1.29.2009

God's Fingerprints are everywhere!


I saw this wonderful cartoon in the OC Register website and I had to share it with you all....

It expressed fully my thoughts when I heard about the January 15th Emergency landing of the US Airway plane in New York's Hudson River after it hit a flock of geese. The pilot was outstanding in bringing the plane down, and our Lord is awesome in giving the pilot wisdom, health, and in keeping the plane safely afloat! In 2009, we continue to feel the impact of our economy's crash landing.
Whether we are actively aware, or completely oblivious, the Lord's hands are upholding each of us, keeping us steady. We just need to relax, and let Him take over the steering wheel of our lives.

1.26.2009

Tale of the Ox Tail ^_^

Happy Year of the Ox everyone!!

Last week hubby came home from Costco excitedly holding 4 pounds
of raw meat.... I later discovered it was the perfect recipe for Today! So last night I made Oxtail soup for 15 hours (ok, the moo moo tails slept in the pressure cooker ~ heh heh).

Enjoy the day, everyone! And again, may the Lord bless you and grant you the patience and strength of an Ox this year!

1.23.2009

Happy Almost Chinese New Year!


Happy Chinese New Year everyone! This weekend we will be having CNY celebration with our buddies at church as well as our "Joy Luck Club" buddies in the neighborhood! Hot pot and Pot Luck, here we come! I think I can kiss my Wii Fit goal of losing 2 pounds in 2 weeks ~ Goodbye! Maybe I can start working on it next year?

We had a delicious Pot luck with foods from different parts of China & Taiwan! Afterwards, the kids in our neighborhood "Joy Luck Club" prepared rice balls!

Our Grapevine (aka: Young mommy & daddy) Fellowship had Hot Pot & Chinese New Year Celebration! We sang worship songs and shared in small groups about our desire to "take off the old, and put on the new"! Many of us mommies wanted to start exercising regularly, spend quiet time with the Lord, communicate better with hubbies, and learn to forgive and forget! (^_^)

1.20.2009

Barack Obama & Bed Time Stories ?



At first glance, it seems like the title "Barack Obama" and "Bedtime Stories" have nothing in common. The comparison will be explained as we enjoy today, Inauguration Day, means to us, or at least to me.

I remember the day I found out I was expecting! I walked with a skip because I have a new role in life, and I just know I'll do it perfectly! In the 9 months leading up to my 'new arrival', I remember reading everything I could get my hands on about motherhood. I vowed to be the best and most patient mom in the world and never make mistakes other parents made. Well, since I came home from the hospital, I realized how naive I had been & how difficult this "job" turned out to be.

Today is an exciting day. I believe that Barack also has the same optimism and excitement about the 'baby' who is awaiting him in the White House. The truth is, this is not going to be a stroller walk in the park. By this time tomorrow, our new president will have a messy "bundle of joy" crying "Change me! Change me!"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I pray wholeheartedly for him, for he is given the toughest job in the country. I experimented last night with his "Change Will Come" motto on Abbie. After 3+ years, instead of me reading her the bedtime stories (for the hundredth time!) and leading her bedtime prayers, asked her to do both for herself!



I was quite amazed that she actually tried it herself! She was so proud of her accomplishment too! She had gotten so used to me doing everything for her, so it's great to see her do things for herself too! I believe that it will take probably 3 years too, for Barack and all of us citizens, to relearn or develop healthy habits, like responsible spending, saving, and living-within-our-means financial management skills. But if little children can do it, so can we!

It may give him heartache & headache when he discovers that a president can't make many decisions, let alone keep all his campaign promises. He is merely human. It takes everyone ~ President, Congress, people, you, and me ~ to make things happen! Most importantly, it takes God's mercy for this country to stay afloat. This morning I heard a Bible verse on KWave that highlights this Historical Inauguration Day:


"Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain." So unless the Lord saves our country, the president stimulates the economy in vain!

Happy 2009 Year of the Ox, and may the Lord give you strength to endure and shine in this constantly changing time!

1.17.2009

Caleb's Two Very 1sts Today!!


Today was a busy day for us! Caleb had his very first Little League try-out at 12:30 noon.


Then 1-hour after the try-out, Caleb showered, changed into his next outfit, and arrived here! He had been fidgety all week because this would be his very first piano recital.


1.16.2009

What were your 2008 Favorites?

When we were in Taiwan, Caleb and Abbie's world opened up! They developed new interests and food faves! Here are a few of their favorite things! ^_^ As you can see, most of these hobbies center around FOOD!

Abbie LOVES these black jade grapes! They are soooo sweet! And those Pineapple buns are the size of Abbie's face!

Caleb's favorites were the $8 tea-boiled eggs from 7-Eleven! That's 25 cents! He misses eating these eggs so much, so we are (well, hubby is) going to try to make them at home this weekend. He also loves the sweet tofu flower dessert with boba and peanuts! In Taiwan, it is only $30 N.T., or about $1!
Mark's Uncle took us to Yang-Ming Mountain to try out the Hot Springs! It was fun (and smells funny too!) and the kids had a blast!
We discovered the joy of hiking up to our residence from the bus stop. What a trip! Caleb bought a 1000-piece Japanese cartoon called "One-Piece", which means "Pirate Ship"!

A girl in the After-school tutorial developed a special liking for Caleb, and decided to teach him how to read 2nd grade textbook in chinese. I call her "Caleb's Little Girlfriend". Whenever I tease Caleb about her, he'd get very
!@#*&(&(&!!!# (^_^)

The kids enjoys sightseeing on the mountain tops. You can see behind them several highrise buildings, one of which we lived in during our missions. The harbor on your right is only 0.5 miles from our home! The anti-humidifier sucked out 1.5 gallons of water (humidity) from my room nightly!








When we went to Ying-Guh town to buy teapots, we saw a store which had Ocarina, a special flute made of refined clay. All of us got one (except daddy), and Caleb was a natural! He played this song a few days later for Uncle Daniel's birthday!


The kids got an eye-opening tour of the traditional market, which opens at 6am daily. Here they sell fresh meats, veggies, eggs, everything! Above are fishes, squids, and chickens, all lined up to be purchased! Daddy was helping out with the health screening next door while we took our shopping trip! This sure doesn't look anything like "Pavillions" or "Target"!

Above are two of my favorite childhood games! I remember playing them when I was 7 years old! Caleb and I won four ceramic dolls by throwing hoops, and we get to keep the ones we 'catch'! The other favorite of mine was 'scoop the fish' using paper nets. Nowadays little kids get to use 'hot pot wire scoops', which never breaks! In the 'olden days', I would scoop so hard and the paper would break and the game was over! Take a look!

I look back at these pictures and I thank the Lord for a 'second chance'. When I (and hubby too!)left Taiwan, I was (we were) 7 years old. Now we all return when Caleb is 7 too! I'm as unfamiliar with Taiwan as he is, and I'm thankful we can continue exploring my beloved homeland through our children's eyes!

1.14.2009

New Year's Surprise Gift for the family


A few days ago hubby came home excitedly screaming, "Look what I got!" Whenever he goes to Costco, he'll come back with strange impulse purchases. But seeing his big grin made me feel too mean to rain on his parade. So I asked, "What did you get?" He replied, "A gift for you!" I peeked...and EEKS! It was a weigh scale! ~(*_*)~ So...."What are you trying to imply, honey?" He quickly explained that it was only $10 with the Costco coupon. Then he said, "Hey, look what ELSE I got!"




I took a little peek.....Whoa....It was a WII Fit! I can't believe it! I think it's a gift for him and Caleb! I asked why he bought it.... was't Christmas over already? He explained quickly that all his engineering, Costco lunch buddies got it at lunchtime, and there was only a few left. I have to admit, it was a good deal.


I didn't bother to look at the new toy until yesterday, when everyone was at work and school. Man, this thing is soooo fun and addictive! It actually charts your daily progress, measures your balance, BMI, posture, breathing, everything! So now I'm a Wii Fitness fanatic. I even have a gorgeous male trainer! [Interesting Note: I later trained with the female trainer. After 2 weeks of training with her, I noticed that her hair grew a bit longer! Too weird!]



Today I had 3 mommy buddies come over for our Wii Fit party and we created 3 new Wii Mii cartoons of them. It's so wonderful to be able to have fun and exercise with friends at the same time! I think that's a fun way to hang out with other moms!
Maybe it's a hint (from family or from above?) that I need to start getting in shape and be healthier. We'll see how long my excitement will last! So far it's 2 out of 2 days! Has anyone made New Year's Resolutions for this year yet?

1.12.2009

Finding ourselves in the new (chaotic) year!

Who Am I?

I still remember giving up my job as a pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs person to stay home with my brand new baby ~ Caleb.

Here's Caleb (and Abbie) again! In their Birthday suits! ~(^_^)~

Seven years went by so quickly! When my professional name plate came off the wall of my cubicle, I felt that my identity disappeared with it too. Having a kid makes a woman feel off-kilter for awhile, because who we were in the past seemed to be whited-out and we are given a new role by our new bundle of joy, and by our society. The years we put into college and career don't seem to matter anymore.

It is a tough place to be....but looking back, I realized that when I felt like "I Am Nobody", the journey of self-discovery brought out the best in me! If I were to start over again, I wouldn't change my decision to stay home.

Whether it's marriage, the birth of our child(ren), or the advent of retirement, we all struggle because our identity has been redefined. Title means a lot to us, but inevitably we will have to give up all of them, whether it be the unexpected departure of a spouse, letting go of our grown children, and losing (or retiring from) a respectable career position. [Even our health or our next breath are sometimes beyond our control.]

But during the times when we feel like "I Am Nobody", we are in the perfect position to be molded into the beautiful and powerful vessel God designed us to be. When CHRIST leads the IAN, he or she transforms into a person after God's heart ~ A True CHRISTIAN. This is a truly unadulterated title.


No other title is necessary to prop up our identity in this life and no one can ever take away our treasured title in Christ! That is a guarantee no government or institution can promise!

So if we ever feel off-kilter when our relationships or job titles change, hang in there! God has wonderful plans for your life! Everyone in this economy is facing uncertainties. Changes are everywhere. Just like the other day, my WAMU bank had become some other bank (still Chase?).
Retailers which we grew up with are disappearing, like Mervyn's, KB Toys, Circuit City, and Bombay.

The medical community agrees: Change is the primary source of stress, and in recent months, change has definately snowballed! Whenever we feel inadequate due to changes in our positions, circumstances, or relationships, remember that it is liberating to be a nobody, because with Christ leading the Nobody, the CHRISTIAN becomes Somebody of real eternal significance!

Happy 2009! Let us we wait in anticipation of God's wonderful plan unfolding before our eyes!

1.11.2009

Heartfelt Thoughts of 2009

Ministry? NOW???

In the past, when I hear people sharing about their missions trip and urging others to go, I always thought, "Man, don't these people know that I have a family to raise, house to clean, bills to pay, and little ones to run after? How can I go on these trips anyways?!" It seemed impossible to 'do ministry' under these circumstances, and how can we ignore our family to go on missions? Besides, aren't we supposed to put family before ministry? How could both co-exist at the same time.

So it is indeed a miracle when last September we decided on a whim that we're going to, like Nike says, "Just Do It!". Everyone thought having a 7-yr-old and 3-yr-old tag-a-long overseas for 3 weeks, 24/7, was unfathomable. I thought so too!




Ironically, having the kids mingle with their taiwanese counterparts brought out the best in all of us! The kids there were excited to meet, play, and learn with Caleb and Abbie. And our kids? Their eyes opened to a new world as they experienced simple joys in the lives of less fortunate children. After all, the kingdom of God belongs to the little children, so having them tag along wasn't such a bad idea after all!

And I learned on this mission trip that the biggest satisfaction in 2008, and perhaps in All of life is:


Having precious family and loved ones coming together in one heart & mind ~ to serve an amazing God & those He loves!



A friend asked me if I thought I made a difference in this trip. I truly don't know! I suppose only God knows, and only He sees the future. But what I am certain of, is that the PEOPLE in Taiwan, young and old, changed my life forever.
In their difficult circumstances, I see their hardworking spirit, faith, hope, sacrificial love, and contentment. I am humbled that when we give (or attempt to give ^_^), we end up receiving 100-fold in return!
----- ------- ------ ------ ------ ------ -------
For those 3 weeks, our family put our differences aside (at least temporarily ^_^), and focused on our mission, and this also brought us together more than we've ever imagined! For one thing, never in my life have I spent 3 weeks staight with 3 very noisy people, 24 hours a day!



The children in the community after-school program studied Abbie for a long time when we first met, and finally, one boy asked, "Are you sure she's from America?" I said, "Yes, she was born there!" He said, "Then why aren't her eyes blue??"

Their innocence and laughter still rings in my heart, and when they asked if we'll be back next year, we said, "Yes, if there's a need! We'd love to spend time with all of you again!"

So, God-willing, if the opportunity arises, We'll be Back! Thank ALL OF YOU for your prayers, encouragements, and help!

1.08.2009

Merry Christmas, all ye people of Taiwan!

Week 2 of Missions Trip



This was Christmas time! We decorated the Sunday school unit and invited the community to come to our church for our Christmas potluck! On Christmas eve, we went carolling in the nearby town of Eight Barrel (Bah Doh Tze). This was a little town with lots of temples but no churches, where the city is enslaved to crime, drug addiction, prostitution, and gambling.


video

Right after our carolling excursion, a mom and her son who attended the after-school tutoring program....ACCEPTED JESUS as their Lord and Savior! We were so happy!

Caleb, Abbie and the kids enjoyed their impromptu "Candlelight Vigil" in the worship room, and we didn't even know they were there! We were next door eating hot sweet soup after carolling. Later they sang, "I Will Lift My Eyes to the Hills" in chinese! This was the only song Caleb and Abbie knew in Chinese, and coincidentally, the kids in church recently learned this song too!




Mark also joined the "Drink Tea Fellowship", made up of many elderlies in the community. It was headed by Mark's Uncle and Aunt, and they have a good time discussing simple biblical truths and enjoying yummy snacks and tea!



I, on the other hand, joined the Mommies group and this week we learned how to make silk roses! Here are some moms in the community who came to church activities, but their husbands stayed home. All of the Sunday school and after-school programs were orchestrated by moms.







Here is a 10-minute YouTube clip made by hubby that shares about the the mission trip in chronological order. Enjoy!

So...what did you do besides EAT?

Week 1 of Missions Trip

We settled into our temporary home (a nice 3-bedroom apartment with a cozy tub) on the 14th floor, located just 125 steps from the church apartment unit. We followed the missionary & the children wherever she went, learning from her and serving alongside of her. Take a look for yourself!


video
We taught these little ones (1-3rd graders) Christmas songs, and though most of them have never spoken English before, they learned fast and enjoyed these festive songs! Listen in!




We also helped tutor the community kids in this free church-sponsored afterschool program. Every Wednesday, which is a short day, the kids get free homework help, yummy sweet soup and cookies for snacks, and do lots of crafts!



Santa Mark is helping out with the free cholestrol, blood pressure, and blood sugar screening offered by our church in partnership with the local hospital. The registered nurses are testing the local people, many of whom do not know how to write their names and needed us to help fill out their forms.



Caleb is standing next to a big container of chicken feet! He's passing out flyers to local vendors and passerbys! We gave them a pretty bag containing a small Christmas cake, the church pamphlet, and a gospel magazine.


We were showing the kids in Sunday school how to sing "Peace Like A River" in English and Chinese. They truly enjoyed their time! We were very touched that after the message, all of the kids stood up during the 'alter call' to want to know Jesus!

Many of them were abandoned or abused by one or both parents, yet their innocent hearts harbor no bitterness, and they prayed to let God comfort them and help their parents. The Lord is faithful and will help them because they asked Jesus into their hearts! Likewise, when we pray for those who hurt us, we release ourselves from pain and allow God to do miraculous work in the lives of those who we care about.


1.06.2009

Setting Foot on San-Hai Guan, Keelung

The Evangelical Formosa Church of San-Hai Guan in Keelung, Taiwan!

This is a small church, as you see the handful of congregation. There are mostly moms and kids, but very few fathers and men attending church services and activities.

Here's hubby Mark sharing about our family's desire to learn from & help their church!



The adorable kids enjoy their lunch sitting on stools and using a ping pong table as dining table!

When we visited EFC church in San-hai Guan for the very first time, we fell in love with it. It was a small church of about 40 people, located in two converted apartment units. We saw many kids (20+) and were touched by their innocence and joy, though many of them came from dysfunctional families. The children either lived with grandparents, relatives, or with one parent. Divorce and unemployment rate is extremely high here as well.

In the harbors of Keelung, there were many illegal activities such as prostitution, drug smuggling, and gambling. Many children had no fathers, as these men either abandoned their families or were incarcerated for crimes.

It was humbling to see that though the resources were scarce and workers were few, the 26-year-old missionary Miss Huei-Jen and a few moms in the church reached out to these children and the community as well. We felt right at home upon arrival, as the church members welcomed us with warmth and homemade soy milk!


Abbie loved visiting EFC at San-hai Guan! Oops, the church name was blocked by that tree.


This is handsome "Jingle Bell", a Schnauzer who lived to share the true meaning of Christmas! He is officially the "Church Mascot", as he was abandoned and stumbled into our church (smart choice, little pooch!) a few days before we arrived. The missionary adopted him, fed him antibiotics, and spent $800 N.T. to groom him and cure his skin disorder. And Voila! He now attends church and loves playing with all of the children and adults! His Christmas 'testimony' reminded me of how God took raggedy me home and nurtured me back to health, and now my life has purpose and meaning!


videoHELP!!!!! BLOWN AWAY!

This is such a humid and windy place! If you turn the volume on you can hear the windstorm in this video. The weather is very much like Seattle. We're located one mile from the harbor and it rains a lot here! We were almost blown away the first day we were here! Here we're walking from a 7-Eleven store to the church one block away.

Mission Accomplished!


Happy 2009! I'm still doing laudry though we've been back for 5 days! They grow like weeds! This is the most memorable and meaningful trip our family has ever embarked on, and I thank you all for your prayers! We were relatively healthy during the trip, though mosquitos in Keelung loved stinging Caleb, resulting in his red bean-looking face. We also had allergies. Other than that, we ate like there was no tomorrow.



The eateries in Taiwan were so yummy and cheap too! I think it's impossible to diet in Taiwan. I've got 4 pounds to lose despite our traveling mostly via walking, metro, and bus. The kids walked their whole year's worth in our 3 week stay in Taiwan. Abbie's used to stroller and car rides and ended up on daddy's shoulder in most of our excursions.



Our first 2 weeks were in Keelung harbor, or San-hai Guan, as we helped with the children's ministry in the EFC church there.


We spent the last week with our relatives, and it was wonderful to connect with them by spending time with them. Having immigrated to the U.S. for 26 years, we were in our homeland yet we were so unfamiliar with its culture and residents. This has been a special time for all of us as we reach out to our brothers and sisters in Taiwan. The kids set foot on their ancestral country for the very first time too! They've been speaking lots of chinese and are motivated to use chopsticks (as there are NO forks in any eateries in Taiwan!)

I've experienced what it's like to be a 'foreign native', as it was ironic that we looked and spoke like citizens, yet we were often confused..... scrutinizing the city maps and fumbling our way throughout the city. We had to relearn how to dial confusing area codes and use different modes of transportation!

1.02.2009

Happy New Year, Folks!

Hi All!

We are back from Taiwan! Yesterday we arrived, sleepy and dizzy, but we're so excited to be back to the U.S.A.! The mission trip and the relatives-visiting and non-stop eating were all so memorable, and I can't wait to share details and pictures after I recover from jet-lag. I still need to go through mountains of laundry waiting for me! Hubby is back at work today. He said he needs to go back to work to relax.... haha! Our fridge is empty. We got home and our house was 60 degrees. Why is the weather here freezing? We're staying home and kicking back for the weekend. Miss you all! ^_^