Tag Archives: father

Amos Jun Kitani

Dear Amos,

Hello son. I would have written sooner, but we were pretty tired by the end of the day that you arrived so now it is the day after. Your mother and I had been waiting for you. You came a little bit sooner than we expected but right on time nevertheless. You were born on Monday, March 12th, 2012 at 9:43am weighing in at 7lbs. 8oz., and 21 inches long. Mom had to push to exhaustion for 3 hours for you to come out of your first home so hope you won’t give her a hard time.

I don’t think parents are ever ready to be parents when they have children…believe it or not we weren’t always parents. Although I will try, words are not enough to describe how it feels to become parents for the first time. Honestly, we weren’t sure how much we’d like you when you came…we heard children completely change people’s lives, and we got a little comfortable with the lives that we had. But now that you’re here we, inexplicably, can’t seem to get enough of you. We never thought we’d be so engaged just staring at your face…which we thought would look like a monkey and an alien…thankfully you don’t look like a monkey (haha). We never thought such dread would fill our hearts if we found out you were ill and couldn’t be with us. We never thought we’d actually be overjoyed when you fed from mom for the first time. I never thought the thought of you would fill my entire body with wonder, thankfulness, awe, fear, joy, hope, and love all at the same time.

There’s a lot more I could write to you but right now I wanted to take the time to tell you why we named you as we did.

Amos: I know you probably hate it that people may make fun of your name because it sounds like a certain body part in the behind, but trust your father when he says there is a good reason for why we gave you this name first. Around the time we first found out you were coming, your dad was doing a study in the book of Luke with a group of Servant Partner interns after making a pretty momentous move to the inner city with your mom. I noticed God gave a name to His Son as well as to his Son’s cousin. So your dad asked God to give us a name for you.

At first, God gave me a sense of the idea of an offering. I didn’t really know what that meant so your mother and I, who were both reading through the prophets in the bible around this time, started naming off some prophets, people who were used by and for God. Then your mom said your name, and we were both immediately drawn to it. You see, your namesake wasn’t even a prophet by trade, just a shepherd, but he was angry about the things that made God angry…he spoke up for people that couldn’t speak up for themselves and he stood up for justice and righteousness. This seemed to fit your strong personality that I think you exhibited from the womb in the way you would poke out of mom and refuse to move back in as well as when you looked straight at us in your first ultrasound.

Then I looked up the meaning of your name. It’s a Hebrew word that means “carried”, as in “he carried” or “carried by God.” This seemed to fit with the idea of an offering to me. It’s a heavy name, I know, so I asked God if this was the name I should give you. I felt He said back to me “Are you sure?” as in “Are you sure you want me to name your son?” for what God desires for us is not always easy for us. But I trust that what He desires is good and better than anything I could dream up. And if carrying the burdens of others becomes too much, remember He carries you. So I said, “Yes.”

Jun: Your middle name was tricky. Your mom wanted to name you Kunta after Kunta Kinte from Roots so you would be Kunta Kitani…because she thought that sounded funny. But I thought that was kind of a messed up reason (haha…plus I could find no meaning to the name) so I vetoed that one for you. I wanted you to have a Korean name since your mother is of Korean heritage, and you would already have a Japanese name through your last name. Your mom also wanted a name that could work in Japanese too.

So at first I thought of you having a name, preferably with the meaning of “light” (so that you would be a light of God to those around you), with Chinese characters that way you could read it in Korean or in Japanese. But according to your mom’s dad (grandpa) the Korean names that resulted sounded old fashioned and way too lofty. So then your mom and I tried to brainstorm words that were the same in Korean and Japanese…but most of them ended up being names of very particular things…like washing machine and newspaper. So we asked your grandpa to give us the Korean names he liked. He wanted a one syllable name and the middle name you were given, meaning “brightness”, was one of them. Through a a friend, we were reminded that it turns out your middle name also is a name in Japanese, as well as having in common the first letter of your mom’s name and the first syllable of my mom’s name!

Kitani: We didn’t have much choice about this one because this was the Japanese family name I also inherited. Yet, I’ve come to embrace it, not only as my heritage, but as part of who I am and hope you do too. It means “tree valley” – “tree” which makes me think of what our Savior was hung on to die for us, and “valley” which makes me think of the low times and places in our lives that are hard but we learn so much from. Plus people like to say this name for some reason.


I’ll end this letter with a verse that Martin Luther King Jr. (another gifted “prophet” of more recent times that also spoke out about injustice) quoted, from the book that bears your name, in his “I Have a Dream” speech…a truth that is also a dream of your parents and a reality of our God’s heart.

“But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” – Amos 5:24


day 16: shepherd

Isaiah 40:10-11; Ezekiel 34:23-24; John 10:11-18

“Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him;behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms;he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” – Isaiah 40:10-11

“I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd” – Ezekiel 34:23

“The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep…No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” – John 10:13-15, 18

a shepherd: a man who cares for lowly, foolish , and frightened animals. in my one memorable interaction with a sheep herd i especially saw how easily frightened they were. i came by a fairly large herd, one that could have totally overpowered me, but the minute i walked up close to them they all ran away terrified. they would only feel safe with the caretaker they were familiar with…their shepherd. its interesting that in the isaiah passage God says He will come with “might” and then follows that statement with the image of a shepherd…not the profession that comes to mind when i think of strength. in fact, the shepherd that is described is very tender, giving special care for the weakest of the herd. yet, maybe that is “might” in God’s eyes: to love and care for those who are helpless…those who can do nothing to care for you. as i prepare to become a father, i am so impressed by the ones i see holding their little ones…with little to no sleep they faithfully and responsively care for a little thing that just cries, drools, poops, and punches them in the face. then this Good Shepherd not only cares for but defends these sheep. when danger and threat comes that is the test of true strength….that shows who you really care for. i know i immediately try to protect myself…not throw myself into it. and not just throw myself into the onslaught of danger but to do it for a bunch of sheep? indeed Jesus has might i only barely understand.

are we really that different from the sheep? what gives us anxiety…what really scares us? how can we run to the Good Shepherd and let ourselves be carried by Him?

thank you Lord that you are my Mighty Shepherd.

day 13: illuminator

Isaiah 9:1-7; John 1:4-5

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined…For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” – Isaiah 9:2, 6-7

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:4-5

we may be alive but He is the source of true Life.  we may see light but we are in darkness without His Light.  His Light is the common image in both passages.  when light illuminates darkness it brings hope…guidance…warmth…life.  He is the Light of the World…we only reflect Him.  He may have come as a child but even then He was not only Son (Prince of Peace), but Father (Everlasting Father) and Holy Spirit (Wonderful Counselor)…God Himself (Mighty God).  darkness has not won.  darkness cannot win for of the “increase” of His reign of peace “there will be no end.”

in what ways is He shining His light into our lives even now…bringing hope, guidance, warmth, life?  how can we hold onto His truth and allow His peace to reign in our lives?

thank you Lord that you are the light of our lives

day 7: refugee

Hosea 11:1-12; Matthew 2:13-15

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them.” – Hosea 11:1-3

“Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod.This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet,’Out of Egypt I called my son.'” – Matthew 2:13-15

there were two sons. both were loved by the Father and both became refugees to escape death as children. one would go back so the other wouldn’t have to.

one was rescued from Egypt to Israel but did not recognize his Faithful Father who had delivered him and continually loved him. another was rescued from Israel to Egypt, recognized His Faithful Father who delivered him and continually loved him. the son that continually walks away from God the Father is us, especially those who have already met the Father. the Son whose heart is one with the Father is Jesus. Our Father, out of love, sent His Faithful Son to rescue his unfaithful sons.

in what ways has He delivered us, in what ways has He been our refuge, and in what way has He faithfully loved us…even when we haven’t?

thank you Lord that you are our eternal refuge.

being stolen from and receiving a son

we had our first piece of property stolen from us about a week ago.  it was only a matter of time living here.  our neighbor actually had a rock (or something) thrown into their window a couple weeks ago.  as of today, the neighborhood we have moved into is ranked 45th highest in violent crime out of 209 neighborhoods in Los Angeles County (according to the searchable “neighborhood” section in the LA Times <about one of the only things that the paper’s got going for it>.  so the other evening i walked outside to water our front lawn and realized our hose was missing…as well as the reel container the hose was in…that was nailed into the ground.

after getting over our initial surprise…we, oddly enough, just laughed.  Ji figured if they went through all the trouble of getting the nail pegs out of the ground they probably needed it a lot more than we did.  it is such a minor thing in the scope of things.  we have so little to complain about living here.  it is so much nicer than we had imagined in our minds as we prepared for the move.  i mean there are differences here on our street that you would never find in a more well to do neighborhood such as: dog poo all over the grass, random trash strewn about on our lawn (including a pair of panties a couple weeks ago!), condoms on the sidewalk, etc.  yet, we are still relatively insulated on our street (which is a quiet little spot of newer immigrant asians) compared to the other stuff that happens in the neighborhood.  north of the main street, that cuts through the neighborhood, is generally a lot more dangerous.  my wife and I are really trying to learn to have a looser grip on our possessions.  stuff doesn’t last.  stuff can be replaced.  by the grace of God, we have enough means and are connected to people who have means…Ji’s mom bought us a new hose on a reel.   this is not a luxury most in the community have.

the very next day, after i happened upon being stolen from, we found out that the child growing within my wife is a boy!  my wife was just only about 15 weeks (almost 4 months) a week ago and i heard that people usually can’t find out the gender of their child until about the 5th month.  so the morning we went in for the second ultra sound, i just lifted up a little prayer that our developing child wouldn’t be too shy.  sure enough the little guy was showing us everything as he was squirming all around: his spine, his legs (spread eagle even…hence the gender discovery…hahha!), his heart, his head (which you can see below):

an eerie shot of our son as he was looking straight at us….that’s his skull and eye sockets (to the left).

what an active helpful little guy.  it was so surreal to see him.  we’ve known about him for awhile now hidden in his mother’s belly but its a whole other experience to see life unfolding right before our eyes…so little but so many living moving details already…more real, tangible, and miraculous somehow even though its something very natural.  its like a peek into a world that is always there but normally invisible to the naked eye.  although i had a sweet spot for a daughter i see God’s wisdom in giving us a son.  we will learn so much.  Ji says she has no frame of reference for raising a son, as an only female child (and an avid watcher of gilmore girls…haha!).  it has really made me think more explicitly about what it means to be a man and what I want to pass down to my son…the sort of issues i don’t want him to inherit from me and the legacy i want to leave him.    it is as i am reminded by my wife, that he will catch from me not so much what i say is important, but what i actually am.  God grant us wisdom…grant us your indestructible life.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.” – Job 1:21