This has been going around Facebook - a challenge to list 25 facts about yourself. Here's mine: 1. I am a descendant of William Bradford, (Mayflower and Governor of Plymouth Colony). 2. I am also a descendant of samurai from both sides of my maternal grandparents’ lineage. 3. I have never been able to settle on a favorite color but answer sage green when my kids insist I declare one. I like color combinations and patterns much better than a singular color. 4. I jumped off of an amusement park ride that was going up a side of a mountain, (an old ski lift that eventually went higher than the trees with no straps to hold you in), when I was ten and ran back to the start, dodging in and out of the empty chairs that were still moving. The ride attendant started yelling, my parents stood there in shock while my brother and his friend laughed in amazement. They treated me with a bit more respect after that (especially since they were too scared to go on the ride in the first place!) I in turn yelled at the ride attendant for letting me get on the ride since I could have easily fallen off as it went up or back down the mountain. After holding on in terror as it started to climb higher and higher, I decided to jump to save myself – it was a long fall to the ground but I was okay. 5. I’ve spoken in front of a crowd of over 500 hundred people. 6. My siblings and I are all right-handed but married left handers. 7. I grew up in a bilingual home and thought everyone could flip back and forth from English to Japanese. 8. I can vividly remember several dreams I had when I was three years old. As a child I had a sense that they were important to my life, telling me of some things to come and assuring me of God’s hand on my life. 9. I have a severe dislike of holes, especially clusters of holes and am working to desensitize myself. 10. Growing up in Japan, I never knew anyone outside of my siblings that looked like me. The closest was a picture I saw of an Indian woman in a sari, and that began my fascination with clothing from other cultures. I didn’t have one strong cultural identity, since I grew up with a blend of two that created its own unique culture. 11. I can read fast and can knock out most books in a few uninterrupted hours. 12. I’ve appeared in a movie, music video, commercial, morning talk show, stage play, and musical, but I’ve long had a severe distaste for acting and that world. It’s been redeemed through my husband, a former actor with an undergrad in theater, who is the best Director I’ve ever known and an amazing Cinematographer to boot. 13. I am extremely competitive and hate to lose…but I’ve mellowed out some as I’ve matured. 14. But I am not mellow towards cheaters. I really, really, really hate cheating and don’t hold back when it comes to dealing with them. Especially in games. 15. I’m getting ready for the 18th move in my life, including both international and local moves. 16. A woman I admire greatly who has had a lasting impact on my life is the late Benazir Bhutto. 17. My mother was a professional dancer in Japan, who started studying at age three. She also taught dance in the States and used to put on shows in order to raise money for charity. I never understood why she bought me a piano when I turned three and forced me to endure lessons for a decade, when I was an active child who would have probably done better in dance myself. 18. Two weeks after my first child was born, I shaved my head bald because I got head lice at the pediatrician’s office – I had really long hair and couldn’t use the medicine because I was nursing. For months, our baby had more hair than both her parents. 19. Before we moved to the States, I used to practice "being American," insisting we eat burgers, fries, and pizza because that’s what Americans ate. Once we arrived in the States, I asked my relatives to take me to a Five and Dime store, not realizing that they didn’t exist anymore. When they figured out what I wanted, they took me to a Mall kiosk instead. The books I had read about America were a little outdated, apparently. 20. Another sign that I wasn’t acclimated to American culture was that I didn’t know any slang – we weren’t allowed to speak anything but proper English growing up in Japan, so I didn’t know what my classmates meant when they asked who I was "going with" (going where???) or what they meant by "go take a hike" (what???). 21. My first crush on a celebrity was a sumo wrestler named Chiyonofuji. Before you laugh, read this article (www.claireworks.net/sumo/facetoface1.html) or Google him. He is one of the greatest sumo wrestlers ever, very handsome and with a muscular body. I still think he’s attractive! 22. I really miss living in Virginia Beach; it’s the place I’ve lived the longest and have the most friends. I love the ocean and always want to live close to one. 23. My favorite vacation so far was going on an Alaskan cruise with Sean and the kids. It was awesome going whale watching, and even being pulled up on stage to be a part of the magic show. Too bad I knew how they did all the tricks! 24. My second favorite vacation was going to Maine with Sean and the kids for two weeks last summer. 25. I want to take photographs that are meaningful and will help change people’s lives for the better.
Posted by Miki at 12:29 PM
I was touched by reading a friend's blog last night, at the level of honesty and transparency as he shared about his life journey since we graduated from Bible school over a decade ago. In our second year, we had to twice present a speech, and I can still remember how moved we all were with his message about an injured bird. In the same spirit of transparency, I felt that I needed to open up and share about something I really could not talk about for about a year. Sean and I barely spoke about it as the emotions were too raw; as the first anniversary came up, we found ourselves weeping at the mere thought of the experience. That anniversary passed, we are doing much better (our vibrant baby is a continual balm to the achy parts of our heart), and this is a testimony that God is wonderfully compassionate and a very present help in our time of need. Our baby, Keizo, had to be checked into the hospital on New Year's Eve, two days after he was born because his bilirubin levels were soaring. After a wonderful birth experience in a warm tub with a midwife, we went home after one night in the hospital. Our new pediatrician checked the baby after we got home and was concerned about jaundice. But her frantic call later that night insisting we take him immediately to the hospital left me shaking. Sean and the older children were out at a church New Year's Eve party, but he rushed home after my call. Though we were new in town, this church family covered us in prayer and took care of our children while we went to the hospital. After an agonizing wait for paperwork and personnel (didn't they say this was urgent???), we were taken to the pediatric ward. It was time to nurse Keizo, and the doctors/residents insisted I stop in order to get baby under the lights immediately. They turned up the heat by stating frightening things like he might need blood transfusions if I didn't comply, etc. We said that was not going to happen but allowed them to take him, though we were close by. Their response as I sobbed was to ask me if I needed to leave. I was too emotional and exhausted (I had given birth about 48 hours before) to rebuke their insensitivity. Ten thirty p.m. on December 31, 2007. The world seemed a cold, lonely place as Sean and I stared out the window and at our tiny baby in the incubator with coverings to protect his eyes from the blue lights. From our room, we could see downtown Baltimore and the celebratory fireworks welcoming in the New Year. We just looked at each other with sadness; we wanted to be home with our little boy and with our other precious ones. The next few days were an excruciatingly slow drag of pumping milk, urging baby to drink to flush his system of the bilirubin, changing diapers, and trying to sleep. I started to experience signs of a breast infection (fever, chills, uncontrollable shaking) and knew I had to get more rest. After the first night, Sean had to leave to take care of the children and to reassure them. I wanted desperately to hold my baby but could only touch him through two holes in the incubator. They pricked his heels numerous times to draw blood, but he stopped even grimacing after the first few times, though I wept. Maybe I cried enough for the both of us. After two whole days at the hospital, we finally got good news on the morning of the third day: his levels were coming down and I could hold him. I held that baby close to my face as I continuously prayed and spoke to him, almost breathing him in, as I reassured him of Mommi's closeness and love. Later that night Keizo was released, and the entire family surrounded him to bring him home. I don't think I've let go of him since... That's not true, really, but Sean and I cherish these precious gifts we've been entrusted with. God has blessed us, and He watches over them with even more diligence and care than we ever could. God did bless us and answer prayers during the time in the hospital, though it wasn't directly in response to my pleas to heal Keizo so we could go home right away. Our nurses, the daytime and overnight shifts, were handpicked by God. They lovingly cared for Keizo, calling him by name from the first moment as they gently coaxed him to drink. They took care of me too by assuring me of their care for him while encouraging me to rest. Though I wasn't the patient, the hospital provided robust and surprisingly tasty meals for me because I was a nursing mom - that kind of support was totally unexpected. The doctor in charge of the pediatric unit was extremely compassionate and kind, taking time to answer questions and reassure me of the course of treatment, explaining everything. She visited often and shared understanding as a mother. Her residents in training need to study her manner very closely. God's grace enveloped Baby Keizo as he lay peacefully under the lights all those hours. He looked like a sunbathing baby, chilled out and relaxed under the lights. A baby's health and release from the hospital after birth is taken for granted as the natural course of things, which it is for most people. We had two previously uneventful births and totally expected to transition to home right away. For parents whose babies have to remain in the hospital for whatever reason, it is a very scary, lonely time. The emotions are intensified when you consider this fragile, tiny baby - your brain registers the facts and reasoning but it doesn't seem to make it all the way to the rest of your body, which is frozen in fear. It's one thing to deal with things as adults, but when it involves a child, your child... It takes time for equilibrium to set in. We need to reach out to one another and care for those experiencing the hospitalization of a child, baby and older. A parent's heart is as fierce as a lion but also so delicate. This experience opened our eyes to the unique needs and challenges of parents when their child is hospitalized. God is compassionate and responsive - He needs our hands to be the ones to reach out to those in times of crisis or need. He works through His Body to touch the world.
Posted by Miki at 9:11 AM
A third of the way through the first month of the year, and I have made progress towards living the life I want. Exercising regularly has been energizing and has helped lift up my spirits during a challenging time. I am watching my portions, getting ready for the day, sleeping at more reasonable times, and communicating more clearly versus reacting in frustration. What does a lovely life consist of? A few years ago, desperate for Sean to understand me, I declared, "I need a pretty house, pretty things, and to feel pretty!" In the past, my standard was perfection in everything, a standard I could never obtain, obviously. But my perfectionistic tendencies have been tempered by experience and grace, so I strive for decency and order, a more biblical standard. Excellence - yes, perfectionism - no. One of my favorite quotes is: "Excellence is not a gift given, but a skill perfected." How exactly does that translate into real life? Towards myself, I aim to take the best care of my temple that I can, inside and out. Filling myself up with regular doses of the Word is first and foremost - it doesn't happen daily like I'd like, but it will continue to move in that direction! I even schedule Bible reading as part of homeschool so that we study the Word together on a more regular basis. Another way is watching my oh-so-judgmental attitudes and being quick to forgive. On the outside, it is my goal to obtain balance in my body and rid myself of excess baggage. Enough said. A lovely life for me is full of meaningful relationships, prayer, a peaceful home that is also lovely to behold, a joyful heart filled with peace, a radiant smile, and a strong body that is healthy and also lovely to behold. Though I may not have every element listed, I claim all of the above and more. A lovely life is made up of moments. A favorite speaker once remarked, "Life is in the every day." Life is what we make of it, how we spend these moments - celebrating the occasional top of the mountain high, pressing through the uncertain descents, and walking through the ever-present valley in between the drama of our lives with a positive attitude. This may sound so simplified and idealistic, but I have come to realize that when I stop focusing so much on what should be or what is supposed to be, then what is becomes a lot easier to deal with. And the current state should be occupied with deliberate attention with hope for the future and grace for the past. Today may not be everything I want it to be, but here I am anyway. So I will accept today, live in it, make note of the lessons I need to apply to make tomorrow better and forgive the past rather than continually dwell on it. This I proclaim to myself, and that 2009 is the year to shine!
Posted by Miki at 12:53 PM
A wonderful idea borrowed from 50s Housewife; the original link is http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/:
For today (January 18, 2009)
Outside my window... it is dark outside. Night has fallen, and it is time for dinner.
I am thinking... of a friend who has become like as sister in a short period of time - she is fighting breast cancer.
I am thankful for... my little family and the closeness we share.
From the kitchen... the yummy smell of lemon bars as they are cooling.
I am wearing... a teal shirt with a black dress and track pants - comfy.
I am creating... memories with my family as we rally our teams during the play-offs. Even a non-football fan like my daughter is drawn to the excitement and fun as the rest of us scream and shout at the TV.
I am going... to meet my goals for this year, especially the ones involving taking better care of myself. It is not an option but a necessity - and I will put forth the effort to do so daily.
I am reading... magazines mainly but am desperate to get a copy of The Shack.
I am hoping... that Sean is connected with the right job position soon and that we are able to get settled quickly.
I am hearing... the roar of the TV crowd and excited voices celebrating the Cardinals' win - hurray for Kurt Warner, a humble, godly man.
Around the house... there are "signs of life" everywhere as toys, books, clothes and other items have escaped their homes. It's time to start packing up the house for our short move in two weeks.
One of my favorite things... is to soak in a hot bath with a book. So far, my favorite bathtub was the one we had in our master bedroom in Georgia, an oval garden-style tub that you could stretch out in.
A few plans for the rest of the week... gym class for the kids tomorrow, school, hopefully a haircut for me, opportunities for exercise
Posted by Miki at 4:03 PM
My boys just celebrated their birthdays at the end of December; my older son prayed that his brother would be born on his birthday and so it happened! They'll be forever linked in this special way. My husband and I imagine them getting together as adults for birthday celebrations, flying in from other countries, perhaps, or planning a family get-together to welcome the new year. A beautiful gift for me was that as the younger one went through various stages his first year, it was like reliving his brother's first year, a year that was marked by personal challenges for me.
What does the future hold for these precious ones? I may not know the specific details, but a mother's heart holds a lot of hope and dreams. I know the One Who holds them in the palm of His hand, so their future is secure in that sense. I find myself praying for their future spouses on occasion, praying that even now as young children their hearts will be close to God, for His protection and guidance. I pray that our families will get along and truly enjoy being together, marked by unity in Christ and genuine affection. I pray that my boys will be Godly leaders, sensitive to His voice and actively pursuing their purpose.
My little boys... The mischievous twinkle in your eyes as you conquer your toys, building your worlds, and holding your sister's dolls captive. Your adoration of the princess of your hearts, a sister who is so fiercely protective of you and answers your cries faster than even Mommi sometimes. Your future wives will have to contend with two ferocious tigers in their quest to marry you...Momma and Sissie. In the meantime... May God shine His light and His favor upon you two, fill you with wisdom and knowledge, watch over you two to become strong men after His own heart.
Posted by Miki at 9:04 AM
As my foggy brain began to clear this morning, the thought that popped into my head was to make a list of all the blessings we've received since we moved to Maryland last year. Grieving a loss, even of a job situation, can be a roller coaster of emotions. So actively focusing on the positive will help boost my current state. Plus, God has been so very good to us, and it's important to remember how very good He has been, so here goes:
Blessings since we moved to Maryland:
1. Moving close to both sets of families. We've been able to see both sets of families numerous times throughout the year as well as close friends, since the drive is reasonable. We've had friends and family visit us too, which was special.
2. Giving birth with a midwife and in a tub. Experiencing birth with a midwife who encouraged me to trust my body was amazing. I chatted and laughed throughout most of my labor because I was relaxed and knew what was taking place along the way. Pushing out my son in the tub was surreal - it was such an intimate atmosphere, and I felt so powerful. Meeting this little one in person was precious.
3. Christian friends in a new community. Though it was hard to leave our dear friends, meeting amazing people here has been a tremendous blessing. From church friends to friends made in the homeschooling community, our lives have been touched by wonderful people.
4. Getting back on our feet financially and working for a great company. Owning our own business was a tremendous learning experience, but we took a hit financially. So being under the umbrella of a great company with all the benefits has been a huge blessing. Thank You, Lord, for this stabilizing time.
5. Living in a smaller space together, promoting closeness. It's always been my preference to live closer together, which goes against the norm in American culture - it must come from my upbringing in Japan. But I think this last year has been a positive experience for all of us, realizing that sharing space can be a good thing.
6. Experiences with the children in our new city. From navigating downtown, visiting museums, hiking a historic trail in Ellicott City, taking numerous walks with our homeschool group, going on various field trips, we have enjoyed what Baltimore has to offer.
7. Growing in new ways personally. I have grown as an individual this last year and have enjoyed being challenged to grow - spiritually, creatively, as a mom, as a wife, as a daughter, as a sister, as a friend, as a teacher... Thank God for growth!
In numerous other ways, God has both provided for us and blessed us. We can't help but remain thankful and positive when we consider just how faithful God has been to us. Life has not been perfect; it has not been without challenges. God has been faithful.
Posted by Miki at 8:44 AM
I write this a week or so into this new year. The holidays were special - sweet times with extended family and a fun family night ushering in the new year. Then the slow wind up to getting back into the groove of things, except that groove has changed radically for us. Yesterday, after several weeks of vague hints, Sean was laid off from his job. There's so much I want to write but I'm still processing all of this. Emotions are there but so is our firm persuasion that God is with us and will order our steps through this. This is a new year filled with promise, for God's Word is true irregardless of any circumstances. To this we hold fast.
Posted by Miki at 1:24 PM