Monday, August 1, 2016

August Memory Verse - Proverbs 16:24

This year I have had a hard time of making time for me to do the things that I want to do. I get caught up in other things and then don't focus on the things that I should or want to focus on. I'm trying to get better and to be diligent about posting our scripture verse for the month. I don't want to just coast through life,  I want to be able to live my  life the way that I feel God is calling me to do.  I want to be an encourager and someone who people know that if they are in a jam, they know that they can call on me for anything and I will drop everything and do it.  I want to get to the point where my life just kind of works and I am able to do the things I love and adore.  I want to pick up my camera and improve my photography.  I want to share the pictures that I have taken and feel confident that they are good.  I want to make time to make cards, so that I can give them to John or even just when I know that someone is going through a situation I can have cards available to send to people.  I also want to be better about sending cards and hand written letters out to people.  I want to be an encourager and someone who uplifts people with my words and actions.  Hence why this bible verse for this month is so near and dear to me.   

Proverbs 16:24 is our monthly verse for August and also it's N's scripture verse for 2016.  With all the kids, I always struggle with picking out a bible verse for what they should be memorizing or thinking about or even what I should be thinking about and dwell on for the year with them.  But for this year I really think that both N and I are going through a bunch where we just need constant reminders that our words affect other people and we don't want our words to hurt or bring down people but we want our words, our attitude and our actions to reflect God's character.  One thing that I have been thinking about is that Jesus in everything that he did throughout his time on earth, his character, and his behavior was always in love and grace.  I want my family to reflect Jesus and I want people around us to see that our family is different than the world's standards.  We treat people with love and kindness and speak extremely gracious words.   It's something that I think will always be a work in progress and I will always be growing in this but my prayer is that God will use me in my weakness and failure to point to Jesus who even though I mess up daily still died on the cross for me and my sins. 


I always struggle with my words, this bible verse is helping me remember that my tone and how I say things should always be helpful. My words can be an encouragement or they can tear down people and my goal is to change my attitude so that I can encourage others.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A rambling post!

I'm a thinker.  I think a lot and not always can my heart express in words what I want to say.  Because I can't always express what I'm feeling, thinking or wanting to say it get me into trouble.  So please just bear with me as I ramble along.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. - Romans 3:23-24

I've been thinking about this verse a lot lately.  Thinking about it way back from 2011 when we were having a conversation in the bible study that I went to about how the Holy Spirit works on convicting everyone of certain sins at different times.  The example a girl used was downloading movies and music, she felt convicted that it was wrong to do and another girl didn't feel that was a bad thing.  Does that mean we hate that person who illegally downloads movies and music.  Is it wrong?  Yes, but for that other person the Holy Spirit was working in a different area. 

I've been thinking about how I live my life.  How I get angry and at timea lash out at my kids and husband for things that aren't their fault but are things that have built up in me and have finally bubbled out.  Should I as a Christian admit that I get angry, that I get frustrated, that I lie, that in the past I have stolen, I've judged and that I have cheated? Wait as a Christian shouldn't I be perfect?  Thankfully because of this wonderful verse - Romans 3:23 - For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. No...I don't have to be perfect.  I strive hard to listen to the Holy Spirit and God's teaching but I will fail because I am human and I am not perfect.  I hate that people feel that because we are Christians it means that we are perfect and that we don't make mistakes.  

I hate that the church gets blamed for so many things when it's the Christians who make mistakes and go to church.  People say that they don't want to go to church because the people that go are hypocrites.  Yup, people who go to church are liars, hypocrites, gossips, murders, idolaters, those who have had affairs or any of the many sins that God has told we are not supposed to do.  The wonderful thing is that even though we daily sin and make mistakes God forgives and the Holy Spirit nudges us so that we have the ability to change things that we do wrong.  But it's a daily process and the the wonderful thing that God gives us is grace.  Grace to make mistakes and make errors.  

I am seeing a trend around the world where places that were once were "Christian" nations are struggling with having people attend church and who would even struggle to say that they are Christians.  Is it because of the rules or is it because of the culture we are living in?  Is it because people don't want to hear hard truths about how they are sinners and need a God who came down from heaven to die for our sins and then we are able to have fellowship with others? I struggle with issues (sin) that maybe other people don't struggle with.  I am a Christian and a sinner who thankfully has been saved by grace by a wonderful Heavenly Father.  

I struggle daily to live my life to show others the love that Jesus so freely gave us. I pray that God will use me to share the love that Jesus freely gives.  That I don't judge others for the sawdust in their eyes. Because I am a sinner who the Holy Spirit is working on.  I am a work in progress and I pray daily that God will use me, the lowly sinner that I am.  

Friday, October 2, 2015

Missionary Life - Language


One definition of a missionary is a person who goes to a foreign land (usually) and shares a message about their religion.  But how a missionary shares that message can be done in many different ways.   We have missionaries who share the love of Jesus through music and visitation.  We have missionaries who share the gospel message of hope to foreign inmates.  We have missionaries who share the message through teaching English in colleges and opening up their home for Bible studies.  We have many different ways of sharing the message.  No one way is the best way to share the gospel message that Jesus loves us and died for us. 

I struggle at times with being a missionary.  Our family isn't a typical missionary family.  We were directly hired by a Chinese church to work in an English Congregation.  We don't have a sending church or even a sending synod.  There are times where we don't quite fit in.  Our church has been very supportive us and we are blessed here.  We've signed our contract three times because we've always felt that God isn't done using us here in Taiwan.  But at times it's very difficult too.  Because our ministry is in English - we have never done formal language studies.  (We are not working in Chinese and our ministry is in English.  Anytime we try to learn Chinese, it takes away time and energy from our main ministry and our family time!)   Most missionaries when they move to a foreign country start intensive language study to learn the local language.  John took 2 classes but they were on our time and our dime.  I have not done formal language study.  The Chinese that I understand and can communicate is very limited.  There are times I struggle with the idea that I've lived in a country for 5 years and don't speak it, read it or write it very well or at all.   

Our secretary for VEF is gone, she left in the middle to end of August so that she would have the opportunity to go to seminary so that she could be more involved in teaching and working in the church.  Since she's been gone we have been looking for replacements to take over her position.  We interviewed people and we think we found the person we want to hire.  But we have to wait till the head secretary at Victory is back from her time in America so that the head pastor and her can do the final interview.  But during this time we have no secretary and no one able to help (full time) communicate with us and the Chinese side of the church.   So the people who speak in English have needed to help and I've been using lots of Google translate (not very helpful at times) and hand gestures to get my point across. 

I think the hardest thing about not having someone to help translate and to help figure out what we want to try to explain what we need.  We ordered materials for Sunday School and we have too many students and not enough materials.  So we had to make more materials and we wanted to do it in color.  I thought it would be simple -- talk to the office guys and print the materials and be on my way.  It was not simple nor was it easy.  First I had to figure out how to explain what I wanted...a mixture of English, Chinese, pointing and showing.  Then they used Chinese, some English and we tried to figure out how to solve the problem.  The problem was I wanted it done in color and we couldn't figure out the password for VEF to access the color printer.  So we had to use the other printer to scan the materials onto VEF secretary's computer and then print it on the colored printer because the VEF secretary's computer had permission to print color.  But it took so much time and it was involving using a Chinese computer where everything was in CHINESE (print, print two sided, etc.) so one of the office staff wanted to help me do it and when I told him I needed to do the whole booklet and it would take a long time to do it and I didn't want to waste his time doing it he realized the magnitude of what we were doing and tried to problem solve with another coworker and I ran downstairs to talk to John to figure out a simpler solution.  We thought we had solved it by buying a digital copy but it wasn't perfect and it involved printing 2 papers and then scanning those in as one page for it to work.   What I thought should take 15 to 20 minutes ended up taking 3 or 4 hours.   We still aren't finished with everything either.  

Things in a foreign country take a long time to get done -- things that are simple to do and figure out at time can take a lot of time and energy.  So there are times where you have to decide if it is really something you want to use your energy for or is it something that you just put off.   With the boys in school sometimes that is exhausting and trying to figure out what the teachers want you to do and trying to get things done might take two or three days to get done rather than signing and sending it back the next day.  The teachers always look at me and ask for certain documents that they gave me the day before the next day.  I look at them and say I need another day.  Or they look at me and tell me that I need to talk to the principal so that the document can be looked at.  

N is doing a great job at Chinese school.  (That can be another post for another day about the boys and school) But probably the most stressful thing about having N being in school is not understanding everything that has to be done for him in school and needing on a daily basis to get help for his homework and for his work.  So he daily goes to an after school program to get help with the homework.  In my mind I always expected to be able to help out in my kids’ school, but I am not able to help and am a nuisance to both schools.  I'm not able to help in the school systems (and the school has asked for help -- I have told them I would help but they don't want me to help because it's too much of a bother.) 

We love our time in Taiwan and are so blessed but one of the stresses is language.  I will always have sympathy for people who come to America and don't speak the speak English.  I understand the stress that goes with living in a place that not your home country.  Trying to figure out things and raise kids is not always easy.  I am SO thankful to the many people who have come along side to me to help my family and I navigate life in Taiwan.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Foreigner - 外國人 - Wàiguó rén

There is a special term in Chinese for a foreigner, 外國人(Wàiguó rén). We hear it a lot as we walk around our neighborhood, go to school, go swimming, go to the playground.  Little kids will see us walking and will say -- Look mom it's a 外國人(Wàiguó rén).  We understand that we do not have the asian skin, the black hair and the beautiful almond shaped eyes.  We do not look like the people who we live around.  We are different, we are foreign and we don't fit in. For the most part I don't think it's said to be negative, people who say it just say it because they notice that we are different.

Sometimes we pretend that we can't understand, sometimes we look at the kids or the adults and smile showing that we understand.  Sometimes we talk to them and let know that we understand them.  Sometime we tell them yes we are a foreigner but that they are a Taiwanese person. It all depends on our mood.  Sometimes it frustrates us that at times they feel the need to separate us from them.  Usually I get most upset or sad when I see how it effects my kids because they understand that they are different and how they won't ever be able to fit in.  They can speak the language and they are trying their best to adapt to the environment but people will never stop looking at them as foreigners.  

The term 外國人(Wàiguó rén)  is usually the first thing we hear from people we don't know.  The next term that we here is asking what country we are from.  Are we from America, England, etc.  So we listen to and for those two words the foreigner and then where we are from.  

It's very different here (in Taiwan) to always have the comment and always be made aware that you are VERY different from everyone else and that you are a foreigner.  In the US you might go up to people and try to find out where their ancestors are from but you wouldn't go up to just anyone and say that they are a foreigner even they have a skin color different from you, or an accent different than you.  Because of the melting pot effect in the US it's a little bit harder to figure out who's the foreigner and make a big deal about it.  Of course I could be completely wrong about that opinion too. 

After some of my friends have been around me and my family long enough they hear the comments or they are usually asked to explain who we are and why we are here.  My friends will ask me if this is normal, and we usually answer yes this is normal.  My friends are usually in disbelief that these questions are asked of us.  But I tell them it's part of normal life here in Taiwan.

The more often I'm called 外國人(Wàiguó rén), the more I realize that as a Christian I should never feel like the United States of America is my home.  It's where I was born and it's where I was brought up, but because I accepted Jesus as my Savior this world is not my home.  

Hebrews 13:14 - "For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come."

What a beautiful promise.  While Jesus was still on earth he made the promise that he was going to prepare a place for us in heaven.  What a blessing and what a promise. 

John 14:2-3 - "My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."


I might not be home and I might not ever have a home here on earth but I can not wait to go up to heaven and be up in heaven worshipping God with all my brothers and sisters in Christ.  It will be a gorgeous and glorious place to be.  I think the thing I'll be most excited about is that we will all be able to understand each other.  What an amazing blessing that will be.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July Memory Verse - Song of Songs 2:4

This month is a beautiful month.  This is the month where the kids are done with school and we can enjoy our time as a family without having to worry about rushing to get them to school or rushing to pick them up.  We can play games, we can go on adventures, we can swim at the pool.  We have the freedom to do what we choose to do.  This month is also a special month because John was born.  I have been blessed to have John in my life for a long time....we are almost at 20 years of knowing each other or of knowing a little bit about each other.  God has truly blessed me!  So today I give you our bible verse for the month.  It's not quite as pretty of a picture but I keep thinking of the song that I learned in Sunday school-- be brought me to his banqueting table his banner over me is love. (If you know it you are now singing it in your head!)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

June Memory Verse - Joshua 24:!5

June Memory Verse was a startling verse I've always heard the last part of the verse as for me and my house we will serve the Lord but I never realized that I was missing the first half of the verse.


But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”     
 - Joshua 24:15

I never realized that the first part of the verse was talking about how the Israelites needed to decide who they were going to serve.  This verse is specifically speaking to the Israelites about serving other gods and not the one true God.  But this verse is also applicable to us now -- who are we going to serve -- money, work, technology, family, friends, etc. I will fail and not always serve the Lord but my hope and my prayer is that I will serve the Lord. 
As for me and my house we will serve the Lord


Friday, May 1, 2015

May Memory Verse - Proverbs 15:1

So we have been working through our bible verses.  We got a cd of bible verses set to music and so I chose this one because it keeps reminding me that I need to be still and quiet.  Harsh words and getting angry don't help in getting people to do what I want them to do but when I stay quiet and use a softer voice I don't get upset as easily and sometimes stuff gets done.  This verse convicts me so often.  When I've gotten upset or angry I tell myself this verse.  I've also be reminding my children that a soft or gentle answer is better than an angry voice.  This will be a very convicting but hopefully lots of good conversations.

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Friday, April 3, 2015

April Memory Verse

This memory verse is a hard verse to read and memorize but if we just had this verse we would have NO hope.  There would be no way to God and there would be no way to reconcile ourselves to God.  But thankfully there is more details and there is a Savior who came to earth and lived a perfect life.  That man's name was Jesus.  He wasn't anything to look at but he had compassion on the sinners the people who recognized or when it was shown to them recognized that they could do nothing to stop sinning.  So Jesus that perfect man without sin or fault took our place and died on the cross.  Then three days later he arose from the dead and became victorous over death.  Because of Jesus death on the cross, I am able to have a personal relationship with Christ.  Hallelujah! What a beautiful promise. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March Memory Verse

This is the year that I am most excited about!  We have done memorization before through repeating orally, through singing songs and having it written down.  But this year is the first year I have a new reader in the family who is excited to every day read the memory verse on our whiteboard.

This past month we got a notebook (both N and I) and we started every single day just writing the bible verse down.  N writes it down and says all the words as he writes them.  I try to write it a different way every single time.  It's a start and we are hiding God's word in our heart.

This Month's Memory verse is Psalm 139:1!  Excited to see what we do this month.
You have searched me, Lord and you know me.
 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Happy Birthday Alexi!

This day is a special day.  Today is my beautiful sister's birthday!  Happy birthday Alexi and I can't wait to meet your new little one.  I wish I could be home to celebrate your birthday and your 30th on top of it!  Happy birthday my beautiful, sweet and hardworking sister!  I love you so much and hope you have the best day!

 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Four years living overseas

Today marks us having lived here for 4 years.  After today we will have lived in Taiwan for four years and --- months ---- days.   It seems so strange that four years have passed and how much has changed and then again not changed.  Four years ago we were very unsure of what we were doing going through jet lag and trying to figure out the language and what and where everything was that we needed.   Today we are still trying to figure out the language and thankfully we have figured out where to find most of the things we need.

Four years ago we arrived with a three year old and a 18 month old.  Now we have a 7, 5, and 3 year old.  Seems so hard to think that we came here with our kids so small and had a baby while we were here.

This week was a hectic week because we remembered on Wednesday that our ARC (alien registration card) were about to expire this week.  In order to stay in the country and not have issues we need to keep our passports current and have our arc always current and the proper paperwork in place so that we can stay in the country.  It's always a bit uncomfortable and because of it we are always aware that this is not our home.

This week as we frantically ran around trying to get our paperwork, our pictures and all the minor details in place so we could apply for a new arc.  Oh my goodness the pictures were the biggest headache of all.  We were the show once again as we struggled to fit our kids to fit on the picture and the picture place was not made for kids.  So we tried having the kids stand up or sit on a box.  Then we had elderly gentlemen outside of the photo booth wanting to take our kids to show them off and tell everyone that they are little dolls.   Throughout the process I realized that we are aliens living in a foreign land and that this is how we should feel where ever we are living.  This world is not our home and even when we seem to understand everything that is going we need to realize that earth is not our home and that one day we will be going to heaven and we will finally feel at home. There should always be this sense of discomfort and this longing to go back home because we should long to go be in our heavenly home.

I've lived now in two countries where I was an alien and both times have helped me to remind me that this is not our home and we will finally be home in heaven. Also living in a foreign country has helped me realized that some of the things I think are normal things are not normal.  Also things that I think are strange and weird for my host country are very normal things.  Sin is not normal and God hates it...it's why he had the Jews in the Old Testament sacrifice so that they would be aware of their sin and realize that they could never sacrifice enough and that a perfect sacrifice was needed so that we could have fellowship with God.  Jesus was that perfect sacrifice and made it possible so that again we were able to have communion with God the Father through Jesus the Son.   So daily I need to keep away from the worldly desires (sin) that wages war again my soul!  It's not just non believers but it is Christians that need to be aware of sin and to keep away from it.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Traveling to Austria back in my college days

I have been extremely blessed to have opportunities to travel.  I've had opportunities to just travel that many others might not have had the opportunity.  For that I am blessed.  There are times that I have to remind myself that I should write down my life experiences down not just for my sake but for my kids sake.  I want them to be able to realize that I was more than just their mom.  But that I had dreams and the experiences I had growing up changed me and affected who I am and why I am who I am.  I want to keep my memories alive for my kids and for myself.

The first time I got to travel to Europe was when I was in college.  The company that my dad belongs to offered him the opportunity to travel to Austria.  He was given four spots and I was one of the lucky ones who had the opportunity to go.  I was either a freshman or sophomore in college and I remember going to all my teachers asking permission to go on the trip and asking what my assignments would be so that I could make it up.  I was at the time taking a music class and my music teacher just told me to soak up the culture and the musical culture there in Austria.

I don't remember much about the traveling and how we got around places but I remember walking the streets in Austria and just thinking to myself how blessed I was to be over there.  We had an opportunity to go to a orchestra concert to listen to classical music and I just remember my heart nearly bursting with joy and happiness.  I remember the opportunity of being able to listen to the Vienna Boys Choir, oh my goodness that was just so beautiful to listen to.  Not being able to understand a word of it but getting goose bumps because they did such a fabulous job singing.

We went on the trip before I got a digital camera but I took pictures with a film camera -- they didn't turn out that great but I just remember walking around looking at the beautiful old streets, the beautiful architecture and just the history that was all around.  I remember driving or walking around and being shown where people -- musicians that had lived on the streets where we walked and learning more about their lives and just feeling in awe of the just the beautiful history and the stories of what these people have been through.

The other thing that completely struck me was the statues that were all around Austria.There were some statues that were absolutely stunning and beautiful.  Then there were the beautiful but horribly sad reminders of history.  The evils of our world history and artistic reminders so that no one forgets.  I remember see one statue.  It was a large statue of just many people - limbs and even a mother giving birth but it was all about death and the holocaust.  It was beautiful but horrifying to realize what we as humans are capable of doing.

Being over in Taiwan makes me sad because all my photos and all my stuff is back home in boxes.  So I can't share the AMAZING photos that I took while I was there complete with the great fashion sense that I had as a college student.  Actually my fashion sense really hasn't changed much.  I have no fashion sense and I probably never will.  I wish that I had a couple of pictures to add to this blog post.

I don't know if I ever told my parents thank you for such a beautiful opportunity.  So I figure I would do so now!  Thank you, Mom for traveling with me to see Austria and for giving me the chance to see a different culture. Exposing me to a culture that was very different from where we grew up.  Thank you for putting up with me even though I probably was a bratty college student who wasn't always a good listener and who had a mind of her own on what it was that they should see or now see.  Thank you for putting up with that behavior.  I love you and I'm so thankful for all your love and help you have given me over the years.

Thank you to my dad for giving up your ticket and allowing me to go on the trip instead of you.  Thank you dad for putting up with me.  For the years when I would cry and I would cause you worry and pain.  For the times when I wouldn't obey and felt that I knew better than you.  I appreciate you taking care of me and for loving me.  I appreciate the time that you took to make sure that I had a good work ethic and to make sure to do a good job.  The training that I got a Dalene Flooring has come in handy in all the fields that I have been in since working at the family business.   I know Dad that you will probably not read this but I want you to know that I love you and I appreciate everything you have done for me.  All the sacrifices you and mom did so that you could raise us kids to have a bright future.  I pray that I have made both you and Mom proud.  I love you guys so much!

I am so thankful for the chance to travel and I pray that I will be able to travel to many other places.  I really wish I could go back to Austria and take pictures and just be reminded of the beauty all over again.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Movies and thoughts

Today I just went to the first movie theatre movie in probably two years.  I just haven't made time for it or we haven't made time.  We've talked about it but then getting a sitter and having the kids watched at times just seems more trouble than it's worth.   But today I got together with the girls and we watched Wild with Reese Witherspoon in it.  I liked the move -- yes there was language, drugs, and sex but it was also other things.  It got me thinking that if I were to change anything in my life or in my past would I do that?

Would I change the fact that I have a learning disability and at times struggle to explain how I feel and why I feel things?  Would I change the fact that I was in special education for most of elementary and junior high? Would I change what I did in high school? Would I change what I did in college and afterwards?

No!  I don't think I would change anything in my life - my learning disability while very annoying and frustrating at times helps me to be very sympathetic to others and I am more aware of situations and I think that's because of the struggles I had growing up with school and life.   I am so thankful for my friends and family who stuck by me and helped me to develop into the person I am today.  Sure there are things I wish that I had added to my high school career but I found them later on in life. Things like taking art and photography classes I think could have been fun.  I wish that I had tried out for volleyball and not let fear control me because I really loved playing that sport and watching it.

I'm not ashamed for leaving my high school and going to a boarding school.  I missed my parents dreadfully but I got to know my Uncles and Tantes, Grandparents and cousins on a very different level than had I just stayed at my old school.  I also had the opportunity to have a Christian education and meet people from around the world.  I even met my husband while I was there.  It was a great experience, hard because of being away from home and being responsible for yourself but also a great opportunity.

I think the experiences you've had growing up and even the mistakes help define you but they don't have to make you!  Your failures don't make who you are or who you will become.  You can either sit in your mistake or you can brush yourself off and work to be a better person and to be the person whom you think you want to be or the person you think God wants you to be.

I think the most important thing that I've realized is that even though I make mistakes and do things I'm not supposed to do,  I am still loved -- loved by my family, by my friends but most importantly I am a sinner who was saved by the grace of Jesus.  I will never be able to be perfect -- I will offend people, I will lie, I will get angry and I will do things that are sinful in the eyes of God my Heavenly Father!  But thank God that He provided a way for me to be in fellowship with him.   I think that is the most important thing.

My life experiences have shaped me and tell me who I was but I don't have to dwell in the bad or difficult things.  My identity is defined by the love that Jesus & my Heavenly father had for me and for that I am eternally grateful!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

February 2015 - John 3:16

With the month of February being about love.  I chose John 3:16, which is talking about the ultimate love.
For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Where will you be in 5 years

Where will you be in 5 years?  What do you picture yourself doing?  Those are questions that I've gotten in the past.  Before I got married 11 years ago, my goals and plans were very different than what I ever dreamed I would be doing now.

Before I got married my goals were that I would be teaching full time in a elementary school, hopefully I would get married and have children.  I always dreamed that I would be able to live in CT and be close to my friends and family.

In 2002, I packed up my bags and moved to Japan to teach English.  It was very different and almost out of the norm thing for me to do.  I felt that God was calling me to go teach over in Japan.  I went and it turned out to be the most best choice.  I fell in love and got married to my wonderful husband and father to my amazing three kids.  However because of me getting married to John my 5 year plan got pushed out the window and I don't think I ever have had a 5 year plan ever since.

In 2003, John and I got married and packed up my stuff to move out to Fergus Falls, MN so that John could start seminary.  I knew that we wouldn't live in Fergus Falls but it was comforting to know that our base for three years was going to be Fergus Falls.  

2006 was the year that John graduated and we started looking for jobs.  We weren't sure if I was going to find a job teaching or if John would get a call to a church.  So while we waited we went to Grand Forks, ND to try SIL for the summer.  It was a nice time and also a stressful time that summer because we weren't sure what we were going to do.  Our 5 year plan we didn't have.  We didn't even have a 1 year plan.  Thankfully we received a call for John to serve at Zion Lutheran church in Cooperstown, ND.  We had no idea how long we would stay and no five year plan again.  But we started to have our kiddos while we were in North Dakota.  We were so blessed.

2011, we made the decision to move to Taiwan so that John could be an English pastor at Victory church.  This time we knew that we would live in Taiwan for two years.  So I live in two year increments.  We have renewed our contract three times.  So we know for sure that we will live in Taiwan for two more years.  

I can't tell you where we will be in 5 years.  That I have no clue.  I do know that in 5 years though I'm pretty sure that all my kids will be in grade school. N should be in 5th grade, M might be in 3rd grade and H might be in K or 1st grade.    I don't know if I will go back to school to be a teacher or if I will decide to go back to school to take classes more on photography and try to start a career in photography. The nice thing is that I don't need to know where we will be in 5 years.  God knows where we will be in 5 years.  We might still be in Taiwan or we might be back in the US!  I am just going to enjoy the ride that we are on right now.

Do you make 5 year plans?  Do you have goals of where you want to be in 5 years?  What are your goals?  How do you adjust for the unexpected? Do you write those plans down or do you just keep a mental note of where you want to be?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Favorite Quotes

I don't have many favorite quotes.  I've never been the type of person to quote things from books or different people mostly because I'm afraid that I'll butcher it or get it wrong.  There are quotes or signs that I have tagged on pinterest because I think that they speak to me but I wouldn't say that they are my favorite quotes.  They just are things that I have seen and appreciated.

"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you." -- CS Lewis  

That quote touches my heart and reminds me continuously that I should not judge others or try to make them feel bad.  My job is just to be a friend and share the good news that Jesus saves us from our sins.  I can't do anything to make myself sinless and still continue to sin every day, so I'm thankful that God has forgiven the inexcusable in me!

"The more you read the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." -- Dr. Seuss

I love this quote by Dr. Seuss...actually I love a lot of Dr. Seuss' books and could make quotes off of his books.  I've especially started to appreciate these quotes since having kids and trying to help shape and develop their little minds with good books and help develop good imagination.  Realizing that the whole world is in front of us and if we open our minds we can learn a whole lot.

"Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand." -- Stevie Wonder

Music transports me.  Music has the ability to change my mood from some place that might be a grumpy mood to a a place where I am happy and joyful.  I have also learned especially living in foreign countries that music can be beautiful even if you don't understand the words.  The melody, the rhythm all have the ability to transport you to a different world and you can appreciate it for what it is.

"Which of my photographs is my favorite?  The one that I'm going to take tomorrow."  -- Imogen Cunningham

In 2002, my Tante Linda bought be a beautiful camera that started my love affair with photography.  John also pushed my photography further than I thought possible.  He started telling me, you have a digital camera why are you taking just one picture, take as many pictures as you want to and then just download them to your computer.  Beautiful advice from him.  I started to take more pictures and started to try to be selective of what I take pictures of.  It was the perfect way to spend the afternoon...John would drive, we would talk and we would stop so I could take pictures.  Then he got me a DSLR and my addiction for photography and capturing moments increased.  I love it and I am so grateful for photography.  It's my creative outlet and every day I feel that I am improving and growing.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

20 things about me!

Here are 20 facts about me!  So might just be very generic but they are about me.

1.  I have three beautiful kids!
2.  I love to read and am working hard to pass on that love to my kids.
3.  I am very creative - I love to make craft and I got that love from my mom!
4.  I love photography and I'm trying to improve every day!
5.  I love the idea of traveling but I'm kind of a homebody.
6.  I love to go exploring and I really miss our Monday Adventure that we took before the kids started     school.
7.  I'm not very good expressing my feelings and emotions to others.
8.  I used to only like blue and green colors!  I now like all colors.
9.  My Tante Jewel when I was younger (much younger) gave me a cd for Christmas and I remember      crying horribly because I had never heard of the artist (Harry Connick Jr.)and why would I want to      listen to him sing.  I remember listening to him and I'm pretty sure he is one of my favorite artist        and I'm so thankful to my Tante Jewel for sharing such a great musician.
10. I worked at a daycare for 4 summers during college.
11. My major was Special Education and Elementary Education.
12. My daughter was born in Taiwan but only has an American passport.
13. My goal this year is to read 75 books.
14. Little N is in First Grade - He attends a Chinese school and is home schooled in English.
15. I hate being away from my family!
16. I want to travel to Norway, Australia & New Zealand. (Many other places too)
17. My goal for this year is to go hiking at least once a month as a family.
18. I also hope that I can branch out in our cooking and eat more variety of foods.
19. I am blessed with lots of friends from lots of different countries and am very blessed because of our living in Taiwan.
20. One day I hope to be able to live on the East Coast again.  I like almost consistent four seasons!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Blogging is never easy!

So I would like to get back in the habit of blogging and sharing about what's going on in our life but I'm at a stage in life where I just feel busy all the time.  But I'm gonna try to make that change.

Our blog name is Olson Family!  We are the Olson family...this is our family blog and it's about the different things that we experience in our daily life.  It's a family blog about my sweet darling husband, and my three growing children.  We are a little bit different in that we are living overseas in Taiwan.  We are missionaries but we are reaching the English speaking people who live over here.  It's an interesting life and we've been here for almost 4 years.

I never thought that we would ever be in the position that we are right now.  My husband is an English pastor at a Chinese church.  It's a very unique position to be in and we have been blessed beyond all measure.  But both John and I thought we would be missionaries reaching out to people who live in the country and speak the local language.  So some times we still mourn the loss of that idea of working as a missionary to a local people group.  But God has blessed our work with the English ministry more so than either John or I ever expected.  God has blessed the church with a growing children's ministry, a growing church community and a growing small groups.   We have met some lovely and wonderful people through out ministry and living in Taiwan.

Victory English Fellowship (VEF) is a very unique church.  It's a very come and go type church.  It's very different from our previous church in a small town in North Dakota.  Our previous church had kids, youth, not many college age and some middle age and the faithful generation.  At our current church we have kids, youth, lots of college/early career age and middle age and not many in the faithful generation.  We have a lot of people who will attend our church for maybe a couple months or even a couple of years and then their kids either go to college or they return back to their home country.  When we first moved here I would get close to a person and then a month or two later they would move and it would just devastate me because I could invest in their life and then they would leave and cut ties with me and their life in Taiwan.   Gradually I realized that my mind set had to change and God has provided me some very faithful and loving friends whom I have as friends and then I can make friendships with new people who come into the church and just provide encouragement and the church can provide tools for them -- bible studies, fellowship, a place to worship while they are over seas and then when they are at their new place the time that they had at VEF will provide the tools to help them at their current church.  At least that's my prayer that we can touch the people who have attended VEF and they are willing to share the gospel message with others.

John (my husband) is a great guy and is a good pastor.  He is very dedicated and if he sees something that needs to get done he will get it done.  He is learning that he needs to let go of control and let others share their talents and gifts.  He likes to play ultimate frisbee and enjoys going hiking and going on scooter rides in the country.  It's very hard to get out of the city and from people and just escape from nature but John has found many hidden treasures around where we live so that we can at time escape from the hustle and bustle  of living in a city.  I am very blessed to have him in my life.

I am learning how to try to say no and slow down.  It's very easy to keep saying yes to the many opportunities that come around your way and soon your are knee deep in stressful situations of your own making and you need to slowly but gradually take a step back and just get back to a happy medium where you are busy with opportunities but not too busy.  I'll probably talk more about me later.

N is my oldest!  He is 7 years old and is amazing!  He goes to a Chinese school for 1st grade.  He has learn to read and write in Mandarin Chinese.  (I have yet to be able to do that -- I understand just a little bit!) So N will come up to me when the shop keepers are talking to me and say what they are telling me so I can understand.  He is making some good friends and is able to play and hang out with them it's amazing. He also is dealing with his demanding schedule.  He goes to Chinese school from 7:50 - 12:40 (and then one day a week he goes to school till 3:50) and then we pick him up and I start to homeschool him in English.  At this point it's a very edited curriculum - we do bible, history, read alouds, then we work on his reading and writing.  He amazes me because 21 weeks ago he wasn't able to read and we struggled greatly with even getting him to take the time to work with me to read and he is just blossoming both in English and Chinese.  I am so proud of him.  We usually work for 45 minutes on homeschooling before he has to leave to go to an afterschool program so that he can get help with his Chinese homework.  Then we pick him up and we finish the rest of his homeschooling work that we didn't finish.

M is my middle son!  He is 5 years old and is also amazing!  He goes to a Chinese kindergarten.  He's been there for two years.  We drop him off at 8 am and then we pick him up between 1:45 and 2 pm.  He is amazing in that he is able to speak in both English and is able to speak and understand in Chinese.  He is my curious one.   He wants to know how things work and is very much a peace keeper.  He is amazing at sharing and loves to play with others.  He notices and cares about others when others might not!  It's fun to watch him.

H is my youngest and the only girl!  She was born here in Taiwan.  (She doesn't have dual citizenship - just american!)  She is three years old (just turned 3 two days ago and I am mourning just a little bit how big she is doesn't seem possible that she is already three years old)  and has just made our world completely different.  Instead of just trains, cars, legos we have now added dolls, dress up and pretend play.  My boys are great with their sister and she has all of us wrapped around her finger.  She stays home with me and understands some chinese and can speak a few words but once she goes to school (not sure if it will be this coming year or the year after) she will pick up the language pretty quick.

This is our family and this is our little corner over the internet where we share about our life and our adventures.  Thanks for finding us and do you have any questions for us?  Anything you want us to share more about?
http://www.frontrowphotoff.com/
Photo credit: Front Row Photo

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Happy 3rd Birthday Little H

Three years ago today we woke up early in the morning to contractions.  We got up called up our friend Kris and she came rushing over to watch our boys while we went to the hospital.  I thought it would be quick like Little M's birth.  We walked over to the hospital (it was faster and easier to walk from our apartment to the hospital then it was to get in our car, find a parking spot and walk in.) and we had to go in through the emergency room.  The staff was confused as to why we were there and wondered what was wrong with us. We finally made it understood that our daughter was to be born and that I was in labor that day.  I texted everyone after I got checked in and settled into the hospital bed.  Some things I was not expecting to happen when I got checked in occurred but nothing horrible.  So we settled in and figured that we wouldn't be waiting long.  But we did wait a while.  They stuck me on a hospital bed and put me with a monitor to see how contractions went.  Well I wanted to sit up to keep the contractions going but they didn't like that and just wanted me laying down.   So my labor was probably delayed some because of that.  Gradually the nurses wanted to speed up the progress so they pushed my stomach some to force some pressure and get the labor to start going and then they also did some manipulation so that my body would be at a 10 so that I could push her out.  Let's just leave it at that -- it was a little painful and was very different from my two other birthing experiences.
My darling little H was born and I got to hold her while I waited for my room before she was rushed off to the nursery.  We were given this traditional soup that you had to drink right after you delivered the baby -- it was this black soup that was salty but had lots of ginger in it and had an egg in it.  I couldn't eat the egg but drank the soup. Finally went to my room and the nurses proceed to show John how to take care of me.  Show how to change bandages, where to put the bedding and then asked if we had brought various items that we didn't realize we had to bring.  So I had John quick go buy some of the supplies and then later on I went downstairs to 7 eleven to buy some other supplies.  The nurses and doctors just came in to check that I was doing okay and really only came in maybe 2 to 3 times a day.  I was roommates with a Chinese woman who I'm assuming had a c-section.  All I know is that every time she moved she was in pain and she just moaned in her sleep.  Her husband slept in the room with us and so at night there was a chorus of snores and moans of pains that I slept to.  But then every three hours I would be awaken by a phone call saying that I would have to go to the nursery to nurse my baby.  The nurses were very upset that John didn't stay with me because I didn't have any one to take care of me and get stuff for me.  That's not part of what the nurses do here in Taiwan. They just make sure things are okay and then they give you your medications.  They would always ask where my husband was and who was going to wash and check my bandages and get my clothes.  I took care of my bandages and my clothes.  John and many wonderful people from church took care of bring food for both the guys and me.  I was so blessed and so thankful.

Every three hours you would get the call that you were supposed to go down to the nursery to nurse and you would go in, wash your hands and they would hand you your baby and you would nurse for as long as you wanted and then you would hand your baby back over to the nurses and they would take the babies.  It was the strangest experience sitting down in a charge with a bunch of other nursing mother -- no one covered up and most of the new mommies struggling to figure out the right pose to put their child in so that they could nurse their child.  It was a very awkward experience because you aren't sure where to look and no one talks to other people it's about being quiet, getting the nursing done and then leaving again.  I was usually one of the last ones to leave after nursing even though had long since finished nursing Little H and we were just trying to get to know one another.  It was also very strange because John never ever got to hold Hadassah.  He could look at her from the window at the nursery but wasn't allowed to hold her.  I took him into the nursery grabbed my baby one time and after John had washed up handed her to him.  The nurses in the nursery were very upset and we just pulled the foreigner card not knowing better that it wasn't allowed.  After that we were told that John couldn't come into the nursery till Little H was checked out of the hospital.

 It was a slightly lonely experience because John was at home watching the boys and also working. I had my roommate who had control of the TV and would flip the tv like a pro...almost as good as my dad. She would flip around and she found an English program (there are not many of those channels) and I thought she was being nice and letting me watch something but nope...it lasted a minute then she flipped to something else.  I was thankful for my ipad because I was able to chat with my family and friends to keep my self occupied.  I couldn't handle being separated from my family and I wasn't liking the fact that Little H and I weren't able to bond and get to know each other so I asked my doctor if I could check out early.  Normally it's a 3 day hospital stay for a vaginal delivery and a 10 day hospital day if a c-section delivery.  I think I only stayed 2 nights...thankfully my mom came the night that I got home and we were just able to be cosy and get to know one another.  That is your birth story  Little H.  There would be things I might change about my birth story but I am so happy and thrilled that you are a part of our family.  We love you my darling little girl!

Happy birthday my sweet darling Little H.  We have come so far in just 3 short years.  I can't wait to see what happens this coming year.  I love you so much.
The day of your baptism - January 2012

 Your first birthday - January 2013
 Your second birthday - January 2014
 Happy 3rd birthday my darling H!  We love you!!

This is Little H's bible verse for the year.  We will trace the kids hands on a piece of paper and their bible verse will be put on their hands and get laminated and we will pray over these bible verses for our kids over the coming year.  This is the verse we are focusing on for Little H.

Little H, mommy and daddy's hope and prayer is that you will grow up to be a godly and wise woman one day.  We pray every day that God would give us the tools to raise both you and your brothers to love the Lord with your whole heart.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

January Memory Verse

So I'm starting off strong on my blog with my memory verses and we will see if we can keep the trend going strong.  The memory verses make it on my whiteboard every month but didn't always make it onto my blog.   January is the month that my sweet little girl was born.  So this memory verse is actually going to be the one that we put on her hand prints that we draw and cut out for 2015.

This bible verse is an extremely hard one to follow through on. I have a hard time showing love to others.  There are times when I want to deny my love for others because I don't feel like I am getting love or honor that I deserve.  But when I make a conscious effort to be show my love and honor to others, then I am less likely to feel like I am not be respected because I know that God is watching my actions and is showering me with His love.  Sure there are still days that I struggle with not feeling positive but God takes me by the hand and shows me how much he loved me!  He loved me enough to send His son to save me from my sins and so that He could have a relationship with me.

How do you show love to others?
How do you show that you honor others above yourself?

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Welcome to our blog! We try to keep this current for family and friends. We moved to Taiwan in February 2011 and are trying to keep in contact with loved ones through this blog. We love comments and will respond back if you have questions or comments!! Thanks for checking us out!!

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