Saturday, February 17, 2018

Why I'm Thankful to Live in America

Presidents' Day is on Monday, a day to honor the incumbent president and all previous U.S. presidents. During my time overseas from 2002 to 2016, we had two very different presidents that led us through a great deal of change in America. Some of the changes weren't the best; however, there is much about this country that is a big-time blessing. I'm thankful that my children can receive a Christ-centered education now and later as adults. We can listen to Christian radio and even get our dance on. Below are five more reasons why I'm thankful to live in the US of A.

1. There is no shortage of churches in this country. Each month there are 214 churches and Christian properties destroyed around the world.

2. We have access to a million Christian resources at local stores and libraries. Over 200 million African Christians don't own a Bible, and millions of leaders lack written materials to equip their ministry.

3. I'm free to witness and share the gospel with others. Approximately 215 million Christians experience significant persecution.

4. Christian websites aren't blocked. I haven't always had that free online access.

5. I don't have to be concerned about hosting Bible studies in my home. That's certainly not the case where I used to live.

Yes, there is much we could complain about America, but it certainly could be far worse. What ways can you give thanks for living in the States? What's preventing you from giving thanks for your life in this land of opportunity?

Friday, February 9, 2018

My Year in Korea

In 2002 I sold my house on three acres of land north of Jolietville, Indiana and moved to Cheonan, Korea. I left a fantastic job teaching geography to sixth graders in a small town and accepted a teaching job at an English academy in a city of nearly 500,000. There were a few aspects I found challenging during my time in Korea; however, I clearly see how living there prepared me for my 13 years in China. I learned a great deal during my year in Korea and have much good to say about the country. Below are seven random facts about this year's Olympic hosts.

1. I always enjoyed telling others that South Korea is approximately the same size as Indiana but has a significantly larger population (51 million compared to less than 7 million for Indiana).

2. Did you know South Korea is home to a lot of companies we're fond of including Samsung, LG, Hyundai, and Kia? I wasn't familiar with LG until moving to Korea but noticed Best Buy selling LG products in the summer of 2003.

3. 30% of South Koreans claim to be Christian, and Korea is the second largest missionary sending country in the world (behind the U.S.). At night you can see tons of church buildings with neon red crosses.

4. South Korea takes education seriously and is a top ten nation in math, reading, and science. My oldest students left the academy after 9 PM.

5. Like in Japan, bowing is often done when saying hi, bye, and thank you. My students often greeted me and said goodbye with a bow.

6. Some Korean food is super spicy and can cause you to visit the bathroom in the middle of the night. My favorite Korean dishes are of the nonspicy variety - galbi (marinated short ribs) and bulgogi (marinated beef).

7. Generally, those under 30 knew I was American, but older folk often mistook me as Korean. I could ride my bike and have students yell hello at me or be shopping at e-mart and be greeted with anyoung haseyo.

Megan and her parents paid me a fun visit shortly before I left Korea.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Ten Questions: When Wick Met Megan

With Valentine's Day one week away, I thought I would share a special time back in August of 2001.

1. How did you and Megan meet? Megan's dad called me and asked me if I would like to meet his daughter.

2. How did you know Megan's dad? We used to work together at Frankfort Middle School, and we were in a men's Bible study group.

3. What were you doing just prior to the call? I was giving my dog, Yuki, a bath.

4. What did you know about Megan before the first date? I knew she was on her summer break from teaching university students in China and that she was a Christian.

5. What did you not know prior to the first date? I didn't realize that Megan hadn't given her parents permission to call me. I thought she saw a picture of me in a yearbook or paper and thought I was cute. :-)

6. How did you feel that Mr. Downs asked you if you would be interested in meeting his daughter? I was truly honored. I had and continue to have a great deal of respect for Fred, and I couldn't believe he thought I was good enough to go on a date with Megan.

7. What did you think when you first saw Megan? I thought Megan had a sweet smile and her eyebrows really impressed me. :-) I thought it was cool that she invited me into her parents' place and had me try some longan, a fruit found in China.

8. Where did you go on the first date? I gave Megan a few nice restaurant options, and she chose Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. She didn't realize it's an upscale fine dining establishment. :-) We took also took a stroll on the Canal Walk in Indianapolis.

9. What did you drive? I owned a beige 93 Chevy Silverado 1500. I considered picking up Megan in my dad's Porsche, but it's not me.

10. How was the first date? Despite being super smooth and telling Megan I wasn't into China, by the grace of God, I got a second date.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD. Proverbs 18:22

An engagement pic taken in Changchun, China during the summer of 2003

Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Changed Heart: Adopting My Son

Five years ago tomorrow is the day Josiah Lee officially became a Wickersham. We talked about it a good bit today and looked at pictures of that first week back in 2013. One thing I reminded Josiah Lee about is how God changed my heart. I was content with two daughters and not wanting to throw a boy into the mix. Boys can be proud jerks who don't know how to stay still. Who wants that? But over time I began to think, by the power of the Holy Spirit, boys can grow up to be strong men of God who bring God glory. God can even use a sinner like me to help a boy grow in wisdom and stature. Absolutely amazing.

Josiah Lee isn't afraid to tell you that God radically transformed my selfish sick heart and gave me a desire to adopt the boy who is sleeping next to me right now. Although it's not always fun and games, I had no idea how amazing raising a boy could be. There are a ton of super cool aspects of raising girls, but Rosalie and Grace Noel don't quite appreciate my "pull my finger" jokes like Josiah Lee. Josiah Lee is the one who will go fishing with me or do crazy dances when we score goals in our FIFA soccer video game. I especially love hearing Josiah Lee pray and answering my questions after a church service. He has a real servant's heart and often displays Jesus in ways far greater than me. I'm so thankful God chose me to be Josiah Lee's dad, and I look forward to seeing what God does in his life.

In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, Ephesians 1:4-6

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Wick's 2017 Highlights

2017 was our first full year back in the States, and God once again blessed us abundantly. Read below. Here are past Wickersham highlights: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, & 2016.

January - We attend a God-glorifying wedding at Indiana Wesleyan University and have a Chinese mini-reunion.

February - We decide to purchase a brick ranch house in Evansville and like it for numerous reasons.

March - I visit Las Vegas with my dad and brother and watch the Kobalt 400, consume fantastic food, and have crucial conversations. Megan and I provide a little glimpse at FSBC about what the Father has done and is doing in the Middle Kingdom.

April - I attend the Gospel Coalition conference in Indianapolis and hear the gospel of grace proclaimed by men who have taught me much over the years.

May - We now have a high schooler, middle schooler, and kindergarten student in the Wickersham household. How did this happen?

June - My dad treats us to a two-night stay at the Peabody Memphis: Bass Pro Shops, BBQ, Graceland, Shelby Farms, and more!

July - We go to the Ark Encounter and hang out with friends we did life with in China. A few days later, we visit family in Richmond, Indiana and make a presentation at their church. Soon after that, we visit St. Louis and enjoy time at the zoo, Science Center, and World Chess Hall of Fame.

August - We host a Chinese college student for three weeks and are invited by our friends to speak about adoption at a church in Johnson City, Tennessee.

September - I become the Cullen Campus principal at Evansville Christian School - so thankful to have a great job in a great community.

October - It's the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Soli Deo Gloria.

November - We part ways with the Wickmobile, and I spend some time in Bloomington, Indiana on an ACSI accreditation visit. I also enjoyed catching up with an old buddy from Avon.

December - We celebrate Christmas with our families in Avon and Frankfort, Indiana and spend time with other family members at various times during the month. God is good.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

My Seven Most Popular Facebook Pictures in 2017

Below are the most popular pictures taken and posted on my Facebook account (most via Instagram) in 2017. Lots of smiles and much to be thankful for. Enjoy.

Rosalie completed 8th-grade at Evansville Christian School. 

We took a family pic at Megan's parents' home and celebrated Easter in Frankfort, Indiana.

We took a family pic at IWU where we attended the wedding of good friends we worked with in China.

2017-18 Evansville Christian School Faculty & Departmental Staff

Josiah Lee turned the big six in November. Time flies.

This summer we enjoyed a few days in Memphis, Tennessee. Elvis, BBQ, & the Peabody Ducks. Fun.

We celebrated Grace Noel's 12th Gotcha Day at Orange Leaf. Yum.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Reflecting on R.C. Sproul's Passing

A few days ago I was sad to hear of R.C. Sproul's death. The first book I read and studied as a new believer back in 2000 was Sproul's Chosen By God. His books, videos, and articles have profoundly impacted me. With the exception of John Piper, no author has taught me more about Jesus than Dr. Sproul. I owe a great deal to the man, and I look forward to thanking him in Heaven. Below are three notable quotes from Dr. Sproul from three of his books that I highly recommend.

"To be conformed to Jesus, we must first begin to think as Jesus did. We need the "mind of Christ." We need to value the things He values and despise the things He despises. We need to have the same priorities He has. We need to consider weighty the things He considers weighty." The Holiness of God (1985)

"If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God's sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled." Chosen by God (1986)

"...the more we understand of the holiness and righteousness of God, the more we begin to see by contrast how desperately fallen we are and how utterly dependent we are on His mercy and grace. The Truth of the Cross (2007)

Saturday, November 25, 2017

I'm an Alpha lovin' Amerasian TCK Hoosier

I'm an Alpha lovin' Amerasian TCK Hoosier. You have full permission to label me this way. In fact, you don't need to have my permission to label this way. Why? It's what I am. It's the truth, and it's not something I can change regardless of how I feel. Let me break down what it means to be so mixed up.

1. Alpha lovin' - There are a few verses in Revelation where Jesus claims to be the Alpha and Omega (e.g, Revelation 1:8, 21:6, 22:13). Jesus claimed to be the eternal God, and He is the One I follow. 1 John 4:19.

2. Amerasian - This is a term I was introduced to by my soccer players at Pyongtaek International School in Korea back in 2002. When I stated I was born on a military base to a white American father and Japanese mother, several of my players mentioned I was Amerasian like them. I had always considered myself Asian-American up until that point, but the term isn't the most accurate description of my ethnicity.

3. TCK - Spending most of my school years in small-town Indiana was a tremendous blessing, but it did have its challenges. Sometimes people found it confusing that I was born in Guam, lived in Thailand prior to coming to Indiana, and moved to Brazil and Puerto Rico during my elementary and high school years. Since I've spent a significant part of my developmental years outside my parents' culture, that makes me a Third Culture Kid (TCK). I'm not just an American who is half Japanese, I have several other cultures that have shaped me.

4. Hoosier - I'm from Indiana. I've been to the 500 track numerous times and think tenderloins twice the size of the buns are normal. Occasionally non-Hoosiers have made fun of my accent, and despite not being a basketball player, I grew up watching and attending high school and college basketball games. Being a Hoosier is in my blood.

So there you have it. Now you don't have to wonder what I am. Hopefully, this will help you better understand me and all the people like me. :-)

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, or whom I am the foremost. 1 Timothy 1:15

An eight-year-old Wick visiting the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Why I'm Thankful For My 20+ Years Overseas

Although I claim to be a Hoosier, I'm a mixed up one. Nearly half of my life has been spent overseas which has made me a little unique. I like to catch largemouth bass and eat sushi. I'm comfortable with a fist bump, handshake, or deep bow. My "love" for soccer started in Brazil, and I wear a wedding band purchased in Thailand - a country I lived in prior to moving to "The Hoosier State." Living overseas has profoundly impacted me, and I'm thankful for all that I've experienced outside of the States. Below are seven reasons why I'm thankful to have spent so much time around the world.

1. You get to try new food. Scorpions, starfish, and seahorses. Yes, I've consumed all of them (just not at the same time).

2. You get to learn new languages. It's interesting when a language you once thought sounded a bit funky becomes normal to you. Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.

3. You get to celebrate new holidays. If you like fireworks, try Chinese New Year in China. It's like a battle zone.

4. You gain new friends. Who doesn't want that? Only a Scrooge. Don't be a Scrooge.

5. You learn about the world in ways books and videos simply can't teach. As a former geography teacher, I often know more facts about a country than the people from the country. Despite this, you need to experience the culture to truly begin to understand it.

6. You learn about yourself. Living overseas can definitely be character building and a time of growth. You'll be placed in uncomfortable situations that will humble you and show you how you're not all that.

7. You can worship with other believers in different languages. I have sung, prayed, listened to sermons, and read the Bible with brothers and sisters in atheist, Buddhist, and Muslim nations. God has provided me a little glimpse of Heaven during my time overseas.

Never been overseas? What's stopping you? Have you done some traveling? What have you enjoyed about being overseas? I would enjoy hearing from you.

March 2012 - We're leaving our apartment complex in Tianjin (China) to go out to eat.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Ten Reasons Why I'm Thankful to Live in Evansville

We've been back in Indiana for nearly 1.5 years now, and I'm extremely thankful our transition has been good. We certainly miss various aspects of our lives in China, but we know this is where we're supposed to be. I often think how great it is to live in Evansville. Below are ten reasons why I'm thankful to live here.

1. Church - We worship at a solid Bible-based and Christ-centered fellowship on Sundays.

2. House - We were able to purchase a nice home in a peaceful neighborhood that is close to parks, hospitals, restaurants, stores, and our jobs.

3. Location - A big reason we moved back is to be closer to our parents. A three-hour drive north sure beats an overseas flight.

4. Megan's Jobs - Megan gets to teach ESL to people from around the world.

5. My Job - I work with a great team of teachers, partner with super supportive parents, and help guide a diverse group of students.

6. Nature - Although Evansville is the third largest city in Indiana with a population of 120,000, we're surrounded by lots of places to fish, hike, and view wildlife.

7. People - The people are friendly, and you see folks from all walks of life. We fit right in.

8. Restaurants - There are all kinds of eateries here including multiple BBQ & sushi joints. Both sides of me get their fill!

9. School - All three of our kiddos receive a top-notch education at a school they enjoy.

10. Stores - We don't have IKEA, but Evansville has every other store imaginable. Walmart is just a five-minute drive so I'm good.

So there you have it. God is too good to us. Live here? What do you like about Evansville? Live elsewhere? What makes your community special?

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18