Sunday, December 30, 2012


We love having parties.  I think parties minister to Luke and Johnny more than almost anything else in the world. 

This year for Christmas, we decided instead of fighting the culture here, we'd embrace it.  Because when people here get together for a party, somehow, singing almost always occurs.  So, we did our version of the Voice.  The blue/brown version instead of the Red/black version...

And, can I say, it was so so so fun?  It was so easy to get every one of our friends sing.  And that little girl in the picture down there?  She sang, too.  And it was awesome.

We are blessed.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


We don't give our kids lots of gifts/toys/stuff through the year.  They get gifts for their birthdays and for Christmas.  And we save a lot of the things people send us to wrap for their birthday and/or Christmas.  So Christmas is pretty big at our house.  And not even half of the presents under the tree are actually from us.  

From Christmas Eve through Christmas morning, we love Christmas.

This year was all about dress-ups, which made Christmas afternoon extra fun!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Camp Out

On December 23, we watch Polar Express--it's our favorite Christmas movie--and then we all pile on each other and on the couches and sleep in the living room.  In the two years we've done it, it's become my favorite night of the year.  We sleep in the same room any time we travel, and I love that, too, but there is something about being in our house.  Cozy to us.  Familiar.  I love it.

This year, we've been kinda playing catch up in the days leading up to Christmas.  We hadn't finished buying presents and doing the presents for our friends in town, so we've been staying up working on projects.  So eating hamburgers and watching the movie two days before Christmas has been the perfect time as a family.  I love this family.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Little Detour on our way to Christmas

I think one of my favorite verses in the whole Bible is what Zechariah prophesies over John.  It talks about John preparing the way for the "sunrise from on high" who is coming to save His people who sit in shadows and darkness.  I just love that.  I love reading Luke as well as Matthew--I think I just love the little bits about Zechariah and Simeon and Anna.  What awesome people with faith and patience.

And their stories just resonate with us.  Patience to see the Saviour come.  Faith that He is coming.  We work among a people that are notoriously hard to the Good News.  But He does promise that they will believe.  And we are thankful that we get to meet them and love them and tell them the stories.  What a gift in and of itself.

For some reason, when I've read the parts of the Word that have to do with the birth of Jesus, I've never really noticed the parts about the difficulty surrounding His birth.  There were so many wondrous things that happened, and I love those parts.  But there were some horrible things and some very difficult circumstances that happened right as He was born that I've overlooked.  But for some reason, that fact has brought me comfort this year.  As we have discomfort or hard moments, I want to remember that He went through much worse.  He can relate.  He is the one who can best relate.

Our Christmas season has looked different this year.  We spent over half the advent season in a tropical country without our stuff that we have.  So we've done little activity to celebrate advent besides reading the story of His birth.  Several times.  But I'm so thankful that He came.  I'm so thankful that He is still coming to us AND to people who haven't heard His name.  I'm so thankful for HIM.

Here are some pictures of the beginning of the month:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Happy Thanksgiving!

We are so thankful for so many things this year, but one of the things that happened yesterday was that we got a text from a friend that's in town from the mountains.  She wants to see us today (it's T-giving morning right now), which isn't the best timing, but we're just so thankful she's asking to hang out, we're going to make sure it happens!!

We're just thankflul that friendships are slowly going deeper.  And I'm thankful that my husband is so go with the flow about her coming, too.  And that we had 3 days of rest earlier this week :).  We are given good gifts...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

trying to be creative in November

Pilgrim doll chainuploadTurkey chainuploadLuke made a monster mask for jace...Scripture books for the boys. Latest project.
being creative in November, a set on Flickr.
This year, I asked Luke how he might want to be thankful as we get ready for Thanksgiving. Like, we'd be thankful for something every day. And he said he wanted to make paper dolls and be thankful for people this year.

I thought that was a great idea, so we proceeded to make several different kinds of chains. And decorate them. And we plan to think of names of people (and probably some things, honestly) that we're thankful for. Starting late, I know.

So, in the pictures, you can see Luke coloring a chain of pilgrims. And we made a chain of turkeys, too, using a simple template.

And I woke up to find the boys making masks yesterday. Jace's is a monster mask. Luke's was a wolfman mask (I don't have a picture).

And I saw an idea on pinterest for using a smashbook to make scripture books that can be read at night. So I'm in the middle of writing the scripture, and then I'm going to have to find stickers, pictures, etc to go with the words. I'm excited about giving the book to them and hope they'll want to read it at night and learn the verses that way...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

SEVEN part 2

From left to right top to bottom:
Luke got Heelys for his birthday!
tent cake
playing a game at the party
roasting marshmallows
Happy birthday, LUKE!
Jace loving the tent
roasting hot dogs
the gang
blowing out candles (sorta)

same ol' mountains. new stuff happening.

We went to the mountains to see a festival for our people.  It started the 26th of October and lasted 3 days in different places where our people live.  We only went to one day, and we only lasted about 2 hours.  My kids didn't think it was really cool.  I did, but I'm outnumbered.

So we stayed two nights in what's  our favorite town in the mountains and then moved on to the town that is maybe the biggest stretch for me.  But in this town, Dad is at work.  There is a small posse of sisters that live there and have opened a coffee house.  They have more faith than they really have coffee skills, but that's really a perfect fit for this little town in the mountains where people don't have money or high expectations for coffee anyway.

hope we can teach them some English soon!
what we saw as we left town
They want us to come back to teach English the end of Dec/beginning of January.  There's no running water (to get water , everyone walks 5-10 minutes to the end of town and brings back their buckets that they boil or put in other bowls to flush the toilets).  It's intense to me--I think if we spend a while there we'll eat out for every meal.  Is that bad?  If we go back in the summer, I'll cook.  It seems scary to even consider the possibility...

We stayed one night in this beautiful town and then went to a place that is relatively comfortable--other foreigners live here and work and have a hostel and coffee house.  The boys feel like it's heaven here.  Friends to play with and rocks to climb and mountains to hike.  Jace truly didn't want to come back to our home.  He said it about 8 times that day.  I didn't really want to leave either.

Buying fruit.  Don't they make you want to be their friend?
Look what we saw someone taking to market!!
Great friends!
rock climbing in the mountains.  with friends.  what could be better?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Luke turned 7 last Friday.  Our digital camera (our second this year) also broke while we were at a fall picnic earlier this month. :(.  So we are waiting for our pictures to be developed--yep, we pulled out the ol' film camera.

But I took a few pictures with our iPad.  So here they are.  In case it's not clear what his birthday theme was, it was a "night" birthday.  So we did everything we most love about nighttime:  stars, planets, tents, campfires, movies...

I'll put more pictures up once we get our pictures back.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Almost everyone we know is going back to America for a few months this year.  Or having a baby in Thailand.  Even some of our local friends are working in America.  And, truthfully, we have felt a little sad, as well as a little (or a lot) homesick this summer.

But I also feel so thankful.  We have friends here in town that we feel are as close to family as possible without being family.  Our kids get to go downstairs in our apartment complex every day to play with their friends.  There are no cars, lots of playgrounds, basketball courts, and the kids are able to find and "build forts" all over the grounds.

So we'll miss our friends while they're gone.  We'll kind of wish we're in the states.  But we will also feel thankful that we get to live here and have the friends we have.

Friday, August 31, 2012

knowing where to buy safety pins

We were in Asia 3 1/2 years before we went back to the states for a bit.  And when we came back after spending 7 months in the states, we had a LOT of things that we packed up and brought back.  Things that we thought we couldn't find in Asia.  Kitchen things, crafty things, kid things.  You get the picture.

One of the things I brought back was a box of safety pins.  Because I'd never seen safety pins in our city before.  I love to shop and find fun new things, but I'd never ever seen safety pins.  However, not even a year after we came back, guess what I found?  In a junk shop full of teeny tiny things--a little like a Where's Waldo shop.  But I found safety pins.

There's something so sweet about knowing where to buy safety pins.  We use safety pins.  And when we don't have them, there's a million times that they could be useful.  It's so simple, but when we first came to Asia, we couldn't find safety pins.  We didn't know how to say much more than hello or 1,2,3. We kind of just survived.

It took 5 years to be able to find safety pins.  But there's something about knowing where to find them that makes me feel thankful that we know where to buy things and live life here now.  I walk down the same streets that I felt like I would always just tolerate, and I realize that I really love living here.  I love that there's a market across the street and that I know what flour to buy there and that I can get evaporated milk in the vegetable market.  I know it's so simple and maybe even silly, but my heart really overflows. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

therapy and torture

Our family went away for a week and a half to Hong Kong, and had such a wonderful time!  When we got away and stopped having to think about life in our city all the time, though, I found myself thinking a lot more about our kids in Africa.  We are ready to see their faces.  When we're busy at home, it's easier to not think about it, but on vacation, it's all I can think about!

I read some blogs one night, just wanting to see kids from Ethiopia.  It was both torture and therapy.

The latest we have heard from our agency is that we are still at the top of the list for a referral (it's been 10 months since we got our referral last year) and that no adoptions have happened since then.  BUT that they are doing paperwork to work with 2 or 3 more orphanages in Ethiopia.  So, we're hopeful again!

Our friend Little Rainbow stayed with us the two weeks before we went to Hong Kong, and that kept my mind busy.  It was a sweet time.  She really is a precious friend to our boys and a sweet little girl that we've come to love!  She is studying down south again, but it was a sweet two weeks before she/we left.

Here's a picture of her with the boys after they made swords, etc from cardboard:

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Sometimes I spend too much time thinking about the plans the Father has for me.  And not enough time focusing on the Father.  I wonder if we'll ever get to LIVE in the mountains.  Or if we'll be able to open a business.  Or if we'll ever be able to adopt.

And there are times I grieve those dreams/plans that haven't come true.  And I don't praise Him for leading us down the path He has for us.  For being so intimately involved in our lives.  I forget HIM too easily sometimes.

But it's ALL about Him.  June 30 in Jesus Calling, Sarah Young writes, "As you follow Me, I lead you along paths of newness:  ways you have never imagined.  Don't worry what is on the road up ahead.  I want you to find your security in knowing Me, the One who died to set you free."

I WANT to just spend my life on loving Him, like Charlie Hall says in his song, 'On the Road to Beautiful.'  I wish it was easy.  But it isn't always.  However, it IS always good.


Monday, June 11, 2012

connecting the dots

When I graduated from high school, I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up.  Or I wanted to live overseas.  So, when I was thinking about majors for college it looked like I either had to major in Biology or Spanish.  (Both wrong, actually, but I didn't know that then.)

I chose Biology.  Because I figured I could always change my major to something easier if I decided it wasn't in the Father's plan for me to be a doctor, but it would be really hard to change from something easier into Biology if I started out wrong. (Being a dr. wasn't the Father's will for me, but that's a different story.)

I didn't ever change my major.  I really wanted to help people, and I couldn't see any better way than being a doctor.  But I didn't love studying about plants and animals.  And I really never understood Physics.  I really wish I'd taken Physics in high school--still.  I DID love studying about the ins and outs of the human body and all the small critters that can make a body sick.  But the rest of it, I didn't love.

And I sometimes questioned the reason I studied Biology, which is so not useful in the real world if a person doesn't want to spend their life in a lab or in med school...Until last night. When my 6-year-old son finished his bedtime story for the night, which was actually a chapter from his science book.  I could actually explain how the muscles in the esophagus work, and I watched Luke get excited about it.  He truly loves everything science.  It defies reason to me, but it is true.

So simple, but it was like the dots connected and the Lord whispered to my heart that sometimes His purposes aren't known right away, but that there's always a reason for the steps He has us take.  I truly think He knew I would be homeschooling a science-loving 6-year-old someday.  And I felt so thankful that I studied Organic Chemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology for the first time in a long time, if not ever.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

One tooth lighter

Luke lost his first tooth.  It makes him seem so old!  I think with every milestone--first steps, first day of school, first lost tooth--it gets more and more bittersweet.  Bittersweet because he's just that much closer to being independent and grown.  Because it's good for him to be independent and grown, and yet there are some days that I just want to soak it all up for longer!

So here's my old 6 1/2 year old.  He's kind and generous and so encouraging with every one of his words.  If I was 6, I would want to be his friend!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Heart Surgery

We have met and spent time with a couple different families whose children have the same ailment as our friend's sister.  A hole in their heart.  The first one we met over 5 years ago went in for surgery, and he didn't make it.

And we met another family 3 weeks ago with a daughter who also didn't make it.

But our friend, Grace, made it through the surgery and is out of the ICU and being a demanding 2 year old with her mom today.  Like 2 year olds should be.  Pouty and laughing and having fun with their moms and sisters all in a day's time.

We still have her older sister staying with us, but we feel so thankful that this outcome for sweet little Grace has been good.  Her mom keeps telling us, "thank the Lord."

We feel just the same.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

our other children

We get lots of questions about how adoption is going.  It's not, it seems.  We have pursued Ethiopia, and we received our first referral, we lost him in an African hospital, and then the country's adoptions have slowed by almost 90%, according to some people.

We have heard nothing since the country almost stopped processing papers.

And it's okay some days.  It stinks some days.

We heard when we first started adopting to be open to whatever the Lord has for us.  That we may start down one road and be turned by Him to another road.  We don't really know His ultimate plan for what our family will look like, but we are open to be turned to another road.  And we are open to stay straight on the path we've started down.  We trust Him.

Waiting is never fun or easy.  But if it's from Dad, it's always GOOD.

I learned from a good friend that the most important thing is to not always be looking down the road, but to just enjoy our family now, as it is right now.  I feel thankful for the two boys the Father has already given us, and I don't want to miss a moment of their life.  And, we hope, in time, Dad will add to our family.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Little Rainbow

For the past few months, the Father has been challenging me to be available.  Interruptible.  Basically, to be more like Jesus and the apostles.

Then, 3 weeks ago, when we were going for a prayerwalk and Johnny said he thought we should go pray around a big, famous hospital in town, I thought, great, we can do that--what a great idea. There are so many of the people we love that come to town to go to that hospital!  So we walked and prayed and had such a good time.

Little did we know....

Two days later we got a phone call that there was a little family who had come to town for their little baby to have heart surgery and the mom and little daughter had to stay in the hospital.  Did we know anyone who could care for the older daughter while mom and sister (Grace) were in the hospital?  And we knew the Father was saying to be available.  So we prayed and felt like, yes, we could take care of a little six-year-old.  We had an extra room.  We have toys.  We have time.

So, we've had another 6 year old living with us.  For 3 weeks, almost.  And it's been the most wonderful and overwhelming and challenging thing we've experienced in a long time.  Boy, do we feel tired at the end of the day, and we've had challenging moments that have driven us to our knees.  It's amazing how much selfishness was in my heart.  And how much more is still in there.  Man.

I think so many of my cries to know Him better have been answered just in the past few months of being stretched and challenged.  Most recently, by having another child in my house.  One that is awake from 7 AM to 11 PM and wants help from me constantly.  I have been desperate for Him in a way that is fresh and new.  I feel thankful that He is still involved in my life.  He still offers relationship to me.  He still wants me to grow and be purified.  He still blesses with unexpected gifts.

So, it's been an exciting road this month.  And a good one.  I feel so thankful for our little Rainbow staying here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Our New Year

We didn't have a traditional Chinese New Year. It didn't include jiaozi or hot pot. We didn't endure 5-6 hours of fireworks exploding in the city. We celebrated new year in the mountains.
On the day before new year, we spent the day high up on a mountain. And we watched some special ceremonies which scared my children so much that we had to leave and go down to make a fire.
We stayed with our friend, where the boys were extremely fascinated with the stove in the middle of the room. It's really fun to put in dried corn cobs to stoke the fire!
We played on a "beach" of sorts by the river.
And the boys got their first ride on a local tractor. Or a carry-the-trash-machine as it's literally translated...
Truthfully, it is always a bit of a culture stretch for us--it's quite different from America. It's even different from our city. And we don't stay long enough to get through culture shock. But you've never experienced hospitality like the people offer in the mountains. And there is just something special about it all...