_______ is Proof that God Exists

There’s nothing I like more than hearing a new song on the radio that makes me turn up the volume. Recently, a song by Adele did just that. I’ve been listening to the song non-stop and even got my frugal self to buy the whole album because it’s just that good. So good that people watching her YouTube videos have left comments like these:

“My arms are covered in goosebumps.”

“Tears. Literally tears are falling down my face.”

(My favorite) “Adele has me missing a boyfriend who doesn’t even exist.”

These comments are proof that people can’t get enough of a 20 something year old singing songs with the longing and life experiences of a 50 year old. 😉

But the best comment I’ve read about her is this:

“Adele is proof that God exists.”

Whoa.

I think it’s safe to assume (theological arguments aside) that this person recognized something so extraordinary about this artist and her music that he knows there must be Someone extraordinary who gave her this gift.

I feel this way too when I see the vibrant colors of a sunset, the intricate design of a snowflake, and the unique personalities of my munchkins.beach-164288_1280

When I pause to consider how these extraordinary things came to be, I literally shake my head in wonder. I also felt this way recently when I came across an article on Yahoo about a doctor’s battle with cancer.

The story of Dr. Paul Kalanithi could be considered a tragedy; he was a 37 year old successful neurosurgeon at Stanford when he passed away from stage 4 lung cancer (with no history of smoking), leaving a wife and a baby daughter behind. But what struck me about his story was not his professional success or his longing to help people, but his attitude toward life. Such as these quotes from his memoir:

“Shouldn’t terminal illness, then, be the perfect gift to that young man who had wanted to understand death?”

“Life isn’t about avoiding suffering, it’s also about creating meaning.”

You see, this doctor had made it his aim in life to make life meaningful for his patients, his family and himself. And for him to find meaning in his cancer diagnosis as well was – in one simple word – extraordinary.

I couldn’t read the article or listen to his wife’s interview without tearing up. I shared this story with hubby, but could hardly get the words out. The one question on my mind was, “Where do you find people like this?” I was blown away by the fact that someone facing so much pain and hopelessness could be in such a state of acceptance. I’m sure as a doctor (and a Christian), he had already dealt with a lot of life and death issues and struggled with tough questions. But, somehow, out of the struggling came an almost effortless sense of peace and trust.

To a bystander, his attitude doesn’t make sense. But that’s the beautiful part of it. It’s like seeing the impossible and the incomprehensible and knowing that they are true. Like knowing our universe is so incredibly huge, but that it is just a speck compared to the whole expanse of the sky. Or trying to understand the amazingly complicated and intricate ways in which the human body works to keep us alive. And celebrating the fact that goodness can overcome evil.

There really is so much “extraordinary” in and around us that points to Someone extraordinary. I love how God leaves His fingerprints everywhere – in the powerful notes of a song to the profound words of a cancer patient. I’m so thankful for these reminders that beauty, hope and love exist because God exists. We just have to open up our eyes, hearts and minds to recognize it.

Here’s that song by Adele, “When We Were Young”.

How would you fill in the blank: “_________ is proof that God exists.”?

Killing Your Spouse with Kindness

I watched “War Room” this week with my mom and sister (at my mom’s request for her birthday girl’s only hangout). It was a good movie with fairly good acting, funny and touching moments, and above all, a good message. I came away with two reminders: one, that prayer is powerful and it works(!), and two, that marriages can be torn down by a single word.

The movie starts out with a husband and wife who do what husbands and wives do on occasion – they fight. With furrowed brows and clenched fists, they exchange mean words, throw around accusations and blame, and retreat to their own corners till the next match. Every time they open their mouths, you know what comes out is not going to be pretty. And with each word they spew, the tension on the screen grows and grows until you wonder if the characters’ relationship will soon be irreparable. 🙁

But through a series of events and the not-so-by-chance help of an older, prayerful woman (she’s a fun actress to watch!), the wife starts changing her ways. The change comes slowly, but surely, as she renews her love for her husband and begins praying for him. Her heart softens to the point where she no longer has anything negative to say to him (or about him). Her words and attitude toward him are so different that at one point he wonders if she secretly poisoned his meal, and switches dinner plates with her when she’s not looking. 😛 And with time, God answers the wife’s prayers and works in the husband’s life and heart to soften him up, too. I won’t spoil the ending, but you can probably guess that it’s a happy one.

Now I don’t profess to have a perfect marriage (hubby can vouch for that!), but one thing I do appreciate about our relationship is the courtesy we extend toward one another. Oh, we have our share of disagreements and messy moments that require lots of forgiveness and humility to move past, but most of the time, we try to be kind with our words. Because we know that words have the power to heal or destroy. As in the words of Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

It’s amazing what a simple  “please” or “thank you” can do to soften your spouse’s heart. Or what the simple act of willingly getting out of a warm, cozy bed to go downstairs to stick the wet clothes in the dryer means to the spouse who gets to stay in the warm, cozy bed (thank you, Honey! :D). It’s just plain and simple courtesy, but when each word and act of kindness are added together, they can produce a mutually respectful and loving marriage.

All it takes is one kind word or one kind gesture to tip the scale toward kindness. And it just takes one person to start. So let’s be that one person. 🙂

P.S. I’m adding this picture as a reminder to myself of one way I can be kind to hubby, by making him breakfast. It’s something his mom used to make for him when he was a kid. 1 hot dog + 2 eggs = 100%. It was meant to be an encouragement to do well in school. So Asian, I know! 😉

IMG_4244

Here’s proof that your kind gesture doesn’t have to look pretty! Haha

Here’s Selena Gomez’s song, “Kill ‘Em with Kindness”. There’s some good whistling in the song, too.

How can you share kindness with your spouse or a family member today?

Adding Conflict to Romance (+ A Sneak Peek at My WIP’s Cover!)

It’s been raining a lot here in California, and with the wetness comes a lot of allergies. I’m not sure what was in the air yesterday, but I was sneezing almost non-stop. By the end of the evening, C said my face looked burnt, and I was ready to crawl into bed and hibernate.

I hoped some sleep would help, but I woke up this morning with another sneezing fit. After I had ah-chooed a big one, I turned to hubby and exclaimed, “What is wrong with me?!”

He grinned and replied (a little too) quickly, “That’s what I’ve been wondering, too, for a long time.”

Hardy har har. 😛

Okay, I admit I totally set the stage for hubby’s punchline, but most of the time he doesn’t need any help from me to mess with my head. 😉 Take the instances when he’s in the shower (and I’m on the porcelain throne) and I wonder why in the world I’m getting rained on … until I notice hubby oh-so innocently throwing water over the glass door in my direction. Argh! 😉 Yup, as I’ve said before, he’s the sand paper to my sharp corners, and I’m the hole in his bubble. The very things we love about each other are also the very things that can drive us craaazy.

But what romance would be complete without some conflict? When I read or watch love stories, I do so to feel the push and pull between characters and to virtually experience the highs and lows they have to go through to find love. It’s much more exciting when you have some kind of obstacle (ie. a comatose brother or a scheming family friend) on the way to happily ever after. Wouldn’t you agree? And as a writer, I want to provide that entertainment in a meaningful and believable way (always with humor of course!).

I think this is why I’ve been struggling so much with the third book in my “Taking Chances” series. I have been working on this WIP (work-in-progress) for nine months now and it’s been, in one word, hard. Like this kind of hard:

12509224_10153423763383562_864940508693420170_n

Hahaha!

Ever since I got feedback on my first book that the story lacked conflict, I’ve been trying to make life harder for my characters, which in turn is making life harder for me, too. It got to the point where I vowed to never write another romance book (after I finish this one of course) because people and love can be so complicated. That lasted about a day though because I realized the conflict I’m having with writing conflict is something I can’t escape from. Like my characters, I need to struggle through the trying, heart-wrenching, angsty times in order to earn the right to type “The End” on the last page of a book. Isn’t it ironic, that the one thing I’m forcing my characters to face is the one thing I don’t want to deal with. 😉

So, that’s where I am, struggling to write this book that so far is my favorite one that I’ve written. Now if only I could get it finished and published so you can enjoy it, too. 🙂 But in the meantime, here’s a sneak peek.

Drawn to You_peek

When I showed hubby the cover, he said, “It looks like the girl is upset and kneeing the guy.” Haha! Yup, there’s a lot of conflict in this story. 😉

Alrighty, I’ll end here with a sassy song by Walk The Moon that my sassy main character reminds me of, “Shut Up and Dance”.  🙂

How has conflict made your relationships more interesting?

Conversations with My 6 Year Old About Growing Up

There are so many children’s books out there in the world; some are strange, many are funny, but only one has had the power to move me to tears. That book is called “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch.

To be honest though, the first time I read it, I thought the author was a little nuts. Let me tell you why. In a nutshell (pun intended, haha), the book follows the journey of a mother and her baby from the time he is born until he is a father himself. Every evening the mother rocks her son to sleep and sings a sweet song that goes:

“I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always.

As long as I’m living

my baby you’ll be.”

And when I say she does this every evening, I mean every evening. Even when her son is a 6 foot tall, hairy man living across town, she drives over to his house in the middle of the night. She takes the super long ladder she strapped to the roof of her car and climbs up to his bedroom on the second floor, makes sure he is fully asleep, and takes him in her (very strong) arms and rocks him to this song.

LoveYouForever2

Yup. The counselor part of me totally had a field day psychoanalyzing this scene. 😉 My initial thoughts were: This mom is so codependent, overly attached and unable to let go of her kid. Where are her boundaries?!

It was about nine years ago when I first saw this book at the library. Since then, every time I see it on a shelf, I bypass it because of its “dysfunctional” message. But recently, I finally understood what the author was saying (and now know that he was not nuts when he wrote the book). 🙂

The other day C and I were talking about her upcoming trip to the dentist to have 2 (stubborn) baby teeth pulled. I attempted to allay her fears by going over the procedure and answering her questions. The conversation was going well, and she was staying calm and looking thoughtful when she said something that made my heart drop.

C: “You can stay outside.”

Me: “What?”

C: “You can stay outside. You don’t have to come with me.”

It took a minute for me to register that C was saying she didn’t want me to go into the dentist’s office with her during the procedure. I was supposed to stay outside in the waiting room.

Me: “Are you sure?”

C: “Yes. Stay outside.”

Me: “Aw, my baby’s growing up!”

C: “Mo-om!”

Me: “NOOOOOOO! Okay, I’ll wait outside.”

And that’s when the story of “Love You Forever” came to mind. Because with every ounce of blood pumping in me, as long as I’m living, my babies will always be my babies. I may not be as crazy (or brave) as the mom in the book to break into my kids’ homes when they’re adults and rock them to sleep, but it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to. (Actually, hubby would probably beat me to it!) But in my heart of hearts, I will always remember E and C as the cute, chunky babies who challenged and inspired me, and ultimately, grew me into the mom I am today.

So, yes, sweet daughter, I know you (and your brother) are growing up and don’t need me as much as before. I just need a little while to catch up to this new reality, so be patient with me. But I (and your Baba) would really appreciate it if you could do us a favor and choose a one story house when you grow up. 😉

Here’s a link to where you can hear “Love You Forever” read to you and view the illustrations as well. (Get the tissues out!)

And we’ll end with Mariah Carey’s song, “Always Be My Baby”. 🙂

When did you realize you (or your kids) were growing up?