Friday, March 2, 2012

Beauty & the Beast: The Flower of Unspeakable Beauty (Chapter Four)

KIM UPDATE:  Kim is still feeling considerable head/neck pain when she is upright. We did go in for her neulasta shot yesterday but her headaches are still severe and she was so nauseous in the car she was hurting. She took in a liter of iv fluid yesterday but it still didn't help all that much. It looks like we will probably try a blood patch today to help with the headaches. We're in the dog days of chemo now. Kim has shed some tears these last few days because the pain is so intense and unresolved. It's hard to watch and endure. But we are praying that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Please continue to pray for her. Thanks. 
I wasn't sure if I wanted to post Chapter 5 of Beauty & the Beast today but it's already been written (6 years ago) and I know the only way I can get you to check this site and pray for my wife is to continue posting (j/k!). But seriously, reading through it again this morning, the Lord reminded me to trust in His timing and to learn to wait...and pray (and to laugh a little too). Enjoy.

The Flower of Unspeakable Beauty (Chapter Four)

Strangely, despite that magical October night of ballroom dancing, in which our souls communicated beyond words – Kim never called me. I guess her roommate must have forgotten to pay the phone bill. No matter…Rico Suave was not going to be deterred by an unpaid phone bill.

I really wanted to tell her right after that ballroom dance class that I was the man of her dreams…the love of her life…the reason for her being…the purpose for her creation…the bane of her existence…errr…sorry I kind of lost track of my thoughts there. Where was I? Oh yeah, the love of her life…but I felt the Lord was telling me to wait…and pray.  And so, after that night I decided that I was going to commit this “thing” to prayer. That said, I knew that in my flesh, my urge would be to confront her with my feelings sooner rather than later – especially with me graduating in a few short months. But I also knew that I needed to trust God and take the time and discipline to really pray about it and seek and submit to His will.  So to help me in this I went out and bought an amaryllis plant – this plant was going to keep me accountable.

Now, the unromantic among you are probably thinking, “How can a plant keep you accountable?” Well, as most educated people know, the amaryllis bulb can be planted in a pot. [see diagram]

And with the proper care and attention in approximately 13 weeks it blossoms into a flower of unspeakable beauty. 

Okay, so maybe in retrospect, it does kind of look like the "asparagus" from Veggie Tales but you’re probably just saying that because no one ever gave you any flowers in college. 
So anyways, I committed myself to pray about Kim for the duration it took that plant to flower. (about 3 months) I would water it every day and it would remind me to pray on a daily basis for discernment in God’s leading for this relationship. I thought – when the plant flowers if I sense that she is the one than I will give her the flower and I will ask her to consider praying about beginning a dating relationship with me. 

At this point I am sure most of the male readers are dry-heaving in disgust. But I’m guessing most of you are over 25 years old, still single and living with your parents, sitting behind a computer you built yourself while wearing your favorite Batman pajamas. So don’t judge me. 

Where was I? Oh yeah, so every day I would wake up and care for this plant as if it were an orphaned child. I would then pray for Kim and ask the Lord to reveal His will to me. So Christmas break 1996 rolls along and it was still only about 1/3 of the way to blossoming. I take this potted plant home for the break with this ugly green stub in it and, of course, I have to endure some brutal persecution from my family.  My sisters make fun of me. My mom fears I’ve become deathly ill. And my dad openly wonders where he went wrong.  

A little background: You have to understand being the only boy and growing up with three sisters I was stuck doing all of the manual labor around the house. Shovel the driveway? Peter can do it. Take out the garbage? Peter can do it. Mow our two-acre lawn with a large pair of scissors? Peter can do it. Broker a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine? Peter can do it. Stop Lex Luthor from destroying California? Peter can do it. But worst of all, my mom had this thing for plants. Her idea of beautiful landscaping was buying 957 pots of mums and planting them alongside our sidewalk and driveway. Guess who was stuck digging all 957 holes and planting those ugly suckers? Let’s just say, when the movie “The Constant Gardener” came out, my first thought was, “Someone has made a movie about my life without telling me!” But if that were the case, let me tell you, casting Ralph Fiennes over Brad Pitt would have been a major mistake.

But I digress. So, as a result of my experience, at a very young age I was classically conditioned to hate all plants of any kind. Even seeing the color green would cause me to fester with a dark anger. In fact, via therapy, I’m just now beginning to understand why I’ve always harbored an inexplicable hatred for Gumby, Kermit the Frog, and The Incredible Hulk. 

That said, you can understand why my entire family was freaking out when I brought my own plant home. In fact, my mom’s first reaction upon coming home with the plant was to place her hand on my forehead and fire up a pot of “hahn-yahk” - that timeless Korean cure-all. If you don’t know what “hahn-yahk” is then just imagine boiling a skunk that has eaten too much cabbage and rolled in sulfur. This is “hahn-yahk”.  It’s secret to curing all known diseases is that it’s unparalleled odor drives away every form of deadly virus and bacterium. Unfortunately, the one nasty side effect is that it also kills every other healthy and living cell in your body - come to think of it - it's basically "Korean chemotherapy". So anyways, while mixing the “hahn-yahk”, she says:

Mom: “Peter-yah!” [Tip: if you want to learn how to say your name in Korean than just say it in English and add a “yah” after it. Congratulations. You are now bi-lingual.]

Me: “Neh, oh-muh-nee?” [Yes, my dear and beloved mother?]

Mom: “Aeigo! Mohm-hee gehn-chah-nah?” [Aeigo! Are you feeling okay?]

Me: “Neh. Gehn-chah-nah, oh-muh-nee.” [Yes, I am feeling okay, my dear and beloved mother.]

Mom: “Hahn-yahk mash-yuh!” [Drink some of this boiled skunk that has eaten too much cabbage and rolled in sulfur]

Me: “Ah-nee-yo. Juh-nuhn shee-ruh, oh-muh-nee.” [No. I do not wish to, my dear and beloved mother.]

Mom: “Mm. Guh-ruhm, bahl-lee ban ahn-neh gah-suh, gohtt gah-jee-goh-wah. Oh-nuhl, goo-baek-oh-sheep-cheel-myung sah-suh.” [Mm. Then quickly go to the van and get my flowers. I bought 957 of them today.]


As you can see, it’s actually a minor miracle that I turned out to be the well-adjusted person I am today. So Christmas break came and went and January passed with little fanfare. Kim and I talked here and there, I went to a few more ballroom dance classes and stepped on her feet some more, we grew in our friendship and I was more and more assured that she was the one, while she was more and more assured of seeing a podiatrist. As for the plant, it slowly began to blossom and the day of reckoning was quickly approaching…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

For Single Women:
•  Never turn away flowers from a guy. You have no idea how much thought and prayer may have been put into it. Unless it’s clearly from the nearest gas station.
• Make sure your phone bills are paid. The man of your dreams may be trying to get in touch with you to no avail…or maybe it’s your brother.
• Don’t make your future sons plant 957 pots of mums in your front yard. I know I turned out to be well-adjusted…but that’s like one in a million.

For Single Men:
• Get rid of those Batman pajamas, get a job and get your own apartment. No girls like lazy and unmotivated men.
• Don’t bring potted plants home from college. Unless you want your house to smell like a boiled skunk that has eaten too much cabbage and rolled in sulfur.
• Don’t bother renting The Constant Gardner. Brad Pitt is not in it and it’s not about me. 

Next episode: The Flower of Unspeakable Beauty…BLOOMS!

In His Grace, 
Peter & Kim


  1. enjoying your beautiful story! yours is one of the few blogs i read when the notice shows up in my inbox!

    love and prayers
    Gerald's mom

  2. Kim,

    We're praying for you, Peter, and the kids daily. We praying that the Lord would shield you and carry you through this this most difficult part of the chemo.

    You two are a match made in heaven! We have an amaryllis growing on our table right now...I think it will always remind me of your faithful hearts now.

    This verse has been especially meaningful to me this week & I hope it's an encouragement to you, "But I will sing of your strength in the morning. I will sing of your love; my refuge in times of trouble." Psalm 59:16-17

    Shante' Kee

  3. Hi Peter & Kim,

    Thanks so much for posting this today, despite everything that's going on. I'm sitting at Northwestern in the outpatient blood center to get some platelets and hemoglobin, and luckily the nurses here are very nice otherwise they might think I'm crazy for laughing by myself in the corner while I'm getting my transfusion. I know how the "dog days" can feel but you guys must be so happy to be halfway done with the chemo! I've been having days of extreme fatigue and nights of chills and fevers but your blog truly brightens my day. Keep fighting and it will soon(er or later) pass =) Because of neutropenic fevers we've had to postpone the very last two chemotherapy procedures but it will all be complete in a WEEK. Honestly while some hours/days feel as though they may be unbearable, there is an end to all of it! Stay strong =)

    Elizabeth Ro

  4. I had a bout of bad nausea and pain this past Saturday evening/Sunday morning about midnight (think it's gall stones). Even though my episode was so minimal, I felt miserable. It brought me to tears and compassion as I thought of Kim struggling with severe pain and nausea for days on end and I spent that time praying for her. We continue to pray for you morning and night, as we have been from the beginning. We will pray for God to hasten the time to come where you will be treading on the heights in triumph.

    Habakkuk 3:17-19
    17 Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
    though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
    though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
    18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

    19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.