tong yuan tradition


For the first time in 30 years, I went to school (aka: work) on Christmas day as did Lawrance.  In fact, since he didn't come home till after 10, there was no point in cooking a special meal.  So, in order to still do something special, after lighting our advent candles and opening gifts, we made tong yuan

We also made these sticky sweet dumplings right after we decorated our Christmas tree in late November. 

Below is a video of Lawrance showing you how to prepare tong yuan.

Merry Christmas from the Wu's

Our First Christmas

We've had a great first Christmas!  Hope your Christmas was wonderful too!!

With love,
The Wu's

P.S. Below is our little gift to you . . . we had to practice a long time, but we finally got all the steps right . . . hope you enjoy our choreography!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

dear blog

dear blog,

i miss you.  it seems like ages since we last had a good chat.

but, well, i've been a bit busy . . . with five senior projects to oversee and 60 some-odd writing students  . . . plus, christmas parties to host . . . well, i've had my hands full. 

not to mention the best thing of all . . . I used to come home to an empty apartment, take care of my dog and then enjoy time with you, now, I come home and well . . . my hubby comes home just a few minutes later.  it's wonderful. 

sorry if you feel neglected.  you've been an important part of my life, i used to think I couldn't imagine not having time to blog.  but, that dat has arrived.  senior projects are almost due so maybe I'll have a bit more free time soon.

missing you,


Right after the wedding we got a group shot of everyone who came to witness and celebrate with us our marriage.

Group Shot #1: Everyone look at the camera

Group Shot #2: Everyone give the Taiwanese "yeh" sign

Group Shot #3: Everyone watch the groom get to kiss his bride again :)


oreo cookie kisses

Our photographer took some really fun photos with me and some of my family.  Since they were all in black and me in white . . . I nicknamed these photos "oreo cookie kisses."


Oreo kisses!!

Of course with my grandmothers, they would be pink oreos.  Come on NeeNee, you can make it!!


Waiting for Mom Sarah gets a head start.

sarah kisses me. :)

And I love these next two of me and my dad.  I always loved the photo of mom and grandpa hanging in Grandmother's hallway.  I thought it was a such a sweet photo.  I loved it so much she actually gave it to me a few years ago.  Now I have my own to hang next to hers. 

Daddy and Daughter

dad and me

i now present to you mr. and mrs. . . .

Being presented as man and wife for the first time ever . . .

Mr and mrs

At first we were trying to find a peppy version of" Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us."  But that just didn't seem to exist.  Lawrance wanted something happy, so we tried to find an "Ode to Joy" we liked.  But, have you ever really listened to "Ode to Joy" without the words?  We had a hard time finding a recorded version that was well . . . joyful.  (I am sure that with a live musician they could liven up the tempo.)

Lawrance wanted something totally fun and celebratory to walk down the aisle to together.  So, I played the "If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life" song for Lawrance and told him I'd love to find a song like that that we could walk down the aisle to.  Finding nothing, we eventually decided to just go with the best "Ode to Joy" I could find.

Then, it hit me.  Children's songs.  "I've got the joy, joy, joy down in my heart!"  There had to be a version of that song that we could use.  We are, after all, both kids at heart.

So, I started my search and soon found this song by Go Fish, an acappella children's group. (If you or your child likes their songs, what preschooler wouldn't, you can download some of the songs being given away here at the official MOPs site.)

Lawrance absolutely loved their "I've Got the Joy" song.  So, I spliced it together with about 10 seconds of a very formal "Ode to Joy" beginning.

We made it a "surprise."  The program said "Ode to Joy."  The music started to play "Ode to Joy."  But, then it switched to this and we proceeded to dance down the aisle.  It was a blast!

Also, a few seconds after we started walking, the wedding coordinator at the inn began ringing the chapel bell.  We had no idea she would do that.  It was great.  So, we actually had wedding bells ringing on our wedding day . . . how cool!!

I've Got the Joy!!

Yay!!  We are married!!


P.S.  In honor of keeping it real, I will now tell you the part of the story that I asked Lawrance to stop telling because I don't want to dwell on an "uh-oh." 

I told our wedding coordinator at the inn all about the surprise ending, but she forgot to pass the word on to the lady doing the cds.  When the music switched she panicked a little and turned down the volume.   

However, in my head the music was loud and celebratory, and even with quieter music the two of us still had a blast. . . and that's all that counts, right? 

Off we go

so kiss me


After my dad blessed our new marriage with payer, he then told Lawrance some words he'd been waiting a LONG time to hear:

Can you tell how excited we are?


Finally, he hears . . . "Lawrance, you may now kiss your wife."

And so . . . we had our first kiss, as husband and wife. 

First kiss

I have no idea how long it lasted . . . all I know is that he started kissing me before I had a chance to "pucker up." So, the entire time we are "kissing" I'm actually "smiling."

So, when he finally releases me from our first kiss, I can't help but laugh . . . from excitement, joy, and from not actually being able to kiss back and just the blissful awkwardness of it all. :)

Our First Kiss

We are so grateful for God's grace in enabling us to be able to share our first kiss as man and wife. 

You should see the looks on people's faces--especially nonbelievers--when I tell them our first kiss was on our wedding day.  They can't believe it.  Sometimes, ironically, it seems like if in that instant they lose all respect for me, thinking I must be insane. 

We dated nearly two months before he held my hand because he knew that once we started touching we would just want more and more.  So he waited. 

Engagement PhotosAfter we were engaged is when the physical intimacy beyond hand holding started.  The day he asked me to marry him is also the first day we hugged--a very awkward side hug at that.  The first time he kissed me on the cheek was a few weeks later during our engagement photo session (right there in that photo to the left).

Anyway, point is even with caution and even with taking it very slow, after getting engaged the physical intimacy began to heat up rather quickly, especially the month we were in America together.  We are both so glad that we had that line of no mouth to mouth kissing because in so many ways it helped us stay pure--even when we wanted more. 

There were a couple of times the month before the wedding where I was like, "ahh just go ahead and kiss me . . . there is nothing wrong with kissing before our wedding day."  But, he wouldn't.  He had promised me our first kiss would be on our wedding day, and so he kept his promise.

What a blessing!! 

In all it's awkwardness it was totally worth waiting for . . . and a moment I will never, ever forget.

{Oh yeah, and by the way, I think kissing this guy has now become one of my favorite pass-times. ;)}

unity cermonies (disclaimer)

Wu Wedding Photos from Lin and Jerry

Most symbols or analogies break down at some point. 

This is true with our sand and three cords ceremonies.   For example, technically we could painstakingly separate the sands, and our "cord of three strands" is actually three cords of many stands braided together.  It is also true with the unity candle--it gets blown out right after the ceremony.

Being the logic-loving person that I am, I had to choose not to let these and other little technicalities stop me from using these ceremonies which only roughly symbolize the amazing, God-enabled gracious uniting that took place as we became man and wife, as we became one.  They are after all only symbols.

Another reason we choose these tangible symbols is that we can use them to share freely with our Taiwanese friends and family our belief that our marriage is not just between Lawrance and myself.  As we explain our sand that sits in our living room or the cords that will one day hang in our dinning room, we get to share the gospel. 

This thought alone put a stop to me wanting to argue myself out of using symbols that break down and aren't one hundred percent "foolproof." 

Just thought I'd put in my two-cents now for any logic-loving naysayers that might or might not be out there. :)

unity cermonies (part two)

Unity cermonies

In addition to the sand ceremony, we also choose to do a "cord of three strands ceremony" too.

I have no idea how I found this, but I do know I found it while surfing for ceremony ideas, and that I ended up here, which is a site that explains the idea and sells the cords. This was probably the last thing we added to the ceremony. 

Lawrance loved the idea.  It was also something that we could easily do in both the American and Taiwanese ceremony, and something we could frame and keep for a long time.

I braided the three cords while Lawrance held them, and then he tied the end of the braid together with a small wire when I was done braiding. 

Cord of three strands ceremony

Here is what we put in the program to explain the symbolization of this unity ceremony:

Ecclesiastes 4:12 illustrates the importance of Christian companionship. Two Christians that are bound together in Christ are stronger than the individuals themselves. We believe that Christian marriage is about more than the union of one man and one woman. The Bible teaches us that God performs a miracle in our marriage, uniting us together in a covenant relationship with Him as one. The Cord of Three Strands is a symbol of that sacred union created today.

The gold strand symbolizes that we have invited our Lord Jesus Christ to the position of authority in our marriage relationship.

The purple strand represents the groom. It illustrates the majesty of God as head over the husband. As Lawrance submits himself to the Lord, the Lord in turn will hold the marriage together through him.

The white strand represents the bride. It illustrates the purity of the bride of Christ. As we receive Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord, we are cleansed through Christ.

(Some of this wording came from the site where we got the cords.)

Here is also what my dad said before we started to tie the cords: 

Lawrance and Amanda have also chosen to braid three strands together into a single cord. A "threefold cord" is a symbol of union. Where two are closely joined in love and fellowship, Christ will, by his Spirit, come to them, creating a threefold cord.

In braiding these three strands together, Lawrance and Amanda are demonstrating that their marriage is more than a joining of two lives together. It is a unity with God as well. They are choosing to allow God to be at the center of their marriage, woven into every aspect of it.

As I started braiding the cord, Lawrance told me I was going too fast and needed to slow down.  So, I slowed down a lot just to tease him.  Well, apparently to some of our guests the exaggerated movements I made as I slowed down seemed to them that I was flirting with my groom during the ceremony.  That wasn't the case . . . but we both did laugh at my silliness in taking his slow down command very seriously. :)

Sharing a Private Joke at our wedding

While we tied the cords, we had "Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us" playing.  We used 4Him's Hymns: A Place of Worship CD.  This song was my mom's suggestion--she always thought this was a great hymn to use at a wedding, and we agreed.  We thought about using it for the recessional, but it just wasn't "peppy" enough.  However, I do love the words of the song, and I am glad we found a place for some of it to be heard during our wedding.

Savior, like a shepherd lead us, much we need Thy tender care;

In Thy pleasant pastures feed us, for our use Thy folds prepare.

Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.

Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.

We are Thine, Thou dost befriend us, be the guardian of our way;

Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray.

Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! Hear, O hear us when we pray.

Blessèd Jesus, blessed Jesus! Hear, O hear us when we pray.

Thou hast promised to receive us, poor and sinful though we be;

Thou hast mercy to relieve us, grace to cleanse and power to free.

Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! We will early turn to Thee.

Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! We will early turn to Thee.

Early let us seek Thy favor, early let us do Thy will;

Blessèd Lord and only Savior, with Thy love our bosoms fill.

Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! Thou hast loved us, love us still.

Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! Thou hast loved us, love us still.

(Words attributed to Dorothy A. Thrupp, 1836)

Cord of three strands ceremony tying off

unity cermonies (part one)

sand and cords before wedding

We decided on two unity ceremonies.  We were going to wait and do the unity candle when both mothers could be present to help light the starting candles, so I looked online for some other options.  I will explain the first one today, and plan to explain the second one tomorrow.

So, from searching online (which is how I did 94.9% of my wedding planning) I saw the "sand ceremony."  From what my online surfing tells me is that it started as a trend from California beach weddings.  Candles don't stay lit very well on a beach, so those wanting to have a unity ceremony started combining two containers of sand into one.

We made two unique twists to our sand ceremony--at least I've not read about others doing what we did.  One, we used sand from two different countries.  This is what really sold me on the idea of doing the sand ceremony--that we could combine sand from Taiwan and sand from the US.  And, we also used a solid white base at the bottom of our vase; this was to symbolize Christ being the foundation of our marriage. (We had talked about using rocks--because who wants a marriage built on sand--but Lawrance was afraid the rocks might eventually break the jar.


While we poured the sand, we played recordings from three special people in Taiwan reading Scripture in Mandarin Chinese.  Ellen, one of my dearest friends, read Isaiah 60:19-22; Dennis, one of Lawrance's Christian teachers, read Psalm 67; and Corrina, our matchmaker read Psalm 128.

Also, to make things more simple--it is not easy to move in a big white dress--instead of moving to a table to pour the sand, we just had the table placed behind my dad.  And then when it was time for the sand pouring, my dad turned around, handed us the separate vases, and held the vase we were pouring into. 

I found official "unity sand ceremony" vases online for upwards of 50/60 dollars or more.  We got ours at Hobby Lobby for just a few dollars.

We carried our combined sand jar/vase back to Taiwan with us.  Lawrance had it in his carry-on.  He was stopped at every security check-point because of it.  :)  And, the sands inside are now all mixed up completely. Since we were already expecting this, we weren't too disappointed that it's no longer in pretty layers.


This is how we explained the sand ceremony in our wedding program:

Just as Jesus Christ is the Lord of our lives and the Rock of our Salvation, He will now be the solid foundation that holds our marriage firm. This is symbolized by the white sand in the bottom of the bottle. We both have sands that symbolize our individual lives and selves. As we pour our sands together, it shows how our lives—once separate—are now inseparable. Just like Matthew says, we are no longer two but one flesh, what therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. To make our sand ceremony even more special, Lawrance is pouring sand from Taiwan, while Amanda is pouring sand from America.

another look at the wedding bands


Here is a photo we took after the ceremony showing off our wedding bands.  Lawrance loves this photo, and I guess I do too. :) 

wedding rings

And, I can never decide if I like the photo with the rings on the pink flower or the yellow flower better.

symbols of our love and faithfulness


We have matching wedding bands--the only difference is that his is hammered and, of course, larger.  Also they are both engraved on the inside with our initials, the symbol for eternity, and our wedding date.

For this part of the ceremony we repeated after my dad and used English only. 

I loved this part of the wedding.  I'm not sure why, but it was a "magical moment" for me.

Just look at the way this guy looks at me . . .

Law giving me a ring

 . . . his expressions melt me.

our unity ceremonies

love is . . .


Following our vows, my sister and brother, our matron of honor and best man, read aloud the famous 1 Corinthians 13 passage on love together.    My sister read part and then my brother the next part, back and forth sharing the reading of the entire passage.

Reading Scripture

I felt just slightly like I was at a tennis match. :)  But, I loved the way it sounded with a shared reading like that.

Both our vows and their reading of 1 Corinthians were just on plain white computer paper that my dad had hidden in his black officiant's notebook and then handed to us at the right time.  We could have tried to do something a little more sophisticated, but well there isn't time for everything.

I love this shot of Sam taken right after they had finished reading. 


i almost forgot the amens

I almost forgot to mention that the whole time I was reading my vows to Lawrance he was talking back to me.

He kept saying things like, "Amen," "Praise the Lord," and "Thank you, Jesus." 

I'm sure my dad heard, but I'm not sure anyone else did.  It was so sweet.

Kind of distracting . . . but very precious.

our wedding vows


When we were wedding planning, I'm not sure how but I stumbled onto Adrian & Andrée Warnock's wedding vows.  I printed them out and showed them to Lawrance.  We both loved how much Scripture was in the vows.  But, we also loved the vows that my dad had written . . . so we used both. 

Also, one of the engagement ceremonies I went to here in Taiwan had the future bride, future groom, and the future in-laws answer several questions in a row.  I really liked that.  To be asked lots of questions and then only answer with one simple "I do" . . . too easy.

Also, I remembered my dad telling me after one of the many weddings he has officiated that brides and grooms are so excited and/or nervous (ie. just plain full of emotion), they don't really know grasp all that they are actually agreeing to.

Refusing to be in that group, we paid careful attention to our vows.  We probably discussed our vows more than anything during the beginning planning stages of our wedding.  And, we also separated the questions, so each of us said "yes" several times.

Speaking of the "yes."  I told my dad when he was planning the ceremony that we wanted there to be a focus on grace, the sovereignty of God, and of the idea of a covenant.  So, my dad changed the simple "I do" to " I do so covenant with the Lord and Amanda/Lawrance" (depending on the speaker).   We loved that change!

So, here are the questions posed to me:

Dad: Do you Amanda Nicole Parmley, in the presence of Lord and all who are present here, promise and covenant yourself to walking with the Lord as the ultimate priority of your life, will you commit yourself to a life of spiritual maturity in the Lord, a life of the pursuit of physical purity, and emotional purity?

Me: I do so covenant with the Lord and Lawrance.

Dad: Do you receive Lawrance as your God given husband, to accept him as a precious gift from God, to commit all that you are to the Lord and to Lawrance, to submit to him just as the church does to the Lord Jesus?

Me: I do so covenant with the Lord and Lawrance.

Dad: Do you commit yourself to Lawrance to receive him and accept him just as he is. To remain sexually faithful to him, and to him alone. To abandon the pursuit of all others?

Me: I do so covenant with the Lord and Lawrance.

Dad: Do you promise yourself to Lawrance, spiritually, physically, and emotionally, to cherish and to keep him, to meet his needs in sickness and in health until the Lord separates you through death or his return?

Me: I do so covenant with the Lord and Lawrance.


After we answered these questions, we then made a profession of our covenant to each other in both English and Chinese.  This is the part we borrowed from the Warnocks, and Lawrance translated them into Mandarin for us.

What's interesting is that we both thought before the wedding that hearing the other speak our heart language was important.  But, actually, hearing the other one speak their vows in their heart language was more important to each of us. 

I held it together while Lawrance made a commitment to me in English, but I totally lost it (ie. started crying) when he started to say the exact same words in Chinese. The same was true for Lawrance.  Hearing me make my profession in English was more meaningful to him that hearing me speak it in Chinese.   Although I cried through all the way through speaking in both languages.

So, I am very glad we both decided to do it in both languages even if it did take a lot of time.  Our vows weren't short.  ;)

Here is my profession of our covenant--I LOVE the last part.   I'm not sure if it is the last version we ended up using or not, also I can't seem to find my copy of Lawrance's profession at the moment.  Lawrance made the Chinese phrases less "formal" in my part so that they were using words and phrases I was more used to.  If there is a bunch of goobly-gop after the English below, your computer doesn't like Chinese. :)

I, Amanda Nicole Parmley take you, Lawrance Aaron Wu to be my lawfully wedded husband. I promise, by God's grace, as He enables me to submit to you and to obey you in everything, as I do to the Lord. I recognize you as my head, even as Christ is the head of the church. In so doing I resolve to put my trust in God and not give way to fear. I will cultivate the beauty that comes from a gentle and quiet spirit knowing that this is of great value to God.

I will speak the truth to you in Love. I will encourage you and strengthen you in your walk with God. I will not let the sun go down on my anger; instead I will be gracious to you, tender hearted, forgiving you even as God has forgiven me. I will trust in the Lord with all my heart and not depend on my own understanding; I will acknowledge Him in everything, knowing that He will direct our paths. I will follow Him wherever he leads us, putting the extension of his kingdom before all worldly possessions and pleasures. I will be peaceful, content and joyful in every situation we encounter knowing that He is at work for our good and that we can do all things through his strength.

I acknowledge before the Lord my continuous need for his grace in my inability to do all these things, and rely on him alone for the power I need to live in a Godly way as your wife.

我將培養上帝看為寶貝的智慧 那就是溫柔跟平靜。

反而給你我的安慰、溫柔的心而且原諒你如同上帝原諒了我一樣。我將我的信心完全給上帝 不是我以前的經驗。




honoring grandparents


In Chinese culture, respecting ancestors and elders is important.  So, Lawrance wanted my grandparents to be an important part of our wedding.  He wanted to find a way to honor them in our wedding.

So, we asked my grandparents to read 1 John 4:7-21.  PawPaw, my paternal grandfather read the first seven verses, and my maternal grandmother read the last seven verses.

Amanda's Wedding 013My maternal grandparents were married for over sixty years before my grandfather passed away.  And my paternal grandparents have been married for over fifty years.  What a blessing to hear two people I love and admire SO much--who all have and still do play a very important part in my life--read scripture about love at our wedding!



sweetest pumpkin ever

This is my current desktop photo at work . . .

Isn't my nephew just the sweetest pumpkin ever??

I SO wish I could squeeze his chubby little legs and kiss his oh-so-kissable cheeks right about NOW!!

who gives this woman?


Since my dad walked me down the aisle and also officiated our wedding, we had Jerry--a neighbor and close friend for a long time--to open the wedding with prayer and then wait with Lawrance at the front. 

He also asked the question, "who gives this woman to this man?"

Before my dad answered, Jerry moved out of the way, and my dad took his place in front.

He then spoke very personal words as he "gave me away."  When he was done, I had to ask for a tissue--I'm so glad that Sarah had one.   . . . and that wasn't the last of the tears either.  A few more would come later.

I LOVE this photo taken while my dad was "giving me away."  The smiles on both his and Lawrance's faces are awesome!!!


a walk to remember

Daddy and DaughterWhen I started thinking about a song to walk into with (I didn't
want to come in with traditional wedding music.), I immediately
thought of and really liked "For the Beauty of the Earth."  Lawrance liked the
melody but didn't think it had enough "power" or "majesty" for a bridal entrance.  When I
told him that was the exact reason I wanted it, he thought it was a
great choice.

So, are you ready?  Here we go . . .

Daddy and Daughter

Uh, yeah . . . it was not exactly like that. :)  This great photo--that Lawrance and I both love (and want to duplicate with the two of us when we get married in Taiwan)--was taken after the ceremony. 

I was a bit emotional walking down the aisle with my daddy. 

My creation

And, uh, yeah, "a bit" is a huge understatement! :)

Over a million thoughts flooded though my head we walked together.  My dad was so kind.  He was talking me though walking down the steps out of the chapel, being very gentle and supportive.  I then told him, "Daddy, I'm not gonna make it.  I'm gonna cry." 

His response was "You are?" 
"Yes," I cried back.
"That's ok," was his calm response.

Then I did all I could to stop the tears--hence all the funny faces.  They were happy tears, but still I didn't want to totally be crying all the way down the aisle. 

Here is a photo of my dad talking me though walking down the steps.


I finally was able to manage a smile . . . and I finally rounded the small curve and was able to see my groom. Yay!!



For the joy of human love, . . .

Lord of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.
  (lyrics from "For the Beauty of the Earth")

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