We like to eat.

Sometimes the best part of the week is what we eat.  Actually, that happens a lot, but I think the reason may be that we just really like food, not that the rest of the week is bad…

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Cam is still a master at the grill.  Just a little bit different fare I suppose.  The locals really seem to like chicken wings, so that is our default meal when we have guests over to the house.  I love that Cam prepares the bulk of the meal, and most of the time, what he grills far surpasses anything I could cook in the kitchen!  Cam’s buddy sent him some BWW sauce, so we also get a taste of home when we have wings…

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Cam and I were walking home one day last week when we came upon a strawberry stand selling gigantic berries!  My mouth began to water at the thought of these babies dipped in the Ghiradelli white dipping chocolate I had stashed at home.  Image

This was Thursday’s meal.  Around 3pm, Cam got a text from his friend that confirmed hanging in the air dinner plans.  For that night.  Umm.  I already had everything prepared to make the Beef Lo Mein (meat was cooking all day in the crock pot, because, well, because the beef here is a bit like leather if you don’t cook it for 6 hours).  So, we invited them to our home.  I quickly threw together a banana pudding that I had bought Chessmen cookies for the previous week, thinking Easter dessert, but was too lazy to actually make.  Those cookies are imported and pricey, but so worth every penny when paired with Paula Deen’s pudding recipe!  I already had the berries, so we called it a plan.  At 5:30, they texted and canceled and rescheduled for Friday.  More for us…and our friends that we invited over for a dessert date.

The Chinese way of making plans is to make them all last minute.  They don’t plan things in advance, and they certainly are not bound by time the way Americans are.  Everything is loose.  I think this is one of the hardest things for me to accept.  On Friday, we hadn’t heard anything from Cam’s friend and his wife all day.  It was after 4 I think when we finally connected with them.  They did indeed plan to come over for dinner.  But we had no idea when they would show up.  Chicken wings (the ones pictured above), french fries, and watermelon was the big, fat menu.  Easy and no fuss.  And not too much to eat if another cancellation was in order.  As we were waiting to hear from them, then waiting for them to show up, I realized that I was much calmer about this than I normally would have been.  Perhaps I am changing more than I thought…I hadn’t cleaned my house since the previous Saturday.  There was stuff out, not in the place it belonged.  I didn’t mop.  I didn’t light my good candles.  And I wasn’t stressed about it.  Weird, but good!  Gotta adapt to maintain my sanity.  Ha!

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A little date.

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Saturday morning Faith really wanted to go get her favorite breakfast…KFC sausage egg biscuit.  However, for some strange reason, our KFC has decided they don’t want to make them anymore.  Or if they do, we miss them every. single. time.  So, with a disappointed Faith (again), we headed home.  I asked her if she wanted to go on a little donut date with me instead.  As a consolation prize of sorts.  She agreed, so we quickly got dressed and headed to the bus stop.  It isn’t very often I get to spend time with just one of my babies, so I was thrilled!  We got to the best bakery around and chose our treats.  It isn’t like a “real” donut from the donut place in Joshua, TX, but it is the best we have, and we will take it!  We just sat and chatted and stuffed our faces with freshly baked pastries.  It was what dreams are made of.

When we were ready to leave (after stopping at the Japanese grocery store to buy sushi making supplies!), we decided to ride a 3 wheeled cart home.  These are always an adventure!  Generally, they are a little more expensive, but not enough to not use them.  This guy quoted me a price that was really cheap (8 kuai), so I thought it was my lucky day.  

Yeah.  I know.  We live in China where what they say is rarely what they mean.

He didn’t know where “home” was.  Even though he said he did.  Once we got going, he asked me for directions.  HA!  That is a nightmare in English, much less in Chinese!  So I just told him I didn’t know.  I’m sure he thought I was a stupid foreigner.  Maybe that is why my price kept rising…

He stopped and asked not one, not two, but THREE different people where my home was.  The last one was a fisherman.  Probably the kind who catches record setting sized fish on a daily basis.  He told my driver we were very far from home.  

Umm..we could SEE home.  I tried to tell him that.

He also said the driver should charge us 30 kuai.  That is almost 4 times the original price!  When he finally dropped us off, we had a little argument.  I told him I would give him 15 kuai.  He said 20.  I reminded him that he said 8.  But then he went off saying it was sooooo far and that it wasn’t his price but the fisherman’s price!  I tried logic.  You know, saying that it was HIS decision not the fisherman’s.  But then he told me that because I was a foreigner, he was making it cheaper.  Only 20 kuai.  I wasn’t going to win this one.  I paid the man 20 kuai and left. (That is about $3)

Faith and I were laughing so hard by the time we got home.  The memories are priceless.  The donuts may be too…

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Because of the Resurrection

I am forgiven.  Washed clean from my sin, in bondage no more.  Pardoned.  Given new life, eternal life in Glory.

I am chosen.   The Holy of Holies, the King of Kings, The Everlasting Father.  Desires me to be His own.

I am loved.  Unconditionally, without restraint.  Unearned, Abundant, so unworthy.

I am safe.  Free from fear, wrapped in the embrace  of the most high God, given shelter from every storm.

I am joyful.  Joy that comes from beneath every other emotion.  Joy that surpasses.  Indescribable.

I am free.  Covered in grace, just as I am.  Death has been conquered.

Because of the Resurrection, I am saved.  Irrevocably,  undeniably, permanently HIS.

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Track and Field

 Yet another perk of the girls attending a truly awesome school is getting to participate in “normal” activities such as track and field.  Back in the day, you know, too long ago to mention, this is the only sport I was a part of.  Little things like hand/eye coordination really made other sports an impossible feat for the likes of me.  Running, however, I could do.  So, I was VERY excited to get to spend an exceptionally sunny Saturday out on the track.

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This girl, let’s just say WOW.  She did the high jump and completely ROCKED it!  She had a smile on her face and a little bounce (or a big one) in her run.  She flew over that bar and brought home the gold!!  She absolutely loved the experience!  She said it was easy (perhaps jumping is her thing?!) and so much fun!

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 Now, Gracie.  Gracie is such a good sport.  I went to the school on Thursday for a teacher’s meeting, so while I was there I went to see the track coach to ask a few questions.  Turns out they had a need for middle school girl participants.  I promptly volunteered Gracie.  If you know Gracie well, you know she is highly competitive and only does things she knows she will win.  She isn’t a runner.  She doesn’t enjoy any part of it.  So, when I told her I signed her up, she was a little less than thrilled.  However, without her, they would have had to forfeit one of the relays.  So, she agreed (not that she had a choice).  When we got to the meet, the coach asked her to do shot put and run the 100 meter race.  Ummm.  That is a sprint.  The fastest/shortest event.  But, she said she would do it!  She was the shortest and smallest girl in all three events she participated in, but she wore the biggest smile of them all.

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 Faith ran the 200 meter race.  Despite another runner taking over her lane, she still sailed through the finish in 3rd place.  Y’all.  This girl can run!

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 4 x 100 meter relay.  She got to run this one with her 3 best friends, and these girls pulled out a first place win!  Their handoffs were beautiful, but their friendship and joy were even more so.  Loved watching these girls celebrate!  When I told Faith I was so proud of her, she told me it was because she prayed first before she ran, and that He had helped her.  My heart about burst with the love I have for my tender middle child.

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 The race Gracie saved, the 4 x 100 meter relay.  She ran first leg, and did a GREAT job!  The girls placed 3rd, missing second by a mere stride.  It was CLOSE!

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 Gracie’s smile while she was running the 100 meter dash was contagious!  She had lots of people commenting on how much she enjoyed the race, but I think she just can’t help it.  She reluctantly admitted that maybe, just maybe, the track meet was fun after all.  She didn’t place, but the experience was worth so much more than a little ribbon ever could be.  She realized that she can have fun even if she isn’t the best at something, and that is one of the best lessons a kid can learn!

We had a truly fabulous day.  We are all a little red and crispy despite multiple applications of sunscreen, and the 5:45am wake up call was entirely gross on a Saturday morning, but it was so worth it to see my girls laughing and having a blast all day long.  Can’t wait until the next one!!  Oh!  And in case you are curious, Ellie was too young to participate.  She was very unhappy about this, because, out of all the girls, she is the one who loves to run the most.  She tried to convince people that she was super fast and could beat the older kids (and I have no doubt she is correct), but they wouldn’t bend the rules.  Ha!  Next time…

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Meet me here.

Life has been, in a word, busy.  I don’t know how or why, but every moment had something planned.  I was worn out, exhausted, extended beyond what was healthy.  But it was a ladies meeting!  Of like minded people!  And dinner with friends beforehand, that could very possibly include coffee.  I couldn’t resist.  I just couldn’t!

I should have.

Tuesday morning, after getting to bed late and fighting for space in my bed all night because a sweet little cuddler joined me in my slumber during the night, I was spent.  I woke up longing for bedtime.  That’s never a good sign.

When my tutor arrived, I was laying on the couch trying to nap.  Trying to change my attitude.  

We started class, and I wanted to, I needed to, start with prayer.  In Chinese.  Y’all.  This is hard.  I can mess up my daily talking and laugh it off, but I was talking to the Father.  I don’t want to screw it up.  I don’t want to run out of words and have a witness for that.  

Pride.

In my exhausted state, I honestly didn’t even think about it.  I bowed my head, my hair falling to cover my face, and called out.

I said, “I’m very tired and I can’t do this alone.  Please come to my class.”

And I cried.

Every local word spoken came from my heart.  The grammar and pronunciation, I am sure, was a train wreck.  I’m not even sure my tutor understood what I was saying, but I know she felt it.  And the most amazing part, 

He heard me and He came.

My tears dried up, and His joy started to bubble.  We talked about heavy things and He pushed me forward.  Instead of being annoyed with my tutor’s child (who was with us in class), I saw her the way her mama does and I was proud to know her.  To be a part of her life.  These things are a direct answer and help from the One who loves me.

All day, I kept reflecting on how he turned my fear and hesitancy into something beautiful.  Into something I won’t soon forget.  How He  hears in ALL languages.  How He loves ALL people.  How we are ALL in the same body, serving the same Master, for the same purposes.  

Eyes opened wide, He met me here.  In China.  At my table.  With my sister.

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Happy Birthday Cam!!

Even though it was Cam’s birthday, and Ellie really didn’t understand why he had to have class because he “should spend time with his family”, our morning was business as usual (other than the girls being home for spring break).  Lunchtime, though, was a treat!  Our friends invited us over to their house for lunch.  They have an ayi (Chinese house helper) who cooked us a really great lunch!  Cam got to choose the menu, and he wanted jiaozi and fried egg rice.  The food was fabulous and the company was even better.

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 I am not a party planner for adults.  I get super stressed about inviting people over, not actually having people over, but having to choose.  I want to invite everyone because, well, because I don’t want anyone to have hurt feelings.  So, we had a family party.  ha!  Cameron wanted cheese dip and chicken nuggets.  We pretend they are deer nuggets, and it makes all of us feel warm and fuzzy.  He didn’t specify the type of cake he wanted, so I chose what I wanted.  I mean, I was making it.  I tried a new recipe for a yellow cake.  It was super moist and fluffy and went perfectly with chocolate frosting!

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Presents are another things I don’t do well for Cameron.  I pretty much bomb out on his birthdays!  This year, my mom and grandma were proactive about his presents so I have had them since Mom came in October.  Ellie and I went out shopping yesterday afternoon to find him something.  She was SO excited to give him a bag of Snickers bars!  I kept telling her they were from everyone, but she took the card off the top and gave him “her” present, telling him it was from HER.  She told me that it could just be from me and her since we were the only ones who wanted to go shopping.  Ha!

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Do you notice that Ellie is in every picture?  I told her she was in them all, and she smiled and said, “I don’t care”.  Subtle doesn’t work on Ellie.  We also got Cam a Starbucks gift card and a Mahjong set.  I have a feeling we will all be learning to play with Chinese blocks in the very near future.  Maybe it will help us learn characters!

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I don’t think Cam was too keen on the singing of the bday song.  And I have to admit, we sounded pretty terrible!  Some of our most favorite people (the same ones we had lunch with) came over to share cake with us, and while we were exuberant and happily singing, I’m not sure any of us were singing in the same key.  It was awesome.  Then, look closely at those pictures.  I don’t think he blew his candles out!!  They were pink.  And there were only 9 of them, but still.  I think the girls got his wishes.

It was a fun birthday for him (I’ve decided on his behalf).  While celebrating him is harder to organize that it is for the girls, my heart was totally in it, and the whole day really was only about him.  We are so blessed to have him as the man of our home, and we count ourselves as the luckiest of women that he is ours.

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