Eugene Cho

a tribute to my imperfect wife and best friend

In Asian culture, it’s usually customary not to speak highly of yourself, and even more so, to speak highly of your spouse.

In this case,  I can’t help it. In fact, I have and make no apologies.  I think it’s more than appropriate to celebrate a special person in my life –  my partner, wife, and best friend.  I am amazed and encouraged by my wife, Minhee – even more so after 15 years of marriage – and mutually seeing all of our collective flaws and blemishes.

And there are a lot of flaws and blemishes. More with her than me…but I digress. This is a tribute and not a roast.😉

This last week, we celebrated Minhee’s graduation from Seattle Pacific University as she completed her graduate school degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. To say that it has been an arduous journey is an understatement but she is finished!

In our marriage and family, people naturally see me because of my visible role in numerous capacities. If I am the face of our family (and not a pretty one at that), she is certainly the heart.

And oh, how she beats…

Not only do I love her but…I know her – and I respect her deeply:

Love.

She left all that was familiar and comfortable in Korea to trek to the United States to begin our new life together – at the difficult adult age of 26.  She left family, friends,  her native language, culture, her job, etc. She left everything out of love and covenant to begin our lives anew in a new and foreign land.  

Faith.

She loves Christ. She is devoted in her faith. She pours her heart into reading and studying the Scriptures. She prays for so many. She is my pastor. I am moved by her faith.

Courage.

She took a mountainous step of faith in agreeing to leave our former church 10 years ago to plant Quest Church with me. That decision meant agreeing to be without salary and health insurance in the first year –  and she was pregnant with our second child.  Thanks for your courage.

Compassion.

The last couple years have been the most trying time of our lives but she held true to our commitment and conviction to give up our year’s wages and start One Day’s Wages and launch this grassroots movement of people, stories, and actions to alleviate extreme global poverty. That decision was costly on many levels including a stretch of couch-surfing – perhaps the most difficult decision we’ve made as parents. I have been moved by her investment and care for the numerous foster children she counsels through her work as a therapist. Thanks for your compassion.

Wisdom.

I admire her wisdom and her commitment in our partnership in loving, nurturing, and raising our three children – including honoring our joint and prayerful decision for her to be a stay-at-home mother until all of our kids entered the public school system. We made an intentional decision knowing first hand that we’d go into heavy debt but we saw this to be one of the most important investments we could make. Additionally, there was a particular sacrifice for her to put her career and dreams on hold…Thanks for your wisdom.

Patience.

She deals with me. Enough said.

Vision.

At the age of 38, she decided to go back to school and pursue a second Masters degree and study Marriage & Family Therapy. She got into the program years ago but after receiving the joyous news of the pregnancy of our first child, we decided to wait,  wait (after our 2nd child), and wait even more (after the arrival of our 3rd child). In fact, she waited thirteen years.

When she went back to school three years ago, I have to be honest and share that I had my doubts…but she received stellar grades, earned a scholarship, and was a true model to our children. She persevered and remained true to the dreams and vision God placed upon her heart many years ago before I ever met her. Thanks for your vision.

Minhee is not perfect. Truth be told, she’s far from perfect – just as I am far from perfect. But in her weakness, I see, witness, and experience the substance and sufficiency of God’s grace and it is truly beautiful.

Congratulations to Minhee as she marks and celebrates this milestone of her graduation. Can’t wait to see what the next chapter unfolds…

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17 Responses

  1. Sejin Park says:

    You have a beautiful family. I say that with an adoration of what marriage is truly supposed to look like – that it is not a cookie cutter type of relationship but one that perseveres through the thick and rejoices through the thin. Tying this back to Christ – that He is not a cookie cutter type of God.

  2. This is so beautiful. Thank you for honoring your wife this way.:) Congrats, Minhee!!

  3. Elaine says:

    Eugene, you don’t know me . .But I got to know your wife, Minhee through the Mother’s School in Seattle . .:)

    She surely is a wonderful lady. And you’re so blessed to have her as your wife, a partner in ministry and the best friend.

    Bless both of you . .

  4. Wayne Park says:

    you guys are role models for us as we seek to both be equipped as a team, to find true vocation, to wrestle with the pastoral / “samonim” titles and to build legacy beyond ourselves

  5. Dave Ingland says:

    Thanks for sharing this Eugene. I hope to someday get to a similar place where I can lift up flaws and imperfectikn without them being a point of contention between my wife and I. Strength through your journey continually inspires me. As you have said to me, I say back to you, “respect!”

  6. Paul says:

    It is very uplifting to see a man living out his faith and commitment to the one the Lord has given him. Thanks Eugene for sharing her with us. What a lovely couple you are.

  7. Jennifer Kay says:

    Eugene!! Congrats to your beautiful wife. I’m so happy to be able to follow your blog and keep in touch this way.

  8. Kristen says:

    As far as I can see, the teachings to husbands in Eph. 5 can be summed up as follows:

    Lay down your life
    To raise up your wife.

    You have done both. Good for you.

  9. steph says:

    what a beautiful tribute to your wife. it’s so inspiring and encouraging.

  10. This is beautiful, Eugene. Thank you for honoring your wife and exampling a Godly marriage to your children, your church, and your community. Congratulations, Minhee! You are an inspiration and a blessing to many! God bless you both as you continue to seek Him!

  11. Minhee’s journey sounds a bit like my own…I have been waiting 13 years to start my 2nd Master’s at Bethel Seminary and be faithful to God’s call on my life. But I have also had to be faithful in the wait. Thanks for this post, I feel encouraged.

  12. Kayce says:

    Beautiful! Congratulations! Me thinking about going to SPU one day too.

  13. penny hunter says:

    Simply beautiful. Every word of it.

  14. Jonghee Jo says:

    What an impressive story! She was impressive back in 1988 (I knew Minhee from Somang Church in Seoul) and now she is even more amazing.

  15. […] it is customary [and wise] to speak well of your spouse on your anniversary but Minhee truly is an expression and embodiment of God’s grace and beauty to my life. Our marriage – while clearly not perfect – remains focused on the three pillars I often […]

  16. […] hard for me to put into words how proud I am of my wife. Not an arrogant kind of proud but, “Wow, God is working through my wife” kind of […]

  17. […] I’m thankful for my wife, best friend, and deepest advocate – Minhee.  A simple bullet point would not be sufficient to explain her inspiration in my life. So, feel free to read this. […]

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One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
Regardless, still love this city. Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother.

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