Achievement or Well-Being?

This morning I read a short article about how parents in the Netherlands raise their children to value education for their well being, rather than for achievement. The Netherlands has one of the top education systems in the world. Naturally, I was intrigued as to what makes it the top-ranked country in the world and what are they doing differently compared to my upbringing in the education field. One aspect that the article highlighted was students are encouraged to see themselves as they are without the pressure of performance, competing with their peers, and grades.

I grew up in a household where education was everything. You go to school to apply yourself, be the best student, and bring home only the best grades. My parent’s always reminded my siblings and me of the opportunities that were easily given to us. In Haiti, they had to pay for school, prepare their own lunch, and travel far to get to the school building. In America, the school system provided school bus transportation, free education, and depending on your home situation, free lunch. My parents would say we were privileged compared to other students across the world and they were right. Sometimes I miss those days when my only responsibility was to be a student.

However, as I think about my son and have discussions with my husband about how we want to raise him, I can’t help but wonder, is that all there is to education– going to school, getting good grades, and being the best? How about the wholesomeness of the child and how will we make sure, as parents, that our children feel a sense of completeness within themselves, despite the pressures to conform, and perform in an educational world saturated with the need to prove self-worth by achievement and accolades from others?

I must give my parents credit because they raised me up to be a passionate, inquisitive, and curious young woman. I understand I was raised and brought up in a different time period. My parents projected upon my siblings and me, what their parents always wanted from them, or what they wished they could’ve had for themselves when they were my age. So it’s not a surprise that in elementary and junior high school, my parents expected me to apply myself. In high school, I had to remain focus to be qualified for the university level. During university, the expectation was to do well so I can get a good paying job. The problem is at these crucial stages of my educational journey; I lost my sense of purpose because I was too busy competing with my peers. I saw myself in who ‘they‘ were and not in who ‘I‘ was–I think that’s something many young people can connect with.

Competition.jpgAs a young teen, I maintained a mindset of always being the best and working hard. By the time I entered high school the value of education had become a source of achievement, rather than the awakening of my mind. At Mount Pleasant High, I was not only in competition in the classroom, (that’s if I was even interested in the content matter) image also became a defining factor of who I was and how others saw me. What I wore, the style of my hair, my friends, and overall demeanor. My intellect took a backburner, and if I was in good terms with the teacher, grades were not a problem. High school was all about graduating and getting into university.

My college years were a whirlwind of emotions. I entered a different world, with student peers that had a broader perspective on life and wasn’t afraid to share their opinions and worldview in the classroom. I felt like the invisible man occupying space. I thought college was just about doing well, earning a degree, and at the end of all your efforts, getting a good paying job. The reality of it all is college was a time in my life where I recognized my achievement gaps. It was no longer about competition or image–it was about proving myself worthy of the opportunity placed in front of me. For so many years, my mindset was all about being the best and achieving good grades to be successful. It never occurred to me, till then, the importance of communication, working collaboratively with different people that are entirely different from me and the importance of learning to appreciate and utilize my voice as well as life experiences to contribute to what should’ve been my real educational journey from the beginning.

achivementgap.jpg

The beauty of different seasons and stages I have encountered throughout my academic journey is the growth and progress that it has made in my well-being. My parents were right by teaching me the value of education at a young age. Although I got lost along the way, it was the many lessons I allowed myself to learn throughout my process that has shaped me into the woman I am today.

So, as I think about my children and how I hope to raise them up, I pray my husband and I will be parents that teach them how to be confident individuals. I hope our children will welcome different opinions and have the courage to stand in their convictions in what they believe to be real and authentic, while also being receptive to what others can teach them. I have no desire to move to the Netherlands, but I sure can learn from their model and apply it to my household.

Signing Out,

~Esther Lynn~

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

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A Fight to the Finish

This morning I am reminded of Apostle Paul’s famous words, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” (2 Timothy 4:7) I’m reminiscent of these words because lately, it feels like I’m fighting to finish strong during my last several days at work. As of this week, I have only 30 days left until my maternity leave starts. Remaining focused in the present moment is a challenge. My son consumes my mind and the upcoming transition back to the United States keeps me distracted and staring off into space.

The difference between Apostle Paul and me is he was actually at the end of the finish line. He lived a gruesome but fulfilling life. He endured the greatest storms and not once did he recant his trust in God. He walked into situations where the result was often unknown. It’s almost like he never had his own set of expectations as to how things would turn out. He only expected God to take over and guide his path through the dark valleys of uncertainty. He had hope that God will attend to his needs as he climbed up the troublesome mountains of this world. Paul was never sure of the end result here on earth. But he knew what awaited him in glory. For him, the fight to the finish to see the greater glory of what awaited him was worth far more in comparison to the precariousness of this passing world.

I glean on Paul’s perseverance. I read his words and allow them to uplift me; as I take hold of what my present moment has to offer me. An old Haitian proverb seeps its way through my pores and penetrates my heart, “Deye mon gen mon.” (Translated in English, “Beyond the mountains, there are more mountains.”) An idiom most Americans could relate to is, “The grass isn’t greener on the other side.” As I go through this waiting period towards the finish, I must remember to keep my head focused in all situations and live in the present because that’s what dictates the outcome of my future. Endure hardships by not easily being distracted by fears of what’s to come or what currently is–I must remember to trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, and love extravagantly.

I believe what Apostle Paul was trying to convey to Timothy is a persistent pace forward is needed when running a race that feels everlasting. Emotions are misleading if one allows them to take over. His words serve as a reminder, a forecast of what can happen if one allows the anxieties of tomorrow to cloud their judgment about today. Therefore, I must keep my head above the torrent of negative thoughts and strive to finish strong. I must fight the good fight, finish the race, and remain faithful till the very end.

We are all in the process of becoming. I just live to speak mine out loud.

Signing Out,

~Esther Lynn~

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

Inklub

My husband, Micah and I started a new YouTube channel called, the Inklub. Below is a description of what the Inklub is all about. I hope all my readers will check out our new channel and subscribe.

Inklub is a channel where we will share our writings to inspire, encourage, and sometimes even challenge our viewers to think differently. Most of our videos will be spoken word pieces, but we also plan to share songs, stories, and various other creative presentations.

Our writings are inspired by the world around us; whether it be our experiences or others. As we observe, we listen, we write and then speak out our perspectives.

We believe there is something undeniably therapeutic about words–the right words. That is why we are so adamant about sharing what we’ve written. We hope you enjoy this channel. Feel free to subscribe and connect with us.

Till Next time Friends,

Esther Lynn

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Life and Heart

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my process of becoming, where I have grown and areas where I am still stagnant. My life experiences have taught me the importance of reflection and awareness. So, let’s have a conversation about life and heart. How do we find a balance between the two? Balance is such a critical word, yet it is so hard to discover and do. Jesus is a perfect example of balance. He sees in us what we fail to see in ourselves. Even in our selfishness and brokeness, he loves us still the same. At times I find myself struggling greatly with God’s love. I don’t always understand it. For God to love me despite my flaws, setbacks, lack of obedience, and selfishness completely blows my mind.

When someone offends me, I hold on to it. It takes me a while to let it go. I ask God for help along my process of forgiveness towards others, but my evil mind will contort negative responses to give when the opportunity arrives. My rational is to hurt them just as much as they hurt me; to cut their wounds deeper, so that they can experience my pain. Now, I know, this thought process is not right. Fighting fire with fire doesn’t calm the fiery flames; it only ignites the spark.

brokenheart

However knowing something doesn’t necessarily mean you automatically put it into action. Sometimes it takes a breaking point, a time of deep introspection to turn away from the dangers of unforgiveness. Every time I get to the point of lacking grace, God reminds me what can happen to me internally when I choose to hold on to strife. I rob myself of the ability to be forgiven from him and by others. This is why God’s love often blows my mind. His love is so deep that the moment I think I am justified in my emotions/ actions he causes me to look at myself. Once I let go of the offense and look at me first, before scrutinizing the offending party, I realize I, too,  need grace. I, too, need love and I, too, am in search of balance that is hard to discover but necessary to go in search after.

One day I will have children. I often think of them when I’m struggling with loving others. As I look forward to one day becoming a mother, I consider my thought life and heart. I think about their characteristics. I imagine the way they will interact with people. I ask myself, do I want them to lack grace or do I want them always to have a heart of love? I realized who they become completely depends on who I am now. It’s important I see people the way God sees me, flawed but loved. My emotions and actions may at times be unpredictable and out of place, but I am loved by God still the same. Just as they are loved by God in the same way. Letting go is not easy but it’s necessary for my past, present, and future.

instrospection

It’s human nature to be broken by something or someone that hurts us. It’s not unusual to feel disconnected to others and their personal views, especially when the pain runs deep. But, to find balance, we must turn away from our judgments and the wounds that hurt us. We cast it aside by not being so dependent on what once was or should’ve been. We let go of our expectations and allow life to reveal itself on its own. Harvesting strife against others is refusing to grow. Harvesting love despite its hurt contents and brokenness is to accept people as they are without hurting yourself or those that are looking up to you or coming up after you. I call this, Periods of Waiting: Periods of Trusting.

Truth is we can become something or someone our hearts allow us to become. Change is not something the environment fosters. It’s rather an internal part of what our hearts desires. Become or un-become; your heart is the only organ with the real answer.

I’m just Speaking Out Loud in my Process of Becoming…

Signing Out,
Esther Lynn

Monday, May 29th, 2017

To The Runners

To The Runners: (Spoken Word Version)

If God was to tell you everything that is to come, would you be able to bear it, handle it or would you run from it? Chances are you would run. This is to the runners. The young soul that allows fear to grip them. The women that tend to say yes, but need to say no; the men that struggle with consistency. This is to you, the runners that numb their senses, to distract themselves from experiencing reality. My message to you, stop running aimlessly!

To the runners: you’re capable of achieving great exploits. You have the power to go above and beyond where you stand now. The problem is your motivation. You get caught up in the expectations and opinions of mere man. Don’t you know what they say about you, they struggle with too? Or are you so blind to their manipulative words that you fail to see the hidden truth?

To the runners: you’re better than you think. Your mind can easily twist a mere occurrence and make it bigger in your imagination. Your body lies to you too. Truth is you’re not feeling lazy,  what’s really happening is the distance you feel from what is and what potential can be.

To the runners: your heart is desperately wicked. You must protect it from the lies that loom over it. If not careful, we too can be master manipulators, dictators, and crazy control freaks. You think, as long as you can control a situation, it won’t get out of hand. But, Usually, the very things we try to control, are the very things that spiral uncontrollably. Let it go! It’s important to allow things and people to find their way. After all, everyone has their journey and their own process of becoming.

To the runner: you’re beautiful, you’re enough, and your value is far beyond any worldly thing that you use to define your beauty. Real beauty is from within. Take the time necessary to learn the treasure that awaits you deep within your soul. It’s in your heart’s treasure box you will find the tools you need to confront the very things you run from.

To the runners: stop running aimlessly, run with purpose, run with a direction already set in mind? After all, all messengers are runners so be aware of your story.

I’m just speaking out loud in my process of becoming…

 

Signing Out,

~Esther Lynn~

Love At Every Turn

God-defiers are always in trouble;

GOD -affirmers find themselves loved every time they turn around.

Psalm 32: 10 MSG

After Cambodia, Micah and I crossed the boarder into Thailand making our way to the beautiful island of Phuket. I will never forget the time we spent in Phuket. I marveled at the beauty of the land, enjoyed the creative sounds of nature, grimaced at red bodies– burnt by the sun rays– laid out on the beach. I loved the fact that time was not a factor. Everything was just peaceful, carefree and tropical.


Micah and I stayed at another homestay found through Airbnb. It was such a beautiful house. It was rustic and spacious with high ceilings. The interior design was done magnificently, filled with vibrant colors that represented the island and the people of the community. This time around, we had the house to ourselves for the first two days of our stay. The family lived next door in a seperate home and the owners (husband and wife) operated and owned a pharmacy.

When Dan (the owner) came to pick us up at the airport, he gave us a mini tour and shared some information about the neighborhood. He told us it was a Muslim community and because of the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, they were in a period of mourning.  As we cruised through the streets there were a lot of monuments errected and adorned for the late King. The people wore all black to commemorate his life and his death. I was amazed at the high regard that the Thai people gave their leadership. Dan spoke of him with much pride and devotion in his voice. Listening to Dan made me think about America, in the sense of how we view ourselves in our nationalism and the government officials that govern us. Dan was not the first person I’ve heard talk about their leadership and their country with such pride. Everything he was saying I heard it before during my time spent in Bangkok. I just wondered what America today would be like, if division wasn’t such a force penetrating the nation. (Just a side thought.)

Dan pointed out the best restaurants to eat, the local market to buy souvenirs and different areas that could be benefical to us during our stay. Our homestay was located in the northern part of the island and about 45 minutes to an hour away from Phuket town, which is where all the famous beaches and high tourist areas are located. Overall our stay in Phuket was great. However, the greatest and most defining moment in our trip was our motorbike accident. Because, that was when the Good Samaritan story in the Bible, became a reality for the Thompson’s.

Micah and I rented a motorbike for the day. Our plan was to go out to Phuket town and visit the famous beaches. We set out late morning and I must admit I was very scared once we got into the city center. Clusters of motorbikes, trucks, cars, people–no sense of direction. Everyone just seemed like they were on a fast track collision ride. Fortunately for us, we survived the high intensity of the city. We were able to enjoy the beautiful landscape of the island through the scenic routes. There was so much to take in and absorb. We rested for sometime at Rawai and Pa Tong beach. It was on our way back to our homestay the accident happened.


It was dark outside. There weren’t that many street lights. Micah was driving and it was an unexpected speedbump that got us flying in the air and off the motorbike. It happened so fast. I just remember seeing Micah laid out in a fetal position to my left and me to the right of him. The motorbike was behind us with the engine still running.  For most of our ride back to our hostel there weren’t any homes or people parading the streets. It was just long stretches of land. But the place where we had the accident happened to be in front of a house. It was a little girl that came out and yelled to her mother to come outside. Within seconds a big family of perhaps eight people was outside helping us. As soon as I got up, I ran to Micah. Grabbing the daypack that I was carrying with the first aid kit.

I just remember praying over Micah’s body. I couldn’t see the extent of his injuries in the dark. My hands were working faster than my mind. I just knew the wounds needed to be cleaned immediately. While all this was happening, a woman (Mei) kept on asking us if we wanted her to call an ambulance. I was very reluctant at first, refusing several times before Micah said, yes. I don’t know how my hands were moving so fast. I was the least bit experienced as a nurse. In retrospect, it is astounding at the the strength your body will possess when it’s forced into survival mode. By the grace of God, Mei was sent to us. She insisted we go to the hospital. She tried calling for an ambulance and when they took too long to answer she decided to take us in her own car.  The family helped Micah up and into the car as I thanked them profusely for their help.

As we drove to the hospital, we made small talk. She shared about her work and family. She shared how she loved to help others in need, which was already evident in the situation we were in. We got to the hospital and as I thanked her she assured me she would wait and stay with us until we were done. Sure enough, she did. She never left. After informing the doctors about what happened and giving them the information necessary to treat Micah, they then asked me, weren’t you in the accident too? “Yes, I was. But I have no scars. I’m fine.” I responded. This was an amazement to us all. Micah left the hospital with no broken bones. His left side was covered in bandages and the doctor said he would be fine within a week. The doctor’s hypothesis has proven to be true.

After the hospital, Mei took us to a restaurant to eat so Micah can take his medication. When we offered to treat her she refused and paid for us. We were both astonished. Never in our lives have we met a stranger that was beyond kind and generous with their time and money. Afterwards, she took us to her house where Dan came with his family to pick us up. Both families were meeting each other for the first time. They were somehow connected through us. Mei’s big heart opened our eyes in ways she’ll probably never know. She was our Good Samaritan. She took us to the hospital, fed us and made sure all of our needs were met. Her kindness did not stop there. The following day, she came to visit us at the hostel with her children alongside Dan’s family. She spent time with us and we got to know each other a little more. I hope she is reading this post. You were truly a blessing to us, Mei, and I pray God will bless you and your beautiful family greatly.


Our remaining days in Phuket were spent relaxing and lounging around in the house. Dan was kind to us as well. Providing us with antibiotics, gauzes and other things needed to prevent Micah’s wounds from getting an infection. I must say we had another successful homestay. We were treated as if we were a part of their family.  Throughout our vacation we have learned that blessings are definitely hidden in the journey and not the destination. The lessons are in the people, the interactions, the endless stories and values being exchanged. Most importantly, the greatest blessing was in the revelation that God was with us throughout it all. HE showed us love at every turn, through people estranged to us, but never to him.

I’m just speaking out loud in my process of becoming…

Signing Out,

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

~Esther Lynn~

 

 

Westernized Eyes

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

As 2016 quickly comes to an end, I can’t help but reflect on how my westernized eyes have changed since this year started. I started this year full of hope, ambition and gratitude. I left all that I knew behind to start anew in a foreign land. My process of becoming entered the next level. I thought the things I read in books about Korea was enough to prepare me for actually living here. Boyyy, was I wrong. Nothing can prepare you for the next level. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to be prepared and fully aware of your next move. But, experience will always trump book knowledge any day. In this blog I hope to give a brief snippet of my 2016 year abroad.

2016abroad

I made a huge mistake. I entered the Land of the Morning Calm thinking I knew everything I needed to know to live here. I must admit, I was not teachable in the beginning. In my westernized eyes, there were too many things that were backwards. For instance, the communal soap bar in the public bathroom to wash your hands, the lack of napkins in the restaurants, the extremely cold hallways at school, the twisted perception of women roles- that’s just a few things amongst the plethora of examples I can give. I thought the problem was them, but in retrospect the problem was me.

My westernized eyes valued independence; separation from the crowd and my own personal opinions. I cringed to have to do anything mandatory- to not have an option was societal suicide. Yet, I found myself living in a foreign land where the pressures of community were absolutely necessary and prevalent to life. Everyone was a part of something. When one eat, we all eat. When one speaks,  we all contribute to conversation. When one is by themselves, we all come together and join them. Community, the backbone of the Korean life. There is no such thing as independence here. Separation from the crowd means you don’t care and personal opinions, if they are not relatable to the situation at hand, keep them to yourself. My beginning stages of life in Korea was a constant collision of resistance of two different cultures battling one another, instead of learning from each other. In retrospect, I was just being stupid. Comparisons can be a deadly force, especially when the similarities are hidden behind the blind spots. Again, I thought something was wrong with them, but the real problem was me.

introspection.jpg

The first three to six months of 2016 I was in a constant battle with myself. I used to think it was the people conspiring against me- but, in reality, it was my westernized eyes. It was how I viewed them, their world and culture as a whole. I entered this new level of life abroad all wrong. As mentioned, comparisons can be a deadly force, especially when the similarities are hidden behind blind spots. In the western world, the bathrooms don’t always have soap. School buildings don’t always have heat. Gender roles in the west are just as twisted as it is in the eastern hemisphere. Personal opinions aren’t always welcomed, especially when it’s not benefiting anyone or the situation at hand. I had the same challenges when I lived in America, so what made them so different or alarming living in South Korea? It’s the fact that the experience was unknown, unfamiliar and never experienced.

unknown

As for community, in the West we emphasize the differences between introverts and extroverted people. If you like to talk, you’re a social butterfly and you’ll thrive in any situation. But, if you’re an introvert, like me, people will just think you’re a loner, snobby and super weird. I struggled with community too, when I lived in America. What makes it any different now? It’s the fact that I had to finally confront my issues with community, instead of hiding from it or acting as if it doesn’t exist. I actually have met extroverts that still struggle with community. Extrovert or introvert, it means nothing. We all have our own separate challenges. We are all somehow resisting change. We are all in the process of becoming.

2016 has taught me  a valuable lesson: confrontation with self. The ability to take a deeper look with what’s going on inside of me. My resistance to things that can actually produce growth. This year has given me a deeper understanding of my root system. My western eyes has caused much dissension with  my surroundings. But, it’s not all bad, valuable life  lessons were learned throughout it all. I can see my progress. Who I was in the beginning of 2016 is not who I am now. I have learned and understood that all created things need community in order to survive. My westernized eyes did not fail me completely. It actually opened my world view. There is more to life than just me, my experiences and culture. It’s all about being honest with yourself and seeing the purpose in the life you’re experiencing.

At the end of it all, 2016 has been a great year. I had challenges but I also had a lot of memorable moments. I still end this year with hope, ambition and gratitude. I learned so much. My process will continue to grow my character. In that regard, I end with, “Happy New Year.” Let’s learn how to be honest with ourselves, so that we’re authentic with the community that surrounds us.

I’m just speaking out loud in my process of becoming…

Date: Saturday, December 31st, 2016

Signing Out,

~Esther Lynn~