So, I am back from Ocean City, MD which was awesome! It was our first family vacation in about 7 years or so. I mean first vacation that we didn’t see grandparents, friends, or anything like that. It was just us, and it was amazing. We stayed in a great AirBnB condo right off the bay, the beaches were amazing, and Hurricane Henri missed us. We only got a heavy thunderstorm on one day for like 30 minutes. We lucked out on great weather and we took advantage of that to create some great memories!
But some memories can be forgotten. So, my question to you all. How do you sign language to your daughter that is swimming in the ocean that there are a ton of dolphins out just on the other side of the waves? Let me tell you, putting your hands together and putting it on top of your head is not the right symbol. Yeah, she looked at me, and started panicking. Then, not only her, but everyone around me also saw what I was doing, and everyone yelled, “SHARK!” And then a chain event happened. Soon, people cleared the way, and I tried to yell, “No SHARK! I meant DOLPHINS!” Then everyone saw that there was a giant pod of dolphins swimming by. Cool thing to see!
But seriously, how to you get someone’s attention through sign language to show them there are “dolphins.” Anyone have any idea? Anyways, I have a ton of stories form Ocean City that I will share one more next week on the blog.
It’s good to be back home, it’s good to feel rested, and rejuvenated. Now It’s time to take that energy and bringing it to work! God bless you all!
When I first moved to Altoona, Ray Pursley drove me around town, just to show me where is where. I thought that was really nice for him to do and made me feel very comfortable knowing some of the places around the city.
I remember as we were driving and talking, heading back to the house after passing by Altoona UPMC. Ray was telling me that everyone in Altoona is very nice, and that people are well mannered. Then we passed one house on the left that looked unique. The number of colors, décor, and other outdoor lawn items really made the house stick out. There was a brief moment of silence as we passed this house. Maybe ray was reading my mind or possible we were thinking the same thing. Ray then says, “We also have some characters in this town as well.” Now if you are the homeowner of that particular house reading this blog, I am sharing this not to make fun of it, but to uplift it. But I am also assuming you might not care what other people think as well. It was a delightful experience.
All of us have some sort of uniqueness. But I do not know if you are like me, but I always tend to think that I am just like everyone else, you know… normal. I try to strive for normalcy. I do not like to do anything that makes me stick out. I just want to fit it, blend in, and just be like everyone else. But that is the problem, because what if everyone is different and unique, then what is normal anyways?
How do you eat strawberries? This question will make sense, trust me. First of all being unique is something that just happens. You really don’t need to try to be unique or different, it just will come out. And sometimes when you think you do, behave and act like everyone else, you might come to the point that you will do something that nobody else does. So how do you eat strawberries. You see, it took me a while, actually about 30 years of my life, realizing that I eat strawberries differently from other people. My buddy, Luke eats strawberries like I do. Which is… just eating it whole… like popcorn. I thought that is how everyone eats strawberries. I didn’t know that people don’t eat the green thing on the top. I didn’t know that people take multiple bites of one strawberry and stop when they hit the green part. Yeah, I really thought you just eat the whole darn thing in one pop. It took me a while to realize that I am different. My wife gave me a double take when I ate a strawberry in front of her and then asked me, why I ate it like that. I had no idea what she was talking about.
Does that make it wrong how I eat strawberries? Maybe to some, or most. Is it weird how I eat them, probably? But whatever, that’s just how I eat them. We are all somewhat weird and unique, nothing to e ashamed about. God created all of us in His own image. God gave us different passions, different wills, different behaviors, and there is nothing wrong with that.
I wonder if God made us so different from one another with a certain purpose. Maybe that purpose is that don’t try to fit in with people, because it will never work. Nobody is the same, because the only thing that we can connect our sameness is not with other people, but with God. Yes, God who made us all in His image. That means each and everyone of us are common to God. All that weirdness, uniqueness is all about who God is. God is more diverse than we can possibly imagine.
So, if you feel different form other people, and feel like you don’t belong, well maybe that is because you are looking for belongingness in the wrong places. Maybe it’s time you find your comfort in God’s love. Acceptance in society is hard to completely have. Connecting yourself to self interest groups can have its limitations. But in God, you belong, you are part of His plan, you are His creation, made in His image, righteous in His eyes, always and completely.
A few years back, my father gave us some small Korean perilla plants. They are leaves that is common in most Korean cuisines. They have this beautiful minty aroma and quite delicious to eat with Korean barbeque. Not too difficult to cultivate, which is perfect for us since we are quite novice when it comes to taking care of plant life.
Each year they grew, and we ate the harvest. Every year they would pollinate and basically became self-sustainable. However, in this year, didn’t see them sprout. So, we thought because of the weather, heat, or soil condition in our pots, made them unable to flourish. The weeds really took over our pots, and we just let them grow. We thought we lost our harvest for good.
But too my surprise, after leaving it unattended to for the duration of spring and summer, and letting enormous weeds grow in those pots, I found out that they survived and thrived. Thanks to Ben wanting to play with worms outside, I looked into the pots and realized that the Korean perilla plant was growing among the thorny weeds. I was shocked because some of those plants really grew into full maturity and hopefully in late fall and winter, they will produce flowers and seeds once again.
It’s amazing to think that these plants were able to flourish in such harsh conditions. Surrounded by weeds, and unattended needs to grow well, these Korean perilla plants grew.
This reminds me of the passage in Matthew 13:24-30, the parable of the weeds. Jesus tells the disciples that a gardener came to plant the seeds but at night an enemy came in and spread weeds among the good seeds. When the good seeds started to grow, it grew among the weeds. The gardener’s workers asked if they should pull out the weeds, and the gardener urges the workers not to do so because it may uproot the good plants. The gardener instructs the workers to allow both the weeds and good plant grow together until it was time for the harvest. At harvest time, take the good plants that produced and pull out the weeds and burn them in the fire.
When I look at this story and look at these Korean perilla plants it makes me reflect on life in general. Sometimes we aren’t always put in the best circumstances in life. And sometimes we are put fail to live up the expectations of the Gospel of taking care of one another with grace, kindness, love, and care. I know this for myself, that sometimes I always wish that I was a better leader in the church or a better father to my children, or a better husband to my wife. But this passage in Matthew and the situation of the Korean perilla plants reminds me of always having hope. No matter what happens, things will always work out in the end.
Do you feel that you failed to live up to certain expectations of life's demands? Maybe you might feel like the workers or gardener in Matthew 13:24-30. And maybe you feel guilty for leaving all those thorns and weeds and feel that you didn’t take care of your corner of the world well. But remember, God’s got this. Nothing is necessarily left for chance or luck. It is only by God’s grace that allow things to work out in the end, regardless of your efforts. Maybe you feel like the good plants that find yourself surrounded by weeds. Again, weeds happen in life. Nobody’s life is perfect and not every situation to come across will be calm and peaceful. Sure, I order to survive, you may have to compete or fight your way through the weeds given in your life, but that’s ok. Again, stand firm, keep trying, stay true to yourself, and have faith in a God that will pull you out of every situation.
So, my garden in the backyard is alive. It doesn’t look perfect, but that’s life right? God bless you all.
Hey this is Rev. Brian Choi's random thought throughout my week. Most of this stuff, will probably be about family, church, fishing, music, movies, food, whatever I think of, hopefully it will have some sort of theological reflection (maybe).