Fact or Fiction: Relationship Edition!

Okay, so I know I’ve been married only a little over a year so I may not be the most qualified to write this blog post. However, I’m definitely more qualified than someone who has never been married, and so I still think I have at least a little bit to bring to the table on the subject.

Before I got married, I really enjoyed reading romantic novels. I steered away from anything too steamy, but I looooved reading Francine Rivers, Lori Wick, Kristen Hannah, and I’ve even been known to pick up an occasional Janette Oak (notice that only women write these… hmm…). I loved the stories about handsome, God-fearing men who swept ladies off their feet by quoting scripture or cradling babies. COME on ladies… who doesn’t love a man holding a baby. Can I get a hallelujah? Just kidding. But seriously, the truth is that most of these stories are a little far-fetched. Now don’t get me wrong here, my husband is AMAZING. He is exactly what God intended for me to have, and he and I are like two peas in a pod. But there are certain expectations and standards that come across even in Christian fiction about the way that relationships should work. The reason is that the author is writing about the perfect relationship! No one wants to read about something that isn’t ideal. That is totally fine for fiction, but you have to realize that real life deals with imperfect human beings. So here are a few examples of things that differ slightly from movies and books on the subject of relationships, and my take on what actually happens!

#1: You will fall asleep every night in your husbands arms.

You will learn very quickly that you and your husband have completely opposite body temperatures. After about ten minutes of snuggling, I gotta get out from underneath the furnace and breathe a little. We would both die of heatstroke if we stayed in each others arms all night!

#2: You will spend your evenings reading the Bible together and discussing deep theological issues. If you’re not doing that, you’ll be playing board games together or watching the sunset.

One of the first things that I learned about marriage is that you do not have to entertain the other person all the time. You may be marrying your best friend, but after being in the same house with them for a few days you need some time to yourself! It is like any other relationship. Sure you will eat meals together and talk about your days. Of course you will still spend time with your husband, and you might occasionally play a board game, watch the sunset, or talk about spiritual issues. But it won’t be every night. And that’s okay! Some nights you’ll read a book while he plays video games, and some nights you’ll watch a movie. Trust me, I adore our date nights and the time that we spend together. But it really is totally normal just to do something on your own every so often.

#3. You never fight.

Not a chance. If you are in a healthy relationship, a little disagreement is going to happen now and then. And maybe even a few big ones! But the important thing to remember about conflict is to keep the communication lines open and always be willing to listen. That is easier said than done, but a little give and take will go a long way. Remember that pride may win a few arguments, but you’ll loose your partners heart in the process. /p>

#4: Husbands and wives are supposed to complain about each other behind the other person’s back.

I have noticed that a lot of TV shows these days feature a husband and wife who are constantly going behind the other’s back to talk about their problems with friends. I would strongly caution against this, except in extreme cases. There is absolutely no reason for you to tell all your girlfriends all about how your husband doesn’t pick up after himself, or doesn’t put the toilet seat down, or doesn’t do this or that. Oh by the way, I’m not talking about my husband here! Just listing examples. I would seriously challenge you to come up with a good Godly reason for complaining about your spouse. The truth is that if you complain about them to others, you will build up bitterness in your heart towards your spouse. I have seen it happen before, and you need to run from that! Instead, try the exact opposite. When your friends start complaining about their husbands, compliment yours. Always be on the lookout for the positive attributes of your spouse.

Now I will say that there are cases when you might need a friend to talk to if you need to figure out how to approach your husband in a difficult matter. However, however, however, this is a rare case. This should only be done with ONE very close friend who you trust not to spread gossip, and who you know will give you sound advice. And this should only be done after talking first with your heavenly Father to see what he has to say on the subject.

#5: Happily Ever After

This is probably the most common myth that we girls are taught from the time we heard our first fairy tale. You only hear about all the drama leading up to the relationship, but no one knows what happens after the prince and princess have their wedding! All we know is that they are supposed to live happily until they die. Allow me to let you in on a little secret. Marriage is not for the faint of heart. Marriage is hard. Marriage takes commitment, loyalty, and a whole lot of love. Marriage is also fun, and romantic, and can definitely be happy, but it is much more than that. Happiness is short lived and can change in the blink of an eye. However, joy is not. Joy comes from treating the other person with a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love, not from flowers or chocolate or romantic kisses (although those are great too!!). Whenever I start to feel the pressure and whenever I don’t feel like loving, I think about 1 Corinthians 13 and I ask myself, “How do I love my husband right now in this moment.” The answer is this: be patient, be kind, do not envy him, do not boast about yourself, do not become prideful, do not speak rudely to him (or make rude gestures, or roll your eyes), seek his needs above your own, do not sweat the small things, do not keep track of the things he does that annoy you, and keep track of the things he does that are good. Always defend him, always trust him, always believe that he will do what’s right, and keep loving even when the going gets tough.

That is what love is. It’s not easy, and it’s not always fun, but I can promise you this: if you love like this, your love will not fade away with time. If you love like this you will be 80 years old and still be with the same person. Now THAT is what I call Happily Ever After.

Alright, that’s all for now folks! Hope you enjoyed the advice of a non-qualified air force wife 🙂

A Cautionary Tale from the Theater

A few weekends ago Jason and I decided to spend a day in Seoul visiting the mall and watching a movie. We started our date off at CoCo’s Curry House which was sooooooo good. If you are ever in California, you can’t pass it up. Mmmmm. Just thinking about it makes me hungry! 

Next, we shopped around the mall which was also pretty incredible. You haven’t seen a mall until you’ve seen a mall in Korea. Every mall is at least 6 floors, some up to 12. It is INSANE in the membrane. Where I come from, Concord Mills is the big to-do, but you could fit 3 or four Concord Mills inside of a Korean Mall. 

And finally… the movie theater! Korean movie theaters are an interesting experience. When you pay for your ticket, you are also assigned a seat. The majority of the time they fill every single seat and Jason and I picked our movie out just in time to get some of the last ones. We picked two seats on the end of an aile. They weren’t the best, but at the time we were happy to get any seats at all.

Unfortunately, when we got into the theater we discovered two very important things. Number 1: Unlike most American theaters which have a small amount of room to stretch your legs once you sit down, the rows in Korean theaters are so close together that the seats in front of us were touching my knees. Number 2: There are only two ailes to get in and out of the theater, and both of them are in the middle rows. In other words, the seats that Jason and I had were right smack dab next to the wall.

This would have all been alright if we hadn’t gotten a giant coke. Yup. I’m a woman. I had to pee. SO BAD. I’m not even ashamed to admit it, you know you’ve all been there.  It was about half way through the movie and I had just a tiny little urge. But I could still hold it and ignore it for awhile. So I did. Thirty minutes later it got a little worse, and then thirty minutes after that I was starting to get desperate. I kept looking at the screen and then back at the long row of people that blocked my exit to the aile. I was sweating and I kept drumming my fingers on my knees. At that point, I couldn’t even tell you what was going on in Star Trek II. Finally the movie was almost over and I just couldn’t do it. It was like Moses parting the Red Sea. I was stumbling and popcorn was falling and at least 8 Koreans were hissing and grumbling. They hated me, I know it. Anyway, at least I was kind enough not to climb back over them again afterwards. I figured if I’m going to be a Stupid American, I should at least be a Considerate Stupid American. 

So the moral of that story? Get an aile seat, or else don’t you dare drink a sip of coke. 

Across the Border – Visiting the DMZ

The DMZ, for those who might not know, is short for the Demilitarized Zone. It is the no-man’s-land that marks the border between North and South Korea and is approximately 2 1/2 miles wide. It is the most heavily fortified borders in the world.

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Our trip to the DMZ began several miles away from the border at a small tourist attraction called Imjingak. Here a bridge appropriately called The Bridge of Freedom was built to bring 12,773 prisoners back into South Korea at the end of the war. Families who had loved ones in North Korea hung ribbons on the fence around the bridge in prayers for their safety, and many still hang ribbons there today.

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Next along our trip we visited the 3rd Tunnel, which can be seen on the first map above. Photos are forbidden in the tunnel, but in the image bellow you can see the loooong distance we walked from the upper platform to get down to see the tunnel. Needless to say, we did not work out when we got back in the afternoon. The picture is an accurate description of how steep it is! The tunnel was dug by the North Koreans in an attempt to make a surprise attack on Seoul. The tunnel is over a mile long and is 6 feet by 6 feet. We bumped our heads many times!

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After visiting the 3rd Tunnel, we visited Dorsan Station. Dorsan Station is a railroad that was opened in 2001 and visited in 2002 by President George W. Bush. It was meant to be a railway that would bring reunite families. Saddly though, it has never been used. You can still purchase tickets for the a “ride” to the capitol city of North Korea, Pyeongyang, for about 50 cents (hint: you will not be leaving the station…). Signs of hope inside the station read, “Not the last station from the South, but the first station toward the North.”

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Finally, we visited the Joint Security Area (JSA). This was definitely my favorite part of the tour, but it was also the scariest.

NOTE: Upon request I have added a few rules for visiting the DMZ.
1. Dress modestly! If possible, wear a collared shirt with pants/skirt bellow your knees. Close toed shoes are best due to the walking.
2. Do not make any gestures. No pointing, nothing. No contact of any kind with the North. Do not react if agitated or spoken to by anyone from the North.
3. Feel free to bring your cameras but obey 100% of the rules the guards give you about taking pictures. They are very specific about what you can and cannot take pictures of.

Those are the most important things! They will go over everything else in a short briefing.

Before we even entered the area, we had to sign a doccument stating that we were aware that we could be injured or attatcked by the enemy while on the tour. We also had to go over a briefing of the Korean war and we were told we could not make gesures (pointing, hand waving, obscene) of any kind. Pictures were also extremely restricted on the tour.

The Joint Security Area was constructed to be a place where both North and South Korea could come together peacefully. It was only meant to be a temporary establishment with the hope that a treaty would eventually be signed and the war would be over. The red line in the diagram below is the dividing line between the North and South. The blue buildings you will see in pictures to follow are the white buildings bisected by the red line in between the Home of Freedom and Panmon Hall. The pictures were taken in front of the Home of Freedom where you are only allowed to take pictures facing towards Panmon Hall, turning neither to the right or the left or behind you.

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The guards here are there to protect us, the tourists. As soon as we left the area they went inside. In contrast, one North Korean guard stands outside of Panmon Hall (the large grey building) all day, looking at tourists through his binoculars. Our tour guide (the soldier in the foreground of the picture) told us that the guard has no idea what he is looking for, he is merely there to intimidate. While we stood there, a camera inside of Panmon Hall took pictures of us. It’s nice to know that the North Korean’s care about us enough to put us in their scrapbooks!

We were allowed inside of the blue building on the left and we could step over into North Korea but only while inside the building. We learned that the guards you see with white stripes on their helmets stand in a modified Tae Kwan Do stance with stone faced expressions in a show of indifference and strength towards North Korea. The two guards on the outside positions stand with half of their bodies obstructed by the buildings in order to be better protected in case of an attack.

While in the JSA, we were also taken to an outpost where we could look out over what the South Koreans and the US Military call Propaganda City. The city of Kijong-dong obtained this fond nickname because of the loudspeakers that blasted propaganda towards the south until 2004 to try and get South Koreans to defect to the North. They praised their wonderful leaders, and condemned both South Korea and the United States. An interesting little fact about Propaganda City is that its population is 0. That’s right, the city is completely fake! In fact, the buildings are hollow with painted on windows. Our tour guide said that despite the fact that they are lit at night, the light fades going from the top of the building to the bottom. There are lights at the top of the buildings, but they are merely hollow shells! During the day, the city brings in some people to work and ride around but it’s all a show. No one actually lives there.

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Despite the fact that the JSA is meant to be a place of peace between North and South Korea, the North Koreans have definitely spilt their share of blood in the so-called “safe zone.” In 1976 a United States army officer was murdered with an axe by a North Korean while trying to trim a tree that blocked the view of an observation tower.

Our tour guide told us that they are still continually harassed by North Korean soldiers. The worst harassment he had seen was when he was on a tour in the same buildings we visited and the North Koreans began to bang on the glass so hard that they feared it would break.

It was definitely a sobering trip to visit a place that is so close to me, and yet is a completely different world from the one I live in every day. Outside of the DMZ it seems like most of South Korea forgets about the North in their day to day lives. No one talks much about what the North is threatening to do, or the horrors that they have inflicted on their people.

I could tell you stories all day long about the horrors that the people of North Korea are still facing today, but I will let you read them for yourselves. I have posted links below to both articles and books that you can read on the subject if you are interested in learning more.

So after all this, what are we to do? Sure my husband is serving in the Air Force, but what can I do on a daily basis for the people of North Korea? We can make use of one of the most powerful tools available to us – prayer. Pray that the eyes of the people of North Korea will be opened to their abuse, and that the hearts of surrounding countries like China will soften towards their plight. Pray for courage and strength for the innocent people of North Korea as they struggle daily to provide food for their families and to survive horrible torture. And most of all, pray that God will perform a miracle and soften the heart of the leaders of North Korea. Sometimes we think that things like that are impossible, but the Bible tells us that God softened the heart of Pharaoh and let the Israelites leave Egypt. God is still in control, and he can still work miracles today.

A North Korean Defector’s Story – An article by Justin McCurry

Nothing to Envy – A book by Barbara Demick

Escape from Camp 14 – An article by Blaine Harden (also a book by the same title)

Interview with Shin Dong Hyuk – YouTube video interviewing the person from Escape from Camp 14

Chopsticks and Other Such Things

I am so terrible with chopsticks. I am slowly getting better though for one simple reason – most restaurants only provide you with chopsticks and a spoon. Have you tried eating noodles with a spoon? Good luck. 

Despite the fact that I will never win in any kind of Chopstick Olympics, I am pleasantly surprised that many Koreans don’t use their chopsticks. WHAAAAAAT you say? Nope. Here we are in a restaurant, little Americans trying to blend in and be all, “Look at me I can use chopsticks to eat my sticky rice,” and we look over and half of the Koreans in the restaurant are using their spoon. Granted they do use them for for a lot of things. But if forks are available, you’d be surprised how people many ditch the sticks.

So here’s my take on chopsticks: I use them for grabbing big things that won’t make me look silly. If it’s tiny, I use my spoon. 

On to another wonderful topic, my new favorite Korean dish! Pot Bulgogi! Here is a picture of what it looks like, more or less. 

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Basically, it is made up of marinated beef, glass noodles, mushrooms, onions, and well a bunch of other things. As you can see at this table, this dish and many other asian dishes come with a plethora of other sides which you can eat strait or pile in your bulgogi. It might comes with kimchee, bean sprouts, rice, spicy cucumbers, sometimes little dried fish, egg noodle thingies, or other things. We have eaten a meal before where our entire table was filled with little tiny bowls of side dishes. 

Another question you might ask is,”Why are there scissors on the table?” To cut up your meat! Many Korean dishes involve raw meat which you literally cook at your table. There will be a sort of grill at each table like this: 

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Your waiter or waitress will usually place the strips of meat on the grill for you and then you are provided with scissors and tongs. You then cook the meat and cut it into strips! This doesn’t actually come with pot bulgogi unless you get it raw, which I’ve never done. Usually, once you cut the meat you place it inside of a pice of lettuce along with rice and whatever else you want. Then according to the Koreans you are supposed to shove the whole thing into your mouth. Yeeeeeah I don’t do that… but basically it’s a lettuce wrap. Super tasty.

Okay so that’s my food blog for now! Hope you are all ready for some Korean cooking when I get back! Minus kimchee… no thanks.