ten years ago, I wrote my first "blog"

My first blog Ok, so actually it was written on what is called a website . . . but still I was trying to make it like a blog before blogging platforms were abundantly everywhere. 

Ten years ago, in a school's computer room somewhere in northern Taiwan, I became a blogger, and I didn't even know it!

To get my printed photos online, I began using using a scanner in Chinese and yahoo's geocities to record my daily life here in Taiwan.  The photo quality is terrible . . . and the layout was tedious, but, if I do say so myself, the design was better than many "homemade" websites from the late '90s. 

But OH!  if I had had flickr and blogger back then, not to mention a digital camera  . . . how sweet that would have been!!!! 

In fact, I carried my mom's 35mm film camera in my purse daily for a year.  Soon after that I got my first digital camera, and so for nearly 10 years now my purse has always housed a point and shoot camera.  It is essential--more important than lipgloss and a driver's licence!

Anyway, Geocities is closing later this year, which made me want to take a walk down memory lane.  Feel free to click through and see what life was like for me as an exchange student in Taiwan in 1999. 

Here was my very first "blog." (nothing is there now besides the "first blog," which I didn't even know was a blog at the time.)

I had an index/home page (which originally was set up kinda of like flickr's sets page), that I changed when I started using another site and then changed again when I moved to blogging.

Here are the "1st pages of each Religion in taiwangroup of photos":

Based on these "album" names, can you guess what I called that very first site? 

That's right "amanda in taiwan."  And, yes, my love for not using capital letters in my online world titles started with this very site . . . ten years ago!! (Can you tell I'm having a hard time accepting it was a decade ago that all this happened!?!?!)

Bye-bye, my dear first online home.  Rest in peace.

confessions of a newlywed who surrived "extended singleness" #1

Here is the first of several confessions I've been thinking about  . . .

Before, watching others fall in love, get engaged and marry was VERY bitter sweet.  I was happy for them, but the pain it caused inside could be intense, the struggle it reawakened difficult.

Now, I love weddings!  I love watching people fall in love!  I've even cried in joy at youtube videos of strangers weddings and even teared up watching this news reporter propose on air to an anchor! 

It's so fun to be able to experience sheer joy at watching people commit to marriage! :)

And, you know what? It's fun to have a husband who celebrates right along side me as we watch (and sometimes encourage) others as they fall in love. :)

we all need friends


In life, we need friends.  But, we need different kinds of friends. 
From Paul's life, we can see some of the different kinds of friendships
we need.  I think we need in life:

  1. a Barnabas,

  2. a Paul,

  3. a Timothy,*

  4. and other companions too.

Paul and Barnabas were close friends.  Barnabas helped Paul get started in the ministry (Acts 11:19-26).  After that, their names are mentioned together as a pair twenty times
in just a few chapters of Acts: Paul and Barnabas, Barnabas and Paul. 
These two spent quite a bit of time together preaching the Good News;
they were co-workers in ministry.  Paul and Barnabas also had the
freedom to "disagree strongly" with each other (Acts 15:36-40). 
We all need friends who we can accomplish like-mind goals with, people
who will be there with us and have the same vision and heartbeat that
we do, but who are not afraid to challange us and hold us accountable
to truth.

In addition to needing friends to walk along side us, we need friends who can mentor us and friends who we can mentor.  In 1 Timothy 2:1,
Paul calls Timothy his "true child in the faith."  It is obvious in his
letters to Timothy that Paul is teaching and guiding Timothy, taking
him under his proverbial wing.  I have always treasured the "Pauls" in
my life, older women who have walked the path before me who can help me
to follow it.  Likewise, I am able to help others who are just now walking along parts of the path I've already tread.  It is important that we have mentors in our
life and that we mentor others as well. 

I often tend to picture Paul "out there" on his own trailblazing and
spreading the gospel alone.  But that is not an accurate picture.  Paul
had other companions, male--Titus, Silas, Luke, Mark, Apollos,
Epaphroditus, Aquila--and female--Pricillia, Phoebe, Lydia, Euodia, and
Syntyche--just to name a few of his brothers and sisters in the Lord. 
In Paul's letters to the various churches, he mentions some by name
sending greetings or thanking them for help sent.  Paul clearly had many
friends who he lived in close communion with and considered beloved.

Like Paul, we too need others.  We need to be supported and helped.  We need companionship and fellowship.  Friendships and friends in all shapes and
sizes are needed! 

We may be walking an unknown path, but we do not walk it alone--praise the Lord! 

*This idea is not originally mine.  I once heard a speaker in
college talk about finding in our lives a Paul, a Barnabas, and a
Timothy.  His idea of types of friends to seek out has never left me.

(Originally posted in 2006.)

a surprise gift

our surprise gift

There is a eighty year old man at our church who is a master calligrapher.  He has gifted several of members of our church with calligraphy. 

We were his latest recipients.  He gave us this print that is 1 Corinthians 13.   

He told us that he gave us this artwork because (1) he sits behind us in church and enjoys seeing us arm and arm and (2) I have good English (I wonder why?? *smile*).

We've been told that this print is worth as much or more than our new fridge!!  And it (the calligraphy, not the fridge) was just given to us folded in a brown envelope!  WOW!!! :)

Lawrance and I got it framed last week, and then Law hung it up in our living room this week.  Law enjoys doing calligraphy himself; and, he absolutely loves our new living room art work.

We are SO blessed!

our new painting

lawrance cooks on fridays

Lawrance Cooks on FridaysWe both work mostly in the afternoon and evening--somewhere between 3-9ish.  So, we usually have our mornings together, so our "big meal" is lunch time.  Monday to Thursday I do the cooking, but since I have class on Friday mornings, Lawrance has been cooking on Fridays recently.

When we married he could fry an egg and boil instant noodles. 

Law's mother is an excellent cook, and she prepares three meals a day every day.  They hardly ever ate out.  Moreover, she grows her own vegetables organically.  Very healthy, very frugal.  (Confession: this knowledge kinda scared me after I found out . .. I knew I'd never be able to live up to that.)

Anywho, one day he got the random idea to call her and ask how to make shrimp and fried eggs.  Then he started playing around with other dishes. 

Let's just say . . . I'm blessed. :)  I always look forward to lunch on Fridays.

law cooks-000001

my first birthday married

31st Birthday

Mint Chocolate Birthday CakeI made the traditional birthday cake for my mom's side of the family.  It is a peppermint cake.  It is really easy--add a few drops of green food coloring and a 1 teaspoon of peppermint oil to "white" or plain cake batter.  Layer with chocolate frosting and crushed peppermints.  DELICIOUS!!!

But . . .  there was one huge disappointment . . . the "peppermints" I bought here in Taiwan had some extra "flavor" (menthol).  That's just not right on a birthday cake!! :)

My birthday present was the purse sitting behind the flowers . . . I got to pick  it out. 

And, on the Saturday before my birthday, Lawrance came home with the flowers.  At that time all the lilies were closed.  It was fun watching them one by one throughout the week.  He is SO thoughtful!! :)



My Birthday Flowers

And, Lawrance took me out to a stake place called "Tasty."  They have a set meal that is 7 courses--for most of the courses you get to choose between 2 or 3 items.  It was very nice! 

I think they have some of the best wait staff in Taiwan. 

Not all of the courses and also not in the correct order, but to give you the basic idea . . .
Tasty 西堤牛排

Maybe not the best dessert they have but definitely the coolest (as in most unique) is a fried chocolate wanton that you break and pour over vanilla ice cream.  Then you get to eat the rest of the fried chocolate wanton.

Chocolate wanton with ice cream

creating traditions

I love this idea!!

As each holiday comes (trust me there are TONS when you are combining two cultures) Lawrance and I talk about the traditions we want for our family.  It's fun taking time to decide what is most important to us and contemplating how we want to celebrate these special days as a couple now and later as a family.

There are some distinct advantages of being a cross-cultural couple. 

  • We have lots of holidays to celebrate.

  • We can blend the best of two cultures.

  • People give us a little more freedom because we are "different."

  • Compromise is easy since there are fewer expectations.

Maybe it's because I'm left brained.  Maybe it's because I'm a planner.  Maybe it's because I am list maker. Maybe it's because I'm afraid if we don't have a plan in place, my children won't delight in (have a special connection to) American holidays.

But whatever the reason . . . I want to live intentionally, making the most of the time we've been given.

Besides reenacting the Easter story with playdough, does anyone have any other ideas, suggestions, or traditions to share about how you meaningfully celebrate Easter with your family?

an intersting paraphrase

Though I speak with the tongues of scholarship, and though I use approved methods of education, and fail to win others to Christ, or build them up in
Christian character, I am become as the moan of the wind in a Syrian desert.

And though I have the best of methods and understand all mysteries of religious psychology, and though I have all biblical knowledge, and lose not myself in the task of winning others to Christ, I become as a cloud of mist in an open sea.

And though I read all Sunday School literature, and attend Sunday School conventions, institutes, and summer school, and yet am satisfied with less than winning souls to Christ and establishing others in Christian character and service, it profiteth nothing.

The soul-winning servant, the character-building servant, suffereth long and is kind, he envieth not others who are free from the servant’s task; he vaunteth not himself, is not puffed up with intellectual pride.

Such a servant doth not behave himself unseemly between Sundays, seeketh not his own comfort, is not easily provoked. Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things.

And now abideth knowledge, methods, the Message, these three: but the greatest of these is the Message.

–Joseph Clark, paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 13, quoted in Ernest Reisinger, Today’s Evangelism, and in turn quoted in Don Whitney's Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.

ancient chinese wedding photos (well, kinda)

Lawrance and Amanda

The headdresses and clothing is all handmade and real (and real old too).  Also, the headdress I wore was incredibly heavy--I would guess several pounds.

We didn't do the entire "2 day professional photo taking extravaganza" that most nearly-weds here in Taiwan do.  We just did a quick afternoon session to get some photos of us in traditional wedding attire and a few studio shots in our own wedding attire too.

(Note the red scarfs--long one for him, small one for me.  I've yet to know why they were used.)

Like most things we do together, it was fun. :)

Lawrance and Amanda Lawrance and Amanda Lawrance and Amanda

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