Shame is the absence of self love.

Hello there! Happy New Year! I have not blogged in a long time but last night I read something so profound that I had to share it.

I am re-reading Tattoos on the Heart by Father Greg Boyle. My good friend lent it to me. I read it cover to cover and am re-reading it cover to cover. It is that good. In one of the chapters, Father G says that shame is the absence of self love, much like the darkness is the absence of light, and cold is the absence of warm.

This makes so much sense to me! I don’t know why I never knew this before.

The solution to shame is self love.

I must love myself, the way God loves me.

I must accept myself, the way God accepts me.

I must delight in loving myself, the way God delights in loving me.

I must find joy in loving myself, the way God finds joy in loving me.

There is no room for disappointment or disapproval, because God is too busy loving me.

God, who is greater than.

God is so much bigger than I had ever imagined. And she loves me so thoroughly than I had ever know.

I also love love love that Father G sometimes uses SHE and HER for God, and not just HE. I mean, there is no gender for the Holy Spirit, is there?


I also selected a word for 2016. It shall be serve. God told me so. (Not audibly.)


Changing Someone’s Life

This is an old old draft post but I liked it so am finally posting it. It’s a bit outdated but whatevs.

It’s been a strange week. I’m going through Step 4 in my al-anon recovery process. I’m on the topic of love. It asks, “How have you expressed your love toward others?”

I could barely think of anything. I searched my mind and my heart. I still could not list more than a few things. I told myself, “You are not a loving person. You don’t love anyone.” Sounds crazy, but sounded partly right at the time. I doubted if I could really love someone else… you know, the kind of sacrificial, self-less, unconditional, all-giving love. I also wondered if I am having any real positive impact on those around me.

So today, someone that I don’t know came up to me and told me that they went to a meeting. They said that I talked about unconditional love at that meeting, and that that meeting changed their life.

So yeah, that happened.

One Word Theme for 2012

My word for 2012 is humility. Why? Because I desperately need some.

I find that most of my troubles come because of my pride and arrogance. Especially as a parent, it’s so easy to lord it over my kids, who really don’t know much. But that doesn’t mean I need to be mean spirited or haughty when I teach them. I want to teach them with love and grace. With a gentle spirit. God has entrusted me with these two little precious souls, and I don’t want to ruin them! I don’t want them to feel small.

For me, pride and arrogance brings rigidity and judgement. It has to be my way. Your way is always wrong. Or there is always a reason why my way is slightly better. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Being right is so overrated. I want to stop the endless comparing and judging that happens. I am not in competition with my husband or with my kids, or with other moms, or with other employees. STOP comparing myself with others.

I was supposed to have learned a lot about love last year. But to be honest, I think love is too above me. It’s too lofty. I need something more tangible. Maybe it’s because I need some humility first, before I can learn about love?

I do think love and humility go together very nicely. Love is humble. Love is not proud. Love doesn’t judge. Love chooses to lower itself.

So, there it is. My word for the year is humility.

I wonder what God has in store for me to learn this year.

One Word Theme for the Year

Last year, my word for the year was “not-judging.” That was the year I found Al-anon and I learned a whole lot about not judging in al-anon meetings. I learned that I have a whole lot of judgement towards others. A WHOLE lot. Every time I criticize someone, I am judging them and thinking that I am better than them. I try to remind myself that everyone is trying to do the best they can and that no one needs to be reminded how screwed up they are. We all are. Screwed up that is. I have especially a hard time not judging my husband. I think I know him so well… but the truth is that I don’t know what he is thinking all the time. I don’t know all of the experiences he’s had… and on top of that, he is a different person. So yeah, no judging husband either.

This year, my word for the year was love. I have to be honest, even after a year of thinking about this word, I don’t know much about love. Most of the time, I don’t know what it means to be loved, or to love someone else. I know that I am loved. And I know that I love others… but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I told my kids that love is hugs and kisses… and I think that captures the gist of it.

I am wondering what I should choose for as my theme word for 2012. I’ve been thinking about humility. That would be a good one. Goes well with not-judging, does it? And with LOVE! Maybe I will get some more insights into what my word should be in the next couple of weeks.



letter from my sponsored child

I got my first letter from Rizel today. The first one that was written after our meeting. Here it is:

Dear Older Sister Mary Choi,

“If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Mark 9:23

First of all I would like to say gam sah ham ni da (thank you in Korean) for our bonding and at the same time visiting our place with your husband. Kuya (brother) Jin was so god and generous as well as you. Sorry if my english sometimes was not so good because at that moment, I can’t believed that we had our conversation in personal. Until now, I can still remember the low tune of your voice, your radiant and awesome beauty and the tenderness of your heart. I really miss you. I am lucky that you’ve been part of my life. You know what? August 7 was my best and worst day because when we said goodbye and separated to each other, I felt that I am broke and empty. I cry most of the time, especially when I reminisced those times we spent happily together.

Anyway, you told me that your favorite sport was swimming. Aside from it, do you have other favorite sports?

About the question of your letter last June 15, what do I want after schooling? I want to go to abroad to find a good job so that I could help my parents especially my younger sister. Because on that time, she will be graduating in high school And I am going to finance all of her expenses at school in God’s will.

Please pray for me that I could have good grades at school and also our health condition.

I always pray for you and your family. I miss you so much. T.T

Hope we will see each other again soon…

Your sister in Christ,


Philippines – Day 3

On day 3 we visited Elohim Child Development Center. The children welcomed us like celebrities as usual. We had lunch with some of the staff. We also got to see some of the documentation that each child is required to have. One of the staff told us that Compassion children are one of the most documented kids in the world. I believe them. They all get biannual home visits, dental check ups, health check ups, their progress at school is documented and their home life, to some extent. A couple of the kids sang a duet for us. One of the teachers actually wrote the song and it was beautiful. The song’s been stuck in my head for a while.

After lunch we went to visit some of the homes at the “cemetery.” The staff explained that about 200 families live in the public cemetery because they have no where else to live. Eleven sponsored children live in the cemetery and we got to visit five of their homes. We broke up into groups of four and the house that I visited was actually on the way to the cemetery. The father had built a house made of tarp and scraps of this and that. Him and his family lived there for the past seven years. SEVEN YEARS!

The oldest was sick in bed with fever when we visited. The little boy’s hand was blasted off while playing with firecrackers, the mother died giving birth to twins three years ago, and the grandmother who was taking care of the kids died last year. Now the father, who sometimes has work, looks after the kids and tries to survive. The girl in the middle is the sponsored child. While we were visited a local “official” came by wanting to know what we were doing there. The Compassion staff worker explained and he quickly left us alone but apparently, he’d been pressuring the man to leave as his “home” was illegal. We sprayed some insect repellant in the house before we left and man, the bugs started coming out from every little crack in the house (we were outside after we sprayed.) A cockroach 1 inch long stumbled out. Mosquitoes and flies were flying everywhere and kept coming out. (It wasn’t really a surprise because when we were in the house, the bugs were everywhere.) We prayed with the father and the kids. This was the poorest house I set my foot in.

Afterwards, we went inside the cemetery to wait for the other groups. We saw a lot of this:

Houses built on top of tombs. Lots and lots of them. See them on the lower right side? And also under the houses? If you look closely, you will also see a rooster under the blue tarp, sitting on top of a wall. Apparently, cock fighting is rampant there and even poor people buy and raise these roosters either in hopes of raising some money or because they are addicted to gambling.

Well, needless to say, this scene is one of the most depressing ever. I can’t even imagine sleeping there one night yet living there. And on this day, God gave us one of the most memorable events of the whole trip.

K, one of the co-leaders, had made a connection with one of the little girls who lived there, her name was Princess. He said that when he first stepped into her house with the team, she seemed really shy and quiet. But as the visit continued, she just warmed up to him (he has a way of doing that with kids) and she held his hand and wouldn’t leave his side. K said that the family situation seemed a bit fishy.. the dad wasn’t the real dad, etc.. Anyway, we were getting ready to leave and Princess tried to get on the bus with us. Of course, she couldn’t come and had to get off the bus. She ran around the bus, trying to look for K and K was trying to wave good-bye to her too. As the bus took off, Princess just ran after us. She couldn’t have been more than 8 years old. She was running after this huge bus in her flip-flops, tears streaming down her face. She ran and ran until we got to the church (we weren’t going that fast) and she caught up with the bus. We had to make a turn onto the bigger road and she kept running after us until we couldn’t see her anymore.

I have no idea what Princess’s situation is like but I had to wonder, what would make a little girl reach out to a stranger like that? Did K symbolize hope in her hopeless world? Was she looking for a father figure? I have no idea but all I know is that I will never forget her face and the image of this little girl chasing after a bus, tear streaming down her face. Desperate, perhaps, to hold on to the glimmer of hope she saw that day.

A Small Act

Just finished watching this awesome documentary on HBO On Demand. My intentions for watching this was not ideal. I mainly wanted to distract myself from emotional pain. Despite my impure intentions, I really enjoyed this film.

It’s about a Kenyan boy who was sponsored by a Swedish woman to help him continue his education. He ended up going to university and then to Harvard for a masters. Currently he works for the UN. The woman, it turns out, is a Holocaust Survivor and has no husband or children. They meet for the first time when she is like 80. The boy, now a man, starts a foundation to help kids who were like him. The documentary shows three children who strive to get the scholarship offered by that foundation. One is accepted, but the other two are later sponsored by the producers of the documentary.

I love love love this story. The woman only paid like $15 per month to sponsor this child. She actually couldn’t even remember how much she paid… it was so long ago and also it shows me what an insignificant thing our money becomes as we grow older.

Anyway, I just wanted to share it with you. I hope it brings you hope and encourages you to do ONE small act today.