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Gardening; it’s hard.

May 7, 2016

I plant.

I repot.

I water.

I give you sun.

I wait.

I prune.

I trim.

I talk to you.


And you’re still dying.

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(This poor guy… I pruned him too short…I should have read about how to prune properly before butchering the already dying basil tree.)



Recently I have taken on a plant project. Unlike Texas, where everything seems to grow wildly well, I cannot keep much alive here. I have a few hardy plants holding on, but all of my other plants seem to be wilting and some are flat out dying (I’m telling you this in humility and grief… I used to have a green thumb!).

I researched each plant… I gave some special soil they required, I’ve put reminders in my phone for how often to water different plants, and I’ve moved some more into the sun. Yet, they are still dying. Whether it’s the overcast skies preventing the sun to bathe my plants (personally, that’s what I like to believe…that or the pollution!) or it’s my sudden lack of having a green thumb… I do not know. Aside from being disheartened by the death of some of my plants, I have been thinking more about my heart in this season.


Gardening is the cliche parallel to tending to your heart. Yet, I cannot help but think about how tending to our hearts is so similar to caring for plants. It’s a cliche comparison for a reason.

Each of us is a unique being that needs special care. Some of us need more pruning, or more water, some of us need more sun. Some of us are ready to be repotted. Some of us need a good trim. Some of us need to be harvested.

As much as we are to care for the state of our own hearts, sometimes we just need to surrender to what the Gardener wants to do. That might mean taking time to read the Word more, that might mean staying in to journal rather than going out, that might mean reflecting first before jumping into the next event. That might be shutting up long enough to hear what HE has to say. Whatever it is… we need to allow God to do His work of tending to our hearts.

Like plants, we can’t always articulate what we need or even know what we need. Sometimes we do. Often we don’t.

I am so thankful that God is my gardener. I am so glad that He knows exactly what I need — unlike me when it comes to my poor plants- God knows exactly when to water, to prune, to harvest, to repot, to put in the sun…

Instead of fighting Him, we need to cooperate and surrender. He knows best. He will keep you alive with a tender, well groomed and well maintained heart. 

What season are you in? Is God pruning you? Is He watering you? Is He repotting you? 

Stop fighting, if you are, and let Him garden and cultivate tenderness, integrity, and the fruit of the spirit in your heart. 

I am so thankful that every season is not pruning. I am so thankful that every season is not harvesting or repotting. And I am so thankful that He knows exactly what season it is for each one of us.

Gardening might be hard for me. But gardening is the natural work of our Father. 


At least these guys are still doing well along with my ivy, bamboo, and cacti. =)



April 9, 2016

All my life I’ve been the kind of person to always ask, “Why?” Perhaps it’s my melancholy temperament or my INFJ personality type. My dad used to get so annoyed because I would always respond to his answer with, “Why?” (Yes, I was that kid.) I always wanted to know why things happened, why we had certain rules, why we did things a certain way, why something worked the way it did…why?…Why?…Why?…

Over the last year, the Lord has been teaching me a lot about asking, “Why?”

I was talking to a friend last Fall and she pointed out,

“Have you ever noticed that God never answered “Why?” in the Bible? Have you noticed that He never answers that question?”

She reminded me that when God responded to Job He basically said, “And where were you when I created the heavens and the earth?” She proceeded to ask,

“Why are we so quick to accept the good but not the bad?”

I felt very challenged by this.

I thought about it for a while and had to agree with her, that yes, I have never had God answer my “Whys???” (and I have a ton of them!) Usually He answers me with another question. He tells me that He loves me. He tells me that He’s for me. He tells me that He’s with me in the midst of it all.

She continued in the conversation,

“But He never, never, never answers, “Why did ___ have to die?”  “Why are children raped?”  Well, evil.  But why evil in the first place?  “Because I am God.  Period.  Thanks for asking.”In all this, I’d still rather have God on my side than anyone or anything else.  Because a confusing God who says “no” more than I think He should is still the best lover and parent source of good there ever is.

Tonight when I was praying, I started to ask, “Why?” I stopped myself and then I prayed,

“Lord, at the end of all my whys, let me find you and let your presence be enough to satiate my hunger to know why.”

There are many things that happen in our lives…things we may never know the reason for: sickness, death, tragedy, etc. Whether it’s the pure result of our sinful nature and a fallen world or if there is greater purpose (usually there is….sanctification…God’s glory being made known…etc.), we may never know the exact reason why someone had to die or why you had to go through something. That’s the hard part. Not knowing exactly why.

In the end, having the ability to ask God, “Why?” and then be satisfied with only finding Him at the end of my questions is walking by faith. It is the kind of faith that is causing my roots to go deeper to find water. It’s the kind of faith that causes me to trust deeper. To have greater courage. To hold on tighter. And to experience His love with greater measure.

So, whatever your WHY is tied to…I pray that you will find Him on the other side of your WHY and be filled with HIS peace, love, joy, and hope. I pray that you would find complete satisfaction in knowing that He’s always there on the other side. 

“Beautiful truth out of unbeautiful reality. The whys are never ending, but this truth puts them in their place– this is gold. ” – Tammi Wenzig

“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” -C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

“The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not.”-C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.” – C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

“God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.”
– C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth of falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?”- C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

“Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask – half our great theological and metaphysical problems – are like that.”- C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

“Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear”- C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Art Therapy: Escape from North Korea

February 11, 2016

** Names have been changed to protect identity. **

Several years ago I taught a little girl who escaped North Korea with her mother. I have held on to this story for some time and now want to share it with a wider audience for awareness. I often think about her and where she is now. Her story reminds me of why I am here in South Korea praying for this nation and North Korea.


We were on a field trip to the park. As I strolled through the gardens with my preschoolers, I couldn’t help but soak in the joy that exuded from my kiddos. While we all hummed along with the sunshine, one of my students walked alongside me with her shoulders slumped. I inquired, “Yunsoo, what’s wrong?”

“I miss my grandma.”

“Where is your grandma?”

“We left her. I used to go to the garden with my grandma.”

The conversation halted as we arrived at the busses. I could not help but feel the sadness that Yunsoo carried.

When we arrived back to the classroom, I decided to try something to help Yunsoo process what she was feeling. I have always had an interest in art therapy. I am not trained by any means, but I figured that I could at least give her some paper for drawing. I told her that she could write down and draw everything she was feeling or thinking. Yunsoo took the paper and went to work, staying focused and drawing several pictures. She eventually came to a stopping point.

My teaching assistant helped to translate her explanation for each picture.

You can read and see her story below:

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Grandma — still in the North

Mom — pregnant with Yunsoo

Aunt — told mom to leave too

Aunt — still in the North

We lived in the same village together.

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Mom and Yunsoo saying “bye” to Grandma. Dad went somewhere to make money when I was born. There was fighting. I thought that as not real father but I thought it was a stepfather. I realized after teh fight he wa not my real father. Real father had gone to make money. Step father hit mom with a slipper. My aunt got us to leave the North. I wish I could have brought my Grandma here. I miss her a lot.

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The river’s name is Akah. It means alligator or crocodile. Crossing the river but the boat was shaking a lot so my bottom hurt.

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Bed bus is next. I vomited on the bus. I got sick on the bus. We were on the bus for three nights. The bus goes over the mountain and it was very cold.

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We got off the bus and my feet were frozen.

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The time we got off the bus and there was another man waiting for us. The gave me a piggy-back ride to cross the river. I was wrapped a lot. I didn’t get so cold. The man slipped on the rock so I fell into the river and he grabbed my hand. My mother also slipped and hit her knee on a rock and hurt a little bit. Comparing to mom, I fell down hard. The water flows quickly. The water gets higher and higher so we had to go quickly. It was the night so we didn’t know there was so much water or rocks. Rock, waterfall, river.

The water comes up to my head. It was cold but I can stand it. Mom stood on the land saying something to me but I could not hear. I wasn’t scared. Only us there. The man went back to his house in North Korea.

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We went back to the mountains. It was a sunny day. I am like an owl. I don’t sleep at night I wasn’t sleepy. But I was sleepy during the day. Mom is waking me up. Mommy sleeps at night only and I sleep during the day only. Mommy says, “I just wake up right away but you don’t wake up. Do you want me to give you a piggy-back ride?” I was only four years old.

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Mommy sleeping at night and I am awake. I am sleeping at day time. It is cold at night so I cannot sleep. I look at the stars at night. We are in China and we must not be caught by anyone in China. I’m waking up mommy because I cannot sleep and I want to sleep. My mom is snoring.

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We were caught by Chinese police officers. We had to stay in prison in China for three months. There are many people. No Chinese. Only Korea. They made us work. The police yelled at us and said, “Come out!” The food was delicious. I like pork cutlet. I like curry. I was with my mom. I can’t remember what I did buy my mom digs the land. Men dig around and the women carry the sol to some place. Women and men have to be separated. I pressed buttons with other children. From five years old you have to do this job. From thirteen years old you have to dig.

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The police officer said, “It is time. Go.” I think everyone was Korean. Everyone had a plane ticket. The airplane ticket said to Korea. When mommy said “go” I looked under and found a ticket. It said Korea. My mom’s friend gave the ticket to my mom. I met her in China. She is at the same age as my mom. It seems like they are good friends and she gave the ticket to my mom. That’s how we got to Korea. This is my house apartment #323 maybe. I think that is right.

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I sleep now in my house. We had bunk beds. I sleep on the top and my mom sleeps down. The bunk bed has a ladder and a slide. My mom bought this.


Teaching Yunsoo was a rich experience and a privilege. I was able to see Yunsoo slowly adapt to South Korean society. When she first came, she spoke very harshly with a very direct and stern tone to others. I believe she must have picked that up from her time in prison and possibly from her life in North Korea. Over time she softened up.

There were times that I had to tell her to not talk about her experiences. I know her mother did not want her speaking of them and it was not always appropriate. I remember catching her talk about rotting food and maggots one time at lunch.

I also was able to share Christ with her for the first time. She did not believe in God as she was raised to believe there is no God. Only their leader is to be exalted. I am thankful that she now has the freedom to seek God without oppression.

Before the end of the year, her mother wrote me a sweet note and made this origami trinket at a refugee center here in Seoul.

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We must not forget to pray for those who are in North Korea and for those who have escaped. They may be sitting next to you on the subway or even in your classroom. They carry a heavy burden and deep wounds that only God can heal.

May we one day see the reunification of North and South Korea as well as the liberation of thousands of people in concentration camps and those who are living under the oppression of the North Korean regime. Until then, we are prisoners of hope.

I’ll leave you with this song that Sean Feucht wrote specifically for North Korea, “Finish What You’ve Started”:

Jason & Dyanne

February 10, 2016

Here is the video that our friend, Melody, created for our wedding reception. Thank you again, Mel! This video was so great to share with our friends and family members.



dyanne signature

writing drought but my cup overfloweth

February 10, 2016

After a two year drought of not writing on my blog, I am back and challenging myself to write at least once a month.

So much has happened in the last two years…getting married being the biggest change and joy in my life recently.

You can read our story here. Stay tuned for more posts about marriage and life. =)

It’s been a whirlwind to say the least. But a very happy whirlwind at that. =) My cup is overflowing with love and joy. 11701211_10155839693610367_170361813176274985_n

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don’t be a “3-dates-then-sex” kinda girl

March 22, 2014

“Shhhh…” she cocked her head just enough to show her sister that she wanted to eavesdrop on the conversation behind her. Seconds passed and her posture hadn’t changed. Her sister attempted to break into the silence only to be shhshed again.

A minute passed. Looking in on these two it might have looked like a still-frame shot. Her sister, who now wanted to hear as well, reframed the picture; she leaned in but her position was one foot too far of hearing the two white guys speaking.

Her sister became aware of the Koreans speaking behind her and the hint of Kimchi wafting in the air. But her eyes– they remained glued on the mysterious conversation.

Finally. She broke the silence, “Okay, we can talk now.” As if wanting to move on she didn’t mention what the men had said.

“Wait a second, what were they talking about that was so important you had to stop to listen?” her sister demanded, wanting the conversation to be revealed.

She hesitated, then went on, “Well, I just wanted to make sure that I heard them correctly. One guy said, ‘I’m tired of having to wait two weeks to get sex.'”

“What?!” her sister asked with a little bit of shock.

“Ya, that’s why I had to listen,”  she sighed, her posture now more relaxed, leaning on the the table with her elbows.

“So…explain,” her sister insisted.

She paused, as if collecting her thoughts, “Well, the one guy was griping about Korean women and how it takes him at least two weeks before they’ll sleep with him.” She smoothed back her hair and continued, “He complained about how he couldn’t wait to get back to America where he could sleep with a girl after three dates. He went on and on about how annoyed he was that he couldn’t get sex after three dates.”

“Whoa. Seriously?” her sister said with disbelief and a bit of disgust. Well, maybe with a lot of disgust.

Her eyes rolled with annoyance at the conversation she had heard,”Yup. That’s why I had to listen. I thought I overheard wrong. Oh, but I didn’t.”

There was a bit of a pause in their movement and thoughts. Then, the two sisters picked at their food and changed the topic, almost wishing they hadn’t overheard the men after all.


This is a true story that happened to one of my friends (who will remain anonymous). As she relived that experience for me to hear, I couldn’t help but think about this video I saw the other day that came out of the Austin Institute:

Be the Gatekeeper and be a woman of dignity. Be a woman that holds a high standard for pursuit. Your body is not something to just give away. Keep your body for a man who will pursue you, cherish you, and commit to you.

I could go off on a rant, but I think that I’ll let these videos and articles speak for themselves.

Here’s a book that I read when I was in High School that opened my eyes to the world of teen sex all around me.

Here’s an article that I read recently about the legalizing of prostitution in Germany.

There are so many other good resources out there. These are just a few.

Respect your body. You are worth more than a one-night stand. You are worth more than just three dates.


October 26, 2013


today i biked 40k to bring awareness to the human trafficking issue in korea and to help raise money for the orphans.

this morning i helped escort 15 North Korean students to Ara Lock Bike Festival. it was surreal. even though i could not really communicate, it was amazing to think that these students have endured things i probably could not even imagine. and they were coming today. coming to support a great cause. that in itself was enough to stir my heart and give me joy and hope in knowing that God’s plan for this nation has only just begun. HIS heart for reunification and justice for the vulnerable– this is only a small taste of what is to come.

it was a beautiful day! slightly chilly, but perfect for biking. big blue skies, beaming sun. colorful foliage. calming river. laughter. conversation. friends. passion. justice. and just plain fun.

my legs are mush and i know the soreness will sink in by monday, but i feel so alive. totally worth it.

morning paper

October 26, 2013

morning paper

what an adorable old man.

What Teacher Ed…

October 22, 2013

What Teacher Education Programs forget to tell their candidates:

•A teacher cannot be all things to all people
•You are not a “bad person” if you are not always able to meet all the needs of all your students
•You are a powerful and compelling figure in the lives of your students
•In recalling their school years, students mostly remember their teachers, and not the courses they took
•You need to find a “critical friend” whom you can trust to serve as a sounding board
•At times students can be very cruel, difficult, and mean-spirited
•It is a mistake to personalize a student’s unacceptable behavior
•Teachers love their students as their parents love them–but in a different way and for a different reason
•Few people will ever appreciate the amount of time and effort teachers give to their teaching
•By choosing to be a teacher, you have entered an emotionally dangerous profession
•You are both a role model and change agent
•You need to pay attention to both your physical and emotional well-being
•Teaching is not like inducing a chemical reaction, but more like treating a painting, or planting a garden, or writing a friendly letter.
•Teaching is a complicated business because students are such unexpected blends of character, personality, and background
•Most of the significant advances in civilization have been the result of the work of teachers
•Teaching is an act of faith in the promise of the future
•Teaching is a way of life

a friend sent this to me today. as a teacher, this resonates with me deeply. 

[around the world]

October 21, 2013

are you mixed up?

last year Korea got confused. it thought that the rainy season was in december. its winter warmed enough for clouds to shower rain rather than a white blanket.

sometimes in life, we get the seasons mixed up. ecclesiastes says, “there is a time for everything.” the Word warns us to be a people who know the times and seasons.

if we are continually thinking back to an old season or jump ahead to a season we are not prepared for, we might fall behind or forsake the harvest.

if we pursue our own dreams outside of God we might find ourselves utterly lost, confused, disheartened.

in my own life i’ve been thinking on this a lot. we need to know the times and seasons of our own lives as well as the greater picture of what God is doing [at your job] [at your church] [in the city] [in the country] and [around the world].

i don’t want to be a rainy winter or a cold summer. a short fall or withering spring.

i want to know what God is up to and co-labor with him.

i don’t want to have any regrets.

i want to ebb and flow with the spirit of the Lord. run with God and find that i am in the center of HIS dreams and purposes. i don’t want to be confused. i don’t want to be caught with an umbrella in the winter or a jacket in the summer. i want to know the seasons and walk hand-in-hand with the Lord.

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.