Wea U Stay?

When I lived in California my ears would perk up when I heard someone speaking pidgin. Talking with friends over the phone would frighten some of my friends that aren’t from Hawaii, but it would transport me back to my island home. Often the conversation would begin with, “Wassup? Wea u stay?”

Even though I am back home pidgin still has the same effect on me. Seems pidgin is phasing out of our society because it is frowned upon so I don’t feel like I hear it as much. 

When I started this new job it felt a little weird. It’s not quite your place and you are stranger to everyone. One person made me feel welcomed. She is the custodian responsible for the building I am housed in. She is a sweet local woman that is always smiling and joyful and speaks some serious pidgin! There’s all kinds of pidgin, as some may not know. Her’s is this soft, warm pidgin, reminds me of the Uncle on Rap’s Hawaii feeding his chickens. Makes me feel at home.

What makes you feel at “home”? With so much going on in our lives we are running from place to place. We can sometimes be strangers in our own world and sometimes we just need to return “home”. Living in Hawaii I meet a lot of transient people. People are led to the islands through the military, employment opportunities or just adventure. Often I hear them mention that certain things remind them of home. When they catch the smell of a certain flower, taste a certain food, or hear a certain accent from back home, it’s like they are transported. You can see the escape to joy on their face.

No matter wea u stay, you might need to return “home” for a bit. Talk to a childhood friend, listen to a song that transports you to a happy time in the past, take a lunch break and eat something that reminds you of the good ol’ days. Wherever you are, take a break today and return “home”, if even just for a few minutes. Escape to that joy of home. -jason

 

 

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Permanently Temporary

IMG_6261This is a picture of a gate that blocks Henry (our dog) from escaping from the yard. When we got Henry it was a process of figuring out the nooks and crannies that he could escape from. The obvious one was this stairwell. This gate was laying around the yard and I just leaned it up against the stairs. It was good enough for now, but it was just temporary. Eventually I would put hinges on it so we can open and close the gate without having to lift it or drag it. It’s been over a year and “eventually” hasn’t come. This gate might be permanently temporary.

Every time I see this gate I think, “Okay, I need to put those hinges on.” Then it makes me think of all the other projects and repairs I have to do around the house. If I had a dollar for every time I said, “Tomorrow I’ll get to it”….

This gate is not a pressing matter. It would be more convenient to have the hinges, but it still functions. There are things that are more pressing that are left for tomorrow and tomorrow never comes.

When my grandfather passed away, my grandmother was all alone. Being from Japan, her English was minimal and she relied on my grandfather a lot. I visited her regularly during my breaks between classes. Eventually she had health issues and required dialysis treatments three times a week. She could no longer live alone. She lived with us at first, but the stairs were too much to handle. She moved around to different relatives’ homes, but eventually ended up in a care home. All alone with communication barriers, I needed to visit her soon. Too many times I said, “Tomorrow I’ll go.” She passed shortly after being in the home. I still think about that to this day.

In James chapter 4, God’s Word says, “13 Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

We don’t know what tomorrow will bring and it’s actually arrogant to believe you will have a tomorrow. While somethings can be put off till tomorrow, others shouldn’t be taken for granted. Tomorrow may never come.

As a Christian our priority is a right relationship with God. Jesus holds our tomorrows. He calls to us daily and we tell the Author of tomorrow, “I’ll get to you later.”

We know what we should do. We know where our attention should go. God, our marriages, our families, our loved ones…how are we treating these areas of life? What are you putting off till tomorrow? We might say to ourselves, “this is just for now” and years later discover that our choices have become permanently temporary and tomorrow never arrived. -jason

New Realities

This past week I started my new job. It was a tough couple of days, much harder than I expected.

It was a process of saying goodbye to co-workers and friends from my previous employment so it didn’t really hit me. I remember one of the last things I said before I left was, “It doesn’t feel like I’m leaving. I hope I don’t drive here next week on accident!”

I didn’t. I made the drive in the opposite direction. Kind of symbolic in a way. When I checked in at my new job, reality hit me. Reality caught me with a cheap shot right in the face. I don’t usually feel lonely, but I did that first day. Suddenly it was real, I won’t be back at the church I worked at for the last 4 1/2 years. This was my new reality. Honestly, it kind of sucked.

That day I got home and Emily’s friend was over. She worked with Emily a while ago, but had to leave the island and seek out treatment for cancer. Frequent and on going medical procedures, hair loss, lifestyle changes and permanent impacts on her life were her new reality. I’m certain the adjustment was tough, I just cannot imagine. Here she was, months later, pressing on, keeping a positive attitude in her new reality.

My father had part of his leg amputated when he was in his 20’s. Most people don’t even realize he has a prosthetic leg. Again, how does someone deal with that? How do you go on? He did. He got married, raised children, had a successful career, still went hunting and fishing regularly and accepted his new reality.

So many people are encountering new realities that take an adjustment. Change is inevitable. Sometimes it is as simple as switching jobs, other times it’s drastic, like physical impairments or loss of a loved one. We face the new reality, then we learn to move forward in it.

Have you faced changes recently? What’s your new reality?

The change and challenges may seem insurmountable, but do not lose heart. You will get adjusted to your new reality. Remember also, change is inevitable, so keep looking forward and be prepared for the next part of the journey.

The best path to take is the one that the Lord lays out ahead of you. There may be oppression, there may be deserts, there may be many challenges, but when you know the final plan, it’s all worth it. When you seek the Lord with all your heart each moment of life becomes the reality that leads to one glorious destination. No fault of man, no poor choice, no hurdle of life will keep you from the grace of God. (cf. Romans 8:38-39)

Embrace your new reality and discover the possibilities that lay ahead on the journey. I know for me I will get settled, find my place, and by the grace of God, bring Him glory in my work. Know also that you are not alone, not only does the Lord desire for you to call to Him, but I want to walk with you in the changes of life, the hurdles, and the challenges. In whatever way I can, I will support you in your new realities. -jason

Let’s Make Pretend

While my kids play I overhear many things that are very interesting. One word that is repeated often in their play is “pretend”. As an example Aubrey will say, “Hey guys, pretend this is a castle and I am the princess and you are the sister and you are the cat.” (Yup, they often make Jonah be the cat or puppy.) Then Kamryn will chime in and say, “Yeah, but pretend this is a magic wand and I can make my own castle and I am the other princess.” Then Jonah will try to squeeze in his two cents with, “But, but, but pretend, guys, guys, pretend I’m a cat that can fly and I fly over your castles.” Then it goes on and on.

It’s great. I think the use of a child’s imagination is healthy exercise. Imagination that is allowed to be set free can open the doors for creativity and progressive thought. To compliment that development comes the ability to differentiate between real and pretend.

Seems to me that there is a level of pretend that happens with adults that is not so healthy. Often “let’s make pretend” leads to further issues and complications.

Our game of pretend is usually done in an effort to preserve a perception of positivity.  It manifests itself in friendships where we pretend that life is great. We pretend we are parents that have it together, we pretend to have more femininity or masculinity than we really do. We pretend to be more knowledgeable or more athletic or more wealthy than we really are. It can appear through social media and even in our face to face interactions. We don’t want to reveal struggles and hurts, we don’t want to let others know they have a leg up on us so we engage in “let’s make pretend” we have our lives together. Sure we moan and lament over our messy homes, but yet when people come over we make sure it’s pretty darn clean. I’m guilty of this myself. I scramble and clean, because I want guests to be comfortable, but then I say, “Sorry the house is so messy…” Why is that?

In the midst of conflict we like to play “let’s make pretend” everything is fine. Maybe we do it for ourselves, maybe we do it because we think it’s best for the group. I’ve come to realize it’s not best for anyone.

We do it in our families, in our marriages, in our friendships, in our workplace and sadly even in our churches.

The problem is, when we make pretend all is well when it is not, reality will have to collide with it at some point. While peace may be kept for the short term, you can be certain it will not last. Eventually play time will end and things will unravel. Imagination can be a wonderful thing when we can discern that from reality. Let’s stop making pretend at the expense of what is real. -jason

Good Deeds, Great Lesson

Last week a very close friend called me to meet up. He was in from California and wanted to share with me a financial company that he had been trying to establish himself in.

When I got to the little cafe he was sitting there with a business associate. This other gentleman was very nice and friendly. He was there to be the spokesperson for this financial program. My friend mostly sat back and listened.

During the presentation the gentleman mentioned building assets to pass on to the next generation. He said, “That’s our goal, building wealth that we can pass on to our kids.” I stopped him with a skeptical and screeching, “Weeeeelllll….” In recalling the story this is where my wife rolls her eyes.

I continue by reflecting on the dynamic of passing on wealth. Earlier we were talking about the fantasy world that people live in and how it seems to be growing with younger generations. I reflected on stories my parents told me and stories many of you have heard from your parents who were in that builder generation. Starting off as a young married couple, living in a small apartment, sleeping on a twin bed, eating sardines and rice for dinner. That generation gave blood sweat and tears to get where they are now. In turn, they wanted to build wealth for their kids so their kids wouldn’t have to go through what they went through. “Yet”, I pondered out loud, “how much of what they went to built the character of who they are now and what they have become?” Perhaps this is what feeds the unrealistic expectations of the next generation. I hear comments from the older generation toward the younger that they are too lazy. Shoot, I feel too lazy when I see what my parents do!

Eyes wide open because I am hijacking this presentation, the business associate says, “Yes, that is why we need to educate them.” I agreed wholeheartedly and added, “We need to teach them about Jesus and a Biblical understanding of money.” The wheels are spinning in his head, I can see it. “Well..”, he replies, ” sometime people pass on their wealth to their churches.” My eyes squinting in thought…I respond with a low, ‘Hmmm…about that….”

At this point he probably is wondering why in the world my friend set this meeting up.

I went on to question if there is a similar thing. I had been preparing for my sermon that Sunday and the scripture describe a comfortable church that was absent of the Holy Spirit. I shared way too much and way too passionately for a financial presentation, it just spewed out of me.

It was not my intention to hijack the meeting. He was a good guy and they were sharing a very significant product on a very important topic. It did make me think a lot about how well intended things like providing financial security for the next generation can have its detrimental effects.

It’s not a bad thing to provide financially for generations to come, its actually a very good thing. It’s also good to think about what impact that might have in the long run. What lessons and character traits are being overlooked when a good deed, results in unwelcome results? Never stop doing good and never stop helping others pursue greatness in themselves. -jason

Distracted

Just got back from volunteering in Karmyn’s class. I have the opportunity to go in every Monday and read with the children. There are different levels and series of books that move these Kindergartener’s through their reading development. Some of the kids might actually read better than I do, while others need a little extra support to get to where they need to be.

Often I chuckle when I watch the kids. They are so easily distracted. Take one kid I was working with today. Sweet boy, always smiling, always happy when I see him. While I was walking the kids to school he was walking in barefoot. “Where are your slippers?” I asked. “Oh, I forgot to bring them.” He causally says with a big smile. His mom came back later to bring them. He was the first I read with this morning and after we were done, I asked him to call the next child. “Taj, can you get Harley for me?” I ask. “Okay!” I watch him as he weaves his way to his desk to put his folder away. The slap bracelet in his bag catches his attention and he gives it a couple of good slaps on his wrist before putting it back and closing up his bag. He realizes he forgot to get something out so he opens his bag again and digs through his folder. Out come some forms. When he finally gets his bag closed and put away, he works his way over to the teacher. Along the way his attention is pulled to things that are on other peoples desks. He stops to read them. Eventually after touching a few things along the way, he hands his forms over to his teacher and makes his way to the group sitting in the front of the class. I watch him as he weaves his way to the far side of the group where Harley is sitting. His line seems to be heading toward the right direction, he makes eye contact with the student, then he pulls a 180 and spots his friend at the opposite end of the group, where he makes his final destination. I laughed to myself as I got up to call the next kid to read. Totally something one of my children would do. So easily distracted.

Not just kids. We can too, and on an even larger scale. What are some of your goals you had when you were younger? Where are you on that path now? What were your goals in having children? Where are you in your parenting now? Career? Finances? Ministry? Family?

Maybe we had aspirations to “make a difference in the world”. Then mortgages got a hold of us, and even more so because we got distracted by wanting the bigger house. Making a difference shifted to making more money. When we had kids we may have said, “I just want us to be healthy and happy.” Then they get older and education becomes more real and every other parent is talking about private school and extra curricular activities. Time to build deep bonds with your children might have been replaced with overtime to afford tuition and sports or other activities on the weekends because they need to be “well-rounded.” I think about pastors and how easily building a church business instead of a church body has distracted many.

Have you been distracted from your final destination? It’s not to late to reset the course. May you reach the goals you set before you. -jason

Save Our Ship        

Life with little ones yields a bounty of germs. This Easter weekend the entire family was plagued by the flu. Jonah harvested it from his classmates no doubt, shared it with his sisters and then his parents. We promote sharing in our home, when it comes to germs they are always in compliance!

With the wonderful world of social media we have had family and friends offer assistance. In typical Asian fashion, we politely declined. Yes, Emily is turning Asian too! One night a friend that lives in the area offered specifically chicken noodle soup. That was too good to turn away, and that homemade soup was amazing!

Easter morning our kids were a lot more energetic and resilient. They even got dressed for church. After a couple sleepless nights, I felt like maybe I was on the upswing. Aches were subsiding, chills were coming and going and I was starting to clear out the thick mucus that congested me. (TMI! Sorry!) Through the weekend our kids worked through most of the fruit we had, we trained Aubrey to work the microwave oven as we directed from the sofa, but they were getting restless. We attempted to get them out. McDonalds was a step up from the Easter candy that they were living off of that morning. It was good to be out of the house. We took our food to the park down the road from our home. Thirty minutes and I was done. Aches came back, chills crept in, and I just wanted to lie down. No bueno.

We rolled back into our war zone of a home, grass from Easter baskets strewn all over the floors, toys and clothes in every which direction, our dinner table was littered with cups and bags of candy and I didn’t even care, I just needed to lay down. While I was resting I was looking at all the Easter Sunday family photos on social media. I decided to share our sorry attempt at an Easter lunch. Then a message came in.

A friend that lives nearby sent a message. She reached out earlier and I extended the obligatory Asian decline. Thankfully she never got that message so she sent another message. Dinner?? Looking around the house I strayed from my Asian ways. “Dinner would be awesome, but if no can, no worries.”

She and her husband rolled up with a buffet of foods! Emily began to cry and our kids were like birds in a park fighting over breadcrumbs. They ate dinner that night like it was the first meal they had in days, so did I.

There was much more than physical nourishment and relieved responsibility that this gesture brought. It welcomed in the feeling that we are not alone. We are not left to battle the flu, or anything else, alone. There is a community around us. My spirits were lifted.

Well, we are on the upswing for sure. Aubs went back to school, she and Emily were least impacted. Jo and Kammy still have a bad cough, we’ll keep them home at least one more day. Emily is close to 100% and will return to work tomorrow. I’m still feeling the effects, maybe one more day of rest will do it. At least I know I am not doing it alone.

Community is more than giving it is also receiving. That’s the circle of community. Giving is the easy part. Reaching out to the open hand to help you up that can be a challenge. Pride is a roadblock to community. May you receive today from the community around you. -jason

Mind Over Manners

Something has been replaying in my mind the last few days. Our family stopped off to get some food for a potluck. We walked into the restaurant and I noticed a transgender individual sitting, waiting for an order. I didn’t think twice about this individual, I just went to look at the menu.

In Hawaii there are very open and supportive LGBT policies and views. Perhaps this is why I have never really thought much about my interaction with anyone that was homosexual or transgender. While my personal views hold me to the belief that it is not a lifestyle I should choose, I understand and respect that others do not hold the same belief. I have friends that choose this lifestyle and I love them just as I love any of my other friends. I don’t think I have ever been uncomfortable around an LGBT individual because of their lifestyle choice, until now.

As I stood looking at the food, Kammy comes up to me and in a LOUD whisper says, “Dad! Is that a man or woman?” HUH? How do I answer that? In my adult mind I can reconcile this situation, but how to I explain that to a 5-year-old right in front of this individual? My first thought is, “I don’t know what this person would like to be identified as!” I’m trying to formulate how to address this and she repeats it two more times. By the second time she says it, Jonah jumps in, and his whisper is even louder. “DAD! Is that a man or woman?”

I’m sure it was probably over the duration of only a minute, but it felt like an hour had passed. I rein my mind in and I tell the kids, “Why don’t you introduce yourself?” Before I complete my first word this individual says, “It’s okay. Really. It’s okay.” Geez, I was not ready for that conversation. It was right up there with, “Dad, is that lady pregnant?” Kids, have a way to create some awkward moments.

My mind, in trying to find the best politically correct thing to say, made me forget my manners. My core belief is that all creation is from the Lord and He loves His creation. When asked the greatest commandment Jesus says, love God and the second is like it, love others as yourself. The “right” thing to say overshadowed my core beliefs. It was my mind over my manners.

I’m sure I am probably going to get some backlash for this post. I’m sure there are many beliefs our there and you all would handle the situation differently. For me, I think the next time I’m in that situation I would walk Kamryn over and I would say, “It is not polite to ask a person if they are a man or a woman, but we can introduce ourselves and say, ‘Hi, my name is Kamryn.’” In my opinion transgender, homosexual, heterosexual or whatever other classification is out there, we must see a person beyond their sexual preferences. That’s what I want my kids to know. That’s what I want to teach them. Maybe then they won’t stumble on their mind over their manners. -jason