Discontentment: a play in three parts

The week was going to be impossible to enjoy I decided on Sunday, which is a wonderful parliamentary way to outlaw contentment in one’s heart for a full week. Contentment was banished, by law and edict of Sunday’s decision. An unwelcome denizen, cast out with the chicken bones and fanny packs with broken zippers.

You know the basic plotline of this play.

I, playing a starring role as the Obliger, is huffing as she obliges every appointment and preordained meeting and every other Thing To Which She Said Yes, rueing the day she ever learned to say yes so well.  The other supporting roles are played by the usual suspects, a rotation of students and colleagues and one husband who falls very sick toward Act III and two children who don’t understand why certain things set the Obliger off, I mean, Seriously, Mom, what is one rotting french fry wedged behind a carseat among friends?

UntitledThe action comes to a climax when the inevitable meltdown transpires, the actress is centerstage facing the audience, whilst she furiously scrubs dishes and carries on in a monologue WHO CAN LIVE THIS WAY? that is probably a little too Medea and is not recommended for a younger audience. The denouement is only possible with reconciliation, to her husband, her children and to herself.



The stage is the place where dramatic irony is at its most delicious. The audience knows something is happening in tandem but the actors don’t. In this play, there is no dramatic irony. There is action taking place in tandem, but it is not known by the audience or the actor. Because God does not demand an intermission. He bids, provides, loves, delights in us. He does it all, onstage and offstage, in spite of our parliamentary banishment of contentment. In spite of our prideful self-reliance, He is still so good. All last week, I know that I was constantly noticing beauty around me. The perfect Bob Ross leafscape in living color. The gymnast bouncing so perfectly on the trampoline at my kids’ lesson. It wasn’t aggressive, just whispers of beauty that blessed me in spite of my pouty comportment. PanoNotice how I just used the word comportment. That’s just a symptom of how pouty I was–I started bandying about words that should only be used to refer to royals. I will never be royal, but I am surely loved by the King of Kings who says godliness and contentment are uber beneficial. (1 Tim 6:6). Untitled

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The Allume conference…and a giveaway!

My long-held dreams of attending the Allume Conference for Christian women bloggers came true. Thank you, Workplace, for funding my opportunity! It was easily one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended: well-organized, substantial in content, deeply spiritual, and dang, girl. That goodie bag.

I will not weary you, dear readers, with a play-by-play of the conference like this is an entry on Cruisers Forum.


I will, however, share one epiphany.

Growing up as a girlchild who knew she wanted to pursue a career someday that was heavy on the interplay of words and people, I felt as though I had a limited set of female leaders. You know those she-idols doing that thing to which I aspired. There was Katie Couric, Barbara Walters, Candy Crowley, Connie Chung and a select array of other women in media who held those coveted top seats. I learned that you had to work a small market for awhile, and then perhaps get promoted to a middle market and work crazy long hours and never get to read the new Judy Blume book, and eventually, if you were perseverent, talented, and incredibly lucky, you might score a top tier post. But this was never guaranteed and you’d have to work three times harder than male peers and you best not ever have an eyelash out of place or else!

Allume reminded me that the landscape has changed. The coveted top spots for women in media aren’t the only mansions on the cul-de-sac. There is a beautifully vast and seemingly borderless industry producing media in which women can creatively steer careers in whole new ways. They can be the CEO of Yahoo or the servant leader of a small cottage industry and it’s all within their reach. I met so many amazing women at Allume who are girl-bossing their way in the blogosphere, running happy homes, and leaning in to Lord’s unique calling on their lives. It was so encouraging, especially as a journalism professor trying to encourage young men and women to think beyond just the job offerings on mediabistro.com but to think of the lifestyle they want to lead, to envision the kind of philanthropic legacy they want to have.

To celebrate being filled-up full from Allume, I’ve got a little giveaway for you, dear readers. I received many a good thing at the conference, most of them priceless. Some were tactile, though, and they can be yours. Just enter the rafflecopter below and a winner will be announced on Tuesday. Woop!

Wicked Girly prizesWicked Girly prizes

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Multi-cultural Monday: Holidays + Disappointments

The first in a series on multi-cultural marriage/family

It wasn’t until I joined an online group of multi-cultural families that I realized I wasn’t alone. The pain I was harboring over holidays in my multi-cultural marriage was not isolated. So many marriages and families, whether they identify as multi-cultural or not, struggle especially around the holidays to incorporate traditions or build new ones that bring meaning to their lives. This is my experience in mourning and reinventing the holidays in a way that works for our family.

I was a new bride. It was our first Christmas together with my husband’s family. There wasn’t a Christmas tree at my in-law’s house much less a trace of holly. There wasn’t anything that qualified as a Christmas cookie or really anything sweet in supply. Presents weren’t a big deal, nor was having a decorative manger or singing Christmas carols or gathering with a big group of family and friends. These were the accoutrements of a holiday that I had come to love and look forward to with my own biological family, in spite of the pain of divorce and the loss of family members that had placed a strain on the holiday in the past.

My mother-in-law and me, riding to a Korean new year celebration at their church.
My mother-in-law and me, riding to a Korean new year celebration at their church.

We sat, my in-laws, my husband and me, on the floor of their living room on Christmas night, watching “Pirates of the Caribbean.” I went to get the pint of ice cream I had bought at CVS. I served a bowl to my father-in-law. “Why I can’t understand they talking?” asked my mother-in-law as she tried to follow the movie. “Because it’s pirate talk,” my husband explained. Why can’t I understand this Christmas, I thought. I feel like pirates have jacked my white Christmas. *** My in-laws immigrated from Korea to Canada in the late 1970s. Christmas in their post-war Korea was not about decorating or consumption. It was, like the rest of life, about survival. In my in-laws’ faith tradition, to which I had converted, Christmas is celebrated but not not as a “high holiday” as in other traditions. They were just happy to have their children home and to eat well and celebrate blessings.

The Lees and a Lee-to-Be***
I was angry, and I didn’t want to feel angry at Christmas, I told my husband. As a fixer, my husband asked me what I needed. (What I needed was an attitude adjustment, plain and simple, but I wasn’t ready to see that yet.) I wanted a tree and lights or just some simple marker that this was Christmas, I said. wreath.kendy.jpg

But of course, it wasn’t really about the tree. It wasn’t about the cookies or lights. It wasn’t about watching incomprehensible pirate movies on Christmas.

I just wanted to feel that I had not given up all of my traditions in order to be a part of this new family. 

I think a lot of us feel this way, even if our marriages/families are not cross-cultural. The totems, the traditions, the reminders of from whence we come are important to us. It’s not our job to impose these on others, but we get to bring strands and sprinkles of them into our new family. It’s our job to do so. Frustrating though it may be, it’s not our spouse’s job to know what tradition is important to maintain if we don’t share this with them, explain why it matters, and be willing to help institute it.

After ten years of marriage, my husband and I start thinking about the holidays, especially Christmas, around this time so we can look forward with anticipation rather than dread. We plan activities we can do with my in-laws, we think about the presents we’ll buy or the acts of service we can coordinate with our church to bring more cheer to the season. The goal is not to do a museum installation of my childhood Christmas at my in-laws’ house. The goal is to incorporate threads of my traditions with new moments that bring meaning to our family time which is a big fat Korean-Irish-Italian blessing in itself.

And you? Have you blended your childhood traditions with new ones in your marriage/family?

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