Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Merry Christmas from Taiwan

The quotable Keira (holiday edition), recent photos, and Christmas reflections

Every time we see a picture of Santa Claus:
"Look, Mama!  Gnome!"

Watching me untangle a knotted ribbon while wrapping gifts:
"This too hard Mama.  Baba do it!"

Morning of December 26th:
"Keira open presents again?!"

Every time Jude tries to snatch some play food:
"No!  Jude too small eat this.  Judo eat.....egg yolk!"
(Always egg yolk.)

(Comforting Jude, who was unusually fussy)
"Judo, no sad...Baba come back!  Baba come home soon!"

Christmas Reflections

We were blessed to spend the Christmas season with many friends, some old and some new.

Decorating cookies with my Chinese classmates
Enjoying the Christmas decorations at Taipei 101 with a new friend I met in the market
Christmas Eve dinner with Dillon, Caty, and Luke

Delivering cookies on Christmas Day to friends and neighbors

Christmas Day dinner (gluten free!) with friends from church

This year, God gave us a special gift on Christmas Eve Day.  My good friend Daisy and her family unexpectedly stopped by to visit, and stayed for dinner.

We have been continually praying for their family.  For the last couple of months, their baby son had been struggling for life, and on December 22 he peacefully passed away.  He was three months old.

The kids played while we got to talk together, cry together, remember together. 


Usually on Christmas Eve we celebrate Jesus coming to earth as a baby, starting God's Great Rescue Plan to save us.

This year, as grief mixed with joy, I found myself often meditating on Jesus' second coming, when He will finally complete the Great Rescue and make all things new:

"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,
and death will be no more,
neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore,
for the former things have passed away."

Come quickly, Jesus, hope of the world.

Please join us in praying for this family.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year,


Friday, December 12, 2014

The Week (or 2) in Review, Vol. 13

Thanksgiving and Advent, old friends and much to celebrate!

We had Thanksgiving dinner with these awesome friends.  It's possible to find imported turkeys here, but we decided to have roast chicken instead.

Our favorite chicken vendors at the market asked incredulously, "Are you sure you want two whole chickens?!"
Yes.  Definitely.  :)

The weather was in the 90s for Thanksgiving...

...and seemed to change overnight.  Hello winter!

We started our Advent celebrations a couple of weeks ago.  

Christmas in Taiwan has always felt very different from Christmas in the US.  No snow, no big family gatherings, no vacation time (yes, December 25 is a normal working day here!)  However, every year we notice more Christmas decor, music, and events around the city.  My homesick heart appreciates all these festive touches, even though they're primarily due to Western commercialization.

This year we discovered a "Christmas Village" set up not too far from where we live.  (Taipei friends--if you want to go, check out details here.)

"Oooo!  Lights!" Keira was enthralled.
This week we also got to see some good old friends, who came back to Taiwan for a music award.  
We've missed these guys.  Check out their music online.

As always, we're persevering in Chinese study and started a new semester with some new classmates.  I'm so thankful for this season of learning.

In closing, here's an Advent prayer*:

Merciful God,

who sent Your messengers the prophets to
preach repentance
and prepare the way for our salvation:
Give us grace to heed their warnings
and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy
the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Have a wonderful weekend.  

*1979 Book of Common Prayer

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Jude: 8 Months Old

After Keira was born, every month I wrote a blog chronicling her development.  I naively planned to do the same for any future children.  

To date, I've only written two for Jude.  Sorry buddy.  

So here's a long-overdue update on our Judo...who just turned 8 months old!
One of our favorite things about Jude is his constant smile.  It's doesn't matter if we're out and about...

...or at home washing dishes...

...his big grins brighten everyone's day.  
His Chinese name, 聖暘 (Sheng Yang), really suits him (暘 means bright sunlight).

Jude is also very determined.  He crawls and climbs onto/over/under/through anything.

(Hope that stale rice cracker crumb was worth it!)

As of this week, he can stand unassisted.  As his big sister eloquently put it this morning, "Jude, you BOSS!"

He's recently discovered a love for eating...rice, chicken legs, ground pork, spinach, carrots, sweet potatos, squash, bananas, egg yolk, fish, liver...

...and rice crackers, which St. Nick put in his stocking.

Jude, thanks for bringing so much joy to our family.  We love you!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Week in Review, Vol. 12

Last week's miscellaneous happenings...from fried squid to pumpkin pie...

Last week we wrapped up another semester of Chinese classes.  To celebrate, my class drank traditional tea and practiced calligraphy.

The mailman brought us a fun surprise! Packages are a big deal when you live far from home.  Thanks for the new footwear, Uncle Jim and Aunt Liz!

Kalan and I went out on a date!  We strolled around the night market, enjoyed listening to these street musicians, and got ice cream.  Thanks for babysitting, Eline!

Keira tried fried squid-on-a-stick for the first time.  "Mmm, sooo good!" she said.

We went to a nearby amusement park with some new friends.  I can't believe we didn't discover it sooner.

It's definitely worth checking out if you have little kids.  The price is right (20 NT/ride) and it's easy to get to by MRT.  More info here:  Taipei Children's Recreation Center

We celebrated Thanksgiving with Kalan's co-workers at the school where he teaches English.

They made a gluten-free substitute for everything...including pumpkin pie!!!  I was amazed.  Thank you, John and Anne!

Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving week!


Monday, November 17, 2014

The Week in Review, Vol. 11

6 things I'm thankful for and the quotable Keira

1. We got to meet with the director for City-to-City Asia to discuss future church-planting dreams and set goals for the upcoming year.  I'm thankful for the encouragement and guidance we received, and also very grateful to our good friends who babysat while we had meetings.

2. Chinese final exams are done!  And we both passed.  :)

3.  Mama-daughter dates at the park.

4. This insightful book.

5. This week's Bible story (Abraham) and the truth that God always keeps his promises, no matter what.

6. Gluten-free pumpkin bread.

And now...the quotable Keira:

"Baby, more coffee?"

In a public restroom stall, pointing to the toilet paper roll: "Mama, more tape?"
(In Taiwan, most toilet paper for home use is sold in boxy tissue-like packages, so she rarely sees it on a roll).

(While discarding her carrot sticks and eating hummus by the spoonful instead):  "I looooove BEANS!"

Me: What are you laughing at?
Keira: I...too happy!

Keira (jumping up and down): "Mama, I so 'cited!"
Me: "Why are you excited?"
Keira: "Baba coming home!!!"

Funny, that's exactly my sentiment at 6:30 PM every day.  ;)

Have a great week.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Week in Review, Vol. 10

The week's highlights in no particular order..

1. Jude moved out of our bedroom.  Yay for reading in bed with the light on!

2. I started volume 4 of my Chinese textbook series.  Goal: to finish it before having another baby.

3. Cooler weather = lots of playtime at the park!

4. Sushi dates at a new place we discovered in our neighborhood.  

Each piece is only 15-60 cents (USD) and sooo good!

5. Our girl is growing up!  Here she's waiting for the bus before church.

6.  Our friend Matt came to visit for several days!

7. Matt and Kalan went hiking.

8. We got to introduce Matt to our neighborhood...

9.  ...and I was reminded how much I love our city and how thankful I am to live here, even though it's hard sometimes.

Have a great week, everyone.