Wrapping up the year of calibration — Welcome 2021 from Baek family

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Dear Friends,

I want to share my heart with you all as I reflect on a not-so-expected year and welcome new year.

Yes, there were MANY tough moments

On the night of Dec. 29th, I found out one of my toes was a bit swollen and red. I shared that with my wife and quickly did a google search — guess what I found: “Covid-toe”. Apparently, inflated purple toes are one of the unofficial Covid symptoms — too rare to be categorized as an official symptom but common enough to own a name. My wife was deeply troubled by the news and started calling her parents as well as her pregnant sister-in-law in order to share the information and get them tested asap. She was concerned by the possibility of them getting infected since we had met them a couple of days ago. After all of us got our earliest available Covid-test appointments, my wife even suggested the idea of us wearing masks at home and do semi-quarantine from each other.

I couldn’t explain fully then, but I realized I was deeply offended by what I thought was an overreaction. My heart was turned off as I felt I had made a whole mess and I was implicitly blamed. ‘It’s unofficial symptom and it’s just one of my toes. If two toes went bad, were you going to kick me out of the house?’ — Too many thoughts were messily drifting around in my mind.

For the next two days, my wife and I didn’t talk much as I shut my mouth down. Although we both absorbed the unpleasant atmosphere between us, we were too stressed and tired to address it. There was no peace or love left in me. Only after countless agony, I was able to let go of my ego and regain compassion towards my wife. I apologized for being mad and choosing to close my mouth. The whole drama ended after I got the negative test result.

This was the glimpse of how the year of pandemic took a toll on our relationship, caused stress and stole joy. I suspect many of you can relate. As Jay Stinger whom I deeply respect and admire puts it; it was a year of mute.

We were on “mute” in 2020. Muted describes our:

- Sense of connection with others

- Freedom

- Hope — we stopped believing things will change.

A lot of us might not even have much time or energy to reflect, let alone to write a fancy year-end tribute. I share my deep condolence and compassion towards whomever experienced any loss or is in middle of a tough season.

But we had a year of gratitude, full of unforgettable memories, all thanks to the love from above.

However, 2020 wasn’t the worst year for our family at all. In fact, it was one of the best. We learned countless life lessons.

This year calibrated our beliefs, our definition of happiness, and our priorities. This year changed everything, but we refuse to think that it was a curveball with no virtue.

I came across this from Jay Stinger’s same letter: I recognize that my relationship to hope has been compromised in 2020 time to time. Maybe you feel the same way? If so, we need to remember that hope is not about optimism. It’s about discontent and courage.

Hope has two beautiful daughters;
Their names are
Discontent and Courage.
Discontent at the way things are,
And Courage to see that they do not remain as they are
.”
-Augustine de Hippo

Discontent is about saying, “No more!” to behaviors that steal joy. Courage is about saying, “Yes!” to life-changing initiatives and conversations. For me, I’m saying, “No more!” to the self-deprecating habits and I’m saying “Yes!” to trusting him and remaining hopeful, loving, and grateful.

Other friends of hope are love&faith. Without faith, there’s no hope; that’s why I call Faith “a hope grabber”. However, faith doesn’t come easily. When we don’t have any energy nor joy, it’s almost impossible to be faithful. We need to be loved first to muster strength to get out of the self-confiscating shell and exercise the faith muscle. I learned the importance of living out God’s love to remain faithful and hopeful.

While 2020 was filled with never-ending disruptions, we couldn’t be thankful enough to him who has been writing a beautiful story in the midst of our weakness & shortcomings. He is the reason for our hope, source of our love, and the destination of our faith. Also, we couldn’t be thankful enough for you as we couldn’t have run the race without you. Here’s how my family lived 2020 and what we are hoping for the even-better 2021. If our reflection makes you smile and/or be any kind of encouragements, that’d be our privilege and joy.

San

2020 was a year of “exploration”. As usual, San loved doing 100⁹⁹⁹ things at the same time. What’s noticeable was that his areas of focus have shifted drastically; from “secular career growth” to “spiritual explorations”. Also, he notably laughed a lot more even though his sense of humor didn’t improve much.

  • Faith: It was a year of “taste and practice”. A year of growth and wonder. San tasted the sweetness of intercessory prayers for the first time in his life as he became part of multiple prayer ministries. San also explored the ministry of Holy Spirit with great enthusiasm and unmet curiosity, taking multiple courses, reading various books, and engaging with like-minded christ followers. Lastly, San was able to practice what he explored at his local church, spearheading Faith & Work ministry and Youth teaching. God has been blessing him with the heart of the shepherd and San was keep being in awe with how life-giving it is to freely give to others.
  • Work: San became the Product Manager for Ads quality at a deep-technology start up called MOLOCO. He rediscovered his geeky passion towards data as he works intensively with machine learning engineers and data scientists. Also, he became the host of a few company-wide meetings where people from different departments share their areas of works. It’s a time of joy for him as he loves building bridges and seeing people get together. He also has met multiple amazing new people that he interacts with daily, which he is deeply grateful. He is looking forward to continuously serving the company’s growth as a PM while creating venues to encourage his fellow coworkers.
  • Family: San finally learned how to enjoy his new born, now that his wife delivered the baby #3. He came up with a couple of new games & activities for Haru and Hayul, and it’s unclear who likes the game better — him or the kids. He loved doing dishes but that doesn’t mean he was good at it, which made Min say “I appreciate your gesture but I’d rather do it myself”. San was continuously blessed by amazing wife who was watching 3 babies by herself, still making dinner for him and cleaning the house, and always cheering everything that he did. San learned to say thank you more and to open up his heart more to his beloved better-half, even though he has long way to grow.
  • Self: San rarely did any exercise but often enjoyed fasting. He enjoyed sleeping 7 hrs/day (used to be a lot less). He cherished Oat-Milk Latte from Peet’s coffee (almost addicted at this point). He finally learned to just be in the moment and immerse into the praise music, not thinking much (which is a remarkable change if you know him). He couldn’t live a day without his AirPods. He loved to create venue over zoom where people can come and be blessed, where he frequently joked to no avail. San has been going back and forth with enjoying and fasting FB/Instagram. San enjoyed meeting new spiritual friends of all-kinds, but he also learned what it likes to pour over to a few people that can use his care (another huge change if you know San!).

In 2021, San wants to live a simpler and more focused life, doubling down on family, work, and faith community — the people around him. He wants to practice lifestyle of “giving & caring”. He also made a mind to be more truthful/loving especially when he is offended. It will definitely stretch him as his natural tendency is to flee from conflict, remain silent, and react in cold-anger. Lastly, San looks forward to reading/writing/talking more, both in Korean and English out of love & passion.

Min

It was a year of stretch for Min. God stretched Min in every area of her life — as a mom, as a wife, as a student, as a pastor, as a daughter/daughter-in-law, and as a daughter of God. She often felt overwhelmed but looking back, she can’t thank enough as she is being invited to a deeper relationship with her heavenly Father, who has blessed her with His heart towards the next generation.

  • Faith(Ministry): Min served as children ministry (PreK) pastor faithfully while delivering her 3rd child and watching three young kids at home in a midst of pandemic. The five days of online VBS (vocational bible study) was the highlight of her ministry. The online ministry setting has challenged her and made her to be more proactive. The next generation ministry became even more dear to her throughout the changes. She has been meditating on the book of Joshua, and blown away by God’s unfailing plan towards the generation to come. She is deeply grateful.
  • Family: Watching kids and running homeschool everyday when there’s no where to go/nothing to do was no joke. Even though she got many helps from San and her mom, it was still overwhelming. She often had to fight through the bursting anger. However, at the same time, this sweet and bitter moments had grown her. After all, she confess that the kids are God’s gift of joy. She enjoyed unpacking her creativity making homeschool materials for the kids. She cherished weekly family worship and modified date-night with San; even though San refused to eat late night-snack with her and seemed painful to watch her favorite TV show. But she still loved San and appreciated his unique charm. After all, she was deeply grateful that San is growing spiritually.
  • Self: Min loved her study. She never thought she would enjoy a history class but “church history” class was a hidden jam for her. She was deeply inspired by reading the Saint Augustine’s Confession. Min enjoyed connecting with other moms over instagram. She loved to comfort as well as being comforted/encouraged by others. Min loved to be there for a few friends who went through a tough time. Min’s favorite way to relax after a long day was to watch her go-to Korean drama while drinking the sparking water, which often accompanied with assorted cheeses, hot Cheetos, and many other snacks delivered from San’s company.

In 2021, Min looks forward to continue to serve the ministry, become a better partner for San, nurture the children biblically, and study biblical counseling. Also, she definitely wants to exercise more. Lastly, she is hoping to find a fellowship group in Christ where she can share various kinds of struggles and encourage/comfort/intercede for each other.

Haru

Our princess turned 5 years old this year. Her favorite princess is “Secret Juju”, a girly-girly video series that her parents forbid her from watching because of a bad-influence. Haru loves drawing pictures and building things. And Haru’s favorite thing to do is “playing with friends, who speaks Korean.”. She can’t have enough of her time with a few of her favorite friends, and sometime spend 1+ hour over video call, boasting her treasures while not listening to other friends at all. She always fights and plays with her 1.5 yr old younger brother Hayul, and she is also very good with watching her youngest brother. Haru is actually a fantastic cleaner and she can fold the laundry better than her dad — objectively better. As a puzzle master, she did 500 puzzle this year with only a bit of help from adults. Haru loves watching all sorts of shows on youtube, listening to ‘new’ stories or stories with any princess, climbing up to her dad, and having a date with her mom. Haru is learning phonetics and Korean alphabets (Hangul), and starting to speak a bit of English with a better accent than his dad and unique grammar.

In 2021, Haru wants to learn “ballet” and knitting. Also, she wants to go to the Disneyland.

Hayul

Hayul turned 3 years old. He loves eating cereal, yogurt, walnut, vitamin candy, breads, cookies, kalbi (marinated beef), and pretty much every food. He also loves climbing up and jump off from high ground. His favorite playground is daddy’s body, and he can get really mad when daddy doesn’t fully cooperate with his requests. He started to learn how to play with other friends even though he have very few friends and hardly got a chance to meet them. He sometimes counts and calculate better than his 1.5 yr older sister and his drawing also shows full of talents — at least in our eyes. He still looooves sharks but he is showing new passion towards insects. Another favorite activity is taking bubble bath. He loves his little brother but also feels jealous time to time. Lastly, he is such a book lover — he misses library dearly and to this date, going to library is one of the first things he wants to do once pandemic ends. Overall, he is such a joyful boy with full of smile and energy.

In 2021, Hayul wants to read more books and learn how to read. Also, he still loves anything related to Sharks!

Haim

Haim is the newest addition to the family. He is such a cute little monkey and so much easier than the other two — at least the way we feel it. He has this killer smile that no one can resist. He is also a foodie — loves various baby foods including fruits & meats. He has an attachment blanket and he can sooth himself with pacifier, which made San/Min’s life so much easier. The biggest struggle he is fighting is his eczema. He wakes up multiple times during night out of itchiness. Other than that, he is enjoying the love from every family members including his older brother and sister. In fact, Haru can watch Haim for over 30 minutes often. He crawls really fast and can put anything in his mouth.

In 2021, Haim looks forward to walking and talking. Also, fighting back to his brother with greater might.

In search of authentic and vulnerable stories. Christ follower, husband, father, son. Entrepreneur/Operator/Blogger. Endlessly seeking the awe.

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