Eugene Cho

Stop believing in your own excuses. The eye-catching story of Christine Ha, MasterChef-to-be.

Have you seen this?

Un-friend me immediately if…

If this doesn’t move you, inspire you, or draw a couple tears…please unfollow this blog and unfriend me on Facebook immediately. We can’t be friends. ;)

Seriously. I love these kind of stories…I absolutely love these underdog kind of stories.

Living lives as victims

Stories of good people with huge challenges and barriers and yet, they break through what could easily be “I’m a victim” mentality and absolutely crush it. Win or not. Succeed or not. They’re stories are inspiring because they go for it. They pursue their dreams and that in itself, is incredibly inspiring.

Several weeks ago, I shared the story of 9-year-old Caine Monroy of Caine’s Arcade. If you haven’t seen his story, please do yourself a favor and watch it.

Introducing Christine Ha

The story of Christine Ha is pretty amazing. She is MasterChef’s first blind contestant.

Read it. Watch the video. Let me know what you think.

Here’s a glimpse of her story from an article in People:

Chefs rely heavily on their sense of taste and smell to cook — especially if they’re blind like MasterChef contestant Christine Ha.

“I have to depend a lot more on the other senses to cook — taste, smell, how certain ingredients feel,” she tells PEOPLE. “I’ll know if a piece of meat is close to being done by how it feels against my hand or utensils.”

Christine, 33, has been diagnosed with neuromyelitis optica (NMO), a condition of the central nervous system that affects the optic nerves and spinal cord.

“The very first bout I had was in 1999,” she says of the condition. “It only happened in one eye then. It didn’t recover completely so I learned to adjust to seeing out of one eye. In 2004, it decreased to the level where I could no longer drive. In 2007, it decreased to where I am now. I have to use a cane to walk around or take somebody’s arm and be guided.”

Christine is ready to prove herself on the show, which premieres Monday (9 p.m. ET) on Fox. “It’s hard to see ingredients,” she says. “I have to figure out by smell and touch if an ingredient is fresh. Cutting with knives — fortunately, I’m pretty careful and I have a proper knife technique. Since I’ve lost my vision, I’ve cut myself once. And it was minor. I’ve never had to get stitches. It’s really about being organized, careful and using my other senses.”

And she won’t be getting any special help from the judges Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianich. “Joe, Gordon and Graham didn’t treat me any differently,” she says. “They told me what was wrong and right with my dish. There was constructive criticism. I feel like they judged fairly.”

Still, nerves were a factor for Christine when she began the competition. “I had never been this nervous in my life — even on my wedding day,” she says. “It was the most anxiety I’ve felt in a day. It’s already scary to be in an environment you can’t soak up visually what’s happening around you. It was challenging and scary.

We all have stories and excuses.

Perhaps, our barriers aren’t as pronounced as Christine’s bout with neuromyelitis optica and eventual blindness.

But we all have our own stories.
We all have our own excuses.
But the problem with excuses is that eventually, we start believing in them.

Break through. Believe in your dreams. Believe in your Creator. Don’t just tell a good story in your mind. Pursue it and live it out.

“With great character comes great reward.”

It is never easy to lose your vision. It will suck, and you will go through a period of grief and adjustment. It is stressful. And it is okay to cry and lament about it. This is all very normal and healthy. But after a while, you have to pick yourself up, learn to adapt, and move on and forward. Everyone in this world is dealt a different hand—some better, some worse than others—but what’s more important is how you play that hand. This is what builds character. And with great character comes great reward. ~ Christine Ha

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17 Responses

  1. Incredible story, and a brilliant reminder that I am full of excuses, and I am so ready to listen to them. It’s easier to believe excuses, be a victim, and feel sorry for yourself than it is to actually be an inspiration for other people.

  2. gar says:

    Saw the clip online via AngryAsianMan blog and was amazed. I give props to her husband as well, for being so supportive of his wife and her courage to keep doing what she loves despite her disability. Amazing!

  3. Janet says:

    Yes, we all have our challenges in life – and none can be measured against another, I have learned… I struggled for 40 years to find a diagnosis for my extremely rare genetic disease, and I can say it has informed everything I am today. I work now to help increase accurate and early diagnosis for others, and I see devastating patient situations every day, but Christine puts it well… we can all overcome. Thanks, Eugene…. in tears and still your FB Friend….

  4. Lillis says:

    I am truly inspired Eugene. I face challenges myself as I was recently diagnosed with degenerative joint disease in my neck. It is painful for me to lift alot of weight and sometimes even simple chores bother me. I also have osteoarthritis in my pelvic bones making it sometimes painful to walk long distances.

  5. Amy says:

    My son is visually impaired and wants to be a chef too..what an inspiration she is!

  6. Pablo says:

    When things happen to us we have a choice to let them make us better or bitter. I salute this lady and you for sharing this with us. There is something about taking heart inspired risks that also moves the heart and hand of God….

  7. Kenny says:

    I won’t have to un-friend you because I’m in sniffly tears here at work…..

  8. Peter says:

    I have known her for 6 years now and she went with us to Ethiopia in that condition as well. We love her for who she is at Pathways Church

  9. gridlockmanifesto says:

    I think the personal comments from people who know Christine are just as encouraging and uplifting as reading this blog was. Many of us will never have challenges to face as scary as loosing one’s sight, but Christine shows us how things can be if we do, and how to face the smaller challenges with courage too. I use her as an example to my kids all the time now. Our family started watching one day last year when a Dish co-worker suggested watching. The show is one of our favorites now on our PrimeTime Anytime recordings that we use for watching commercial free with Auto Hop. That way we can see more TV shows in one evening by saving over 20 minutes an hour. Sometimes it is fun to watch two episodes in one night too, which we did this week.

  10. jchenwa says:

    I like to see good things happen to good people,

  11. Hi Eugene! Sorry for the comment, but I couldn’t find any other contact information for you. Anyway, Mike Morrell and I really appreciate your blog, and think you would be an excellent candidate for our Speakeasy Blogger Network. Do you like to review off-the-beaten path faith, spirituality, and culture books? Speakeasy puts interesting books in your hands at no charge to you. You only get books when you request them, and it’s free to join. Sign up here, if you would like:

    You are not on any contact lists, I promise; if you do not respond, that is it, and the invitation is open as long as you are actively blogging. Hope you join us!

  12. Mike W. says:

    Thanks for doing what you do!
    Strong the Ties!

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One Day’s Wages

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The Western Wall in Old City of Jerusalem (aka The Wailing Wall) - from the Second Jewish Temple.

I'm hoping to share a few stories of people that I met (Jewish, Muslims, and Christians) in the Holy Land in the days to come. One of our Palestinian tour guides said to me, "You will leave with more questions...and that's a good thing." He was absolutely right. We want everything so nicely packaged but if we're honest, it's very rare in a broken, complex world...and I can't think of too many things more complex than the situation in Israel and Palestine.

While I certainly understand and resonate with Israel and its history and its need to protect itself from harm, one can't deny the history and existence of Palestine as well. 
Is peace possible? This was the focus of my trip to the Holy learn more about the conflict and those that are working towards peace. My friend, Scott (and other pastor), Mae (our guide) and I had the privilege of going to a Jewish synagogue this past Friday. We were then hosted by a local rabbi and his family for a Shabbat meal. It was marvelous. Incredible. Illuminating. Delicious. A true honor to be invited to his home with his wife and three children. To pray, learn, share, and ask questions. 
What I loved the most was the story of how Rabbi Daniel and his wife rented a bus to take 15 of their friends to the West Bank ... to see for themselves the impact of the wall and the Israeli policies. Some of their friends had never even entered the West Bank...don't personally know a Palestinian. It's impossible to work towards peace when we don't know anyone from the other side...when we don't understand the other side.

Thank you, Rabbi Daniel. Old Jerusalem. So many stories. So much history. The synagogue in Capernaum (Galilee) where Jesus began his public ministry. He taught with authority... Pray for your pastors and teachers...that they may teach with courage, conviction, humility, and ultimately, directing people to Christ - the Word made flesh.

Speaking of, so excited to be teaching at @Quest Church tomorrow. If you're in the Seattle area, join us. A glimpse of Jordan River where John baptized Jesus. "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." What amazes me most about this event is about...timing and patience. For Christ, it wasn't about "if" but about "when." In a world of supersonic pace,  impatience, quick results, hurry and now and NOW...Jesus waited for the Father's timing. He was patient and faithful. I need to learn that waiting on the Lord in itself isn't apathy but rather an act of faith. The town of Bethlehem and at the site of the cave (aka manger) of the birth of Christ.

One of the highlights was a class of Palestinian Muslims and Christian kids in a local public school singing a Christmas carol for us in Bethlehem...just across the Shepherd's Field. Galilee. Surreal to be at the mountainside where Jesus delivered "The Sermon on the Mount" ... aka The Beatitudes. Walking around praying for Paris, Beirut, Istanbul, Nigeria, Mali, Palestine/Israel... This verse is so particularly important in light of all the violence in the world. "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God." - Matthew 5:9

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