Sunday, November 25, 2012

Observations While Running: The Good, The Bad and The Smelly.

The rice fields at the edge of our neighborhood.  I smile every time I pass them...except for that one time when I was being chased by a dog!  True story...

Condemnation warning: I realize that I am writing this post involving exercise just a few days after Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving: i.e...the day we all ceremoniously stuff ourselves silly in the name of all-things-American.  The temptation might be to groan while you read this and look at your growing belly and wonder why you aren't out there walking/playing football/playing dodge ball/running marathons/fill-in-the-blank with something somewhat athletic.  Well, believe me, I would love to pull up a chair and sit with you while you down your third piece of leftover pecan pie (which, BTW...aren't Thanksgiving leftovers the best?  my son ate sweet potato casserole for breakfast this morning - he's so hardcore).  Anyway...I am certainly not in this whole running phase to serve out condemnation or comparison to anyone who reads about my journey.  So, pass the condemnation and bring on the pie, people!  Oh, and...keep reading.

As I run around the neighborhood throughout the week, I am beginning to notice several things that I didn't before.  I am convinced that my senses are being awakened as my body threatens to give out on me as I run.  I think my sense of sight and smell are just trying to hijack my sense of "I'm so tired I could take a nap right here on the asphalt." are a few things I have observe as of late.  I love my neighborhood:

The Good:
* The morning sun peeking through the clouds is simply gorgeous.  I am glad, though, that it has been hiding, because the Thai sun can be quite unforgiving and horribly hot. 
*  I have seen more types of flowers and landscaping ideas as I make my rounds.  I am inspired to make my home and yard more visually inviting to people come pass by or stop for a visit.  Now, if I just had time to do it all...
*  The aroma of all those flowers literally gives me an extra boost of energy.  Magnolia and jasmine blooms are my faves.
*  There is the cutest little 2-year old girl that takes a walk with Grandma every morning.  Thai caregivers sometimes follow their little ones around with a bowl of food because the kid just doesn't want to sit that long for a meal.  Bite.  Run.  Bite.  Play.  Bite.  You get the idea.  I love to always turn the corner and see her trying to evade her Grandma's attempt at feeding her breakfast.  It makes me giggle.
*  Passing the rice fields still makes me feel like I am in another world. 
*  At the very back of our neighborhood, a man always has his roosters out in the street in these portable cages as he cleans out their coop.  This, at first, seemed so funny and foreign to me...but then I remembered the suburban roosters of downtown Waco (where we used to live) and then I remember the ghetto.  Funny how that connection works.  Roosters = ghetto.  You get it, right? 

The Bad:
*  I have been chased by dogs and scared silly numerous times by ones that sneak up on my behind their fence and let out a huge howl or bark.  I am sure my neighbors have laughed at my antics after being startled.  I am pretty easy prey.
*  A few weeks ago, as I was approaching a tree that normally has these huge, long seed pods scattered over the ground, I almost ran over a snake.  As in, with my feet, not my car wheels.  I felt like an expert hurdler as I screamed bloody murder and leaped over the approaching snake that I had thought was just a seed pod in the road.  Last I checked, seed pods don't wriggle on the ground and bite.  Yikes.  I wish I had that on video.   Maybe not.

The Smelly:
*  I know where all the smelly dogs live.  Their poop smell is evident.  If I don't hold my breath in time to miss the smell, at least I have motivation to run past those houses as fast as I can.  Yuk.
*  Since many Thais don't eat the traditionally-sweet food that Americans eat in the mornings, they eat just about the same thing in the mornings that they would all day.  I smell curry, other spicy dishes, meat and rice steaming while on my runs.  Yum.  But, I would take a cinnamon roll over curry any day.  Thus, one of my reasons for exercising!
*  Thai housekeepers, moms and grandmas wake up earrrrly to hand wash or machine wash their clothes in order to hang-dry them in the midday sun.  I can run by and smell who's been diligent to wash clothes that day and who hasn' house would be included in the "hasn't" category.  I'm simply not thinking of laundry yet at 7 o'clock in the morning!

Monday, November 19, 2012


Periodically, I will post on something in the same genre or in a series of posts.  Click on the links below to send you to all the posts related to that series.  Happy Reading!  And, keep checking back just in case I add some more!:


10 Things I Like Today

Jeshurun at about 9 months old
Jeshurun - July 2012
(Tiffany Bonow Photography)

1. My "baby" Jeshurun turned 7 yesterday.  I like him more and more each day.  Of course, I love him, but I really really like him, too.  He is strong, confident, well-spoken, adventurous, inquisitive, loves Jesus, loves his friends, a bug-enthusiast, a tree climber, a wanna-be outdoors man, a new Tae Kwon Do student, an almost 2nd-grader, fun, funny, and he's all mine.  I am thankful for him today!

2. Rain is falling outside right now, and the smell is absolutely wonderful.  I miss the rainy season (it has been quite dry here lately).

3. Leftover rotisserie chicken can be turned into almost anything for a second meal. Well, maybe not apple pie, but you get it!  We just enjoyed it in chicken melts.  Melted cheese is my comforting friend today.  Convince yourselves again; leftovers are cool and hip and earth-friendly and anything else you need it to be. 

4. The hawk moth caterpillar we found this week has started to transform. We noticed him slowing down and turning odd colors a day after we captured it. His chrysalis is exciting and full of promise. About a week from now, we hope to have pictures of the moth that he turns into!  (See some mid-transformation pictures below):

Kyla loves to check out the chrysalis every day!

Before the caterpillar started forming his chrysalis, he created a "net" of leaves over his body to protect him from prying little fingers or predators.

The first day of transformation...if you remember his bright green color before, then you know that this is quite a change!

5. These people (picture below) are still very fresh on my mind.  We had four friends (some old friends, some brand new) come to visit us, encourage us, and steer us on in our work life here.  They gave up a week of their life to breathe life into us - and don't we need it?!  I am thanking God for them today.

I would tell you everyone's names...but then I'd have to kill you.  ;)

6. Just so you know, taking away half of the chocolate chips and replacing them with peanut butter chips in your next batch of cookies will make you smile and ooh and aah.  I know this firsthand.  I have already eaten two cookies today and plan to eat lots more! 

7. Today, I like the fact that I am still in my pajamas and it is 2pm.  Sabbaths are the best.

8. Skyping with family.  Thanks, Meemaw and Mr. Andy for calling us this morning!  We miss you!

9. Thanksgiving is near.  That means feasting is near.  That means I need to keep running so that I can still wear all the clothes in my closet without having to buy a size up!  That will motivate me to keep at it like nothing else. 

10. Although I have said it before, and will probably say it several more times in the future, I like you today!  Yes, you!  Thank YOU for reading and for being more a part of our world here as I share about all the ups and downs and in-betweens. 

What do you like today?  Share in the comments below:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Beautiful Pest: The Hawk Moth Caterpillar

Today, Mrs. P noticed a pest eating the living daylights out of my brand. new. flowers. that hang on my front porch.  I had noticed odd little droppings under my new hanging plant, but thought it was some special fertilizer that was falling (anyone can tell you that I'm no gardening specialist).  Well, I was right that it was fertilizer, but wrong to the sort that it was; it was the evidence that my friend, Mrs. P, noticed to realize there was something amiss.  This beautiful, and fat, caterpillar was taking up residence in my pot and ate about half of it in just a few days.  Talk about The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle coming to life!:

Behold our beautiful new pest - the Oleander Hawk Moth Caterpillar

It almost looks like a happy little puppy playing with a chew toy.  Only, the chew toy happens to be my flowers!

Yes, he really was that fat!

These fake "eyes" scare off predators who are wanting a tasty caterpillar meal.  It makes him look like an alien, don't ya think?

The unaffected plant that mirrors my other hanging basket.  Note how it looks full and healthy.
The basket where we discovered the culprit.  Argh.  I have only had this one for five days.  Seems like it will pull through, though!

After I got over my irritation over how much of my plants he had eaten, we got to observe him and thank God for just how beautiful he is.  I told Jeshurun to let him go in one of my Jasmine bushes (where he would do less obvious damage), but he insisted on keeping him to show to the S-clan when we head over there later tonight.  Why not? 


As long as he doesn't actually try to eat him, we might just keep him around to see if turns into a beautiful Hawk Moth.  Here's a link to see what would be his final transformation: Click here.

Finding this caterpillar has made my son a happy boy.  He won't stop talking about it.  Good thing Thailand will never run out of bugs!

Run and his newest bug pet.  Smiles all around.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Every Sunday...

Meeting together today in our new place...

Every Sunday...
...the S-clan, our clan, and several Thais meet together for teaching, worship, prayer and fellowship. 
...we come dressed a little spiffier than normal. 
...lots of people come early.
...and I almost always come a little late.

Every Sunday...
...someone is needing breakthrough. 
...some kid is crying and another is bouncing off the walls (sometimes literally). new friend, Meg, is giving up an hour of her morning to serve our children through teaching them the Bible and leading them in prayer and scripture memory. 
...someone is looking a bit down, and someone else is lifting them up in prayer and encouragement.

Every Sunday...
...the technology and sound elements aren't exactly perfect.
...and the people aren't perfect either.

But, every Sunday...
...God is still with us.  He is leading us.  We are attempting our best to follow Him.  He will be glorified and lifted up...

...every Sunday! And, every DAY!

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Moments In School That Make Me Smile

I think some day...on a particularly whiny day...I need to take some photos to document the chaos.  I never think of that while it is happening.  The only thing I can think of is how great a personal retreat would be right about then.  I want to get far, far away and be in utter silence.  But, simply wishing the chaos away never does the trick, so I initiate damage-control and try to get on with my day.  Maybe I should even take some video to prove the rising volume of our school room throughout our studies.  Maybe not.  I think I'll spare you. 

But, some days (or at least, moments!) are relatively calm.  When those moments come, they make me smile and remember again why homeschooling is for me in this season of our lives.  I get to witness my kids starting to teach each other, my babies mastering new ideas and problems, and at the end of it all, we still like each other. 

Jeshurun has started reading to Huy and taking over a few things for me.  I am so proud of him!

Kyla doing her "maths!" I am using a second-hand math workbook that Huy grew out of.  So cute to see her concentrate so much!  (Well, at least to get a few quiet minutes out of her!)

The other day, we were talking about the pros and cons of homeschool, public school and the like.  I told him that maybe one day (because who really knows what next year will hold?) he might not homeschool - but be in a different classroom setting with a teacher he would have to get to know.  He told me, confidently, that he would much prefer to stay here with the younger kids and me.  He said, "Who would I talk to?  If I am having a bad day, I wouldn't be able to share with my teacher about how I am doing and about the things that make me frustrated or sad.  I like being able to see you all day and get to share with you all day long.  I would miss you too much."  For me, that is fuel enough for me to keep going when we hit bumps in the road. 

Sure, I remember when I grew in friendship with my teachers at public school...and I am thankful for their investment in my life.  But, for this season, my kids are some of my best friends...and it is a huge privilege to keep them close!  I am thanking God for this opportunity today!

Monday, November 5, 2012

When Cancer Invades

Robert, my daddy!

This is probably the hardest post I have ever written.  I have deliberated over it for weeks now.  My writing promises not to be award-winning, but the content is what is making it so difficult for me to articulate father has cancer.

I have heard the stories; the stories of overcomers, the stories of quick, painful battles that end in defeat, the stories of long, drawn-out journeys and even stories of complete, miraculous healing.  But, all those stories seem to fade away a little bit when cancer invades your own family.  It is when it gets a little too close, a little too personal, that it can feel like a surprise and very unwelcome visitor.

A few months ago, my dad emailed to say that he wanted to talk over Skype.  It wasn't a "hey, let me see those three crazy kids" or "I want catch up on each other's lives" kind of request.  Even over emails, tones are unwittingly conveyed.  I knew something was wrong. 

We were planning to take our friends swimming that morning, so between getting out of the door, driving to their house, and trying to load up the van we were borrowing, I remembered that I promised to call.  I asked to use our friends' Internet, and I set up the Skype to confirm my growing concern...that something really was wrong; but, I had to hear his voice to confirm it. 

I tried to call, but couldn't get through.  Plan B: call my sister, Shannon. I got through to her and she felt so bad to be breaking the news to me rather than Dad being able to tell me himself.  But, why let one more day go by without knowing this was going on?

She broke the news: cancer of the throat.  A tumor starting to grow and at a rapid speed.  My Dad in was in a tough spot, too, because of a lack of health insurance.  All his life, he's been fit as a fiddle.  Except for an emergency appendicitis during my grade school years and the occasional cold virus, my dad never really needed to have constant checkups.  But, boy, when something like this happens, all of that seems to disappear.  I can imagine that it feels like falling without a safety net.  That must feel terrifying.

So, after I said goodbye to her and promised to pray, I broke the news to Treavor.  Tears.  Oh, the tears!  We went ahead with our trip, but as we made the long drive to the swimming hole, our van full of friends and family started to intercede.  We prayed for him and for our extended family as we absorb the shock and beginnings of preparations for the healing/fighting process.  What else can you do in a situation like this, but pray to the Healer for help?  After all, He made us.  He knows how to fix us, and He wants to! 

And since that first day of knowing, I feel like all can do is ask.  I am not a talented surgeon, a skilled radiologist, a wealthy person who could pay for all the bills, or even a present person who even lives in the same country as my daddy.  But, I can ask.  I must ask.  Surely, He hears me and wants His Kingdom of healing and wholeness to come onto earth as it is in Heaven!  It is all I can do; stand and fight in the spirit.

Would you stand with me?  Would you intercede for my father's healing as well as for a nearness to the Heavenly Father through this battle with cancer?  Thank you for believing with us for a miracle!

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