Monday, April 18, 2011

New stories are already rolling!

I'm already rolling new stories out on the new blog... come check it out!

Here's a snippet: Life's not looking so good today and tomorrow's not looking any better. Not only is there no fruit, there's not even a bud to give me hope that fruit will come soon. There's nothing in the barn and so how can I even hope that there will be more! It's all gone and I have nothing left to give

Friday, April 1, 2011

Goodbye jamieeng.blogspot...

Timing is everything isn't it? A good thing can quickly take a turn for the worse if done too quickly or held back to long. So I'm wondering if its just about time...

So what, you might be asking is it time for now? I think it might just be time to end this era of and time to start Steven and I's story together,
It actually makes me a bit sad to end my stories of my single life. As I have written here, I have wept over people's pain, laughed at my own blunders, and marveled at God's grace in my life.

Thank you for traveling with me on this 3 year adventure... but as they say, the best is yet to come... I would love you to follow our new blog
Are you coming?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sixty Characters or Less

A tombstone can only hold so much. It cannot tell your story or show pictures of your family. It does not show your bank account or your list of accomplishments. It is sixty characters, spaces included.
My grammee's ashes are being buried of Friday and my Aunt asked me to help her come up with these sixty small characters to embody the life of my beloved grandmother.
I thought back to when my brother and I went through my grandmother's things. We found all sorts of stuff that lead to much laughter and some tears. Jeremy opened one drawer to find about 500 of those little sample perfume papers. We erupted in laughter talking about Gramma's obsession with perfume, especially Elizabeth Taylor. Today, someone told me that Elizabeth Taylor died at the age of 79. I was reading a little excerpt of her life and was shocked to hear that she'd been married 8 times (Though, to her credit, she was married to the same man twice... so I guess that would only mean 7 husbands!) She'd also been in tons of movies, received an Academy Award and, of course had her own line of perfume. As I pondered those 60 characters and what Elizabeth Taylor's tombstone might read, I realized after death, it matters very little WHO you were and more WHOSE you were.
My grammee had a little plaque that she loved. She had it with her when she went into the hospital and my grandfather wanted to make sure that it came back to the house after she had gone. It said: The Lord is my Shepherd. My grammee belonged to Jesus. She gave until she had nothing left, she loved until her dying breath, she served and was broken for those in need.
A tombstone can only hold so much, but I believe these sixty characters give tribute to a woman who changed the world because she changed us. She loved us deeply and followed the Lord passionately.

Beloved wife, mother and grammee
"The Lord is my Shepherd"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Answers come in all shapes and sizes...

Ever since I was a child, little things have intrigued me. When my Gramma would take me into the store and tell my brother and I to pick out a toy, my brother would head straight for the GI Joes, which he would later blow up or shoot off the fence. I, on the other hand would find a very small pad of paper or a little ball and hand it to my Gramma as if it were the most prized treasure in the store.
My brother still laughs when he tells people how he would trick me out of my candy bars. My Grandpa would give us each a snickers. Jeremy would proceed to inhale three-fourths of his before I ever opened mine. Then, being the tricky older brother that he was, he would say, "Jamie, I'll trade you my little candy bar for your BIG candy bar." I, liking little things would quickly trade him believing that I got the better end of the deal.
As I have gotten older, God has taught me that he likes to answer even my little things. When Steven and I moved into our apartment several months ago, we had neither table nor couch. We began to pray for God's provision and a month ago, someone GAVE us a table and this week we found a couch on Craig's List... the only catch: the lady said that she had some other offers, but would give it to us at a great price if we picked it up within the hour. Well, they live in Richardson and we live in Uptown, a solid 40 minute drive on a good day. It was 5:30 on a Wednesday afternoon going north through rush hour traffic, good luck getting there getting there on time! But we took off anyway. Me, praying the whole way that it would be our couch. :) We arrived in record time to be met by a sweet family and the couch was perfect! I thanked her profusely and told her that she was an answer to my prayer. Her face lit up as she told me the story of the couch. She had put it on Craig's List a while ago and had a few bites but no one come through on it. So, she prayed that God would bring just the right people to buy the couch. At the same time we were praying for just the right couch. God answered her small prayer and my small prayer in the same couch.
Some people will hear this story and just hear a silly little story. I look at it blessed by an amazing God who also likes small things.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Saying Goodbye...

I received that dreaded phone call on Thursday afternoon that she was going quick. An hour and a half later, Steven and I were in the car headed to San Antonio. That was the longest drive of my life. Stories and memories flooded my mind of shopping trips and fun times. It finally fell on the last time I’d seen her.
Those two days we spent together were full of laughter and stories. We went on walks throughout the center and enjoyed reminiscing the days gone by. Her only requests were cream filled donuts and chicken feet, two of her favorite foods. As I left that Sunday, I had no idea what I was really saying goodbye to. I thought I was saying goodbye until next time, I didn’t know that that would be the last time I’d hear her sweet voice say, “Goodbye little Jamie… I love you. Come see me again soon.”
Tears filled my eyes on that ride to San Antonio as I recounted my grammee’s little quirks to Steven. He just smiled and offered his shoulder as I wept into his shirt. Hearing my dad cry on the phone might possibly been the thing that hurt the most. My dad is the head of his family… he is the strength, the pillar, but to hear him cry because he may never see his mom again made me a blubbering mess.
About 2 hours outside of the city, my sister called and asked me if I wanted to say goodbye over the phone just in case she didn’t make it. I didn’t understand how an infection could ravage her body so quickly, but by the time I said hello, she could only listen and not speak. What do you say to the woman who has loved you, held you, encouraged you and prayed for you every day for 28 years? Through broken words and slight sobs I said goodbye to my grammee. I told her that I was on my way, but that if she needed to go home and be with Jesus, I understood.
Steven continued to drive at a rather rapid pace and I prayed that I would get there in time. As we pulled up to the hospital doors, I jumped out to be met by my mom… I had made it, she was still with us. I walked into her room to see a woman I didn’t recognize. Her face was taut and her eyes were wide. This was not the plump faced, jolly woman that I had spent the majority of my childhood with, but she was still my grammee.
I drew my hand to her face and got real close to her and said, “I’m here Grammee.” Tears began to stream down my face as I told her over and over how much I loved her. She had waited for me. I was finally there and she had held out for me to get there. I choked back sobs as my sister, mom and I sang her favorite songs and kissed her face.
Finally, I whispered in her ear, “Its ok Grammee… you can go home now. We’ll see you soon.” They gave her morphine to make her comfortable and she slowly closed her eyes. We continued to sing and love on her for the next hour or so.
Her breathing slowed to 8 breaths per minute. Each breath was labored and seemed to take all that was in her just to push the air out of her lungs and pull it back in. And then she was gone. No dramatic exit. She just stopped breathing and slipped quietly into the arms of our Savior.
We cried, but she wasn’t. We wept, but she smiled as her eyes were changed and she saw the face of our Savior. I wondered out loud if she was immediately walking through the heavenly gates or if she stood next to us , comforting us, reminding us that she was no longer in pain. My heart broke, not for her, but for me. Never again would I get to hear her little voice say into the phone, “Hi little Jamie.” Never again would we laugh and tell stories. Never again would we shop and eat until we were sick. At least not on this earth. I smiled through my tears as I pictured my grammee in the arms of Jesus with no pain… running, jumping, dancing. That’s how I will remember my grammee. She is not the old woman in the bed but the young woman living death to its fullest in the arms of her Savior. Goodbye little Grammee. I love you. I’ll come see you soon.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The sweetness that comes with time

As he walked through the door with his best friend by his side, a uncontrollable smile came over him. Excitement seemed to swell with each passing second and with each friend who graced the doors of the chapel. The doors were flung open and the harpist's music changed as her beautiful smile and bouncing curls came into view. There is something magical about the way a groom looks at his bride on that day. He holds her soft hands and looks deep into her eyes and proclaims his undying and unchanging love.
But it will change. Love gets put through the ringer after that first day. It begins with all smiles and laughter, but that first fight brings tears and hurt feelings. Love grows, love changes... it deepens and expands far beyond anything you can imagine.
I've only been married for 2 months and know so very little about what it means to be faithful until "death do us part." But one thing I do know, my love is not the same. Even in the short 70 days we have been one, I can say I love him more today than I did on December 18th.
But there is a sweetness that only comes with time.
This weekend I saw the beginning of a new life together through the sparkling eyes of our friends Richard and Tania.
This weekend I also got news of my grandmother. She has been taken to ICU because of an infection in her body that has gotten into her bloodstream. Last time I went to visit her, she told me that my grandfather was a gem for taking care of her for so many years. My grandparents first met when my grandfather saw a picture of my grandma in the newspaper wearing a kimono (she was the only asian on the Univerity of the Incarnate Word campus to "show off" this newly acquired piece). My grandfather was so smitten by her beauty that he said to himself, I need to meet her! That was the beginning of their relationship that has lasted over 50 years.
As I looked at this picture my dad sent me of my grandpee praying over my grammee, I was brought to tears. This is a picture of faithfulness. I wonder what it'll be like on the day that I look in the mirror and wonder who the old lady staring back is. I wonder what we will have seen in the 50+ years we walk together. I wonder about the day that Steven takes my shriveled, wrinkled hand in his to pray for me. I can guarantee you that the love my grandma has for my grandpa is not the same as the day they said I do... now he takes her wrinkled hands in his, looks deep in her eyes and his prayers mean so much more than "till death do us part" could ever truly say.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oh first Valentine's, how I will never forget you...

No matter how hard we girls try to get it in our heads that things are never like the movies or even as perfect as they might be in our heads, we still have it made up in our minds that it WILL be a certain way... which is what I thought about our very first Valentine's together. Seriously, God laughs at my well set plans, I'm not kidding. So here's how it went:
I was gone last weekend to help my grandmother, so when I got home after 10 hours in a car over the span of 2 days, I was pretty tired. My sweet husband bought me a dozen roses and a funny card (my favorite!), which made my day wonderful and made my hopes of the perfect Valetines that much greater!
My plan was to make Steven's favorite food: homemade pizza (with his mom's awesome crust recipe!). So, I made the crust the night before and was so excited for the perfect Valetine's dinner.
When I got home, I realized, for some reason the crust had not risen... not at all. But I thought I could still make it work... nope. It just fell apart. Steven, being the amazing husband he is asked if we needed to call out for pizza and in my distress, I almost cried. Steven took the crust from me and SOMEHOW managed to roll it out and keep it together, so I thought our perfect Valentine's was saved, until I turned on the oven. For some reason, our pizza stone started to sweat and that created smoke and that began to pour out of our oven and fill our house! And before we knew what was going on, the fire alarm started screaming. As Steven was grabbing a chair and a magazine to fan the fire alarm, I threw open doors to let out the smoke. By this time it had moved from depressing to hysterical. Over the sound of the wailing alarm, Steven says to me, "Happy Valentine's Day!"
Next Steven wanted to suprise me with chocolate covered strawberries, but since we didn't have wax paper, we thought aluminum foil would work just as well... it didn't. Half the chocolate stayed on the plate. Once we finally had the pizza ready to go, we realized that getting it off the counter and onto the pizza stone was going to be a task. It began to split down the middle and ended up quite the mess on the stone. But, believe it or not, the pizza was edible, we still ate the half-chocolate covered strawberries, we laughed a lot and had a great time.
One thing is for sure, we definitely won't forget our first Valentine's Day together!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

City Life...

Two weeks ago we moved from the suburbs of Dallas to Uptown. At first, I wasn't really sure what to expect. Would people be nice? Open? Closed? Suspicious? Our questions were quickly answered by our neighbor above us who greated us warmly as we were bringing in our furniture. Friendship has begun to grow as Steven helped them move a table and they gave us a lamp!
I thought to myself I think we are city-type people.
I was blown away when we were in Bed Bath and Beyond and Steven stopped a saleswoman to ask her directions to the nearest Home Depot. She was already helping a very well-dressed woman and I was expecting the woman to be irritated by the interruption, but instead she added that there was one closer and gave us directions! We are definitely NOT in Plano anymore!
Steven and I are friendly types who like to meet people, but we have never met so many people who are interested in meeting US. Just last night I met our next door neighbors who approached me as I was putting things in the storage closet outside. They introduced themselves with smiles and nice to meet yous. I could get used to this.
While we were in Colorado in December, Pastor Murphy challenged the congregation to pray for 2 people for a month and see what the Lord would do. One of Steven and I's people were our neighbors. We were disappointed at our old apartment complex because during the entire month of January, we only saw our neighbors once. But we continued to pray... and I think the Lord is answering our prayers by giving us new neighbors to minister to!
Be sure to stay tuned... I have a feeling that over the next year, we are going to have some wild and crazy city stories to tell!

Friday, February 4, 2011

It's my RIGHT... or is it?

Over the past several weeks, we have come up against some resistance in our apartment experience. It all started with a phone call made from our new apartment to Steven saying that our old apartment complex wouldn't release our information because we hadn't give our notice to vacate. When Steven called me to relay this information, I took it graciously. Oh wait, that was the "loving patient Jamie" that doesn't come out in situations like this. Instead, I flipped out and started telling Steven all the ways that this was NOT possible. He, of course understood my point, but it didn't change the manager's mind.
It took me the 40 minute drive home to cool down to the place that I wouldn't completely let the manager of our complex have it. I wish I could say that this was a moment where I trusted the Lord and said, "Its in your hands." But instead I told Him all the reasons that this couldn't be happening and how UNFAIR it was and how it was my RIGHT for it to turn out the way I wanted.
As we walked into the office, I tried to compose myself as I told the manager that I had informed one of the other ladies that worked there in DECEMBER. What I had never heard before was this: every apartment in the state of Texas requires a 60 day WRITTEN notice. An anger and resentment flooded my mind: What are we going to do now??
Over the next week, the manager graciously came up with some solutions, but it was all dependent on someone renting out our old apartment. After the anger subsided, I realized that I was not in control and that I really had no choice but to either trust the Lord or lose my mind worrying. I decided trust was the better answer. About half way through the week, the Lord changed my heart from being irritated at the management to love. Steven challenged me to pray, not only for the situation but for the manager. So we began to pray that God would bless them and make them prosper. And you know what? It didn't change our situation one bit. We are still currently paying for 2 apartments praying that someone will rent out our old apartment. Do you know what it did change? Me.
Steven is taking a class on Jonah this semester, so I thought that, being a good seminary wife, I too would read Jonah. As I got to chapter 4, I was stuck by God's response to Jonah's anger: "Have you any right?" Later God "provides" a vine to grow to ease Jonah's discomfort and then "provides" a worm to eat the plant and make it die. And guess what? Jonah's mad again. So again God says to him: "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?" And Jonah's response? Angry enough to DIE.
God taught me a few things through this passage... he PROVIDES to bring me comfort but also to open my eyes to MY SIN. I deserve NOTHING. I have no rights. Anything he gives me that's good, is only out of his grace. Anything he provides for me that hurts is for my growth. Was Jonah sent to Ninevah to change the Ninevites or to change Jonah? Or to change me...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Grammee...

There is something about a hospital bed that brings things into perspective. This tiny frail woman laying with eyes closed and head back was not always like this. We used to race down the mall corridors and see who could eat the fastest. We would see 2 or 3 dollar movies in one sitting and eat so much we couldn't move. Her smile would cause her already small eyes to disappear as we would laugh at something silly. We missed more than one exit because we were lost in conversation. She prayed for me, spoke God's Words of truth into my life and was my confidant when I trusted no one.
This is my Grammee.
But this weekend when I went to visit, I realized that things really have changed. Getting up isn't quite as easy as it used to be, walking takes just that much more effort, and the desire for the richest foods has all but disappeared.
I tried to be strong as the EMTs came to scoop her up on Saturday. I held her hand and gave her a reassuring smile as we sat in the ambulance. I interrogated the doctors on what might be wrong and made sure they didn't give her anything she can't have. I played the role of responsible granddaughter for the whole weekend... Until I got home and landed in a puddle of tears in Steven's arms.
This is the grandmother who has taken care of me my whole life. She changed my diapers, washed my face, and held me as I cried. Now I guess its my turn to return the favor.