meet Sojung

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Sojung Lee is a illustrator, designer who owns creative business, SOHOSTORY,  with her husband. She also writes a beautiful blog, mundane type. She discipled me and another sister during my junior year of college, helping me grow closer in intimacy with with God. She’s an amazing lady with lots of strength. I’m excited to share her story with you.

Hi Sojung. So I’m sure your life has changed a lot after having Abe. What have you been up to recently?

I haven’t been doing much work since the baby was born back in December. He’s 4 months now so the last 4 months have been about taking care of him as a newborn, and also taking care of myself because I am grieving my mom who passed away in October. I’ve been learning about self-care while taking care of somebody else who can’t do anything for themselves.

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I haven’t figured out what self-care means yet. Part of it is that I’m seeing a counselor every once in a while which helps to talk about my feelings. I also let myself cry when I want to instead of holding it in; I wasn’t really good at that before. I would just bottle it up and then blow up later. Letting myself feel my emotions as they come has been really important to stay sane. I know in the long run me dealing with my grief now, even though it’s hard with a newborn, is going to be so much better for me and for my family.

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How did having Abe shift your purpose?

 I did not want to ever be a mom. Even when I was little even when we played house, I was never the “mom”. When we got married, we both were on the same page that we didn’t have to have kids to be a complete family. That we were going to be just fine, just the two of us. So we thought our purpose was going to be being the couple that didn’t have kids. We really enjoyed that time that was just the two of us, and it really gave us the room to serve a college ministry at SMU and to serve our friends who had kids. If they needed a meal or whatever, we can help them do that. We really thought our purpose was to be the childless couple; we wanted to take full advantage of that. However God wanted us to be parents.

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Before we had the baby, I was really afraid our life was going to come to a stop, and we would have to change everything about who we were and our lifestyles because we weren’t going to be able to pick up and go anymore. Both Hyoyoung and I have been praying a lot about just moving to another city one day. So we downsized and moved to a smaller apartment. And when we found out we were pregnant, I felt like everything was going sideways and it didn’t look anything like we wanted. Now that he’s born and he’s here, I see that, yes we had to make a lot of adjustments, but it hasn’t stopped my life.

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If anything, we’re seeing that we can still hope and dream and pray about those big things we were wanting, either about moving away or growing our business in a way so it’s more national and not just local. It’s still possible with Abe; it just looks different. I definitely don’t know what’s God’s purpose is for us being parents or me (being a mom) yet.

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I know some time has passed since you graduated college, but can you share your journey in finding your purpose in college?

 I was not a believer until my senior year of college, and it happened my second semester of senior year. I started to go to church as a freshman in college. I went because I really liked the people there, and I liked the community, but I had no idea what the gospel meant for me, and I didn’t believe in it.

My mom was first diagnosed with cancer seven years ago. She was the only believer at home so I was really mad at God.  I couldn’t understand how the only believer in our house was sick with cancer.

A little after she had her first surgery, I stopped going to church. It was a really tough surgery, she was in a lot of pain. I was going regularly every Saturday and Sunday because of my friends there, and I just stopped going. One day my dad pulled me aside and said: “why aren’t you going to church?”

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Estranged – Watercolor by Sojung Lee 

And I told him, I can’t believe in a God that is hurting my mom so badly when she’s a Christian. My dad, who is an agnostic (he doesn’t believe in our Christian God), said: “But it’s because of God that we caught it early enough so your mom can be treated.”

That’s the exact moment I start believing in God; I saw that He can use anybody for His purpose. It doesn’t matter whether they are Christian or not. My life changed from there because I had a newfound purpose. Before it was just trying to get a job out of college so I could move out of my parent’s house, so I could get married. I just wanted to live my own life, whatever that meant to me at the time.

Once I became a believer and believed in the gospel, my purpose really changed.

Wow what a testimony. What was your post-grad journey like after meeting Jesus? 

As soon as I graduated, I couldn’t find a job so I definitely had a gap year, but I made money by substituting in the local district at the high schools. That’s what I wanted to do then, teach high school art. I started grad school in that same year to teach high school art because I didn’t think I was able to get a job again the next year either.

I went to visit my old high school art teacher for a paper I was writing for one of my grad school classes. That same day, she said, “We actually have an opening, you should go meet with our principal right now.” She gave the principal a call, and she wanted to do an informal interview right then and there. When I met with her, I didn’t even have an resume on me so I had to email it to her later. A couple weeks went by, and she called me to tell me that I got the job. I did that for 3 years.

Everything was such a God thing, because I didn’t even know there was a job opening. I didn’t apply for it, the interview was completely informal, and I happened to be dressed nicely that day because I had to be for my grad school assignment. The timing of it all was so crazy.

In the last eight years, I have really learned that everything is in God’s timing, and there’s nothing I can do in my power alone. There is nothing that is in my control. I could do everything perfectly, but if that’s not God’s purpose for me, it doesn’t matter what I do. I think it’s the same thing for even when if I mess up really big, God can still work. He’s so much bigger than what I can do that sometimes, in the end, it doesn’t matter what I do.

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That doesn’t mean I am supposed to sit and do nothing and wait for Him to do everything for me. That’s not the gospel at all.

It’s more that, I am just finding that God is good and He wants what is good for me. That means He wants free will for me and that’s why I can make the choices that I make and have freedom in that.

There’s so much more freedom in knowing that there is grace for me in messing up than me not believing in God at all, doing whatever I want, and not knowing what grace is. Living that way would be so much more sad and not as life giving as the gospel is.

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Without the gospel, my life would be completely different and my choices would be different. I would much rather believe and live my life with purpose rather than not believe and wander around aimlessly, trying to guess what my purpose is. With the gospel, I know what it is: it’s to glorify Him and love others as He loved us first.

Abraham's 8 week Portrait

(Photos courtesy of Sojung Lee.)

simple things

today i ate a square marshmallow and it was good. it tasted better than normal marshmallows but that might be in my head.

today i drank coffee but it was 3/4 milk and 1/4 coffee. does this still count?

today i ate chicken-fried steak, pancakes, bacon, hash browns, cake, popcorn, salad, apple, banana – all in one day (not in order). how is this possible? oh well… now it’s all in my belly.

today i sat by a windowsill and i just stared at the trees. it was a nice moment i shared with God. very peaceful.

today was my last day of going to a school all the way in fort worth with my car buddies, and it was my last nap that i would take on our car rides there. i was mostly happy though to say goodbye to fort worth but i will miss my naps.

today i realized i am almost halfway through this finals week. i also realized i will miss my cute little dorm room, being able to walk to a dining hall, walk to classes with my friends, laugh, complain with them.

today i realized life is really simple. all i need to do is follow Jesus and everything else will fall into place. i dunno why i was stressing this whole time about who knows what.

thank you Jesus for loving this simple-minded girl who falls asleep in class sometimes and then her friend has to wake her up (it only happened once). thank you for this sweet time where i was able to be almost a college student again. thank you for all the good people i met and for all the lessons i learned. thank you for knowing me much better than i know myself because clearly you know what’s going on when i don’t. thank you for knowing ahead of time that the only subject i would be able to teach is math (ironically) and i am pretty bad at teaching anything else. thank you for the good moments i had with my students which were glimpses of what i would be doing in the future. a million times thank you Jesus.

 

my flesh, my spirit

i fight my flesh on a daily basis.
it’s a fight that i usually lose.
my flesh is addicted to social media, youtube, sugar, food, and anything that keeps me distracted for more than five minutes.

let’s scroll on facebook for five more minutes
im bored … i wonder if there’s anything to eat” 

i can feed my flesh everything it craves, but the satisfaction is so temporary.
once i stop scrolling on instagram, i realize my life is humble and ordinary
once i stop eating, i realize i still want more even though i’m not hungry
and i feel anxious and at unrest.

but i’ve tasted and experienced something that is so incredibly satisfying. it makes me forget about myself and my earthly problems. it brings me more joy than any material possession can promise me. it leave me at peace and at rest.

when i feed my spirit instead of my flesh. i feel alive.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”  Romans 8:5-6 

 

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i’ll let go

i’ll let go
of pursuing what the world says is good
of my ideas of a comfortable and good life
of my dreams for my future

i’ll let go
of my pride
of pleasing people to gain approval
of my reputation and my “good name”

i’ll let go
of chasing things in this world
of my love for money and material things
of trying to find security in my bank account

i’ll let go
of trying to run this race on my own
of thinking that i can do this on my own
of living a life separated from you

i’ll let go
of believing that someone other than you will ever be enough
of thinking that human love is better than yours
of not finding contentment with you

i’ll let go
i’ll let go
because, Jesus, you are worth it all and more
because a life lived for you is far better than any life i could imagine on my own
(inspired by AMP’s song Evermore, i copied their format and wrote my own spin because i love the song so much.)

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meet Hannah Park

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This is Hannah. I remember first meeting Hannah as a little freshman at an Asian Council event; she was the president of this organization at that time. She was always so hospitable to us freshmen, and she was one of the reasons I felt right at home at SMU. Then fast forward three years later, she joined staff at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and she became my staff worker at SMU.

Hi Hannah, what are you doing right now?

I am currently on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. I graduated in 2013 so it has been four years since I have been working with InterVarsity.

What was the post-grad transition like for you initially? What was the hardest thing for you?

My post-grad transition was definitely not easy, and the community is not what I thought it would be. I thought it would be a great group of people around me, from my church or old school friends, who would always be there to hang out with every other day. That’s not really the case for anyone, and it’s not reality.

I started to gather friends from different places and different parts of the world. It took a lot of effort, time, and energy to invest in those relationships. Now four years later, I am finally experiencing the community that I was looking for my first year out of college. It looks really different so it’s virtual, phone calls, texting and keeping in touch with people that way; but also making an effort to visit them. My friend and I visited my other friend at Baylor spontaneously because she was having a rough weekend. We went for a day trip for eight hours and half of that was in a car. Even doing something like that helps build trust with that relationship.

My friend and I visited my other friend at Baylor spontaneously because she was having a rough weekend. We went for a day trip for eight hours and half of that was in a car. Even doing something like that helps build trust with that relationship.

 

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So I know that the decision to join InterVarsity staff is not an easy decision. How did you make this life-changing choice?

I definitely struggled with making a decision about my career in my senior and junior year of college. I did not want to be a psychologist or a therapist or anything in that field, but I really liked the major. I felt like God was asking me to study psychology so I was like “okay sure”. I was studying it without really knowing the purpose of why I was studying it.

It wasn’t until Urbana 2012, which is a really big student missions conference with InterVarsity, when I even considered or even heard of InterVarsity staff. It was the first time someone asked me, “hey would you consider this job?” I didn’t even know the job existed. I knew I wanted to work with college students in a university setting because that’s where any leader will be developed.

If people came out of college knowing Jesus and were impacting the world in a significant way. I knew it is so incredible and it fulfilled all the things that I wanted in life.

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Was it hard to be obedient? Did your desires align with His call?

I think the overall big picture stuff did align. I love the mission of what InterVarsity does. I love that God’s purposes are being fulfilled on campus, but I think the day-to-day stuff wasn’t something I expected. I have to make my own schedule, and fundraise $50 to 60k in a year.

It was an easy decision because God really understood my desires. He wanted to honor me in my desires, which is something He did not have to do but He did.  The desires that I had to really let go of was being really comfortable.

Financially, I would rather go to grad school where I never had to worry about finances and what I want to buy. But then I am realizing a greater fear would be to live a suburban lifestyle 20 years down the road and feel stuck. So even in my fear, God was honoring me in who I was.

 

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Were there any disappointments you had to face along the way?

Disappointments are definitely real. I don’t think I was ever disappointed with what I chose to do. There were some times when I was working with students, and I felt like the students weren’t  growing at all. That’s when I felt disappointed.

Whenever I started comparing myself to the people around me, that’s when I felt discontent. All my peers are seniors now or whatever in different firms. They have really high paying jobs with promotions and bonuses. They are doing things that are normal in their life. They are buying houses and buying their second car. And I am not there.

So when I compare myself, I think should I be doing what they are doing? Then I realize talking to them, they are not always happy in what they have chosen to do, and they don’t always find purpose in what they are doing. And that makes me more sad with them rather than feeling disappointed.

 

 

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Are there any dreams that God has placed in your heart?

One thing God has asked me to consider is not to stay in America forever. It’s something that is scary to say aloud, but I think He’s really shown me His heart for different people and parts of the world. And the purpose He has for each one of them. Many students in other parts of the world will never know God’s purpose for them until someone goes to them.

I would love to reach out to students in different parts of the world who are lonely, confused, depressed and show them this awesome person of Jesus and be a matchmaker. It’s kind of like introducing two of your really good friends to each other, knowing that it will be the perfect match.

 

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(Interview edited by Sue Han. Photos courtesy of Hannah Park. Top photo by Sue Han.)

come on eileen

 

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Today, I stand in the middle of a grocery store with my mom and I am delighted to hear one of my favorite songs playing. I am taken back to two summers ago when I was in riding in the backseat of a red Ford with Shelby and Ben with the windows down. This song was playing and Ben sang along. I remember the good times I had with them and even the times I felt homesick. I shared many fond memories with Shelby. We lived together for three months in a nice apartment in a suburb in Detroit.

I was in such a different season of life compared to where I am now. I don’t think back then that I would have imagined that I would be doing what I am doing now – working at a restaurant while living at home. Maybe, back then I would have imagined that I would be living in a small studio apartment in New York while working in advertising. I wouldn’t change my situation right now even if I could.

It’s the times of homesickness and loneliness yet joy and happy times that I had in Detroit make me appreciate what I have now. Sometimes, it’s hard living at home when I am continually woken up by my brothers screaming at each other in the morning about one thing or another. Or when my brothers call me all the time for rides. It’s not fun when my parents tell me something I am doing wrong or complain that I am interrupting them while they are watching something that I have no interest in. I know I will miss these times and the chaos of living with my younger brothers before they go off to college.

Each season of my life is not what I expected at all, but it’s even better. I would have never chosen Detroit as my first choice of places to intern at, but I wouldn’t trade my Detroit experience with any other city. All the times of getting lost with Shelby or missing the bus or receiving prophecy at Shelby’s relatives or going to Frankenmuth and getting Christmas ornaments will be times that I will treasure.

Thankful for this season of my life where I feel like I can be a kid again under the roof of my parent’s house. Thankful to be around college students at church which makes me feel like I’m still in college. Thankful to have my own room again which reminds me of my high school years. Although, I feel like everything has been moving super fast since I graduated, I’m thankful for this season of rest.

 

 

Meet Anna Norkett

 

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This is Anna. She is a recent graduate from SMU and my roommate from college. She is known for her rambunctious laughter that can be heard a mile away. She is my best buddy because we went through the turmoil of senior year and graduating together!  I have had many conversations with Anna about calling and the purpose of our lives as we were both figuring what to do during our senior year of college.

Hi Anna. What are you doing right now? 

Right now, I am living the dream because I am doing everything that I wanted to do or I was thinking about doing – and I get to do it all at the same time. I tutor local students in ACT, SAT, Algebra 2, English, college admissions …basically anything students need help with. I also work at The Commit Partnership, an education non-profit that helps drive achievement for all students in Dallas County. Lastly, I volunteer at a chapter plant at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at TCU.

Dang you are doing a lot. What was the post-grad transition like for you? 

To be honest, the transition after college was one of my roughest times. It involved lots of hours of crying in my bed, in the grocery store, in the shopping mall…and a lot of it had to do with a lack of direction. When I didn’t have a clear direction, it made every day hard because I didn’t know what I was working for. It translated to all areas of my life too. My thought process was: I don’t know what I am doing with my life, so therefore I don’t even know what to buy for dinner.

I had spent my whole life on a pre-determined path, and I knew how to do that well. Get good grades and be involved in high school to get admitted to a good college. Then, in college, get good grades and be involved to craft the perfect resume. But once graduation hit, there no longer was a path to follow. Suddenly, I was standing in front of a wide open field without a clear path to run.

 However, now I can see that there is one overarching direction for my life, every day and every moment; I just didn’t see that at the time. Therefore, I needed to go through the rough transition time to realize that. Anyone could have told me this, but it wouldn’t have sunken in until I experienced it myself.

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How do you feel like your purpose in life has changed after graduating? What are you seeking now? 

Before, I was seeking some end goal but I didn’t know what that end goal was and I was trying to find it. Maybe some job would have been my end goal or a relationship or a state of being.

I realized that those all fluctuate: jobs fluctuate, relationships fluctuate, locations fluctuates, our emotions fluctuate. What stays constant is God so I think I realized through that process that my purpose is to know and love God and help others do the same.

The best part is I can do that anywhere at anytime and every day. It doesn’t matter what my job is, it doesn’t matter who my friends are…none of those things matter. Wherever God has me right now, I can pursue loving God and loving those around me. So now, even though I don’t have a full-time job and I don’t even know which full-time job I should pursue after this year,  I know that God has planted me in the lives of so many students through my tutoring. I have an opportunity to love them well and invest in them. I have the opportunity to love my co-workers. I have the opportunity to love students at TCU. I have the opportunity to love my neighbors in my apartment building.

This is just a precious time so instead of trying to find my purpose being in a next step, I want to focus on where I am planted now, how can I flourish here, and seek the welfare of others who are placed in my life. Then I can fulfill my purpose every single day.

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What are some of the disappointments you have faced during this time?

My life does not look how I expected it to. As someone who always did what a “perfect child” should do, the next step for me would have been to get a stable, well-paying job that would label me as a ‘success.’ That is the picture I had in mind for myself throughout high school and the first half of college. I had good intentions at the time: make the “best use” of the gift of education I’ve been given, make my parents proud, and be able to give back through giving opportunities to others.  However, upon graduating, that was not reality. I knew this picture I previously had in mind was not what I wanted for my life anymore, but I didn’t have another picture of my life I could replace it with.

On top of that, my family is going through extremely difficult times. At first, I tried really hard to “fix” the situation. However, as I’m sure you can agree if you’ve ever tried to “fix” something out of your control, it doesn’t work. My next response was to be overly happy and grateful no matter how my family was doing. That wasn’t a healthy response either when dealing with tough stuff.

Thus, God has been teaching me to live in the tension between being hopeful in Him and also mourning the hard situations at the same time. I thought it had to be one or the other, but I’m learning that it’s okay to mourn. It’s okay that my life doesn’t look like what I wanted it to look. It may never look like how I imagine in regards to family and work. However, I truly believe God is weaving all these challenges into a redemption story that is so much larger than my own. Now the biggest lesson I am learning is to be patient because I know the Truth and I know my life is in God’s hands.

 

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What would be your one dream? One thing that you would love to see happen during your lifetime? 

I’m spending a lot of this year dreaming. Now more than ever, I’m learning we can’t set the destiny of our lives, but it’s good to work towards our dreams especially if it’s a dream that God has placed in our hearts. One dream I’ve had for a while now is to see all kids receive an equitable education because I believe social justice can begin in the classroom. Teachers have such an impact in students’ lives: they have the opportunity to tell their students they are loved, valued, and cherished. I think it’s a mission on God’s heart to tell all of His children that they are loved, valued and cherished. So that’s the one thing that would be awesome to see.

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