Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Dragon and the Fly

After five+ years, I've finally published this story. Lorie DePoalo created wonderful illustrations and it's now available on Please feel free to "rate" what you read!

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Treasure of God's Word

This book, compiled by Jack Countryman, celebrates 400 years of the King James Bible. I admit, I signed up to review this book thinking it would offer insight into the history of how the King James version came to dominate Western society. Though it provides a glimpse of this insight, it's not the thorough history I expected. Instead, it focused on God's word, which quickly showed me that I was looking for the wrong thing. The history of how God's word came to be in it's current form is not as important as His Word that speaks through the Bible. Once I was put in the proper frame of mind for appreciating The Treasure of God's Word, I was immediately moved to give the book away to one of my Christian friends. It is a wonderfully simple gift, nicely bound and organized according to themes, starting with the most important message the Bible delivers - God's love. Each section pulls verses from the bible that relate to the given topic, including God's grace, God's faithfulness, God's power and so on.

Come to think of it, this would be the perfect Christmas gift for a non-believer. If one knew nothing of God, he need only look at the first page of the Table of Contents to learn what God is: love, grace, faithfulness, power, strength, comfort, mercy, forgiveness, wisdom, guidance, peace, compassion, kindness, patience. And so much more. This book is a slideshow of the full story found in the bible, highlighting the best parts of the nature of God - an encouraging reminder for the believer and a gentle introduction to those who have yet to meet their maker.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Tone of Hearts

Published another article on CultureUnplugged.

The One Year Mother Daughter Devotional by Dannah Gresh

When I read the title of this book, I thought it would be a good way to connect with my oldest daughter. Yet, when I opened the package that contained this free read, I realized right away that Gresh's devotional would be more appropriate for much younger girls - born in the 50s! Though it's idyllic to wish for such innocence in our teenagers, I need a devotional without the flowery frills, one that cuts right to the heart of the pressing issues facing today's youth.

It's a Candy Land devotional more appropriate for elementary or early middle school girls. It would be ideally suited for homeschool tweens who have not been corrupted by the societal and cultural norms impregnating public schools. I could simplify the language and use it with my five-year-old. But like the dreamy white picket fence, The One Year Mother Daughter Devotional only traces a hedge of spiritual protection around her. It's not solid enough to stand on it's own. With the exception of the Bible, no book can. To be fair, the only claim this book makes is that "after 365 days, mother and daughter are sure to see a difference in their relationship." Is this a good resource to strengthen our bond? Perhaps in the same way a slice of processed cheese is a good source of calcium. Quick, easy to swallow. As a supplement, it's a spiritual snack. I was looking for a mother daughter home cooked meal. Still, I might use this devo when I need a stencil to start real conversation.

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Living With Confidence In A Chaotic World by Dr. David Jeremiah

In Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World, Dr. Jeremiah tries to lift the weight of worldly worries with the Word, offering a constructive approach for those who trust their lives to the faithful hands of God, and encouraging those who have yet to turn over their fears to He who is always in control, even in the midst of chaos.  

Dr. Jeremiah offers a solid stone in the foundation on which we can stand firm: God's word. The key word here is stand, or "stay" as Dr. Jeremiah succinctly orders each chapter, followed by a level-headed "c" verb.  In chapter three, for example, "Stay Constructive" speaks of body building, like the man who builds his house on the rock.  

If the gates of hell have flung open into your living room, or if you know someone who is currently playing dodgeball with demons, Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World is a strong strap of truth to gird your loins. Though there were some parts within chapters that could have gone deeper, on the whole it serves as a useful tool, one I can pick up to whet my sword of the spirit in the days, months and years ahead.   

I received this book free from the publisher through the ( book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 ( “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Single Mom in Korea

My principal told me I might be one of very few American single moms who chose to move overseas to teach English. Though it is challenging, it's no greater than what a single mom struggling in America has to experience. In the US, I struggling to wait through the recession.  While job searching, I was working two part-time jobs, scraping by on waitress tips, food stamps, medicaid and public housing. My job here provides enough for me to live while here, and pay off debts back home. Though I'm working harder, I can support myself. That said, I believe coming to Korea was a wise decision.

Because God's been so good to me, I want to help any other single moms who might be thinking of making the same move. Already, I have received a number of inquiries from moms who want to know the practical side of the romanticized adventure of going global. It is a wonderful journey to be sure, but I have to say my situation is so good because of God. It's been perfect, because He is perfect. Lots of things could have gone wrong and didn't; I know He moved stumbling blocks out of the way to ensure a smooth transition. Still, though it has been an awesome experience, it has not been easy.

Since everything is new, everday can be an adventure, simply by discovering what new store is around the corner, tasting new foods, riding the bus, the subway. Korea is very kid friendly - they adore kids here - and it is very safe. I don't feel afraid to walk home when it's dark.

I have been particularly blessed with my placement. It is a wonderful school (private, Christian,) and the staff and principal have gone out of their way to consider our needs. They found housing within three-minutes walking distance from the school. They gave me a considerable tuition discount for my daughter so she can attend the same school where I teach; I am able to be right down the hall from her and eat with her at lunch. This is especially good when it comes time to comfort her if something happened that morning. I can also observe how she is being treated by other students, whether she is being accepted or marginalized, and see how she is accepting Korean customs. If I notice something, I can address it immediately or wait to discuss at home.

In my case, my daughter is African-American which is somewhat of an anomaly here. The children have yet to fully integrate her into their group. This is difficult to witness as a mother, but it would be even more isolating for her if she did not have me to turn to for comfort and affirmation. The caring staff and teachers are also making a concerted effort to reach out and educate the Korean children, using this as a teachable moment to learn about loving our neighbors, and acting as brothers and sisters in Christ.

I think the single parent should also take into account that you are even more single here. If you are willing to trust your child to the care of someone else, you might steal away for a "mommy time" break. I have yet to do that, as it takes time for me to build trust. Accordingly, I have had no time to myself, which is much different from home. At home, I could count on at least one window of opportunity every day to spend alone. I could get some shopping done, run to the bank, or just take an uninterrupted break to breathe for a moment. This hasn't happened, and last week I felt the burden. I still haven't worked this one out yet. Parents should keep this in mind. One possible solution is to connect with Korean parents of children around the same age as your child. This will be helpful support for you, and give your child someone else to play with besides you! Finding foreign moms has been somewhat difficult for me because of my location. Most foreigners live in Seoul which is an hour bus and train ride away.

Expect your child to need some extra leniency for sudden changes in behavior - mood swings, (clingy one minute, and "I can do it by myself" the next minute,) irritability, defiance, or acting out. You know your child, and if s/he does something out of character, be patient - she's trying to adjust to a major life change just like you. I think it's more of a challenge for the child because she didn't choose to come, the decision what forced onto her. Be prepared to console frequently, explain everything - even while you are still learning yourself. Much will depend on the age of your child. My daughter is five, so there was more behavior management and a lot more patience required.

Find some things that remind you both of home, a way you can connect to what is familiar and certain. For us, it was church and prayer. I also made sure she brought her favorite toys. I downloaded skype before I left so we could talk to family for cheap/free. And we had a conversation about "what was the same" since our arrival: "Mommy still works, you still go to school. We still eat toast for breakfast. We still read stories at night. We still watch Clifford the big red dog." This list will be a good reference when your child starts to feel like the change is too overwhelming.

When the child starts to miss family back home, don't try to brush the feelings aside. Acknowledge the sadness, let her cry. Hold her and admit that "this is the hardest part." Prepare them before arriving that missing family is going to be the hard part, especially, if your child is particularly close to father/siblings/grandparents. The child may go through the anger phase; he/she might be angry with you for bringing her here and taking her away from her family. If this happens, try to focus on the good that you both are experiencing, and then work at creating more good memories so you can bring them up when s/he has another "I miss my daddy" moment. Expect these "I miss" moments to come regularly and for as long as you are here.

It's a great challenge, and you have to be a certain type of person to manage it: patient, flexible, understanding, organized, possess nerves of steel and an open, compassionate heart. Get plenty of rest, take your vitamins (especially C, and zinc). A great sense of humor helps too!

I have documented some of our holiday activities on video plus daily living experiences such as a quest to the grocery store, and a tour of our apartment (the standard size for first year teachers!) If you have more questions, feel free to comment or send me an e-mail.