Only 53 days left till I go home for the summer!!! 

My Family
I can't wait!!  It's been TWO full years since I've seen my family.  That's just too long in my opinion!!  My brother has gone from little boy to young man.  My sister has gone from newlywed to new mom.  My parents have/are both changed/changing jobs, and they totally redecorated the living areas of their home.

Of course, skype video helps them feel not quite so far away . . . but it is not the same at all!!  And, I am very thankful for things like email and flickr so that I can very easily share my life and be a part of theirs as well.  Oh, so much better than waiting months for handwritten letters to cross the ocean. 

BUT . . . still . . . despite my thankfulness in technology helping us keep in touch easily . . . I am SO READY to see my family.  To hug them and touch them and sit with them and play with them and just enjoy being with them!

And . . . another way that I can tell that I am SO READY to go home is that every time I think about what I wanna eat I can only think of American foods and restaurants.  Nothing Chinese sounds good anymore.  For the past two years I've not had this "problem," but every time I know it's getting close to the time to go home I start having this "problem."  I think it is funny how we "know" things on several levels.  How subconsciously I am allowing myself to start to miss/desire American foods for the first time in two years.  Oh sure, I've had random cravings for specific foods occasionally, but not the same as every single meal time only being able to think about American foods. 

(Speaking of American foods, Mom, do you think you can make chicken and dumplings even though it will be the middle of the summer?  I've not had that in  . . .what? . . . six years now???  Pretty please!!)

a random meme

A month ago (I'm just a little behind), I was tagged by both Deborah and Lindsey--one loves missions and used to be an MK teacher and the other is a new-to-the-field missionary in the Ukraine! 

This meme is to share 7 random facts about myself to my bloggy friends.  Well, I feel like I've shared so many random things about my life in the last two and a half years there is little left to disclose to the public.  So, here are 7 random facts about me, that I've shared before but perhaps you didn't catch or don't remember.

1. Even though I now call Taiwan home and love living here very much, when I first came to Taiwan in 1997, I didn't really like it very much due to some intense culture shock.

2. I love green tea flavored stuff (for the most part)!!  I've even had the world's best green tea ice cream in the world's tallest building.

3. I am incredibly logical--sometimes this annoys the people who love me most especially since I also tend to be very stubborn firm in my beliefs.

4. I am a self-confessed bibliophile--not just a reader, a book-lover.

5. I've never had a "first kiss" (or a second one for that matter) . . . well, at least not yet.

6. If I'm going to enjoy an Oreo, I prefer it frozen and then dipped in milk. (I started keeping Oreos in the freezer as a way to keep the ants away, and now there is no turning back.  They are best frozen, I promise.)

7. I love oatmeal. It makes me happy. I could eat it for any meal of the day or for breakfast every day of the week for months at a time.  But I don't like it plain--I like it with cinnamon and either with raisins or peanut butter . . . or baked!

Just in case these 7 were too normal or things you already knew and remembered about me . . . here are 8 more random things about me and 8 random facts about my kitchen.

I'm tagging: Sandy, Cahleen, Char, Jen, Michelle, Tabetha, and Sarah
But, of course yall are under no obligation to post if you don't wanna. :)

Here are the "rules" for this meme:

1. Link your tagger and list these rules on your blog.

2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.

3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.

4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

the secret of heart-peace in the time of distress

Purple Beauty 2
If this world were governed by chance—no amount either of philosophy or of common sense could keep us from worrying; but we know that our Father is taking care of us! No little child in the best and most caring home, was ever carried so carefully or so safely in the love and thought and care of earthly parents—as is the least of God's little ones in the heavenly Father's heart! "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them!" Matthew 6:31-32. The things we cannot help or change are in His hand, and belong to the "all things" which, we are assured, "work together for good, to those who love God."

In the midst of all the great rush of events and circumstances, in which we can see no order and no design—we well know that each believer in Christ, is as safe as any little child in the arms of the most loving mother!

Amid all life's trials and disappointments—our faith rests upon the character and the infinite goodness of God! We should have the faith of a little child—in a Father whose name is "Love" and whose power extends to every part of His universe! Here we find solid rock upon which to stand, and good reason for our lesson that we should never worry.
Our Father is taking care of us!

In a world like ours, there are many things which incline us to worry. There are disappointments which leave the hands empty after days and years of hope and toil. There are resistless thwartings of fondly cherished plans and purposes. There  are bereavements which seem to sweep away every earthly joy. There are perplexities through which no human wisdom can lead the feet. There are experiences in every life—whose natural effect is to disquiet the spirit and produce deep and painful anxiety.

If we are never to worry, what are we to do with these things which naturally tend to cause us worry? The answer is easy—we are to put all these disturbing and distracting things—into the hands of our Father!

"Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares about you!"
1 Peter 5:7.
God is taking care of you—not overlooking the smallest thing, and you have but to cast all your cares and anxiety upon Him—and then be at peace. It is trying to carry our own cares, which produces worry! Our duty is to cast them all upon Christ! This is the secret of heart-peace in the time of distress, from whatever cause.

(By J. R. Miller, "Don't
" 1912. Public Domain as seen on Grace Gems.)

paper umbrellas

Angeline and Vanessa

The city I first lived in when I moved to Taiwan is famous for its handmade paper umbrellas.  Above is a picture of some of my students being silly with one of the paper umbrellas I have in my home. I love the expressions on their faces!! :)

Five years ago, when I was living in Meinong, one of the ladies at the souvenir store near my home showed us (I was with one of our short term teams) how they made paper umberllas.  So, below is a slide show of the pictures I took of her demo.  You can also see all the photos with descriptions of what she is doing on the flickr set page.

take me with you PLEASE!!!

take me too
Gilby really doesn't want to be left behind.

He often gets either on top of or next to his bags when he thinks I am getting ready to leave.   Or, if his travel crate is near the door, he climbs into it to wait to be taken out the door with me.

In the absence of his travel bags or travel crate, he will sit right by the door on top of my shoes. :)

P.S. Yes, he does have a superman outfit he wears when we go to visit children. :)  Gotta love a super-dog.

onions, onions everywhere!!

Harvesting Onions

On Friday of last week, I took a trip to the southern tip of Taiwan with some fellow missionaries for a April Birthday trip.  We had a lot of fun.  One of the things we saw were onion crops EVERYWHERE and some of the crops were being harvested.

I'd only seen the onions for sale down there, never before had I actually seen an onion field or warehouse.  I couldn't believe the massive quantity of onions!!  I saw in one hour more onions than I have in my whole life combined.

and . . . . WOW!!  I never knew onions grew like this--breaking the surface of the ground when they are ready to be harvested.  Too cool!

Never cease to learn.  Never cease to be amazed.

the sweet note

I mentioned awhile back my birthday ended on a sweet note.  Well . . . here is the sweet note:
Birthday Flowers Mosaic

I was given birthday flowers. Aren't they beautiful!?!?!

The rose buds kept opening up all week long.  It was so neat.  And, those little "firecracker flowers" (as Ashley called them) were so fun.  I'd never seen anything like them.  Anyone know what they really are called in English?

birthday cakes galore!

One of the benefits of having 8 hours of class on my birthday is that over 140 people sang happy birthday to me!

And . . . three of my classes surprised me with cakes!!

The first class actually used another student from another class to tell me they were in an assembly in another building, and our class would be canceled and I was free to go home.  I walked by their classroom before my class and it really was empty (little did I know they were hidding in the stairwell).  I debated for a moment whether to trust them or not.  I decided they were trustworthy.

I sent a text to one of the students and told her what I expected them to have completed by our next class.  But, about 5 min into class time the three guys in the class came into my office and told me the assembly was over and they were ready for class.  So, we all went back to the classroom.  I was thinking about how amazing these kids were since they were willing to have class even though they actually had a free pass for the final hour of the day. 

When we walked into the classroom, there was a party going on. :)  (Can you see the numbers on the cake?  That's right . . . 18!!!)

Happy Birthday from my Writing Class

They had transformed the chalkboard into a giant birthday card.

GIANT bday card

Another class came back from the break during the second hour of class with a cake . . . and so we had a party too! :)

Happy Bday from my TOEFL class

Even though my last class wasn't over till 9:00 and I didn't get home till after 9:30, some special friends were waiting for at my neighbor's home with pizza and cake to celebrate with me.  I don't have picture of that cake, but here I am with my neighbor and her daughters. (I don't know if you can tell, but to me, I look SO TIRED.)

With the Chiu Family

Then the following day, 15 minutes into class, some of the "absent students" came in carrying a cake and singing "Happy Birthday!"  First thing one of them told me after singing was "you can't count me tardy" (apparently, I'm known for being strict about that.)

Happy Birthday

Then later during the week of my birthday, a dear friend, Anna, stopped by with a beautiful little cake to help me celebrate my birthday.  She had seen my blog on Monday and thought I needed some cheering up--isn't that so sweet!!

little birthday cake

So, if I had to be in school all day on my birthday, it was nice being surprised so many times! :)  And, I also appreciate the others who through out the week made me feel special too. :)


Thanks to Marianne for sharing this beautiful song entitled 33 by Corrinne May.

Corrinne, new-to-me muscian, grew up in Singapore; she wrote this song as she reflected on turning 33.

praying for baby ethan

One of my sister's bridesmaids and dear friends from college is in need of prayer for her and her growing family.

Kasey and Adam's 11 week old son, Ethan, has been diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia.   Ethan has started chemotherapy treatments in hopes of helping his spleen return to a normal size and get his little body ready for a bone marrow transplant.

Kasey and Adam are placing their faith in Christ alone.   I invite you to pray for baby Ethan, as well as for his mommy and daddy.

amanda is ok too

Thank you to all of you who inquired about me and (as eija put it) my "bday funk."

I'll get totally honest here for a minute and explain my more cryptic statement from the original post the day after my birthday.  This one:

It is so easy to become envious of others . . . it is so easy to see
what I think I lack . . . it is so easy to be selfish . . . it is so
easy to sin.  Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.
See, it is not really turning 30 that bothered me.  I have been feeling older (especially with my knee giving me trouble, but more about that on another day), but I don't feel "old" yet. 

The center of the matter is that I was turning 30 and still single.  I've seen all kinds of "mommy blogs" in the past few months where women turning 30 talked about how blessed they were with their loving husbands and cute kids treating them so special on their big day. 

Many people are quick to remind me that "yes, you're single but look at how God is using you."  But, there are also married women who are thirty years old with several children who are overseas missionaries too.  This position is not limited to single women.

Although VERY well meaning . . . comments like that only feed one of the myths we single women are led to believe: "God views me more as a useful tool than a beloved child."
People have often told me, "God has allowed you to be single so you
might do these things for Him!" While I know these people are seeking
to encourage me, my gut reaction is, Why me? It's true that God may set us apart for a season of singleness, but that doesn't mean He is indifferent to our dreams.

Matthew 7:11
says, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts
to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good
gifts to those who ask him!" God views you a cherished child — never a
utilitarian object. A loving Father will give you good gifts at just
the right time.
My comfort in being 30 and still single can not come from whether or not "God is using me."  It must come from who He is . . . God of all creation, the Author of my life's story, the One who clears this unknown path I am walking on.  My comfort and hope must come only from trusting the One who is eternally both all-good and all-powerful.

See, the problem on my 30th birthday was this: my eyes were one me.  "Why so downcast, O, my soul?"  Because I was not placing my hope where it should rightly be.  And, honestly, I didn't want to either--I wanted to "just this once have the right to be discontent."

Praise the Lord for being quick to forgive!

And, praise Him too for, once again, placing a song in my heart! :)
Well I wanna thank you now
For being patient with me
Oh it's so hard to see
When my eyes are on me
I guess I'll have to trust
And just believe what you say

(This is the chorus of the awesome song "Make My Life a Prayer" by Keith Green, one of my all time favorite musicians.)

mr. gibs is ok

GILBY!!Just wanted to tell you that my little dog with many nicknames* is doing ok.

The bruise on his leg has cleared up very well, and he seems to be doing just fine.

I've not yet taken him out around mopeds, so I'm not exactly sure what his reaction will be now.  He was already scared of them to begin with, so . . .

Anyway, thanks to all of you who've been asking about him. I appreciate it. :)

*Gilby answers to "shiao bye" (little white), "shiao Gil" (little Gil), "Que-Be," Mr. Gibs, and of course Gilby.  Why he has so many nicknames I have no idea! But, he does, and he doesn't seem to mind.  Oh, maybe I do know why . . . . he is Taiwanese!! :D  (Just in case you don't know . . . Taiwanese people all have many nicknames.  A Taiwanese person with no nickname is someone with no friends.)

fighting for joy and sampling infinity

It is good for our days to remind us that we are a small dot on the
landscape of time, and that eternity holds the sweeping brush strokes
of a masterwork of which we, at present, are only catching glimpses.
. . . God is real and wondrous, the Spirit instructs us in all knowledge and
wisdom, and Christ is both present and coming, calling us further up
and farther in to his kingdom. The thoughts of God are well beyond our
own. All of creation declares the glory and power of its creator. And
we are at present only sampling infinity.
-- Jill Carattini of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries

Yesterday morning I had to fight for joy.  I had to seek to continually remind myself that it's not about me. 

When the CD player didn't work for my listening class . . . when the room was sticky hot with humidity and an AC that didn't work . . . when a student accidently stepped on my foot bending the nail on my big toe backwards spilling blood everywhere . . . when I left my whimpering dog alone at home . . . when my office was in an upheaval of rearranging all the funiture while I needed to prepare for class . . . when I thought of home . . . when I wanted to have a pity party.  Oh, how I wanted to feel sorry for myself!

But . . . reality is: it is not about me.  I am but a "small dot on the landscape of time."  All day long I was faced with the same choice over and over again . . . to wallow in self-pity or choose joy.

It is so easy to become envious of others . . . it is so easy to see
what I think I lack . . . it is so easy to be selfish . . . it is so
easy to sin.  Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

Praise God that he is merciful and gracious!  Unlike my 16th birthday where I did choose to wallow in self-pity throwing an emotional hissy-fit when I thought that the world should be revolving around me and it wasn't  . . . yesterday I fought to choose joy.  I still look at the pictures of that 16 year old with her purple braces and purple silk shirt similng at the camera holding up her purple birthday gifts and all I remember from that day is my own depravity and self-centeredness.  Oh, how selfcentered and selfish I was on my 16th birthday!

The morning of my 30th birthday wasn't easy. Tears were spilled . . . more than once.  I had to heavily rely upon the grace and goodness of our Lord to empower me to be able to keep a positive attitude.  I depended greatly on the Spirit bringing to mind scripture in order to keep my heart pure.  Cuz, oh, it sure didn't want to be on it's own.

Praise God for His unfailing love and tender mercies!!  He is so kind.

Things got a little better in the afternoon and ended on a very sweet note . . . more about that later. :)

Although, in recent days, I've felt old for the first time in my life (is that because my students are no longer in the same generation as me??), I am thankful for the reminder yesterday that I am but only "sampling infinity."


Today I turn 30. 

How am I celebrating you ask . . . I'm not.  I have 8 hours of classes spread out from 8am to 9pm, so I will be at school all day.  Fun, right?

Last night, Gilby's leash got run over by a moped, which means he was pulled/dragged for a little while.  He is ok.  A little bruised and I assume sore, but ok.  He moves slower than usual and clings to me.  I don't want to leave him alone all day today, but I have to.

Maybe later I'll come back and add to this post to make it a little less depressing, but for now . . . well, it's how I feel.

at the GuGong

Amanda at the GuGong

I got to go back to the GuGong (aka National Palace Museum) this past week!  It was maybe my 14th or 15th time to visit this great art museum.  :)

Taiwan's GuGong is one of the top five museums in the world.  I love going there.  Each time I go I get to see something new.

This time I got to go with a friend who loves looking at art as much as I do . . . maybe even more!  It was wonderful to take a full day just to enjoy beautiful things together. :)

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