that God would allow bad things to happen to me because I forgot to pray for His protection.  And I even believed that if I didn’t pray first thing in the morning, then I didn’t “put God first in my life,” and deserved whatever bad things that happened.

The ironic thing is, no matter how many prayers I said back then, I still felt distant from God, and bad things still happened to me.   So I still constantly wondered if I’d prayed the right things or stated my requests correctly (you know with humility and all) to please God.  When bad things still happened when I’d prayed, I’d feel like I must have failed to do it right somehow, or just didn’t pray long enough, or whatever.

The reverse was also true.  Sometimes good things happened when I didn’t pray at all!  Sometimes I get things I never even thought to ask for, or things I purposely didn’t ask because I thought God would think it’s frivolous.  And many times I get things that I didn’t know I needed until the moment, so never had a chance to pray for it.  Many times I’d seen His hands intervening in situations throughout the day eventhough I’d forgotten to pray that morning.

Hmmm. . . So praying did not prevent bad things from happening, and not praying still resulted in God blessing me with things I didn’t ask for.  So what did all that mean?  Does it mean prayers are ineffective?  No.  Not at all.  I know miracles can happen when believers pray, and I have witnessed many such miracles in my own life as well as friends’.  But it does mean that God doesn’t need to wait around for us to say just the right thing to intervene on our behalf or to bless our socks off!  He will do whatever He’d like, whenever He’d like.  After all, He IS God.

I think the real difference on how my day goes is not based on whether or not I pray in the morning, but on how much I allow the reality of His love for me to permeate my being and thinking.  The difference is in how I percieve God the Father.  I used to see Him like a big CEO and taskmaster, a distant God who needs to have things done just-so for His approval, so I was concerned about praying just right everyday to earn His approval.  Now I see Him as a loving Daddy who smiles at me the moment I wake up and gives me a big “Good Morning” hug.  I don’t need to recite any mantra to get His attention, nor do I really need to ask for anything that I need.  He will provide the things I need each day as I need them, in the same way I provide for my children without waiting for them to ask me in just the right way.  No, actually, because He’s perfect and all powerful, He can provide for me even better than I can ever do for my children.  Today, I see God as a Daddy who’s very fond of me and can’t wait for me to wake up each day so we can spend some time together.

So how do I explain when bad things happen now?  Well, it just happens.  It rains on the righteous as well as on the wicked.  This is a fallen world we live in.  There is sickness.  There are people who steal, cheat, and lie, and they do this to everybody alike.  There are people who will treat you unkindly, because they themselves don’t know love.  So bad things will happen, and not all my days will be good days.  It’s simply a statistical fact.

When bad things happen, I no longer feel left alone to figure out what I did or didn’t do to cause them to happen; instead, I can feel my Daddy right there beside me, and I can hear Him telling me it will be alright, that He is big enough to handle any problem that comes my way.  Now THAT is a real difference indeed!

Sure, I still pray, but it’s now more like an ongoing conversation with my Daddy throughout the day, not a religious ritual in the morning to get a distant God’s attention or ask Him to make my day go well.   My day will go as it will, and I will be just fine at the end of each day, because my Daddy is always with me.  And He can make the best lemonade out of any lemons that life can bring!