Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving

Celebrating Thanksgiving started the week before with making crafts with Eden and Ephraim after Xavier went to bed on family movie night.  


Thanksgiving morning I made Penny's cinnamon rolls.


That evening we had our team over to our house, and invited four others to join us.  Our group represented America, China, and Great Britain.  Kristalyn ordered a turkey online again for us this year, and I got to cook it.  We were blessed and lacked nothing one would normally have at an American Thanksgiving.  Our teammates even made homemade french fried onion rings to go on top of green bean casserole.


Arm wrestling before dinner.


One of the kid's tables.


I had so much fun finding games to play this year.  It was a blast!  I had never played minute to win it games, and I didn't have to play them tonight either since I got to direct.  ;)  I had much more fun watching other people play.  


This game was who could keep the turkey feather in the air the longest without using your hands. Our teammate, Gretchen, won twice.


Dressing the turkey.  Xavier didn't last long with this.


Cutest turkey I've ever seen.  She had a giant toilet paper bow in the back.


Getting a cookie from forehead to mouth only using your face.


Definite winner!


Staring contest.  Ephraim had a helper to keep his eyelids open.


After games it was time for dessert, even hand-whipped whipped cream by Grant.


Thanksgiving crew, minus a few.  


The next day we were supposed to attend another Thanksgiving party, but things don't always go as planned.  Jacob had a friend, S, over for lunch, and he wound up staying in deep conversation with Jacob for over four hours.  We then felt it important to have his family over for dinner instead of going to the party.  The rest of the week was filled with two separate times of fellowship, date night, tae kwon do, and a birthday party.  

It was snowing Sunday when I walked home with Xavier.  I'm grateful for modern inventions like this plastic cover that keep wet snow and wind away from my sweet sleeping toddler.

Showers of Blessing:
Friends old and new to share Thanksgiving with
Everyone working together to pull off a traditional feast
Fun new games and laughter
Craft time with just my older two
Spontaeous inspiring interuptions


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

10 Things I'm Thankful For

As Thanksgiving approaches, like many of you, I have been reflecting on the many things I have to be thankful for.  Here are a few:

1.  Signs like this, which hopefully provoke the question in the hearts of the people here of Who they should be thankful to.


2.  Activities outside the home for my kids, especially during the winter.  Eden is blessed to be learning piano from Kristalyn.

I wanted the kids to be able to do Tae Kwon Do again this year, but the price had gone up again at our former location.  However, He knows our hearts and is our provider.  They now attend Tae Kwon Do with their teammates in the same building we go to on Sundays with a great teacher at half the price of last year!

A portion of time is spent stretching to prepare them to be able to do the splits, so they can be more flexible.  I chuckle and cringe at the same time when the instructor comes along and pushes their feet out half an inch further (no worries, no tears are shed).

3.  My precious family.  



4.  The abundance and variety of healthy fruits and vegetables available just a short walk away.
5.  This place and the girls who work here.



6.  Music, a source of comfort to me, and motivation during homeschool for the kids.



7.  Coffee, chocolate, a warm blanket, and a good book.
8.  People to miss, including my Granny and Pawpaw.  What a blessing it is, when being far away, to know that you are loved, and have people to miss.



9.  The immeasurable ways Father shows me He loves me.
10.  "My flesh and my heart may fail, but G is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Class Party #4

Father never ceases to amaze me.  When we are weak, He is strong.  When our expectations are low, He astounds us.  The day of this party was long.  I was not feeling well, and considered asking Jacob to postpone this party.  However, I felt that wouldn't be the right thing to do, and, reluctantly, said nothing.  This class has been Jacob's most challenging to teach because of lack of participation, and, initially, he was disappointed when he noticed that three of his guy students didn't show up.  I think it's safe to say that neither of us expected much from this party.


Yet,...we had the most meaningful conversations of any party that we have had.  If the other three guys had been here, conversations would probably have been much different.  One girl, M, tearfully shared her life story with Jacob, and he shared acceptance and encouragement with her.  Recently, several girls have shared about being left home alone at as young as four years old because their parents had to work.  


Two girls, A and T, noticed everything about our house that had to do with Father, and asked so many good questions.


Tonight Eden was a cowgirl, and whoever was in the room had to wear some kind of head gear: clown mask, headband, lei feng hat, and chef's hat.


Monopoly was Ephraim's game of choice this time, and his posing skills continue to increase.


Last picture of Eden with her baby front teeth.


The next day we pulled one.


Showers of Blessing:
Surpassed expectations
The right people at the right time
Gift of Chinese children's book
Toothless smiles
That His strength prevails
Eden and Ephraim's imaginations, awesome
Getting to hear guests speak who live in Israel, and watching the impact their talk had on our kids 
   (Eden drew so many pictures while they were speaking, including a picture of her floating in the dead 
    sea)
Eating pita bread and hummus from Jerusalem

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Class Party # 3

Class party number three was a party of encouragement to us.  We found out we share our most common interest with not one, but three students in the class!  Incredible!  We were blessed to have two of our teammates, Erica and Gretchen, join us for this party.  Erica arrived after the group picture.


Lovely teammate Erica chatting with a group of girls.


Our students were so impressed and enthused with how long Gretchen has lived in China.  They always want to know how long we plan to be here.


Xavier was grumpy initially, as usual, and did not want to be handled.  However, I gave a student one of his favorite books (about Thanksgiving), sat him in her lap, and he soon forgot about me.  He was immediately surrounded.


Reading with M.  I love how Father uses our children to show others His love.


Ninja Turtle game with Ephraim.


More story time with Xavier.


Chatting and games.  Xavier sat with this group for 30 minutes playing with Sequence tokens.  I wish I had known about this sooner!  I need more ideas to keep his attention while I'm homeschooling.

I'm 

Eden drawing J's portrait.  She always has a long line for this.  They love it, and talk about how special it is.


Jacob hanging out in the kitchen with C and F.


What a great night.  We received: pomelo, pomegranate, apples, dragon fruit, grapes, cookies, carmel puffcorn, juice, and beef jerky.


Showers of Blessing:
Three precious students who are like family, and who share their joy
Teammates who shared their time and energy
Fresh fruit
Mushy apples turning into delicious cinnamon applesauce
Bland dragon fruit and pomegranate with tough seeds turning into yummy smoothies
The  fun and sweet impacts my children have, even as little as Xavier
Hot tea, chocolate, and reading the Noticer with Jacob

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Love and Encouragement

Love and encouragement came to visit in the form of Jim and Gary.  Jim was one of our teachers in college.  I even did a little work study for him.  Gary visited my family in Africa when I was about nine years old, so it was a pretty amazing divine appointment that only Father could arrange to have him visiting my family 22 years later in China!


They both dug right in investing in our family, and touching all of our hearts.  They said, "We will be your easiest guests," and they meant it.  Even that first day, Eden said with surprised enthusiasm, "Mom, Gary does everything he can to be nice," and it was true.  Xavier was especially drawn to Jim and wanted to be held by him at every opportunity.  


They went to class with Jacob, and worked with some of his students.










They indulged our kids in hugs, words of affirmation, games, and giggles, seemingly tirelessly.  


We had our second class party while they were there, and Eden helped me prepare in the kitchen. 


This class felt special to be the ones to come while Jim and Gary were here, and it made us realize the importance of involving other friends at our parties for our students to talk to.


Ephraim took this picture.  "Mr. Gary" had quite the crowd while Jim talked to the same girl, L, the entire party.  I got the joy of treating her to her first cup of coffee ever this week!


Ephraim was feeling especially cool this evening.


So many great students with so much potential.


Jacob's friend took him, Jim and Gary to some popular places in Changchun.


I like to pretend this is beautiful morning mist instead of unhealthy smog.


Overall, their visit was so fruitful, and we all felt loss at their departure.  


Even Xavier woke up the next morning saying, "Jim, Jim, Jim."


These last two pictures break my heart.  They show the intense rapid bonding and depth of sorrow at frequent goodbyes that TCKs experience.  It was heartbreaking to see in my own children what I have experienced myself, but I know He is faithful to work for good even the pain of goodbye.  We are truly better for having this precious time with Jim and Gary.  May we not merely remember their visit with fondness, but live out the love and encouragement they taught us.




Showers of Blessing:
Visitors from home
Who encourage
Who show unconditional love to our children
Who invest in us
Who invest in our students
Loving Father who knows exactly what we need