New Mexico TRUE Spring Break

In the time since we have called New Mexico home, our family has explored much of the unique sites this area has to offer. For Spring Break, we took my visiting parents to the southern mountain town of Ruidoso for a couple nights.

Road trips with my dad are awesome because he is a great storyteller. He wanted to share with my boys his personal history from birth to when he was their age. His stories as a refugee child during the Korean War and its immediate aftermath made time pass quickly. His memory is so sharp that we could imagine ourselves in every scene: hearing distant bombs explode followed by nearby machine gun staccato when North Koreans invaded his hometown and told a frightened crowd that had gathered in the local school that their “brethren had come to liberate them” from the South, hiding with his family behind shipments of ginseng in the back of a cargo train to escape the occupied town into safer Seoul, and weeping when his 10-year-old crushed spirit found the popsicles he wanted to sell for needed money for his struggling family had all melted in the summer heat leaving nothing but naked sticks in his simple box.

img_0463

After realizing my mom had been quiet during these recollections, I curiously asked what she remembered of the war. In sharp contrast to the detailed descriptions of my dad, she simply said, “All I remember is at one point we had to beg house to house for things like soy sauce and rice. I thought it was really fun! People thought I was so cute.” And that was it. Meanwhile my dad was giving us specific dates, what people said, the gravity of how he felt, background information, and in fact, figuring out through what little she said that my mom would have been 6 or 7 for her single vague memory. We laughed at the difference between them.

After lunch in Socorro, we ventured out to the Very Large Array (VLA). The VLA is a set of 27 92-feet high and 82-feet wide satellites arranged in Y formation that together perform as one humongous radio telescope. They are able to take pictures of galaxies millions of light years away. Their images are used by astronomers around the world, and their location in the middle of New Mexico is ideal for the type of conditions needed to maximize this amazing technology. It was an educational trip for my little scientists who liked the black hole images the best.

img_0497

The powerful winds prevented us from fully taking advantage of the walking tour. We pretty much took a few steps and sought the refuge of the car once the winds threatened to blow us over. Ethan wanted to show how it was hard to stand in the 40mph gusts.

img_0467

Even if you never get to see these remarkable antenna in person, the informative film is available online here.

The next morning we headed out to White Sands National Monument. We had been there before a couple years ago but wanted my parents to be able to see the miles of white gypsum sand. Again the winds were pretty strong. After a few minutes outside, the grains covered us like a second skin. Of course, the boys did not care and welcomed the sand in their pants as they buried each other and rolled around. Even now, after a couple car washes, there are probably still sand grains in the back seat. But nature provided the best playground for the boys who had so much fun in such a beautiful setting.

img_0498

Thanks to Yelp which has revolutionized our vacation dining, we found JAM-ing Hot Dogs & More for lunch in Alamogordo. After hearing the options, Connor knew immediately that he wanted a hot dog for lunch. Ethan said to the uncertain others, “Well, at least it has 5 stars!” Besides friendly local owners, they also had Chicago-style dogs. Yes, please! It was good enough for Ethan to write his own 5-star Yelp review.

Did you know that the world’s largest pistachio is in New Mexico? Ethan did. It was mentioned in Dan Gutman’s Genius Files book series that he read, so it was particularly cool for him to see in person. McGinn’s Country Store sells a large variety of flavored pistachios which are grown right next to it on their Pistacioland Tree Ranch. The boys thought we should buy their daddy the bacon ranch kind, and I could not resist the spicy green chile ones. Am I New Mexican or what? My mom also got some of their delicious pecan and pistachio brittle.

img_0494

Back in Ruidoso, it struck me how the scene around our cabin might not be what one would think is typical of New Mexico. But it is another aspect of the outdoor beauty of this state. There was a wildfire that jeopardized our check in and caused schools and roads to close. Luckily the fire was contained, and we were able to enjoy this view in safety.

img_0500

On our drive back to Albuquerque, we stopped by the Valley of Fires Recreation Area. 127 square miles of rock formed when lava flowed from vents (not a volcanic eruption). It is one of the youngest lava flows in the country having formed about 1,500-5,000 years ago. There was a nicely paved nature trail with markers corresponding to a brochure our tour guide Ethan read to us.

img_0513img_0514

This short but sweet trip epitomizes much of New Mexico to me: a wide variety of unique landscapes, friendly small towns with locally owned eats and flavors, and hidden treasures that provide an educational and fun experience unlike anywhere else. It is memories like these that will stay with us and always make New Mexico dear to our hearts.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

For Spoken For

Confession: I have not been ENTIRELY off social media during Lent. I have only 6 days left till I can officially waste my life on Facebook again, but there have been times that I have gotten on my 3 forbidden sites for one thing, and one thing only: Spoken For. One of the many things that I will truly miss about living here in Albuquerque is being involved with this volunteer-based non-profit. Its mission is to help combat human trafficking here in the state of New Mexico.

Spoken For provides a hope and a future to human trafficking victims through advocacy, outreach, short-term resources, education and awareness.

The people who lead and serve this organization are genuine, caring, passionate, fun, and just outstanding folks to be around, and I will miss them!

In 3 short weeks, their one big fundraiser, Run Against Traffick 5K, will take place on Saturday, April 9th. You can RUN it, you can WALK it, or you can VOLUNTEER at it. Whatever you do, you will be actively participating in supporting an organization that is making a difference for the better. Whether we are exposed to it or not, there is real hatred, pain, coercion, abuse, slavery, and violence not just in the world but in our very own communities. Last year in New Mexico, there were 90 calls reporting human trafficking. There were almost 30 confirmed cases in our little unpopulated state alone, and 11 of those involved minors. Spoken For exists to help end all of that evil and injustice.

If you are in or around Albuquerque, please consider signing up for it by clicking here. If you would like to volunteer at the race, please email info@spokenfornm.com. If you know of anyone in the area, please spread the word, share the event, share this post! If you are still stuck on the fact that I have been technically breaking my fast for this group, please read about Jesus healing on the Sabbath.:) I’d like to think that this social media time (like inviting my local Facebook friends to the run event just now) is similar to David and his posse eating the consecrated bread. We are in the midst of a battle and this is life-giving stuff which is way more important than my personal self-denial. See you at the RUN!

FullSizeRender

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It Ain’t Easy Being E

(So there’s some big news in this entry. I’m still not on Facebook till Easter even though the blog automatically posts to it, so if you have a question or comment that you want me to see, you’ll have to do it directly on the blog.)

My kids are pretty opposite when it comes to their personalities. For the most part, Connor is easy-going, laid-back, and goes with the flow. Ethan, my dear firstborn E, is not. For the past couple months, there has been talk of Tucson in our home because of a potential job for my husband. From the first moment he heard of it, Ethan reacted strongly. He was adamantly against any such idea from the beginning. Every single night for 2 months straight, he asked God not to let his daddy get the job in Tucson. He is persistently conscientious in his bedtime prayers. While this is sweet when he prays for someone’s healing or comfort, it can start to grate on a dad who is in the process of seeking a new job opportunity.

Finally, Mike had enough and had to tell Ethan to stop reciting the usual, “Please don’t let Daddy get the job in Tucson, and please don’t let us move from Albuquerque.” He protested loudly, “BUT I DON’T WANT TO MOVE!” I gently explained to him that he was hurting Daddy’s feelings by praying those words every night since this potential position was exciting for Mike. I also told him that if God wanted us to move then we could trust that plan. I said the most important thing was that we would be all together as a family. Ethan honored his father’s request but only after making it clear that he could still pray those prayers on his own. I have no doubt that he continued those exact words SILENTLY with great diligence.

One Sunday morning, the boys found out that the likelihood went from 50% to 90%. Sitting next to him in the car, I saw Ethan jerk his head back perhaps to curse the sky. It was not until we arrived at church that I noticed his eyes were watery and red. It hurt my heart to know how hard this was on him. When Mike texted me the afternoon he got an offer, I told the boys who were eating their after-school snack. Later I found Ethan in my room, lying on my bed with his head buried in the pillows, once again with watery eyes. I joined him, and we lay there silently for a moment. Then I commiserated with his feelings because I, too, was going to have to start over, make new friends, adjust to big changes, and leave things that I loved.

That night in his usual turn at the bunk bed prayer session, Ethan added new words. He asked God that IF we were going to move to Tucson, to help him be OK with it. That was huge coming from E. I felt that swell that grows in a mother’s heart when their child has come a long way. He was where his brother has been all along, but his path was rockier and full of fight. While having Connor (who was quickly satisfied with the mere possibility of a swimming pool) can make life so much easier, having Ethan (who protests and complains emphatically) can make life much more difficult. But when he comes through it, it is such a beautiful thing.

Often, he learns the hard way. Last fall when he found out that I had signed him up for basketball, Ethan almost cried in anger. Unlike Connor, he does not enjoy playing sports. He would much rather watch them and keep stats. Since Connor wanted to play and I wanted Ethan to be active, I signed them both up. By the end of the season, Ethan loved it. It became his favorite sport. Don’t get me wrong; it is still unenjoyable for him. He would still rather watch or keep stats. But he had a great team and coaches who allowed him the opportunity to learn the fundamentals and actually score baskets. It took an entire period of the coaches and teammates making sure Ethan got the ball at every opportunity until one of his attempts gloriously made it through the net. The whole gym cheered. We cheer anytime anyone scores. However, when someone not as athletic, someone who it doesn’t come naturally to but has to work at it with effort, when that someone scores, it brings the house down. We know the journey matters, the process is what is important, and we hold on to those lessons learned to guide us to the next place requiring the same tough work.

His honest journey has helped my own process. Together, we will get through this even if it does not come easy for us, and we will value the lessons learned. We know that what we meet with tears can often bring us great joy in the end. Bring on the pain of moving and the transitions involved with relocation. We may fight and yell some, but we know we will grow from it, and hopefully make God’s heart swell.

IMG_0360

E-dawg now prays that all will go well in Tucson.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

When One Mom’s Heart Tears

My kids and I have been praying for little Ava for the past 2 years. Her mom Esther writes a blog that keeps us updated on this precious little girl’s fight against cancer. This morning I read her latest post in my email inbox unprepared for the weeping that would follow. With eloquent transparency, Esther writes about the struggles and joys that accompany being a mom whose daughter is fighting for her life. So many times her words wrap themselves around my own mother’s heart and give me a tiny glimpse of the myriad of emotions and thoughts she has had to face in all of this.

For seven years I have made choices for her about what she ate, what she wore, what schools, what shows, what shoes, what activities and each of these choices were made with love to see her thrive. How then can you ask me to choose how she will die?

Please take a moment to read her full post here. Posts like these make me fall on my knees, and I hope that you will join me there at the foot of the throne lifting up Ava, lifting up Esther, lifting up their whole family.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Little Connor Comic Relief

One sample of his many Harper impersonations:

img_0354

 

(I will spare you his daddy impersonation in the corner of the couch with his shirt up, belly displayed, and arms behind his head.)

His opinion piece from school today:

Today it is the pressing issue of expanding dessert options in the school cafeteria; maybe tomorrow it will be climate change or reducing poverty. In the meantime, may the case for Otter Pops prevail.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Life is Poopiful

Our dog Harper is like Pablo Picasso who was extremely prolific having created about 50,000 works of art in his lifetime. Harper Jameek Beckett (the boys gave her that middle name, and I have no idea why) is also quite prolific. She litters our yard with so much poop that I wonder how one animal can produce that much waste. I think she should have been named Harper Picasso Beckett for that reason alone.

Is there any greater love than dutifully picking up someone else’s stinky poop every week? My life was so much nicer when I did not have to bend over, get within inches of feces, collect it like treasure, and discard the endless bags of waste while feeling my life shorten from the act. And how am I rewarded? By more piles of poop. Sometimes when I let her out, she poops, moves over and poops AGAIN. Could she not just get it all out in one mountain instead of spreading the odorous piles across more surface area?

There are about a million other things I would rather be doing than picking up her poop, but I do it. The boys do it (for a fee). Even my husband does it! We do not like it, but we accept that it is part of the package of owning a dog. Besides this disgusting (DISGUSTING) aspect, we also get sweet companionship, unwavering loyalty, and the therapeutic presence of a best friend who will always be there for you. She is also awfully darn cute. Having her in our lives is worth the (endless amounts of) poop that comes with her. To at least 3 out of 4 Becketts, the benefits are well worth the costs.

img_0341

Harper waits for the boys to wake up like this every morning.

This is true with so much of life. A Ballerina’s Tale documents the life of Misty Copeland, the first African American principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater. Before that crowning moment, she went through a lot. When you see her dance, you know she is naturally talented. Her grace and beauty are mesmerizing. I pulled a muscle just watching her stretch. Yet this amazing woman faced self-doubt, loneliness, a fractured shin, surgery, and countless hours of hard work and real pain to get where she is today. Despite the great difficulty, I think she would say it was all worth it. It was worth it not just for her personally but for the world at large, for the little girls who now have a role model who looks like them, for those whose odds are stacked against them, and for the ballet world to improve itself in expanding what it considers a natural part of its honored tradition.

People can be even messier than dogs. Loving others can be full of difficult challenges. It can require countless hours of hard work and real pain. It can mean doing things for them when we would rather be doing a million other things. It can put us inches from their poop. But we can choose to stick with them in their prolific crap and believe that they are worth it. This ain’t easy. Having been on the receiving end in so many instances (my family, my husband, my friends, and my God), I am glad they all thought I was worth it. Harper Jameek is worth it, and people most certainly are, too. Choosing what is clean and neat is easy. Choosing what is poopy seems ridiculously stupid. But I know from experience, that the harder choice can often be the better one. Sometimes all we see are the costs, the endless amounts of poop, and to avoid that, we rob ourselves of the benefits (some for purposes well beyond us) that FAR outweigh them.

Faithful poop-maker waits for Mike to come home every evening.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Not So (Lenten) Fast

My son asked me to post this picture of him and his Valentine’s Day box for school on Facebook yesterday.

img_0315

I did not. How could I not when this clone of my husband wanted me to post something?! He never asks. He is so much like his dad that he will grow up posting on social media only for momentous occasions like the Cubs in post-season play. That tells you how infrequently these guys want to be social on the Internet. Yet I didn’t do it even though he looked so cute and made a sign that says, “Do not touch or steal please.” (I reassured him that none of his classmates would steal anything, but he recalled the city-kid scars of swiped Lego minifigures from his kindergarten 100-day project in Chicago. There was no stopping his insistence on keeping the sign by his beloved Minecraft pieces.)

I had just decided to give up social media for Lent which started yesterday, Ash Wednesday, the day my son asked me to post a picture of him for the first time EVER. I don’t always observe Lent. In fact, I cannot tell you the last time I “fasted” in preparation for Easter. Yet for some reason, I actually felt the desire to do it. Unlike my husband, I post a fair amount. I allow social media scrolling to eat up an enormous amount of my time. I knew that it would be good for me to detach some and find a healthier balance.

I hesitate calling avoiding Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as fasting. Fasting to me has always meant, well, not eating. When did we start needing easier modifications to do the things our spiritual predecessors did? I know my mom fasts as a regular spiritual discipline. For her, it is not a giving up of desserts or gossip or tea. It is giving up food. I grew up knowing she skipped meals sometimes for a day, sometimes for days. Then again, she is of the Korean Christian lineage. They are the ones who get up at 5am to go climb a mountain and pray for a couple hours. HOURS. When I was in Korea after my freshman year of college, I went to a lock-in with some Christian students. We did not order pizza and watch movies all night. We spent the ENTIRE night praying. ALL NIGHT PRAYING. ALL NIGHT! PRAYING! Sound like a party to you? It is to an old school Korean Christian. Dang. I don’t know how I did it considering 20 minutes of praying can feel like an eternity to me sometimes now.

I am writing a blog entry. I googled whether or not social media included blogs because if it does, technically my (non) “fast” is being broken as I type. (It does.) But here’s the deal. I am giving up 3 forms of social media that have taken over my pitiful life. My blog has not (publishing 2 entries a week might be a record). I would like to think that God is still pleased with my efforts even if they are well, half-assed. I would like to think that God still loves me even though I just wrote a form of “ass” (not meaning what He rode into Jerusalem) in my entry. I would like to think that even though nowhere in the Bible do you read about Jesus or the disciples fasting as just giving up rugulah or kosher wine or not sitting in the public squares for debates that they spent WAY too much time attending. I would like to think that He takes some pleasure in my feeble attempts of self-denial. He knows that there is a possibility that Kanye will tweet something crazy (aka ANYTHING), and I will miss it. He knows that I will now no longer see what my friends are eating on Instagram. He knows that I will now feel really out of touch by being off Facebook. Because He is full of grace, He will not see my inactivity on these sites as lame compared to his own self-denial of having thorns pushed into his forehead, being stripped and beaten, having nails hang Him on a cross, and being completely separated from God for a time. Wait, what was I saying?

The point of fasting from anything is to remember our true dependence is on God. We can deny ourselves in humility for a cause greater than us. While I feel this the most when I skip meals to approach His throne on behalf of someone needing prayer, I believe there can be something sacred even in the the most menial ways of trying to emulate His example. When I stop getting on social media not because I personally want a better balance in my time management, but because I use that time to spend with Him and in turn get the added benefits of actually talking to my husband in the evening or engaging with my kids and dog when they are around me or most especially approaching Him in any way possible, then it can be fasting. So yes, I am fasting those 3 sites until Easter. I will not see your lovely Instagram sunsets (but I see them every day in my backyard). I will not know what you tweet or know your Facebook status updates. But I will hopefully be a little closer to the One who epitomized self-denial NOT for His own sake but for the sake of those He loved. As is true with most spiritual disciplines, it does not change Him. He would still love me whether I spent 14 hours on my iPhone or not. Instead, it changes me. This year, I decided I was ready for some of that. Besides this blog, I will reconnect via social media on Easter! Till then, you will have to text or email me to get in touch. And please do if I miss a song dropping by Bey.:)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments