Monday, January 29, 2007

Why is it?

Dad asked me to share a little in both services this morning and while I was scared to death, it was fun to share what God's doing in HK and it was neat for me to think of how a part of our ministry Dover is with their prayers. I decided to share some specific examples on how God answered their prayers and it was just wonderful for me to focus on God's blessings over the past year.

His message was very interesting and powerful too and I felt blessed to be able to hear it twice! I was able to pick up on some things that I missed the first time around. The message was based on Romans 10:14-17 and the title was 'A Remedy for Rejection.' He was talking about how Paul was confronting the Israelites with the truth of Jesus but how they refused to accept this.

One thing that really stuck out to me was this verse: Acts 28:24 "Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe." Notice it doesn't say couldn't believe... they wouldn't believe. It was a choice that they made and it brought to mind so many situations in which we chose not to do something and then turn around and try to justify the behaviour. One example that he used was speeding. A person choses to speed then when they get caught they try to justify their behaviour by saying they didn't see the speed limit sign. The truth is the truth (for the ex above the truth is the law of the speed limit that even if everyone does it.. if you get caught you will pay the price) and that truth is found in Acts 4:12 "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." And as Christians it is our responsibility to 'bring good news!" (Romans 10:15, Matthew 28:19)) Only God is the one who knows who will and will not be saved but it's our job to make sure we give everyone the opportunity to hear the truth.

And then I attended Sunday School and they are going through the book 'The Life You've Always Wanted' (a great book) and they were on the section of hurry-sickness, I believe it's titled. And we discussed what happens when we live a hurried lifestyle... we lose patience, we respond to others in negative ways, our relationship with the Lord truly suffers. We talked about why we feel the need to 'hurry.' How it makes us feel important, makes us forget our lonliness, prevents us from having to deal with our true selves. It was very interesting and the statement that really got me here was... 'We have eternity with Jesus.' The second he said this I began thinking about all the things I try to do here on earth and how when I get really focused on those things ... my relationship with the Lord tends to suffer. If I'm going to be spending eternity with the Lord why wouldn't I want to take every chance, every opportunity now to embrace my relationship with Him, to discover His truths and to bring others along with me?

It's was just a great morning of worship and I'm thankful that I was able to be a part of it.


Being home and not really having any responsibilities has really made me think about my life, my hobbies, my responsibilites, etc... I've thought about my purposes in different situations. I've asked if all aspects of my life reflect Christ and if not, why? It's made me question why I choose to get so upset, so frustrated at situations when I know that the Lord is in them and that He has a plan. Why do I not choose to rejoice more? It also has me thinking why I tend to shy away from speaking the truth? Why should I be afraid to share with someone what God tells us in His word to Christians and non-Christians? Why do I feel like I have to walk on egg shells when it comes to the truth with some people? Why are people afraid to look deeply at themselves in order to become more like Christ? Why are we afraid to hear words that may hurt at first but will guide us into a deeper relationship with the Lord? I think the biggest question popping into my head is why do christians become content in their relationship with the Lord, how do we become content, why don't we realize that we've become content, etc and it brought me back to what was discussed in church this morning... do we chose to be content because it's too hard to become like Christ?

I've been reminded that it's too easy to get caught up in the negatives of life, to blame others, to justify inappropriate behaviors and how devastating that is to our personal relationship with the Lord and often with others too. But what if we chose to respond by saying, 'Blessed be the name of the Lord' in all situations? To remember that we are not of this earth... and to focus/lean/depend on God? Wouldn't we ultimately be happier, have healthier relationships, and draw closer to God now. I'm not perfect by any stretch but I do pray that what I've learned will stick with me and when I deal with difficult, challenging and even wonderful times that I will say... 'Blessed be the name of the Lord' and rejoice in how He's working in my life.

A lot of thoughts running through my jet-lagged head so I apologize if this doesn't make a lot of sense or flow very well but if I get behind in posting now... I'll never catch up. LOL And note to self... POST SOME PICS!

Sitting here...

enjoying the snow fall. It's absolutley beautiful!

I've been thinking about what to write and after this morning... I have some many more things that I've been thinking so I just decided for now to answer some of the questions that I've gotten...

1. Do you miss HK? Not really but it's not because I don't like it there... I'm just really enjoying my time with family.
2. Do you miss Mike? Well of course! But skype has been wonderful even if we're both really to tired to talk.
3. Are you enjoying American foods? Definitely... I got some Barq's rootbeer and Diet Dr Pepper and Wal-mart's sugar cookies... hmmmm. We're having Olive Garden tomorrow and I'm hoping to make a trip to the Greensburg Mall on Tuesday for Chick-fil-a! LOL I'm enjoying meat other than chicken and mashed potatoes. I'm still amazed at the portion size differences. We had Wendy's and what is a small there is a large in HK so I keep reminding myself to order smaller than what I used to. It's no wonder that the average American woman weighs about 160lbs.
4. Do you miss driving? No way and especially not all the work that goes into caring for a car.

And here are some random thoughts from my head...

1. I'm not missing space as much this time but I'm missing the fun of living in a house, having a guest room, being able to store Christmas dishes, having a yard to care for, etc.
2. I'm not as cabin feverish as I thought I would be. I'm enjoying staying at home and just relaxing.
3. I'm not overwhelmed by the malls or stores but I am overwhelmed every time we walk into a grocery store or that section of Wal-mart.
4. Man has the time flown by already! I can hardly believe we head out to Morgantown and then my parents tomorrow. Crazy but I do get to come back to Dover and go to work with Mom for at least one day. I'm really looking forward to that.

I'll probably come back and edit this post a few times as I think about things but it's fun to get out (even if it's all randomness) the thoughts that pop into my head.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Mix and Match

My intention was to write at least a little each day so that I didn't forget what we did while visiting everyone but I begin to doze at about 7:30 so my desire to be on the computer is just not there. But anyway... we arrived safely in Dover about 7pm on Tuesday night. It was a long flight with all the layovers but it is worth it to be able to spend time with family. Aunt Kathy and Nikki were able to drive up and visit for a few days and I'm so glad they did.

It didn't take long for Isabella to warm up to everyone and she is having a blast making everyone laugh. It's really entertaining to see her be such a ham. She's a charmer for sure but I've never seen her quite like this. She enjoys pointing Daddy out in all the pictures and is always checking the computer to see if he's there. She was introduced to snow but she's not quite sure what to think of it. Thankfully, she's handling the carseat and heavy coat well.

Jet lag hasn't been too terrible. Yes I start to get a bit tired early but that's to be expected and if I'm doing something I'm usually okay. Isabella has done great and I'm so thankful for all those who have been praying for us. We've only had one bad night so far.

I've enjoyed Chick-fil-a, Mexican and Wendy's so far and have been overwhelmed in Walmart. I realized today though that it's not so much the household/clothing type items it's the grocery section. There are so many choices and I was amazed at how everything is so convienent... (I couldn't get over the bags of apple slices or the different types of dr. pepper...when did it become flavored?). I've been amazed at how quickly our bodies adjust to the weather where we live... I'm freezing here when I go outside and I'm constantly saying... how is this possible, I moved from MN?

Well there are lots of thoughts going through my mind, lots of things to process and adjust back to... I feel so out of the loop and almost out of place but I guess that's a good sign. I did laugh at the expression of the lady at the deli in Atlanta's airport when I asked for Coke Light (and myself for repeating... Diet Coke, Diet Coke before hand and then saying Coke Light anyway) when she said, 'What?'

Okay... I really need to get to sleep. I don't know what the night holds with Isabella.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Totally Randomness

I have some things to write but I'd really like to go to bed early today so here are a few things that went through my mind today...

1. Do public bus drivers get free bus transportation?
2. Why is that everyone at the markets know my name?
3. If I yelled 'SARS ALERT' in the MTR... would people scatter so that I could get through faster? (probably not but I may have better luck if I yelled H5N1 (bird flu))
4. Would I break the DVD player if I took it all apart? (turns out no... wohoo!)
5. How do you know if you should (or is there ever a bad time/situation) give money to a person (that you don't know) in need?
6. I've got the cutest, sweetest little girl ever!
7. How in the world will I answer my door and get Isabella's diaper on at the same time?
8. Why am I so un-disciplined (is that even a word)/unmotivated in my PT for my balance when I can't even play ring around the rosies with my baby?
9. Had I purchased a purse at the market for her immediate asking price, I would have totally been taken advantage of. She started at 180 and ended at 50! I didn't even try to barter, I was just asking how much it was and as I walked away she continued to lower the price.
10. Why do people at the markets try to take advantage of me because I'm white and a foreigner? Do they ever think that these white people might be Hong Kongers and not rich?
11. Oh I'm so very blessed with the friends that I have here in HK and so lucky that I keep meeting new ladies.
12. How sweet it was to meet Makiko's daughter Miyu and fun when she asked me to bring her something back from the states.
13. Mike looks so handsome with his new do... oh if only I had a picture. Oh wait.. go here:

and you can see a picture of what I'm currently looking at.

Okay... I'm up past my bed time. Need to get up and run.

Have a wonderful day!


“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” - 1 Corinthians 10:13

Isn't this an encouraging verse!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

High Tea

{The classical grandeur of The Peninsula Lobby is the epitome of all that is great about this legendary hotel. The Lobby is a busy but relaxed all-day drinking and dining venue, and one of Hong Kong's premier meeting places. The world-renowned afternoon high tea is a Hong Kong "must" where guests are entertained by a live string band. In the evening, The Lobby pianist plays.}

{High Tea is an early evening meal. It would usually consist of cold meats, eggs and/or fish, cakes and sandwiches. In a family, it tends to be less formal and is an informal snack (featuring sandwiches, cookies, pastry, fruit and the like) or else it is the main evening meal.}

Sharon invited Dorie, Imelda, Hannah and I to the Peninsula Hotel for High Tea last Thursday. I was so excited because it was a chance to get all dressed up and be a lady (lol) without Isabella at one of the most gorgeous and famous hotels in HK. We arrived at 3pm and got a table right underneath the musicians (explains the bad photo). We were quickly greeted and served English Tea. Oh it was so fun... so my style. And then they brought the food and wow was it good! There were little sandwiches, chocolate, scones...yummmm. I had a ham sandwich for the first time in HK and it was devine! (and I don't even normally like ham) And the scones... oh my. Then the musicians began to play and I felt like I was in heaven. :) The music was amazing and I found myself really missing that part of my life. But the fellowship was icing on the cake. It was so great to just talk about life and not church details. We took time to share prayer requests and that was really special. To know how to pray specifically for each person and be able to see their hearts. I don't get to spend much time with any of those ladies so it was a real treat to spend the afternoon with them.

The whole experience was so fun, so memorable. It made me wish we had more money so I could do it on a more regular basis and it made me wish Isabella was old enough to go. Oh how fun it will be to take her, to have mother/daughter outings like this!

It was a wonderful blessing and something I needed desperately and I'm so thankful Sharon thought to invite us all.

Final Weigh-In for Biggest Loser

Well... TheBiggestLoser-DigiStyle is over (well the first round) and I'm thrilled that while I wasn't the biggest loser, I did lose and managed to gain a better grasp on my eating habits. My final weigh in was 115lbs and lots of inches (can't remember the total off the top of my head) smaller. :) It was fun to push myself and try some different exercises but the thing I'm most excited about is that it got me running. I'm really excited about my first 10K and Tim told me on Sunday that he will keep me posted on other races in the future. Races here are a really big deal with people coming from all over the world to compete so while I know I'll never win, it will be fun to be competitive even if it's just beating my own time.

However, right now I'm so frustrated! With the holidays, weird work schedules and a severe lack of desire (no comments to get up at 7am... I haven't run consistently for about 3 weeks and now I'm paying for it. The ache in my knee has returned. :( I'm so frustrated with myself and nervous about the 10K but am trusting that going back to interval training for a few days will fix the problem again. And to top it off... I lost my LV card and can't get into the gym for weight training which I really thinked helped as well. Grrrr but it's my own fault. I'm just going to have to be more disciplined that I thought while in the states. No slacking for me. LOL

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Heart Like His... Saul

Poor Mike.... he was trying to watch tv and I kept interupting him with some 'ooh's and awe's and I can't belive that'. But he was very gracious in listening to what I had to share and thinking through things with me. I was reading my book on Monday night and the chapter (actually 3 chapters that I had to re-read like 3 times) was about Saul (another important person in the backstory of David). It was these chapters that made me starting highlighting like a crazy woman. There was one thing after another that grabbed my attention and it was so exciting to find Biblical answers to some questions I had over the summer.

For example... she was talking about how the people demanded a king instead of waiting upon the Lord and what that cost them and then she said this, 'Often when God does not readily give us what we want, it is because He knows what our desire would cost us. Faith sometimes means forgoing our desires because we trust Christ to have a better plan for our lives.' This was a very powerful statement for me because there is something I deeply desire but every time I think it's going to work out... something else is thrown in and it gets pushed back. It's very hard on me but and I question why this keeps happening so I need to be reminded that to push and make something happen will probably cost me.... cost me Christ's plan for my life. I don't want to demand something from God, I just want to be confident that this isn't working out right now because God has a better plan. It's much easier to deal with letting go of my desires when I focus on God's greater plan.

And then we discuss the difference between godly humility and low self-esteem and this was really interesting because how often do we do something (like sing/play for special music or lead a ministry or etc..) and when someone compliments us we say... 'oh it wasn't that good or I should've done it this way, or etc.. again you get the point'. Maybe you don't... but I definitely find myself saying things like that. It is very difficult for me to accept compliments because I never seemed to be pleased with myself or sometimes it's because I don't want to sound arrogant.. so instead of giving God the glory with my words, it becomes about 'me'. I may be 'trying' to be humble but that's not being humble... it's low self-esteem. We may be trying to posess humility but humilty doesn't come in the form of 'denigrating' ourselves either. Humility is having confidence in how God has created you and what He has asked you to do. So in situations that I mentioned above... I don't have to be arrogant but I also don't have to put myself down either. I can be confident and give glory to God for how He allowed/guided/helped/etc me in that particular way. I was really convicted that I criticize myself too often and how that suggests a lack of confidence in God.

There was one more thing but my wording is not yet figured out and I want to be clear in what I'm thinking so maybe another day and I've been tring to post this for a few days now so I'm just going to end here. More to come later.... lol

Fun few days...

It's been a fun few days here in Hong Kong. On Monday, I met a student to get our hair highlighted and what an experience that turned out to be! (More on that later...) Yesterday, it was finally nice enough to get outside for a bit and Isabella and I spent the morning at the park and today... well it's not even over and we've only been home for about 1/2hr. So anyway...

Monday: I've tried writing this story about 3 times now and I keep finding myself writing way too much to explain my hair so I decided just to suck it up and share what my hair looks like. Well... after giving this stylist complete freedom to do as he chose, my head weighs about 5lbs less! I haven't had my hair this short/layered/thinned since I was in elementary school but I LOVE IT! To be honest... if I don't take style it... it probably could be described as a mullet but styled... you wouldn't say that. (well I hope anyway. LOL) He pretty much lifted the hair on top of my head and cut, no measuring or anything and I think my face showed fear because Noel said, "Are you sure you're okay with this?" :) And then the highlights came and the color they put on my hair was blue. I was a bit nervous but I did tell him to do whatever and he did take quite a bit of time (like at least a 1/2hr) to decide what to do so ultimately I did trust him and figured it would grow back anyway. So I walked away with green... yes GREEN highlights and a new do. I really do love it. I like the highlights a bit more when my hairs wet (they're a bit strong when my hair's completely dry) but overall.. it's so easy to style in the morning and my head feel so light. I asked for change and I got it! It makes me laugh though because I've only cut my hair once since moving because I was so afraid to have a Chinese person cut my hair (and that one time I spent a lot of money to get a westerner to cut it to walk away with not much of a difference) but it was a Chinese stylist who wasn't afriad to listen to me and I walked away very pleased. I guess I learned my lesson.

Tuesday: It was really beautiful out so I finally got outside and to the playground. Isabella went nuts running around, climbing, throwing her ball. It felt so good to get outside again. That was about the extent of our day... just played, played and played some more. Mike was taking the TFC choir to the peak but Isabella had some busy days coming up so I didn't want her to be exhausted.

Wednesday: I was so grateful to some very helpful men this morning. We were given a new stroller by the Manghams and it's absolutely wonderful! It's a bit bigger but it has a much bigger storage area underneath... something we were really starting to need. Anyway... it's not as easy to fold up one handed as the other one and today was the first day for me to take it on public transportation by myself so I was struggling a bit. But getting onto the bus and getting into/and out of the cab... a man grabbed it and helped me. In fact, the man on the bus told me, 'just go sit down and I'll bring it to you' and getting out of the cab the man said, 'grab the important things, your daughter and purse and I'll get everything else.' I felt very blessed to have them be so helpful.

Isabella did wonderful at her class today. They really encouraged giving the children space and freedom to do whatever (which is very nice because most parents don't seem to believe in that here) and I absolutely loved watching Isabella follow directions, try new things, etc all on her own. I was so proud and she was so eager to receive her stamp at the end that she actually fussed a few seconds because we had to sing our good-bye song first. lol TFC was performing at the school (where our church meets) so I decided to just stay out and about after gym class until then so we went to Toys R Us and KFC for lunch. Then we hopped into a cab to go back to the school.

It was so fun to see familiar faces (and actually be remembered by some!) and to listen to the choir. They are treating us to dinner this evening at my dumpling place and then Mike and I are going to be tour guides and take them to the night market. That should be a lot of fun and it's perfect because I have a few gifts I want to pick up before heading home. So we've only been home an hour and we still have a long fun day ahead.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Blessed yet again

Carolanne made this comment in regards to my post yesterday.... "And you know, guess this could be applied to when we're writing up our blogs. Definitely something to think about for sure - thanks for sharing!" It was a great reminder that while I blog for myself... others do read and I never know where they stand in their relationship with the Lord... so I need to 'speak as though I'm speaking the very words of God.' Talk about putting the pressure on. :) I wouldn't ever want to say something that is unbiblical or misleading.

And today's VOTD is:

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” - Ephesians 5:1-2

Yet another powerful scripture! How much would my life change if I simply followed the words of God that I've posted over the past two days?!! It is definitely something worth striving for that's for sure... man I should have made one of my resolutions to memorize scripture because I'm definitely on a great start with that. :)

Today was full of blessings as we worshipped together as a church family. My children's church worship leader did an AMAZING job with the students this morning and when I chatted with her about some changes that will take place soon... she was really excited which definitely encouraged me! I taught the 7-9yr olds today and they blessed me by being excited about being involved in the changes that will take place in a few months as well. Adelina, Nick and Kayla were back and it was so good to see them. I met with my girls for Sunday School and we're begining a new study with them: Experiencing God (LOVE this material) the youth edition and I was blessed by their excitment to do this study. Isabella took a wonderful nap and I got to join her this afternoon... always a welcomed blessing. And we had some great family time in the evening coloring and taking a walk. Just a great day all around.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

1 Peter 4:11

When we were in MN, we always had a calendar fundraiser for the new year. The calendars always had gorgeous photography and I loved that they included scripture verses. So anyway... someone sent us one this year and this was the very first verse for January.

"If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the words of God." 1 Peter 4:11

Wow.... powerful... definitely gives you something to think about... definitely makes you think before you speak... Wow. I think I will memorize this so whenever I find myself in a frustrating situation, or I'm about to complain, or even about to give advice... I will think twice about what I say.

A Heart Like His...

an Intimate Reflection on the Life of David by Beth Moore

Wow... this is an amazing book! I'll be honest in saying that for the longest time I was not a big 'Beth Moore' fan. It really had nothing to do with her or her books but rather a situation that I dealt with a few years back that I didn't agree with that involved the use of her books. I'll admit it was immature on my end and now I'm way behind on the books she has published but at least I've been given (and have taken) the opportunity to be blessed by her ministry. Actually, a few years ago I got one of her books for Christmas but never really got into it. I think mainly because I was involved in quite a few Bible studies that it was difficult for me to really dig in one more. But anyway....

My in-laws gave this book to me for Christmas and I have been forcing myself to put it down each day after one chapter. I thought I understood the story of David... and well I did know the basics but this book has taken my level of understanding to a whole new level. She has a way of not just pointing out but helping you discover the details that make David's story so amazing!

I've learned so many things about God and how blessed we truly are that Jesus died on the cross for us and how that has changed our relationship with God. I've learned quite a bit about David's 'backstory' (as Beth calls it) and how God worked way before David to allow David to become who he was. It's so amazing to see all the details that went into David becoming... 'A Man after His Own Heart' and knowing that God planned for all of that to happen. I was amazed at how Hannah gave up her first born (and how difficult that is to digest now that I have my own child), and how God extended grace to Eli to father again (and how encouraging that is) and to realize how old David actually was when he was first annointed... wow and then to know how unperfect David was yet God called him a 'man after his own heart.' Crazy.... and I'm not that far into the book. I can't wait until I have a total overview of the who David really was and how God worked in his story.

Her writing has given me a new appreciation for the Bible because she helped to unlock a door of mystery. Like I said before, I knew I was missing so much and not able to put all the details together and she has helped me to do that. She's helped me to make the story personal and she's helped me to read God's word in a story form. Everyone has always told me to look at the Bible as a story book with just lots of chapters but it's never been 'that easy' to do... I always got stumped by the geneologies, books that repeat stories, or stories that are a bit out of order time wise. So while I enjoyed reading... it never seemed to flow like a book to me.

This book (with it's detailedness... is that a word? LOL) has made me understand and yet still question (which I think is a good thing because it leads me to further discovery) God and my relationship with him and I'm stocked about what I'll discover in the next 2 months (yeah it has a lot of chapters! lol).

So thanks Mom and Dad for an AWESOME (that was for you Mike) Christmas gift!

“wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” - Isaiah 1:16-17

Should've added...

I don't always remember that I have other readers when I blog so I apologize for the 'Thank you, bye bye' post without explaining. :)

I'm not exactly sure how to explain this so bear with me.... not everyone speaks English here but everyone does know 'Thank you' and 'Bye Bye' (and they don't always know how to properly use it) and there's just something about how they say it here that is too funny. It's very short, quick, to the point, with a slight raise in the voice and it just makes us laugh every time we hear them say it. Just imagine saying a foreign word, repeatedly, simply because that's the only word you know but you're not always saying it correctly or you say it with a funny accent. Unfortunately, I guess it's just one of those things you have to experience to understand the humor but I had to write about it because I was so caught off gaurd that I actually said it myself.

When I said, I hoped I didn't offend anyone... I just didn't want them to think I was mocking how they speak.

On that note....

Thank you, bye, bye.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Sabbatical Granted

My sabbatical was granted! LOL I'll be returning to the states on Jan 23rd for about 3 weeks!!! I'm so excited and a bit nervous about a really long flight with Isabella but that's okay. It'll be worth it to see family! So mark your calendars and let me know if you are available to get together! (hehehe)

I'm so excited about this trip because I'm going to get to see all of my family! Erin and fam moved back to Greensburg (and she's not working) so I'll get to see her and the girls the whole time and Nikki's going to try and come up to Ohio so I can see her too!!! What a great trip this will be!

Biggest Loser Update

Only one week left! I'm so excited to push myself one more week and then I move on to maintance! Wohoo so exciting. I have really enjoyed the challenge and adding some new things to my exercise routine... including running and not on the elliptical. They have allowed me to stay a part of the boards and I'm really looking forward to cheering on my current (and new) team members. I think this board is just fantastic in promoting healthy lifestyles.. not just quick weight-loss. Yesterday we had 5 (10 minutes) challenges and it was so fun to see how much I'd improved. For some things (like curls and squats) I came close to doing almost 1 per second for 10 minutes straight! I haven't lost as much as I thought I would but I have lost a lot of inches and that's ultimately the most important thing to me.

As I mentioned before I started running and as of today... I'll be running the 10K for the Standard Charter Marathon!!! I am STOKED!!!! I've been having some problems with registration but today it was confirmed! WOHOOOOOO! Can you tell I'm excited! The only bummer is that I can't totally relax while I'm home... I'll have to keep running but that's okay. This was just the extra motivation I needed this week. YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Watch out HK here comes Melissa! LOL

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I think it's time...

to take a sabbactical from Hong Kong.

Last night I made a purchase at Jusco and as the cashier handed me my change, I said, "Thank you. Bye Bye." It just came out, I wasn't trying to be funny, I wasn't trying to mock anyone, I guess I have just become so used to hearing this that it's been ingrained in my mind.

I sincerely hope I didn't offend the cashier.

But as I walked away... it hit me and Mike and I don't think I've laughed that hard in a long time. It felt good... I should laugh like that more often.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year--New Me (aka Resolutions)

Mike took this photo of me in our hallway after Christmas Eve service. This is the beautiful dress (and shoes.. he's one stylish guy!) he bought me for Christmas and I just loved it! Having this new outfit to end the year just reminded me of how much I've changed... physically, spiritually, even in my fashion sense :) and excited me to think about how I will change this coming year.

As I mentioned before... I love setting goals and resolutions for myself. It's fun to think about things I would like to try or areas of my life that I would like to change. I try not to set too many though because I know the more I list... the more I'll fail and I also know that the more I set... the more I'll try to do on my own rather than seeking God's help. So anyway.... it was really fun to look back at what my last years resolutions were:
1. Train for a half-marathon
2. Write a story for a children's book.
3. Organize an English speaking play-group
4. Develop my skills in photography and editing

And this is what I was able to accomplish (though definitely NOT on my own!)...
1. The half-marathon I wanted to run was this year's 2007 HK Marathon in March and while I won't be doing the half-marathon (when I first started training my knee hurt and I literally couldn't walk right for a few days) I will be running the 10K! (well as long as my registration has gone through... I probably should check that eh?)
2. I have an idea for a Children's book and I have the basics written out but I have not completed it. I want to write an ABC book on the characteristics of God and while I have all the characteristics (except for the letter X) I also want to include scripture references and I need to find all of those first.
3. Done... there are five of us right now!
4. Done... I have greatly improved (well at least I think so... lol) I know I still have a lot to learn but hey... at least I'm trying.

So what resolutions have I set for this year???

1. To research hard (Bible, commentaries, people, web-sites, etc..) those things that I question or don't totally understand to find God's truth so that I don't just walk away with an opinion... I walk away knowing where that opinion came from, what verses support my decision, etc.
Why? I found myself last year learning a lot of new things and understanding that I have my own opinions about these things but yet when I would blog about them... I never had specific references to refer to. I don't really want to be a person who just spouts off their opinion... I want to be able to have reasoning behind it.
2. To blog more about the blessings of life and what I'm learning about God and myself.
Why? I started this blog to be able to look back and see how God has worked in my life but towards the end of the year... it became more of just simply what I did each day. And while that's fun to recollect... I want my blog to be more meaningful to me and anyone that may read it. I want to be able to look back and see that I'm growing and I want to encourage/challenge others to grow too.
3. Email/Snailmail more regularly
Why? When we first moved to HK, I was incredible (in my of emailing, sending photos, just plain ole keeping in touch with people and writing regular prayer updates but again I slowly slacked off and have lost contact with a few really special people to me so I want to get back into regular touch with them and I want my family to be able to see regular photos of Isabella and we have an INCREDIBLE group of what I call 'Prayer Warriors' (those that have asked to receive our prayer updates... if you'd like to be a part of that just send me an email) and I want to take advantage of their prayers and support. I want to be able to share with them how God is working.. how their prayers are being answered and just plain let them know how much we appreciate them!
4. Take care of myself.
Why? Since moving to HK, I have really worked hard to live a healthier life. I have been exercising regularly, eating much better and it has paid off in so many ways. I have lost about 60+ lbs (well since having Isabella anyway), I have more energy (maybe not so much in the mornings but that's for a different reason and something else I will personally be working on LOL) I feel strong, confident, etc. I've never felt so great in my life and I want to continue to feel this way for the rest of my life. I also want to set a good example for Isabella and be around to enjoy all the stages of life. But on top of the exercising and eating healthy.. I want to take care of myself spiritually and emotionally. I have many things to work on in these areas but I know that with God's help... He'll change me because while 'He loves me just the way I am... He doesn't want me to stay this way.'

So that's it.... a very different set of resolutions this year and there are many more specific things that fall into those categories but I know it's going to be a good year. As I said last year... 'In all I do, I want to glorify and serve God' and that's ultimately my heart's desire.

I found this prayer on in regards to New Year's Resolutions and I really loved it and so I decided this prayer was going to be my 'life prayer' (well at least for this year... maybe I'll find something different in the future).

As we enter a new year, 
may the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi become ours:

"Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
Not so much to be understood as
To understand;
Not so much to be loved
As to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying that we awaken to eternal life."

Praying everyone has a year that draws them closer to our Almighty God!

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Years Eve

Well it's 2007... so funny to think that 7yrs ago so many people stocked up on canned goods, worried about their computers, thought the world would end, etc. It's hard for me to believe that Mike and I have been together for 7yrs and it was fun last night to reminisce with our youth group about our first NYE together. It was full of fun moments... bag pipes, getting lost, car accident, first kiss. :)

I just love New Years but this year... well just didn't feel like New Year's. Not sure why but all of us thought that way. Mike and Hannah planned a youth lock-in so maybe (and if you know me at all... I was less than enthused) that was why I wasn't super excited for it. lol Horrible I know but it's not that I don't enjoy spending time with the students... I just NEED my sleep... I really don't do well without it and now that we've got Izzy... someone has to be happy to play with her and I was really nervous about how or even if she would sleep at a school.

But anyway... Hannah's mom has been visiting and offered to watch Isabella at home so I could go to the lock-in. I was so grateful that she was willing to watch her but I also decided that it was best if I still came home to get a good nights sleep. I wanted Mike to be able to rest without having to worry about Isabella. It was a good decision as I've never seen Mike sleep so much! LOL I knew he'd be tired and expected him to sleep but he's not really a good napper so I really didn't expect him to sleep so long. :) Alas...

The lock-in was great! Mike and Hannah did a fabulous job with all the preparations.. the games were fun, the devotions were great, the food was plentiful. We had a total of about 18 students attend. It was such a different type of lock-in compared to the states (no sports tournaments but lots of board games and movies) but it was really fun. We (well Becky and I) played X-box for like at least 1 1/2hr and then I joined in on a game of 'Settlers'. It is now my mission to find this game when I visit the states later this month!!! It was so much fun. We played some link tag and before we realized.. it was time to count down. We were a little late in counting because at about 7 we heard horns honking, fireworks going off, people yelling... but that was okay. We still counted and shouted the New Year in.

Afterwards Mike shared a devotional with us that was awesome!!! I really enjoyed hearing what he had to say. He was sharing out of Ecclesiastes and how Solomon had this 'poor me' syndrome as he looked back on parts of his life. Then he challenged us to have a positive attitude about this new year and to commit to allowing God to use us in any way.

He gave us mirrors and asked us these questions: 1. How do you see yourself? (he also suggested to look at what 'season' we were in) Out of all the seasons that are listed, I kept coming back to 'a season to die'. Great I thought but the more I dwelled on it I realized that God was telling me that I'm in a season of 'dying to myself.' With some of the personal things I'm struggling with, I need to die to my wants, my selfishness and put others before myself... I need to let go of some of these things and I need to let God heal.

Question 2 was: How can God use you this year? And this was exciting to me. My prayer is that God will use me to plant His seeds with these ladies I have been building a relationship with but I can also see many other opportunities of how God can use me if I'm willing which makes me want to stay close to Him. I don't want to miss out on being a part of God's plan.

I'm still working on what my actual resolutions are. I love to do this because I'm the type of person that once I write something out or make it known to others... I'm motivate to press on to reach that goal. So that will have to be another post.


“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” - Psalm 90:12