Friday, December 16, 2011

it takes a village...

I heard a while back that the city we live in has about 4,000 foreigners. From all over. So we have import stores, western restaurants, toy stores, a dozen Starbucks. We don't suffer a lot here. I actually wouldn't be surprised if there are actually more than 4,000 "lao wai."

We feel blessed by our little village. In our apartment complex, there are two boys the same age as Luke. And a girl and boy pretty close to the same age as Jace. We have families to play with and folks to do dinner with any time.
We get to go to fun Christmas parties like one that is called a BRIC party where we each make a new recipe (to us) and take it for a dinner party. Someone gets to make the appetizer, someone makes the main dish, someone makes dessert, sides, etc...Our friend thought it up--she's pretty creative. And it's fun.

We get to host parties that are a mixture of our local friends and foreign friends like tonight. We'll eat hot pot for supper and then do traditional Christmas stuff with our friends at our house. Cookie decorating, Christmas story telling, singing, etc.

We look at each other and think how thankful we are for the community we have here. How thankful we are for our ex-pat friends. But just how thankful we also are for our local friends. It's a gift.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


I'm loving the words to the song "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" this year.

I love that it says: "Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinner reconciled...
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
join the triumph of the skies
...Christ is born in Bethlehem..."

There's a kind of tension that I feel when I'm reading the OT. Sinful people had to wait a LONG time for the Savior to arrive, to be revealed. But it's not just them. It is still a tension for me--that waiting word. Waiting for Him to show us what our niche is here in this city with the people He's asked us to live among. Waiting for those adoption papers to go through and children to be matched to our family. Waiting for Him to speak to our friends. Because apart from Him being all over everything we do, what we do isn't worth much.....

But I think that is the thing I love about celebrating Jesus' birth: the waiting was over. Anna and Simeon were able to see the Savior they'd prayed about for decades. The Father didn't forget them. Us.

The boys helped me decorate the tree the other day.
And presents from America arrived the same day.
So they're having to see those presents every day--to wait to open them.
Waiting has been a theme in our family's life the past several weeks. It's good. It's hard. It's good. It's good to trust in a Father that knows and acts in perfect time to a people that really need Him. And to seek His face in the waiting time--to see again a beautiful God in the face of an innocent babe from 2000 years ago.

PS the third picture is just a picture of one of the lower branches of the tree--the ones that Jace can reach. There are a lot of ornaments on that branch :).

Monday, November 28, 2011

chip off the block...

a couple weeks ago, my oldest wanted to wear his shirt that looked like Daddy's on the same day that Daddy wore his. So, they wore matching shirts to our Sunday time.
It's so neat to me to see Luke want to be like Johnny--I can't imagine anyone I'd want the boys to emulate more!
And they are a lot alike. Johnny can do funny imitations. So can Luke. Johnny is an artist and a writer. So is Luke. Johnny is a good friend to the people he meets, and he is able to make deep friends quickly. So can Luke.

Our Jace is a lot like Johnny, too, but in different ways.
I love to watch them and know they'll be shaped by a man who loves them, who loves the Lord, and is so so so fun to be around!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

a day at the park

I was looking through pictures yesterday and playing in Picnik, and I found these pictures from about a month ago. And they reminded me of a fun day we had with a teacher friend and her daughter's school class.

We went to the park. But the park didn't have playgrounds, so they pulled out...

an air mattress for the kids to play on.
It was a first for us. And it was so fun!

Friday, November 4, 2011

crafty crafterson

I like to make things. I'm not professional. But I like to have homemade things for the house, for my kids, and to give as gifts. This year, I am hoping to finish some gifts to give for Christmas.

One of my best friends just adopted twins. As newborns. Well, by "just" I mean almost 3 months ago. But I wanted to give them each a gift, albeit late. So I looked at our online version of ebay, and found some cute stuff but I thought after all that that I'd really like to make something for them. I found it hard to do, but I have one finished. The one for the girl is the same on the front, except for the letter font. Surprise, Marce.
It's no secret that we're impatiently waiting for kiddos from Africa. I made this blanket for our little girl last year when we started the process. I'm thinking I might want to bleach out the bright colors a bit..
One Christmas craft. A pottery barn knock-off (sorta). For our Jesse tree. I am not organized enough to have the boys do a coloring page every day for the tree or a craft, so I'm hoping to fill it with fun stuff/stories BEFORE we start. That remains to be seen. I made 2, one is for a gift. I'm not telling to who. It's wrinkled. But it's sunny today, so I wanted to take pictures and I don't pull out our iron while the boys are awake. I am too apt to forget and leave it on...
And a flower to make a Christmas present look pretty...I used not Martha's idea. But I had to sew it--my glue didn't work
Hi, Mom. This post is mostly for you...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

fall in the mountains

Mountain trips are a highlight of our year. We love being in the mountains. It's a bit rugged the way we have to live--long stretches without showers. But we stay in a really fun hostel or hotel, and we all sleep in the same room, which I love. And we hike in beautiful scenery, which I love. This year, since we were there at the end of October, we were there while the trees are still changing colors!

Trees don't change in our city--they have to plant lots of evergreen plants to endure so little sun. But in the mountains...

This time, we went up a valley I haven't gone before. Johnny had. However, this valley has THE most vibrant colored trees. It helps me breathe deep breaths to be out in such splendor :)! I had trouble getting a picture, but you can kinda see it behind this one (an outtake of an attempt at photographing 5 two year olds on our hike):
And in the valley, we had to stop and throw some rocks--it happens every time we're in the mountains...
And feed some horses if they'll come close to the fence:

And hang with friends at our favorite hostel:

And snap a quick family picture. Imperfect? Yes. Real? Also yes.

Robin Hood

I didn't mean for the last two posts to be so heavy. But we have had LOTS of fun over the last two weeks as we have prepared for and then partied with our now 6 year old!

We just had the party at our apartment complex's basketball courts. It was a sunny, beautiful day, which Johnny joked was because Luke and I prayed for a whole week that it would be sunny on his birthday party day. Have I mentioned that the sun is a bit of a rarity here?

This is our attempt at a good, quick picture of hyped up 5/6/7 year olds...
We shot arrows. One boy got a bullseye!

Then the boys and dads played capture the flag to retrieve the gifts that had been taken as taxes for "Prince John". The boys were successful. And capture the flag (gifts) worked relatively well for a first time attempt.

Of course we ate and Luke opened his gifts that he gave to some kids in the earthquake areas.
He "took from the rich" and "gave to the poor".
And then he opened his loot from his parents and nana and papa. He didn't go without.

We sent the gifts from the party off with our friend who will give it to a teacher in a school that lost everything in 2008. They are still building up their supplies...I was proud of Luke. It was a bit hard for him to part with a couple of the toys, but he did it anyway.

We left the next day for the mountains, which we'll post about soon...

Monday, October 24, 2011

not forgotten

Luke and I got to go to a home for kiddos who don't have moms and dads today. It was good for both of us in different ways.

We arrived at the home, and our first impressions were that it was a typical building for where we live: lots of concrete, no greenery at all, old metal playground equipment, kind of depressing. But I did notice it was clean-the outside of the building was covered in white tiles which tend to stave off the grayness that is inevitable for the concrete buildings here.

We went up to hang with some older kids. All of whom had down syndrome. Which was new for my 5-almost-6-year-old. It wasn't comfortable for him, and my normally extremely independent little boy wanted to plant himself on my lap and watch tv. But a friend had brought markers, playdoh and paper, and when the other children started drawing and playing with playdoh, I noticed Luke inching up to the table. He started telling them how good their drawings looked. He took some playdoh to play with it at the table. And then, next thing I knew, he was taking some playdoh over to a girl standing in the corner of the room, rocking by herself. She didn't take the playdoh, but smiled at him. He noticed the little girl that no one else was paying attention to. And gave her what was most valuable to him in the room at that moment. I was touched by my little man and his heart and his courage in what was, to him, an uncomfortable few minutes...
(the picture was not taken at the home--I didn't feel comfortable getting my camera out. I wanted to keep the focus away from the camera...)

Next, we saw the babies. Seven sweet babies. Two healthy babies who have people lined up to adopt them. And five who are ill. One sweet little girl captured my heart. Doctors have said she only has days to live--her liver is not good. She's seven months old, and no one has ever given her a name. I think no one thought she'd survive. And I felt so stirred by that: it seems like society has forgotten her...

But as I prayed for her, I felt that she wasn't forgotten. That her Father hasn't stopped thinking about her for even one second. And so, if she lives on this earth for 7 months and goes to meet her Creator, it'll be a celebration as her Father welcomes her home. His treasure.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

roller coaster

I almost wrote this on my facebook update, but couldn't do it. This isn't really so much like a facebook thing.

We have had quite the roller coaster week. We thought my mom was going to come visit. But my dad got sick and she couldn't come. My Luke has been praying every day for Papa to get better so Nana can come. We were sad.

But then the next night, we received an email that started like this: Well, I hope you're ready for this. I have a referral for you. And he proceeded to tell us that he had a little boy, almost two, who could be ours within the next year. If we wanted him. We didn't see his picture or look at his medical records--we said yes. So we have been thinking about a little man living in Ethiopia all day and dreaming about going to meet him and then bringing him home.

And tonight we got an email from the same aforementioned man who told us he needed us to call. So I did, and he told me he didn't even know how to tell me, but sweet little man had passed away. I guess he died yesterday. He got sick and couldn't recover--it happens a lot in third world countries. So, we're trying to pick our jaws up off the floor. It is so sad--not for us, but for this little man who we were already falling in love with. We have been hoping all night that he had someone who was loving on him in the hospital this week.

I guess this happens once every 20 years, but it's made me think.

We actually already have another referral. Another little boy who's 7 months old. And we're excited about that one, too, but I feel just a little sad about the loss of a little almost 2 year old that we actually never met. I hope he's having fun with Jesus.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


We had a retreat of sorts a couple of weeks ago, and Johnny jumped into a wind tunnel to "skydive". It was a simulation. In a big country where things just aren't the same quality as, say, western countries. But when I was going through our pictures, it made me feel philosophical, for whatever reason. About the symbolism of skydiving. There's a lot of faith involved in sky diving--depending on a piece of thin cloth and strings to catch me when I'm falling from hundreds of feet, right?

I think the Father wants us to be the same way with him: depend on him to catch us when he tells us to jump out of that plane. To change our lives. To ask our friends to completely go against their families to follow the unseen. I truly get afraid to think of all the bad things that could happen when I look out that door and hear those words, "trust Me." And yet, I'd regret if I didn't jump...

Friday, October 7, 2011


We decided to go for 2 children from Ethiopia. And when Johnny gets back from traveling this week, we'll start on the paperwork for grants/loans!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Super L

Something I have to say about my number one child is that he is nothing if he's not creative. He is always thinking of a story. He thinks of the most fun ideas of things to do and make. He thinks of fun games for his friends to play. This was totally his idea one day: L's cafe. And his menu includes: pizza, pancakes, cherries (that's my favorite), pie, noodles, hamburgers...It includes pictures.
There's also a cold soda machine on the side of the cafe. For a mere 25 cents, you can have a cold Coke, too.
I always want to remember these days...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


We are in the middle of the adoption process. We have turned in our dossier and have been told that we will get our referral sometime in the next few months. But now we have to decide (read: hear clearly from the Father) whether to do 1 child or 2 children. And we have always thought that we'd do 2. Because it's a little less expensive to do 2 at once. And we want 2 so that they will have each other to relate to and know what it's like to be adopted from Ethiopia together...

BUT we found out it is SIGNIFICANTLY more expensive to adopt 2. And we don't have the money for the second one. Sooo...we need a sign to appear hanging out our bedroom window.

People have, at one time, asked where we are in the process. That's where we are today.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Trip to the Temple

The areas that we most love to go are often closed. There are various reasons. And I can't go into all of it on here. But suffice it to say, we feel like it's a treat to get to travel to the mountains when they are open.

And I got the chance to travel out in August. It was a really great trip--I got to travel out with a friend, so I got to meet lots and lots of family and friends while I was there. We've found that traveling out with friends is so much more fun (and tiring) than just going on our own...

Anyway, our first day in town we drove out to a temple. And I watched my friends do all the rituals that are done in the temple. It was nothing I hadn't seen before. But it had been long enough that it was fresh, and watching my friends walk through the rituals actually drives the reality home a bit more. So, here are some pictures from the temple. They are a bit smoky just because of the incense burning (the oven that is shown is an incense burning oven)...

The last picture is a friend throwing up her prayer cards into the wind to carry them off to the gods, and she's surrounded by prayer flags. Such is the reality here...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

"hospitality house"

We have it on our "to do" list this week to find an apartment that can serve as a home to folks that come from all over our province to go to the hospital in our city. Since medical bills are so expensive in and of themselves, it seemed that lots of our friends or friends' friends have needed a place to stay for free or for really cheap. And it's a bit of a shuffling game to get them in friends' empty apartments or whatever we can help them find here in town.

So, we felt that the Father was putting it on our hearts to find a place that can meet that need for at least 3 families at a time. Mostly for our people. But sometimes, maybe, for people coming in from the states, too...We are just beginning to think about and dream of this house. Really, we mostly hope that it will be used to help a lot of people (and connect us with new relationships as it's used).

As soon as we have pictures of our potential house, we'll put pictures up...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Entering the world of homeschooling

Our electricity is out so I'm writing at a local bakery. Enjoying their air conditioning for a while...

So this will be short.

We have started homeschool with Luke. We have done some reading, math, and a little science and social studies so far. We'll start our science and soc studies curriculums next week. It's taken us an hour and a half at most to finish everything. I'm okay with that. I know it won't last forever!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

We are changing...

I have been pitiful about writing on our blog. Mostly because I feel so scattered in my life. For instance, we live in an Asian country and spend lots of time with Asians. And expats. But a lot of my time is also spent with my kids doing homeschool or activities to stimulate a 5 year old and a 2 year old. And on top of that, I like to sew and make things and do parties.

We also get really passionate about being socially active and adoption. So, I just put a whole bunch of tabs at the top of our blog to sort of organize my brain about our lives and hopefully to stimulate us to write more about our lives--the things we're passionate about...

Now that that's been said, we have had a lot happen in the past months since I last wrote. Teams have come and gone. Prayed. Loved our people. We traveled to Singapore for vacation. We hoped to travel to the roof of the world, but that fell through for now. I traveled up to the mountains to visit a friend. And had an AWESOME time.

And just today, Johnny has been approached to help connect our people with a 5 star hotel in town. There is a lady in this hotel who has such a heart for our people and wants to offer them an internship in the hotel with the potential of becoming a full-time, really good job. Just because she loves them and knows they don't get many chances of this nature. She also wants to sell our peoples' tea all over the world. And we get excited about this because we could maybe help her on this. It's good black tea that has a bit of a sweet flavor. Much more conducive to selling in the states than what our people normally drink: butter tea...

We have had on our hearts for the past several weeks the desire to open a "hospitality house" as it's been named. A place that people can come from the mountains and stay in while their loved ones are staying in the hospital. It's a need we've seen for so long, but just a few weeks ago, the light bulb went on, and we thought, "hey, we could help with that." So we'll be looking for a house in the near future to put people in when they are in town. A sort of hostel for those who need to save their money (and maybe a place for friends to stay when they're in from across the ocean).

So, that's our latest news. Johnny leaves tomorrow to go to spend the weekend with his closest friend in this country for his birthday. We are all excited for him to get to go and love on our friend, Jordan.

And here are 2 pictures from our vacation:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

our homes...

We paid our rent yesterday and will get to live in our apartment one more year. Actually, about 11 more months. And then he wants to sell it, so we'll have to move. A fourth move in what'll be 6 years. Boy. He asked us why we don't buy a house. Well, there are lots of reasons...

We have lived here 2 years so far, and it feels like home. And it's where we want to bring two more babies home to. 2 (hopefully) babies from Ethiopia. We don't have any exciting news on that front. We are still doing paperwork. EVERY part of the paperwork has been a long wait. And then, just when we thought we were finished, nope. We're not.

So maybe we'll get to bring them to what now feels like home. Or maybe not. Our home really isn't on earth, so we can live anywhere--I just tend to get attached....

In other news, we had a successful family trip to the mountains with our friends who came to visit from Mississippi/Tulsa. It was so nice to be out there and let the boys run and play and throw rocks into the river and just enjoy the outside. And Johnny got to hike to the most beautiful place he's ever been in this part of the world. Those words came out of his mouth...So it was a wonderful trip. Johnny asked us if we want to go again at the end of June. Kind of. Kind of not. We'll see.
I think it looks pretty, too!!
We do hope to someday be able to get an apartment out there, so maybe we'll have a home out there...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


My kids have been wearing red napkins clipped with a clothespin for almost 2 days straight.

Because they're superheroes!

This is what we do.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

drinkin' tea

One of my favorite things to do in this enormous country is drink tea. It is, after all, the land of tea...

I like to go to the same restaurant/tea house and drink tea as much as I can get time to do it. I also like to talk to the sweet younger-than-me ladies who serve the tea. So, while I can't post pictures of them here, I really love them. And I really love their sweet milk tea.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

We are so excited it's Easter!

And we wanted to say Happy Easter!

With love

just a day

Johnny was gone for 2 weeks to the States. And the boys and I didn't get to go. That would've been a HUGE chunk of the money we're trying to save to adopt children from Africa!

So, we stayed here and played and watched movies and got to hang out with friends! We had fun.

Johnny was gone for 2 weeks to the States. And the boys and I didn't get to go. That would've been a HUGE chunk of the money we're trying to save to adopt children from Africa!

So, we stayed here and played and watched movies and got to hang out with friends! We had fun.

I took pictures one day just of the places we went and the people we saw and the things we played.

We got up and went to get the local version of what we think taste like donuts without the sugar. So we dip them into sweetened condensed milk--as close as we can get to an easy donut for less than 25 cents each.
We were in our big market across the street from our apartment. This is a guy buying peas at the veggie stall...
the front of the veggie stall

One of the perks of living here: cheap flowers. We bought freesia (I think--anyway, it smells so good!). They got to ride with our friend, Zipper in the back of the stroller.
And the flower lady gave free flowers...
And we went home to play outside.
Now it might help to tell what our home is like. We live in an apartment complex. There are 7 or 8 buildings with about 16 floors in each building. And they are built in somewhat of a circle that surround a courtyard. Our courtyard has playgrounds, a sandbox type area, exercise equipment (not at all like the equipment in the states, so don't picture it that way), and small waterways with fish and rocks. Our children choose to play on the rocks and in the water. Even with all the other fun stuff...

On this particular day, we found a turtle. We think it might be the turtle we set free in December. His name was Nugget, so we called this turtle Nugget all day, too.

And while Luke was being his version of a Wild Kratt, Jace was doing this:
and this (sorry about the blur.)
and while both of them played, they had this audience

We love that we get to live here and play here and meet people all around us here. We think they're pretty cool...