Saturday, April 30, 2011

Humanae Vitae Part 1

I spent the last few days trying to get my head around the Catholic position on birth control and its relationship to their theology of marriage. My first project was to determine their perspective on its strongest account. This is the strongest account of their position that I could develop:

God has a perfect design for marriage. We fall short of this design because of the fall. Redeemed people attempt to fulfill this design according to God's grace.

Part of God's design for marriage includes planned childbearing using the natural cycle of fertility and infertility. Utilizing this method of "natural family planning," humans step into God's full design for marriage.

Artificial methods of birth control may seem harmless at first, but they violate God's design for marriage. Why?

Let's look at a parallel example. Emotions are part of being human, just as bearing children is part of being married. God gave us a natural mechanism--a will--to control our emotions, just as he gave us the natural fertility cycle to control childbearing.

The fall disordered these mechanisms. We cannot totally plan childbearing or submit our emotions to our will. It is easy to see how uncontrolled emotions are inconvenient and can damage or strain relationships with others.

We could solve this problem if we contracepted our emotions. By simply taking a pill, we could turn off our emotions until it was convenient or prudent. However, controlling our emotions in such a way detracts from our pursuit of God's design for humanity.

Similarly, if we use artificial methods of birth control, we actively detract from our pursuit of God's design for marriage.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lenten Purge

One of my favorite things about being a newly-wed is creating new family traditions.

In our pursuit to follow Jesus, we have come to value simplicity--the discipline of keeping ourselves "free from love of money" and material possessions (Hebrews 13:5).

To put this belief into action, we decided to have an annual "purge," setting aside time during Lent to go through all our possessions and give away / throw away anything we don't need.

We have lived here less than a year, but felt shocked at how much stuff we had accumulated...papers, CDs, well as how much stuff we had that we don't regularly use...clothes we never wear, mismatched socks, books we've already read, a hair dryer...

I have to admit, the "lenten purge" was not exactly a fun evening. It is emotionally difficult to give things away! (My natural instinct is to keep every birthday card I've ever received). Kalan gently reminded me, "It's okay to feel a little sad." And he is right. Keeping one small box of meaningful letters, notes, and pictures is enough.

Fortunately, we went through our whole two-room apartment in just over two hours. And the best part...we finished our new tradition with ice cream sundaes!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Battle Rages On

The weather is warming up, which means it's time for drinking iced bubble tea, eating cold mung bean soup, sleeping in front of the fan, and........

resuming our war on mosquitoes.

Last summer we stuck to a defensive strategy, draping a cream-colored mesh mosquito net over our bed.

But last week, we realized it's time to go on the offensive...especially after I awoke at three in the morning to Kalan standing over me in his pajama pants, furiously clapping at mosquitoes who had dared to enter our little tent.

Hence, we added a new weapon to our mosquito-slaying arsenal...

an electric tennis racket!

Not only does it kill the bloodsuckers on contact, but it also makes a sizzling SNAP and satisfying spark when you hit one.

The best part is, we don't have to turn the light on anymore...or even open our eyes. When we hear one buzzing, we simply grab the racket and wave it around our faces until....


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Brunch

Yesterday, the "Friday Brunch girls" gathered for an Easter celebration!

We prayed and ate. As we enjoyed eggs and hashbrowns, I shared the story of Jesus dying on the cross and rising from the dead, and the good news that through Him, we can be reconciled to God. None of my friends had heard this before.

Then, as we continued chatting and laughing, we dyed eggs. (Thanks Mom and Collette, for sending us the dye!) :)

From Taiwan...Happy Easter! He is risen!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Jiufen and Jianguashi

These quaint old mountainous mining towns are only an hour's bus ride from our city. We visited an old market, sampled local snacks, visited a gold ecological park, and did two short mountain hikes.

Overlooking Jiufen: our first hike's picnic stop

Hiking "Taiwanese-style"

Passing tombs and offerings to ancestors (the yellow paper is sacrificial money)

The crowded market

Jiufen is famous for its sweet taro balls (the beige-colored root vegetable)...Kalan's favorite

Walking from Jiufen to Jianguashi

After hiking to a Japanese Shinto shrine overlooking "teapot mountain"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sanchong Half Marathon

Last Sunday, Beth and I ran our second half-marathon together. We improved our time by six minutes, crossing the finish line in one hour and fifty-six minutes.

We were about to leave the race site, when on a whim we decided to check out the trophy ceremony. Minutes later, someone told us to deng ixia, deng ixia! ("wait a minute!") The next thing I knew, the announcer said something about liange waiguo ren ("two foreigners") and we were summoned up to the stage!

We placed second and third in our age division. I think it is quite fortunate that I started my running career in a country that has few female runners. Winning isn't everything, but it sure was a fun surprise after a grueling race!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Friday Morning Brunch

The past several Fridays, two of my favorite people here in Taipei--Michelle and Brownie--have come over for brunch.

We come from seemingly opposite worlds. Brownie is an Indonesian nanny, Michelle is a Taiwanese college student, and I'm an American English teacher.

But as we cook, laugh, eat, and share stories, our worlds come together. Last Friday Michelle showed us new recipes in her Chinese cookbook, Brownie shared a delicious Indonesian black rice and coconut dish, and I tried teaching them how to make omelettes.

I thank God for our friendship, and I'm looking forward to more fun Fridays to come!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Flora Expo

Last Saturday dawned sunny and warm, so we headed to the...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Celiac's Taiwan

I feel extremely blessed to live in country that bases most of its dishes on rice instead of bread. It's every Celiac's dream.

However...I have been surprised to find that gluten is more prevalent here than you may think...and not only in soy sauce and MSG. You can actually order a side dish of gluten, or buy a can of gluten at the local supermarket!

I'm not sure if it's actually gluten or if it's any case, it sure makes me laugh! :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Headin' down the highway...lookin' for adventure...

Our last day in Hualien, we rented scooters and buzzed down Highway 11, which runs down the eastern coast of Taiwan through jungle-covered mountains.

We also explored the area surrounding Hualien, stopping at a beach and a local winery.

We are thankful for such great friends and community here. We returned to Taipei feeling refreshed and with a renewed enthusiasm for everyday life.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hiking in Taroko Gorge

Our second day in Hualien, we visited Taroko Gorge. We took a bus to the middle of the park and hiked about 20 km back out. It was absolutely breathtaking. My favorite moment was when we saw wild monkeys!