let's be honest

Am I adventurous?

I ask because people who look at my life from the outside tell me I am.  Even some of my closest friends tell me I am. 

But, let me tell you . . . I don't think that I am.  Mostly I think I am naive and foolish. 

worship in taiwanese

I've enjoyed the video clips of worship that are on this missionary blog: First Term on the Field.  So, this past Saturday night, I decided to capture a little worship in Taiwanese to share too. 

Nothing, not even babies, makes my heart leap higher for joy than listening to people worship the King of kings and Lord of Lords in their own language!

Did you hear it:  "gwa ay jew gwa bay ging by nee"? 

It means: "My Lord, I come to praise you!"

This video is actually of a group of Taiwanese Believers from Taipei who came down south to share the Gospel in Kaohsiung County alongside Grace Family Church for three days. 

Taiwanese sharing Good News with other Taiwanese in Taiwanese--How awesome is that!?!?

Ging by nee, Lord!!

my student's lunch

lunch, originally uploaded by charlotte727.

Oh, yeah, that's right . . . an edible teddy bear made of rice!

See what I mean?  How Creative!!

the creativity of the Uncreated One

Carnival of Beauty

I recently heard God called the "Uncreated One" in a song.  How neat is that!?! . . . I had never thought of that before.   I'd always thought of him only as the "Creator-God" without acknowledging that means He is also the "Uncreated One."

The bibical creation account ends with our uncreated God saying, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Genesis 1:26).

The beauty of being made in God's image is that mankind is different from all other creatures and in that it reveals our family resemblance to our
heavenly Father.

All over the world and throughout time humans have several characteristics which seperate us from all other creatures. For example: We are moral.  We are able to value beauty.  We long to know and be known; relaionships are central to who we are.  We are spiritual and are souls.  We have understanding and intellegence.  And, perhaps my favorite, we are creative. 

God's creativity never ceases to amaze me.  I am taken aback by how unique each of his creations are--how intricate and complex, how beautiful.  Travelling to other countries has given me the opportunity to see flowers I'd never seen before, eat crazy looking, great tasting fruits I'd never seen before, gaze upon colorful, unique tropical fish, and admire beautiful diverse landscapes that cannot be caputured on film or with an artist's paintbrush. I love watching the sun set and rise because each time is different from all the times before.  The Uncreated One's creativity streches beyond anything we can grasp with human minds. 

But, the Uncreated One has made us in His image, and He made each of us creative.  We each find different--unique--ways to express our creativity.  Some are excellent cooks.  Some are amazing architects.  Some are playwrites, authors, songwriters, coreographers, inventors, artists. 

We see humanity's creative charasteristic even in children.  They are perhaps some of the most creative among us.  I love talking to and playing with children because their imaginations are so active--they think of things I never would have.

Each one of the distinct characteristcs I mentioned above could be an entire blog post all on their own.  The depth with which this week's topic--the Beauty of Being Made in
God's Image--could go made me not want to post on it at all
since I don't have time to really dig into all that this means this

So, please go visit Keziah on Wednesday at A Woman who Fears the Lord to see how creatively other women discussed the beauty of being made in God's image!  And, next week, just in time for Easter our theme is The Beauty of the Resurrection and will be hosted by Lindsey at Just Enjoy the Journey.  Consider joining us!  We'd love to have you be a part!

erhu at the park

This is a short video or me playing my ErHu at the park this past Sunday.  The pastor's wife is singing in Taiwanese while I play.

i really want one

my taiwanese nephew (bw)

This precious baby is my "Taiwanese nephew."  He is a few months old and, oh, so cute. 

By "Taiwanese nephew" I mean . . . my best friend's brother's son. :)  (My best friend's family treats me like their third daughter/sister.)

I LOVE babies!  And--as you can tell from the title of this post--yes, I still long to be a mommy.


an empty Taiwanese classroom

Empty classroom

Empty classrooms in Taiwan.

The photo above was taken at a junior high school during a break time.

The photo to the left was taken at the college where I teach at the end of the day.  You can see the setting sun coming in through the back door.

There is always something thrilling about being in a classroom--whether empty or full.  Sometimes I like being in an empty classroom--it gives me time to pray for my students and envision all the possibilites.  But, I prefer when the room is full of students rather than empty--it is much more "alive."

Photo Scavenger Hunt

Theme: Empty | Become a Photo Hunter | View Blogroll

May I suggest you visit my bloggy friend ejia's hunt?  I love the way she always quotes Scripture in her photo hunts.

ticking or twitching?

21413923The clock in my living room held its two thick hands at 12 and 10 for about a week. 

But, the battery was--not dead--it was dying.  So, the second hand was--not ticking--it was twitching. 

With great effort but little success, the long, skinny second hand continued to try to reach for the that big nine on the left.  Twitch, twitch, twitch.

It still hung on the wall.  It still looked like a clock. 
It still told time, even if incorrectly.  It still was moving, even if unsuccessfully.  Twitch, twich, twitch.

Sometimes, I feel like my living room clock.

If my clock had feelings, I bet it was grateful when its battery was changed so it could tick like it was supposed to. No longer just stuck on the wall lying to anyone who bothered to glance at it, it is now ticking. It is now blessing those who look to him for help.  Tick, tick, tick.

I know it is that way for me.  I am, always, oh, so grateful for a charged battery so I can tick like I am supposed. 

So . . . how about you?  Are you ticking or twiching these days? 

If like my clock, you're struggling to reach that nine on the left, submit to your Maker so He can charge your battery and empower you to tick like you are supposed to.

random elevator conversation

Like I so often do, I had an unique elevator conversation this week.  Thought I'd share this one with you.

Student: I like your shoes.
Me: Oh, thanks.
Student: I have big feet too.

The Beauty of Photographs

I am a photograph enthusiast!  That is why I requested this topic when Sallie was asking for hostess a few months ago.  In my book, you can never take too many pictures!! 

You are in for a treat with some great posts this week! 

Please travel with me around the blogosphere as seven ladies share with us what is The Beauty of Photographs.  Don't forget to comment and let them know you stopped by.

Susanna @ Through a Glass
Thinking about photographs reminded Susanna of the ultimate photo album. Join her as she considers the beauty of photography.

Lindsey @ Reading Red Letters
Lindsey shares with us photographs of God's beauty that are just simply breathtaking! 

Barbara @ Fuel
Barbara writes about how once you've looked at a photo you need to start being honest about what it reveals in "Photographs Don't Lie but Sometimes I Wish They Would."

Patricia @ Pollywog Creek
Photography became the tool the Lord used to open Patricia's eyes to the abundant beauty that surrounds her every day, find out how.  Don't foget to check out her photo blog, beautiful in its time, which hosts some gorgeous photos, fine examples of what her CoB post is all about!

Blair @ Scribblings
A wedding photo sends Blair's Scribblings over "A Thousand

Ashley @ Onward & Upward
Ashley takes a look into how photographs make the distances between us not so great.

amanda @ following an unknown path
And, finally, amanda shares with us how photos are like stones of rememberance, helping us recall how great is our God. 

Carnival of Beauty

Thanks for stopping by the Carnival of Beauty this week!!  Please join us next week over at Keziah's blog for The Beauty of Being Made in the Image of God.


One Saturday night my freshmen year in college, my roommate and I went to find ice cream at 10 pm in the middle of winter.  Finding none and forgetting that coffee contains caffeine, we opted for large coffees at a bookstore.  When we got back to our dorm room just before curfew, we tried to go to sleep, but obviously could not.

So, instead of fighting it we both pulled out photo albums of mission trips we'd taken during our high school years.  We sat on that bottom loft bed, side-by-side till the wee hours of the morning flipping pages, pointing to pictures, and telling each other story after story of God's goodness, God's power, God's love.  It was a night I will never, ever forget.

For me the beauty of photographs is that they help us remember who our God is . . similar to the stones of remembrance in the Old Testament.  Looking at pictures from days gone by . . . whether they be family photos, vacation photos, mission trip photos, or just old random snapshots . . . I can't help but remember how faithful God has been in keeping His promises.

Even photos from the "rough times" in life, still speak to how He was faithful to carry us through--that even in bad situations He still remained all-powerful and all-good.  Even photos that are before I was born--of my grandparents when they were children or of my parents on their wedding day--these older photos serve as a testimony of how God has worked in and through the various generations of my family.

For me, the beauty of a photograph is that it inevitably causes my heart to swell with praise and thankfulness to the Most High God for all that He has blessed me with and for all that he is.  Now isn't that a great reason to flip (physically or virtually) though photo albums!?!


a CoB Reminder

Carnival of BeautyDon't forget to submit your post to me (amanda47 [at] gmail.com) by midnight tonight (Texas time).

The topic is The Beauty of Photographs.  Feel free to take a literal or figurative take on the topic--or even something in between. 

We welcome you to join us--find out how.


My lower back started hurting this weekend for no apparent reason, so I went to a chiropractor this morning for help.

After he asked me a bunch of questions he asked me to stand up and show him where the pain was coming from.  He immediately said, "oh I can tell you now what the problem is." 

My pelvis is uneven.  The right side is higher than the left. Probably the result of a fall.  He sent me off to get x-rays, so he could see if the spine was involved too or just the pelvis.

Turns out my spine is involved.  It is crooked and starting to rotate.  Even me with my untrained eye could see it in the x-ray.

He is helping me to get back into line and even everything out.  Praise God for good doctors!  Praise God for English speaking doctors!  Please pray with me for healing. 

requesting reccomendations

I made the photo collage below back in 2003 on some photo software my dad had. 

I want to make a new version with pics from the last four years added to the set. I also would like to have a program to do more (in general) with my pictures--for instance, I am also interested in doing some digital scrapbooking. 

I like picnik.com (free to use, is online, and interacts with flickr) and have used picasa (free to download, interacts with blogger but not flickr).  But, I want more than just making a picture lighter, darker, controlling red eye, cropping it, and so on. 

I'd like some reccomendations on what software I should check out for manipulating photos.

What software do you use?  And, what do you think about it?

Please help.  Thanks in advance.

Amanda in Asia

By the way, I can't look at the collage above with out my heart swelling with thankfulness for all God has done in my life to change and shape who I am.  How I long to glorify Him in all I do!!!!  He is such a wonderful, marvelous God!! 

How very undeserving I am!  I am eternally grateful.

active & effective sharing

If you are reading my blog . . . I have prayed this for you:

". . . that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ" (Philemon 6, ESV).

". . . that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ" (Philemon 6, NIV).


Want Something to Drink?

Oh!  So many choices!! 

I took this at my local "grocery store" about a five minute walk from my apartment here in Taiwan.


Theme: Drink | Become a Photo Hunter | View Blogroll

it's like a pair of chopsticks

The ladies over at Titus2Talk have some excellent thoughts on praying for missionaries.  Their list of ways to pray for women serving overseas is an excellent one.

I would LOVE for people to be praying prayers like this on my behalf!!  (All of them hit the nail on the head, so to speak, but number four made tears fall.)

And, the analogy that the visiting missionary shared with her is so RIGHT ON!!  Just like you can't pick up food with only one chopstick, "in the work of missions, you need both the missionary out in the field and people at home praying." 

How much we value your prayers!!

what kind of intelligence do you have?

I saw this on the Girotti Family's blog, and thought it would be fun to try.  Here's what this little blogthing said about me. :) 

If you play along too, please leave a link or comment about your dominant intelligence.

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.

An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.

You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.

A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

Hmmm . . . so is this why I love being a language teacher?  Is this why I love linguistics?  Is this why I have dreams about a PhD in Applied Linguistics?  Is this why I love writing and teaching writing?  Hmmmm . . . maybe just maybe . . . .

i love thursdays

On Thrusdays . . .

I get to teach my current favorite class "Internet English.  We are learning to blog in English right now.  Today's lesson in our awesome computer lab is on posting pictures.  How fun!!

I get to go to my erhu lesson.  I love learning to play the erhu.  I love making music.  I love my erhu teacher--she is so fun.

I only teach 2 hours (and did I mention it was my favorite class?).

And, it is the start of my weekend!!  (I have no classes on Friday.)


Oh, and this Thursday is even better than normal because yesterday
Flickr released their "sets of sets" feature they are calling collections.  I am so excited about this feature!!  I only played with it for a little while yesterday . . . I can't wait to organize my photos with this.

Yeah, Thursdays are GREAT! 

The Beauty of Fragrance

Carnival of Beauty

This week's carnival is now up.

Please stop by and thank Blair for hosting this week. 

Then check out some neat posts on the Beauty of Fragrance!

Next week our topic is The Beauty of Photographs and will be hosted here.  If you've been thinking about joining us, next week's topic is a great time to do so (hint, hint)! :)

like incense rising

inscense burning

One of the things that many visitors first notice about Taiwan is the scent of incense that fills temples and homes.  It lingers in the air and can be quite overwhelming to someone not accumstomed to being around inscense.

For a long time, I detested inscense.  I hated the smell.  It was anything but fragrant.

But, then one day, as I was reading scripture I saw this verse: "Let my prayer be counted as incense before you" (Psalm 141:2a). 

This caught me off guard. 

My eyes stopped moving across the text so I could contemplate what I was seeing for the first time.

I didn't even realize on a conscience level that fragrant incense was used throughout the old testament to worship God.  Incense is also mentioned in the Book of Revelation:

And another angel came
and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much
incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar
before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. (Revelation 8:3-4)

Our prayers rise before God like the smoke of burning incense wafts towards the sky.  The sweet aroma of burning incense symbolizes something pleasing and acceptable being offered to God.

The smoke from incense is different than smoke from burning candles, cooking, or camp fires.  The smoke visably lingers in the air as it twists and swirls its way upwards. Its distinctive aroma completely fills the air.  It is not quick and fleeting.  It is slow and heavy, deliberate and continous. 

Oh, how I want my prayerlife to be like that! 

Lord, may our worship, may our prayers, continually rise before You, God of heaven and earth.  May their fragrance be pleasant and pleasing to You.

[By the way, I still detest the worship of false gods, but my opinion of incense has changed.]

This post was submitted to the Carnival of Beauty. This week the theme is The Beauty Fragrance and is hosted by Blair at ScriblingsJoin us next week for The Beauty of Photographs here at following an unknown path.

teaching barefoot


I know I've told that in Taiwan we take off our shoes before we enter someone's home.  But, have I ever told you that I teach barefoot too?

All of my classes are in a language lab or computer lab; so, we must take off our shoes before entering the classrooms.  "Regular classrooms" do not require shoes be removed.

Why the floors of these rooms must be kept clean I will never know.  But, that is the school rule, so that is what we do.  And just for the record, the student's don't like it.

I love the fact that the school provides these nifty little shoe cases for the students to put their shoes, but that instead students just pile the shoes in front of the shoe case.

Outside of a computer classroom at my school:

please take off your shoes

a CoB reminder

Carnival of BeautyDon't forget to submit your post to Blair via her site by midnight tonight (Tuesday).

The topic is The Beauty of Fragrance.  Feel free to take a literal or figurative take on the topic--or even something in between. 

We welcome you to join us--find out how.

Web 2.0 vs 1993's Internet

Cool video explaining Web 2.0 in under 5 min.  Watch and learn.

Created by: Michael Wesch
[Hat tip: Josiah's blog]

Or, if you'd rather have a flashback, here is a 1993 intro to Internet (that's right, no definate article).

We've come a long way, baby!

check it out

I've really been enjoying a recent addition to my blogroll--The M Blog--a blog by Guy Muse a missionary in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

I cannot express in words how much pictures like this delight my heart!!

He also has an excellent set of quotes on church planting and the church planting movement.  These quotes are actually part of a series of posts done on The M Blog--if after reading the quotes you are interested in more--browse around you'll find some good stuff.

me and books

21413212_1I LOVE books. 

Last week one of my students came in carrying a box of textbooks her class had ordered for another course.  The simple fact that there were books inside the box that I had not seen or touched made my heart go pitter patter. :) 

Seriously.  I kid you not.  I am like a kid in a candystore when I enter a bookstore or library.

Anywho, without further adieu, here are my answers to the book meme I first saw on Hiraeth and Lux Venit that has been going around recently.

Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback? 
Doesn't matter as long as it is a book.  Actually, the only thing that matters is the cost--cheaper is better.  But, I have to admit, I prefer looking at hardback books on my shelves--they are just prettier.

Online purchase or brick and mortar? 
Online.  I love bookstores, but will end up purchasing online. 

Barnes & Noble or Borders? 
Neither.  We don't have them here.

Bookmark or dog-ear? 
I have this great little magnectic bookmark that clings to my pages and never falls out.  I would never, no never, dog-ear a book!!

Mark or not mark?
I do highlight and underline in books.  But I am careful with the ink quality of the pens used to do so because I don't want bleeding, smearing, or fading to occur as the book ages.  And, I would NEVER buy a book marked up by someone else.

Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random?
None of the above.  Like the First Lady, I use Library of Congress numbers to order my books.  At one time, I even made little tags for the spines.  And would love to do so again for all the newer purchases I kept.

Keep, throw away, or sell? 
I either keep a book or give it away.  I don't particuarly enjoy reading novels or biographies again, so after reading them once, I pass them on for others to enjoy.  Most nonfiction I keep so I can reference it or read it again.

Keep dustjacket or toss it? 
Toss.  I love the pretty spines of hard back books.

Read with dustjacket or remove it?
With.  Gotta keep that spine clean.  And, the inside flaps can be used as bookmarks.

Short story or novel?

Collection (short stories by same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)? 

Lord of the Rings or Narnia?
Hmm . . . I've only read The Hobbit.  But, I do own The Lord of the Rings series, just couldn't get past the first few chapters of the first book.

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? 
Chapter breaks  . . . unless I fall asleep reading.

“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”? 
Either. :D

Buy or Borrow? 
Fiction and biographies--borrow.  NonFiction--Buy.

New or used? 
Does not matter as long as the book is not marked up or dog-eared.

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse? 
BROWSE!!!!!!!  And, sometimes by recommendation.

Tidy ending or cliffhanger?
Cliffhanger is ok if part of a series, but not as the "final" ending.

Morning reading, afternoon reading or night time reading? 

Standalone or series?
Either ok.  Series reading is fun.  But, standalone is ok too. 

Favorite series? 
I can no more pick a favorite series than I can pick a favorite song.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? 
I would like to say Stepping Heavenward, but it seems like it is a popular book with the blogging community I hang out with.  I read it in 1999 and LOVED it.  It was the only English language novel in the Taiwanese Christan bookstore that I shopped at when I was an exchange student.

I also read an excellent, excellent biography on Abigial Adams my freshmen year of college.  It was one of the best books I've ever read.  But, I couldn't tell you the author unless I found the paper I wrote for class reviewing it.

Favorite books read last year? 
Again, I can no more pick a favorite book than I can pick a favorite song.  But, I did enjoy Jerry Bridges' The Discipline of Grace.

Favorite book of all time? 
Ditto on the there is no way I can pick a fave--NO WAY.  (I know many others have answered this "the Bible."  But, for me, I've never really thought of the Bible as "a book."  It is in a different class.  It is the word of God living and active--no book is like that.)

Three questions I am surprised not to see . . .

Fiction or NonFiction?
I enjoy nonfiction much more than fiction.  Historical fiction is ok, and occasionally I love me some creative take-me-away chick lit, but overall I prefer reading nonfiction.  I love biographies.

One book at a time or have several in process at the same time?
Several.  A few to choose from at bedtime, a few in a drawer behind the dinner table (I live alone you know), a few in the living room, and at least one in the purse.

Crack the spine or leave it unbroken?
When I was young (around 8-9), my dad taught me how to "break in" a book.  How to work your way from the outsides to the center creasing the spine ever-so-slightly so that the book could be opened and read without leaving it traumatized.

It's funny because I remember how serious he was in teaching me this very important step in owning a new book, and I remember just how proud I was that he was entrusting this bit of wisdom with me.  I still do it to this day with every new book I get.  It is the second thing I do.  The first?  Flip through the pages and inhale--the smell of a book is, oh, so important.

Yeah, that's right, we are bibliophiles--not just readers, book-lovers.

And since Kim claimed to be feeling a little like Kermit . . . this meme was brought to by the letter B for Bookworm Bookmarks.

death is

"Death has been swallowed up in victory!" (1 Cor. 15:54)

DEATH is an outlet and an inlet to a holy man.

Death is an eternal outlet . . .
    to all sins,
    to all sorrows,
    to all shame,
    to all sufferings,
    to all afflictions,
    to all temptations,
    to all oppressions,
    to all confusions, and
    to all vexations.

Death is an eternal inlet into . . .
    the clear, full, and constant enjoyment of God,
    the sweetest pleasures,
    the purest joys,
    the highest delights,
    the strongest comforts, and
    the most satisfying contentments.

Death is the funeral of all a holy man's sins and miseries--and
the perfection of all his joys, graces, and spiritual excellencies.

Death is not the death of the man--but the death of his sin.

Death is a Christian's discharge from all trouble and misery!

Death came in by sin--and sin goes out by death.

Death cures all diseases--the aching head and the unbelieving
heart; the diseased body and the defiled soul. Death will cure
the holy man of all natural and spiritual distempers.

Death is God's gentle usher to conduct us to heaven.

Death to a holy man, is nothing but the changing of . . .
    his grace--into glory,
    his faith--into vision,
    his hope--into fruition, and
    his love--into eternal rapture!

Oh, who would not go through death . . .
    to heaven!
    to eternal life!
    to immortality and glory!

Death, to a Christian, is . . .
    a welcome guest,
    a happy friend,
    a joyful messenger!

"Death has been swallowed up in victory!" (1 Cor. 15:54)

(Thomas Brooks, 1662)
Compliments of Grace Gems!

architecture at the Lantern Festival


The two weeks that follow Chinese New Year are to celebrate the "Lantern Festival."

Along Love River in downtown Kaohsiung homemade lanterns are on display. 

Most of the lanterns, made by shool children, were either pigs (remember it's year of the pig) or about the 2009 World Games to be held here in Kaohsiung, but a few of the lanterns on display were famous buildings in Taiwan.

Here is a pig with the 85-story building in Kaohsiung (Yes, it does appear to be that the building and the pig are in a bathtub.  I have no idea why).


Here is a Taipei 101 lantern.  Taipei 101 is the world's tallest building.

taipei 101 lantern

See what architecture other photo hunters found.

my love affair with music

Beth and Ashely at Onward & Upward posted a fun little musical meme to add a little music to the party (my 1st party post).  What a great idea!  I love music and totally agree with them about a party is no party if there is no music. 

HOWEVER!  I could not choose my FAVORITE song for a bunch genres any more than you could tell me which child of yours is your favorite.  You just don't.  You just can't.

AND . . . all those 80's songs that were on the radio when I was growing up--I never heard.  All those 90's songs that were on the radio when I was in high school--again, never heard.  Let me tell you why . . .

When I was a kid, I had all 6 Psalty the Singing Songbook tapes that were out at that time.  I listened to one side of one tape each night to fall asleep (which started a music listening habit that didn't stop till I got to college and had roommates).  Although I loved all 6 tapes, Kid's Praise 4 about being a servant and Kid's Praise 5 about a camping trip (casting our cares on the Lord) were played most often.  I LOVED Psalty.  These cassettes introduced me to worship and faith and showed me that praising God is a very real, everyday in everyway kind of thing.

I remember my parents listening to Keith Green and the Maranatha! Praise Team . . . these too had a powerful impact on my love of music and heart of worship.  Psalty, Keith Green, and the Maranatha! Songs hold an incredibly special, tender place in my heart.

Teen Years

When I was in sixth grade, I woke up on Valentine's Day with a terrible case of chicken pox.  It was a terrible catastrophe to me. 

As a result, my mom and dad both sympathized and spoiled me.  I clearly remember my dad buying me my very own bottle of Diet Pepsi--a glass bottle that was my very own to drink all by myself.  (By the way, I kept that bottle till 2003, which I decopoged with stickers and filled with pennies).  And, one day during my three weeks home from school, mom brought me a walking yellow helium doctor balloon and two cassette tapes--Michael  W. Smith's The Big Picture and Twila Paris' For Every Heart.

Little did I know this was part of her great plan to help me "grow up" (not the chicken pox--the tapes).  She had decided that I needed to "move past" Psalty.  When we moved at the end of that year, she helped me to finally release my Psalty tapes into the world to bless someone else. 

I spent my babysitting money and allowances on building a CD collection of contempary Christian pop music . . . in addition to Twila and Michael, I bought CDs from muscians like Steven Curtis Chapman, Point of Grace, Amy Grant, 4Him, and NewSong. I also had a several various praise and worship CDs. 

College Years
I had built quite a collection of CDs by the time I entered college.  And it had become an addiction of sorts . . . I needed to buy new music. 

My first sememster at college, I realized I was addicted to buying music.  Really--I was convicted.  So, in 1997, I didn't buy any new music at all.  I "fasted" from purchasing CDs (I'm not even sure my parents knew about this; at the time I only told my roommate LeAnn about it).

DjAfter that, I didn't really enjoy comtempary Christian music anymore.  I listened to a lot of Dennis Jerrinagin, Don Moen, and the Passion worship leaders and bands.  I longed for meaning and substance.

Since I can now buy music with a single click anytime night or day,  I still have to be careful because I have a serious weakness for buying music.  I have thousands of songs stored on my external harddrive and enjoy enjoying them.  (I do not, however, want to think about the fact that that means thousands of dollars spent.)

I also enjoy a variety of sounds and styles now too. In my post-college years, for the first time in my life, I started listening to "non-Christian music."  I enjoy a little jazz or country now and then.  I look for and enjoy many indie artists; I like listening to sounds that aren't quite so "polished."  I also enjoy songs with meaningful lyrics--I like it when the singer is also the song writer.  I also prefer bands over solo artists.  Oh, and I also listen to music in Chinese.

My itunes and mini ipod most frequently play in "random shuffle" mode, but some of my current most played songs include songs by (in no particular order). . .

I could type another 20 or even another 40 groups/singers 'cuz, well, I LOVE music. :)  Nope . . . there is no way I could ever pick a favorite song or group.

How about you?  Know a group I should try out? 
Is music an important part of your life?  Why or why not?

The Beauty of Saul/Paul

This week I get to host to three amazing posts on the Beauty of Saul/Paul.  Will you please join me in reading what these bloggers found so beautiful in this man?

Blair @ Scribblings
While reading through the New Testament this year,
Blair considered the persecution of the early church.  Her Scribblings now lead her to the conclusion that
when Paul was fighting against Christ, he was willing to kill
to uphold his beliefs....However, when he surrendered to Christ, he was willing
to die telling others about the day Jesus asked him, "Why do
you persecute Me?"

Ellen @ MzEllen & Co
For Ellen at MzEllen.com, the transformation from Saul to Paul is the beauty of a changed life.

amanda @ following an unknown path
And, last but not least, here are following an unknown path this week, I had a guest blogger who believes that the subtle simplicity of the one-line autobiograghy Paul writes in Romans is well worth exploring deeper.  (Technically, the CoB is for women bloggers, but this guy is slipping in under the radar as a guest blogger on this gal's blog. ;)  Cutting him a little slack I am, since; well, he is pretty important to me.)

Carnival of Beauty

Thanks for stopping by the Carnival of Beauty this week!!  Please join us next week over at Blair's Scribblings for the Beauty of Fragrance.  Hmmm . . . it's already smells nicer.

a one-line autobiography

I have a guest blogger today who has been studying the book of Romans recently.  I'll let him take care of the introductions:

Let me introduce myself.  I am Amanda’s Dad.  That’s important to me: simple, short and concise.  I am proud of my three kids, and every time I get the opportunity I routinely assert, "My oldest daughter is a college professor in Taiwan, my baby girl is a victim’s assistance counselor with the Arlington Police Department, and my 13 year old son is a miracle birth."

I love the subtle simplicity of Paul’s masterful introduction of himself in Romans 1:1.  He identified himself as an instrument invited to be immersed in a mission with a message.  Or as the English Standard Version states it, "Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God."  Actually, our English translations of Paul’s first sentence covers seven verses, but what we call verse one, I call "a one-line autobiography" or a "masterful introduction."

Think about it for a moment, how we usually introduce ourselves. We use our vocation or personal significance, what we do or who we are, as the central statement of "this is who I am."  I am a plumber, pastor, mommy, single, divorcee, etc.  Prior to most speeches by a guest speaker, some chosen individual recites a litany of the speaker’s accomplishments to set forth the identity of the speaker and the authority their message carries.

The beauty of Saul/Paul’s introduction to Romans is found in a closer look at the words he used.  Notice the name that Paul chose to go by. He was born "Saul, of Tarsus," but he chose to use his Gentile name, "Paul."  Paul was formerly a Hebrew religious zealot; his new identity is that of one who seeks to identify with the audience he wants to reach, Gentiles.  He chooses one simple word, a name of identity to say, "I, too, am like you."

Now notice the second phrase he uses, "a servant of Christ Jesus."  Actually the original word he used was doulos (slave).  Writing to an audience in an Empire that was highly populated with slaves; he classified himself as an instrument of the Redeemer.  Slaves came in all sizes, shapes and varying degrees of expertise.  Many slaves in the Roman Empire were of notable education and culture.  It was with great pride that some could say, "I am a slave of the Emperor."  With humble gratitude, Paul could say that his will was consumed in bound servitude to Messiah Savior, the Redeemer.

Kletos apostolos, that is the next identifier, “called to be an apostle.”  The Greek New Testament uses two different words for "called."  Kletos is about invitation rather than election.  "Would you like to come over for dinner,” now that is an invitation. ‘Called to be an apostle," that is an invitation to be a messenger.

Paul also says that he is "set apart" (separated) for the gospel of God.  Most of us are familiar with the word gospel (good news). But it is this word aphorizo (set apart) that is so captivating.  The verb aphorizo is a compound word composed of two words, "from" and "horizon."  Literally, the word means "off horizon."  Donald Grey Barnhouse tells the story of how this word came alive to him.  The short paraphrase is something like this: Sailing between England and the U.S., he had the opportunity to climb to the crow’s nest of the ship and observe the sunrise.  The horizon was awesome; the blending of hues and the majesty of creation reminded him of baking cookies with his mother when he was a child.  Mom would roll out the dough on a marble slab and he would "cut out" the cookies. Or should we say "off-horizon" the cookies.  The idea is that of being removed from one circumference of influence into another horizon. Or just to make it real simple, God had ripped Paul out of his former life and placed him in the circumference of Almighty God and His concerns.

Paul identified himself as an instrument invited to be immersed in a mission with a message. Such statements of profound simplicity are the product of lengthy thought and analysis. What we often quickly read over in order to get to "the good stuff" is actually quite good in and of itself.  Paul’s careful choice of words was actually the result of years of careful contemplation. Choice words of identity, crafted by an artisan word-smith.

I am still proud to be "Amanda’s dad," but I think I will work on another one liner. I need a new one liner that is carefully crafted as a humble recipient of grace and as beautiful as Paul’s. When I come up with it, I will let you know. Until then, it was nice to meet you; thank you for allowing me to introduce myself.

To read more of my dad's profound words of wisdom, check out his blog The Pratical Pulpit which is all about subtle simplicity.

finally joining the blog party


I am finally joining the party . . . better late than never, right?

At first, I wasn't going to join in the party because well . . . I'm not a mom.  But Susan and Janice did say that everyone was invited AND yall looked like yall (can you tell I'm from Texas?) were having just way too much fun to be left out any longer.

Me and Gilby

Of course, Gilby, my little, white, Maltese ball of cuddely cuteness, says hi!  He just loves company!!

So, let's see what can I offer you?  How about some seaweed chips, a century year old egg, or a bit of my favorite pumpkin hotpot

To drink, I can offer you some traditional Chinese tea or a great green tea pudding drink.  If you have a sweet tooth, I've got either green tea cheese cake or some taro ice cream for you.

So, in case you can't tell by my party foods, let me just inform you that I don't reside in America.  I live in Taiwan, a little tropical island off the coast of China and home to over 23 million people.  And, yes, since you asked, I do speak Chinese--started studying it nearly 10 years ago! If you wanna know why I live in Taiwan, you can read this.

Probably the fastest way to get to know me better is by looking at what I did in 2005 or 2006 (12 pictures for each year, one per month).  Or, if you wanna look out my windows, you can; I don't mind--really.

Oh, and before you head over to some other blogs to party on (over 640 something to choose from as of right now--WOW!!), sunset at the beachlet me invite you to particiapte in the Carnival of Beauty . . . find out how here.  We'd love to have you join us.

Thanks for stopping by!  Feel free to dip your toes into the ocean if you want to before you leave--especially if you are in a "wintery place." :) 

"Yall come back now."

pet pigs

Some walk dogs (me) and some walk  . . . PIGS!!

some walk dogs and some walk pigs

This little pig and Gilby did not quite hit it off--Gilby just couldn't quite figure him out.

This is actually not the first pet pig I have seen in Taiwan.  And, awhile back, another pet pig made it into the English language newspaper. 

And, it is my guess that since this is the "year of the pig" even more Taiwanese will take in pigs to be their pets.  And, why, might you ask, would someone want a pet pig . . . well, it is claimed that pigs are clean, don't smell, are affectionate, and don't bark.

Wanna know more about "precious pigs"?  Read this.

pray for amanda


If you would like to receive prayer updates from amanda, please join her google group.  You can expect prayer updates in your email inbox at least once a month.


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The Carnival of Beauty (updated)

Carnival of Beauty

As you may well already know, Sallie at A Gracious Home has passed on the sponsorship of the Carnival of Beauty to me. 

The basic way that the carnival works will remain the same, and the topics and hostesses that Sallie has already lined up will also stay the same. 

The new "main carnival page" is now here.  And, the new logo is to the left (which is thanks to Sallie's husband, David).  So please update your links.

[Edited] This coming week's topic is The Beauty of Saul/Paul and will be hosted by me here at following an unknown path.  Please submit posts to my email address (in the sidebar, upper left) by Tuesday midnight (Texas time).

If you have not joined us yet . . . consider joining us this time!

photo hunt: salty

Seaweed flavor?

Interesting Chip FlavorsMy students here in Taiwan LOVE chips!! 

However, I am not a real big chip eater (unless we are talking totillia chips loaded with salsa).  And, when the flavor happens to be Kyushu Seaweed, I don't even eat one!  Who wants fishy chips?

Other intersting flavors include "Thai Sweet and Spicy Prawn," "Japanese Teriyaki," "Seaweed" and "Chicken."

unknown paths

an unknown path

. . . in paths that they have not known
    I will guide them.

I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground.

These are the things I do,
    and I do not forsake them.

(Isaiah 42:16)

back home

Well, I am "back home."  I am now back in Taiwan after nearly two weeks in Thailand.

This winter vacation has seemed more like summer vacation with all my time spent at the beach in the past month.  But, trust me--I am NOT complaining.  It has been great.

elephant trekkby BikoBikoBiko on Flickr

Here are some things I did for the first time:

  • snorkeled in the Gulf of Thailand,

  • got stung by jellyfish,

  • created a new “avoid the scary but beautiful black sea urchins” dance,

  • rode an elephant thru the jungle and while he walked underwater down a river (yes he was mostly underwater; being on his back, I stayed dry),

  • experienced how relaxing traditional Thai massages can be,

  • rode in the back of several songthaews,

  • enjoyed a green tea and almond blizzard from a Thai Dairy Queen,

  • ate an entire orange in one bite (granted, it was mini-sized),

  • fell in love with the scent of Plumeria in the evening air, and

  • gazed upon the most breath-taking orange sunrises and sunsets ever.

Nevertheless, I really did not do much sight-seeing.  Just enjoyed the beach, great company, and a few massages. :)  I would like to go back to do some sightseeing and more trekking some day, but other countries need visiting as well.  Hmmm . . . which one will it be?

Anywho, now that I have a great tan and am ready for summer vacation to start, the "spring semester" begins tomorrow. :)  I am not sure I am ready for another 18 weeks of teaching; I kinda like vacation-mode. 

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