September 6, 2022

What's in a Name?

“What’s in a name?”

More than just titles or mere adjectives, names hold a great power over us. They act as an encompassment of who we are, where we’ve been, and who we’ve come from. Names are commemorative of our belonging, our place in this world. 

However, as an adoptee I’ve had to reflect on my names. I have been given more than the average person. What names do I carry and what do they mean to me? Which names do I let define me? 

At my first breath of life, my first cry, I was given a name. Though I have no memory or knowledge of such a name, I know that it could easily be translated into “love”. 

The name Guang Yueyin was given to me in a crowded orphanage at six weeks old. Listed on all my records, this is the name I’ve associated with China. It represents my beginning. Yueyin, meaning ”earth, moon, and stars” points to the Creator of those things who was looking out for me during this time. 

The moment I was put in my mom’s arms, I earned the name Padgett. As my adopted surname, it represents the family and the unit I’ve been adopted into. It too means love, a love deep enough to sustain me an ocean away until the long wait was over. 

Juliese. Deriving from two names and without a dictionary meaning, this name gives me the freedom to grow into who I’m becoming while simultaneously knowing who I’ve been. Crafted in love, the name itself echoes prayers prayed, in love, over me before I myself came into being. 

Laced together, Juliese Yueyin Padgett tells a story of who I belong to, where I’ve been, and who I am. All of our names tell these stories. My many names could confuse me. I could put value into a single name. But the very act of renaming represents redemption. Renaming recognizes who you have been, what has been done, and clothes you, in love, in new glory, for a new chapter. 

“And you will be given a new name by the Lord’s own mouth. The Lord will hold you in his hand for all to see—a splendid crown in the hand of God.” (Isaiah 62:2b-3)

This is the prophecy prayed over God’s people. Think of it. The renaming the Lord does throughout history clothes his people in new glory. 

Abram → Abraham (father of many)

Sarai → Sarah (princess) 

Jacob → Israel (God wrestler) 

Naomi → Mara (bitter) → Naomi (pleasant)

Time and time again it is demonstrated to us that being renamed is holy. So holy in fact, that the Lord renames us after salvation takes place. Renaming signifies a physical redemption. And redemption is simply a by-product of a love so deep it could not settle for less than a union of adoption. 

That’s why, even though my birth mother whispered a name over me in love, I recognize that being renamed Juliese is proof of redemption, and I reach my hands out to receive this new name. Going from “_____” → “Juliese'' represents God’s redemptive hand in my journey.

Someday, be it God’s will, I might gain yet another opportunity to be renamed. Padgett → “____”. I will take up a new surname representing another unit the Lord has given me, a different version of the same redemption story. And even though I deeply take pride in carrying the Padgett surname, I know I never really lose the names given before, so I look with joy towards the names the Lord has to give me still. All these names add up to make a story that’s uniquely mine, that’s laced together to represent a picture of God’s holiness in my life. 

So what’s in a name? 

Holy redemption, rooted in love. 

And if that’s the case, I’m blessed to carry so many names.

July 27, 2022

Cultivating Healthy Racial Discussions: Some Questions

As the topic of racial reconciliation continues to prevail through our media, the necessity for healthy racial discussion becomes more and more obvious. These conversations can be challenging, controversial topics to host, making them generally avoided because we’ve never been taught how they should be conducted. Unfortunately, there is no perfect blueprint to lead these conversations. However, if you’re seeking guidance, there are certainly good signs and bad signs to look for when you begin these discussions. Some of these signs can be spotted by honestly reflecting on the following questions:

1. What role do I play in this conversation?

Reflecting on your role previously prepares you for what can be an intimidating discussion and can help guide your conduct. 

  1.  Am I hosting or am I in the position of being educated? 

As the conversation host you hold a responsibility to listen respectfully, have patience, and ensure the conversation continues to be productive. On the other hand, perhaps you are less versed in the unique facets of racial history and you’re in the position of a student. In this role, it is your job to acknowledge areas of ignorance, ask questions, and of course, learn. 

If you are the host, I ask you to reflect: 

  1. Is the person opposite of me as educated in racial facets?

Though learning will occur in any position you happen to play, you may know more than the person opposite of you. If you do, it is important to know the other person’s range of knowledge and be able to lead the conversation without sounding like you are preaching to them. 

  1. Am I in an emotional position to calmly talk about my racial worldview with another person whose views might differ from my own?

Can you hear something you might disagree with and handle it with love? If the person opposite to you says something that doesn’t sit right, are you capable of pointing out the inaccuracy without attacking them? Will you continue to be able to teach with love and patience? Being a host requires continual calmness and emotional maturity. It’s not easy, but I promise it’s possible!

  1. What parts of my racial narrative are painful? If these wounds are reopened, am I emotionally mature enough to not transfer that pain to the other person?

In our vigor to see racial reconciliation, sometimes instead of acknowledging and treating the hurt racism has caused, we can end up transferring our pain to others. It is important to recognize our pain in order to healthily express it. 

  1. Is the person I’m talking to willing to learn?

If the answer to this question is no, you can answer any questions, have conversations, but if they are unwilling to learn, it is your responsibility to wipe the dust off and move on. It is not worth sharing our deep values with ears that aren’t ready to learn.

  1. What more do I have to learn?

Sometimes, when we take the role of teacher, we can easily convince ourselves that we know it all. But we do not. Racial reconciliation is based upon learning and embracing others’ unique perspectives and requires an openness to learn. Humbleness is also equally important because we do not want to alienate those opposite of us and thus lose our opportunities. 

If you are the student:

  1. Am I willing for my views, my comforts, to be challenged?

If your answer is no, then this conversation won’t go very far. If you’re not willing to be challenged, for your views to be called into question, it simply means that this makes you uncomfortable. And that’s completely totally normal. It takes time, but if you’re willing, soon your answer to this question will change, and that’s your green light!

  1. Does the person I’m having this conversation with have a healthy racial worldview?

As a learner, it is important to learn from someone healthy! Ask yourself: 

  • Does this person openly admit to their limited perspectives and biases? 

  • Do they seek mutual growth during these conversations?

  • Do they have a diverse social circle? 

  • Do they use respectful terms that reinforce a person's/group’s value?

If these all sound like your person, then they sound quite healthy! The biggest most important quality of a healthy teacher is that they do not leave you feeling ashamed for your developing racial journey. If they do, please do not continue these types of conversations with that person. 

  1. What previous experiences in my life have shaped some of the mindsets I hold?

Reflecting on what has shaped our mindsets is powerful - what has shaped what you believe? Knowing the roots of your mindsets allows you to better communicate why you hold a certain view, and discussions will allow you to reflect on if that association is healthy or not. 

  1. How has racism hurt me personally?

Everyone has been hurt by racism. Everyone. We carry deep, inflicted wounds from the racial injustice that have influenced our lives. Knowing how racism has hurt you personally allows you room for both empathy and healing. 

The topic of racial reconciliation isn’t an easy one - the discussions aren’t always going to be comfortable and they require a willingness to let go of previous mindsets. But, in learning how to have these discussions, we cultivate a healthier racial worldview and perhaps in turn, can share this growth with others. My friends, there is so much healing to be had in this topic, and I hope your reflections help you pursue the beauty and the growth that discussion on racial reconciliation can provide. 

May 28, 2022

AAPI Media

To commemorate AAPI month - that is, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I thought I’d provide a list of some of my favorite types of media with Asian main characters/cast to continue to celebrate these people all year long. 


Big Hero Six:

This animated Disney movie encompasses both the action of a superhero movie with the emotional yet fun atmosphere Disney is known for. Taking place in fictional San Fransokyo, this movie stars an Asian lead and a diverse group of sidekicks. 

Wish Dragon:

This animated movie, found on Netflix, combines both Romeo and Juliet with the magic of Aladdin. Featuring an all Asian cast, this movie is a great way to enjoy a classic storyline while simultaneously widening ourselves to POC leads. 

Raya and the Last Dragon:

This newer Disney movie boasts a super-diverse cast of Asian characters, with its storyline paralleling the deep, complicated histories between different groups within the nation of China. Additionally, this movie has gorgeous animation. 


Though there is both a live action and a sequel, I always go back to the original Disney tale of Mulan. Following a farm girl turned warrior, Mulan explores loyalty and family duty as she trains to protect China.

Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: 

A Marvel movie for the older crowd, this movie features an almost all Asian cast and deeply celebrates Asian culture throughout the story of Shaun (Shang Chi) as he protects his late mother’s village from his disillusioned father.  

Children’s books:

Eyes that Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho:

This sweet children’s book filled with vivid illustrations and an important message, explores a girl and her relationship with her almond shaped eyes. 

Shaoey and Dot by Mary Beth Chapman:

Actually made into a series, Shaoey and Dot follows an orphan and her ladybug friend as Shaoey gets adopted and adjusts to her new home. 

The White Swan Express by Jean Davies Okimoto:
Following the adoption stories of multiple families in Guangzhou’s most famed hotel, this sweet book honors the adoption stories the hotel has come to be a part of. 

Daisy Comes Home by Jan Brett:

Paired with gorgeous illustrations, this book follows Mei Mei, a young Chinese girl who raises chickens. When Daisy, one of the chickens, gets separated, Mei Mei does all she can to get her chicken back. 

The Red Thread by Grace Lin:

Based on an Asian version of soulmates, red threads connect those destined to be together regardless of distance. In this story, a happy royal couple face perils as they attempt to find who is on the other end of their thread. 

I Love You Like Crazy Cakes:

Exploring an adoption story through the adoptive mother’s eyes, this sweet book illustrates the deep, maternal love experienced during the adoption process. 

The Newest Flower by Juliese Padgett:

If we’re being technical, the birch trees in this book suggest this book takes place in North America. But as the author, I argue that since Calli is an Asian-coded character, (and a real flower hailing from Asia!) this book belongs on the list. Perfect for this month, this short story transports readers to a flower oasis and teaches a message of love important for every month of the year. 

YA Books:

American Girl: Good Luck Ivy

It has been years since I’ve picked up an American Girl book, but what I appreciate about the brand is the dedication to their dolls’ stories. Ivy’s story focuses on balancing her Chinese household and the changing climates of San Francisco. 

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed:

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

Amal lives a poor but cheerful life in her village in Pakistan. But when she says the wrong thing

to the richest man in the village, she finds herself forced into indentured servitude. With the house staff,

she must find a way to prosper even under his harsh expectations and encompassing presence.

(Additional notes)

Boys Without Names by Kashmira Sheth

Gopal, in an attempt to help provide for his family, takes a job that brings him to the top floor of an old building complex where with 5 other boys, he is required to make frames all day. Unable to contact the outside world, the boys can’t tell each other their names but find refuge in their shared stories. (Additional Notes)

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

A story about an immigrating Chinese family, the Tang’s are given the opportunity to run a motel and Mia Tang is convinced that once her family gets on their feet, they’ll live the American dream. Except, pretty quickly she learns that the motel owner, even though he’s Asian like them, doesn’t want them to succeed and it’s up to Mia to stand up for what she believes in and not to limit her dreams to society’s expectations. (Additional Notes)

Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park

Hanna, the daughter of a pioneer, struggles to fit into all the towns she’s moved to due to being half-Asian. Along with her dreams of getting an education and opening a dress shop, Hanna faces significant challenges with bravery that challenge the prejudice of her new town. (Additional Notes)

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