Another Season, Another Christmas Wish List

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

Early on in our family as the children were able to understand the significance of receiving presents, we came up with a method to help the children stay focused during the Christmas season. It is easy to get caught up in all the commercial aspects of the season that we forget the true “reason for the season.” We just did not want our kids growing up and thinking Christmas was all about receiving presents – it doesn’t help when they have extended family members that want to spoil them.

Also, due to our budget, we decided to come up with a way to help the kids get what they want, but yet with our discretion to keep within our means. It is the Kim Family’s “3M Christmas Wish List!”

We categorize the various gifts that we want on our Christmas Wish List:
1) Most Expensive
2) Moderately Expensive
3) Minimally Expensive

Tonight we finished our lists.

It’s awesome to see when the kids have mostly minimally expensive stuff on their list :-) In that way, kids are very simple (at least for now)… books, candy, etc.

My list – very little on the Minimally Expensive section but a lot of stuff on the Most Expensive.

As we get older, the things that we want tend to be more expensive. Why is that?

Simple Pleasures

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

After dinner we went out to Coldstone’s Creamery (our family’s favorite). Christina ended up getting an internet coupon for – buy one, get one free!

When else can we enjoy ice cream in 60’s degree weather at the end of November. This is truly one of the simple pleasures in life.

Coldstone Pics.JPG
Enjoying some good ice cream
Christmas Lights with Kids.JPG
Took some pictures in our community since they put up the Christmas lights

Girls Wanting Protection?

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

Before I clarify on the title of this entry, I need to make some disclaimers:

1) This is just an observation that I made in the context of a personal experience
2) This is a generalization and I know there are people that do not always fit the generalization
3) I am not a sexist (Christina will not even allow me into the house if I was)

Whew! Let me explain what happened.

I was spending some time with the kids and as we were going to retire for the night, the boys were upstairs cleaning up their room. I was downstairs with Karissa. She then gave me a big hug and asked if we can play “The Baby Game.” The “baby game” is a game where Karissa pretends to be a baby that needs protection from the bad guys, which are her brothers.

She then proceeded to use some of the sofa pillows to build a mini-fortress to protect herself. Then this is when daddy comes into the picture. I am supposed to be the “hero” and protect the baby from the two “bad boys” in our house.

It was amazing to see Karissa’s facial reaction. When I drew closer to the mini-fortress and told her, “I WILL protect you!” Christina even notice that Karissa had a look of security as daddy was going to protect her from the bad boys.

Then Christina and I chuckled as we were reflecting on the fact that the boys were never like that when they were younger. In fact, they were on the other end of the spectrum and were always wanting to fight with one another with swords and other make-shift weapons.

Was this a gender issue? Do boys have a propensity for fighting and wanting to be the hero, while girls want to be protected and feel secure? Possibly.

But sometimes Karissa wants to be the Princess Warrior with her sword, so go figure!

Christmas Tree Tradition

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Since the weather has been so nice lately, our family decided to grill some hamburgers and hotdogs for dinner. After dinner, we played some Christmas music and put up the Christmas tree together. About four years, we decided to make our tree into a “tree of the nations.” Instead of putting up “regular” ornaments, we decided to put up ornaments that were purchased from various nations (a.k.a. “Daddy will bring something back from his travels”).

When we first started this tradition, our Christmas tree was practically bare. But over the years, we have been able to build up quite a collection. After putting up the tree, we spent some time in prayer for the various nations. We allow the kids to choose a nation that they want to pray for – (usually the nation that they choose is correlated with the best looking ornament… ha!).

After putting down the kids to sleep, I went back downstairs to just look at the tree. For me, I was just humbled and amazed at all the various places that God has allowed me to visit in the last four years. I realized that God is moving powerfully all over world, even as I am typing this entry.

Here are some pictures from tonight:
Putting up the tree1.JPG
The kids and I are preparing ourselves for the task of putting up the tree
Putting up the tree2.JPG
Halfway there
Final Tree2.JPG
Our international tree! Almost every ornament is from a nation that I have visited in the last 4 years
Final Tree3.JPG
The lights add the final touch to our international tree – I can’t wait to put presents for the family underneath the tree!

Another Lesson from the Airport

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Since we only had one service in Ann Arbor, we decided to see if we can catch the earlier flight that was leaving at 1:35PM (instead of our normal 3:11PM flight). When we got to the airport, we found out that the earlier flight was sold out and we were placed on standby.

When I talked with the NWA agent, I found out that I was already placed on this flight due to my Elite Member status. But I decided to use my “privilege” as an NWA Elite Member to see if we could all get on this flight – I had to use the gift of persuasive speech to convince her that I could not get on this plane without my other 3 traveling companions. After my name got called up, she told me that we were all on the flight. I was so elated… but the icing on the cake was when I found out that we all got first class.

I had to break the sad news to the other guys that we were going to be on this plane and fly 1st class ;-)

Then a thought came to my mind – due to my elite member status I was able to be the advocate for the other three guys traveling with me. They had no merit on their own to get 1st class or let alone get on that flight. But it was on someone else’s credit. Oh how the Gospel comes alive even at the airport.

With the extra 2.5 hours, we grabbed something to eat. We even had time to stop by Starbucks and enjoy the beautiful sunset. It felt a bit weird that we were not rushing to make it to service by 5:05PM – it was God’s way of giving us more time to pray :-)

A Night Out in Evanston

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

Right after Thanksgiving, the Christmas season is officially ushered in… well, at least for the commercial stores. I remember when the department stores first put up the Christmas season decoration many years ago during the week of the Thanksgiving holidays. I recall feeling as if it was a bit too early, but now it is expected… oh how things change over a period of time.

My sons have been asking for Buffalo Joe’s throughout this whole week, therefore we decided to fulfill their cravings… I didn’t want to do it, but… :-). Those of you who are unfamiliar with Buffalo Joe’s – you have not tasted wings until you had Buffalo Joe’s. Thank God that Christina was willing to be “flexible” on her “let’s eat healthy” kick. The boys and I were truly happy (ecstatic).

Afterwards we decided to walk around Evanston’s downtown area and enjoy the atmosphere. The weather in Chicago was incredible the whole week we were here. After stopping by Jamba Juice, we decided to take a picture in front of Evanston’s Christmas tree. It was not as pretty as the 85-foot Christmas tree at Daley Center Plaza in downtown Chicago, but it was enough for us to take a quick picture.

We are now going to drive back to Ann Arbor today (and recover).
Kids in Front of Tree1.JPG

The Day after the Turkey

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

We met at Alex (Christina’s younger brother) and Ginny’s place for our Thanksgiving Dinner gathering. We had family from both sides of the family – well, it was really 3 sides of the family – The Kim family (my side), the Chung family (Christina’s side) and the Bruce family (my brother-in-law’s wife’s side). It was a unique thanksgiving dinner because we had all types of pan-Asian cuisine on the table and then the lone American turkey.

It was good spending time with the extended family but having NFL football on T.V. at the same time made it a bit difficult… ha!

I think the kids enjoyed spending time with Tyler, their new cousin – their only cousin; and also spending time with Travis, Alex and Ginny’s dog. Oh the joys of having animals as pets in the home. It made the evening very interesting to say the least.

Then Christina and I decided to go crazy. Yup, we decided to do the 7 hour (5AM-12PM) doorbuster sale at various commercial stores like Best Buy and Wal-Mart.

I don’t know how to exactly explain it in words… it is something that you have to expreience for yourself. We got up at 3:45AM (don’t ask me why) and then entered into the parking lot of the store at 4:08AM. The parking lot was full and the line was already formed to the back of the store. It was incredible and unbelievable. When I talked to some people in the line, I realized that some of them lined up the evening before… starting at 9PM – simply crazy! People had lawn chairs and even a mini b-b-q grill working in full force. Passionate and focused! Now if people in the churches would line up like this for Sunday Celebrations, there would be a revival.

Within 20 minutes all the best sale items were gone. We barely picked up a few things that were left. Next year, we need a better game plan – thermal underwear, ear muffs, gloves, helmet and shoulder pads. Christmas season has officially started.

Here are some pics:
Thanksgiving with kids.JPG
The kids and I are relaxing and enjoying the meal
Uncle Marc Pigging Out.JPG
Uncle Marc pigging out
Alex and Ginny with Kids.JPG
Alex, Ginny, Tyler and the boys
Thanksgiving - Waiting in Line.JPG
Waiting in line for the stores to open – it was insane to see what people would do for a sale.

Planning for Thanksgiving

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

The only place open right now for free wireless is Panera Bread (my 3rd office). Our family will be heading out to Christina’s brother’s place for Thanksgiving. We are going to have both sides of the family gather together for the Thanksgiving meal. Sometimes it is so hard to plan out for a simple meal, but it is part of the ball game of trying to gather so many people together.

Christina and I have also talked about getting up early in the morning for the “doorbuster” sales in some of these large commercial stores to do our Christmas shopping. We have heard from another pastor’s family that in order to do it right, we have to plan early and plan well. Christina and I were thinking about doing a “recon mission” and checking out the place first, then we can come up with a game plan :-)

But reality might hit – after all the food and tiredness from the Thanksgiving dinner, I might be swayed to stay in bed rather than get up at 4AM.

Two Minutes Over

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Parking is horrendous in Chicago’s downtown. First of all, if you want to find a metered parking space, you might as well just forget about it – not only because of the lack of space but because of the number of quarters you have to put in. Secondly, the parking spaces that are opened are the ones that you pay $20-$30 dollars for like 3-5 hours. This is when you wish you were a millionaire.

Anyways, we parked our car today at one of Navy Pier’s parking structures. It was $19 for the first 3 hours. Then after that the prices go up! So we did our best to make it in the 3 hours mark. We arrived at Navy Pier at 11:37AM and by the time we got back into the car to leave it was 2:36PM (1 minute to go). As we were heading out to the exit to pay our parking fee there was a car in front of us. For some reason it took the car awhile to pay. We were in a race against time.

By the time we got to the booth and handed the teller our ticket, she said, “$25.” I was like, “What?! We are just 2 minutes over the time! Can we still get the under 3-hour rate?” She looked at me for a second and then I pleaded my case by saying, “Hey, that person in front of me was taking too long, I was really in line with 1 minute still left on the clock.” She called her manager on the walkie talkie and then said, “Sorry, my manager said that you have to pay the higher price.”

I could not believe it! I wanted to get out of the car and grab that walkie talkie and talk with her manager in person, but I resisted. Two minutes is two minutes. As we were driving away, Christina and I were talking about the concept of grace. In that brief exchange with the teller, I felt the weight of the law pressed against me. But if they gave at least a 5 minute grace period, I wonder how I would have responded… I think I would have felt grateful knowing that I got something that I did not deserve.

We have so much to be thankful for in this Thanksgiving season… thank you Lord for your grace that covers our 2 minute failures.

Chillin’ at Navy Pier

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

We continued in our family adventure as we headed out to Navy Pier today. God blessed us with some great weather. We ended up at the Children’s Hands-On Museum and spent some time there. The kids had a lot of fun. I realized that kids learn best from being able to use all of their senses, especially touch in order to discover things.

We ended up building a small house (or fort). Here is the before picture:
Building - Before.JPG
And the after:
Building - After.JPG
The kids also hung out at a kitchen area to make some make some “pretend” food. Christina is dead set on having the boys learn how to feel comfortable in the kitchen… HA!
Kids Cooking.JPG
We also hopped on to a make-shift ambulance, where it gave us a feel of what happens inside one of these vehicles. Josiah insisted on driving.
Then my sweetheart and I took a break. I don’t know about her but I was tired from going to one station to another. They made this cool looking chair out of carved wood. It was Big Brother watching over us.
Christina and Me.JPG


Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

I remember seeing a car bumper sticker that read, “Eracism.” At first I didn’t get it, but then after some thought, I realized that the driver of the car was promoting the “erasing” or “eradication” of racism that is prevalent in America and across the world.

Racism is not just limited to the majority. There are people in the minority that have ill prejudices towards the majority as well.

When I read what happened with Michael Richards (the guy who played Kramer on Seinfeld), it made me think. I realized that no matter how much progress we have made in the area of tolerance and acceptance towards people of other ethnicities, there are still prejudices in all of us that are deeply rooted.

At the expense of offending some people, I will say that there are some people from the “lighter hue” who will NEVER fully understand what it feels like to be a minority in this world, especially in America. They do not fully understand the “white privilege” they daily experience… where they can walk into a store or a place and not be looked upon as being “different.” In these situations, it is very hard to really address or even discover if there is racism in our hearts.

The only way people from the “lighter hue” can experience what millions of minorities go through is by being placed in a situation where they are now the minority. There is something about placing ourselves in someone else’s shoes that will illuminate things in our hearts.

I put all this in context of our church.

The Caucasian people who are the “minority’ in our church are slowly beginning to understand what many of the minorities go through on a daily basis. It is not easy being part of the majority most of the time throughout the week and then come to several meetings within our church and feel like a minority. In fact, it takes really special people to be able to over look all their uncomfortability and insecurities and still commit to our church. I am wondering if the people of the majority need to experience situations like this to really see things for what they are.

I don’t even have time to address what the Latinos and African-American feel because they are the minority both in the world and in our church.

On the flip side, the Asians, who are the majority in our church, are left with the challenge. How will we respond? We know what it feels like to be in the minority position but now we are experiencing the “privileged” majority position. To those much is given, much is expected. Maybe this is why I demand more and expect more from the Asians in our church.

To the people of the lighter hue in our church, I just want to say that you encourage me. I pray that God will use you to be a bridge to many of the Caucasians in this world. Do be afraid to put your white friends in uncomfortable situations so that the real issues can come out.

To the people of the darker hue in our church (Latinos and African-Americans), I just want to say that you inspire me. I will never fully understand what it feels like to be the minority in both worlds. It must stink. Don’t give up… you guys are making the vision a reality.

To the people of the yellow hue, I just want to say that you and I have a great responsibility. For such a time as this, may we be the ones who will sacrifice and lay down our preferences and comfortableness to do what we know is right.

The saga to build a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural church continues…

All the Fishes in the World

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

Yesterday we headed out to the Shedd Aquarium near downtown Chicago. I found out that Mondays and Tuesday are what they call “free” days. I write, “free” in quotes because if you really want to see the good stuff, you still have to pay (ah, the wisdom of marketing).

It was incredible to see all the various types of fish in the world. In this indoor aquatic world, they said that there were close to 650 species of fish, reptiles and amphibians from across the globe. The family and I enjoyed the 90,000-gallon Caribbean coral reef exhibit and also the dolphin shows. It was quite a sight.

After this more than ever, I really want to have a fish tank with some colorful salt water fish and coral reef. It really has an inspiring and soothing feel to it. Maybe after hours of sermon preparation or counseling people, I can just sit in the office and get mesmerized by staring at the fish.

Afterwards, we went to our favorite milkshake place, Oberweis and just chilled. We played a couple of games of chess and headed back to my parents’ place. The thing that make it worth it all was when we were walking inside the house, one of the kids said, “This was one of the best days”… then I thought to myself, “more ‘best days’ are to come… this is the desire of the father’s heart.”

Here are some pictures:
Frog and Me.JPG
I couldn’t stop laughing at this frog because it was just chillin’ on this piece of log
Waiting for the Dolphin Show to begin
A dolphin in action – they are pretty intelligent creatures… definitely graceful.
Shedd Aquarium1.JPG
We were enjoying the view

Family Visit

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

Due to the Thanksgiving break, our family is all in Chicago right now. We were talking about what we wanted to do with our time together (the whole week). The talk about visiting museums, eating good food and spending time with grandpa and grandma came up. But one of our kids said, “It would be good to visit the Chicago church” (huge brownie points).

So yesterday the family drove out to Chicago after Sunday Celebration and we all met at the HMCC of Chicago Sunday Celebration. It was good to have the whole family at the service. As I was reflecting, I realized that it was good for my family to see what was going on in Chicago. Sundays used to be a day where we were able to relax and have a good meal together as a family. Now that day has been replaced with daddy flying out to Chicago and preaching at the Chicago church plant.

It is my sincere prayer that my children will be able to see that when they allow people “to borrow” daddy for a little bit that their sacrifice is worth something. The last thing I want is the typical pastor’s kid’s story of hating the church because it took daddy away from them. I want them to love the Church… to love ministry… to love serving God and His purposes.

I think they were willing to sacrifice 107 minutes (Josiah was counting) so that now they can go to all the museums in Chicago in the next few days. I’m looking forward to it.

Color of Our Emotions

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

20061119 - Color of Our Emotions.jpg
I am excited to start this new series. It is right around this time when our emotions affect the best of us – whether it is due to the holiday season or due to the various things we are going through in our lives.

The colors we display are:
1) Green with envy
2) Red with anger
3) Blue with depression

We are going to look into the Bible and see what principles we can live by in order to find greater freedom and victory over our emotions.