The Puny Pundit

Musings of a big guy with small thoughts.

Korean Dictionary

My mom always had a Korean-English dictionary nearby so she could look up words when she was reading, talking, or signing something in English.  Thinking back on those days, it felt like she had one in every room.  Well back in high school…when someone would be unreasonably upset we would say things like, “Who pissed in your cheerios?”  or “Dude, why are you having a hemorrhoid?”  One day my mom gets really mad at me and I felt she was being unreasonable so…

I yell, “Why are you having such a hemorrhoid!!!!”

She responds, “What did you say?  Say that again?  How do you pronounce that?  What is the spelling?”

I say, “What? No!  Huh?”

She said, “You better say it again and give me the spelling or I’m gonna tell your father what you said.”

I immediately replied, “H-E-M-M-O-R-R-O-I-D…hemorrhoid.” (I was really scared of my dad)

So she looks up the word in the dictionary.  She gasps.  She contorts her face.  She then lifts her head up and glares at me with a look that can only be followed by a slap to the face.  She then smacked me asking how I could ever use that word to my mother.  For a minute I tried to explain my use of an American idiom but realized very quickly there was no use.  I apologized and chose my words more carefully from then on.  Immigration…gotta love it.

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Try-Cultural

I come from a family that loves food.  My parents, my aunts & uncles, my cousins…from top to bottom we love food.  We are an unusually close family having always lived within 5 miles of each other.  Being raised by and in a food loving family I was exposed to the wide range of cuisine that LA has to offer.  Hole-in-the-wall, ethnic, ethnic hole-in-the-wall…you name it, we ate it.  As an immigrant family we are not just bi-cultural, we are try-cultural.

Last week I took my wife and kids to Papa Cristo’s in Los Angeles.  It is Greek restaurant and market.  Those of you who are parents know how picky and honest kids can be about food so going to an ethnic place always makes us wonder.  Since my family has never been here before, we ordered various plates so we could try different Greek proteins.  We ordered…

1. Rack of Lamb

2. Gyro Plate (gyro meat on a plate with potatoes and salad)

3. Falafel

4. Grilled Octopus

5. Beef and Chicken Kebabs

6. Hummus

Our kids ate everything.  I mean everything.  They loved the octopus, falafel, and even the lamb.  I love Greek food and was hoping that my kids would too.  They did.  My wife and I were happy and proud that our kids are try-cultural as well.  They like Indian, Vietnamese, Armenian, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, seafood, vegetables, etc. I believe food is such an important window into different cultures and can be a small part of growing someone’s tolerance, perspective, and ability to engage those that are different from them.  Also, it just tastes good.

The more I learn about myself while loving my wife and raising my kids I realize that we humans are all racist and curious at the same time.  My hope in exposing my kids to the ethnic foods of Los Angeles is that we will feed the curiosity and starve the racism and ignorance.

Did I mention that it tastes good too?

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Broken Heart

The other day #4 was crying and being difficult.  Annoyed I asked, “What is your problem?”  #4  said to me, “I am a drama queen.”  She is 5 years old.  I look to my wife and asked how she knew that phrase.  My wife told me that #2 calls #4 that all the time.  Well, it is true.  #4 is a bit of a drama queen.  She has a smile that will make all your troubles go away and a cry that will make you wish you were deaf.  She is extremely sensitive to physical and emotional pain.

Later that same day my wife and I hear #4 crying and shouting, “You broke my heart!  You broke my heart!”  My wife and I looked at each other for a couple of minutes wondering (a) what happened and (b) what a strange choice of words for such a little kid fighting with her sibling (most likely #3 her nemesis).  After looking at each other with a perplexed look, my wife goes up and comes back down with a huge grin.  I realized that what most likely happened was that her brother broke a toy heart.  Lo and behold I was right.

I think my wife and I were a little disappointed that the drama that unfolded was so ordinary and literal.  For a moment there, we thought we got a glimpse of genius or maturity.  Well, until then, we will keep on hoping and keep on nurturing.

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R and R

Last week I took my wife to her favorite restaurant to celebrate her birthday. One of our church members graciously agreed to watch all of our kids so we could get dinner and a movie. After the sitter fed the kids and hung out with them, she got #4 and 5 ready for bed. She waited in the bathroom while they were brushing their teeth. #5 brushes her teeth, rinses her mouth, spits out, and then looks for a towel. There is no towel so goes up to the sitter puts her little face in the stomach of the sitter and shakes her head drying herself on the sitter’s outfit. The sitter said, “What are you doing?”

#5 shrugs her shoulders and says, “There’s no towel.” After this she walks away. When I heard this story I laughed. My baby girl’s response was both rude and resourceful, therefore I was both embarrassed and proud.

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More Than A Game 2

More Than A Game is a series about life lessons I learn from observing or participating in sports.  The first in this series was about Phil Mickelson (click here to read).

A few days ago I took my son to a driving range to hit some golf balls.  My hope is that one day he will play golf so that I can kill two birds with one stone…be a good father and play the game I love.  It has been a long time since I have done anything sports related with my son.  You see, when it comes to sports I can be the biggest a–hole mankind has ever seen.  I had to take some time off from coaching my son because every time I tried to teach my son sports, I would treat him like crap.  Sometimes I will sit next to him while he is sleeping and weep because I know this kid deserves better than he gets from me. Read the rest of this entry »

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Knowing Your Idols

I am not sure how comfortable my readers have been with my last two blog entries.  For some, I am assuming, it may feel like a little too much information.  For others the fact that a pastor uses the language I use sometimes is a major turnoff.  The reason I share this stuff with you all is because I have felt a great burden these days to share and speak on the topic of marriage.  Why?  Because it can be tough.  Marriage is a unique kind of tough.  Because our lives as husband and wife are so intertwined and so complex (family history, temperament, personality, hurt, gifts, sin, etc.) it has been easy for my wife and me to ignore issues in our marriage.  It is easy to be overwhelmed because the knots in our relationship can be so many and so big.  We did not ignore them on purpose.  We either didn’t have the self-awareness (we got married when I was 24 and she was 21) or we didn’t know how determine if our problems were deep issues or just a result of being stressed and tired from the responsibilities we have.

My wife and I came across something that helped us a lot.  I do not know who wrote this thing (most likely Tim Keller…a pastor in NYC).  As all of you know, the human heart has a propensity for making GOOD things ULTIMATE things.  The Bible calls this idols.  If you are not a Christian, I still think this concept applies.  We take good things like money, sex, work, culture, possessions and make them ultimate things from which we derive our identity and self-worth.  It happens to the best of us.  If this is true then there are millions of potential idols.  I came across a chart that saw four major idols which all other mini-idols serve.  Below is the chart. Read the rest of this entry »

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Knowing Your Strengths (Part 2)

Our family gets super crazy super fast.  Like all families and people we have to deal with both the day to day responsibilities and the stuff that just happens because we live in a world where stuff happens.  Just the day to day stuff is mind boggling and exhausting.  You read yesterday about what it takes just to get the kids to and from school.  Then there is buying the food, cooking the food, cleaning up, doing the dishes, and then throwing out the trash.  Only to do all of this again the next day.  Laundry piles up (and out).  Bills lie around all over the desk.  Cars need maintenance (gas, oil changes, wash).  This is not including things that “come up” like flat tires, illness, and other weird emergencies.

Every once in awhile my wife and I sit down for a heart to heart.  It is usually when money is short, laundry is bountiful, energy is low, etc, etc, etc.  For 10 years we have been going through the same routine.  We get overwhelmed.  We fight.  We make up.  We make out.  The only problem is that the making up part is really not making up.  A lot of times it is the classic sweeping our dirt under the rug.  Sometimes that is not a bad thing.  A lot of times we are able to let a stressful season pass simply because we love each other and at the end of the day we still have God, each other, and our awesome kids.

What we noticed though is that over the years, this cycle just got heavier and heavier.  Yes it has something to do with having five kids, but it is more than that.  The cycle gets heavier because…well, we never knew why it got heavier.  We just knew the resentment was building.  Let me explain a typical scenario at our home when things are overwhelming… Read the rest of this entry »

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Knowing Your Strengths (Part I)

About a month ago, my wife and I bought a game that our friends introduced us to when we were living in Boston.  The game is called “Tickets to Ride”.  The board is pictured above.  You get one set of cards that assigns your your routes (ie: Los Angeles to Miami).  You also get colored cards to put down trains to achieve your routes.  Anyways…we love this game.  When we first got it, we played religiously.

Something strange happened while playing that has never happened in 10 years of marriage…my wife beat me.  She didn’t just beat me, she beat me bad and often.  Right now her record against me is 20-3!!!  Why is this strange?  My wife sucks at games.  She has never beaten me in Scrabble, Monopoly, cards, Uno, any video game, etc.  Now all of sudden she is beating me like a drum. Read the rest of this entry »

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For Better For Worse

A few weeks ago #2 asked me, “Are you and mommy ever gonna get divorced?”  This question stopped me in my tracks.  I immediately responded, “Of course not.”  Then my mind began spinning and spinning.  Have we been fighting a lot?  Did we say anything to each other that brought this question about?  I hesitantly asked #2, “Why do you ask?”  She shared with me that one of her really close friends experienced the divorce of her parents this past summer.  I have always known that having a strong marriage is so important for the stability of a child.  We all know this.  It is another thing to see how much it matters to them.

As a pastor I have the privilege of walking with people that give me access into their lives.  This privilege is both humbling and at times opens my eyes to the realities of how difficult family life can be both past and present.  The one thing I have seen in others and experienced myself is that marriage is the brightest and darkest.  There is so much joy when two people sacrificially love each other.  There is so much pain, darkness, and loneliness when love has lost its way.

This week I want to share with my readers (both married and single) things my wife and I have been learning about marriage very recently.  These entries will not be seminars.  They will be stories and the lessons we learned. This week I will be sharing an entry everyday.  The last one will be about how these life lessons helped me in my relationship with my son.  I do not share these entries because I have arrived and am an expert in marriage.  If you were a fly on the wall of my home, you would probably never read another entry ever again.  I share with you a process that my wife and I have been going through and that has helped us learn to love and enjoy the chaos that is our lives.

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