Thursday, July 13, 2017

13 Years

Miss K's birthdays always seem to take me back to all those memories. This year was thirteen. Thirteen years ago in Asia a baby was born. It was soon after her birth that she was moved to the NICU because of her breathing and while there the doctors began running tests. There it was determined that she needed stomach surgery and then later she needed heart surgery. I wish we could go back and meet the doctors that were taking care of her. I wish the heart surgeon who was willing to take the risk in performing the surgery after the complications with the heart catheterization could see her now and all that she has done and become. 

Traditional Birthday Pancakes

Birthdays are important and the biggest celebration of the year. She looks forward to her birthday for 364 days. 

The chocolate cake has become the family birthday cake. She helped me pick the candles for the cake. It worked this year that happy birthday is 13 candles.

Blowing out the candles. It took a few blows but she got them all out.

One of the challenges is figuring out gifts are somewhat age appropriate and yet things that she will enjoy. She had been using a 3 wheel scooter and we decided that it was time to go with a 2 wheel one. I found a cute Cath Kidson cross body purse that was the right size for her. She loves the story of Heidi and so we got an audio book of that. She was excited about her gifts.

She is a teenager. A few months ago she was talking about when she turns 13 she was going to get Facebook. So far she has not asked for that (don't remind her). She has been asking to sit in the front seat.

This morning she asked me if she could have a mobile phone. I asked why and she said, so she could call and text. I asked her who she wanted to call and text and she said me. Life with a teenager.

She keeps us laughing and on our toes. Thank you for 13 years.

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Monday, July 10, 2017


I shared last week just a bit from my study of 1 Corinthians. I am continuing that study and have made my way to chapter 9. I am now at less than seven days until the race/walk. That has been on my mind so as I read these last few verses in chapter 9 I did some thinking.

"Do you no know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? 
So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. 
They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run 
aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep 
it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."
II Corinthians 9:24-27

I am now writing to myself as one who needs this discipline. At times I think I have a long way to go in applying this.

As I read these verses, the first thing that I see is that we are running to receive a prize. We need a goal. As I have trained for the walk, I had a goal of doing the walk. I think the same is true in discipline. We need a goal.

"So run that you may obtain it." Get out there and do it. There were may weeks that the weather was not perfect for walking, but we went out and did it. It felt good when it was done.

"Exercise self-control" - This is an area that I need to work on and improve. Self-control is from within. I need to be working toward that goal.

All that we are doing should be done for the glory of God. This is not so that we can be proud and boast of what we have accomplished.

This has given me some things to ponder.

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Endured the Cross

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin, which clings to closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." 
Hebrews 12:1-2

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Crossing Paths

Today was a beautiful day with the sun shining and a blue sky. It was a perfect day for a walk. This weekend is the last big training walk before the big walk. Walking 12 miles does give some time for talking but also time for enjoying the beauty and thinking.

I was walking and looked up at the sky and saw the trails from two planes. I thought about how as missionaries our lives and paths cross with others. Some of those are the people that we meet overseas and some are the people that we meet that are friends of friends. I think this is one of the blessings of living overseas.

I have a good friend that was introduced to me from another friend because my friend was moving to Hong Kong.

We had a coworker in Taiwan that we have kept in touch with and now she is in Europe so we have gotten together at various times.

The wife of a mentor of my husband's was living in Hong Kong when we were there and she became a good friend. The fun part was we connected with her when we were in Taiwan. She had come to town for some meetings and visited the church we were attending. Of course my husband knew who she was and we chatted.

About 13 years ago there were some returning students from England that we met. They began to come to a Bible study in our home. Now 13 years later we are in that city in England and we have met the people that had a Bible study with that group of students.

I remember a friend connected me with a friend of hers when we were in Ukraine and that friend connected us with a lady in her church who was kind and spent a few days with us touring Kiev.

One of the blessings of living overseas is the people you meet both the people in the host country and the other people that are living there. My life has been deepened because of these relationships. My life has broadened because of these relationships.

Embrace and enjoy the relationships you develop overseas.


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Friday, July 7, 2017

Sometimes it is not what you want

Yesterday, I wrote a few thoughts on the question, What will you be remembered for? We were in Haworth which is known for the Brontes. We wandered the village, ate lunch at a cafe and poked our head in a few shops.

One of the shops we went in was the sweet shop. There is something fun about looking at the variety of sweets and the variety of colour. Some of the sweets were local things and then there was a whole display of American food which really is American junk food. There was a row of Pringles and then a  shelf with some Pop-Tarts. There was candy and chocolate. (Funny side note when I was referring to the British made I called them sweets and when I was referring to the American I called them candy. I just made that change without much thinking.)

This is about the same as the American section of food at the supermarket. In addition to all the candy there is macaroni and cheese, Twinkies, and a few other snack foods.

Is that really what we want to be thought of as American food? I don't think I want everyone thinking of these things and thinking that is all we eat. It is not what we want but it is what we are known for.

So be careful what you do and say as that is what might be remembered.

A word of caution and a tour of the American section of the supermarket all in one blog post. In case you are wondering I don't think I have bought anything from the American section of the supermarket. I didn't buy anything yesterday at the sweet shop.

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

What will you be remembered for?

I am a bit excited. I have something to write about today. After last night's "I have no idea what to write about". I have something today.

I went adventuring today. That involved driving on the Motorway which I have done but not often. I am more confident after driving on the autobahn. So our adventure today took us to a small village. We wandered through a museum and then to the church next door.

I admit that the church was just like some of the other churches I have wandered in but we took a few minutes and walked about. There on the wall was a memorial for William Weightman who died in 1842. He is remembered for his orthodox principles, active zeal, moral habits, learning, mildness, and affability. It is an interesting list. In some ways these are related. The orthodox principles are the foundation for the zeal and the habits.

I pondered for a few minutes the list of things that he was remembered for. William was only 26 years old. I read this and knew that he was loved and left an impact.

That did make me pause and thing about what would be written on my memorial. What would be remembered about my character? I have thought about that at times. Do I want my children to remember me for nagging them to wash their dishes? Do I want my children to remember me as someone who does fun things with them? How will my friends remember me?

Now I have something to ponder what would I write on my monument? 

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Day 5

It is Day 5 of my personal challenge. I challenged myself to do three things for 100 days. It is not Day 5 blog something each day didn't get down today and honestly I just don't know what to write about. Is it still true that a picture is worth a thousand words? I will just add a photo or two and call it a blog post.

I decided to go to my photos and find the first photo and the last photo and include those.

A photo of my grandmother and my nephew. It looks like they are working on a puzzle. I miss my grandmother and that little boy is now taller than me.

Here is a photo of my ragu cooking in my cast iron pan from Monday evening. It has become a family favourite.

That is done for today. I need to get some inspiration and time tomorrow to write a bit more.

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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Greater Love

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

Have you ever thought how one event can begin series of events that even 350 years impacts a small village? A piece of cloth arrived in a small village. The cloth had been sent from London to the small village in August 1665. That fabric had fleas, fleas that were carrying the plague. Just a week after receiving the fabric the first victim of this small village dies. The village had about 350 people in it at that time.

The plague in a small village is enough of a story but there is more to the story. William Mompresson, the vicar, convinced the people that they needed to quarantine themselves to prevent the spend of the plague. The Earl of Devonshire as well as the surrounding villages helped to provide food leaving it outside the village for the people to collect. For over a year the plague took lives and changed the village. In all 260 people died from the plague but if they had not quarantined themselves the plague would have spread.

This is a village that truly was self-sacrificing. They were willing to do something difficult and hard but knowing that it was good for others. Now more than 350 years later it is still an example to us of how an event can change a village and how that village can be an example to the world.

Here is a bit more details about this.

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Beauty All Around

I find that life can easily get busy. I have meals to cook, laundry to wash, activities to take children to,  and a long list of things to do, places to be. I am busy and don't take the time to pause and look at the beauty around me. After a while, I begin to think that there is no beauty. I think that is one reason that I like the change of seasons as they are an opportunity to see beauty.

Yesterday we went to some place new. I have heard about it for a few years but just didn't take the time to go there until yesterday. It was a nice sunny day so we took a picnic and went to the Sculpture  Park. 

We wandered around the lake and some some geese. There were lots of them in the water. 

There was art throughout the park. Some of it we were able to see understand some left us wondering what we were seeing. This was rather interesting to see the face and see it at different angles.

Across the lake is the old manor house.  It looks so peaceful.

It was a nice walk as we paused and looked at various things along the way. I love the wild flower look and also the variety of colours.

Another big of flowers and water. It is relaxing to walk near water or just to sit and look at the water.

 The thistle has a nice purple flower but it also have prickles there to protect it from being eaten. Interesting how a beautiful flower has something that be painful so even in our pain there can be beauty. I took some photos but I don't think it is quite thistle season.

We did see both beauty and art around us yesterday. Do you see beauty around you?

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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Living the Gospel

Our small groups at church have been studying 2 Corinthians. I decided to do a doodle Bible study from Stone Soup for Five. I couldn't just begin in 2 Corinthians but decided to begin in 1 Corinthians. So I did 1 Corinthians in my own study and then in the sermon series and in our small groups we are discussing 2 Corinthians.

As I began the study, one of the verses that caused me to pause and ponder the truth.

"for Christ did not send me to baptise but to preach the gospel and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power." I Corinthians 1:17

I wrote this verse in my notebook and highlighted "preach the gospel". So what is the gospel? It is easy to just say, "Jesus died on the cross" but what does that mean? The gospel is so much more and something that we need to be living each day. As I pondered this, I thought the gospel is love, grace, mercy, sacrifice, and forgiveness. As a mom, as a wife, as a friend how do I "preach the gospel" in my relationships. Am I loving, giving grace, showing mercy, willing to sacrifice, ready to forgive. That is preaching the gospel. I have been pondering that and pondering how am Living the Gospel.

Just a few thoughts for today. How are you living the gospel?

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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Verbania Treasure - Book Review

Recently I have been reading children's/young adult books. I think it is a combination of homeschool mom guilt -- I need to read the books on my shelves, you know the ones that I bought because they are classics or on the list of books that your homeschooler should read and now I am reading them. The other reason is I enjoy those books. They are easy to read, adds another book to my list of books. I also learn from the reading those books.

I had the opportunity to read Verbania Treasure by Anne Phillips. Verbania Treasure is a story set in the Italian Lakes region. It is the story of five cousins and their grandmother who spend four weeks overseas following a treasure hunt. I loved reading the story and admit to looking various places online to see where the children were exploring. I loved the different characters, the way they work together. I admire Grandma Sybil for taking five children on an adventure. I also admire her for putting aside her own desires and buying chocolate in Switzerland. It made me feel bad for my children as I took them to Switzerland and didn't buy them any chocolate. There were times that you felt like you were right there with the children as they explored. There were times that you just didn't know what to do with George but even times when you felt sorry for him. This is a great book to give a bit of an understanding of Italy.

I think I decided where I want to go for holiday next year. I might need to take our Ambrose with us for the adventure.

Verbania Treasure is available on Kindle. Get it for yourself or a child.

Ms. Phillips has written another book, The Lizard Garden. This book has the same children and tells of adventures in the Netherlands. The Lizard Garden takes place prior to Verbania Treasure. There are references to story but these can be stand alone books.

I recommend both of these books for yourself or your children.

I was given a copy of Verbania Treasure to review. The comments are my own.

Check out Anne's blog with a bit of the behind the scenes including photos.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Better with Friends

Have you ever done something or got in the middle of something and thought, "this is crazy?" It sounds fun at the beginning. You began with energy and excitement and then you begin to wonder what you have gotten yourself into.

I am in the middle of one of those things. I am too far in at this time to quit and really I do want to finish it. It might be crazy. It might be time consuming. It might be hard but I think it is rewarding. I say I think because I have not finished it yet.

It all began in January a friend posted on Facebook about a 100km walk and was anyone interested in doing it with her. In talking with my friend I decided why not. I can do it. My friend had volunteered last year and was impressed with the people that did it, not the athletics but the people that worked hard and walked lots, the people that you cheered when they finished. She came back with the idea, "if they can do that, I can do it." So she recruited some friends to join.

So the crazy thing I am doing is a 100km walk. 50 km on one day, a night at base camp and then we get up the next day and do 50km again.

For the past few weeks we have been walking on a Saturday morning. Some days it is beautiful and some days it has been cold and wet. We even had a day of sun as we began and then rain but that is English weather.

We have gotten lost, scrambled down rocks as we couldn't find the path, jumped across a stream, fell in a stream (just one of us did that though if you hear the story it might be described as a raging river), drank cups of coffee, ate some cake, talked, laughed, and did it with friends.

We have begun the countdown to the race, less than a month. We have been training in our hills and hopefully that will make it easier when we walk. One day I had over 250 flights of stairs on my Fitbit. I have set a few records on the Fitbit.

I have enjoyed the company and the accountability. I think if I didn't have some meeting me on the corner to begin the walk there would have been many Saturdays that I would have just stayed in bed.

I have to say that this is Better with Friends.

That is my crazy thing for this year. Maybe for this decade. Have you ever done something crazy?

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Margin in Life

I learned to type on a manual typewriter. I know that ages me but I was about 10 or maybe 12 when I learned to type. I remember sitting at the typewriter and practicing jjff kkdd llss ;;aa as I learned the home row. As you began typing, one of the things that you needed to do was set the margins. Then with your fingers on the home row and you would begin typing. As you get near the end of the line, a little bell would chime telling you that you needed to move to the next line. You physically had to reach up and move the lever so the paper would go to the next line. If you did not do this when the bell chimed, you could just keep typing and go into the margin and then even off the page. What is typed beyond the page is unreadable.

Margins are there to give space around a document. It gives white space to make the document easier to read.

Margin in life gives us space. It gives space to have down time, space to reflect, and space to be still. Margin in life allows us be able to meet needs in our own live or in the lives of others. Margin allows us to have time for the unplanned and unexpected.

Do you push each day to see how much you can get done? Do you have a to do list that is longer than possible to do in a day or week?

Margin doesn't just happen. You need to plan margin into life. Give yourself time to sit, time to dream, time to reflect. Sit and meditate on God's word, pondering who God is and what he wants you to do.

Look at your week and see when you can add margin into the day. Use the margin to refresh yourself, spend time in prayer or use the margin in ministering and serving others. Have margin so that the unexpected of life doesn't push you to the maximum and you have no extra time.

Do you have margin planned in your week? How do you use the margin that you have?

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Books on Prayer

One of my goals for this year was to read six books on prayer. I figure that is one book every two months. I want to read books that challenge me to pray more, give me new ideas on how to prayer, and deepen my prayer life.

Praying the Bible

I want to share these books with you as I read them this year.

The Bible - I will just include that in the list. I am reading through that this year.

Enjoy your prayer life by Michael Reeves - This is a short book and easy to read, just 46 pages.

"Prayer the chief exercise of faith" - John Calvin

"If prayer is 'the chief exercise of faith', then of course everything -- the world, the flesh and the devil -- conspires against prayer."

No wonder prayer is hard work.

"It is the word of God, the gracious message of Christ that awakens faith and so prayer -- and so that must be the basic shape of our everyday communion with God."

Praying the Bible by Donald S. Whitney - This is a nice small hardback book. In this book the author walks you through how to pray the Bible beginning with the problem with our prayers and how praying the Bible is the solution. He gives you a method to do this.

This book really spoke to me as this reflects some of my thoughts. I have wanted to get behind a "shopping list" or giving God a "to do list" prayers. Learning to pray the Bible helps us to speak God's words back to him, we see God's heart.

I have a few more on the stack and I will share with you when I finish reading them.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Meal Planning Evening

For me this began in January when I was talking to a friend and said, "I want a brainless meal plan." I know there are meal plans that you can buy but I am cheap and find that they don't work with our options here. My friend said, "Why don't you create a meal plan for the month." That was all the challenge that I needed I printed a calendar page and sat down and prepared a menu for a month. I was in love. I loved having a plan. I loved knowing what was scheduled. I loved feeling like I could balance my meals both nutrition and cost.

A few weeks ago my small group was together to fix some meals for one of the new mums. I think we did more coffee drinking and talking than fixing meals. In the conversation meal planning came up and the challenges so I decided to host a meal planning evening.

The theme for this event was quick and easy. Everyone was asked to bring 8 copies of a quick and easy meal. My goal for the evening was every to have a menu for a week.

The question I asked as we began was, "Why do you want to plan meals?" Is it to reduce your stress, reduce your grocery budget, improve nutrition, to easily be able to answer the question, "what is for dinner" or maybe you just came to get out of the house on a Monday evening. Knowing why you want to do something helps.

Then for fun we played match the person to the meal. Everyone wrote the last meal they prepared and we matched the meal to the person. We scored 100% on that.

When I began my monthly meal plan, I made a worksheet of as many meals as I could think about in different categories. So I gave everyone 3 - 4 minutes to do that based on whatever categories they wanted. The winner got 17 meals listed and won a prize from the prize table.

I had printed a collection of free menu planning pages that I had printed off the internet. Everyone picked a page and got to work planning their meals.

Things are better with friends. So people were sharing other meal ideas, asking for a recipe for fish, giving ideas for where to buy things, and just chatting. I think everyone walked away with a menu for a week. We all have some new recipes to try -- Chicken and Tarragon bake, Mum's Secret Chicken curry, Coconut Thai curry, Oven-baked risotto, Japanese Curry and a sausage recipe.

Yes, curry is a favourite dish here.

We also shared our "go to" cookbook. I have a few books to add to my list, Bill's Everyday Asian, Nigella Express. Delia's Complete Cookery was the "go to" book for two people. That is one that I have purchased since moving here and I do use it quite a bit.

I am already beginning to think of my next event.

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

When you pause and think of all the things that mothers do, you quickly realise that the list is long, and  hours are long. Mothers are there to comfort, to teach, to care, to love, and so many other things helping children. Mothers are examples of giving, serving, sacrificing, and loving.

I am thankful for the godly example from my mother. Her love and care has continued. Every now and then I listen to myself and think, "that sounded like my mother." That really isn't a bad thing. I am thankful for her example.

When I think of my mother, I think the of the perfect grilled cheese sandwich that she makes. I think of all the sewing she has done through the years. I think of her spirit of adventure traveling to visit me. I think of her worn Bible filled with notes.

I am thankful to call her mom. You have been a great example. I pray that I can be that kind of mom to my own children.

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