year of the dog

Gilby also wants to say Happy Chinese New Year, especially since this new year is the year of the dog!

Happy Year of the Dog!

I went to the night market, and there were 4 or 5 stalls full of little doggie clothes.  I had never before seen these stalls.  But, now that Gilby is in my life--I saw them instantly!!

He got two outfits the last time I went (the Chinese one above and the superdog outfit pictured below).  Since I cut his hair and it is winter here, if he doesn't wear an outfit shakes.  He is too small to stay warm by himself.

Super DOG!! Super DOG!!

happy chinese new year!!

The streets are full of cars and mopeds, and the outdoor day markets are full of people.    Shopping bags and bike baskets are full of produce and other goodies.  Red envelops are full of money, while homes are full of the hustle and bustle that comes with company.  However, most noticeably, the air is filled with a sense of anticipation, and the hearts of young and old alike are filled with expectation. 

Why?  Because today marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year Holiday!

Dsc03200_2  Dsc03201_1

"The Lunar New Year, which this year starts on January 29, is the biggest holiday in the Chinese-speaking world and  family reunions prompt arguably the biggest movement of humanity on Earth."*

And  I am joining in this big "movement of humanity."  I leave today to go visit the north part of Taiwan. God has blessed me with a "Taiwanese family;" this will be my third Chinese New Year with the Lin family. (Below is a pic of me with the Lin family, and close up of me with Lin MaMa both taken last Chinese New Year.)

Lin_family Lin_mama_1

I ask for your prayers for two things:

(1) That the anticipation and expectation that the people of Taiwan are experiencing in regards to Chinese New Year will one day soon pale in comparison to the anticipation and expectation they will have about the return of the Son of God.

(2) Please be praying for my Taiwanese family.  The father and twin adult daughters are all Christians, mom and brother are not.  Please ask for the God of Hope and Peace to set mom and brother free.

outside my window

Yesterday morning I heard some very loud noise.  It was incessant.  I thought it was from the house across the street that is being rebuilt.  There were voices yelling and loud banging and clanging going on.  It was not yet 7 AM. 

Wanna guess what it was?  Whatever your guess, my guess is that your guess is wrong.  Why don't I just tell you--people were washing dishes outside.

Washing the Dishes

Took this photo from my 2nd floor apartment.  Do you see them there washing the dishes?  Oh, you wanna know why people would be washing dishes outside that early in the morning? 

Hmmm.  Me too.  So, I turn my head to the left a little and see this:

The Wedding Car

Can't tell what that is?  Let me tell you--it is a car with red ribbons on the door handles.  Oh you knew that!  Well, then let me tell you what a car with red ribbons means in Taiwan--it means wedding! 

The groom and his family go the home of the bride's family in a caravan of cars all with red ribbons.  With uncles and other family members present, the two families become one family. Then they set off firecrackers (outside of course).  The caravan then adds the bride's family to its parade, and most of the time they head for a temple to get the gods' and/or ancestors' blessings.  And then a banquet follows.  Oh, and banquets don't have to be held on the day of the wedding--they can be held anytime after, and you can have more than one.

Anyway back to me and outside my window yesterday.  Later in the day, they started cooking:

Cutting Carrots Huge Pans

And a delivery truck delivered some stuff (probably the drinks--just set the yellow boxes in the aisles between the tables and help yourself):

A Delivery Truck

Well, firecrackers went off from about 6:45 to a little after 7:00 PM.  Then they started to dine--at round tables with pink table cloths. :)  But, I wasn't brave enough to try to take pictures of that.  Maybe next time.  Anyway, it took them 12 hours to prepare for that banquet!!  Wow.  It must have been some feast!

thinking thankfully on thursdays


Here are the first seven things that pop into my head that I am thankful for today:

  • my mom--not only is she a great mom, she is also my best friend

  • the speed of the internet--which makes communicating with my mom (and others) very easy and cheap

  • my clothes dryer--went two years without one (what a difference!)

  • fresh flowers--they always make me smile

  • my new camera--old one died right before christmas

  • music--it makes spring cleaning so much more fun

  • decluttering!!--it makes me happy to release stuff :)

Ha!  Can I add an eighth?  I am thankful for being able to be thankful!!  I have so much to be thankful for--what a blessing!

Today, my heart is also shouting, "thank you, Daddy God, for being who you are!!"  This Psalm from David seems to capture my own heart's song:

Thank you! Everything in me says "Thank you!" Angels listen as I sing my thanks.  I kneel in worship facing your holy temple and say it again: "Thank you!" Thank you for your love, thank you for your faithfulness; Most holy is your name, most holy is your Word.  The moment I called out, you stepped in; you made my life large with strength.  When they hear what you have to say, God, all earth's kings will say "Thank you."  They'll sing of what you've done: "How great the glory of God!" (Psalms 138:1-5)

YEA!!!!  What a great God we serve!!  Oh, how very different He is from the other gods!  So, very unique!  There is NONE other like Him!

seven habits of highly effective women

Carolyn Mahaney, one of the girls from girl talk, posted this at the beginning of January:

7 Habits of the Highly Effective Woman
  1. She rises early
  2. She maintains the spiritual disciplines
  3. She focuses on relational priorities for every season
  4. She sets up regular times for planning
  5. She develops an effective to-do list system and calendar/planner system
  6. She establishes an efficient routine for managing her home
  7. She organizes her house systematically

You can read her explaination in the rest of her post.

For me, it gives me something to ponder:  Which ones am I already doing?  Which ones do I need to work on most? 

I really think that FLYlady is helping me to establish many of these through simple routines and babysteps.  So, I am grateful to the FLYlady.

Just glancing over the list, I think I like it a lot as something of a ruler to measure how I am doing in becoming the kind of woman I want to be.  I do think I would add an eighth habit: finds women she can trust to hold her accountable.  I cannot over empahize the value of being held accountable (but more on accountability another day). 

this morning

Ok, I have now eaten so much ginger candy my mouth is raw!  Guess I should lay off it for a while.

Now that I have the Carnival up, and I played online a little, I am going to shut down the computer and go do a little "spring cleaning."  I got a new kitchen cabinet for Christmas (houses in Taiwan come with just the walls) and have yet to put anything in it (Christmas is just 2-3 weeks before the end of the semester for us and now I am on a month long winter break). 

Not only does "spring cleaning" make me very American, doing it before Chinese New Year makes it very Taiwanese too! :)

Here are the results of my "playing online" this morning:

You Passed the US Citizenship Test
Congratulations - you got 10 out of 10 correct!

the beauty of serving


Today, it is my privilage to present eleven stellar posts on the beauty of serving for the Carnival of Beauty. 

Iris at Eph2810 had to evaluate her service to God last winter, after getting sick. Was her service to be in 'public' or her own four walls? Read her thoughts regarding service in this week's entry "Where do you Serve Him?"

Blair from Scribblings by Blair loves being a homemaker but finds that she doesn't quite enjoy the aspect of cooking.  In this post she sets out to discover a new outlook as well as a new method for the task at hand.  Check out her post: "Hey Cookie, that's mighty fine grub!"

Sarah's Daughter, Natalija, describes how God changed her outlook on housework and service to her family over the years in "Who am I serving?"

Carmen of Full Contact Christ Centric Living portrays the Beauty of Service in her post “It’s Right!” She visits the question, “Should young men and women risk their lives to fight a questionable war in foreign lands?”

Ellen from MzEllen & Co. finds that who you are serving is more important than how you are serving in "How Do You Serve?  WHO do you serve?"

In "Serving a Need" at "Of Christian Women", Carrie shares the importance of considering the need when serving.

God created us to glorify Him.  God wants us to serve others.   When does our service to others glorify Him? When does it not? At She Lives, Carol asks these questions and offers a challenge. Are you willing to take her up on it as She Serves.

In her post, "No More Lemony Looks For Me," Heather from Mom 2 Mom Connection wants to offer her positive attitude as a gift of service to Christ. By choosing to dwell on uplifting thoughts instead of negative, she hopes to bring more joy into her life and the lives of others around her.

A wife fulfills her God-given purpose with service to her husband, which blesses them both.  Find out how by reading Mrs. Happy Housewife's post The Beauty of Service.

The beauty of serving is found as we lose ourselves in Christ and service in His grace. It is seen on the faces of those who have been served that Christ be glorified. Come and see The Beauty of Serving in Christ on Patricia's Pollywog Creek Porch.

There are so many things Amanda, who is following an unknown path, says she could write about serving and its beauty.  However, for the Carnival chose to write about one of the most memorable moments in her life when she was served.  Read the story: washing feet.

In the next two weeks the Carnival of Beauty will be:
     January 31 - Gentleness - hosted by Iris (eph2810)
     February 7 - Contentment - hosted by Bethany (
A Picturesque Life)
If you didn't join us this week, please come join us as we reflect on the beauty of Christ in our writing in the coming weeks.

washing feet


I was so mad at her!  She had been doing little things all month long that just left me feeling upset.  It is never easy to live with someone else, and my roommate was really starting to just bug me.  And in all honesty, I was making the situation worse because instead of confronting her and letting her know I was upset, I just kept building anger, pushing it down, and becoming more and more resentful towards her.  And, because I was hurt, I was being rude right back to her.

One day when my anger towards her was simmering, I entered our dorm room; she wasn't there but she had left a note for me on the white board: "I want to talk to you tonight when I get off work."  Great!  She is mad at me too! I tried to study while I waited for her.  But I couldn't.  Instead I rehearsed in my mind the words I was going to say to her to confront her with my list of grievances.

Finally she opened the door and came into our room.  My heart was pounding.  The anger inside that I had been surpressing wanted to spew forth.  Her first words were, "Can we go somewhere else to talk?"  Ok.  "Can you drive us since I don't have a car?"  Ok

We didn't talk in the car except for her telling me where to go.  She had me turn into a grocery store parking lot.  Away from the store and most of the cars, she had me park near a ledge.  She asked me to go sit on the ledge and wait for her.  As I obeyed her, sitting close to the lamp light, I wondered what on earth she had planned. 

She knelt on the ground in front of me and began to open her backpack.  She pulled out a towel, a bowl, and a bottle of water.  "Is it ok if I wash your feet?"  And there in the grocery store parking lot, at ten o'clock at night, she washed my feet.  Then she opened her Bible read some scripture, apologized for being grumpy and selfish recently, and said nice things about me. 

I was in tears. She was in tears.  I repented of my anger and of the behavior towards her, and we both forgave each other. 

I have always admired her for the way she handled our spat.  How wise she was to end our silent fight by being a servant! 

Jesus says we "should be quite different [than worldly leaders]. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all.  For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many"  (Mark 10:42-45). 

Picture is of the "Divine Servant" statue by Max Greiner, a Christan artist from Texas; one of these statues is on our alma mater's campus, a school where servant leadership is fundamental.

yeah, but why TAIWAN? (Part 3)

 This is part three of a multi-post series, part one is here and part two is here.

Over winter break as a sophomore in college, me and my roommate decided to take winter break classes.  So we hung out in an empty dorm complex together for two weeks of mini-classes.  I started reading the short version of Hudson Taylor's biography.  He was the first missionary to inner China.  He dressed like the Chinese people--even with the long ponytail.  He also sacrificed much--wives and children in addition to physical items.  God was stirring my heart through reading Taylor's life and of his love for the Chinese people. 

I knew I needed to go to China. 

img055 However, there were two organizations I could go with.  One I knew I could go to China, but the other I would check a box that said "send me anywhere you feel led you to send me" (which meant I could be serving in downtown Dallas--NOT A BAD thing at all, in fact I was doing that already every week.)  Point is I knew to be obedient I needed to go to China--so which organization do I choose?  (A) I know will send me to China or (B) can send me anywhere they wanted me to go.

I choose B.  Why?  Because every time I prayed, God was telling me to go with B.  It was another difficult decision.  It is always difficult to choose to trust a God I cannot see who doesn't write answers next to my questions for me in my journal. :) 

I think it was also difficult because I was sure God was telling me go to China and he was also telling me go with B.  However, what if B sent me to Mexico?  Did that mean they weren't listening to God?  Did it mean I was hearing God wrong?  My heart was not at rest even though I was being obedient.  My human-ness was still making me nervous and fearful.

Yet, when the assignment listing came from B, guess where Amanda was headed?  That's right: China.  God was in control.  I should have trusted Him and been at peace.  (It was a wonderful two months in China.  Again, many life changing events occurred.  Maybe I can write about that at another time.) 

Now, Amanda had decided China is where she should spend her life, not Taiwan.  She even talked to people who help place others in Asia.  A "high-up" from one organization told her, "if you can handle China, then China is where you should be.  The need in China is great." 

But did you catch the second word of this paragraph?  That's right, "Amanda."  I just assumed that China is where I should go, where I should be.  That was the "hot spot" of the time--where all the action was taking place.  In addition, since I had spent two summers overseas, I had decided that I should stay in the USA this summer to take a few summer classes and spend time with my family doing "summer fun" things.

So, I had a surprise when I was walking to chapel one day in February or March of the following year (junior year in college).  The thought popped into my head: "Amanda, I want you in Taiwan this summer."  Oh my, the intensity of that desire was SO STRONG.  I HAD to go back to Taiwan!  So, all of chapel I planned and plotted and thought about how to get myself back to Taiwan.  I left with no plan.  I had no idea how I was going to do it. 

So, after chapel I went to the BSM (Baptist Student Ministries) council lunch.  The BSM director pulled me aside and said, "Amanda, during chapel I was meeting with a pastor and his wife from Taiwan.  They want to have a summer camp at their church this summer.  They are looking for students from DBU to go and help them.  During our conversation, I thought of you; would you be willing to go to Taiwan this summer?" OF COURSE I WOULD!

WHAT?!?!  You've got to be kidding me!!  How does God do that!?!  At the same time that I start to desire to go to Taiwan, my BSM director is talking to someone about summer missions in Taiwan, and I come to his mind!  Wow!

Why on earth do I still worry about stuff?  Why do I still plot and plan?  Why is it still a struggle to choose B when I know that is what God has told me to do?  He is God of everything.  And I still doubt.  Oh, Father, please forgive me.

The next post will talk about how my summer trip turned into a year long taiwan adventure.  The first pic above is of me with a friend in China and the second one is of me on the Great Wall in 1998.

a trip to tainan

I went to Tainan (a city an hour north of my home) yesterday to visit Kady, a colleague. Because I was going to be gone all day, we decided I should just bring Gilby too.

Kady took me to all kinds of historic landmarks, and we ate lots of traditional foods. We even went to the first road in Taiwan!

Gilby was great the whole trip. He did not bark once! He spent most of the time in the bag I got from my parents for Christmas. He likes the bag--and gets lots of attention when he goes out with me. He sat in the bag next to me when we ate--and again, no barking or whinning or anything even though he was so close to the food and table. He is such a good doggie. The only thing is he has not yet learned how to walk on a leash--if he is in charge, he does just fine, but if someone wants to direct him--no way! But, this was really his first day on a leash--so, he did pretty good.

To see more pics from our trip, go to my flickr account.

the "wei ya"

Weiya_foods Some of the tables at the WeiYa

Every year before the Chinese New Year Break, companies hold a "weiya" banquet for their employees.  There is a several course meal (we had at least 10 dishes) and nice door prizes (everything from cash to a washing machine) handed out raffle style. 

Oh, and all banquets in Taiwan (every one I have been to and seen, including wedding banquets) have people sitting on (red) plastic stools in groups of ten at round tables covered in pink table cloths--usually outside.  There were probably 20+ tables at our weiya, so that means around 200 people participated.  A benefit of sitting 10 to a table is that foods can come in groups of ten--ten stuffed mushrooms, ten little lobster trays.

To see more pictures from this year's weiya at my school, go to my flickr account.

thinking thankfully on thursdays


Starting today, I am borrowing Carmen's (from Full Contact Christ-Centric Living) idea of "Thinkful Thanking" on Thursdays (she gave me permission to borrow, so I don't have to steal--Thanks Carmen!!).

I remember nearly a year ago now going to a hospital here in Taiwan to see an obgyn.  A lady behind the "visitor center" helped me find out where my doctor was located and even walked me most of the way after I had tried on my own and failed.  My heart felt thankful to her for her assistance.  This was a very special moment for me because it was probably the first time in a year and a half that I had felt thankful to anyone for anything.  It was one of the first signs that I was coming out of my depression.  It was a GREAT feeling!

I think that moment of true gratefulness to some stranger will forever be etched in my heart as a very monumental moment.  And, thus, at that moment I learned the joy in needing help, being helped, and being thankful for the help received--a hard lesson indeed for a first-born, stubborn, I-can-do-it-myself perfectionist.

So, without further adieu, this week I am thankful for:

  • my puppy (he makes me smile)

  • my winter break (started yesterday and continues till end of Feb)

  • my colleague Kady (who always finds time to listen to me ramble and is excited about life AND who is a great gift-giver too)

  • a new missionary friend, Mary Agnes (she selflessly has been extending her friendship and sharing her family with me)

  • my brand new blender (that i got on sale)

  • a God who loves me without condition

seeing time--add on

Oh!  I thought of the other main thing I wanted to say in my last post!  Better late than never, right?

Another aspect of the leave time vs. arriving time is going to bed (and this is flylady's idea).  Instead of saying to myself "be in bed by 11:00." I tell myself, "start getting ready for bed by 10:30."  That way if I am sleepy, I go through my before bed routine fast and am asleep soon.  But, if I am not sleepy, I am still on my way to bed but am able to spend more time reading without feeling guilty and without a computer screen in my face stopping me from feeling the "sleepies."

As a result, I have been blessed because I never lie awake in bed unable to sleep.  If it takes me more than 3 minutes to fall asleep after I turn out the light then I consider that a long time to go to sleep! 

seeing time

Clock2_2One way Flylady has changed me is in the way I see time. 

First of all, I no longer see hours.  I see sets of 15 minutes.  For example, "I am meeting friends at 2, and it is now almost 12:30.  That means I have 6 sets of 15 minutes.  That means I can get 5 things done and take a little 'me time' too." 

I didn't even realize this had changed until this morning when I was going to the breakfast stand and thought, "alright, I have 8 sets of 15 min; what am I going to get done this morning?" 

Another thing that has changed about how I think about time is I no longer think about the arriving time--I only think about the departing time.  When my friend asked me, when are you going to be here, I answered with "I will leave here are 4:45.  So, I should be there between 5 and 5:30."  This way I don't have to feel guilty about heavy traffic and rush to get there at a very specific time.  All I need to do is be faithful and leave at 4:45.  So, how does this work with other things that start at a specific time? 

Well, since I live in Taiwan, I don't have to worry too much with appointments.  At many doctors' offices we are given numbers, and I know approx. when number 42 should be called so I will just leave my house at a certain time.  If I am there and he is still at 30, its ok because I brought something to do.  If I am there and he is on number 48, its ok because the nurse will work me in next.  (At other doctors' offices they don't have "appointment numbers," I just show up and know I will be seen within about 15 minutes.) 

So, here in Taiwan, the only thing I really have to show up at a certain time for is class.  (And even that is relative as most teachers just show up within the first 10 minutes of class after the bell.)  However, I still do my "I will leave here by . . ." thing for school to.  I know I live a 5 minute walk from school, so I just tell myself that I will leave 15 minutes before I need to be at school. 

Thus, on my calender, I have leave times, not arrive times written down.  This has made a world of difference for me.  (I'm not sure if this last thing is a "flylady" thing, but it changed as I became a flybaby--so I'm still giving her credit for changing this in me.)

Oops, I have now gone over into my next 15 minute block by 2 minutes.  I gotta jet for now.  Off to do some room rescuing!!

the beauty of hope


The Carnival of Beauty is up for this week!!  This week, the theme of hope, was hosted by MzEllen & Co.  Go take a look and visit some of the posts on hope. 

Next week the theme is "the beauty of serving," and I am the host.

For guidelines and how to submit a piece to the Carnival, please read this post at Two Talent Living.  And just as an extra reminder, please send links to both the indivdual post and to your whole site.  In addition, if your few lines of description could be written in third person that would be very helpful!

Thanks!  I look forward to reading all the submissions and hosting the Carnival this week!  Submissions can be sent to amanda47 [at]

Oh . . . and if you wanna know a random fact: 3:00 pm EST on Tuesday will be 6:00 AM on Wednesday where I live! :)

more than enough

All of you is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with your love
And all I have in you is more than enough

Lord, thank you for letting me be able to enter your throne of glory.  As I long to be near you, as my inner self cries out to know you more, you answer.  You never fail to reply.  You truly satisfy me.  Your faithful love which is new every morning keeps me happy all day long!  You are unique among the gods for You alone are able to truly satisy.  You are more than enough for my every need.  I worship you.

Lyrics from the first part of Jeremy Camp's Enough (if you wanna listen, its the middle cd, song #3).

patiently longing

I never know when it will strike or why it strikes.  But, it has been striking more and more frequently recently. 

"What is that?" you might ask. 

Well, it is kind of indescribable.  I guess it is best called a longing.  Something inside of me longs to know that which I have never known before--to know and be known by a man, to have a husband.

I think what sparked it this time was contact with old friends.  Two friends from my chuch youth group (10-15 years ago--oh my) who got married this past fall/winter recently sent me pictures from their weddings. 

Screen00011_4 Img_0523_2 

I am happy for them. 

Yet, at the same time, a little piece of me asks, "when will it be my turn?"  However, even though there is that deep longing that comes at will it never leaves me hopeless, it always leaves me hopeful.  Knowing that there will be nothing to regret by waiting for God and His infallible timing.

six months old

  Dsc00337 Dsc00283

Happy 1/2 Birthday to Gilby!!

Yesterday was Gilby's 6th month birthday!  I think he has stolen my heart!! 

In the first pic above he is sleeping--upside down! :)  In the second pic above he is just waking up.  So cute!!!  Below are two more shots of Gilby at 6 months! 

Dsc00225 Dsc00417

what does it mean when you are craving ginger?


I was reading about cravings the other day.  For example, when you crave chocolate what your body really wants is magnesium, so you should eat raw nuts and seeds or fruit. 

So, I wanna know what a ginger candy craving means. Recently, I have been craving this! It is great! But, you can't eat too much of it at one time cuz your mouth will be on fire!!

more on hope

Hope_love_2I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed. I remember it all--oh, how well I remember--the feeling of hitting the bottom.

But there's one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:  God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness!  I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It's a good thing when you're young to stick it out through the hard times. When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face. The "worst" is never the worst.  Why? Because the Master won't ever walk out and fail to return.  If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.

(Lamintations 3:19-32)

what are you hoping for?

I will never forget that day.  She asked lots of questions, but the one that I had no answer for was "what are you hoping for?" 


What seemed like 5 minutes passed, and she said "don't try to give a perfect answer.  Just say the first thing you think of--what are you hoping for?"

That advice didn't help.  My heart and mind were still blank on the matter.

Then she challenged me to make a list of things that I thought were impossible but that I hoped would happen.  I was to begin praying for the items on that list.  You see, as long as my hope was in Amanda I could not make that list--perfectionsim and the desire to not fail kept me from hoping because my hope was in me. 

When I finally allowed myself to place my hope in God, it became much eaiser to hope because not only is He the Hope-giver, but with Him all things are possible.  When I was able to hope I was able to experiece joy and peace as well.

I had never before seen the connection of having hope to peace and joy.  But, oh!  How very connected they are!!  Even Scripture puts them together, Paul says in Romans 15:13: "So I pray that God, who gives you hope, will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in him. May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."

Here are a few of the things I was finally able to add to my "Impossible with Amanda but Possible with God: A Hope List":

  • For my brother to be become a Christian

  • To see some of my students become a church

  • To see that church start more chruches among other students

  • To see the entire island become a nation of believers in Christ

  • To have my family come see me in Taiwan

  • For a man God has choosen to "find" me and want to be my husband

  • To be a wife

  • To be a mother

  • To visit Korea

  • To visit Thailand

  • To pay off my school loans quickly

  • To live debt free

  • To bring glory to God

I still keep a "Hope List" in the back of my journal because "for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly" (1 Corthians 13:13).

So, what are you hoping for?

new word

I came across a new word today: vlog.  A vlog is a blog where main content is video.

When I googled vlog, it came back with over 2 million pages!  How far behind the times am I?

When I looked on wikipedia, it says another word commonly used for vlog is vodcasting.  But, vodcast only returned a little over 1/2 a million pages on google.

Has anyone else heard of vlogging?  Anyone a vlogger?  Anyone have a vlog they frequent?  Any opinions on the future of vlogging?

to think or not to think

Erhu_dragon3_2Today, in my erhu lesson*, I had some trouble.  I kept messing up with where my fingers should be, but if I got the fingering correct I would be on the wrong string.

Why?  Why was I just not getting it this week?  Last week was great!  This week?  Oh, I wanted to throw the thing!

I'll tell you why I had trouble this week.  Every time I had trouble my mind was on something else.  Sometimes I was just thinking about technique: "pull.  push. pull.  am i off?  should I be pushing or puling now?"  Sometimes I was thinking about the song: "oh, I like this song.  it sounds really good on the erhu."  Sometimes I was thinking about my own inadequacy, "my teacher makes it sound so pretty, when I play the same song it sounds so ugly."  And, once it was on what I am writing about right now: "amanda, if you think about anything, if your mind is filled with thoughts, then you can't play right at all.  stop it.  now focus."

There are very few times in my life where I have had to have the discipline to have a completely thought-free thinker.  My thinker loves to think.   It is hard to make it think of nothing--to just let my brain tell my hands what to do without thinking about it. 

But, habits are just this: things we do without thinking about them. 

And, while I want to stop thinking while I play my erhu, I want to start thinking about my habits--to decide which ones to keep and which ones to declutter from my life.  And to decide which ones I want to add to make my life more simple and focused.

* The erhu (pictured above) is a two-stringed traditional Chinese instrument.  I have been learning to play it for about 8 months now.

carnival of beauty


Thirteen godly women have written about the beauty of winter for this week's Carnival of Beauty.  Carol is hosting this week's entries on her She Lives blog. 

For the next few weeks, different women will be hosting the Carnival of Beauty:
January 15 - Hope - Ellen (MzEllen & Co.)
January 22 - Serving - Me (
following an unknown path)
January 29 - Gentleness - Iris (
February 5 - Contentment - Bethany (
A Picturesque Life)

Please come join us as we reflect on the beauty of Christ in our writing.

the beauty of winter

Winter_treeAs I pondered "winter" my thoughts turned to bleakness, dead trees, deariness, death. Not very beautiful. Then I started thinking about times in my life that were like that. Times of depression. Depression is like being in the dead of winter--it is dark, lifeless, and miserable.

Another way in which depression and winter are similar is in how they find their beauty. The beauty of winter and the beauty of depression are in their ending. Of them yeilding to spring.

I spent much of 2004 and part of 2005 depressed. But, God in His mercy lifted me out of the deep, dark pit I had fallen into. The joy that filled my life in the following days was immeasurable! As I learned to live and love again, I kept looking back into the dark prison from which I had emerged only to marvel about how amazing my God is that He was able to resuce me and set me free to enjoy Him and the Life He has given me once again.

Yes, the best part of depression (and there is no other good thing about it) is coming out from under it. And for me, that is also the beauty of winter--the promise of the coming spring!

And as a sidenote: I am glad that the analogy ends there. Winter must happen every year; it is part of the cycle of life; depression does not have to happen. Praise God. Moreover, there is nothing good about depression except being rescued from it; whereas winter offers several nice things worth enjoying--like snow falling gently blanketing the earth below, like sledding down a hill while screaming and laughing as loud as I can, like ice skatin, and like warming up with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate.

Oh, but I now live on a tropical island, and winter days spent like that are only pipe dreams. My most wintery of winter days now consist of weather in the 50s with no heater--and that is a "cold day."

Photo originally uploaded by Lady-Bug.

yeah, but why TAIWAN? (part 2)

This is part two of a multi-post series, part one is here.

5happy_2When I was in Taiwan that summer, many of the people with me kept talking about taking the new Chinese class when we got back to school.  I had a really had time with Chinese when I was in Taiwan.  I got tired of hearing it, and it sounded SO STRANGE to me.  Moreover, I just detested language learning in general.  I had already tried Latin for 2 years, Spanish for 1 year, and German for 1 year and was successful with none.  So, I was totally not interested in taking the new Chinese class when we got back to school.

However, on my heart, I kept sensing the need to sign up for the class.  So, once again, God and I had a conversation.  And I agreed with Him that I would sign up for the class under one condition: that it was still open.  You see, my friends also kept talking about how full the class would be and that they had registered early.  I thought my "bargain" with God was safe.

Well, when we got back to Dallas, the class was still open.  I sat there in my advisor's office with three different semester registeration forms filled out.  One had Chinese listed as a course and the other two did not (one with no foreign language and one with Spanish).  That was one of the most memorable moments in my life when I remember clearly deciding whether or not to be obedient to my Lord.  Well, I decided to be obedient and signed up for the Chinese course.

So, I started Chinese classes.  They were not easy, but they were fun.  And one thing that made learning Chinese so different than learning Latin, German, or Spanish is that I actually met people who spoke Chiense as their first language. 

In fact, I began to make many new friends from Taiwan and Hong Kong as well as other countries too.  I started looking for and intentionally making friends with international students on my campus.  Soon, I had more friends from Asia, Africa, and Europe than I did America. 

God was changing my heart.  He was showing me that people from other countries were just as human as I was--that we had more in common than we did not.  He gave me a gift--He allowed me to identify with them and to be able to relate to them in ways the "old Amanda" never would have.

Specifically, in regards to the Taiwanese culture, He allowed me to learn about it, try it out, taste it and experience it in extremely small doses in my own comfort zone.  What a wonderful blessing!!

In the next post in the series, I will talk about how I got to Asia the next two times.

Verses about Paths


And you, your lives must be totally obedient to God, our personal God, following the life path he has cleared, alert and attentive to everything he has made plain this day. (1 Kings 8:61)

Train me, God, to walk straight; then I'll follow your true path.  Put me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I'll worship in joyful fear. (Psalm 86:11)

Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105)

Help me stay on the path of Your commands for I take pleasure in it. (Psalm 119:35)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

We're in no hurry, God.  We're content to linger in the path signposted with your decisions.  Who you are and what you've done are all we'll ever want. (Isaiah 26:8)

You have revelaed the paths of life to me; You will fill me with gladness in Your presence. (Acts 2:28)

The Chinese caligraphy above is Proverbs 3:5-6.  It is a picture I took of my calender for January 2006 and modified with Picasa.

17 facts about taiwan

1. Taiwan is a small tropical/subtropical island located off the east coast of China between Japan and the Philippines.

2. Taiwan is less than 400 km long and about 150 km wide.

3. Taiwan is slightly smaller than Maryland and Delaware combined (13,869 sq mi).

4. Taiwan is home to almost 23 million people.

5. Two-thirds of Taiwan is rugged mountains, meaning most of the people live in the ever-expanding crowded cities.

6. Taiwan, with 625 people per square km, is the second most densely populated nation on earth (Bangladesh is 1st.).

7. Jade Mountain, at almost 13,000 feet is the highest peak in East Asia.

8. Right now it is the year 95 in Taiwan (dated from the establishment of the Republic of China in 1911).

9. Mandarin Chinese is the official language; Taiwanese, Hakka, and Abrigional languages are also spoken.

10. Taiwan is an interesting mix of the old and the new, the East & the West, technology and tradition.

11. Taiwan is the world's largest producer of computer goods.

12. The two major cash crops in Taiwan are rice and betel nut (also called 'green gold').

13. There are 10 million motorbikes in Taiwan (1 for every 2 people).

14. Taiwan has more cell phones per head of population than any other country (111 cell phones per 100 people in 2005).

15. Taiwan has more temples per head of population than any other country (over between 16,000 and 18,000 registered temples).

16. A mixture of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and folk beliefs are practiced by most Taiwanese.

17. Less than 2% of Taiwan's population is Christian.

my sis is getting married


My sister is getting married at the end of April this year.

I just finished updating their engagement site

the blessings of using a timer

6900Heather from Mom 2 Mom Connection wrote for the Carnival of Beauty this week about seeing "the boundaries of time as a blessing in order to keep [her] balanced."

I too have learned to love a timer recently.  I use them both at home and at school. 

My students got used to me using them in the classroom, but they think it is funny that I also use them at home.  I have three in my house--one on my fridge, one by my computer, and one in a central location in my home--and thanks to they are all set to 15 minutes.

But, using a timer has been such a blessing for me.  Here is why:

--a timer lets me feel successful.  It tells me "yea! you did it! you can stop now."  otherwise, as a perfectionist, I can't stop till it is perfect.

--it lets me focus completely on my task.  I don't have to keep looking at the clock to see how much time has passed. (In class this means, I can say 20 min to finish this and then spend all my energy helping students without worrying about really using 30 or 40 min on the task--allowing me to follow my lesson plans for successfully.)

--it lets me do things I never would do otherwise.  I often think things take longer than they really do.  But doing it for 15 min is do-able--I am always surprised just how much really can be done in 15 min.

--helps me manage my day.  There are times--like today--when I have "15 min days."  I have a list of things that need to be done and take 15 min to spend on each task; after 15 min, I switch and do something else. 

When I first found flylady, I ignored her advice about a timer.  Now, I wish I had not--it is the best thing I have  found for manging my time and being productive.  Like Heather, my timer and setting time boundaries have truly been a blessing. 

The one I use at school is really cool--it is like a stoplight (the pic for this blog).  It lets us visually see how much more time we have left.  I got it from a company called Learning Resources.

carnival of beauty posts are up


I am a little late in posting this--its been "school-focused" week as I am nearing the end of the semester.

Nevertheless, Sallie at Two Talent Living has this week's Carnival of Beauty Posts on "The Beauty of Limits" up for the viewing. 

When I first thought of "limits," I was not able to see the beauty in them all.  I thought about constraints, binding, shackles, and so on.  All very bad images.  Nevertheless, several ladies all wrote about how limits truly can be beautiful (including me eventually).

Go read . . . and find out the multiple ways in which limits truly can be beautiful.

end of the school year

Originally uploaded by amanda47.

It is the end of the school year for me right now (we get a month off for Chinese New Year), and my piles of things to grade--term papers, essays, and finals--as grown by leaps and bounds.

However, I will find 15 min later today to post the next episode in my "Taiwan or Bust" series. :) But for now I am off to my own ErHu Lesson!!

This picture is of me with two of my former students, Rachel and Joan, on the eve of New Year's Eve.

yeah, but why TAIWAN? (part 1)

If you wanna know why I live in Taiwan, this post tells you the answer.  The post below begins a multi-post series on why Taiwan (as opposed to anywhere else overseas or even Amercia for that matter).

In 1996, I started college classes at Dallas Baptist University.  At that time, I was planning to be a freelance journalist (with the hopes to marry and be a stay at home mommy with a great felixable "at home" career).  I also wanted to live in an inner city apartment in order to do ministry in my apartment complex.  So, to prepare for the life path I had planned, I was a communication major and very involved in an inner city after school program in the heart of downtown Dallas.

Somewhere near the beginning of the spring semester (1997), I began to desire to go on a mission trip overseas.  In my head, of course that meant going to Africa or South America.  I talked it over with my mom, and she ok-ed the idea under the condition that it wasn't for the whole summer--she wanted to spend a little time with her college girl during the summer vacation time.

Her stipulation actually made the decision quite easy.  Every summer since 1996, DBU has sent a team of students to Taiwan for an English teaching mission trip.  The trip lasts one month.  Perfect.  Does Amanda even know where Taiwan is?  Nope.  Does she care?  Nope.  She just wants to tell people in a different country about Jesus. 

So, summer comes and Amanda goes to Taiwan.  Uh . . . wow!  What a "wake up" moment!  Life is so different on the other side of the planet.  It was actually a love/ hate relationship at first sight.  I hated the traffic.  I hated the neon lights that flashed all the time all over the place.  I hated not understanding everything that was being said.  I hated not being able to read.  I hated the fact that my neighbor's dog knew more Chinese than me.  I hated the food.  I hated feeling stupid because I couldn't communicate with the people around me.  But, I loved the people of Taiwan.  I loved teaching.  I loved sharing Jesus with my new friends.  I loved experiencing new things.  I loved having my ideas of the world be shattered. 

I was on a life-altering trip.  I didn't even know it.

Well, my 15 min of writing time are up . . . so the story will continue later. :)
The pic above is of me in Taiwan in 1997 testing out musical water bowls.

why live in taiwan?

So, first I am going to share the "why of being" in Taiwan and then share the "why Taiwan." I figure it will take me a few posts to do this; I will just write for 15 min and then continue the story later linking them all together in the end.

Ok, so first, "why do I live in Taiwan?"  Well . . . we must first go back to a night long, long ago:

As we drove down LiuHe Street, the neon signs flashed strange looking symbols so different from anything I had ever seen before.  The driver of the car was teaching my friends how to say, “It tastes good,” in a harsh tonal language that I could not stand to hear and absolutely refused to speak. Suddenly a sinking feeling flooded my stomach; I could not tell if it was from the unidentifiable object that I ate for dinner or from my dislike for this strange place.

Almost nine years have passed since I sat in the back of that black Honda in Taiwan. Years filled with unique experiences, bouts of culture shock, and immense change. In these nine years, I have learned to enjoy and be a part of the Taiwanese culture so much that it is now my home away from home.

God has done an incredible thing, and I stand in awe. He has changed my heart’s desire so drastically that now living in Taiwan gives me great joy! I count it a privilage to be able to live here--there really is no where else I'd rather be at this time in my life!

You see, growing up in church, I knew we needed "missionaries," but I did not know that "regular" people still daily worship idols made of their own hands—images that cannot hear, cannot see, cannot speak, cannot understand.

The desire to live in Taiwan lies deep within; I desire to offer hope to the people of Taiwan—people who want success in life, people who crave peace, people who long to be loved, people who desire the best for their family, people who need Jesus, the One, True God.

The Lord’s heart for the nations, for the peoples of this world, is clear in Scripture.  I desire to be to Taiwan, not to make converts to a certain faith system, but to share with them a God who is able to set them free through faith in Jesus Christ, in order that they may also have the joy of worshiping my Father and may be able to rejoice in Him with me for time and for eternity.

If you wanna know why I ended up in Taiwan and not some other place, you can read the story starting with: "Yeah, but why TAIWAN?"

terrified of whistling

Music_5 What sound sends shivers down your back, makes your heart beat faster, and speeds your breathing?  Is there a sound that strikes fear in your heart of hearts? 

Is it the sound of a sliver in the grass when you are gardening?  Is it the screeching of the brakes of the car right behind you?  Is it the scream of one of your children when they are in pain?  Is the sound of footsteps behind you in a dark parking garage late at night?

What about a praise song being whistled at dusk?  Would that sound strike terror in your whole being?  Would it give you goosebumps and make you fearful for the rest of the night?

If you are American, you are probably thinking right now that I am a little crazy saying that.  But, if you are Taiwanese, you know exactly what I mean. 

The sound of whistling after the sun sets is terrifying to the Taiwanese people who are lost.  They believe that hungry ghosts follow the sound of whistling much like a dog trails a scent in the woods.  Hungry ghosts are terrible, scary things in Taiwanese culture.  They bring curses and evils to people; they hunt for people to prey upon.  Thus, there is no whistling at night in Taiwan.

However, I often sing and hum when I am on my moped (those things don't come with radios--go figure).  When I dismount and walk in the underground parking garage towards the stairwell to my apartment, I tend to continue whatever I had been humming or singing by whistling--often enjoying the echo of the underground cement box and the sound of my voice.

If it is night, as soon as I do, I recall that whistling scares my neighbors.  Most of the time, I stop whistling and pray for my neighbors the rest of the way to my apartment.  Sometimes, I just change to singing and proclaim aloud the praise of the true God.  And, at other times, like tonight, I whistle louder, a proclamation that I do not fear the evil of this world.

The next time you catch yourself whistling at night, would you please remember the Taiwanese people and pray for their salvation? 

all other goals bow down to this


I have resisted making "new year's resolutions" for as long as I can remember.  This is not becuase of some strong conviction or belief.  It is simply because I am a recovering perfectionist who hates failure.  So instead, I have goals, but they are not new for the new year--they are a perpetual list that is always growing and shrinking (as things get done) and changing. 

Anyway, tonight I was doing a 15 minute room rescue of my living room (somehow the "bathroom slippers" keep ending up in the middle of my living room--oh the joys of having a puppy) while I was listening to the CD Here I am to Worship, when I heard Wendy O'Connell singing "Above All Else" written by Vicky Beeching.  The words caught my attention and sent me to my computer to search for the lyrics:

Jesus my passion in life is to know You
May all other goals bow down to
This journey of loving You more

Jesus You've showered Your goodness on me
Given Your gifts so freely
But there's one thing I'm longing for

Hear my heart's cry
And my prayer for this life

Above all else
Above all else
Above all else
Give me Yourself

This song sums up my heart's desire . . . my longing for 2006:  that all my other goals bow down to the journey of knowing and loving Jesus more.  I also like the way she pleads with Him to give her Himself. 

I have spent most of my life mistakenly believing that I had to "earn God."  If I was good enough, if I prayed well, if I studied my Bible right, then He would reveal Himself to me.  Oh how wrong I was!  Actually, this thinking robbed me of the joy only those redeemed by grace can experience.

Jesus, this song verbalizes my heart's cry.  I want to know you better.  I want to love you more.  I want to be intimate with You, the lover of my soul.  Give me Yourself.  Help me to make all other goals I set this year bow to this desire.  And, I thank You that I do not have to earn You--that You freely give Yourself.  I love you, Lord.

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