Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Project 365 - February 25-29

Day 24 - Mud pie!

Day 25 - my hairstylist, who now charges me 30Y instead of 25Y

Day 26 - Scout goes off leash to conquer the world

Day 27 - 1 Corinthians 10:31

Day 28 - steaming hot breakfast

Day 29 - lantern in the sky


The cauliflower left over in the bowl on the table was mysteriously gone. Did one of the kids put it away?

Scout barked her "scary intruders!" bark aimed at my bedroom door at 9:30 pm. I opened it to see one of her toys rolling to a stop right outside. Seemingly on its own. (anyone have weird poltergeist music? Cue now). How did that happen?

5 minutes later, she did the scary bark again. I heard "mommy!" When I stepped out of my bedroom door to see what Megan needed, I realized my foot was wet. What?

The next morning, I found that the wetness corresponded to a large puddle Scout left just inside my bedroom door. Why would she do that at night? And when did she do it?

Apparently before Megan cried out for me in her sleep, causing the dog to bark. Possibly also before the first time Megan make her bark by running down to my room and back up, and in the process kicking one of Scout's toys toward my door (I told you there was no such thing as ghosts, silly).

But did she do it before or after she left the other large puddle by the office door? And why did she pee twice in the middle of the night? And then at 5 am? And then at 7 am even though she hadn't had anything to drink in between? And then again immediately outside?

Probably it had something to do with her consuming all that leftover cauliflower. Note to dog: if you going to try to surreptitiously eat someone's leftover cauliflower, clean your little paws before you climb on the table or they will know it was you (in the morning, when the lights are on).

So cauliflower makes dogs pee copious amounts, and little girls running amok in the night makes them go on high alert. Mysteries solved.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Power of Story in Community

"All children mythologize their birth. It is a universal trait. You want to know someone? Heart, mind and soul? Ask him to tell you about when he was born. What you get won't be the truth; it will be a story. And nothing is more telling than a story."
- The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield

In the last few years, I've thought a lot more about my story. Partly this is from coaching others to know their stories, partly it is through reading To Be Told by Dan Allender, partly it's just the way God is leading me. Many people think the past is just the past - over and done, let's move on. But we are a composite of our stories and how they shaped us. We are our past and the messages we write on our hearts from every moment we live. And I'm coming to believe that it's unlikely we will change those messages (and some of them are lies) unless we really examine the stories that told them to us.

And more importantly, I'm coming to also believe that we can't really know our stories on our own. Lately, we've started to look at our stories in community. A group of us in town have started meeting every other week to watch a video series by Dan Allender about writing our stories. Afterward we break into three groups and reflect on what we saw. In the process, we've started telling our stories to each other.

It's interesting, when you tell a story from your life to someone else. You think you know it, you understand it, but I think until you tell it to someone else, you don't see the truth in it. I've had people tell me incredible sad stories, but they laugh while they tell them, not realizing that it is their laughter that helps them avoid the terrible pain of what happened in those stories. I have told others stories and heard them say, "That must have been so hard," and until that moment, I haven't realized it myself. When we tell our stories, others can ask questions and help us connect the dots to who we are in the present because of our past. And I feel like one of the greatest gifts is when someone listens to your story and feels it with you, and loves you in it. It's a powerful thing.

Someone Loves Her Daddy

Whenever Erik leaves on a trip, we're bound to have tears from one of us, but I was quite surprised to see that the member of our house most distraught by Erik's departure this morning was Scout.

I took her with me when I accompanied Erik to find a taxi. He was walking on the street with his suitcase to avoid the clacking of the brick sidewalks. I noticed she kept trying to join him, so we finally did. When we started to walk home and leave him to wait for his taxi on the corner, she didn't want to go. As you can see in the video, first she started by just looking back at him. Then she resorted to planting herself in one spot. You can't hear it well, but she's whining too. I finally had to pick her up and carry her most of the way home, then almost pull her into the building. Now she's laying dejected on the floor. Sorry puppy - you're going to have to wait 5 days for for him to walk back through that door!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Project 365 - February 19-23

Day 19

Day 20
Day 21

Day 22
Day 23

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Song on the Subway

On a family trip to our kids' Tae Kwon Do test, this young man was playing and singing on the subway. I was surprised to see that many people were dropping bills into his bag. You rarely see people give beggars money (though maybe most people have heard as much as we have about the beggar scams). When he passed by us, I dropped in a few kuai and he shyly said, "Thank you" in English. We enjoyed him.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Project 365 - February 11-18

 It took me awhile to post these because blogger seems to be reluctant to communicate with my computer. Computer Master Husband to the rescue!

Day 11

Day 12 - Breakfast at the island

Day 13 - Valentine gifts for friends

Day 14 - balloons for sale

Day 15

Day 16 - Hard at work in art class

Day 17

Day 18 - birds hung in a tree

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What I’m Really Learning on Pinterest

I’ve learned something by being an avid follower of others on Pinterest: lots of people have blogs. Interesting blogs. Blogs that seem to have legions of followers and generate money. One blog I found raised $25,100 in 10 hours, and no one gave over $25.  That’s a lot of people interested in one blog.

So here’s the problem: I’m jealous. I want people to read my blog and tell their friends about it and want to advertise on my blog because it would be good business. I want people to ask me to review things on my blog and offer me book deals because of it and maybe even a reality show (side note: I would NEVER want to be on a reality show. But I wouldn’t mind being asked). In short, I want attention.

I don’t like that I want attention. I wish it weren’t true, but it is. So instead of denying it, I want to look it in the face and say, “What’s up girlfriend? You want to tell me why this is so important to you?” In a nice way. You know, a way that makes her want to sit down over a cup of coffee (or in my case, an ice cold Coke Zero) and spill her guts.

And I think what she/I would say is that as much as God has opened my eyes to how I use the attention of others to find value and has given me freedom in it, it will always be a temptation for me. A strong one. One that makes me not even want to look at the internet because I don’t want to see another person who seems to be getting more attention than me. So what do I do with that?

I think I let myself grieve it, first of all – grieve the fact that despite my redemption, there are parts of me that seek life and love in places other than God. I confess it as sin, because it is – a prideful attempt to justify myself. Then I thank Him for the love and grace He has for me that He would show me this and not leave me blind to it. And I thank Him that it can be less and less true all the time, by His Spirit transforming my heart. I remind myself that life is about His glory, not my own, and that all my worth is found in Him. That’s good news.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

That Date That Wasn't

In light of Valentine's Day approaching, I thought I'd take this time to share with you the story of The Date That Wasn't.

It was 1995 and I was living in Mankato with 4 other women in a house right next to the university. I had convinced one of my roommates to watch The Jerk (oh the irony) with me. Partway through the movie I had already fielded 4 telemarketing calls and let's just say my tolerance for being propositioned was running thin.

Then I had this phone call. I swear every word of this phone call is true and unexaggerated:

Me: Hello?

Random guy: Hi Gina?

Me: Yes?

Random guy: Yeah, I was just wondering if you wanted to go out with me on Friday night.

Me: That depends. Who is this?

Random guy: I'm not really sure I want to tell you.

Me: Well then I'm very sure I don't want to go out with you.

Random guy: Well . . .

Me: Do you think I'll go out with you if I don't know who you are??

Random guy: (ok I won't publicly out him here. I am quite sure he doesn't read my blog but that would be just mean. Suffice to say he identified himself).

Me: I'm going to my parents' house this weekend (honest to God truth).

Random guy: Oh. OK.

I don't know how he saw that ending differently. I guess he must not have thought it through or he was just banking on the element of surprise. Maybe he thought I'd be caught off guard enough to say, "Sure, pick me up at 6" and then when he showed up, I'd be locked in. Poor guy. I hope since then he's worked up a little more courage.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Project 365 February 6-10

This really didn't seem safe. It wasn't. The next one bounced off a building.

Scout's current favorite spot. We are trying to change this because being right by the door means she feels the need to comment on every noise she hears outside.

Hard at work on characters

Oh homemade peanut butter how I love you

Ethan telling me a story while he washed dishes.


Dear fellow internet users,

There are a few things I need to get off my chest, if you will permit me to vent for just a minute. It's about grammar. I like it. I'd love for more of us to embrace it. Could we all agree to the following?:

lose and loose are not interchangeable. You cannot loose your friend.
an apostrophe makes something possessive, not plural. Mom's does not mean more than one mom
it's "would have" not "would of"
there IS such a thing as too many commas

Ok, thank you. I imagine some of you agree with me. Others of you think I'm a little (or maybe a lot) uptight. You might be remembering my post recently about being a control freak. Yes, this is evidence. You don't even know the half of it.

But what can I say? I'm a word girl too, and a little part of me is sad every time I see grammar mistakes.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Project 365 - February 1-5

 I'm moving a little slower these days and haven't taken as much time as I'd like to get photos. Here's what I've seen in February so far:
Day 1 - homeschool

Day 2 - brewing my own vanilla

Day 3 - Reading before bed

Day 4 - black and white bird's nest
Day 5 - Fireworks over the building

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Our English Speaking Dog

Woman in elevator: So you speak to your dog in English?

Me: Yes

Woman in elevator: And it understands you?

Me: Yes

Woman in elevator: If you speak Chinese, does it understand?

Me: No

Woman in elevator as she's exiting: It understands English, but not Chinese . . . (sounding baffled)

This conversation is second only to the "is she a golden retriever?" one when it comes to strangers and Scout. People seem either amazed and/or jealous that our dog understands English, because they often say, "Ha! Your dog can understand English and I can't!"

Sometimes I feel like part of my purpose here is simply to astound the locals.

Friday, February 03, 2012


I hate messes. I can tolerate them for awhile, but then something in me snaps and I go into a flurry of cleaning. I have even, at times, thought I would enjoy being a cleaning lady for someone. I find great satisfaction in tidy, sanitized spaces.

Right now my heart feels like a mess, and I'm at a loss to know how to tidy it up. For the last few months I feel like God has come in and stirred things up and opened doors and pulled back the covers and generally left everything in disarray. So I'm left standing in the middle of it, looking around at the chaos thinking, "That's the last time I invite that guy over."

The mess has a lot to do with seeing deeper levels of my depravity, the ways I look for life apart from God. It's also seeing the hurt I cause and the hurt done to me, and how rather than letting myself acknowledge the hurt I find other ways to medicate or distract or numb myself. It's feeling as Paul said, "For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep doing."

On the one hand, it's discouraging to see things I thought had died, places where I thought I had grown, still alive and well. On the other hand, I have grown, and God has changed the way I see myself and Him in seismic ways. It's not that haven't grown, it's that I'm not done. This is His doing, His way of moving into a deeper experience of Him.

This mess feels like realizing that what satisfied my heart in the shallow end of the pool doesn't work as well when God picks me up and throws me into deeper waters. So while I know that God deeply loves and accepts my mess, and part of the issue is that I don't, just to tell myself that and move on won't cut it this time. To do so would be like me throwing all the mess in a closet and shutting the door.

So what do I do with this mess? I keep asking God that. And I think He smiles gently and says, "Wait" because maybe instead of getting through the mess I need to learn to be in it. Maybe staying here means taking a harder look at what's behind it, why I do what I do. Maybe it's making me feel the depth of my nothingness before Him and the corresponding depths of His unrelenting love. Maybe it's so that I can show people my mess a little, like I did last night with some good friends, and feel the strength and comfort and love that we can give each other when we say, as they did, "I love you in your mess."