Eugene Cho

a new old hero in seattle

There’s a new hero in Seattle and she’s 86 years old and she lives in my neighborhood.

My family and I live in a neighborhood called Ballard in Seattle.  We’ve lived in Seattle for 10 years and moved to Ballard about 3 years ago.  On the most part, we enjoy living in this part of Seattle.  Interestingly, everything 24 hours is within 3 blocks to our home – 24 hours Safeway, 24 hours Ballard Market, 24 hours McDonald’s, 24 hours Sunset Bowling, 24 Hours Walgreen, 24 hours Denny’s, etc.  Crazy…

But Ballard is busting at its seams.  It’s an example of a neighborhood with a long history that is fast changing with businesses, lots of condos, developments, and such.  Many don’t know that Ballard was an independent city in 1890 but was annexed by Seattle in 1907.  In 1900, Ballard was the 7th largest city in the state of Washington with a population of 4,568.  How is it changing now?  Consider this:

The retail and artistic activity has been accompanied by a real-estate boom. As of early 2007, nearly 20 major condominium/retail projects were underway or just completed within a five-block radius of the downtown Ballard core, potentially adding up to 2500 new households. This growing density is looked at with ambivalence by most of the community, but is inevitable as it had been written into the neighborhood plan created under the administration of Mayor Norm Rice which aimed to reduce suburban sprawl by targeting certain Seattle areas for high-density development. The influx of new residents will undoubtedly create further traffic congestion in the community; the relative lack of mass transit linking Ballard to other Seattle neighborhoods, and scarcity of parking in central Ballard are issues that have not been resolved.

Furthermore, consider the picture below:

450ballardhouse_6230.jpg

Seattle Times featured a story of an 86 year old woman named Edith Macefield who lives in the home above in Ballard.  She’s lived there since 1966.  As you can tell, a huge development, including a 5 story building, gym, parking, and stores, is being built around her home.  Despite being offered 1 million dollars to relocate her home, she has refused simply saying:

“I don’t want to move. I don’t need the money. Money doesn’t mean anything…”

So there she is. Standing at the front door of her 108-year-old house, tossing seeds out for the birds, just as she always has. But now, gravel and cement trucks rumble by, beeping loudly as they back up to deliver their loads. A massive concrete wall looms within feet of her kitchen window. Yellow construction cranes hover over her roof.

A chain-link fence wraps around the 1400 block of Northwest 46th Street. Once there was a scattering of neat homes with front yards and gardens occupied by millworkers and their families

Now the block is in the shadow of the Ballard Bridge, on the way to Office Max and Fred Meyer.

“When she digs her heels in, there is no changing her mind, she is set in her ways,” said her friend, musician Charlie Peck, who has known her for more than 20 years.

Ballard residents, lamenting the loss of their blue-collar, Scandinavian-rooted neighborhood as it disappears beneath swanky condominiums, sprawling grocery stores and trendy restaurants, see Macefield as a symbol of the rough-and-tumble Old Ballard, and they cheer her on. [read full story]

Reading this article reminds me how much MONEY affects nearly every single decision we make.  Economics is the fabric by which decisions are made and there’s something tragic about it all.  I include myself in this matrix.  As Christians, how easy is it for us to see economics as a parallel to God’s blessing, God’s open door, etc. 

I drive my Ms. Edith Macefield’s home nearly every day.  Never knew the story.  Thought it was goofy and awkward to see this small home in the middle of this giganormous project.  But now, knowing her story, that home is a symbol of hope. 

Money isn’t everything.  How cool is that?

Filed under: family, religion, seattle

3 Responses

  1. brad brisco says:

    Wow great story and reminder that $ isn’t everything indeed. Although I have to admit I was thinking “man here is what I would do with a million bucks!”

  2. Janet says:

    I read the article as well and was struck by what appeared to be the simplicity of her decision making process.

    …This is my home and I want to stay here…

  3. joanne says:

    i love this:) shes so cute! we always see her out chatting with the construction workers. though i would have taken the million bucks, shes my hero too:)

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It appears I brought a little Seattle to the NYC. Drizzle fest. 24 hour gathering with a small group of leaders from around the country. Learning. Listening. Asking hard questions. Head exploding. Heart trying to have hope. As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it.

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