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: http://thespeakeasy.info

    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:

    Eugene.
    Thanks for doing what you do!
    Strong the Ties!

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One Day’s Wages

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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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