On being Chinese American...

We're trying to raise Isaac bilingual. When my family first immigrated to the US in 1984, my parents made the decision of speaking only Chinese at home. They valued us keeping our language, knowing that our ability to speak would keep open the access to family and culture.

Bryan is beyond supportive. He speaks Mandarin to Isaac 80%+ of the time. When Isaac learns a word he doesn't already know, he becomes determined to learn that phrase. He knows that one day Isaac may surpass him and he wants to do all he can to keep up. Just another reason why I feel like I won the lottery with the man I married.

When I'm alone with Isaac, it's the best time to speak 100% Chinese. No need to translate for Bryan, no need to keep up communication with Grandma.

I've been doing something weird though. I knew I was doing it but I didn't stop to think about why I was doing it.

When we're at the park or library, and it's just the two of us, I will speak in complete Mandarin. However if someone we don't know comes to the play structure, I will consciously throw out a phrase of perfect English.

If I don't I'm worried people will think of me as an immigrant. And in this country few immigrants feel welcomed. I worry that if people think I can't speak perfect English, they will not want to know me. I could be cut off from mommy groups and play dates. Maybe Isaac will be disadvantaged. Maybe my opinions won't matter. Is it an irrational fear? Yes and no. Is it reality? Yes and no.

It's just something I do, and I haven't been able to make myself stop. I want to and I don't. I don't want others to tell me what they think I should do either. Just know that it's part of the immigrant experience. There's an ongoing pressure, sometimes overt but mostly subtle, to prove whether or not you belong in this country.

For now I'll probably keep doing it, especially given the fact that we live in Davis. This way we get to be that "cool" family that is doing the bilingual thing.


On mourning...

"Grief is like getting your period when you're going to the beach... so inconvenient!"

~ Cheri and Peggy


From commonprayer.net

I read this excerpt this morning and resonated much with it so I wanted to leave it here to remind myself of its truths in the future.

We must be careful in all our talk about liturgical prayer not to rule out the spontaneous moves of the Spirit. Just as liturgical traditions have much to offer us by way of roots, the charismatic and Pentecostals have much to offer us in zeal and passion. Tradition and innovation go together in God’s kingdom. -Jesus was Jewish. He went to synagogue “as was his tradition” and celebrated holy days such as Passover. But -Jesus also healed on the Sabbath. -Jesus points us to a God who is able to work within institutions and order, a God who is too big to be confined. God is constantly coloring outside the lines. -Jesus challenges the structures that oppress and exclude, and busts through any traditions that put limitations on love. Love cannot be harnessed.

Liturgy is public poetry and art. You can make beautiful art by splashing paint on a wall, and you can also make art with the careful diligence of a sculptor. Both can be lovely, and both can be ugly. Both can be marketed and robbed of their original touch, and both have the potential to inspire and move -people to do something beautiful for God. So it is with worship. More important than whether something is old or new, winsome or classic is whether it is real. The Scriptures tell us to “test the spirits,” and the true test of the spirit of a thing is whether it moves us closer to God and to our suffering neighbor. Does it have fruit outside of our own good feelings? Beauty must hearken to something beyond us. It should cause us to do something beautiful for God in the world.