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.  

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