Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Goals Are Only The Beginning

2012 is upon us, whether we are ready or not.  Some people would argue that December 31st is essentially no different than January 1st.  Yes, maybe that day doesn't look any different...but it sure feels different.  I could go on and on about "turning a new chapter" or "wiping the slate clean"...and the reality is: every single day is a day ripe with possibility and the freedom of the unknown.

This year, I am writing down the expected goals...but in order to not have to buckle under the pressure of trying to keep something up for the next 363 days (ah!), my goals are simply for January.  My idea is, if I can make it through the first month and cross a few things off my list, I can have the fuel to keep it going a little longer.  That's the hope, anyway!

The List

1.  The Hello Mornings Challenge (click to check it out!)  
     1(a): Increase my exercise routine (laughter erupts!) to include walking around the neighborhood more each week, getting to do 1  "real" push-up a day by the end of the month, and making time for rock climbing 2x a month.  We'll see.  This scenario involves the hubs being able to baby-sit.  No nanny here!
     2(b): Get some more planning going on in my life.  Sometimes I plan, sometimes I don't.  Flying by the seat of my skinny jeans doesn't work with three kids any more.  I need accountability!
     3(c):  I already get up to spend time with Jesus in the mornings...but I am finding that I need even more time by myself before the kiddies wake up.  I am planning to stretch my one hour to two by the time the challenge is done.

2.  "Unplug" myself from the Internet from the time the kids wake up, through school time (unless we have to use the Web for studying), until after lunch.  Is anyone else reading this as distract-able as I am?  I need to cut the cord, so to speak, in order to engage with my kids during early meal times and during our home school in the morning.  Pray for me...and rebuke me if you see me on Facebook during those times!  (And remember that if you live in the States, that my night is your morning-time!)

3.  Unsubscribe myself from as many email lists/subscriptions/junk ad campaigns as I can.  My current "new message" count in my inbox is 473.  What?  I check my email every day!  I am looking to streamline and crawl out from under the gigantic pile of mess that clogs my email account so I can keep it free for the important messages from family and friends.

4.  Remember that I cannot do it all!  Laura Seibert once preached a sermon that has stuck with me ever since; she shared about how saying "yes" to something is always saying "no" to something else.  I, simply, cannot add more things into my life and keep everything else "as is."  Something else has to go if I am to make room!  Take that and just think about it for a will change the way you look at everything you do.

What are some of your goals?  Or, what are some things that you just want to "leave behind" in 2011 instead of dragging them into Today?  I'd love to hear! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Push-UP UPdate

This picture has nothing to do with push-ups.  It is just a bonus Christmas pic to try to convince you of my daughter's increasing cuteness.  I can't handle it!

The gratuitous Christmas update with tons o'photos is going to have to wait until later.  It is late, I am tired, and too lazy to edit and decide which ones to post.  It is hard when you have three little nuggets to photograph, and edit, and figure out which cute pictures to leave out because it would take a year to load the page.  Sigh.  I am a mom with thousands of pictures that might seem redundant and over-done to you but they are worth gold to me.  I am in denial that I might have to one day sort them through all and...sigh...print them or something practical like that.  Anybody else have an overflowing hard drive due to a picture-taking addiction?  Please raise your hand and join my club.  

After that run-on paragraph...I give you...the push-UP UPdate!:

Haven't read about my latest adventure into push-ups?  Click here to read that post.

So, almost two weeks ago, I started a first-ever real leap into trying push-ups.  I think there probably was, once or twice in my life, a time at which I attempted push-ups...only to fall flat on my face and declare  "never again!" 

But, since resuming my interest in rock climbing, I am realizing that I might not get to far into my hobby without a little effort on my part to do some sort of exercise on the side.  This revelation has come with great fear and trembling in my mind.  

On the other hand, my arms have not rebelled as my mind has.  I was, truly, surprised to move from my first week's goal of:
- One "girl" push-up a day (and)
- Five "table" push-ups a day

to (this past week)...
- Two girl push-ups/day
- Ten table push-ups/day.

I just might get crazy and keep this addition thing going and add some more this week:

Week #3 goal:
- Two girl push-ups in the morning and two at night
- Ten table push-ups in the morning and ten at night.

I am finding, not surprisingly, that my arms are feeling tighter (rather than my jeans ;)...and that after a few days of adding extra push-ups, I can add a bit more without too much extra strain.  

And, oddly enough, doing them right before bed (which is apparently a big exercise "no-no") is the best time for me.  I have this odd knack for remembering to do them right as I am brushing my teeth.  I don't understand the connection...but it works for me.

Want to start the push-up challenge with me?  Come on...even just ONE!  That's how I started. Take it from a novice and just take a risk!  By the end of the week, you might start looking at your self a different way.  I have.  

Sunday, December 25, 2011

As You Celebrate Christmas...Remember The Nations!

We had a great Christmas Day - more on that this week - but as (most of) you wake up this morning to celebrate the King...keep these pictures in mind as you pray throughout your day.  

Our neighbor's (a Western husband and a Thai wife) tree is decorated with lights in their front yard. In the center is Santa, surrounded by lights (my picture only captured a few lights - they were blinking!).  The string of lights are strung all the way over to my neighbor's spirit house.  I guess it needed a little extra decoration for the week.  Maybe the spirits will not be as "angered" if they have a little extra bling.

Christmas tree with Santa on the left, spirit house on the right.

The spirit house all lit up for the season.

Although Christmas in Thailand is, mostly, a time to get a jump start your New Year's shopping, most Thais don't know the real "reason for the season."  

88% of Thailand is considered completely unreached.  As you worship God today in your homes, in your churches, and in your hearts, please call out to Him to send laborers into the harvest field here.  Also, pray for us to shine His light boldly and to find the hungry so that Jesus can fill them.  

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Hope your Christmas celebration this year is filled with joy in Jesus!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Culture Shift

I have been on a hiatus from blogging - against my will.  Kind of.

With an increase of busyness, a bad cold, and a dying computer, writing here was put on the back burner...and then wrapped up in Tupperware and put in the fridge.  Thanks to Treavor, I now have a working computer, and some forced rest in order to clear enough room in my head for getting back here!  

Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking on Christmas, as have most of you, undoubtedly.  Treav mentioned that how living here (where Christmas for Thais is simply a pre-cursor to New Year's gift giving...and where lights, Christmas trees and Santa take center stage) has heightened our attention on the meaning of Christmas; rather than taking away from it.  I just started noticing lights going up this week. The stores have tinsel and trees, and at the hi-so grocery store, the Christmas Carols CD is on repeat over the loudspeakers.  But, on the whole, the culture of the "holidays" isn't the blindingly-obvious show that is present in America right now.  We are constantly having to explain that Christmas isn't New Years, it isn't Santa's birthday, and Saint Nick isn't Jesus' dad.  Even a new believer we're pouring into was surprised to hear that Christmas is the day we celebrate the day the Lord was born as a babe in a manger.  She's reading through the Gospels and hasn't yet figured that out.  If you think about it, the word Christmas isn't in the Gospels, right?  If you doubt me, check it out for yourself...

Last week, as I sat in my Thai lesson, my teacher (a believer) talked about what Christmas means for Thai Christians.  She was talking about how they planned their big outreach/meeting/party.  Their plan, which they pour tons of time into in the weeks before now, is simple: sharing.  Sharing what?  Sharing gifts, like us?  Not exactly.  Sharing a special meal with all the trimmings?  No.  As far as I know, Christmas dinners here are like all the others.  She meant, the sharing of the Christmas story, sans reindeer and a big, fat jolly-man dressed in red...they keep it simple - on Jesus.  And, they don't do it alone, with their own family units.  They meet in big groups, mostly at the church building.  They hang out all morning and then again at night; eating, worshiping, hearing the word, dancing, crafting, laughing, playing games, exchanging gifts...all in a concentrated effort to share the good news with the unbelievers they have personally invited. Their focus is on everyone else who has never heard.

I remember being irritated with Christmas culture the first year we moved here.  The local church we lived next to invited us to a Christmas service/outreach on the blessed day of the 25th.  What? Sacrifice our family time?  Unheard of!  It was asking too much.  Even though we keep our family's festivities simple, we couldn't imagine spending almost all day with them instead of at home in our pajamas.  

Last year, our second Christmas away, our close friends were away, and we were feeling a little lonely.  The invitation from the local church we worked with was now more welcome.  God sets the lonely in families (Ps. 68:6), which we now know at an even deeper level.  

And this year, we will still have our "sacred" family time on Christmas morn, but we are making plans to visit a new believers' home later in the day to celebrate the newborn King.  It is their first year to know about His love, and we're watching The Nativity Story movie to get a better feel for the mood of the day over 2000 years ago.  That first Christmas day was so different that what we witness year after year.  We're wanting to keep it simple for this family who is changing their whole paradigm on life to be focused on a heavenly kingdom.  Also, we're visiting a local AIDS orphanage for the first time.  We are hoping that our family will get a greater, softer heart for sharing the love that Jesus has given us in exchange for our hard hearts that tend to be self-focused at this time of year.

How are you shifting your focus this year?  Even with all the lovelies of the holiday season, how do you keep your eyes fixed on the Child who's birthday we celebrate?  Feel free to comment below:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Push-ups Are Hip...From A Wanna-be Athlete

Run climbing the rock wall

Huy taking his next move

Exercise and I aren't exactly best friends.  Any of you reading who have known me since, well...birth, would nod your head in agreement.  Although I sport a (typically) skinny frame, it doesn't come by hard work or discipline.  I am inching my way towards my 30's and still have my metabolism to hold on to.  I know that, one day, it will fail some miserable way, I'm sure.  

Ever since I could remember, I have disliked playing sports involving round objects hurtling at dangerous speeds toward my face.  I think back to a humiliating incident where, in elementary school, my PE class was engaging in a game of football, and the pigskin couldn't keep its polite distance away from my head.  It seemed that every time I looked up, I was getting pummeled.  I still flinch when you throw a ball at me.  It's a fact.  But, please don't test it, I beg you.  

Since then, I had my bouts with running...jogging...rollerblading...biking... racquetball...the *shudder*  Other than the occasional bike-ride to my friend's house or to the local gas station for a 44-ounce Big Red (how healthy am I?)...nothing really "stuck" until college.

In college at Baylor University (Go RG3!), the rock-climbing wall at the student center is the main focal point when you walk in to go "workout" (which I pretended to do with great determination).  Before attending Baylor, I had climbed the occasional wall at youth camps and such.  For some reason, they intrigued me so much.

There is something about climbing that I really, really like.  No teams, for example.  No mandatory practices 6 days a week.  No uniform.  No skill, even.  The skill eventually comes.  But, for a new climber, all you need is a pair of arms and legs, a bit of courage, and some shorts that don't ride up in the harness.  I'm just sayin'.

I visited the rock wall when I wanted to, as often as I wanted to, and I found a little community there.  The staff helped to give me advice when I got stuck, and to encourage me when I felt like my muscles were going to give out.  Puny muscles do that to a person; especially one who isn't a fan of real exercise.  I never got truly great at climbing, but good enough to chuckle at the occasional, bulky football player who just couldn't seem to get his legs to cooperate with the small rock holds while he scaled the wall for the first time.  In a small way, I felt like my own sort of spry little athlete - who could wear her hand calluses with pride.  I even sprained my ankle once after dropping off a bouldering route.  It was much more fun to blame my ailment on that rather than for stepping off the curb and biting the dust (even though that is much more probable for me).

Fast forward to the present:  since getting married, leaving college, living overseas in a few countries, having three babies, etc. etc...I haven't had much opportunity to pick up my climbing hobby again.  Thankfully, the New City we're living in has a climbing wall - and I have been a few times, and taken the kids to climb a few more times.  I am loving it!

But, the thing I am not loving is the fact that I am way. out. of. shape.  But, really, who's to say that I have ever been in shape?  Ever!

The last time I went to the climbing wall here, I asked the owner for some tips on how to prepare my body for next time.  I was really honest with my current state of non-fitness. She gave me a very practical, simple goal = push-ups.  



But, because she is, actually, a star-climber in Thailand, I listened.  Carefully.

She showed me how to do a proper push-up, and then how to do them leaning on a table for a twist on the common way to execute this muscle-building activity.  I now have a fitness goal.  Beware, it is very small and quite humbling:

One "girl" push-up a day.  Five "table" push-ups a day.  Done.

I don't know about you, but for this mom-of-three, this is a step "up" from my non-existent fitness routine.  It took me a week of trying the girl push-ups to actually complete one.  You heard me.  Now, I can do ONE!  I feel like a super-star!  The "table" push-ups weren't as difficult, until Treavor corrected my posture today while I was doing them.  Much harder.

Next week?  TWO push-ups a day and 10 table push-ups.  

Baby steps.

What gets you going?  Dancing to cheesy pop tunes?  Running with your dog?  Chasing your toddler?  Or, are you a Aerobic super-star?  I'd love to hear!  Leave a comment below:

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mysterious Plant Shoot

What could it be?

Several weeks ago, something spontaneously started growing.  And growing.  And growing.

I did not plant this mysterious shoot, or water it, or fertilize it.  And yet, it keeps growing.

You would think that with my black thumb, that it would die and wither away; like, almost all the herbs that I tried to start from seed last year.  Or, like the orange tree in the back yard that I have tenderly cared for...that will simply not bear fruit and grow one.  stinking.  inch.

But, oh no...this baby is determined!

What is it?

And, where does it come from?

And, where is it growing?

my potato/onion/garlic basket

Right here.  In my kitchen.  On top of my food cupboard.  Is...a sweet potato.  

A few weeks ago, I finally noticed it growing quite determinedly towards the ceiling.  I laughed and ignored it...obviously...

my sweet potato in all its growing glory

Since I have been quite lazy in the kitchen lately...opting to get take-out (a dollar a plate!) or resort to eating loads of PB&J sandwiches, scrambled eggs and toast...I have yet to turn on the oven to put this determined sweet potato out of its misery.

So, there it sits.  Hoping.  Reaching.  Expectant.  Verdant.  Simply hilarious.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rubber Band Guns - Have I Lost My Mind?

Attention: no plastic army men were harmed in the making of this post.

two very happy boys

Last night, I went to the walking market with a new Thai friend of mine.  "N" and her family drove the boys and I down to the market so we could shop together and hang out before they return to Bangkok.  They're refugees, of a sort.  Their home in Bangkok flooded last month, and the tenants in their second home (here) just finished their lease.  They were tired of living in crowded Bangkok, and the flood was just the last straw.  Our city flooded, actually, a few months ago...but our neighborhood is far from the main river.  They are deciding to move back up north at the end of the school year and we're happy to have new friends.  Their son, Putter, was named after his dad's golf habit.  I love how Thais choose names.  Everything is game.

So, last night, the only thing I had on my "to buy" list were rubber band guns for the boys.  I spotted them the night Steph and I ran out of gas, and I have wanted to go back ever since.  I must be crazy.  Am I just asking for trouble?  

our three dollar treasure - a rubber band gun.
you can load several rubber bands at a time.  good for trying to shoot a run-away gecko.

the seller threw in some army men and rubber bands so the kids could start shootin' as soon as they got home.

now you see him...

now you don't.

When Run was born, I was anti-guns.  I had loud opinions about it.  I am sure that everyone reading this post has their own loud opinions, too.  But, after years of not buying them, I am realizing that, for us...they are a fun part of playing that our boys would do with something else anyway; sticks, play-dough, their own fingers...

So, for now, the rule is: no shooting people.  They can shoot down toys, blocks, geckos...anything that isn't going to run to Mommy and demand retribution.  They are happily obeying and I feel like a cool mom today (score!)... least, until they hit me!  I guess I have time for their aim to get better.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Getting The Jesse Tree Ready - Advent!

Our very empty Christmas...I mean...Jesse Tree.

Today, the kids woke up to find a very empty Christmas tree on the front table.  While lots of other families are already knee-deep in Christmas traditions, we are just waking up from our turkey-coma, I guess, and thinking about the upcoming Jesus celebration.  Christmas is about Jesus, right?  Just checking...

Instead of decking the halls and throwin' up the tinsel, we will be slowly adding ornaments to our Christmas tree.  By the 25th, our tree should be full of picture stories about the greatest Story of all: how Jesus came to us weary people on the earth to bring us back to life!

Don't get me wrong, I am totally into a beautifully decorated home this time of year.  I love poinsettias (got 'em on the front porch), nativity scenes, twinkling lights and yards of shiny ribbon wrapped around everything.  I guess its all the prep that scares me a bit.  And, the cleaning.  And storing.  And buying.  And, a general flair for making your house look...put together.  That's something that is lacking in the department of my brain that, for other people, is second nature.  So, decorate your houses with freedom and bring on the bling!  Just don't expect it here when you come for coffee!  

So, our main tradition (an early one...really...this is our second year) is adding to our Jesse Tree each day.  What is a Jesse Tree?  Basically, there was a prophesy in Isaiah about how from the stump of Jesse (the father of King David), that a branch would spring up and bear fruit, bringing Hope back into the world that had been cut-off from it, like the stump.  That branch would be the Messiah.  The Messiah was Jesus!  So, a tradition was started to retrace the line of stories of God's redemptive acts throughout the Old Testament...leading to Jesus.  On Christmas Day, the last day of our study, we will read about the birth of our Messiah King.  

And, each day, at the end of our Bible story reading, we will hang the corresponding ornament (a mere paper picture) on the tree to have a visual reminder of what we're looking forward to...His coming.  Here's the first ornament:

I took the picture from our devotional, glued it onto some red construction paper (fancy, right?), and taped some silver ribbon on the back.

Scotch tape.  What can be simpler than that?
The first ornament on the tree.  See?  Easy-peasy!

Where can you get a free copy of the devotional we're following this year? Go to A Holy Experience and subscribe to their email list of posts from Ann Voskcamp, the author of One Thousand Gifts.  She has given this Jesse Tree Devotional as a "thank you" to subscribers.  Go ahead - subscribe!  Ann Voskcamp is a gem.

Happy Advent!

Monday, November 28, 2011

They ARE Listening...

For the most part, my kids tend to follow me a lot: my tone of voice, my choice of words, my facial expressions, my opinions of others, and even what I like to eat.  All of this can be really good...or really bad!  Just think about it a second...exactly.  Think about a troupe of mini-You's running around like little mirrors projecting your life in front of you.  Hopefully, every parent dreams that the kids will "eat the meat and spit out the bones" of how they live.  We hope.

Thankfully, this morning I saw some projections that delighted me instead of frightening me (praise God!):

Bible Time...we had just finished reading in Mark 5:21-43 about the woman who, after twelve years of sickness, was left penniless and worse-off at the hands of many doctors who tried, with no success, to heal her. She was desperate...her life was over...she was rejected by her culture who declared her "unclean"...and there was no one left for her to turn to...

...except Jesus.

Jesus was coming to town - and in Mark 5, we read about her boldness to take a step of faith to simply touch his garments.  Her hope was to be healed.  Her faith, mingled with the power of Jesus, made her well.  He even said it that plainly.  Her life was whole again.

We ended our Bible Time and turned to prayer.  I mentioned to Jeshurun and Huy that we should intercede for my mother, who is very sick right now.  Without success, many doctors have attempted to cure her ailments.  She is, in many ways, like the woman in Mark 5.  The boys were up for it, and we started to pray out-loud, taking turns, for their Grannie.  

Jeshurun prayed one of the most heart-felt, truth-filled prayers I have ever heard him pray.  He repeated bits of scripture over her, spoke out in faith, prayed for her heart and soul, and basically was filled with emotion.  At one point, he teared up and almost started to cry.  Hallelujah.

Huy, much to my surprise and enjoyment, prayed quietly in whispers and mumblings.  At first, I thought he was just speaking unintelligibly, or I thought he was trying to mimic Jesus' Aramaic from the Mark 5 passage: "Talitha koum!" (which means "Little girl, I say to you, get up!").  But, then, it occurred to me that he was mimicking us, his parents; when we pray in tongues.  Uh oh.  I might have just stepped on a few toes, there.  Don't be afraid.  :)  Just now, actually, I asked Huy if he was doing this because he hears us pray this way throughout the day.  He grinned and answered, "Yes!"  He is ready for God to give him his own prayer language.  Every day, I am in wonder at their steps toward knowing Jesus.

They ARE listening.  This time, they were influenced by some positive things about the way that we live life, attempting to walk in step with Jesus.  It makes me more aware of what they are silently observing, day in and day out, in our home.  Live-in accountability at its finest.

Take an account of your day today and your interactions with others.  Are they encouraging others to take a step more towards the Holy One...or away?  Help us, Lord!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Bad Bad Dream

Last night, I had a nightmare.

It wasn't a typical nightmare; the kind with monsters (I still have those!) or even the kind where you suddenly find yourself in math class, naked, taking a pop quiz you haven't studied for...

My bad dream actually started with a happy future event - when we go on our first trip back to the States.  We haven't been back for almost 3 years, now.  Getting to see friends and family is truly exciting.  Because we're getting close to that day (yay Spring!), the thoughts about our travels, what we'll eat, who we'll see, etc. have been popping up.  I'm trying to restrain myself from thinking about it too much - because we'll be here for a few months more!  Trying.  

But, in my dream, we had arrived back to meet happy, smiling people.  Loads of them.  Loads.  Tons.  Wait a minute...this feels like too much!  

I walked into the office of our organization to meet gobs of people.  Gobs, I say.  People popped up from their desks to greet us and say the obligatory, "Hey!  So how's it been waaay over there?"  For an extroverted me, this is one situation that gets me quite excited!  But, then, it turned a little more overwhelming and quite like a very bad dream.

"Oh, hi...(Wait!  Her face is familiar, but what is her name?)!  Girl!  How ya doin'?"  This happens several times.  Peoples faces pop up, but their names are beyond my mental reach.  I feel like a horrible friend/worker/human being.  If you are a Sanguine, you know exactly what I am talking about.  Daily.

And then, some other people say hi and start asking for when I'm take me to the obligatory coffee date to catch up on "life."  This is another thing I happen to love.  Who doesn't love coffee and talking?  I sure do!

But, I begin to realize that the person prying into my schedule is someone who seems to know me but, actually, is a person that I don't remember at all.  The pressure.  Suddenly I feel cornered and confused and I just want to see my real friends and family.

Switch scene.  

I am walking and crowds of people are passing me by.  I am searching for others who know me well and have finally located some!  I walk over...

"Hi!  How's it going (enter name that I actually remember)!  How are your kids?  How's "life"?  Man, I missed you!  Let's hang out sometime..."  Suddenly they look away, distracted by someone else...and have to go.  This happens several more times.  Rejected.  Ouch.

Then I wake up.  

In four months, when I arrive on American soil, I hope to not have deja vu.  I know I won't.  My dreams are not an inevitability.  Unless I inherit some of Daniel's gift for dreaming in God's reality, I do not have to mentally "give up" and decide that my dream's feeling of fear and frustration and busyness and loneliness is one big prophetic utterance.  Today, I am choosing to hope, and believe, and love, and pray and expect to love others well and be loved by others well.  

It may not work out perfectly, but at least we can all try.

And, when it doesn't work out perfectly, I have Jesus.  Hey, wait a minute, that's every day!  You think that I would have learned to be more secure in His love by now.  I'm working on receive His Him back...and then share it with others.  I guess others loving me back isn't really apart of the equation that I am in control of.  

Problem solved.  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Best Of Friends

the birthday boy blowing out six candles.  he's getting so big!

the kids (sans Kyla) chowing down on ice cream cake.

getting attacked by sun conure birds.  Steph's mom, Steph and Nick are champs!

the littles gettin' crazy in the ball pit.

Run gettin' the throw-down by Uncle Nick

those aren't snacks for us - we fed deer, giraffes, hippos and more!

Last night, we celebrated Run's birthday again with our friends the S-clan.  As they made the half-hour trek to the night safari for us, pushed through another late night out with the kids, sang happy birthday, ate ice cream cake (maybe that one wasn't too hard), endured birds attacking them, gave Run gifts, and on and on...throughout the night I grew more and more thankful for our best friends.  

They are the friends who will:

- Tell you like it is.
- And then give you a hug.
- Pray for you.
- Encourage you.
- Baby-sit your kids.
- Treat you to a nice, expensive dinner.
- Endure emotional days.
- And...tiring days together.
- Stick it out.
- Do "what it takes."
- Fight for you.
- Believe for you.
- Prefer you.
- Be patient with you.
- Surprise you!
- Change their own desires in order to yield and bless.
- Push forward in vision.
- Hope for you even when you don't see what they do.
- Joke around.
- Look out for your kids.
- Listen carefully.
- Bless.
- Serve.
- Give.
- Sacrifice.

Today, on Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for this bunch!

the S-clan in August

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Beautiful Bloom

Backyard Centerpiece

Today I am preparing for possible house guests.  I was thinking about buying some flowers to adorn our dining room table, but came up with something better, ie: free. As I was doing dishes the other day, I noticed this outside in the back yard.  Our yard isn't that big, mind you, but in the back by the washing machine, was something pink shooting up from the ground.  Where did that come from?

You see, my beloved washing machine sits on the back porch.  And, here in Thailand, sometimes things aren't the most environmentally-friendly.  The way our machine deposits the waste water, soap and all, is right into the ground in the back yard.  A sudsy pool of water takes double-duty, wetting the ground that now houses the above flower and about 4 yards of bird-of-paradise flowers, too.  What I thought was an inconvenient mess has turned into something quite beautiful.

I am so thankful to God today for our home, and the beautiful, tropical land that we live in.  The Creator is so so good.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Run is Six!

Jeshurun with his new birthday bike

My sweet boy turned six yesterday!  Wow!  Six years have flown by since he was born.  He is one of my closest friends, my own personal comedian, and there is almost never a dull moment when he is awake.  I have been challenged by him in every area of my life: physically (hello, can you say overdue baby and all-day labor without meds?), emotionally (brought to tears over discipline woes, and my patience being tried day in and day out), and spiritually (my biblical call to motherhood, self-examination over the Truth I teach him every day).  

For what we have sowed in tears and perseverance, we have reaped ten-fold in blessings and great joy!  He is smart, creative (what this kid can do with a bunch of string, a toilet-paper roll and a twist-tie...MacGyver!), talkative (more than me sometimes...and that's sayin' something!), funny, smiley, growing in wisdom, excited about the Bible (his self-proclaimed favorite subject...even over Science!), cute (love those big blue eyes), and energetic to the max.  He is learning to serve his family more and more each day.  Even today, he was training Kyla how to pick up her toys, encouraging her with every time she put a block in the box, "Good baby!  You are picking up so well!"  He does his morning chores diligently and comes when he is called, most of the time with a happy heart!  ;)  

He has dreams to be a Kung Fu master one day, thank you Po.  I know that whatever he does, that his calling is to be the "upright one" who walks in God's ways, as his name means.  Whether he's a Kung Fu master, a teacher, a safari guide or a bug enthusiast...whatever he does, he will do it with passion and great vision. There are wonderful things in store for his life.  I can't wait to see them come to fruition! 

Here's a look into what we did to celebrate Run yesterday:

special breakfast: Jeshurun's request...a tower of French Toast...the toppings: syrup and sweetened condensed milk.

four pieces later...all smiles.

we went to a night safari...Run loves the elephants!

they had 14 white tigers there.  amazing. 

we pet the deer...

fed the goats...

fed the birds...
got attacked by them...

got a little goofy...
posed for tons of pictures...

...and pet a giraffe.  what an awesome night!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Centipedes and Snakes In Suburbia

Within 24 hours, we've had two critter sightings our house.  Since moving from the southern part of Thailand, and away from our own private jungle mountain, I hoped knew that we would be seeing less creepy-crawly things around.  So far, living in Thai suburbia has its upsides in that area, but the last day has proved a little jarring on my nerves.  Good thing Treavor was around to beat things for me.  What a good husband.  :)

Last night, while filling up the mini-tub for Huy's bath, I saw something crawling out from behind the toilet.  Within two seconds, I ushered Huy to safety at the threshold of the bathroom as I yelled to Treavor to come to our rescue.  A huge, according to my standards, centipede was making it's way towards us.  Well, that's how it felt.  With the babies out of death's reach (again, that's how it felt), Treavor proceeded to choose his killing weapon.  What was it?  A pink baby potty, of course.

After coaxing it out of it's new hiding spot, he severed it in two and allowed me to get a quick video.  I sure you will be so very afraid:

Hey!  These things aren't to be taken lightly - really!

Actually, they can't kill anybody, but a sting from one of Thailand's many types of centipedes can leave you swollen and in pain for hours, sometimes days.  I don't exactly want to take care of a screaming kid in tremendous pain, swollen for days.  Right?

At least it wasn't one of these:

Scolopendra - the giant centipede of Thailand

Thankfully, what was crawling around my bathroom was only mildly dangerous.  The type above (I have yet to see one of these - and hope I never will!)...the "Scolopendra" has a sting that has been known to make a grown man cry...even after a morphine shot.

Moving on...

So, today as I walked outside to our porch to check on my laundry, I was admiring our newly cut grass and noticed some strange movement.  I took a second look and, low and behold, a snake slithers through the grass to check out my lemongrass bush.  What?

I, as always, ran to find Treavor, and demanded asked him to kindly dispose of our new reptile friend in the backyard.  He, calmly, as always, goes to grab the shovel...all with a curious smile.  The snake I spotted didn't look like anything I had seen before, or studied before after several snake sightings/killings.  Thankfully, the all-too-familiar stance of a cobra was not appearing...or anything that pops up on the 10 Deadliest Snakes List on the Internet.  But, today I was not in the mood for taking chances. 

That's what my husband is for!

Striped Kukri Snake, mid-beating.

Treavor moved him to a trash can for closer inspection.  Poor guy had a broken back.  I wasn't sad at all.  (And, yes, that is a Thai massage brochure!)

Treavor, who had compassion.  He grabbed the shovel to put it out of it's misery.  

And then...guess who grabbed it next?
...and then he did this!  That kid gives me a heart attack almost daily.  (Note to Grandma: didn't actually enter his mouth.  Don't worry)

So...good news:  This snake turned out to be non-venomous.  Praise the good Lord...

It is a Striped Kukri Snake (click for info), and there are several different kinds of these found throughout Thailand and Southeast Asia.  They eat frog and lizard eggs, and rodents.  Not people.  And, definitely not small children.  *sigh of relief*

He seems harmless enough.  The next time one of these guys comes in the yard, I might let it get away without a fight.  Or, at least, let my husband rest instead of asking him to go fight it for me.  

I am brave like that.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fall Vacation 2011 - Part Two - Bring on the cheese...

We have become that family.  The family whose portraits are comprised of cutesy (or, some would say, tacky) snapshots of superimposed animals or famous backgrounds, or even printed on a souvenir plate or t-shirt.  

See what I mean?...

Us "with" the pandas at the zoo.  I love that Run and Kyla look a little unsure.  

And then there's this one...

Notice that we are "in" with the undersea animals at the aquarium.  Also, would you take a look at our stereo-type Asian peace signs...and who is that kissing Run?

Exactly.  The cheese factor is as high as it gets right now.  But, guess what?  I love it!

My kids look at these pictures and smile!  They have these memories of our vacation and get excited.  These cute family portraits, when looked upon in the future, will bring back those happy memories and stories.  

At least until they're teens...and then they might resent us for them, but, who cares?  They'll get over it.

We had a blast at the zoo and aquarium on on the fourth day of our vaca.  The kids spent their watching sharks and stingrays being fed by scuba divers, admiring white tigers, and seeing all the weird looking sea creatures from their Plant Earth videos up close.  Jeshurun said that he couldn't believe he was seeing real, live Mexican Axolotls.  

By far, that day was probably my fav of our whole stay-cation.  The kids had a fun time, too, I guess...

One of the real pandas.  "Everybody was kung fu fighting..."

Outside the aquarium there was a lake with these floating Zorb balls to spin from the inside.  Run was in his element.

Surprised this guy didn't lose a finger!

Huy with a white tiger in the background.  Awesome!

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