Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

I can hardly believe it'll be 2006 in just minutes. What's even stranger to me is that my family is just starting their day! Ahhh... the joys of adjustments. I often find myself hanging up the phone realizing that my family probably wouldn't appreciate a call at 2am their time. We continue to make strides in our adjustments but at times like these it is difficult to be so far away.

This is the first New Year's Eve (since marrying) that Mike and I will celebrate alone. We always were with our 'kids' for a lock-in and it seems strange sitting here together waiting for the clock to run down. Unfortunately we waited too long to prepare and struggled to find the snacks we wanted for the festivities. Again... the joys of living in another culture. You never know what you'll find in the grocery store. NYE is not celebrated here like in the states so no big parties or ball droppings which again seemed very weird to me.

I love NYE and today I realized why. My first NYE with Mike was our first kiss and since then... it's always been special to me. I was so grateful to actually be able to kiss my hubby when the clock struck midnight.

I spent a lot of time today reflecting on this past year and all that has taken place. I'm so grateful for many things but was also saddened by how much I have yet to learn. My spiritual walk was tested many times and I look back and realize how many times I didn't trust God and it broke my heart. He has done so much for me and has never let me down but yet I still doubted His plans, His timing. I pray this next year finds me drawing closer to Him and growing in my faith and trust. I also realized how often I didn't see God in all the good things that happened and tended to take the glory myself. I have reminded myself so much these past few weeks that it's only with God that 'All things are possible' and I will continue to do that this year. That's again why I started this blog.... to notice how God works in every day.

So as I say each year... this past year was full of up's and down's but each one taught me a lot about myself and as I look back on everything, I'm very grateful for how I've grown.

PS. This photo is a tribute to the best thing that happened this past year.

Friday, December 30, 2005

New Year... improved me

This past year was full of changes for me and although I've enjoyed these changes, I'm ready for some stability. And with that stability, I'm excited to see what God has planned for this next year. I want to live life with a purpose and for that reason, I've decided to set some personal goals for myself. I've learned over this past year that if I set my mind to something and get passionate about it, I can accomplish anything and there are a few things that I've always wanted to do. What better a place to write these goals than a blog where people can keep me accountable if they choose.

I'm still thinking about these so you may see more goals in future posts but for now these are my desires.

1. Train for a half-marathon (with the possibility of running the Trailwalker with Mike next Nov)
Why? Just a few weeks before we found out we would be moving to MN, I signed up to run a marathon for the Lymphoma society and was really bummed to have to back out. I've always wanted to run one but it's been a few years since I've run on concrete (I'm usually on an ellipitical machine) and I'm not sure how my left knee will handle it but I figure I can push myself to run at least 13.1 miles.

2. Write a story for a children's book.
Why? I've written stories since I was a kid but none that had a real focus. I doubt I'll ever get published... I wouldn't even know where to begin but I want to have one solid story that I can share with Isabella as she gets older. I did finish one rhyming book this past month which showed me that I can do it and motivated me to try another. If any of you are great artists who would draw pictures for me that'd be great!

3. Organize an English speaking playgroup.
Why? My ministry is limited in HK with Isabella because there is no nursery so I need to find something that can include her. There's nothing better than a playgroup where I can build relaitonships as well as Isabella. My prayer is that eventually this would turn into a book study and then Bible study where I can share how God has worked in my life. The exciting thing is that I've already contacted three ladies who are interested.

4. Develop skills in photography and editing.
Why? I've always loved taking pictures and even have a few that I'm quite proud of but I've never taken any classes and my skills are very amateur. I've discovered photoshop this summer when we bought our MAC and have fallen in love with editing pictures and digital scrapbooking (it's much easier to do with the limited time and space that I have available). So my goal here is to do 2 digital layouts a month, read my new camera manual and take lots and lots of pictures!

In all that I do, I want to glorify God and so I want to train to be healthy and take care of my body (the Temple of God), create using the talents He has given me, and share the Good News as He has called me to.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Red Days

'Red Days' are HK's National Holidays. I must admit that when we moved and Mike lost his great vacation time I was bummed but these 'Red Days' make up for it. Since moving he's had at least three extra long weekends, extra days at Christmas and New Year's and Chinese New Year is yet to come. I just love these days when we can be together as a family and it's been very obvious that Isabella has enjoyed having Daddy home as well. We often take these days to explore HK, have friends over or just get necessary errands run that are much easier with another set of hands.

Today was one of those days. We headed to the market to buy Isabella a swimsuit and to a mall called 'Festival Walk' to buy a photography book so that I can make the most use out of my new camera. Then we remembered that we had invited a friend over so it was off to the grocery store (ok Mike did this on his own) for milk and brownies. (Now that we have our oven we can't stop making these... thanks Jack Bohman.)

I was totally bummed about not finding a swimsuit because I desparately want to take Isabella to our indoor pool so that she will be prepared for our vacation in Feb. Who knew that you would reach a point in HK where they don't sell them? But what a treat for Mike to find his favorite JCrew shirt for about $5 and a pair of '7 For All Mankind' jeans for me. It's always fun to get such great deals at the markets! Then it was off to the mall where I got some books to help me become a better photographer and Photoshop editor.

Our newest friend Josh joined us for dinner and what a blessing that was for me. He's a professional photographer and the one who took some great photos of the three of us a few weeks ago. We invited him to dinner to thank him but he ended up teaching me so much about my new camera and both Mike and I about Photoshop and just MAC computers in general. He's a very smart guy.

Isabella was a doll today. She usually is but today was incredible. She was so happy... smiling and giggling all day that you can't help but just watch and stare in awe of her. I pray all the time that she'll be one to find joy in everything and be able to smile and trust God in all situations. I want her to enjoy the life God has given her and continue to bring joy to others.

I began this blog to help me keep my focus on the blessings of each day and as I write this I am amazed at how each day God has done something... maybe not a great big thing... but something each day for me to be thankful about. The title is simple... 'Life's Little Blessings' and I chose this name because it helps me to have a positive outlook on life and it keeps me aware of what God does each day. I've got to get out of the mindset that God only does big things and remember that God is in EVERYTHING... big and small.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


I've never doubted God's sense of humor and I'm so grateful that He shares that with us. Being new parents, we always can find something to laugh at whether it's something Isabella does or something one of us parents has done wrong. We've laughed over diapers put on the wrong way, clothing put on wrong, our daughter passing gas (either way) when it gets quiet, I could go on but today was a new one.

We were at the HK History Museum with some friends when Isabella got a bit fussy so I picked her up to hold her. When I did, I felt an unusual bump in her behind that made me a bit concerned. Concerned enough to put my hand down her pants (I know sounds disgusting..) to feel this lump. And that's when I busted into giggles at what I found.

[Mike offered to dress her on our bed so I brought him the outfit. He laughed at me for not bringing a change of socks (she was currently wearing red and her outfit was pink) but I insisted that I put them on the bed with her clothes. Instead of hunting for them, I just grabbed another pair and put them on. But in my mind, I wandered had my brain left me again? What did I do with those socks.]

So Mike asks.... What's so funny? And in my tears of laughter I explain that I found her socks. They must have gotten caught in her onsie and he didn't notice as he put on her pants. No wonder our daughter had been fussy... she was sitting on a big lump for over an hour!

May sound like a dumb story to you but it was something that made me giggle and brightened my day. I'm so thankful for the ability to find extreme joy in such little situations.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Friends... what a blessing

Building friendships has always been a struggle for me due to the fact that until I'm comfortable with someone, I'm very shy and hard to talk to. However, over the past 4 1/2 years I've learned a lot about relationships and how important they are. I've also learned that being a Pastor's wife does not quarantee that you'll have immediate friends. People often think you're too busy to spend time with them or they're just not sure how to include an outsider into their group of friends.

We were truly blessed in AL by another couple who immediately accepted us and became very dear to us.. they were AL transplants as well and I really believe they understood how we felt. MN was harder. It was so family centered and we moved in Oct and immediately jumped into ministry making it harder for us to be available. And this is where I learned that I had to do my part in developing friendships and not expect people to come to me. Although it took me awhile to discover this, I eventually stepped out of my comfort zone and left MN with a great support system that I will always cherish and one very special sister in Christ.

Moving to HK, I was prepared to step out the minute we arrived. I was determined to meet people quickly and start building those relationships early. How blessed was I to learn that in some ways it has been much easier to make friends. After being here two weeks we got a phone call out of the blue by another Youth Pastor (Dan) and Wife (Geeta) and went out to dinner that night. He introduced us to several other Youth Pastors and their wives and behold, we immediately had a support group. What made this so easy is that we're all going through the same thing... living in a foreing country without our families nearby and with one couple, having a baby. When you don't have family close it's much easier to step out and build your own family. The same thing has happened to us with members of our church family because we are an international congregation. There's just an understanding and bond that's hard to explain.

Mike and I always discuss how we fit together perfectly for ministry because it's easy for him to build relationships with all of the outgoing people and easier for me to reach out to those in need of a friend or just shy. I think this is because of how much I've treasured the friendships I've made and my heart goes out to those that have a harder time in this area. I used to think I didn't need friendships... that I could do things on my own but God taught me how special they are and how worth every effort it takes to strengthen them.

Thanks Tim, Cindy and Lillian for reminding me tonight how great spending time with friends is! Thanks to everyone else for making my life better for being a part of it!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Facials... a special blessing from God

I never dreamed that I would be the type of person who enjoys pampering myself. I've never had long fingernails (due to playing the piano) so I've never had a need (or so I thought) for a manicure. I've never wanted anyone to touch my feet so the desire for a pedicure was non-exsistant (until I was 9 months pregnant and wanting someone to massage my calves.) I'm not one to wear make-up on a regular basis so I've never thought a facial was necessary.
But my sweet husband felt I deserved a treat and for Mother's Day got me a gift certificate to a spa where I had a mani/pedicure and a massage. And it was all downhill from there. It felt so good to be pampered and to feel attractive in ways I hadn't experienced before. Unfortunately, I had to realize this was a treat for a special occassion and not something that we could afford on a regular basis.
A few months later we made our big move to Hong Kong and our Sr. Pastor's wife, Sharon, introduced me to Mrs. Sui. This woman will come into your flat and give you a private facial or massage. When I asked how much it cost, my mouth dropped and I realized what a special treat God was giving me... A chance to enjoy being pampered.
So Sharon called on Monday asking if I was up for a visit from Mrs. Sui and of course I said yes. I took this as a special blessing from God and made the decision to focus on Him as I experienced an 1 1/2 of pure bliss (especially since Isabella slept through most of it). I don't often get the chance to spend 1 1/2hrs with God so this was an added blessing. It was wonderful to pray for others, quote scripture, sing songs, and plan for future ministries.
Maybe this was God's way of saying... 'You've been worn down for too long so come rest and enjoy time with Me.' Maybe it was Him saying... 'You've been distant... Come focus on Me only.' Maybe it was none of the above. Either way, it was a special blessing and I have no doubt it came from Him.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Might as well....

I've always been a journaling type of person and moving to Hong Kong has caused me to be more aware of my surroundings, God stories.... life in general. And since it's harder to talk to everyone and (since having Isabella) harder to remember everything, I've chosen to join Mike in a blog. My thoughts will not be nearly as deep as his (he's quite the thinker) but it will give anyone who's interested a look into the thoughts and feelings that go through my mind. Hopefully, this way I will remember all the God stories and funny moments that we experience on a daily basis here in HK.