a pictorial year in the life of

Like last year, I am summing up my entire 2006 in only 12 photos (one for each month). 

For someone who took over 9000 photos in less than one year that is a lot of choices!!  So, picking just 12 is NOT easy to do (in fact it is REALLY HARD)!!  It gets even harder when several important things happen in one month. 

Anywho . . . less yappin' and on to the pictures.

(BTW, each month name below is a link to a calander view of pictures I took that month and uploaded to flickr. Just in case you wanna see more than 12.)

January: Gilby and I visit Kady in TaiNan

Kady, Me and Gilby

Feburary: Ellen and I go to Taipei (world's tallest building is behind us)


March: I spend time with little friends


April: My sister, Sarah, is married

me and sarah

May: Sam Comes to Taiwan

Welcome to Taiwan (Fresh of the Plane!)

June: Sam and I do some sightseeing

Cool, Very Cool. :)

July: After LOTS more sightseeing, and a day of flying, Sam and I get back to Austin.

Sam and Me in the Austin Airport . . . We love Taiwan!

August: I visit family and friends in Texas, and I have straight hair for three days!!

Me and PawPaw

September: A very good friend has her engagment ceremony.


October: My mission team had a retreat in Kenting

we are silly

November: I spend time with my students friends

me with some of my students

December: Lots of students come to my house (and we get a little silly)!


If you make your own 12-picture collection for 2006, please leave your link below!  I'd love to see your year-in-review in pictures!!

new, new, new

Chinese English Bible

New Bible

After I gave my Chinese/English Bible to a NEW beliver a few months ago, I needed to get me a NEW one.  So, I went to the store, and they didn't have the kind that I had before.  However, they had a NEW version out.  It is the NEW Chinese translation for today's generation and the English Standard Version, which is relatively NEW. 

I am a very happy camper!!

If you are looking for online tools or for a NEW year-long reading plan, check out this post from earlier this week.

"And he who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.' Also he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'” (Rev 21:5)

P.S. Remember what you are invited to participate in tomorrow!!

Photo Hunter


After my old camera bit the dust (actually it was tile but that's just semantics) this time last year.  My "old one" was my precious for about 3 years.  It lived in my purse and was with me at all times.  It blessed me with over 7000 digital images.  That averages out to about 7 pics a day. 

I got a new camera--a new precious in January.  This new baby took the empty spot in my purse and lived their all year, faithfully accompanying me through my adventures. 

Well, something happened this year. 

I am not sure if it was the new camera, my brother coming to visit, all the weddings I attended, a cute puppy to photograph, joining flickr, or what.  But something did happen  . . . because, well, I took a ton of photographs this year. 

I've not owned this camera 365 days yet, but this precious has blessed me with over 9,000 digital images!  That's averages to about 25 images a day.  I know that sometimes my precious didn't see sunlight for days or weeks at a time, so that means some days I took hundreds of photos.

Thought I'd grace you with the 9000th image I took with my Sony T9:
my 9000th picture with my T9  . . . in 2006

dancing christmas tree (aka earthquakes) *Updated*

My Christmas tree danced twice tonight as the earth shook--HARD.

We just had two very strong earthquakes about 10 minutes apart.  Each had its own distinct feel.  The first one was side to side and seemed to last a very long time.  The second one was shorter but stronger--it was also distinctly up and down before going side to side. 

With the first one, nothing really happened.  The second knocked some canisters off the top of my fridge.  It was markedly more scary.

The first one was at 8:26 and had a magnitude of 6.7 at the center which is south of where I live in HengChun (where Sam and I vacationed this summer).

The second one was at 8:34 and had a magnitude of 6.4.  This one was much closer to me--the epicenter was about 30 KM south of Kaohsiung City.

Ee1226203464107There was also a smaller one on the east coast (4.7) just minutes (8:20) before the first one I felt.

*Updated to add: The U.S. Geological Survey puts the first quake at 7.1 on the Richter scale and the second one at 7.0.  And, I now see in the news that these first two were unusually long--over a minute each!  We have also had (at least) two powerful aftershocks so far both with magnitudes over 5.  In addition, so far there has been one reported death and 20 injuries.

News reports can be found here, here, and here.  Clicking on the maps in this post will take you to Taiwan's weather bureau for reports on recent earthquake activity in English.

Know that I am ok.  But, please continue to pray for safety.  And, please pray for the Taiwanese people, many who undoubtly will be consumed with fear tonight.

online Scripture tools

bible by diane leigh on flickr

About this time every year, I begin to search for a "read thru the Bible in a year" plan.   As I was searching this year, I found some cool stuff.  So, I thought I'd share it with you.

As you probably well know, there are several options of "year-long reading plans" to choose from.  If you haven't seen it yet, the ESV Bible Blog displays them in a unique way.  They are charted so that you can actualy visualize the path through scripture different plans guide you though. 

Also, on that same blog page you will find links to the various reading plans in the ESV, of which you can subscribe for the RSS feed of the reading plan (here are all the ESV Bible RSS Feeds avaliable). 

(I think) I have choosen the chronological reading plan for 2007.  When I clicked to look at today's reading, I noticed a little "listen" link.  I clicked.  I listened.  I like listening to scripture being read aloud--it's historical, bibical (faith comes from hearing), and very modern all at the same time.

Some other neat tools I found are:

What tools or resources do you use to study or access Scripture online?
Do you try to read thru the Bible in a year?  If so, what plan do you use?

Christmas in Taiwan (a video and a mosaic)

Merry Christmas!! 

Christmas Day will soon be over for me.  I wish you all a wonderful day as you celebrate our Savior today!!

This morning before I left to go celebrate at a fellow missionary's home, I took a few pics of Gilby and me with my tree:

Merry Merry Merry Merry Christmas!

1. gilby, me, and my tree, 2. gilby decides it is time to kiss me,
3. me and my tree, 4. merry CHRISTmas!

Christmas is not a holiday in Taiwan, so most people do not celebrate and it.  Christians usually have some kind of activity at church for Christmas, but nothing like we are used to in the West and not necessarily on Christmas Day.  So, for the most part it is work and school as normal.  However, every year so far, I have been blessed to be able to rearrange my classes, so that I don't have to work on Christmas Day.  Day after Christmas?  Yes!  But not the actual Christmas Day. 

This year, I went to our mission team leader's home.  We had a traditional Christmas meal, and then played games for hours!  It was fun and full of laughter.  However, I do miss my family. 

Merry Christmas!!

Gilby and I wish you a very Merry Christmas!!!

Christmas Eve

look what i found

(Do you see what Gilby found under the couch?)

P.S. It is already CHRISTMAS here in Taiwan!! :D 

my christmas eve project

What I did on Christmas eve

When Mountain Musings had their Christmas Ornament Show-and-tell, they featured one of Dawn's "Names of Jesus" ornaments.  I liked the idea so much I made my own set!!

I am no crafty person, but I am looking for ways to put Christ into CHRISTmas, so I loved the idea of 26 (one for each letter of the alphabet) ornaments that each proclaim who Jesus is hanging on my Christmas tree. 

I really enjoyed searching online to choose the names I wanted to use.  For some letters there were way too many choices, but other letters left me no choice at all. 

I "cheated" and used "Alpha and Omega" for the letter "Z."  "X" also was a strech with "eXcellent One."  And, I made two for "G"--Gracious One and Glorious--because I had made so many decisions by the end that I couldn't decide any more.  So, my set actually includes 27 ornaments. :)

If you wanna make your own set, of course you could use Google, but you could also check here, here, here, or here for some of the many names of Jesus.

I also added one more touch to mine--I made them bilingual.  One side is English and the other side is the Chinese for that name.

Mosaic of  My Names of Jesus ornament set

As you can obviously tell, I went an easy route and just used a paint pen, some glue, and glitter on red Christmas balls, but Dawn (a more crafty person) has some other ideas for making your own set.

聖誕快樂*Merry Chrismas

It's been a full week of many Christmas parties and tellings of the Christmas story.  I sit here now enjoying a mint flavored milk tea with tapioca balls, and I decided to share a few pics from the week with you.

First, last Sunday, I joined other Hokkien Harvest missionaries to worship Christ in a public park and share with others at the park the reason for Chrsitmas.

cute babyworship in the park

Then, I hosted several Christmas parties in my home!!  And one at school.

da boys + Irene and meanother group photo 5-4A 2006 Christmas Party4-3A Girls @ my house
Former StudentsMy pronunciation class.

I also participated yesterday in two other activities that I've made into Christmas traditions.  One is eating is "Wa Gua" or "hot pot," which I've written about before

Hot Pot with 4-3A Girls

And the other is eating "Tang Yuan" or "soup cirlcles," which are really just glutinous rice-based balls of gooey goodness.

湯圓 tang Yuan

Tonight, I am participating in one more Christmas activity at a fellow missionaries' apartment complex.  I will be playing my erhu (more on that later) and singing.  If you are in the States and read this on Saturday morning--it is still not too late to pray for us, so please do.  If you live elsewhere in the world--well, I don't know what time Saturday night in Taiwan is for you, but we'd sill appreciate your prayers!!  Thanks!!

happy birthday little blog

Guess what?  I started this blog "following an unknown path" a year ago today. 

There are two times each year where I have a little "culture something"--not really culture shock and not really culture stress.  The weeks before and of Christmas as well as sometime near spring break--I just kinda wanna break.  For 20 something years, I've always had a vacation at that time.  However, now that I'm in Taiwan, a break doesn't come like it is "supposed to."

So, I kinda revolt. :)  I vegg out for awhile.  And, last year, my vegging included discovering flickr and finding an audience for the writing and semi-blogging or blogging-wannabe I had been doing. Mostly thanks to Marla Swoffer (who doesn't blog anymore) and Sallie with her Carnival of Beauty.

(And, just FYI, it is not really a good time to be vegging out--it's the end of the semester and finals are coming.)

Anywho, I thought I would do an end-of-the-year meme I've seen out in bloggyland for my first blog-a-versary.  Here is the first sentence of the first post of each month for the past year:

五 . . . 四 . . . 三 . . . 二 . . . 一 . . . 新年快樂!! (January)

I am back home!! (Feb)

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

5 minutes ago! we had an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4 that lasted LONG time! (April)

Well . . . we made it!  (My baby sister got married.  Sarah is now a wife.) (May)

You know the feeling.  I know you do. (June)

This is a picture of me on a jungle path to a secret snorkeling location. (July)

It's been a while since our whirlwind trip to the north, but I still wanna share about it.  (August)

What are they?  Do you know what they mean?? (Sept)

This weekend (Friday to Monday night) I was blessed to have a guest in my home. (Oct)

I've been to 6 weddings (so far) in 2006.  (Nov)

Around 100 of my students will graduate in the spring (above is only one of the three Applied English graduating classes). (Dec)

So, what do we learn about me from these 12 sentences? 

I know some Chinese.  I travel a lot.  I take pictures. I live where there are earthquakes and jungles, but I claim to have more than one home.  I am a teacher and a sister.  I ask questions and make assumptions.  Sometimes people come stay with me.  And, well, I went to a lot of weddings this year.  Last, but not least, I am blessed.

For some randomly choosen sentences, it gives a pretty cursory but accurate overview, huh?

I wish I had more thoughtful, reflective things to share with you right now--about life, about blogging, about blogging life--but, alas, I do not.  So, I will ponder for awhile and let my thoughts seep.  Perhaps I will share them with you later--but I make no promises. 2054558

I do want to thank you (yes you) for being part of this journey.  I've made some pretty cool bloggy friends while following this path.  I am also thankful for being able to share what's happening in my world licketysplit with my family on the other side of the ocean--made possible because they take the time to visit me here (betcha didn't know that all my grandparents actually read my blog).  I don't know what'd I'd do if I had to wait months for letters to arrive by sea.  That is something I do not want to ponder at all!! :)

Anywho, if you decide to play along with the year-end meme, please either send a trackback or leave a comment, so I can see your 12 sentence-year.  And, don't forget what you are invited to next week. ;)

Christmas Past, 1981 (part 2)

Today my guestblogger, my mom, finishes the story she started yesterday.  (Just FYI, the pics are from 1979 and 1980--it's the best I could do with what I have here with me in Taiwan.)

Amanda @ Christmas 1979

It was a warm Texas December night and a very special one for us (ok – very special to me, the sentimental one!).

It was our first time decorating a tree with a child old enough to participate.  We purchased a small Christmas tree from the local grocery store and carted it home on top of our Pinto station wagon.  Ken crafted a tree stand out of scrap wood and we placed the tree on top of our end table, hopefully out of the reach of our toddler’s (Sarah’s) grasp.  We placed the lights on the tree and Amanda and I began hanging ornaments.  She was so excited we were celebrating!  I was so excited – I got to keep the traditions!

It came time to turn off the overhead lights and plug in the Christmas tree lights.  As soon as the lights on the tree began shining, Amanda, overcome at the beauty of what she was seeing, spontaneously began to exclaim “Oh! Oh! Glory to God in the Highest!  Glory to God in the Highest!  Glory to God in the Highest!”  She raised her arms and began dancing around that small glowing tree praising God, repeating that phrase over and over just as the angels must have done on the first Christmas night.

I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed worship as genuine as the worship I saw that night!  Worship from one with such a pure heart and pure motives – a precious three-year-old, who knew only that we were celebrating the birth of Jesus and that our Christmas tree was shining just as the heavens were the night of His birth when angels praised God and proclaimed His glory. And, she wanted to celebrate and praise Him in the same way!

That Christmas, God gave us just what we needed through the faith and actions of a three-year-old child.  That experience changed our perspective on Christmas celebrations.  We both realized that a Christmas tradition held its meaning only in the heart of the person participating in the tradition – you could focus on the warm and fuzzy feelings felt by reliving the tradition or you could focus on the original intent of the tradition or you could focus on the One for Whom you were celebrating as you participated in the tradition.

In our family, we choose to focus not on feelings or original intent, but on the Reason we were celebrating.

Christmas 1980 or 81 ??

Each year, as we decorate our tree, it is a family tradition to tell the story of the night we worshipped with Amanda around our first family decorated Christmas tree. We seek to have the same worshipful heart as a three-year-old who, though only looking at the lights on a small Christmas tree, saw a sky filled with a host of heavenly angels proclaiming God’s glory at the birth of His Son and joyfully joined in the angels’ praises.

Now that is giving meaning to a Christmas tradition!


Amanda: Isn't that a great story!! I just LOVE it!!  My mom is so right . . . when we look at our Christmas traditions--or any traditions for that matter--we can foucs on one of three things: (1) warm, fuzzy feelings, (2) original intent, or (3) Christ. 

For me and my sister (I think she would agree with me), that now as adults, because our parents focused on Christ at Christmas, the "warm, fuzzy feelings" of the holiday didn't dissappear but were intensified.  It is not that our traditions became stoic--how can worship of the long-awaited Savior be emotionless?  No, the "fuzzy feelings" didn't dissappear, they just were not the reason we did the things we did. 

As adults, my sister and I anticipate Christmas traditions becuase we are excited to worship the King of kings and Lord of lords; we look forward to being able to express our love for him in unique once-a-year Christmas ways.  Through participating in Christmas traditions, we enjoy being able to proclaim "Oh! Oh! Glory to God in the highest!!" and "Jesus, we love you!!" 

Like Sarah said in a comment last week:

as a child it was so neat to me to tell Jesus happy birthday and it
was the beginning of me really realizing as such a young child that I
could speak to Him and sing to Him, and not just about Him.

I too though have the sweet, precious, innocent, warm-fuzzy feelings
and memories attached to this song, and thought that life was GREAT and that everyone
loved Christmas and Jesus just as much as we did.

Christmas Past, 1981 (part 1)

I, Amanda, asked my mom to share one of my family's favorite Christmas stories.  So, today and tomorrow she is guest blogging here at following an unknown path.  Now, without further adieu, let my mom take you back 25 years, to the Christmas of 1981 . . .

my family in 1981

Christmastime is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, but there was conflict in our household.  My husband and I disagreed for most of our newly married four years on how we should celebrate Christmas and neither of us wanted to give up any ground.  However our children were getting older (3 years and 18 months), and we needed to reach an agreement on how our young family would celebrate this season.

I am the sentimental one in our family.  I love the Christmas season, all of it: the lights, the tree, the presents, cookie baking, surprises and secrets, being with family and of course, celebrating the Reason for the Season – God becoming a man and dwelling among us in order to fulfill His plan of redemption.

On the other hand, I don’t think my husband has a sentimental bone in his body!  He is very practical, very logical, extremely well-grounded in Scripture and very matter-of-fact.  This particular Christmas, he was finishing his education at seminary and had learned that most of our traditional Christmas celebrations began as pagan rituals.  He would come home after seminary classes and explain to me what he had learned in class and the conflict would begin!  He didn’t want our family to take part in any celebration that did not glorify God.  With such a youthful intensity to do only that which glorified God, he didn’t want us to participate in some of the traditions I loved because of their original intent.

Technically I agreed, I certainly didn’t want to be a part of anything that didn’t glorify God!…..but I couldn’t imagine Christmas without all the traditions I had grown up with and loved nor could I imagine not sharing those traditions with my children. 

After much discussion and heart searching, we decided we would keep Christmas traditions as a part of our celebration (yeah! – I could still have a Christmas tree!!), and purposefully seek to make the true meaning of Christmas the focus in our family by telling the Christmas story often to our young girls and singing religious Christmas carols with them. 

It was our routine to read or tell bedtime stories each night to our girls; and, during this season, the Christmas story was a much repeated favorite.  Being a natural storyteller and intent on making sure his daughters knew the true Christmas story, Ken would tell the birth of Jesus with great enthusiasm and drama.  We weren’t sure how much their young minds comprehended, but we were genuine in our desire to glorify God with our Christmas celebrations.   Yet, Ken still was uncomfortable about having the Christmas tree and other “pagan” celebrations in our home, but God was about to give us a sign.

Come back tomorrow to find out how.
Joi (aka Amanda's mom)


Ahh . . . finally.  Just in time for Christmas!!!

It is now, finally, cold here.  Yea!!

Right now it is 12 degress.  Brr.  Oh, but that is 12 degrees Celsius. :)  (So, it is only about 54 degrees Fahrenheit.)

But, still, that's cold--especially if you are riding a moped.

**UPDATED TO ADD:** AND, if we are talking inside and outside are the same temp!!  Like
many in southern Taiwan, I have no heater.  So, it is 54 degrees INSIDE
my home too. Makes me wanna stay in bed all day, warm and snug.

(Thanks Mom for the warm sweaters and fun jackets.  Yea!!  They got here just in time!!)

Speaking of my mom, she is guest-blogging for me on Monday and Tuesday next week!!  So see you then when she tells you one of my fave Christmas stories. 

Also, please remember to pray for us and our park ministry tomorrow.  And, all next week, starting tomorrow, I have Christmas parties with students--please pray for these parties as well. :)  Thanks!! 

Happy Weekend!!

P.S. Even though last weekend I was delighted to be choosen as site of the day, there will be no photo hunting for me this weekend.  I refuse to think about annoying things when I can be thinking of Christmasy things!! :) 

it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

So, first of all, let me say to all of you coming via BooMama's "Christmas Tour of Homes" . . . Welcome to Taiwan

Did you know that you just crossed the ocean?  Well, come on in--there's not much, but it makes me smile.

Come on in . . .  Hangin on the door

The Chinese on the door says "God loves the World's People"--it
stays up all year.  My little door sign changes with the season--this
snowman will stay up till Chinese New Year.

After you step in, you will need to take your shoes off.  These guys
stand on top of my "shoe closet" where you will find some slippers to
put on if you'd like.

by the door

The only wreath in my home is this one--my Christmas card wreath.  I
like having a decorative, fun way to display my Christmas cards.  This
year, when I added a card, I didn't know that all the snow on the card
glowed in the dark till I turned out the lights to go to bed.  Let's
just say it caught me by surprise. (The left wreath is a pic from the
end of last year; on the right is this year's so far).

Christmas Card Wreath

Under this wreath, is the rest of my snowpeople collection.

My Snowpeople collection

Gotta truly appreciate the snowpeople collection a little better!! :)
I think my love for snowmen stated with some handmade crochet snowmen
that my NeeNee made for me and Sarah when we were little girls.  I
loved playing with those guys.

Snowpeople collection

Besides my Christmas tree, the only other Christmas decoration I have is a small nativity scene my grandparents sent to me my first year here in Taiwan.

My nativity

You can see my post from yesterday to see my Christmas tree and some of my ornaments, if you feel so inclined.

Thanks for coming to visit me in Taiwan!  Before you head off to visit other homes on the tour, let me just say 聖誕節快樂 (sheng dan jie kuai le) or in other words "Merry Christmas Yall!!"

christmas ornaments

One of the parts of Christmas that I enjoyed most is decorating the tree.  Opening up the boxes and expecting the surprise as I peel away old newspapers to reveal a special ornament and the memories it brings back.

Our tree at home is filled homemade ornaments--some are now almost 30 years old.  Also, a tradtion is that each year mom and dad gave us an ornament.  My NeeNee and PawPaw (paternal grandparents) also gave use a yearly ornament.  We would write our name and the year on the bottom of them.  This was supposed to become the starter kit for our own tree when we became adults.  I love that tradition--but, um, my mom has yet to reliquinsh the ornaments yet.

It is impossible to pick a single favorite from our family tree.  I love the tiny crystal nativity.  I love the little girl on the 1983 swing.  I love the oversized ice-cream cone Sarah made with styrofoam and hotglue.  I love the string of teddy-bears I made in the sixth grade.  I love the faded green ornament that is from my mom's childhood tree.  I love  . . . . I can't possible list them all, huh?

Below are the only ornaments from my family's tree that I have pictures of.  One is of the baked ornament I painted when I was only 2 or 3.  The snowman is one I made in 4th or 5th grade--it started from two make-up powder puffs.  And, the other one is a clothes pin reindeer I also made.

Old Homemade ornaments

My first Christmas in Taiwan, I decorated my tree alone.  It was little thrilling and a little depressing at the same time.  Thrilling because I was decorating my own Christmas tree, and depressing because I was all alone; there was no one to share it with.  So, I decided at that moment to always invite someone to come help me decorate my tree.  For the past three years, I've invited the same students to come help me.  I am so glad they give me someone to share my joy with.

hanging the lights

This year, they also helped me to make lots of these:

My creation

See, here they are making them.  (Gilby helped too.)

Making ornaments

For my Christmas tree here in Taiwan, I have kept it (almost) all red, white, and silver.  And, most of them sparkle, glitter, or reflect the twinkle lights--and I like that.


There are only two exceptions to my sliver, white, and red tree.  Both have been gifts.  And both reinforce that I am milkshake.  One is made by Chinese knots (given to me by a student), and the other is in the shape of Texas and happens to have the word "yall" on it (given to me by my sister).

Ornaments on my tree

Here is my little Taiwanese tree in full:

My Christmas Tree 2006  Chrismastree at Night

For more ornaments and tree show-n-tell, visit Mountain Musings and Seeds in My Garden.

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