from my 1999 journal

In the summer of 1999, I moved to Taiwan to be an exchange student for a year.  It was a very difficult summer.  I recently came across my journal from that year as an exchange student.  Reading the pages brings tears to my eyes--what a life changing experience. 

Tucked inside the front cover was this:

This summer I struggled with the conflict between the God I know and the situations I found myself in.  It was this last month in my time alone with Him that God both convicted me and comforted me with "I am your Father, what child would I forsake?  When you are in my will, all is well." 

Our feelings and experiences provide inaccurate pictures of God.  Accuracy should be left to history and Scripture.  God showed me that I need to remember that revelation has priority over experience!

When we base our decisions and faith solely on experiences and emotions, we might miss Truth.  What an important, but difficult, lesson to learn.

the truth about straightening curly hair

amanda's straight hair On the 17th of Jan, I straightened my hair.  So, I've lived with straight hair for a little over a month now.

So, I thought it about time to answer some of the questions I've been asked about straightening curly hair for all you curious minds out there. :)

How long will it last?
Well, hair wants to be straight.  So, unlike a perm, straightening hair will stay straight. In other words, it won't "relax."  The only way I get my curls back is for them to grow back.

Did you do it yourself, or did you have it done?
I went to a salon near my home.  She first relaxed the curl.  That wasn't enough, so she relaxed it again.  Then she straightened with it with an iron, and then applied the perming solution.  The whole process took over four hours.

If you don't dry your hair, will it dry straight?

Yes.  I did this one day just to answer your question.  It still dries very straight, which is weird for me.   But, if I happen to stick it behind my ear then that little piece of hair will dry with a bend in it.

How does it look after you wake up. Is it frizzy at all?
Nope.  I can brush it and go. 

Which one is harder to take care of--curly hair or straight hair?
By far straight hair is much more inconvenient.  There seems to be less to do with board straight hair.  Pony tails and clips just fall right out (my hair is really thin).  So, for now it is either all down or in a headband.  Also, it must be combed and brushed on a regular basis, and you have to take the time to dry it.   With curly hair, it is wash, comb and go.  Don't touch again till you are putting it up or washing it again. And when the wind blows?  Curly hair doesn't fly into your face, straight hair does.

Big_curlsDo people think you look more Asian now?
I have had a few people make comments along the lines that straight hair does make me look more Asian. However, the most common reaction though from among my Taiwanese coworkers and friends is that now I am more "lady like." Before, apparently my curls made me more 活潑 ("wa paoh" or "hou po), which is defined as "lively; vigorous; vivacious; vivid; agile; animated; brisk; breezy; bright; cheery; spry."  The other comment is that I now look much younger.  Hmm . . . younger and more lady like?  Ok.  Whatever floats your boat.

Would you do it again?
As in, if you could do it all over again, would you?  Probably yes.  I've enjoyed the change.  As in, will you keep straightening it?  No.  I like my curls and want them back.  They are an intricate part of who I am.

Other things I've noticed: Gray Hair
For the first week, I saw gray hairs every where.  Here's my theory on why: First, gray hair has a different texture, so it needed more relaxant than the brown ones, so they were a little curly still.  Second, they weren't as long as the majority of brown hairs, so they were easier to stand out.  Third, with curly hair, hairs hang out together with friends in ringlets.  This allowed the gray hairs to hide themselves amongst their younger friends. (I was going to prove my point with a picture, but decided it wasn't the best idea after all.  So, just use your imagination, ok?)

Other things I've noticed: Greasy
My sister used to complain about greasy hair . . . as a curly girl, I just didn't get it.  Now I do.  Oil from your scalp likes to coat your hair.  But, oil has a hard time running down curly locks.  This is reason number one why moisturizing well is a priority for anyone with natural curly hair.  So, just like I never blew my hair dry before straightening it, I also never had "grease hair" before either. 

Other things I've noticed: Using a Curling Iron
Big_curls_backI've used a curling iron on my new straight hair to add in some big curls.  Before long the curls had fallen out.  It was a weird feeling to watch curls not be able to stay in my hair.  I like the big curls and have considered possibly perming my hair as my roots get longer. (Even in this picture, you can see them starting to fall out.)

Things I worried about: My Roots
Yeah, my hair is starting to grow out.  I currently have about half an inch to an inch of wiry roots.  It is not as bad as I thought it would be, but it does make my hair look a little frizzy around the part line.  Still a concern of mine; still not sure what I'm gonna do when it turns to two, three, or four inches of "wire."

Things I worried about: Missing my Curls
Yes, I miss them.  But, it took about three weeks before I missed them.  And, I only miss them when I see pictures of my curly-haired self with a good hair cut.  I sigh and then think, "how long till that can come back?"

What I like Most about My Straight Hair:
I love the length.  More than it being straight, I love that it is long.

So, that's it for now--my "one month later update."  Any thing else you wanna know about straightening curly hair? 

help name my parents

Ok, so they both already have real names. :)  What we'd like help with is their "grandparent" names. 

My dad suggested awhile back I ask my blog readers for some ideas--kinda like I did with my dog a few years back.  So . . . what do you call your grandparents or what do your grandchildren call you?  Or, have you heard of something cute and creative someone uses?

I'm pretty sure they've decided not to go with classic "grandma" and "grandpa."  They want something a bit more "fun."  Because . . . hey, they are!

So, please comment and help my parents name themselves.

my new class

Last Monday, I received a call at 9:10 asking me if I'd like to teach a class from 8 to 10 on Monday mornings.  The class was mine if I showed up before 9:30, so they could "meet the new teacher."

Even though I didn't have class till 3 pm, I was already dressed and ready thanks to years of listening to flylady.  I put on my outside shoes and scootered to school. (ok, so in Asia, flylady's shoe thing just doesn't work as well.)

I learned that they were "child care majors" and that is was a "listening practice" class. After talking to them, I decided to use the same book they used last semester, so they wouldn't have to buy a new one.

So, class our first week was short and to the point. 

This week, I was ready for class and there at 8:00.  But, I soon discovered that the textbook I had found in my office was first edition and they were using the second edition.  Sometimes there really aren't that many changes between editions; sometimes there are. 

This was a "sometimes there are" case.  My book's chapter 12 was about money and took up two pages.  Their book's chapter 12 was about free time and took up four pages.  So . . . I winged it :)  . . . doing nothing from the book.  It is a listening class . . . I didn't have the scripts nor the teacher's CD to go with their textbook 

Mostly I teach junior and senior English majors.  I love that age, that maturity level, that language ability.  But, I'm falling in love with my freshmen childcare majors (non-English majors).  They are a fun group of sweet, giggly girls.  Just right for 8 in the morning on Mondays! :) 

I'm glad God delights in the details of our lives!!  He knew I needed a something a little different this semester.  :)

(There is a lot more I could write about Chinese New Year, maybe I'll get around to it soon or maybe I won't till next year.  We'll have to see.  I make no promises.)

fireworks and chinese new year


"[The Taiwanese] people take their fireworks extremely serious," as another Amanda living in Taiwan said a few weeks ago.  And she is very right!

There are fireworks that swirl, fireworks that explode into sparkling red hearts, and fireworks that burst into two or three colored smiley faces.  It's amazing what fireworks can do!

The first time I celebrated Chinese New Year in Taiwan, I could NOT believe the amount of fireworks and firecrackers that were used during the celebration of the New Year.  It begins on or even before New Year's Eve.  ALL NIGHT LONG firecrackers and fireworks explode seemingly EVERYWHERE. 

That first night, something cracks, whizzes, or pops at least every ten minutes.  And, sometimes the cracks, pops, and whizzes last for ten consecutive minutes. 

And, we are not talking only formal displays from cities, schools, and companies.  We are talking normal people shooting off fireworks (in the little allies between high rises).  And, they don't just go off at night, sometimes firecrackers and even fireworks are lit during the day.  This year when we were at the day market on New Year's Day, someone lit fireworks over the market area at 10 in the morning.  We were sprinkled with ashes.  It's crazy, I tell you!  Crazy!!

About two or three days after the New Year the use of fireworks and firecrackers slows down a little until the Lantern Festival, which this year is on the 21st.  (As I write this, on Thursday evening, I've already seen eight different firework shows from my study window in less than an hour!)

Below are two videos taken at my friend's school on Chinese New Year's Eve.  They are each about one minute from about 10-15 minutes of a fireworks show at her school.  So, just multiply each video by about 7, and you more or less can get the full effect.

According to my Chinese teacher and a video we watched in Chinese class (11 years ago!  oh my!!), firecrackers are a part of Chinese New Year because of a legend about a dragon named "Nian" (which is the same as the Chinese word for "year").  This man-eating dragon descended from the mountains every year in the winter to devour humans before going back into the mountains to hibernate.  One year the townspeople, of a village that was often preyed upon decided to take action and fight against Nian.  They exploded bamboo that had been filled with gun powder in order to try to scare Nian away.  And, it worked!  So, they were able to "guo nian" (過年) or "pass over Nian," and as long as they did this each year, he didn't bother their village.

Again, it sounds like this legend could have roots in the Old Testament, right?  Could Nian be the Chinese version of the angel of death from the tenth plague?  I don't know, maybe.   

But, I do know that the longer I live in Taiwan, the more convinced I become that Heart_fireworksthere will be regular displays of amazing firework shows in heaven as we celebrate the Risen Savior! 

It's gonna be awesome yall!! :)

red envelopes


Perhaps the part of Chinese New Year that is most look forward to by children is the part where they get "red envelopes" (紅包).  Inside the "red envelopes" is MONEY!!

Just like gifts under the tree at Christmas time make American children giddy with excitement and expectation, the thought of getting a red envelope does the same to Taiwanese children. 

If you do not yet have a full-time job, you can expect to get red envelopes from your parents, aunts and uncles, as well as from your grandparents.  So, all children and many young adults (those still in college) get red envelopes.  Also, if you have children who are old enough to have jobs, you can expect to receive a red envelope too.  So, grandparents usually give and receive red envelopes, but the middle aged "sandwich" generation--those with both children and elderly parents--find themselves only giving away envelopes.

(I know that online some sites say all unmarried people receive red
envelopes despite age, but in practice here in Taiwan, this is not
true.  It seems that only non-workers--the young and the very
old--receive red envelopes.  If you work, you are expected to give.)

I've asked several of my students how much money they can expect to get in total from all of their red envelopes.  I've been told amounts as low as 6,000 NT (about 190 USD) to amounts as high as 30,000 NT (about 940 USD).  I think the average falls around 8,000 to 10,000 NT (250-315 USD). 

I also asked how much they could expect to find in one envelope.  And the typical answers I get include amounts between 800 NT (25 USD) to 2000 NT (62 USD).

How much you receive in all depends on how big your family is, how many
relatives you see during the New Year holiday, and how generous your
extend family is (which seems to be dependent on how well business went
the previous year).

I don't know how much grandparents typically receive from their working children and grandchildren.

Red envelopes are often passed out after that big New Year's Eve
dinner, but this is not necessarily the only time to gift some one with
money wrapped in red.  When an aunt or uncle comes over they pull out the red envelopes and the little ones line up to say good words to the aunt or uncle and in return they get a red envelope.  Or, when you go over to grandma's and grandpa's at some point they will pull out red envelopes to give to the grandchildren. 

In fact, just like we have the "trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat" line for Halloween, there is something similar in Chinese for red envelopes that goes like this "Congratulations and good fortune; now bring out the red envelope!" (Of course in Chinese it rhymes and sounds much better.)

Like most papers in Taiwan, red envelopes should be both given and received with two hands.

And, not to be left out of the festivities, many times, pets also get red envelopes too!  Gilby got one his first Chinese New Year.  Inside his "hong bao" (red envelope) was a 50 NT coin (worth about 1.50 USD).  The person who gave it to Gilby told me wrap the envelope around his collar (kinda like the cat above).

One more fact about red envelopes . . . . they are not always just plain red.  Often times there are blessings on them or sometimes even cartoon characters on them--again in either black or gold ink.

Oh, yes, and red envelopes are also used to gift money at weddings and on other occasions too.  So, unlike Christmas wrapping paper, red envelopes are used year round (of course if they say "happy new year" that wouldn't be true).

Photos come from flickrites who've given permission to blog their photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

blessings on door frames

Hanging Spring CoupletsI know Chinese New Year was two weeks ago, but I've been on vacation since then and am just now getting around to blogging about it.  In past years, I just haven't blogged about Chinese New Year since I couldn't blog in "real time."  But this year, I set a few short autoposts before I took off on vacation (worship, candy, blessing fruits), and for the rest of this week I want to share a little more about some of the customs and traditions that surround this all important holiday. 

So, let's talk today about red papers.  In the first two photos below, you can see one of my bestest friends in the whole wide world and her father pasting red papers around the door to their home and place of business. 

Each year new "spring couplets" (春聯) are posted around the door frames of homes.  They are left up all year--or until they come down on their own accord.  Some get quite weathered and/or faded as the year passes, but they are left till the following year, when they will be replaced by new papers. 

Hanging Spring Couplets Hanging Spring Couplets

Spring Couplets for SaleThese spring couplets can either be purchased factory made, handmade, made to order (while you watch the guy paint/write), or you can make your own.  The characters on the papers are written in either black or gold ink--but the paper is always, always red.

My friend's grandfather made the single four word "blessing" (not "couplet") that hung on my door when I lived in Kaohsiung.  The video below shows a man writing the words for blessing that was hung on my Taiwanese father's home.

Writing Spring Couplets

These "spring couplets" aren't simply lines from poems.  They are often "lucky words" or words that tell people how to treat others (kinda like the Chinese version of the "golden rule"). If Christian families in Taiwan want to paste "spring couplets" they will choose verses from Scripture or phrases that proclaim how great God is. 

Couplets_for_sale_blessing_upside_d I'm not sure why, but calling them "spring couplets" doesn't quite capture it all.  There is also usually a third paper that is pasted on the top of the door and is written horizontally. 

In addition to the "couplets," the words "blessing" and "spring" are written on squares of red paper that are at an angle so they look like diamonds. 

And, not always, but commonly, these two words are hung upside down (like the gold character in the photo where the man is looking at couplets that are for sale). 

Why are they upside down?  Glad you asked.  In Chinese when you say "your blessing is upside down" it sounds like you are saying "your blessing has arrived."  It's a homophone thing. 

(One couple has posted many kinds of factory made "spring couplets" into a flickr set.  Worth a quick look if you want to see some of the things that were for sale this past Chinese New Year here in Taiwan.)

Another red thing that gets pasted on both doors and windows throughout Taiwan at this time of year are papers depicting gods.  Perhaps he is (they are) the door god(s), but I don't know.  On the main door of the home, usually five papers get pasted.  Additional "god papers" are then pasted on to every window and every additional door--both inside and outside. 

According to my Taiwanese friends, the Taiwanese believe that by hanging these papers over the doors and windows of their home they are protecting their home from evil spirits.  The papers are part of the baibai table on New Year's Eve, and are pasted up after that.

Door Blessings God_papers

Is it possible that pasting red papers on door frames once a year has ancient roots in the blood of the lamb and passover??  I don't know, maybe.

I do know, however, that God loves the Taiwanese and wants to bless them like they never been blessed before. 

back to school

Well, my winter break is officially over . . . that went so fast!  too fast!

A new semester is always fun.  That is one of the reasons I like teaching--we get a clean slate twice a year.  New classes, new students, new books; sometimes I even try a new way of doing things.

And, in about 20 weeks from now, Lord willing, I'll turn in grades, hop on plane and go home for the first time in two years. Yipee!!  Can't wait.  You can start the count down now, Mom. :)

my struggle with evangelical piety

As I was skimming through this article, Has God Called You?, by Albert Mohler, I nodded in TOTAL agreement to the bolded part below.

One key issue here is a common misunderstanding about the will of
God. Some models of evangelical piety imply that God's will is
something difficult for us to accept.
We sometimes confuse this further
by talking about "surrendering" to the will of God.
As Paul makes clear
in Romans 12:2, the will of God is good, worthy of eager acceptance,
and perfect.
Those called by God to preach will be given a desire to
preach as well as the gifts of preaching. Beyond this, the God-called
preacher will feel the same compulsion as the great Apostle, who said,
"Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" [1 Corinthians 9:16, ESV]

Consider your calling. Do you sense that God is calling you to
ministry, whether as pastor or another servant of the Church? Do you
burn with a compulsion to proclaim the Word, share the Gospel, and care
for God's flock? Has this call been confirmed and encouraged by those
Christians who know you best?

God still calls . . . has He called you?

When I was finishing up grad school in 2002-2003, I was faced with "what next?" 

I actually considered the fact that I desired to be in Taiwan a sign that it must not be God's will for me.  I actually thought that I should have to struggle and surrender to a task that I didn't want to do in order for it to be pleasing to God. 

WHAT!?!?!  Why would I think such a thing?

So, I started looking at other countries.  Some friends in Japan had invited me to come work along side them, so I replied with interest.  I began to look at organizations that I could serve with in China. 

Then another terrible thought occurred to me . . . "what if it is not Asia?"  So, I contemplated South America and Africa. 

I cannot explain in mere words what this was doing to my heart.  I was willing to follow God anywhere He wanted to send me, but I was sure that meant I must suffer, that I couldn't be happy or joyful about it.  Why I fell prey to this evangelical piety line of thinking remains to me a mystery.

However, this reopening of looking for a place to go was making me much like those waves in the first chapter of James--driven and tossed by the wind.  I remember in at least one sermon long ago, my dad compared that Greek word used there to the agitation cycle of a washing machine.  The twist and turn, twist and turn of all that water going no where.  Yep, that what it was . . .  my heart stuck in a perpetual spin-cycle of emotion.

By God's merciful grace, a godly couple I had met on a mission trip to Hong Kong some years before were in town and wanted to meet up.  As we sat in the Chinese restaurant, and I poured out my heart, expressing my desire to follow God suffer for God. 

Oh, I will never, ever forget the looks on their faces.  I was unable to discern the falsehood of the evangelical piety lies I had fallen subject to, but they sure were able to.  They responded first in utter shock to the words spewing from my mouth and then with loving kindness spoke scripture to me. 

For the first time in months, I was able to see that when we follow God's will there IS joy.  And that is OK.  That being obedient, although not easy and not without sacrifice, is a thing that is full of joy and happiness.  Oh how everything changed that day!  Praise God for the people in our lives who speak the truth in love to us!

Please don't hear me wrong--being obedient is not easy.  But that doesn't mean it must be a dreadful, terrible thing that we will hate doing.  God is kind.  Like that second quote by Betty Scott Stam I posted two weeks ago, when we release the little trinkets we've been clinging to, He replaces them with precious treasures.  Letting go of those little trinkets might seem hard at the time, but accepting those precious treasures?  Never. 

Our God is a God who gives desires to His children who delight in him.  How neat is that!?!  Oh, what a great God He is!!

God's will is good and
acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).  Amen!

a big brother

A Helping Hand

I watched as this big brother helped his little sister cross a tiny pond filled with stepping stones.

It was so sweet watching him guide her, lead her, encourage her, and eventually hold her hand to help her get all the way across.  She was scared of the three-inch deep water, so he had to be quite patient with her. 

He was so kind and gentle with his little sister. 

Wouldn't it be awesome if he grew into a man who continued to treat the women in his life with such respect and care, leading them, protecting them, helping them, serving them!

brr . . . it is cold!

It's currently 14°C  (57°F).

I know it doesn't sound so cold . . . but, that is INSIDE my home (with no sun to warm me up).

I am SO COLD, especially my nose, fingers, and toes. :(

brrr . . . shiver, shiver!!

isn't He good?

This Sovereign Grace Song has been playing on repeat in my head again:

Your goodness
Found us in the darkness
Rescued us and freed us
Cleansed us from within
You saved us
Freely You forgave us
Counted us as righteous
And heirs with Your own Son

Isn’t He good, isn’t He kind
Hasn’t He blessed us time after time
Isn’t He good, all of our days
With endless mercies
And ceaseless grace
Oh let us sing: He is good

Your mercies meet us
With the daybreak
And every breath that we take
Points us to Your grace
Your power
Keeps us till the hour
Every knee will bow and
Worship Christ alone

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,
according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21, ESV)

Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to
accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.
May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21, NLT)

meeting judy!!

Judy and Me

I recently saw Judy for the first time since the accident last summer. 

In some ways, she is still the bubbly, fun-filled girl she has always been, but in other ways fear grips her.

Please join me in praying for Judy.  How I long to see her rescued not just for a longer life on earth but for all of eternity.  How I long to see her set free from the fears that bind her.

God is SO creative!!!

God is so creative!!

This tiny, beautiful pink flower (smaller than the tip of my pinkie) has leaves that MOVE when touched. 

Check it out!!!

Anyone know WHY a plant would want to do this?  (Mom?  PawPaw?  Either of you have any clue?)

happy chinese new year!!!

Chinese New Year Candy

Happy Year of the Rat!! 

This photo above was taken at the day market on the morning of Chinese New Year's Eve a few years ago. During the Chinese New Year time, every store sets out candy and every home has a tray of candy set out for guests.

Perhaps it is to wish friends and neighbors a sweet year--that's just a random guess on my part. :)

(I'll try to share some more Chinese New Year traditions with you next week.)

Here are some more photos of Chinese New Year candy for sale.  Some are in the shape of firecrackers, some in the shape of an ancient weight for currency, and some look like Chinese lanterns.

Chinese New Year Candies

chinese new year's eve worship

A New Year "BaiBai" Table

On the eve of Chinese New Year, each family sets up a "bai bai" (worship) table at eleven o'clock at night. 

Other "bai bai" tables throughout the year are set out during the mid-afternoon and left relatively unattended.  But, during the Chinese New Year worship hour, all the neighbors in a community will stand outside chatting and talking, and, of course, comparing the bai bai table sacrifices.

At midnight, firecrackers are lit and the spirit money as well as the long paper yellow things hanging from the table are burned.

Worshiping on Chinese New Year's Eve

blessing fruits (updated)

Blessing Fruits

At Chinese New Year, everything is a little more festive--including the fruits that have "blessing" values assigned to them.

I forget which blessings pineapples and oranges are supposed to bring.  Perhaps wealth--anyone know for sure?

UPDATE: In the comments, Lawrance, answers my question.  I put his reply here to make the answer more accessible to others.  Thanks for clearing up my vauge impression, Lawrance.

Pineapple means prosperous because of it sounds like "prosperity come"(旺來:旺--prosperity,來--come) in Taiwanese.

Orange means auspiciousness because of it sounds like 吉子 in
Mandarin.(吉:auspiciousness,子--children). Parents hope gods can bless
their children with auspiciousness.

about a boy

I will soon be able to add one more thing to this list of things that I am.

In a little over four months my sister is going to make me an aunt!!  She is a little over 19 weeks pregnant with my little nephew, who will be named Nathan Lee.

Nathan means "gift of God" . . . what a wonderful name!!

I am so excited for my sister and brother-in-law.  This is something they've wanted for a long time now.

Can you see him there?  The first one is a full body shot and the second one is of just his face.  Beautiful, right?

Nathan at 19 weeks Nathan at 19 weeks

And, yes, I'll be perfectly honest, it stung at first.  Why would God, the giver of all good gifts, give my younger sister both a husband and a baby before me?  "Doesn't he care about me too?" my heart longed to know.   

It's like the time I asked for a clock radio for Christmas.  My grandmother had prepared two of them (one for each of us), but Sarah opened hers first.  In my selfishness, I actually cried, "that's mine Sarah!  You opened my present!"  I walked over and ripped it out of her arms.  Sigh . . . what sin!  I still remember how guilty I felt when I realized how blatant my selfishness was on that Christmas Eve.

There were many tears shed the night I first found out she was expecting . . . as once again I mourned the fact that I am not yet a wife and not yet a mother.  My selfish, sinful heart once again cried out "That's mine, Sarah!  You opened my present!  Why do you get one and I don't!  I want one, too!!!"

But, since then . . . after repenting, my heart has been filled with nothing but joy for my sister.  I am so happy and can't wait to meet little Nate this summer when I get to go home for the first time in two years. 

Oh, yeah, and if Sarah is able to hold that little bambino inside to full term or longer, I will even get to see my sister 9 months pregnant.  How cool would that be!?!?!   But, for now, here is my beautiful pregnant sister at 19 weeks:

Sarah @ 19wks 1day pg with Nathan

Betty's prayer

"Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Your will for my life.  I give myself, my life, my all utterly to You to be Yours forever.  Fill me and seal me with Your Holy Spirit.  Use me as You want, send me where You want, work out Your whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever."

Written by Betty Scott Stam (raised as an MK in China, she later was a John_betty_stam_mediummissionary to China herself who watched as Communists killed her husband before they killed her too; whole amazing story here).

Elisabeth Elliot copied this prayer into her Bible and signed it when she was ten or eleven.  After finding it in one of Elisabeth Elliot's books, I copied it into my journal and signed it when I was in high school (I did change the Thees and Thous to Yous and Yours). 

Both Betty and Elisabeth sacrificed much to serve their Lord.  I, of course, have given so little compared to them.  However, the Lord has completely changed my original desires and hopes, altered my own plans and purposes.  For this I am glad.  Betty's prayer remains my heart's cry to this day. 

"When we consecrate ourselves to God, we think we are making a great sacrifice, and doing lots for Him, when really we are only letting go some little, bitsie trinkets we have been grabbing, and when our hands are empty, He fills them full of His treasures." (Betty Scott Stam)

secret ingredient in sweet and sour chicken

Remember the neighbor-friend that I'm swapping cooking lessons with? 

Well, last week she taught me how to make sweet and sour chicken.  Wanna know what the secret ingredient is?

How to Make Sweet and Sour Chicken

That's right: KETCHUP!!! This is what makes it sour!

Oh!  It was so yummy too.

How to Make Sweet and Sour Chicken

So, if your in the neighborhood, stop by and I can try out my new Chinese cooking abilities on you. Just give me a little heads up, so I can head on over to the grocery store for some ketchup first.  :)

winter camp is OVER!!

Junior Marketing Students (Class B)

For the past 11 days, I've been teaching a winter English camp for my college.  It was exhausting!!  For an introvert, being around 150 students for 6 hours a day for 11 days kinda wears you down FAST.  I would be very content to just be a hermit for the next 11 days to recuperate. :)

But, since Chinese New Year is coming, that is impossible! :)

But, since Chinese New is coming, I do have the next two weeks OFF!!  Yay!!!  So, I will be spending the days with friends, so that is nice.

For winter camp, I do a lot of games like pictionary, charades, 20 questions, taboo, and more.  I also use songs in many, many ways with lots of different kinds of activities.   So, even though I am exhausted, I did get to have fun, and, hopefully, the students did too.

Winter Camp 2008  Running Song Dictation

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