leaving for hong kong


I leave tomorrow afternoon to go to Hong Kong for two days of intense evangelism training.  I am going with three other members of the Hokkien Harvest Mission Team

We get back midnight before classes start for me on Wednesday.  Oh my!!

Please pray . . . 

  • for the four of us as we go to Hong Kong to learn better how to share Christ with the Taiwanese people. 

  • for safety and our ability to communiate and get around in one of the most densely populated cities in the world. 

  • that our hearts and minds will be ready to learn what God whats to teach and show us, and that we will once again be reminded of the lostness of those around us. 

  • that I will not worry about my classes and the school year while I am at this training, and that my job (and witness at my job) will not suffer since this choice (to go and be trained at this time) places missions over teaching.

the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth

Hmmm . . . no one guessed the right answer to this post.  Like Bethany, I included truth in most of them, but changed just a little to make them fiction.  It's kinda funny the three almost trues were all guessed, but the total truth one and the total lie one both were not. :)

1. I have been to Hong Kong, Japan, Mainland China, and Thailand, but never Mexico.  And, I claim both Taiwan and Texas as "home."
This one is almost all true except that I have never been to Thailand.  Thailand and Korea are both on my "would love to visit list."  This one was sneaky of me--sorry. :)

2. My sister and I knew my mom was going to have a son before she did--we were 13 and 15 years old when he was born.
Again, almost true.  My brother was born when I was 15 and Sarah was 13.  I had started to pray for a brother long before my mom was pregnant; Sarah joined me.  When I decided to tell my mom about our prayers, she got quite upset at me and said very sternly, "never pray things for others without asking them first!!"  I still remember exactly what we were doing at that moment--peeling potatoes together in the kitchen.  When I told her, she thought she was going through early menopause but actually she was pregnant with Sam! 

The two sonograms done both indicated Sam was a girl.  Sarah insisted that he was a boy because we had prayed for a brother.  Mom picked out a girl's name "Victoria Paige" (meaning: one who announces victory) and bought lots of pink things.  When the baby entered the world, the doctor announced he was a boy--mom actually told the doctor, "no he is not.  I am having a girl!"  Anywho, after talking about names Samuel Joe Austin was decided on.  We had been referring to the baby all along as Baby Sammy.  Later Dad looked up the meaning of Samuel.  It means "God hears."  Perfect!   

3. Right after I got my driver's license, I drove through our family's garage door--leaving a large gaping hole.
This really did happen.  It just happened before I got my license.  I was 15, my mom was 8 months pregnant, and Dad was out of state on his annual fly-fishing trip.  I freaked out as I sat there with the car's hood still 1/2 in the garage with the door staring right at me.  Mom just said, "stop being so emotional.  put it in reverse and get out of the car. you have to tell your dad."  To this day, I do not know how she remained so calm.  We called Dad,  mom talked first.  When I got on the phone he said, "So, I hear you put a new window in the garage door, what happened?"  I then gave further details.  I don't remember his exact words, but they were calming and comforting and ended with something like "don't worry its ok; I will take care of it when I get home."  And he did.  I don't remember it being talked about again, except to tease me later.

4. Just for fun, I was a competitive barrel racer when I was in college--competing mostly at the Mesquite Championship Rodeo in the Dallas Area.
This one?  Total lie.  Well, when I was in kindergarten I did compete in a barrel race but that was on a stick horse for my class rodeo.  I even had cute red cowgirl boots and a brown cowgirl hat. 

5. I once fought with my sister (when we were tweens) so loud that the neighbors actually called the police who came to our house to see if we were being abused.
So, through the process of elimination this one must be it, right?  It is.  This one is all truth!  Sarah and I had had a bad week or two--fighting all the time.  For some reason, mom and dad both needed to be gone on a Saturday.  So, we were home alone.  Mother had warned us that if we didn't get along while she was gone we would never see light of day again.  So, what did we do?  We fought tooth and nail and as soon as she was gone.  Sarah admits to starting it--she pulled the computer chair out from underneath me when I went to sit down, and from there we fought screaming and yelling, pushing and slapping around the entire house for about 30 min to an hour even maybe.  Of course it ended in tears, forgiveness and "I'm so sorry; you really are my best friend." 

Then BAM!  BAM!  BAM!  "POLICE!  OPEN UP!!"  They asked us lots of questions asking if we were ok, yelled into the house "anyone home?" and told us that our neighbors had called concerned for us and that if we needed help they could help us.  We were so scared mom was going to find out that we pledged never to tell ANYONE.  Well, we lasted a long time--we didn't tell anyone for at least 10-15 years about our "little secret" (and we told mom for the first in the presence of all her sisters).  We had to wait at least until we were old enough to not be grounded.  You see, Sarah and I kinda like the light of day. :)

happy, happy, happy!!!


I just did something I have never done before!!

I just ordered pizza in Chinese over the phone!!


Always before if I wanted it, I would go to order in person not trusting my language ability.  But, I just thought "what the hey.  If we don't understand each other, I'll just go and do it in person.  No big deal to just try."   Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

I am so proud of myself: (1) for trying something new (thanks to flylady for her "do it now" motto; although, I'm not sure she would support my choice of eating take out) and (2) for actually being able to place the order over the phone in Chinese!!

Oops!  Gotta go . . . by the time I get on my moped and scooter to the store, my pizza will be ready!!  YEA!!!

Oh . . . you can check out the kinds of pizza available here in Taiwan in English if you dare (mouse over the names to see pictures)!  But don't worry--no seafood pizza for me.  Just give me pepperoni please!

today is better


The sadness is gone now. 

Today I go back to school (for teacher planning days).  Classes start Wednesday (2/28 is a holiday here).  I am teaching two brand new electives this semester--and they are full (at or over 50 in both).  Oh boy!  But they should be fun.  One is about watching movies in English and the other is about using songs, rhymes and chats to teach English.

Here we go!

a blue day

21541196I don't know why but today is a blue day.  I just feel like crying, but I do not know why I feel sad, and I haven't spilt any real tears yet.

But, actually, I don't mind.  Feeling sad is better than feeling nothing at all, which is what it is like to be depressed--numb to all emotions.

So, today I am thankful to be able to feel sad. 

I know--that sounds weird.  But it is true.  It doesn't mean I want to keep feeling sad.  It just means I am for now a little sad.

the carnival of beauty: friendship

Chel over at Chasing Contentment is the Carnival of Beauty hostess this week. This week the fabulous entries are all about Friendship.

Go read, enjoy, celebrate your friends, and then join us next week when the Carnival focuses on the Beauty of the Bible which will be hosted by Just Marla.

which of these is not like the other?

Bethany tagged me for this meme (my first actually).

Here are the directions: Write five things about yourself with only ONE of them being true. The other four are fiction, and everyone else gets to guess which one is not fiction.  And, like Bethany, I ban "real life people who know me" from guessing.

1. I have been to Hong Kong, Japan, Mainland China, and Thailand, but never Mexico.  And, I claim both Taiwan and Texas as "home."

2. My sister and I knew my mom was going to have a son before she did--we were 13 and 15 years old when he was born.

3. Right after I got my driver's licence, I drove through our family's garage door--leaving a large gaping hole.

4. Just for fun, I was a competitve barrel racer when I was in college--competing mostly at the Mesquite Championship Rodeo in the Dallas Area.

5. I once fought with my sister (when we were tweens) so loud that the neighbors actually called the police who came to our house to see if we were being abused.

So . . .can you tell which of these is true?

And, if you wanna play along, consider yourself tagged!  Just let me know so I can go vote. :)

american english

I saw this over at Heather's place.  I took an entire class on "American English" in grad school.  Based on the questions this quiz asked, I turned out really "general" . . . but according to the prof of my class there is no such "general English" in existance. 

Anyway, I wonder two things:

  1. Has the fact that I teach non-native speakers of English and that I have studied linguistics changed the way I use "naturally" use English?

  2. How much of my English changes depending on the speaker I am conversing with? Sometimes I can "feel" the Texan slipping back into my accent when I land on the runway in Austin.

Amanda's Linguistic Profile:

80% General American English
20% Dixie
0% Midwestern
0% Upper Midwestern
0% Yankee

silly goofy friends

If you can't be yourself--your-silly, goofy-self--with your best friends, who can you be yourself with?

Ellen, Lydia, and another friend, Sabrina, came to my home this past weekend for a wonderful time of fun and laughter!  Thank you, God, for girlfriends!  Thank you, God!

Me . . .with my silly friends  Me and Lydia being Silly


Earlier today I talked about needing different kinds of friends--mentors, mentees (is that a word?), and peers.  But really even within those groups we need different kinds of friends too!

We need friends who are great encouragers--we know that when we call them they will comfort us and encourage us.  But, we also need those friends who call it like it is, who look us straight in eye and confront us with truth in love.  We need some friends who are quite and gentle, and we need some friends who laugh loud, hard, and long.  Of course, those groups are not exactly mutually exclusive . . . but you get the point, right?

Aren't you glad that God is so creative when it comes to types of people He blesses us with?  I am!! :)

Here are a few of my girlfriends: 

Me and Ellen  Ellen
A friend since 1997 when she came from Taiwan to Texas.  I discipled her after she became a Christian (in 1998), and she has offered me continual loving support and encouragement ever since.  We were roommates for one semester in college. 

Me and Lydia  Lydia
I also met Lydia in 1997 when she also left Taiwan for Texas to study.  Lydia and I were roommates for a year.  She is one of the best listeners I have ever met!  She lets me just talk and talk and talk.

Me, Mary Agnes, and the Pastor's Wife  Mary Agnes
She has been a wonderful "Paul" to me in the last year.  Mary Agnes has been a missionary here in Taiwan for the past 11 years.  She is also a Flybaby and has held me accountable to meeting my goals this winter.  She also is a wonderful, wonderful encourager and always ends each conversation we have with prayer.  She also allowed me to be part of her family this past Christmas.  I could not have asked for a better friend for this season of my life.

Gilby, Me and Kady  Kady
Another perfect friend for this season of life, Kady.  Kady is a teacher at my school, we have presented a paper togther, and we are co-teaching a writing class together.  She is very generous of her time and her smiles too.  I told her recently that I am so glad that I don't have to earn my friends because I sure do not deserve her!

Corrina, the Girls, and Me  Corrina, Karen, and Christine
Corrina is yet another wonderful person that I have the privilage of calling friend.  I will have to tell the incredible God-incidnet that let me meet her another day.  Since 1999, she has opened her heart and her home to me in so many ways.  She is like the big sister I never had.  In addition, her daughters are some of the precious "little friends" I get to love.

Me, Karen, and Danette  Karen and Danette
Some more of the "Pauls" in my life; they both are missionaries in Meinong.  Karen (the taller one) became a friend last year when I was struggling with depression.  She was able to listen compassionately to me, translate what I was saying into real English and let me hear the lies I had been believing.  What a wonderful gift!  She truly was able to tell me the truth in love.  For her love and concern, I am eternally grateful.  Danette also welcomed me into her home and shared her family with me.  Unfortunately most of the time I lived near Danette, I was suffering from depression.  So, even though I was not a good friend back to her, she continually met my needs--both as a friend and prayer partener and in serving, by offering things like helping me clean my new home and feeding me (usually American food) on a regular basis.

Me and LeAnn in 2000  LeAnn
My best friend in college.  LeAnn and I were roommates for two years while we were going to DBU.  When I was an exchange student in Taiwan, she came to see me during spring break (hence the 6 year old picture).  LeAnn is the friend I wrote about earlier.  She is everything I could ever want in a best friend--we are alike in so many ways but different in just enough that we compliment each other well.  Since college we haven't been as close as we were in college, but it only take a few minutes for us to get back into the groove of things when we meet again.

Little Friends  Samantha, Sophia, and Julia
Some special "little friends" from Texas.  These girls love on me and I get to love on them every time I go back home!  They are special to me, and it is fun to see them growing into little women in love with God.

Me and Sarah, My Sister  Sarah!
I look a lot like this friend.  I should.  She is my sister!!!  I love Sarah so much.  She has been my friend the longest--ok, I admit we have had our fair share of fights and heartwrenching misunderstandings--but no one could mean more to me as a friend than Sarah.  Sarah is so fun to be around!!  There is never ever a dull moment in her presence.  She makes me laugh till I cry.  She also helps me see things from new prespectives and gives me a different outlook on the issues in my life.

Me and Mom  Mom
Another friend I look a lot like!! :)  My mom.  My mom really is one of my best friends.  I am so incredibly blessed to have her as my mom and friend.  She is probably one of the only people in the world that I can tell anything and everything to and not fear being judged.  She has always been one of my biggest cheerleaders.  Like Sarah, she is fun to be around, makes me laugh, and offers me a new way of looking at the things in my life (you know, they are a lot alike).  I love my mom more than words can tell.

I am so glad these wonderful godly women are a part of my life!  I am blessed and thankful for your friendships!!

friendships needed


In life, we need friends.  But, we need different kinds of friends.  From Paul's life, we can see some of the different kinds of friendships we need.  I think we need in life:

  1. a Barnabas,

  2. a Paul,

  3. a Timothy,*

  4. and other companions.

Paul and Barnabas were close friends.  Barnabas helped Paul get started in the ministry (Acts 11:19-26).  After that, their names are mentioned together as a pair twenty times in just a few chapters of Acts: Paul and Barnabas, Barnabas and Paul.  These two spent quite a bit of time together preaching the Good News; they were co-workers in ministry.  Paul and Barnabas also had the freedom to "disagree strongly" with each other (Acts 15:36-40).  We all need friends who we can accomplish like-mind goals with, people who will be there with us and have the same vision and heartbeat that we do, but who are not afraid to challange us and hold us accountable to truth.

In addition to needing friends to walk along side us, we need friends who can mentor us and friends who we can mentor.  In 1 Timothy 2:1, Paul calls Timothy his "true child in the faith."  It is obvious in his letters to Timothy that Paul is teaching and guiding Timothy, taking him under his proverbial wing.  I have always treasured the "Pauls" in my life, older women who have walked the path before me who can help me to follow it.  And, the same for me--to look back and help the others coming behind me.  I think it is important that we have mentors in our life and that we mentor others as well. 

I often tend to picture Paul "out there" on his own trailblazing and spreading the gospel alone.  But that is not an accurate picture.  Paul had other companions, male--Titus, Silas, Luke, Mark, Apollos, Epaphroditus, Aquila--and female--Pricillia, Phoebe, Lydia, Euodia, and Syntyche--just to name a few of his brothers and sisters in the Lord.  In Paul's letters to the various churches, he mentions some by name sending greetings or thanking for help sent.  Paul clearly had many friends who he lived in close communion with and considered beloved.

I too need others.  I need to be supported and helped.  I need comapionship and fellowship.  Friendships and friends in all shapes and sizes are needed! 

I may be walking an unknown path, but I do not walk it alone--praise the Lord! 

*This idea is not originally mine.  I once heard a speaker in college talk about finding in our lives a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy.  His idea of types of friends to seek out has never left me.

Notes from the Memorial Service

My daddy has posted his notes from my grandfather's memorial service on his website.  Wish I could have a highlighter to highlight the things online I want to remember--this page would be all marked up.  Maybe one day we will be able to interact with websites in that way!

Thanks Dad for sharing your notes with me.  . . . and by the way, I like the reference to paths, and a few of the verses you chose seem really familar to me too! ;)  I love you!!  Oh . . . and the answer to the question you asked me last week is: yes, let's brainstorm.

euel austin smith

Euel Austin Smith
December 15, 1921 - February 12, 2006

Euel Austin Smith was my grandfather (my mother's father).

Granpa_and_grandma_smith_1While sitting on a beach in south Taiwan, I found out my grandfather died (cell phones are amazing). 

I was alone.  I know that my grandfather was not there anymore.  And, I know that I had already told him goodbye.  But funerals are for the living--to remember, to comfort, to be comforted.

I knew this was a possibility when I first came to Taiwan . . . but I didn't know it was going to be this hard.

For nearly 28 years of my life, I have had four living grandparents.  What a blessing!  I am also blessed to have a rich godly heritage.  I come from a multi-generational line of ancestors who believed in the power and truth of the Bible, trusted Christ as Savior, and worshiped God.  And I am thankful, so thankful, for this incredible blessing.

My grandfather was 84 years old.  He and my grandmother were married for nearly 63 years.  When they were juniors in high school, he had just moved to Friendship, Arkansas. My grandmother, seeing he was a handsome young man, was brave enough to ask him to sign her yearbook.  He signed it, "I'd like to get to know you better."  Ha!  Did he ever!! :)

My grandfather started a family line that includes four daughters, one son, thirteen grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.  And what a great family it is too!

I spent more time with my grandfather in the years right before I came to Taiwan, when he was in his late 70's and very early 80's, than I did as a child.  I remember him as a man with a great sense of humor, who loved his wife, and who was very easy going. 

I remember once, when my sister and I were teenagers, he hid two giant eggs outside at Easter.  We were too young to play with the others, but he had not forgotten us.  Inside each egg was a little cash.  But, what I remember most about that day was that it seemed to make him happy to make us happy.

I remember going camping with him and grandma.  That was the weekend I burned my pinkie finger on a cigarette lighter because I didn't know what one was.  He took me swimming and fishing.  And, at night before bed, all three of us read silently to ourselves--that left a big impression on me.  Both of them highly valued and enjoyed reading.

For the last few years, each time I left his home, I would go over to his chair to kiss his cheek and tell him goodbye.  Each time he would tear a little and whisper in my ear "we are proud of you."  Sometimes he would even kiss my cheek too.

I read The Journey of Desire by John Eldredge this week.  I did not expect to find in it words about death, but I did.  And they gave me a new perspective--a view of death that I had never before seen:

We can never fully explain the reasons surrounding someone's death.  We've come to accept it for the aged, and we try to console ourselves with thoughts like, "He's had a full life."  But death is never natural; it was not meant to be.  That is why those left behind experience such excruciating pain.  . . . Each death can begin to be understood only within the larger story God is telling.  Much of that story remains for the moment a mystery.

The pain and loss we feel with death is a reminder that we were not created to die.  Man was originally created to be eternal, but then Adam changed all that when he bit into that apple.  Always before I had focused on the "we mourn but we mourn with hope" concept . . . but I actually tried to convince myself that mourning was wrong for Christians--that we should celebrate the Christan's homecoming.  And although he is now in his Maker's presence and we do mourn . . . but with hope.  I have learned that it is ok to mourn.  And, in the mourning that makes me a mortal human I confirm the Truth of the Word of God

[God] knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we're made of mud.  Men and women don't live very long; like wildflowers they spring up and blossom, but a storm snuffs them out just as quickly, leaving nothing to show they were here.  God's love, though, is ever and always, eternally present to all who fear him, making everything right for them and their children as they follow his Covenant ways and remember to do whatever he said. (Psalm 103:14-18).

He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign LORD will wipe away all tears.  (Isaiah 25:8).

O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55).

How we thank God, victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord! (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Death is part of a much greater and much deeper event, the fullness of which we cannot comprehend, but of which we know that it is a life-bringing event. . . .   Eternity is born in time, and every time someone dies who we have loved dearly, eternity can break into our mortal existence a little bit more. (Henri Nouwen in A Letter of Consolation)

And it is true.  We do mourn and grieve.  But, and it is a great big but (as I used to say when I was a child before I realized what everyone else was thinking) we do not grieve like those who have no hope.  It is markedly different.  Yet a different kind of grief does not mean that there is no grief.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.  Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus.  For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord's coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel's voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

carnival of beauty: comfort food


This week the Carnival of Beauty's topic was comfort food.  I have already run into a few of these posts online . . . they look fun, please go check out Heather's mom2momconnection to find her post with the Carnival listed.

I didn't participate this time because, well, I am not yet a cook or a baker.  I do prepare meals for myself and make brownies for my students . . . but nothing with a real recipe.  Dark chocolate is my comfort food. :) 

Just kidding, actually the idea of comfort food has changed for me since I now live in Taiwan.  The first year I went back to the USA, I wanted Tex-Mex all the time.  The second time I just wanted "beef" . . . give me beef.  And I don't know what it will be I long for the next time I go home.  I do love my grandmother's homemade roles and "coke jello" and my mother's "meat, tators and corn" dish and chicken dumplings.

Anyway, next week the Carnival of Beauty's Topic is Friendship and is being hosted by Michele at Chasing Contentment.  Please join us!!

the value of retreat

Dew Drops

A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God One the Value of Retreat

"It is important that we get still to wait on God. And it is best that we get alone, preferably with our Bible outspread before us. Then if we will we may draw near to God and begin to hear Him speak to us in our hearts. I think for the average person the progression will be something like this: First a sound as of a presence walking in a garden. Then a Voice, more intelligible, but still far from clear. Then the happy moment when the Spirit begins to illuminate the Scriptures, and that which had been only a sound, or at best a voice, now becomes an intelligible word, warm and intimate and clear as the word of a dear friend. Then will come life and light and, best of all, ability to see and rest in and embrace Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and All."

valentine's day with the lover of my soul

a picture of Kenting, originally uploaded by norachen

There is a missionary retreat center in Kenting, located in the southern part of Taiwan, called The Oasis.  An oasis is "a calm, pleasant place in the middle of somewhere busy and unpleasant."  What a great name for a retreat center!  And, that is where I am going to be for the next few days!

At the end of last semester, I was stressed and tired.  The end of my semester fell at the beginning of this year.  It was hard for me to ponder "newness" and a "fresh start" in the middle of the stress of grading exams and essays. So, I decided I needed a retreat--a personal, spiritual retreat--a date with God

So, I decided to schedule a few days at the Oasis to be able to spend long, uninterrupted time in prayer and worship, to be silent and listen to my Heavenly Father, to just be with the Lover of my soul.  When I choose the week, I soon realized I had selected the week that included Feb. 14th--Valentine's Day.  And this kinda made me happy.  What better way for me to spend that day than with the One who loves me most?

In addition to the articles I have read from the Discipleship Journal (links above), I found this personal retreat guide by girl talk mentioned on Solo Feminity.  But, besides those, I have not really planned too much.  So, I am going rather empty handed, but I am going excited and expectant. 

Would you please pray that God would help me be still before Him and draw me into a deeper intimacy with Him these next few days?  Thanks!!

memorizing scripture


At the beginning of this year, when I was thinking about what I wanted to accomplish this year, one thing I desired to do was to make Scripture more important

As a child, I participated in Bible Drill, we memorized Scripture and the books of the Bible and were drilled in memorization and in locating in the Bible what we had memorized. This practice set a wonderful foundation for me to use and build on later in life.  In college, I also actively memorized Scripture with a friend who helped me be accountable. 

Since college, I have let this discipline slip.  I wanted to memorize longer passages of Scripture not just a verse here and a verse there.  So, I decided to memorize 2 Timothy 1:7-14.  But, I long to do more, so I was thinking about memorizing a whole chapter.  But then Josh Harris on his blog gave a link to an article by Dr. Davis which discusses why and how to memorize whole books of the Bible.  So, while I finish up (my now scrawny looking) 2 Timothy 1:7-14, I am praying about which book to memorize. 

Honestly, it scares me just a little because a book seems like a lot to memorize.  And, I struggle with prefectionism--if I can't do it perfectly, I don't want to even attempt to try.  But, I am learning about grace and about where my acceptance and abilities really come from.  So, with the Holy Spirit's help, I am going to work on memorizing a book of the Bible.

thinking thankfully on thursdays

Plum Blossom

"Are you grumbly hateful or humbly grateful?  What's your attitude?  Do you grumble and groan or let it be known that you're grateful for all God's done for you?" (from a song I learned as a child on a tape from "Back to the Creek Bank")

Today, I am thankful for:

  • friends

  • that my needs are met

  • and so are many of my wants too

  • to be able to have so many translations of the Bible and so many print copies of my own

  • to live where there is freedom to worship in public

  • being American

  • being able to live in Taiwan

  • a loving Creator God

worship of the jade emperor

Another New Year My Friend Worshiping Close up of a New Year

On the eve of the Eve of Chinese New Year (yes, that is the eve of the eve) the people of Taiwan worship the Jade Emperor.  From about 11:00 PM to midnight, every family sets up a "baibai" (worship) table.  These New Year baibai tables are similar to the bi-monthly baibai tables set up by the Taiwanese, except that the New Year tables have these long yellow streamers to be burned to the god, all the red papers to be hung over the doors in the home, and it is done in the darkness of night not at dusk.

For that hour, the people of a neighborhood will walk from home to home to compare the tables to see who has a bigger chicken and more goodies, to see who had a better year that year.  They will take a fist full of incense, hold it in front of their faces and bow to the god, then let the incense burn on the table. 

At about midnight, they will get out the "burning cans" (don't know their name) to offer the paper money and yellow streamers unto the Jade Emperor thanking him for the year past and hoping he will be happy with their offering so the year to come will be blessed too.

Please pray that the Taiwanese people will soon join together in neighborhood groups not to compare chicken sizes and worship a false god, but to share with each other what the King of kings and Lord of lords is doing in their lives as they join together to worship Him, the one true God.  Please pray for the salvation of the Taiwanese people--of whom over 98% do not know Christ as Savior.


the carnival of beauty: contentment

Bethany is hosting the Carnival of Beauty this Week.  Check out her post which leads to 15 other posts written by godly women on the Beauty of Contentment.

Below is the listing for the coming weeks.  If you haven't joined us yet, please do!  It is a very welcoming, humble group of women who would be happy to have you join!  To find out how to submit a post, go to Sallie's--she is the sponsor.

February 15 - Comfort Food (include a favorite recipe and story) - Heather at Mom 2 Mom Connection
February 22 - Friendship - Michele at Chasing Contentment
March 1 - The Bible - Marla at her blog that she is currently renaming
March 8 - Order - Blair at Scribblings by Blair
March 15 - My Life - Sallie at Two Talent Living
March 22 - God’s Sovereignty - Iris at eph2810
March 29 - Flowers - OPEN
April 5 - Technology - OPEN
April 12 - Aging Gracefully - Carol at She Lives

the irony of contentment

21583055_1A few months ago I wrote about longing to be content in regards to being single. 

I used a passage from Philippians in which Paul says "I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty."

I would love to claim alongside Paul that I have found "the recipe."  How wonderful it would be to not have a sense of needing anything personally!  I think Paul might have mentioned it earlier in the chapter--just a few verses before the ones I quoted.  "I'm glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess."

It is ironic.  Being glad or delighting in God is one area in which I should never settle--never be content.  What I mean is . . . the more I know Him the longing to know Him even more grows ever more strong.  So, the more I delight in Him, the less content I am with how much I know Him, but the more content I am with where I am, what I have, and the circumstances I find myself in. 

Oh, how great it is to be able to delight in a God who satisfies and lets us be happier than we could imagine possible!

taiwanese farmers

I am back home!! 

I will tell a little about the things I did while with my "Taiwanese Family" over the next few days. 

I wanted to share first the pictures from my first day there.  I went with my friend and her father to their land in SanWan.  They are building a home there, and her dad farms the land nearby. 

In this picture I pretend to be a Taiwanese farmer.  (No hoses or sprinklers . . . just dip water out of bucket and pour over plants.)

I pretend to be a Taiwanese Farmer

And, here is the "real" Taiwanese farmer, my "Taiwanese BaBa."

My Taiwanese Dad

And, here we are together (see our matching rubber boots?):

Me with my

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