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.


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.


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.


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~



To The Runner

To the runner:

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 letter is to the runners. The young soul that allows fear to grip them. The women that tends to say yes, but really wants to say no. The men that struggles with consistency. This letter is to the runners that numb their senses, in order to distract themselves from experiencing reality. My message to you is, Stop running aimlessly!


To the runner: 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 actually struggle with too? Or are you so blind to their manipulative words that you fail to see the hidden truth?

To the runner: 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. The truth is you’re not feeling lazy or unmotivated, what’s really happening is you feel distance from what is and what potential could be…


To the runner: your heart is desperately wicked. You must protect it from the lies that looms 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 own way. After all, everyone has their own journey and their own process of becoming.

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


To the runner: stop running aimlessly, run with purpose, run with a direction already set in mind? All runners are really messengers. You may think differently, but the way in which you portray your message, a mere onlooker will find it easy to profess your story.

Pause and think about that

Runners are stolon branches, stemming out of its ends are roots in constant development, making enough space to produce new plants. Runners are grounded, hidden beneath dark soils. Runners are a representation of this stolons growth process. Others may not see your transformation, but the be process is on the verge of becoming. Soon you will rise above the surface.


To the runner: Stop running aimlessly. You’re more than enough. People’s expectations do not define you. Your life is your story, be aware of your message; your be process is on the verge of becoming, Soon you will rise above the surface.  

So, Run with direction; run with purpose.

Signing Out,

Saturday, December 10th, 2016

Willynn Sanon Thompson

Writer’s Name: Esther Lynn

Preserving the Foundation

How is my today preparing me for my tomorrow? A question that’s been plaguing my mind ever since I turned 25 years old. It’s no different at age 29. I live in a world where every thing is always rushed, everything is right now, fast paced living is the way of life, there is no process and it’s much easier to avoid the journey. It’s easier to waste endless amounts of energy complaining, rather than searching for a solution. Doing the wrong thing is much more gratifying than the right thing. Planning and preparing is far too daunting–. Long  deep sigh….the list goes on and on…

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At times weighing myself down from the unmet pressures stirring from within.

This week I was confronted with a wise saying from the book of Proverbs. “Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house.” (Proverbs 24:27) As I meditated on this scripture, I asked myself three questions.

  1. What am I planning?
  2. What have I prepared?
  3. Is my house honestly ready to be built?

In the past, I’ve made countless mistakes in equating plans and preparations with careers, finances and material positions. Not to say those things aren’t important, they most certainly are, but they are not the pillars of a home, nor a solid foundation that keeps it in place. There are plenty of people with gorgeous homes, amazing careers and endless material possessions who are still dissatisfied with life. As I’m getting older, my perspective on planning and preparation has changed. For me, building consistent solid relationships,  investing time, energy and resources in causes that matter, walking in alignment with my life’s mission and purpose, which in turn produces positive impactful outcomes is what really matters.

When I thought about the questions, what am I planning and what have I prepared, I had to really think deeply about my process, journey, impact and progress. I had to separate things I’ve done (actions) with the values of my heart (character-authentic self). I thought about the many children I encounter on a daily basis at work and outside of the classroom. The many unknown names I interact with on the streets, walking to and from set destinations. I thought about the many things that give me a great sense of joy and the things that bring me deep sorrows. My plans consist of the deep treasures that were given to me by my creator, value systems that affect the world in a greater sense beyond just me. They are plans that my great ancestors must have started from long ago. Plans that have been hidden in the deep soils of my earth; plans rooted in the fields of preparation awaiting its season to be harvested and  used.

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plans hidden among the roots.

The question, what have I prepared should be changed to what am I preparing. The preparation is an on-going  process. It has its different stages but its never-ending.  If not careful, preparations can become stagnant due to distractions and vainglory. It’s in my nature to long for acknowledgment and praise from others. But, if I’m truly honest with myself, words of affirmation from others do nothing for the soul, if  the heart is discontent with life. It’s one thing to want more but, it’s another to never see the good  and the growth along the way.

 A house can only be built on a solid foundation. My foundation will always be found within my heart.

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It’s just a matter of appreciating its greatness, deepness and vastness in my life. When  I start looking else where to validate my worth, a piece of my structure becomes undone. I’m learning how to stay true and preserve the  heritage (my foundation) that’s been established from the beginning.


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


Signing Out,

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Willynn Sanon Thompson

Writer’s Name: Esther Lynn


A field can bare much fruit, but only the farmer knows the true condition of the soil.




Nilly’s 29th

This past weekend I celebrated my 29th birthday. When I was younger, birthdays used to be such a superficial and grandiose affair. I used to buy a new birthday outfit every year, get my hair and nails done, post relentlessly on social media that my birthday is coming up-yeah, I was very self conscious back then. ( Not to say I have grown past it. I still struggle with self-conscious behaviors from time to time.) However, this year my birthday was celebrated differently in many ways.


The joy of my 29th new year rested peacefully in my heart. It made me think of my endless blessings, achievements and my personal growth. It made me appreciate everyone around me; my husband, the community of faith I am a part of, my friends, colleagues and students.

As I reflected on age 28, an image of a house fire came to mind. House fires usually first start inside the house before an alarm is sounded, notifying the owner that something is wrong. My inner soul represents my house. My 28th year, I endured my own personal house fires.

 Fires that wreaked havoc in my mind, heart and character. Fires that were daunting, dry and at times very arid. But, those fires were my best teachers confirgured into memorable life lessons. After they passed, ashes of vain glory were left over. I witnessed, experienced and lived those moments;  journeyed through an abyss of trials and  revelations, and out of it I emerged into a beautiful warrior of light. I’m beyond grateful. Even though the storms came, when it was over only sunshine took its place.

So, as I write this blog, a thought just came to mind. I’ll be turning 30 next year -by God’s grace. In 10 years time, I’ll be 39 years old. What would I want my future self to remember about my 20s- my young adult years? 

I would want my future self to remember my courage, strength and my stories along my life journey. I would never want to forget what it feels like to be young and searching for a sense of direction. I would want to remember how the act of actively listening to others speaks more volumes than meaningless words. I also would want to remember my boldness, my adventure spirit, steadfast focus, and last but not least my faith.

By 39, Micah and I will probably have pre-teens running around the house, full of adventure, keeping us busy and talking our ears off. But when I look back, I would like to be in a position where I’m passing on all the knowledge and wisdom I’ve learned along the years- speaking out loud with no reservations. At age 39, I hope to be the woman I am now in the process of becoming.

Signing Out,

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

Esther Lynn 



Greater Hights: Sojourner Reflections 

September is in full swing. The seasons are changing slowly but surely. A new semester has started and the burning summer heat is finally fading. Micah and I decided to continue with our Hangul studies. It’s not easy but we’re determined to know and understand the language before leaving Korea. Lately I’ve been thinking about the past few months. I’ve asked myself on several occasions, how am I fulfilling my destiny, my mission in life? It’s a deep question that has taken me a long time to fully answer.

September will make seven months in Korea. My life here has been an emotional roller coaster. I don’t mean that in a negative way. It’s been a necessary time of me constantly fighting with myself. When I first got to Korea I was very silent and guarded. During orientation, I was very stand-offish. Deep down inside I wanted to meet new people and I did to some extent. But I felt more comfortable in my bubble. At the time I thought my biggest leap of faith was moving to Korea. I failed to think past the moving stage and the process of actually living here. The first three months were very challenging for me as a woman, foreigner, teacher and wife. I constantly missed my two best friends, my sisters from back in the states. I often would long for the comfort and access of authentic relationships in my life. Now that I am looking back, what made the first three months so hard was me only paying attention to the negative aspects rather than the blessings that surrounded me.

During summer break, Micah and I took a cruise to Japan. I remember standing on the deck watching the sunset. Mesmerized by its beauty, captivated by its story. As the sun was dawning a masterpiece was taking its place. The horizons: the place where the sky touches the earth. As I gazed at the horizon it caused me to reflect on my beauty, story and ultimate masterpiece. At that moment, the horizon reflected my destiny. I saw all of my visions in its light. My heart was being painted at the peak of the distant mountains. So desperately I wanted to reach out and take hold of whatever was hidden from me, but the length of my arms and the distance to the horizon was too great. Instead I marveled at how simple things, such as nature, can tell the story of an individual’s heart. It took me seven months to recognize my growth; oneness with my heart and the language of God.

I’m amazed at the lessons I have learned in such a short period of time. Womanhood has taught me persistence, grit and great humility. Being a foreigner has enriched my perspective, world view and understanding. My greatest lessons were taught by my students. They taught me the joys of being young, carefree and fun. Helping me connect to my inner child. As a wife I’ve been learning the deeper meaning of love engulfed in action surrounded by wisdom. I’ve learned the power of asking one more question. The relationships that I have made have been the authentic conversations that came out of one good question being asked. I’m grateful for the small group of girlfriends I have made along this journey. Lastly, my most cherished lessons were taught by my husband, Micah. He has challenged me to step outside of my box, to think differently and to see the good in all things. His motivation encouraged me to step out in arenas I would have never gone to on my own. I’m grateful for his leadership, but most appreciative of his love.

These experiences are creating a beautiful masterpiece within me. When the sky touches the earth my soul is intertwined with the story that it’s trying to convey to me. My purpose and mission may not be clear right now. However, I’ve been greatly encouraged by knowing, the pace in life that I am now living is developing a straight path to my future surroundings. I’m on the road to greater heights. I’m in my process of becoming. I’m Speaking Out Loud.

Signing Out, 

Esther Lynn

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

Left It All At The Airport

Six months ago, I looked in my families eyes with tears streaming down mine. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to travel the world to see what else was out there, besides the New England area. Deep down inside, I knew my family members and close friends didn’t really understand my desire to live abroad. They were just trying their absolute best to be supportive. I appreciate their courage in trusting our (Micah and I’s) decision. It wasn’t until recently, after a friend from back home came to visit, that I realized everything familiar that I ever knew and understood was left completely at the airport. The moment Micah and I took our first steps away from the people we loved the most, to follow the call on our lives, is the moment in time where we decided our lives are so much bigger and greater than just us. 

Our lives our bigger than the people we call family, friends and home. It’s greater than what makes us feel comfortable or asserts us as talented individuals. Our lives are a lifeline paving the way for those coming after us and completing the work of those that went before us. “I”, “We,” “Us” has nothing to do with individual accomplishments. But, it has everything to do with collectivness. Everything that has helped us get to this moment in time and space. The endless prayers of our parents, even when they didn’t understand it. The supportive words of our friends, although they were highly against it. The decisions to obey the words of our creator, even if it caused us to walk in the depths of the unknown. All was left at the airport.

Our first steps were the runway. Our dreams, visions and prayers were the aircraft that catipuleted us to God’s desired destination. In preparation to our take off, we had to pack light. We could not take all of our belongings. Somethings had to be left behind. There was a weight limit, a cut off- we had to trust when God said, it was enough; but more importantly trust in his radar signals that HE was enough. 

 What does the airport signify? Well, it represents the coming of age, specifically emotional maturity. In order to get on an airplane your letting go of your fears, negative thoughts and trusting the pilot to guide the plane safely to your set destination. The airport also represents departure and arrival. It reflects a set timetable and necessary procedures that must be in place before taking off. Collectivism has a vital role in the way in which it operates. In retrospect, the airport symbolizes life transitions and ultimately freedom from everything familiar to start anew. Everything was left at the airport.

Now, six months later, I’m realizing you never really know the outcome of trusting an aircraft to get you to your set destination. But, is it really the airplane you must trust in; or is it the voice deep down inside, whispering go? If Micah and I chose to stay in the States and live among everything that was familiar, where would our lives be? Would we truly be content with who we are and who God called us to be? I don’t know the answers to my questions, but I’m extremely glad we made the decision to leave everything at the airport.

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

Signing Out,

Sunday, August 8th, 2016

Esther Lynn

Defining Freedom

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” -Harriet Tubman-

Next week marks my fifth month in Korea. This past weekend, I reflected on my life in the United States and my present season in the land of the morning calm. I can’t help but have a heart of gratitude. As a little girl, I use to always dream about my life as an adult. I always knew I wanted a husband that would love me unconditionally. God has blessed me with a man that reflects his imprint, internally and externally. I always desired an impactful life, God is currently taking me on a journey that will lead to  an amazing, powerful story.

As a young girl, I was always inspired by Harriet Tubman. It was in the third grade when I learned about her for the first time. I was captivated by her courage, perseverance and serving spirit. She was an ordinary woman that left her mark on MY HISTORY. I always thought of her as influential. History defines her as a woman who was never afraid of her process and the journey it took to take back what was rightfully hers from the beginning, her freedom.

At a young age, I was intrigued by this woman of faith. You see, Harriet Tubman never defined freedom as self gratification, ignorance or emotional rage. Her actions in conducting the Underground Railroad were never selfish. If it was she never would’ve freed thousands upon thousands of people-a nation. AND my ancestors stories would never have reached me in this age, day and season.

As an adult, freedom is being redefined by media outlets by numbing our senses. News coverage metastasizes racism where it is now a thing rather than a problem that needs to be confronted. We, including myself, are quick to play the blaming game. As grieving families are dealing with their loss, the media further assassinates the character of the one that’s being mourned. Wow!-If Harriet Tubman was a live, what would she say to this broken generation, this unjust system?

Perhaps she would say, “find freedom, child. Speak the truths that are rooted, embedded deep within you. Fall away from the deadly spirit of “I” and rise higher than the circumstances that somehow tries to shape you.” You see, the issue of black and white is NOT the only factor fueling the race wars happening in America, it’s deeper than that. Black and white are labels, categories, stereotypes used to define a people lost in their own coded language. Black versus white; immigrant versus native, gay versus straight- disproportionate messages that are bathed in too general and ignorant statements. I choose to rise higher and define freedom as one people under God, serving together to make our world better.

There will come a day when I, too, become an ancestor. I often wonder, what will my descendants say about me? They will look back in history in search of my words, actions and deeds. I have to ask myself, honestly  will I be proud of what history writes about my life? An old friend from long ago said to me, people are like tea bags, you want to see how strong they are, watch how their character develops when dipped in hot water.” In other words, the path to freedom can either build a person up or destroy them completely. It’s a process filled with trials that requires diligence, understanding and great endurance. It’s the molding of a remarkable leader, a Moses to a community of people. A sound voice in the midst of chaos. I define freedom by my dreams, aspirations, challenges and setbacks. It’s my joys, successes  and conquering moments. We all have the ability to define our own freedom I just pray we all take the necessary time to define it wisely.

I’m just Speaking Out Loud in my process of becoming…

Signing Out,

Monday, July 11th, 2016

Esther Lynn