Wednesday, June 29, 2011


This past week I have been reading the book of Titus, and I listened to a sermon podcast from our former church in Columbia.

The pastor defined the essence of femininity:
to nurture stability and beauty in myself and the people God puts around me.

I have been pondering what this looks like in my life. Here are some thoughts from my journal...

to Nurture: to cause something to grow and flourish
Stability: peace, contentment, shalom
Beauty: whatever reflects God; that which is True and Good

in Myself: spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, bodily

in the people God puts around me: husband, friends, co-workers, students

Two areas I want to grow in are:

1. nurturing stability in my emotions
I already wrote about this in my post on the "feelings train."

2. nurturing beauty in my mind
Since finishing college, I've been tempted to stop reading things that challenge me to think and grow intellectually. I don't want to give into that temptation. I want learn more about what is True, Good, and Beautiful.

What do you think? Do you agree with this definition of femininity? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lychee Love

My new favorite fruit: 荔枝! (lychees!)

Native to China and Southeast Asia, lychees (like many other fruits and veggies) were totally new to me when we moved here.

The outside peel is rough, but the inside pulp is soft and sweet like a giant grape.

Last week a student's mother gave us a giant bag of them...and I think they lasted for about an hour. Delicious!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Helping Japan

God has been teaching me that love requires action. We cannot love with only words. We must love in deed and in truth (1 John 3:18).

And as we prayed for Japan after the recent earthquake and tsunami, I knew we needed to do something. So I asked God for some ideas. And this is what happened:

Our fellow foreigners and Taiwanese friends at church came together to help.

We sold handmade postcards, jewelry, and framed photography.

We also sold homemade brownies, cupcakes, banana bread, cake, and cookies--rarities in Taiwan.

In just three hours, we raised $13,000 NT...or $450 US! Praise God!

All the money will be sent to CRASH Japan (Christian Relief, Assistance, Support and Hope), a network supporting Christians to do relief work in Japan and around the world. CRASH equips and prepares churches and missions to be there to help their communities when disasters strike and coordinates Christian volunteers to work with local ministries in the event of a disaster.

To find out more, you can visit:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Don't Listen to Your Heart

When I'm in the middle of a race, my heart screams at me to stop. I don't want to keep running; I want more than anything to stop and walk. I must choose to act against my feelings and keep going to finish the race.

I'm learning to apply this principle to other areas of my life.

Take cleaning, for instance. I never really feel like cleaning the bathroom (who does?!) But if I don't act against my feelings and simply clean it, mold and cockroaches take over.

That's an obvious example. But sometimes my wrong feelings are much more subtle, especially when it comes to relationships.

For example, let's say that I secretly want Kalan to plan something special for our date night, but I don't tell him (of course this is only a hypothetical illustration...haha). Friday night rolls around, and he innocently asks, "So, what do you want to do tonight?"

I feel disappointed. I might even feel unloved. "If he really loved me, he would know what I want...if he really loved me, he would have done something special..."

But are my feelings accurate? NO. The truth is, Kalan does love me and constantly shows me his love by sacrificially serving me. He makes me dinner every night, calls me each day on his lunch break just to see how I'm doing, often surprises me with my favorite tea or flowers, etc. When I take a step back from my feelings and think about the facts, it's easy to see that my feelings do not reflect reality.

Our feelings play a role in our relationship with God as well. Sometimes I think Satan uses our feelings against us. We may feel lonely. We may feel like no one understands. We may feel that God doesn't care about us. We may even doubt that God loves us. When we are hit with these feelings, what is the appropriate response?

I've started to think of my feelings as part of a train.

First is the engine. The engine is Truth. We know truth from the Bible, God's word.

Second is the coal car. The coal car is Faith. Faith is believing God's word even when we don't feel it.

Third is the caboose. The caboose is our feelings. Our feelings must follow Truth by Faith. If we start letting our feelings determine our decisions and actions, our "train" starts running backwards down the tracks...and the result is chaos, disaster, anxiety, and discontentment.

Whenever I feel anxious, depressed, lonely, insecure, inferior, or unloved...I remember my train. Usually it's running backwards and I have to step on the brakes, take deep breath, and remind myself of the Truth I know. Then, by Faith, I choose to follow what I know to be true instead of what I feel.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


For date night this past week, we headed to Miramar--a huge shopping complex complete with an IMAX theater and Asia's second-tallest ferris wheel.

After taking in the city view from the ferris wheel, we enjoyed some tea and an outdoor concert. It was nice to slow down and relax together after a really busy week.

After one year in Taipei, I am amazed by how many new places we continually discover in this city!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Gluten Free Pizza!

My first pizza in 11 months, using GF Bisquick crust :

Thank you, Uncle Rick and Aunt Char! :-)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Window Garden

My Nanu (grandpa) lives in a city and has an amazing vegetable garden in his backyard. He faithfully tends to it day after day, pulling weeds, watering seedlings, and even using a toothbrush to pollinate certain plants. I have great memories of helping him pick green beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes as a little girl.

Recently, I have been missing my Nanu and Grandma. Thinking about them inspired me to start a little window garden.

Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, and Coriander

Planting a seed and watching it grow is such a small yet exciting experience...and for some reason, doing it amidst the hot concrete buildings and zooming cars and bustling people of the city makes it all the more satisfying.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Friday Brunch Girls Go Biking

We started in Gongguan and followed the river...

...over bridges...

...through rice fields...

...alongside mountains...

and finally ended in Danshui.

5 hours + 4 girls + 3 languages = 1 memorable biking adventure!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dragon Boat Festival

On Monday we celebrated Dragon Boat Festival, the third most important Chinese festival after the Autumn Moon Festival and Chinese New Year. Our Chinese teacher shared with us the story:

The origin of this festival centers around a scholarly government official named Chu Yuan. He was a good and respected man, but because of the misdeeds of jealous rivals he eventually fell into disfavor in the emperor's court. Unable to regain the respect of the emperor, sorrowful Chu Yuan clutched a huge stone to his chest and threw himself into the Milo River. Because of their admiration for Chu Yuan, the local people rushed into their boats to search for him while throwing rice into the waters to appease the river dragons. Although they weren't able to find Chu Yuan, their efforts are still commemorated each year with Dragon Boat races and Tzung Tzu (special rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves).

We started our Monday holiday with Tzung Tzu for breakfast:

And then took the MRT (subway) to Xindian for a local Dragon Boat Race:

Pre-Race stretching and snacks

Heading to the boats

Some kids beat the 95+ degree heat by taking a dip in the river. I wanted to join them!

Go go go!

Several friends from church joined us, as well as one of Kalan's co-workers and his girlfriend. We concluded our morning together with traditional shaved ice covered in taro balls, tapioca pearls, sweet potatoes, and red beans. Yum!

Happy Dragon Boat Festival!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Caoling Historic Trail

On Saturday we embarked on another hiking adventure with Ben, Beth, and TJ. We caught the 6:40 am train from Taipei to Daxi, where we started the 16 km trail. The initial 5 km "Forest Trail" consisted of concrete steps straight up a mountain. After only 30 minutes, we were all soaked in sweat and well through our first water bottles. Thankfully, a mostly cloudy sky tempered the heat and humidity.

Once elevated above the woods, we came to the sprawling emerald Taoyuen Valley. Can you guess what animal we saw?

Wild water buffalo!

Most of the trail followed high grassy bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Turtle Island.

In the afternoon the sun came out, so Kalan decided to be very "Taiwanese" and use his umbrella as a sun shield.

The final section of the trail took us along a shaded stream and down the road to Fulong. We saw a sign warning us to watch out for poisonous insects and snakes, and sure enough...

...we found one!

From Fulong we caught a train back to Taipei. We were thankful to have one last long hike with the Barthelemys, who are leaving Taiwan mid-July. They have been our co-adventurers this past year, and we will greatly miss them.

This trail had some of the most spectacularly diverse scenery we've seen in Taiwan. We would highly recommend it to others--just know that it's strenuous in places. Bring plenty of water!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I was searching the shelves of the Indonesian grocer below our apartment, hoping to find something I could prepare for dinner. Unfortunately, after only one month in Taiwan, I was still at a loss when it came to preparing unfamiliar Asian foods.

I picked up a bag of "Krupuk," wondering how on earth to cook it. I glanced at the girl behind the counter.

"Hi, are you new?" I asked.

She looked surprised. "Yes!" she replied. "I just arrived in Taiwan yesterday. I'm Yuli."

She explained how to cook "krupuk." From then on, whenever I went downstairs to the store, we visited. Soon we became friends and began hanging out. I love Yuli because she has a great sense of humor, loves to laugh, and always speaks her mind.

This week she came over for the last time. She is moving back to Indonesia soon.

I will miss this dear friend. And whenever I cook krupuk, I will remember her! :)