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Showing posts from June, 2015

2016 plans

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Two years ago marked the end date of my service in China with ELIC.

Three days ago, I said Yes to going back.



I know, that's probably not really a shock to any of you.  (If it is, I'm sorry...)

So here's the scoop:  I'm planning to be back in China in August of 2016, once again teaching English at a university.  (Where, you may ask?  Great question.  Just hold onto that one for...uh... a few months... and then probably a few more.)

There are, as you may guess, a lot of unknowns.  (City?  Team make up?  Classes?  How long will I be there?)  The answers that I have so far are somewhere in China, more diverse than last time, yes, and at least a couple of years.

I have some mixed feelings.  I love Bloomington, I enjoy my job here, and my church has been a huge blessing to me.  My family is in the US, and let's face it -- Western Pennsylvania is my "hometown" in a way that nowhere else on earth is.  The thought of saying goodbyes in a year makes me sad.  I…

Hard Weeks and Encouragement

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Last week was a special type of crazy, being the first time Hope has had a VBS.  Even with the ratio of nine adults to thirteen kids, it was exhausting.  Most days after that, I biked across town to Crumble and worked for five or six hours, manning the shop throughout the afternoon and shutting down the machines and cleaning everything to close it all up for the night.  Three evenings of the week were spent babysitting.

Also, I got a terrible cold halfway through the week.

Does this sound like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day yet?

It wasn't.

It was actually a wonderful week (although I was relieved when it was done, and I'm in no hurry to repeat it!)  It was a challenging, stretching, draining week that was packed full of laughter, friends, ridiculousness and opportunities to grow relationships.




It was also full of encouragement.

The evening after the first day of VBS, my phone kept buzzing and buzzing, with moms of some of the kids who were attend…

Animal Stories

This past week has had more than its share of great animal moments.  Four that I can recall, to be precise.  Unfortunately, I don't have photos for any of these, but I think your imagination will be able to illustrate the stories.

Sunday

I was walking to my pastor's house and Laura biked past me on the road, waving and yelling hello.  I looked over at her just in time to see a fawn bouncing along in the grass beside the road, right behind her... apparently following the bike.  He looked like he was having the time of his life and quite proud of himself.  Hey look!  I found a thing to chase!

Wednesday

It was pretty late at night and I was biking back from a babysitting job, along a new route to try to avoid the busier roads.  The small roads that I was on were quite dark, had a lot of twists and turns, and were lined with a lot of houses and trees.  And the lightning bugs were out!  It was exquisitely beautiful, with all of their lights flashing like little diamonds against the d…

Mempersatukan

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. (Ps 16)

You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Ps 23)

My heart echoes these reflections of the psalmist.  Although there have been rough times in the past months, my time so far in Bloomington has been incredibly restorative and deeply lovely.  There are a thousand different reasons why, when I'm walking down the sidewalk, the words I am so blessed bubble into my heart.

I was reminded of one of those reasons on Friday when I pulled a letter out of the mailbox, a letter written by an eleven year old boy in Indonesia.  See -- one of the great joys of my life at this point in time is that God has kindly placed me in the midst of so much abundance that I'm able to sponsor two kids through Compassion.  TWO.  That blows my mind.  Somehow, me living here and getting up and go…

Notes on Essentialism

I recently read the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.  It had a lot of valuable guidelines for how to structure your life with boundaries in such a way that they help you to be able to spend your resources on what is truly valuable rather than wasting time, energy and effort in chasing after a thousand lesser goods that you don't care about so much.

Very much in the spirit of the book, I condensed it down onto an index card.  Here are my notes, for your reading pleasure (but mostly so I can find them again if I want them.)

Essentialism's motto: "Less but better" or "Fewer things done better."

Live by design, not by default.

Priority is a singular word.  (It's nonsensical to talk about having many priorities; time to reevaluate.)

The essence of being an essentialist is found in choosing (you always have a choice what to do), discerning (good is the worst enemy of best), and acknowledging trade-offs (face the reality that you…

These Days

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It's summer.

Maddie and Merry at a Memorial Day cookout
And thus, schedules shift and slide.  The hours of light are longer and everyone wants to enjoy the ability to simply be outside, to not need a coat and boots and salt and four wheel drive.

Jacob's celebratory hotdog
My days are full of many things -- getting to know more people from my church, and getting to know some far more deeply.  Preparing for summer Bible camp (known to most as VBS.  ;-) )  Working at Crumble, of course.  Biking back and forth across town, in 90 degree weather and in sudden cloud bursts.  (Biking in the rain is great... braking... um.... not so much.)  Spontaneous trips for ice cream with friends and tree climbing.

Anne, Laura and Jane, waiting in the froyo shop
Writing and reading tons of books.


Speaking of books, here are a few recommendations:

Howl's Moving Castle.  The anime is a classic; the book makes far more sense and is hilarious to boot.

All the Light We Cannot See.  Set in Europe in WWI…