yeah, but why TAIWAN? (Part 4)

08piggyback_1This is the fourth installment of a multi-post series.  It is a chronological story of why I live in Taiwan (as opposed to any other "foreign country"), so if you would like to start at the beginning of the story, you can start with part one.  (Here are part two and part three).

So, we are up to the summer 1999, and I was on my way to Taiwan for a few months to help two churches in Hsinchu with a summer English camp.

Before I left, my Chinese professor at DBU told me about an opportunity to be an exchange student for the 1999-2000 school year at a university in the north part of Taiwan.

After talking to my parents and much prayer, I decided this was a wonderful opportunity and should study in Taiwan.

Below is a story ("Unseen Tremors") I wrote several years ago about the situation.
I called my friend’s number again, hoping this time she would pick up and not one of her parents [because they don't speak English]. After a few rings the phone was answered, “Wei?”


“Yes.” What a relief, it was her!

img065“Ellen, I can’t do it.” I wailed into the receiver, not even giving her a hello or how are you. The tears began to fall as I continued, “I just can’t do it. I want to go home at the end of the summer. It’s too much trouble—I have to fight for so much—visas, course numbers, a place to live. Plus, I miss my ministry and friends at school; I long for the comforts of home, the familiar-ness of America.” I continued to rattle off my complaints and worries to one of the only people who could understand me on this little island I now found myself living on. And all Ellen could reply was, “we just have to pray and trust God—isn’t that what you have taught me?”

How had I wound up sitting in a perfect stranger’s apartment on the other side of the world, calling a girl I had been discipling for almost a year to tell her I had just about lost my faith in the God that I was teaching her all about?

That night as I wrote in my journal I pleaded for God to show me who He was all over again. “Maybe I need to re-experience the size of my God—maybe I have no idea how big my God really is,” I scribbled into my journal before going to bed.

I continued to question my faith all summer; sending many emails across the ocean to my mother about how I had no clue as to what would happen to me in August, and about how much I just wanted to go home to something simpler and familiar and trusted. For the summer, I was living with a pastor and his wife in Taiwan, teaching a children’s English program at their church. Then beginning in August, I was to move to another city in Taiwan as an exchange student.

However, from where I was sitting, it looked like no real details had been worked out at the college. I still didn’t know how I was going to get my resident’s visa, where I was going to live, what classes I was going to take, and how I was going to pay for it all if my scholarships and financial aid were not approved for overseas study. Some of these are probably the same issues college students around the world worry about, but I was experiencing them over nine thousand miles from home, in a foreign country where the norms had changed, and in a unfamiliar language. To me, I was having the largest crisis of my life. I felt lost, abandoned, lonely, and afraid of the unknown.

In late July, I called Ellen, to tell her that I had decided to change my plane ticket from August of the current year to June of the next year. I confided in her that it was my way of showing God that I completely trusted Him to provide everything I needed for the coming year—when the summer ended, I would still be on the island. It was a gigantic step of faith for me.

Come August, I moved into the dorm of the university where I was to study. I cried as I said good-bye to the pastor’s wife, a stranger who had become a good friend—I was again entering a completely foreign world; this time with even less English speakers. My friend Ellen had already gone back to the States to study at our American university, so I was totally alone except for my three new Chinese-speaking roommates.

Since classes at the university had not started yet, I decided to tackle the book of Isaiah. I was fascinated by how God demonstrated His power in the Old Testament; I longed for that type of power in my life too. I began to pray for God to move mountains—He said He could in Isaiah.

By September, everything was coming together. My American university had approved all my scholarships and loans to carry over to my studying abroad, and the Taiwanese university had located a wonderful Chinese teacher. I was beginning to get used to my wooden bed, and my three roommates were reduced to only two. Things were still strange at times and new experiences abounded, but I no longer felt like it was the end of the world.

And then it happened—God demonstrated his power in the middle of the night on September 21, 1999!

“What’s happening?” I asked the night. Much to my surprise, one of my roommates responded, thankfully in English, “Earthquake!”

As I climbed out of bed onto the still trembling floor, I was relieved because I knew what was happening. The three of us stared out the dorm window into the darkness. As the earth below us shook again and girls in the other rooms screamed, I hate to admit it, but I chuckled. I stood watching the building across from us shake, and I thought, “God can really do it! He has the power to shake the mountains!” I was amused and thrilled with delight as I experienced firsthand His power over nature and over what I thought were sure foundations.

The next day almost every girl in the dorm went home—again, I was all alone. I was left with my English newspapers, a flashlight, and a battery operated radio. I spent the rest of the week searching the papers for pictures and stories about the biggest earthquake to hit Taiwan in a hundred years and listening to the English radio station as the death toll climbed.

We were without electricity and running water for many days. One evening I sat in the darkness doing nothing. I felt God probing my heart. He asked, “Amanda, how come when I shake the physical mountains of this world you can be amused and not terrified?”

“That’s easy Lord, because I trust You, the One who created them.”

“Then how come when the other foundations in your life that you think are solid began to quake you are afraid that I have left and am no longer in control?” I could not stop the tears that began to run down my face. He was so right. I had so longed to see His power and strength in an amazing way that I had failed to recognize how faithful He had been in the details of my life.

Aftershocks continued to shake the island for several weeks. Every tremor I felt brought a smile to my face. I now pray that when unseen tremors hit the other areas of my life, my faith will be like it was on that night: not fear, but rather amusement because I know the One who is in control of all the universe.

"For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,"
says the Lord who has compassion on you.”
(Isaiah 54:10, NAS)

So, I lived in Taiwan for a year--from 1999 to 2000.  It was an incredible, life-changing event.  I learned so much Chinese, thanks to my roommates, other friends at the university, and of course an awesome teacher.  I learned about being alone but not being lonely.  I tried lots of weird foods.  I learned about trusting God (something I am ALWAYS learning).  I learned to be flexible and "go with the flow." 

1puppetsThrough the Holy Sprit, God changed my personality, changed my desires, changed my attitudes, even changed my taste buds and comfort zones; essentially He just changed ME!  And, they were all wonderful, wonderful changes that I now celebrate and couldn't imagine life without!! 

I love that He allows us to be different--that we don't have to stay the same.  He is such an awesome God!!  I love that He has compassion for us and cares about the details of our lives!!  He is such an awesome God!!

The next part of the story will talk about my move back the States to finish my BA and get my MA.

All pictures in this post were taken from 1999-2000--which I scanned and added to my very first website started back in 1999.

the carnival of beauty: flowers

22803698_1"I do not think I have ever seen anything more beautiful than the bluebell I have been looking at.  I know the beauty of our Lord by it." (Gerald Manley Hopkins)

Flowers are BEAUTIFUL!!  Truly they are works of art each carefully designed by the Creator God Himself. 

I am glad you have joined us this week as we celebrate together the beauty of flowers and the beauty of our Lord Jesus! 

Iris @ Sting My Heart
As she was thinking about the beauty of flowers in her post Flowers Cheer the Spirit, Iris also remembered the promise of God not to worry about tomorrow.

Barbara @ Tidbits and Treasures
Barbara says she loves flowers, especially roses.  So, she claims just a rose will do.  In her post she also explains that Scripture says Jesus is the Rose of Sharon.

Deb @ On the Vine 
This week, Deb posts about the influence of her grandfather in her love of flowers in Thanks, Grandpa!

Heather @ Mom 2 Mom Connection
Heather shares what her Japanese homestay mom taught her about the art of Flower Arranging.

Blair @ Blair's Scribblings
As a teenager, Blair's Scribblings reveal a lot about her beliefs concerning love. Now an adult, she still feels much the same way but ponders that through Christ we have Love Like a Rose.

Christie @ crickle's nest
Do you ever wonder what God produces from the Seeds We've Sown in serving Him? Sometimes He actually gives us a glimpse of how He works, as Christie observes in a post written by her daughter Hannah.

Deb at Mountain Musings
Deb posts about a very Unforgettable Delivery of a bouquet of beautiful flowers she received several years ago.

Leann @ The Prattling Pastor's Wife
Even in the midst of a desert existence God can bring beauty and life.  The Living Water of Christ can grow a lush and fruitful life.  Find out how in Leann's post Beauty in the Desert.

Malissa @ Malissa's Merry-go-round
Malissa shares with us her passion for Lilics in both the memories of days gone by and in the description of how she enjoys them in the present.

me @ following an unknown path
Flowers--especially sunflowers and daisys--make me smile, but eventually flowers fade.

Carnivallogo_6Thanks for joining us this week.  Please join us next week over at Ellen's blog for The Beauty of Technology. The Carnival of Beauty is sponsered by Sallie @ Two Talent Living. 

downtown kaohsiung

I found (on flickr) this beautiful picture of the downtown area of the city I live near and thought I would share.

Welcome to Kaohsiung City. Taiwan's second largest, but most crowded, metropolitan area. Like I've mentioned before, it has over 9,700 people per square km! (For you mile lovers--that is over 6,027 people per square mile!!)

gilby is home now

what a tongue!

Gilby is home now.  Everything went ok.  Actually the procedure was easier than the vet thought it would be--so that is great.  He is asleep right now. 

The vet was surprised that Gilby could tell a difference between the vet's dog food and the dog food I give Gilby at home. 

He said, "you must feed him people food."

"No.  I don't.  I feed him such and such brand.  He is just . . . " (don't know how to say "picky" in Chinese, so sentence is left unfinished).

"Well, it is really spooky that he can tell and will refuse to eat at all."

I nodd.  "I KNOW!" 

I even have done the slow mixing of different types to introduce a new brand to him.  He actually ate around the new brand--leaving it in the bowl and only eating the brand he liked. 

AND.  There are even some dog biscuits he refuses to eat!!  Just doesn't like them at all. 

AND.  I try to treat him when he potties outside, so I can be reinforcing that habit.  But, he refuses the treat.  He would rather keep sniffing and playing outside than take the time to eat a silly treat. 

Ahhh . . . my Gilby.  It's good to have him home again.  Thank you so much Father for taking such good care of him.  Please help him to continue to heal.  You are a good God.

flowers fade

I love flowers.  Please don't get me wrong!  I am not being pestimistic.  I promise you.

But this week, as I was cleaning off the hot zone of my dinning room table, it was time for my 30-cents flowers to be thrown away.   They had lost their brilliant purple and shinny yellow.  They were no longer stretching this way and that displaying their beauty.

But as I gathered them and was reaching for the trash, I thought to myself, "the grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever"  which comes from Isaiah 40:8.

So, instead of tossing them, I hung them upside down to dry. 

Flowers Fade

Its true.  The beauty of flowers--even though I enjoy it greatly (especially the "smiley flowers"--you know sunflowers, daisys, and so on)--doesn't last forever.  Their beauty fades, rather fleetingly if you ask me.  But, God's word?  Nope it never, ever will fade.  Now that really is something to smile about! :)

Here are more shots of my faded flowers (and even though they made some fun pictures, they pale [yes, pun was intended] in comparison to the originals):

its that time again!!


This week, the Carnival of Beauty is to be hosted right here.  And, it is all about one of my favorite things in the world: Flowers!! 

So, please join us by writing about the beauty flowers today or tomorrow, and then let me know that you did so you can be included in the Carnival of Beauty. 

Check here for the submission guidelines.

And for a little bit of triva if you missed it the last time I hosted the CoB, 3:00 pm EST on Tuesday will be Wednesday morning for me--6:00 AM to be exact.  And I have classes till noon my time Wednesday.  SO . . . don't start looking for the Carnival until at least midnight Texas time. ;)

gilby is at the vet's

Gilby is 8 months old today!

I have been avoiding taking Gilby to the vet to be neutered.  Partly cuz I am scared for my little guy, and partly cuz I was afraid of not understanding or communicating well with the vet, and partly cuz I had no idea what to expect, and partly cuz I didn't have even a clue how much it would cost.

So, after thinking about it for 3 months, I finally went this evening to ask about it and make an appointment to have it done.  The vet I choose was nice, informative, and did a good job making sure I understood him.  When he handed Gilby back to me--it was obvious that Gilby was scared.  So, I held him and comforted him while the doctor added up the cost.  Gilby was finally ok; I agreed to the cost and asked when the procedures could be scheduled for. 

"Now is ok.  You can pick him up tomorrow."

My heart did a flippy flop.  WHAT!?!

I wanted to have more time to procrastinate.  I wanted to have more time to think about it and tell Gilby bye.  But, no.  The vet then reached and took Gilby from me and took him to the back.  Tonight around 10 pm Gilby will be castrated and have a few remaining baby teeth pulled.  Yes, my vet will be doing surgery on my little puppy boy late at night--welcome to Taiwan.

Just now, I was feeling sad in my empty home--missing my little puppy boy greatly.  I thought "I should talk to God about Gilby." 

Then I thought, "No.  That is silly." 

"Why is it silly, Amanda?  Remember the fridge?"

"Oh!  That's right!!  God does care about me!!  And since I care about Gilby, and He made and then gave me Gilby, He must care about Gilby too!"

"God, please take care of Gilby for me.  Help the vet to do a good job.  Help Gilby to heal quickly.  Thank you, oh so very much for caring about me . . . and Gilby too."


My sister emailed me her answers to this meme, and I told her I would reply online.

Four jobs I have had:

  1. Foreign Language Instructor

  2. Peer Writing Consultant

  3. Telephone Recruiter for DBU Admissions

  4. Employee at Bill Miller BBQ

Four movies I could watch over and over

  1. A Walk to Remember

  2. Ever After

  3. First Knight

  4. Save the Last Dance

Four places I have lived:

  1. Hazen, Arkansas, USA (population: around 1,500)

  2. Cedar Creek, Texas, USA (pop in 1990: 145; current pop: around 9,000--that is a lot of growing in 16 years!)

  3. Dallas, Texas, USA (pop: about 1,200,000)

  4. Kaohsiung, Taiwan (pop: about 1,500,000; with over 9,700 per sq. km. can you say crowded?) [actually, though, I live in Kaohsiung County--in DaLiao Township-- and have no idea how to find population info for that. :)]

Four TV show I like watching:

  1. Gilmore Girls

  2. I Love Lucy

  3. Everybody Loves Raymond

  4. Numbers

Four places I've been during vacation:

  1. Japan (various cities)

  2. All over Taiwan

  3. Hong Kong

  4. Beijing, China

Four websites I visit daily:

  1. my personalized




Four of my favorite foods:

  1. Cheese

  2. Chocolate

  3. Fruit

  4. and anything TexMexy or TexItaliany :)

Four places I'd rather be right now:

  1. with my sister helping her get ready for her wedding

  2. with my grandmother, just sitting and talking

  3. with my mom, dad, and brother, laughing our heads off

  4. on a swing feeling the air blow against my face

will your blog become a blook?

Found a new word today: blook. 

I found it in on a site for advanced ELL's (English Language Learners--those people learning English not as their native language).  Here is what they say about the word:

Many recent neologisms have emerged from the comparison between the real and online world. For instance, we now talk about e-tailers as opposed to bricks-and-mortar retailers, or face-to-face as opposed to virtual sales. The transition from printed to electronic page has been one such area, turning diaries into blogs (weblogs) and magazines into webzines. And now, in what seems a bizarre twist, we’ve come full circle, as blogs, commentaries originating firmly in the virtual world, are becoming blooks, texts made of real bits of paper that you can hold in your hand.

Interesting!  I have heard of one person whose blog had become a touchable, printed and published book--but didn't know it should be called a blook. :)

Check out the rest of the lesson/intrduction of the new word at their site.

Wikipedia has the above definition and another definition of blook

Have you ever heard of a blook before?  Am I just behind the times living across the ocean?

squid nuggets


Right next to the chicken nuggets in the freezer at my local grocery store is a stack of bags filled with squid nuggets.  Glad they have the nice picture of the squid and the English name of the food on the outside of the package!!  Oh so glad!  Otherwise, these could very easily be mistaken for what they are not--chicken.

of jelly bellies, mint chocolate, and diet dr. pepper


The ladies retreat I went to last week was for missionaries all across the island.  It was really neat to be gathered as group of women who love the Lord and love the Taiwanese even though we came from differnt walks of life, different organizations, different home countries, and so on!

The church the speaker came from blessed us with goodies that are hard to find in Taiwan--jelly bellies and mint chocolate (to name my favorite)!!  And, there was also an import store near where we stayed, so I was able to purchase a 6 pack of Diet Dr. Peppers.  I haven't had my favorite soft drink in at least 6 months!! 

Tonight, as I drank one, I was happy.  Simple pleasures.  YEA!!

here comes the bride!


For those of you who don't know . . . my sister is getting married next month!!

The wedding is on April 28th.  She is sending out her invitations this week, and I just made some final updates to their engagement website.

the carnival of beauty


This week the Carnival of Beauty is all on the Beauty of God's Sovereignty.   Iris is your hostess this week.  Last week found me too busy to participate or even be able to announce its arrival, so let me also say now that last week's The Beauty of My Life is hosted by the originator of the Carnival of Beauty, Sallie.

AND . . . . next week, the Carnival of Beauty will be hosted by yours truly, Lord allowing.  Next week we will be celebrating and looking at the Beauty of Flowers.

Great topic!  Easy to post about . . . so, if you haven't done so yet, please join us!!

my fridge died

Dsc02322When I was putting away the groceries last week, my fridge quit blowing cold air.  Just stopped.  Completely stopped.  Admittedly, it is old--it is not surprising that it was in the last days of sharing with me its frigid air.  It was also a gift--given to me by some missionary friends from Meinong.   I guess holding the door open that long to put away stuff just caused the fridge to finally give out, blowing its last cold puff of air on my face and hands.

My immediate reaction was to panic.  My heart started to race.  I worried about all the meats I had just bought--what a waste.  I worried about replacing the fridge with a new one--it is not in my budget.  I worried about how do I even get rid of the old one.  I worried about the time it would take to go find a new one.  I worried about what to do with getting rid of all the stuff inside the fridge. (I'll tell you in another post about garbage take out here.)

Then I thought, well maybe it can be fixed.  So, then I worried about how to find a handyman to fix my fridge.  I worried about how much that would cost.  I worried about how long that would take.  I worried about how messy the inside of the fridge was and how embarrssing it would be to let some outsider see it in such a mess.   

All of this worry raced into my heart and filled my mind.  Then, I came to my study and just prayed a simple prayer, "Lord, can you fix my fridge?  I don't have the means to deal with this right now.  I need to you take care of this."

I kept checking the non-working fridge every five minutes for about an hour.  Still no cold air.  I talked to some Taiwanese friends about how to find a handyman.  I even searched online for the approximate costs of new fridges and what to look for when buying a new one.  I still had a heart that was beating faster than normal and a blood pressure probably higher than it should have been. 

I was on my out the door to go ask the security guard downstairs for help in locating a handyman when I stopped by the fridge for one last check.  I opened the door to the freezer, peeked inside, and  . . . the air came back on! 

After over one hour of my frozen foods starting to defrost, my fridge came back on.  It was fixed.  And a week later is still running like normal.  Praise the Lord!  He fixed my refridgerator.  He answered my cry for help.  He cares for me!* 

I guess I am still working on being obeident to this command:

"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:6-7)

I am thankful that I did eventually allow petitions to shape my worries into prayers.  How I wish it would have been my instant, gut reaction the moment the cold air quit blowing.

Thank you, Jesus, for fixing my fridge.  Thank you for caring for me.  Thank you for showing me I need to turn to you first because you really do love me and care about the things that concern me.  You are truly a good God!!

*"Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you." (1 Peter 5:7)

(The pic above is of some students painting the fridge black in the fall of 2004.)

make my life a prayer to you

Here are the lyrics to a another favorite Keith Green song that I come back to over and again.  It is so great!

Make my life a prayer to You,
I want to do what You want me to.
No empty words and no white lies,
No token prayers, no compromise.

I want to shine the light You gave,
through Your Son, You sent to save us
from ourselves and our despair.
It comforts me to know You're really there.

Well, I want to thank You now for being patient with me,
Oh it's so hard to see when my eyes are on me.
I guess I'll have to trust and just believe what You say.
Oh You're coming again, coming to take me away.

I want to die and let you give
Your life to me so I might live,
and share the hope You gave to me,
the love that's set me free.

I want to tell the world out there,
You're not some fable or fairy tale,
that I've made up, inside my head,
You're God the Son,
You've Risen from the Dead.

He does what he wants

I was sharing the gospel with a dear friend last week.  As he was asking me different questions, he asked me one that went something like this, "So, you wanna get married right?"

"Well, yes."

"So, even if you never get married, do you still trust Him and love Him?"

My friend knew how to get to my heart of hearts, but the answer is simply, "Yes."

"Ok, so, what if you never get married and lots and lots of bad things happen to you for the rest of your life, are you still going to worship Him and call him good?"

"Well, yes." 

If there ever comes a time like that, I know that won't be easy and I am not saying I won't wrestle with it, but God is either all good all the time or He is not good at all.  He is all powerful all the time or he is not in control at all.  I don't get to choose what God's character is based on the circumstances around me.

At a ladies retreat I went to this past weekend, the speaker pointed out that usually when we face a crisis of belief these are the two character traits of God we struggle with most.  Some of us will declare "well, God is all powerful, but he must not be all good (or he would have prevented this)," while others of us will claim, "God is good, but he must not be all powerful (or he would have stopped this)."  But, both of these are lies.

The beauty of God's sovereignity is "his absolute right to do all things according to his own good pleasure" (Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary).  Nothing in that statement says I have the right to understand or approve of what He is doing.   As Job puts it "But he is singular and sovereign. Who can argue with him? He does what he wants, when he wants to" (23:13).

I must choose to trust His heart.  I must choose to trust how He has revealed Himself to me and to my ancestors in the past.  I must choose to trust that He is who He says He is in His Word. 

So, then, let's celebrate our sovereign Lord.  Let's delight in the fact that in all things and in all ways forever and always He alone--an all-powerful, all-good God--is supreme, is in complete control.

"How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you–there is no other God. We have never even heard of another god like you! . . . For you are God, O Sovereign LORD. Your words are truth, and you have promised these good things to me, your servant.  And now, may it please you to bless me and my family so that our dynasty may continue forever before you. For when you grant a blessing to your servant, O Sovereign LORD, it is an eternal blessing!"  (2 Samuel 7:22, 28-29)

Baby Enoch and Worship in the Park

Baby Enoch

This is baby Enoch.  He is 2 months old.  He is the third child of some Taiwanese friends.  I held him for the entire "worship in the park" on Sunday since his dad and mom--the pastor and pastor's wife--were leading the worship (see below). 


Other pictures taken yesterday at the park ministry can be seen here (warning though--most of them are of children--I was having mommy-longings yesterday, so I wasn't in a "capture pictures of ministry" mode). :)

update on my taiwanese mom

According to her flesh-and-blood daughter my Taiwanese mom, who is/was suffering from depression seems to be doing better.  I have included part of an email from her flesh-and-blood daugther (my dear friend) below: 

My mom seems much better now than she was a few weeks ago.  Now she is able to do housework and cooking.  She is like "the normal her" now.  But when I asked her "Are you feeling better?" She would reply, " No.. not really."  Especially when talking about small decisions about the new house, she would feel depressed.  Now, she hangs out with my big aunt a lot.  She would go anywhere with my aunt when she gets a chance to because she doesn't really like to stay at home.     So.. really don't know what to do, but I am very thankful that she is getting better.   

Please say " Thank you"  to the friends you sent the praying lists to for me if you get a chance to. It means a lot to me and my family.
Please continue to pray for this family.  I would love to see the mom and brother become Christians!  Please ask for the Dad and daughters---that they will continue to grow in Christ and fearlessly make known the Gospel.

it is nice when . . .

It is nice when . . . I announce "see you next week" and everyone looks at their watches amazed at the time. Class passed so fast, they can't believe it is time to go.

It is nice when . . . we are playing a "board game" and a student calls me over to say "I know exactly why we are playing this." It wasn't a secret--to learn! How tricky I am!

It is nice when . . . I hear my students using things or talking about things we learned in class outside of class--and even better when the context is different.  It is even nice if they are joking or making fun of it too--means they remember!

(Above picture is of some of my business English students working in class.)

burning money

Today as I walked home from work, I saw something that takes place twice a month in my neighborhood.  It happens at the first and the middle of each lunar month.  Today's lunar date is Feb. 16--so it is now the middle of the month.

In front of about two-thirds of the homes and businesses in my neighborhood there will little "card tables" set up with offerings--snacks, fruits, wine, and insence.  Then next to these tables were cans with hot flames licking the air. 

Some of the cans were just burning out front with no one around them.  Others had people standing next to them still tossing in the "spirit money."  It is believed that by burning the money, it is able to enter the spirit world so that ancestors can buy things they need.

Burning Sprit Money  Burning Sprit Money

Burning Sprit Money  Burning Sprit Money

Please pray for the Taiwanese. 

gilby is 8 months old today

gilby is 8 months old today

Gilby is 8 months old today!!

He has been so good for me.  Besides just being my companion and friend, he is helping me in other ways too.  For example, he is helping me get out and into different parts of my community.  As I walk him, I can prayerwalk my neighborhood and explore parts of the neighborhood I never would have walked otherwise. 

Also, he makes me more a part of the community in ways I never could imagine.  I am not just an "out of place white face" walking by anymore.  Simply having a dog with me when I walk sends a small message that I live here and am a part of the normal events of the day.


happy belated white day!

Yesterday--March 14th--was "White Day."

My understanding is that Japan has two valentine's days: Feb. 14 is for women to give to men, and March 14 is for men to give to women.

So, my some of my Taiwanese students--as a whole class--gave me a gift for "White Valentine's Day." This cute card (on the right) and some nice cappuccino flavored white chocolate! Yummy!!

So, if Taiwan celebrates America's Valentines day (Feb 14), Japan's Valentine's Day (March 14), and the Chinese Lover's Day (on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month) . . . . Taiwanese people then get to celebrate their "loved ones" three times!  That is a lot of chocolate and flowers. ;)

Oh Lord, You're Beautiful

Keith Green's song "Oh Lord, Your Beautiful" is perhaps one of my all time favorite songs to worship the Lord with.  I love it.

In fact, for several years now, I have wanted this song (the WHOLE song) sung at my funeral.  (The only reason I know this or thought about this was there was a class offered at my college where one assignment was to plan your own funeral.  I didn't take this class, but I thought about the assignment.  This song is the only real decision I made in regards to my own funeral.)

There is more than one version of it.  There is one part that is most commonly known by many people that we sing today.  But, there are other versions--all sung by Keith Green--on different albums.  It was like he was writing the song and editing the song as he led others in worship. 

Here is my favorite version:

Oh Lord You're beautiful
Your face is all I see
For when Your eyes Are on this child
Your love abounds to me

Oh Lord my body's tired
But You keep reminding me
Of many holy, tireless men
Who spilt their blood for Thee

I wanna take Your word and shine it all around
But first help me just To live it Lord
And if I'm doing well,
Help me to never make a sound *
Except to give all the glory to You *

Oh Lord my faith is small
And I need a touch from You
Your Book of Books lies on this dirt
And the prayers from me too few

Oh Lord please light the fire
That once burned bright and clear
Replace the lamp of my first love
That fueled with holy fear

*In another song these lines are:

And when I'm doing well,
Help me to never seek a crown.
For my reward is giving glory to you.

learning styles

In one of my courses, in addition to talking about preference to using the left or right sides of our brains, we dicuss learning styles

I have my students take this survey to find out what learning style they prefer.

Taking the survey myself only confirms what I knew to be true.  I am a very visual learner.  I wanna see it in black and white--and color.  Sometimes even just writing something down and throwing the paper away improves my ability to remember it. 

Below is my chart from taking the survey.


my fresh flowers

I bought some flowers for 10 NT (about 30 US cents) for my dinning room table.

They have lasted over 2.5 weeks now. And, they are now more beautiful than when I bought them (most of them opened up at my home).

my flowers

my flowers

My buying of fresh flowers is thanks to be flywashed by Flylady!!

music from my childhood

GreenI grew up listening to Keith Green.  To this day, I love his music.  I've been listening to it again this week.  Everytime I do, his songs challenge me and push me deeper into the presense of the One I love wholeheartedly. 

The Keith Green record cover that sticks out most in my mind is the one of him with the lamb over his sholders.  I knew that must have been the way that Jesus would have carried a lamb.

His songs still bring back strong memories of childhood, of being raised by godly parents who were in love not only with each other but with their Savior. 

I cherish those days of simplicity.  Dad said it and that was that.  No need to question.  No need to doubt.  He was the ultimate authority.  Birthday gifts were playdough and Seasme Street posters.  Life was good.

I cherish those days of no worries.  Mom and dad took care of everything.  I had no need to think about tomorrow--or really even today.  I knew without a doubt that they would take care of whatever came or was needed.  Life was good.

I remember sitting around the dinner table as a family and listening to the records of Keith Green, Amy Grant (when she was a teenager), and the Marantha! Singers.  Mom played these and others while she cleaned, and I danced and sang alongside her as she vacuumed.  I remember Sarah and I playing over and over again a homemade cassette tape of Marantha! worship songs (recorded from their records)--usually before bed to go to sleep.  Life was good.

I remember longing to be more like Jesus, longing to live a life that pleased him.  I remember wanting to be just like my mom and just like my dad.  Life was good.

All those feelings and memories along with the desire to be fully devoted to and completely passionate for Jesus like Keith Green was (his autobiography, written by his widdow, is a must read) wash over me each time I listen to him sing.

Music is so powerful. 

I am thankful that in my life the music my parents played while I was growing up was glorifying to God because even to this day those songs I heard way back planted seeds and desires in my heart.  They still strongly affect me now.  They still cause me to want to glorify God and worship Him.  Life is good.

pizza in taiwan

After my mom read about my phone call and pizza pick-up by moped a few weeks ago, she was worried about my safety.  How exactly does one carry pizza on a moped?

Allow me to take you on a photo tour of a pizza hut adventure in Taiwan! :)

Pizza Hut Sign  The Pizza Hut

This is the Pizza Hut I go to.  The store is only for take out. 

How the Pizza gets home :)

This is my moped with the pizzas balanced on the "foot platform" area of the bike.

Again, convienently wrapped

The pizza boxes come wrapped with string (as do most packages) to make it easy to carry--especially when you are on a moped (not necessarily the driver--the passanger would carry the pizza's this way).

The boxes of pizza

The front says "hot all the way to home."  See the little guy on a moped, delivering the pizza's?  He is the white part of the "O."

And, that's all folks.  Very simple and safe, right?  I didn't take any pics of the pizza, cuz . . . well. . . you've seen pizza before, right?

I will try to take a picture of a "pizza delivery moped" next time I pass one. :)

name that tune

I had another one of those 1/2 sleep and 1/2 awake moments!  Which is crazy because I very rarely have one (maybe once every five years)!!

Anyway, this time is was part of a song: 

When every road your travelling only leads you to an end
I'll still be here, right where I've always been.

I know I have this song on CD somewhere, but I can' think of who sings it or the rest of the song's lyrics.  I have done several combinations with google which have all proved fruitless. 

So, anyone know it?  Anyone knows who sings it?  Any help would be much appreciated!!  I think if I could listen to the whole song, these two lines would quite being an earworm.

check it out!


The topic of the Carnival of Beauty this week is "The Beauty of Order" and is being hosted by the scribbling Blair.

You might also consider checking out some of the previous Carnivals of Beauty. 

So far, there are wonderful collections of posts for you to enjoy on the:

the closer i get to the cross

There is safety in the distance; out of sight and out of mind
And life is unexamined out of fear for what I'll find
But once again in solitude my soul is unfilled
So I press through the crowd and I step toward the hill

The closer I get to the cross the more clearly I see
The holiness of You and the sinfullness in me
There's a beauty in the agony that draws me to this place
The closer I get to the cross the more amazed I am by grace

There are times I want to turn my head so I don't have to face the truth
Of everything you've done for me and what I've done to You
But here my eyes are opened and it breaks my heart to know
Just how deep the roots of all my failures go

Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, Blessed Lord
To the cross where Thou has died
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, Blessed Lord
To Thy precious bleeding side

This song ("The Closer I Get to the Cross") captures my heart's cry right now!!  I have listened to it over and over ever since I bought Palisade's selftitled CD. But you can listen to it (and four other songs) free if you download the file(s) from their website.

Our God is sheer mercy and sheer grace!!  Hallelujah!!!!!

whole brain?

Originally uploaded by jaycross.

In one of my classes (that is for future teachers), we start by looking at "who" is our student. We look at multiple intelligences, learning styles, and learning strategies our students might posess.

In preparing for class, I found a blogthings for right brain, left brain dominerance. It seems, like many times before, I still tend to be pretty much down the middle with a stronger leaning to the left.

Amanda is
55% Left Brained, 45% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning. Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others. If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic. Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility. Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way. If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art. Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

flashback to memory lane

You know . . . sometimes you experience a few moments between sleep and awake--not fully either.  Today, all four alarms were going off simultaneously.  I had just got them all on snooze (they are all not right by my bed--they are scattered throughout the room), when I thought, next time they all go off I will get "up and at 'em."  Had not heard that phrase in years!!  Instantly, I pictured Adam in my head. 

AdamWhen I was growing up, my mother would say "up and at 'em" to wake us up.  For years and years (probably till I actually saw it written down), I thought she was saying "up and Adam."  I never was sure why Adam had anything to do with waking up.  But I just assumed that the first man was an early riser or hard worker and that my mom was just using a standard idiom. :)

the hunger for a heavenly book

Dsc02375I just started reading the autobiography of a persecuted Chinese house church leader.

When he first trusted Jesus, he desired to know "the words of Jesus."  But there were no Bibles to be found in China at that time; his mother told him, "All [of Jesus'] words are gone.  There is nothing left of his teaching."  The boy walked a long way to another village to beg an old pastor to let him just see a Bible. 

The pastor told him, "The Bible is a heavenly book.  If you want one, you'll need to pray to the God of heaven.  Only he can provide you a heavenly book.  God is faithful.  He always answers those who seek him with all of their heart."

The teenage boy knelt on a stone in his room and prayed over and over for a Bible, but no Bible appeared.  He went back to the old pastor to beg again.  This time the pastor said,  "If you're serious, then you should not only kneel down and pray to the Lord, you should also fast and weep.  The more you weep the sooner you'll get a Bible."

For months, he fasted and wept and pleaded with God for a Bible.  His parents were afraid he was losing his mind.  But then, in a miraculous way (read the book to find out how), God gave him the heavenly book he had so been longing for.  He didn't let the old Bible out of his site, and he read it all day every day whenever he had a chance.  This is how he explains it:

In the beginning, reading my Bible wasn't easy because I had only received three years of education.  Furthermore, my Bible was in the traditional Chinese script, while I had learned the simplified characters.  I found a dictionary and painstakingly looked up one character at a time as I advanced through the Bible.   

Finally I finished reading through the whole Bible, so I started to memorize one chapter per day.  After 28 days I had memorized the whole Gospel of Matthew.  I quickly read through the three other Gospels before preceding to the Book of Acts and started to memorize it.

What?  You've got to be kidding me?  How lackadaisical am I?  How much do I take for granted?

Not only do I have several Bibles here with me in Taiwan, I have several back in the States in storage.  And, not only do I have many of them, I have never once in all my buying and receiving of Bibles thought anything close to the fact that the only way I could get such a heavenly book is if God, in his sovereignty, provided one for me.  (Of course he has/did--he has blessed me with many, but have I ever once given him the credit for me being able to have his teachings to read?  No, rather I have just purchased them as I would have any other book at a bookstore.  Oh, except I do get to pick out what color leather I like best for the outside.)

And not only do I have lots of Bibles, and not only have I never given God the credit for being the only reason I could have so many heavenly books, I have never fasted, wept, and knelt in prayer for months pleading with God for anything.

Furthermore, as I read this autobiography, I was also convicted with my lack of hunger for God's words.  Reading my Bible is something I must discipline myself to do, not something I crave and must munch on during every free minute.  Memorizing scripture is a discipline I have decided to work on this year--first by contemplating memorizing a short collection of verses, then by thinking about a verse a day until I had whole chapters and perhaps a book memorized.  But this teenager, a brand new believer with only three years of education, is memorizing whole chapters in one day, able to memorize the entire book of Matthew in less than a month! 

God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he's rich in love. He doesn't endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever.  He doesn't treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.  As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him.  And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins. As parents feel for their children, God feels for those who fear him.  (Psalm 103:8-14)

Oh!  I am so thankful God is like this!!

Oh, Heavenly Father you are sheer mercy, sheer grace, rich in love.  Forgive me for not craving your Word as I should.  Please place inside of me a burning hunger for your Words.  Thank you for being longsuffering, and quick to forgive and full of compassion.  Thank you for your strong love for me.

the beauty of order


When I listen to music, I enjoy the beauty of order.

When I see art work by Piet Mondrian, I appreciate the beauty of order.

When I think about the food chain or the intricacies of the human body, I marvel at the beauty of order.

When there are directions to follow, I am thankful for the beauty of order.

When I create a syllabus or make lesson plans, I love the beauty of order.

When I find places for things and things in their places, I enjoy the beauty of order.

I am thankful for order.  I like order.  It really is beautiful.

I like it when things follow an expected pattern.  I like that I can't wrap my mind around the amazingly complex and elaborate order of things in our universe.  I like listening to and gazing at wonderful artistic materpieces which exisit because of order.

Order is peaceful and calming.  But even the words that mean the opposite of order sound like they are confused themselves: cacophony, discombobulation, pandemonium, hubbub, hullabaloo, and so on.

The very fact that there is even a little order in such a chaotic, sinful world makes me want to praise the One who created it (order) in the first place!  He gives us such wonderful things to enjoy and the beauty of order is just one of them! 

back to school

Our spring semester started this Wednesday.  Our semester goes from the beginning of March to the first week of July.

This semester I am teaching:

  • Writing 4 (which is about the academic essay),

  • Business English Conversation 2 and 4 (two different 3 hour courses),

  • Public Speaking 2,

  • Songs, Chants, & Rhymes for English Teaching, and

  • Advanced English Conversation with American Movies. 

That makes a total of 16 teaching hours.  I then have a few office hours and other "at school" responsibilities.  But all in all, I can't complain.  I get paid to do what I love and it doesn't demand my every waking minute. :)

Below are some pictures of me and one of my classes taken last semester (when I was being observed by all the teachers in the department--in some pics you can see the other teachers in the back).

home again

Well, I am home again--the Taiwan home that is. :)

The last two days I sat in a meeting listening to a humble man of God who has started multiple streams of multi-generational self-reproducing churches in East Asia.  We were trained to do the same. 

Like the Father of the son who was possessed by evil spirits my heart cries, "I do believe!  Help my unbelief!" 

There are so many reasons why it can't be done here through me . . . why it doesn't make sense . . . why it is impossible.  But we serve a God for whom nothing is impossible.  How small my faith is! 

One of the things the trainer said during this training time is that we are responsible to scatter seeds.  The more we scatter, the more fruit we will see.  But if we scatter thinly or selectively, we obviously will see less fruit.  I don't scatter (share my faith) enough.  I must be more fervent in telling those I know the reason for my hope in Christ.

And . . . considering that less than 2% of the Taiwanese people know Christ as Savior . . . well, I can be pretty sure everyone I encounter everyday does not know the Great News.  Oh, may the truth of the lostness of the people around me give me strength to boldly proclaim the story of my Lord.

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