How do you pronounce the letter “H”? Stupid question right?
Well in my last blog, I wrote that I was going fishing at Canoe Creek State Park.. which is drained right? Sounds like a dumb idea, but I was able to find pockets of undrained water, and fish were feeding active in order to prepare for winter. I put the hammer down. Not bad, not a ton of fish, but the fish I caught were all two the three pounds. Ok, now I’m just tootin’ my own horn. But anyways, dumb idea, was not so dumb. Which follows a supposedly dumb question, “How do you pronounce the letter “H”?
I promise this will all sort of connect…
So anyways… fishing, catching fish, and well I lost a big fish, and it took my fishing lure, the only fishing lure I had, and the only one that the fish were willing to bite. Also… you remember in the last blog titled, “Try Something new?” Well I did, tried to tie a new fishing knot… total fail… lost a big fish and the only lure… well, learning takes trials and errors. So, Fish won’t bite anything else… so I decided to head over to Sportsman’s Warehouse, and buy the lure that I lost. While buying the darn thing, I was talking to an employee there. And he asked me if I ever fished Raystown. Which I told him I oly fished the spillway and damn, but never knew where to fish at the lake, because I don’t know where there is shore access, since I am a shore/bank fisherman. He told me to go fish at “Aitch.” I looked at him, as if he was trying to relay a code to me. “H?” like the letter, “H”? He says, “Naw, man.. not ‘haitch,’ “Aitch.”
WTF??? “aitch” is the letter “H”? He says, “ No, Aitch is a location of a place you can fish, it’s a name, A-I-T-C-H.” I started laughing and said, “Man, I thought you were saying the letter.” He says, “Naw man, that’s “Haitch.” Which I paused, stared at him, like he’s crazy, as he just nods his head. So… then I got all confused. I bought my lure, and went back to Canoe Creek State Park and tried to fish. But all I have been thinking is, “Is it ‘aitch’ of ‘haitch’?” And wondered if I have been saying the letter “H” wrong my entire life. This is important because I got two little kids that are learning the alphabet and I am pretty damn sure that when I would sing the ABC song, there was no “haitch” or it is…
So… maybe both pronunciations are right? Comment below… because suddenly now I am effing confused again… Also, side note, but worth knowing… You know that animal that looks like a horse but has black and white stripes? It is a ‘Zeebra’ or ‘Zebra’, like pronounced like the name Debra? Oh man.. I feel so dumb right now!
Next week, I promise to be more theological in my blog… where we discuss “It is catholic or Catholic?” That one is a lot less confusing.
Yeah… this is going to be about fishing… but trust me, it’s a metaphor for something else…
So, I woke up yesterday, and I decided that on Friday, I am going to go fish for bass. It might be too cold for them to be biting during this time of the year as temperatures dipped below 40s and 50s during the night and some days barely got over 60. Little less sunlight than in the summer, so water temps probably have dipped. And I am going fishing at Canoe Creek State Park… I know its drained… I just realized I might be wasting my Friday.
But anyways, I decided to try something new. For the last 20 years of my life, since I really got into fishing, I have always used one kind of knot to tie by braided mainline fishing line to my fluorocarbon leader fishing line. It is the uni-knot. I have great confidence in this knot, but I want to learn a new knot. Apparently, the strongest knot to tie to connect two types of fishing line together. It is the FG Knot. So I spent yesterday, while Ben was napping, to give this knot a try. I learned, it’s not easy to tie this knot with confidence. I had to try and try again and again, wasting fishing line over and over again. In my final product, I have no idea if I did it correctly. If I tie a bad knot, and hook up with a fish, it will snap my line, and I lose the fish, not to mention the fish will have a hook and 7 feet of fishing line attached to its mouth.
So, why change? Why try something that I have zero confidence in (yet)? Just use the knot I have used for the last 20 or so years? Well, its because I want to try something new, something different. I want to learn something new and be good at it. But the only way I will learn something new is to give it a try, face failure, face frustration, and be filled with agony. But I know if I practice tying this new fishing knot, I will have confidence. And also, I believe that it is always worth while to try something new, it is imperative to learn something new at any age and any circumstance. Because there just might be a time that you will come to a situation that may require a new skill.
I think that is what makes faith difficult. Faith is about learning, constantly learning. You cannot have the same faith you had when you first became a Christian. You cannot have the same kind of faith you had when you were a child. Faith needs growth in order to flourish and to find confidence and peace of mind. I think people who struggle with their faith is partly because we held onto faith that we learned when we are younger, you get baptized, and you feel like, what is done is done. But faith is a growing experience, and as we get older or life situations get more complex. As we grow from a child to adulthood, we are faced with more stressful situations. And if we have not grown in our faith, life can become rather difficult and confusing. Faith is about building confidence and it is about continual learning.
Stay close to the word of God in the Bible, it is your map to life. And sometimes, reading a story we may be familiar with as a child, may have new meaning to us as an adult. Because now God is speaking to you differently, because you are no longer a child. Be diligent in prayer and meditation, prayer isn’t always about you talking to God, but sometimes it is about you being silent and hearing God. In that silence, maybe God will bring images to your mind, and it confronts you with a new meaning of life and faith. And finally, faith is about listening and responding to the world that is around us. Faith is active and it is moving. It is about being able to be in a challenging space, whether that space be a new thought, or conflicting ideology, or environment. It’s about how we make sense of a world that is changing around us and being able to respond to it with the compassion, attitude, and maturity found in the example of Christ. Keep moving, keep growing, keep learning, keep challenging so that you can find confidence in your faith.
If you feel like nothing in your life seems to be making sense and that you find yourself on the losing side of the battles you face. Make a change, try something different, something new. If the old way of life that you thought was comfortable living not working anymore, maybe your soul is telling you to change, do something else. No use in beating a dead horse. Find something useful, something meaningful when the old way isn’t working. Your soul with thank you.
So Norah’s been going to Kindergarten at Baker Elementary School. And so far what I have learned is that I have to do homework again? What? I’m not kidding. The amount of reading material and things I have to sign are unreal. I am sooooo overwhelmed with school paper work, it’s beyond yikes.
Not only is there a ton of paperwork to do, I also have to remember Norah’s snack days in which I have to buy snacks for her entire class. Guess what… today was her day of providing snacks… and guess what… I forgot. So my solution was to see what we have in the house to provide snacks, and I come the conclusion is that we do not have of one kind of snack to provide for the whole class. So I ran to Aldi at 8:30am… Aldi was closed… so I went to Giant Eagle… and got a ton of animal crackers. Raced back to the school and gave it to the office, and I think I have completed the task.
Man… I am 39 years old. I have been out of school for 24 years, and 24 years ago was the last time I had to do any kind of homework. But now… I am back at doing homework, and I am sadly behind! Well I got behind because I had no idea I had homework. Apparently inside Norah’s backpack are two folders. One folder is her assignments and also homework. The other folder, which I sadly assumed was also hers, was actually mine! And in my folder is a BUNCH of stuff!
So for the next week or so, I have reading a bunch of this stuff and going to try to figure out what the heck is going on.
Homework, I guess, never ends, it will continue until your last kid becomes 21 years old. So that means I have approximately about 19 more years of homework… wow… It does not stop after that possibly, because then I’ll probably have some kind of “homework” as I am getting ready for retirement. Man… it just will not end, there is always something to do.
Hmm… I guess that is just like the Christian faith. Last week in the Sunday service. I preached about how it is not just good enough to “show up.” As Christians, we have responsibility, we have things to do, and it’s not so much that God is demanding it from us, but more so, it is expected of us to do so. Remember that there is a lot of work to be done on this world, and our acceptance into God’s family isn’t about getting in and sitting down and relaxing. God is hoping that through if we receive the gift of salvation that is through the grace of God (not anything we do), that our gratefulness would compel us to live a grateful life, to live generously, peacefully, happily, and honestly. Because we have experienced those things through God’s love.
God does not give us assignments to do, because what we do does not necessarily matter what it comes to salvation, again God’s grace has no limitations, it cannot be counted, it cannot be weighed. But having our eyes open by God, feeling that connection with God, being saved, falling on our knees to our Lord and Savior, causes us to be active, to be motivated to do more than just merely exist and show up. Yes, it’s homework… never ending homework.
So last Sunday we celebrated communion. It was… interesting. Well we did our best to administer communion during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were a lot of changes that we felt we had to do. Firstly, we ordered these pre-packaged communion wafers and juice. I’ll talk more about that soon. Secondly, we did not pass out the elements to the people. Congregants picked up there communion at the entrance of the sanctuary that was spread out on a tray. Lastly, during the pre-recorded service for the people that stayed home because of the pandemic, we did communion through video.
Are we supposed to do communion this way? Well, no… it’s not ideal, but we can. We can do communion like we did in the sanctuary and we can do communion through video. First of all, those pre-packaged communion things were nice to have, but those dang things were hard to open. And during the time of blessing the elements, what usually is a time of peace, serenity, and silence was met with a bunch of crackling sounds as people needed to open those hard to open communion packages. I had a hard time, so I know most congregants had a hard time as well! If we do this again, I may tell people a week before we do communion to bring a friend, neighbor, son, or daughter that have the strongest and most dexterous fingers in the world to open these dang things!
How can communion be done through video, well because we are Presbyterians that’s how. As Presbyterians we believe the Lord’s Supper is the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ. Sealing of all the benefits thereof to the true believer. Spiritual nourishment and growth for the believer. Further engagement in and to all the duties which they owe to him *Bond and pledge of the believer's union with Christ and each other. And the elements used in the Lords Supper means, Christ is present spiritually and he enables believers to enjoy mystical communion with him as they are spiritually nourished.
The elements used in the Lord’s Supper does not have to be bread or wine. Like most churches we substituted wine with grape juice and suddenly, bread and juice became the norm. But we have to remember as Presbyterians, we can choose any item to represent the body and blood of Christ. It doesn’t have to be bread or juice. So during the video service, I asked people to get one item to represent the body and blood of Christ, whatever you have at home. Because for us Presbyterians, what matters that the elements are blessed before partaking. And that we believe that the elements are distributed in a manner that is most suitable for the occasion. Well, COVID-19 really changed how we do this, doesn’t it?
What we have isn’t perfect, but it works, at least for communion. But rather focusing on what we did for tradition we focus on the fact that the Lord’s Supper brings us all together. And that the Lord’s Supper is the joyful feast of eucharistic celebration, we offer our praise and thanksgiving to God for this amazing gift.
So, I have a new project going on…
I am trying to make a video for our presbytery’s 225th year celebration and I gotta get this done by Nov. 7th. I got one month to put this together and one big task I need to do is get pictures of all the churches that are in our presbytery’s care, at the same time get some little videos here are there.
I am getting a lot of help from people that I can interview from and people doing music. I have a ton of resources and people, but not too sure how much of it will be used. That’s the part that’s tough. Not too sure how much I can jam in for a 15-minute video. But I am praying a lot… like… A LOT!
So far, I have been in Big Valley and also Clearfield County. I missed a couple of churches, which I’ll come around and get to them soon. Driving is grueling though… seriously white knuckling through a lot, luckily no speeding tickets! But also, the drive has been quite rewarding. Found a couple of good fishing spots, for creek trout and smallmouth bass! I would literally stop at the side of the road and fish for like 10 minutes, catch a fish and back to white knuckle driving. Why, am I spending little time fishing here and there and speeding down the road? Well I am not training for a Cannonball Run (seriously, look that up… effing nuts…), but because time is limited, and the work is huge. I have about three days in a week that I can make these drives, because those are the days that the kids are in school and I only have about 3-4 hours’ time slot because I have to be there when the kids get off of school.
But like I said, these drives are rewarding though. Not just because of the potential fishing spots I have found, but the drive has taught me how special and amazing Central PA really is. It is absolutely amazing, inspiring, and just a beautiful place; especially now that the leaves are just changing color. I get to drive through, vast plains, over and around mountains, through fog, and blue skies, creeks, and rivers. And passing through Amish buggies, farmhouses, homesteads, fields and forests, small towns, big towns, and small cities.
Before I even arrived here in 2016? Or 2017? I never had a good chance traveling in and around Central PA, didn’t know what was around. Now I see it, and it is amazing. I feel like it’s a vacation. Like living in a big city, we come to the woods for vacation, and now I am living the vacation. Seriously, when the heck did, I arrive here? 2017? Dang, who knows, I don’t think it matters… you know, when you are living in Central PA, time can just fade away. Just enjoy the beauty that God gave us… that surrounds us, day in and day out. Just look up at night, and see the stars that litter the skies, see Gemini, Orion’s belt, the big dipper, little dipper, even sometimes spot planets.
You know what else is awesome about living here? NO MOSQUITOES! Seriously… where the heck are they? I mean… I seriously have not gotten bit by a mosquito since I have lived here… what’s up with that? Is that normal? Anyways… that is pretty awesome, to enjoy the outdoors without scratching your arms or legs. Guess what… tomorrow… is another day of driving through God’s Country, I’ll try to slow down a bit.
I think whenever we here the phrase, “We plan, God laughs,” we think that God is laughing at our plans, at the same time shaking his head and muttering, “you silly people, you know nothing!” Which can be true, but what if we think that whenever we plan, God is enjoying our plan and laughing in excitement? Instead of thinking that there is some overbearing God who is altering the lives of His lowly subjects, we have a God who is with us, in our plans, making miracles possible.
It has been about a bit over two months since our church doors re-opened for regular worship. It was the first time since March, the beginning of the pandemic, that we opened. What was our decision to open? It took careful thought and careful planning, and a whole lot of prayers, and gathering of resources. This wasn’t a sudden decision, but a well timed plan in order to assure that our sanctuary will always be safe and secure. We would not open if we felt that it couldn’t be done or that there were too many intangibles that we couldn’t control. But when have had a lot of planning and a lot of meetings, trying to figure everything out and it was important that we were all on the same page.
We made a lot of extra precautions in order to have worship. It’s different, but at least we are able to come together in God’s house! So, yes, we plan, and God laughs! Not laughing to make fun of us, but laughing with us, enjoying the right, precision kind of planning we have set forth. God is laughing with us and sharing in our joy to be free to worship. Laughter, yes oh laughter, how much we need it right? And what better place to find laughter is in the church. Well to see one another, and share a good story, make people smile, make people laugh. Sometimes doing worship is not just about what we do during worship, but before; the fellowship of shared laughs. And who knows, even in worship, we can enjoy laughter, because laughter might be the closest thing we have to find God present in our lives.
I learned tonight at the presbytery meeting, thanks to Rev. Scott Andrews (McVeytown Presbyterian Church) the correlations between hilarity and holiness, and better yet, how laughter and faith can be intertwined. Laughter is power, because it shows that we can roll with the punches that life gives us. Instead of being all pouty and frustrated, laugh, shake it off, and get going. Scott, remarkably quoted theologians who stressed on the importance of laughter when is comes to the Christian faith. My favorite one was, “Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God.” Or one by Martin Luther, “If I am not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don’t want to go there.”
I truly think that Martin Luther is right. If heaven is without laughter, there is no joy, and possibly the absence of grace. Barth, says, that laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God. First we have to understand what grace is. Grace is a gift of God that offers assistance for us to be sanctified, made sacred, to be purified, set free from sin. I would also simply say, grace is the love of God given to us. Grace is liberating, and what great way to show our liberation is through happiness and laughter.
If you want, share some quotes with us that is about laughter in the comments. Or better yet, share laughter with someone you care about.
Dang… this could have been a good sermon…
Norah loves school… Ben umm threw up in daycare… three times…
Let me break this down for you…
Norah loves school. She is making new friends, and the teacher is awesome. I even embarrassed her in front of her new friends yesterday morning when we dropped her off, it was awesome! She’s digging everything about her classes, loves picking her outfit before school, even waking up fairly easy (she is not a morning person… at… all). This is all really awesome news. She started about a week earlier than Ben would start at his daycare. Every time Norah is dropped off at school, Ben starts to cry and feel all sad. I thought he was crying because he really wants to go to school… nope… he just really wants to be with his cooler, older sister.
So now it’s Ben’s turn. We drop Norah off, and then we go to Ben’s new daycare! Yay… I thought… Ben knew something was up… something didn’t feel right, it’s different, it’s a change. So let me give you a little background of Ben’s morning routine. As I said, earlier, Norah is not at all a morning person, but because she is excited about school, she really is a lot easier to wake up. Ben, never needs a wake up. 6:00am, every day, all the time, he is up and ready to go. However, unlike Norah who is excited to pick out her clothes for school, Ben doesn’t even want to wear pants. Normally, during the week, I just give up, and Sunday.. well you gotta wear pants to church right? Sunday church, is like the only time this kid will keep his pants on. Even during the week, when I take him to the church for work, he starts off with pants, and then suddenly, he is out of his pants.
So, that background on Ben and Norah’s routine in the morning. Now comes Ben’s turn to get ready for school. Something’s different, and he knows it. Because… he is wearing pants… hmmm…. Doesn’t seem like a Sunday… And eh starts feeling upset in the car. Then we arrive at his school, and he’s just building up… he’s at about a low 2 on the crying meter… mostly just whimpers, and that quivering lip. Then we get to his new, awesome, room for daycare. He went from a low 2… to a 100 on a scale to 1-10. Screaming, crying, and throwing himself on the ground, then throwing up, three times, every time they changed his clothes, more throw up. He couldn’t even wear his shoes, because they had vomit on them. So Ben’s first day of school… had pants on (great!) and no shoes the entire day (sad). Also, he didn’t have a lunch because I didn’t know we needed to prepare lunch for him because of this dang COVID-19! That is one heck of a first day for Ben! Shoeless, puking, hungry.
I am so stressed thinking about what he will do on Thursday. I’ll probably need to pack more extra clothes, another pair of emergency shoes, and a lunch (I wonder if I can just get a subway sandwich for him).
Here’s the thing, change is difficult, Ben knows that now, and for the most part, we at times, have felt like Ben before. Suddenly, we find our lives changing, and our routine seems broken, it causes stress, and even sometimes makes us feel nauseated. But we just try to find ways to be comfortable with change. It is at first uncomfortable and stressful, but it’s going to happen time and time again. The problem is as adults, we know how we can cope with change. How can a 2 year old find a way to cope with change and find peace in a new place and a new routine?
So, I have been going to the bathroom every hour since I ate a so called “dirty” bagel. So here is how it goes…
I took a bagel from my wife so she could securely hold Ben after church. Judy Pursley told me that Ben said that Bagel was “dirty.” Now I am holding this bagel, that looks delicious. It’s after church, and I am beyond hungry. At that moment that I am chatting with Judy and Ken Goodfellow, I think that this bagel is probably not dirty. The reason I think so is because I think that Ben may have mistaken this good bagel with a different bagel that was dropped outside, which I threw away. So, thinking that my son made a mistake, and briefly inspecting the bagel, no dust, no dirt, no pebbles, looks good right? So I ate it. I figured, even if it was the dirty bagel, I’m sure it can’t be too bad, I mean I’ve done that before… I know that’s gross.
So, I ate lunch, and apparently right after lunch, my insides now feel like that want to be outside. I knew it wasn’t the subway, I knew it was the bagel. So what did I learn? My son, knows what he’s talking about. I hate to say it, but most of the time, I usually think that when it comes to decision making, my son is usually wrong or has no idea what he is talking about. But I have to realize that maybe he knows more than I give him credit for.
And the other is regardless of how hungry you are, don’t eat food that fell on the ground. I mean there are so many more healthy options out there. Even at home, I have more bagels... like.. cleaner bagels, undropped bagels. Also, that 5 seconds rule... that's a bunch of crap! You will get germs instantly in your mouth... and your stomach will hate you for it.
Yeah, nothing theological, just all about needing to do better at being healthy.
Now, I have to go to the bathroom…. Peace out everyone!
This is a picture of Ben waiting for his mac and cheese to be ready to eat. Apparently, this was the best place to wait. I told him that it would take about 12 minutes, so he can go to the living room and play while the food is being cooked. But he was content in waiting with an empty bowl for the food. I tried to tell him, that it’s not instant food, you just must wait. I can’t boil water faster!
And this is a picture of Ben waiting for the milk man to deliver milk on Weds. Mornings. Every weds. Morning, he wakes up and goes right to the window or is too eager to go outside and wait at the front porch waiting for the milk man to come. Sometimes that kid will wait hours for the guy to get there.
Sometimes, I am really impressed at how patient Ben can really be. While he waits, he doesn’t pout or cry, just waiting, staring at the object or place until it finally is finished or arrived.
I hate to admit, but I think Ben may have more patient than me at times. I am horrible at being patient. I pray to God to give me patient, but He gave me kids. Might as well work on being patient by giving me a reason to have to be patient right?
Patience is painstakingly boring and can cause me a ton of anxiety. But, most of life is about being patient. And a life of faith is 100% all about being patient. Even if we ask God to give us more faith, having a stronger faith just doesn’t happen immediately. Building of faith is about years and years of going through the ups and downs of life. And there is no instruction about having a strong faith. The bible gives us guidelines, but those guidelines are always up to us, and if you can, takes time to get used to a build, because it is all a change of behavior and lifestyle, and those do not come easy. So we wait… and be patient of ourselves, and take each day one step at a time, so that the task, the changes, the choices become easier and that each day of building will decrease your anxiety of waiting, and by the time you ever realize it…. mission complete.
As many of you all know, my wife was born in South Korea, and that is were we met, dated, and got married. As of last week, my wife made a big decision to become a United States Citizen. She passed her test and interview, and we completed all the hoops we had to jump through. She is now a United State's citizen. But you can't take the Korean out of her!
So last week and up to now, it has been about nostalgia for us. Thinking about how we met in Korea, my life before I started to get knee deep into ministry. How we lived in South Korea. So I thought I'd share some pictures for you all, about the life we started together in South Korea. Most of you all know us in the present, but may not know us from the time before we had kids. So... I'll let the pictures tell the story.
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).