Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Angle Tree and Caroling

This past weekend I had the privilege to deliver our Angel Tree gifts. There was a bit of a snafu when we accidentally switched two family's gifts, but all was put right in the end.  Our family has participated in Angel Tree for years (they have this in Singapore too!), but this was the first year I had ever delivered the gifts. 

One of the houses was in a "bad" area.  We drove up to a tiny double.  The one side must have had only three rooms, but we saw at least five people come out of it! There were double doors and double deadbolts.  A five year old boy with a shining face came running out yelling gleefully, "My presents are here!  My presents are here!" The grandmother invited Ana and I in.  In the living room had a couch, a t.v., and the most pathetic Christmas tree I had ever seen.  Think Charlie Brown tree, but purple.  It had  no ornaments or presents. It was about three feet tall and set directly on the floor. 

Now I know Christmas isn't about the decorations or the gifts, but I wanted to cry right then and there.  Here was a grandmother taking care of her grandchild and other assorted relatives.  They had as close to nothing as you can get (in America). Giving these gifts gave me more pleasure than any other I will give this season--because they were needed and gratefully accepted.

Mitike, Ana, and I also went caroling to two shut-ins from church and a nursing home.  All we did was sing and hand out paper stars with a Christmas message on it, but again the pleasure in receiving the smiles was priceless. 

Take time this Christmas to reach out to the poor and neglected.  You'll leave recharged and full of the true Christmas spirit.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Times of Frost

I snapped this picture after the first frost.  I was amazed that something so damaging could be so beautiful.  Then I got to thinking...frost is a natural occurrence.  I think that my life should be "frostless."  But difficult times are just part of life.  Some people seem to be able to live a pretty sheltered, uneventful life.  But, is that life?

The inner city definitely is NOT my comfort zone.  I struggle at times here--sometimes I want to leave, BUT I am growing and learning and being challenged.  That's life.  I think I'll stick around and see what else God has to show me.  

Try It On!

Ana tried on my wedding dress the other day.  (My mother in law kept it for me all the years we were overseas!)  She declared that she loves it and will wear it at her wedding.  I hope she remembers this when she gets a little older!!  At least I have this picture for the slide show :)

Ana's Second Wedding

So I finally downloaded some photos off my phone... I'm so far behind it will be impossible to catch up!  But, I will share the highlights.  Ana was asked to me the flower girl in our pastor's daughter's wedding.  She had lots of fun getting dressed up and walking down the isle!
The ring bearer was also from our church.  They had a lot of fun together while they were waiting!
We tried a fancy hair do.  Her hair was so long, it didn't stay in that well.  Oh well!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thanks Oakland Church!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

I'm Enrolled!!

The academy at Shepherd is at least 85% Hispanic.  Because of this there is a real need for ELL instruction (English Language Learner).  My time overseas and my returning Spanish should aid me.  I'm enrolled at WGU (Western Governor's University) in the ELL endorsement program.  I'm really excited about the way the program works.  You pay by six month terms.  If you are motivated and accomplish a lot in the six months, you are not charged any more tuition.  There are no cohorts and group projects.  Wish me luck!  Hopefully within a year, I will have finished! 

Monday, November 2, 2015


America is a very noisy place at times.  The inner city even more so.  There are always sounds of passing trains, sirens, traffic, and people. 

Keep silence for the most part, and speak only when you must, and then briefly. 

God speaks in the silence of the heart.  Listening is the beginning of prayer.
Mother Teresa

I'm not a loud person anyway, but I'm challenged today to listen more. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

2 Years On..

It's hard to believe that we've been back in the States for two full years.  I've learned a couple of things...

-Your biggest fears are meant to be conquered.  One of my biggest fears was driving--I hadn't driven in twelve years and living in a big city means big roads :)  After Matt's stroke I was forced to drive everywhere showing me that my fear was no big deal! I'm now a pro. at zipping around the interstates.

-Bloom where you are planted!  God has something for you to do wherever you are.  Although this is not the place I would have picked, I can honestly say I am content here!  God has used me in some interesting and challenging ways.  There has been a lot of growth here.

-Let God break your heart for where you are.  Every place has needs-some of them extreme.  Be of use.

-Learn.  I'm taking every opportunity to work on my Spanish.  I joined the worship team--it's been a stretching experience.  Sometimes I play piano and sing harmony in Spanish.  Talk about brain overload!  Sometimes the Spanish pastor asks me to play a song I don't know, but God helps me along.  I'm excited to be adding an endorsement to my teaching license so that I can help our students struggling with English.

-My kids are kids from hard places.  It's challenging to look at life through their eyes and try to understand why they feel the way they do.  It's hard to be kind when they aren't--but I am the adult!  It's extremely difficult to attempt to love when you continously face rejection.  There are days when I've told God, "I want out!" God doesn't call us to easy tasks.  You learn from pain and tears.  I'm just praying that I stay teachable and humble.

-Inner city life- Yes!  There is a lot more crime, but there is so much need here.  I love my community.  We all look out for one another.  My neighbor comes over and borrows eggs and milk.  We sit out on our front porches and watch our kids play.  There is a diversity here that encourages my soul. 

-Old houses- They are a lot of work, BUT I take intense enjoyment out of saying, "I restored/refinished/painted that!  (I hope to post some pictures soon.)  Matt has been doing an amazing job refinishing the many old solid wood doors in our house. 

To sum it hasn't been easy, but God has faithfully seen us through some extremely tough situations.  We pray that as we seek HIS will He will see fit to prosper our family in the years to come!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Thanks Wong Family!

The Wong family gathered up some Asian supplies along with some handmade treats and sent them to us.  We enjoyed some chicken rice today (Ana had seconds!)  Thanks for your continued thoughtfulness!  We miss you.

Shepherd Article...

There was a great article in the Indianapolis paper today.  Please click HERE to read it.  Shepherd has been facing a lot of challenges lately, but I like to see that we continue to move forward!  It is encouraging too that so many churches in the suburbs are beginning to back what is going on in the neighborhood.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Ana's Artwork

 These are just a few of the best (in my opinion) of what Ana brought home.  I think they're pretty amazing for a first grader!

 The pictures with writing are from their journal.  They studied the seven continents and animals from each continent. 

 I think I'll frame this one and the swan!

What I love about the Oaks is that everything is well done.  The paintings are done on very nice paper that will be easy to keep And her journal is well bound.  She might run out of shelf space in her room before she leaves the Oaks!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Lake Lasalle

One of these days I'm going to go out and clean out the drain in front of our house to avoid the "lake effect" after a big storm.  The neighbors go out and play in it and come out a muddy mess!  When it rains hard all the cars parked on the street frantically get moved.  Thus far nobody has got stuck or stalled their car.

Phone Fun!

I'm still enjoying playing with the photo editing on my phone.  I'm getting better at it.  The nice thing is that you can do it while you're waiting on kids or standing in line!

A Rainy Day's Fun

One rainy day Ana asked for something fun to do.  I went and pulled out my wedding dress (that my mother in law had kept for me while we were away).  Ana happily tried it on and posed for pictures.  She says that she wants to wear it at her wedding--we'll see in another 20 years :)

The Oaks' Spring Fling

 The Spring Fling consists of a parade to show off your costume.  They are supposed to be a person or animal from a country you studied during the year.

 After seeing the costumes you go back to the room and do some recitations together.

 Ana won an award for her Chinese Dragon in art.

 I'm not sure how Chinese it looks, but I suppose it is creative!

Ana chose to wear her Indian costume.  We borrowed some bracelets from Shepherd and painted a henna design on her hand.  She was very pleased with how she looked.  

Saturday, May 9, 2015

My New Phone...

It was a deal too good to pass unlocked Amazon Fire for $189 WITH a year of Amazon Prime--which we use everyday anyway.

The camera takes amazing pictures and it is fun to play around with them on the phone.  I have a feeling I'll be taking a lot more pictures of everyday happenings.  The camera in the phone has more megapixels than my Canon!!

We had a nice visit with my Grandma on Saturday as well as meeting Aunt Kim and Uncle Jack for an early dinner at Cracker Barrel.  All in all a very peaceful day--which is somewhat rare for us!  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Maybe You've Heard This Story, But I Hadn't...

Today a fellow teacher shared a devotional about an Australian man named Cliff Young.  He was a 61 year old sheep farmer that showed up to run a 544 mile ultra marathon in work boots, bib overalls, and galoshes.  The other 10 young athletes thought it was a joke.  He didn't run--he shuffled.  He DID NOT SLEEP.  It was the practice of the other athletes to run 16 hours and sleep 8 hours.  His training came from chasing sheep on his ranch to round them up.  He had done this since he was a child!

He kept running and amazingly passed them all, set a new record, and gave all the prize money to the other athletes.  His running style and lack of sleep is now used by all the runners in the race!

It's amazing to me that this man lived his whole life in the middle of nowhere and then one day showed up and did what was "normal" for him to do.  While the other athletes trained year round--he had been prepared by his daily life.

This really speaks to me that we should live our life so that we are ready when our moment comes.  Live so that you are prepared to go all out for that which you were created.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Ana's Baboon Presentation

At the Oaks Academy every first grader does an in depth presentation/board on an African animal.  For some strange reason Ana chose the baboon.  She was happy that no one else chose this animal.  I was unable to go as I had to stay home with China and Mitike.  So, Matt videoed this.  If you get motion sickness--don't watch, just listen :)  She did a great job!  I'm glad this school really focuses on public speaking.  When you get used to it as a child, it's much easier as an adult!


I got the paint for the birthday and just finished painting today.  I love how it turned out!  With all the woodwork and wall patching, it involved quite a lot of time. It really makes the room feel a lot more welcoming!  Now Matt and I are arguing over whether to redo the floors before adding the quarter round to the base boards :)  Wish me luck!

Mei-Mei has

finally turned into a real basset!  She can frequently be caught napping in the sun!  She still has her puppy moments, but now that she is approaching two she is a lot more chill!  Hooray!

Memphis part 2

 One afternoon trucks showed up and replaced my parents electric pole.  This provided hours of entertainment!  The workers were super nice and showed the kids were they could stand and watch safely.
One night we went out to eat at Memphis Bar-b-que.  The kids liked the pork rinds until they found out what they were and then they wouldn't touch them!  They also had some really good (but not good for you) fried cheese balls with a mustard dressing.  Of course, the meat was good too!

 After getting back to Indiana we had an Easter egg hunt and had a good service at church.  Ana loves her new outfit and getting all dressed up.
It was also nice to get to see extended family.  I always enjoy hearing stories and other bits of wisdom!

Memphis part 1

For Spring Break we drove down to my parent's house for a few days.  It was quite a bit warmer and we enjoyed the sunshine.
 Ana always love to come to this huge playground in Nesbit.  She made an instant friend and played happily.
 We enjoyed some ice cream with Grandma and Grandpa.
 We visited the Memphis zoo one day.  I loved the tiger enclosure.  It reminded me of India.
 One neat thing was that you could get up close to many of the big cats!

 The seahorses were very active and fun to watch move around!
 I loved visiting the Chinese pavilion where the Panda Bears are housed.

 It was fun to watch him chow down on the bamboo.  (It's all grown at a local farm!)
 The gorillas were pretty amazing too!
This zoo is a little larger than Indianapolis' and had quite a few different animals!