Thank you, Edgewood!!

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Many years ago, through a program in college, Cam was invited to speak at a revival in North Carolina.  When he flew there, leaving his girls at home, they reached out and ministered to me from afar…they sent flowers to my home telling me thank you for sharing my husband…this is just a glimpse of the heart of Edgewood Baptist.

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We had the pleasure of driving through their city on our way to training a couple years ago, so we planned a day to stay and worship with them.  It felt as though we had always known them!  They embraced us as though we were family, and we left them with full hearts.

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In the almost two years that we have been on this side of the ocean, they have been such faithful supporters!  They have held the ropes from afar with prayer, emails, and simply staying in touch, making sure we were doing okay.

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Then, we got an email saying that Roy Warden’s Sunday School class specifically lifted our family up for the month of September and wanted to send us a little token of their love.  (Do you see all those Rotels?!!  We may display them in the living room…)

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Their love was so much that one huge box couldn’t contain it…it took TWO!

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They blessed our socks off!!

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From sunscreen to Velveeta, tank tops to a North Carolina Starbucks mug, cookie sheets, and macaroni for days, there was so much tucked away inside these two boxes that gave our hearts the warm fuzzies.  There were cheers and squeals and smiles all around…and the excitement level of breakfast and lunch has gone through the roof!!

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The Body has gathered together and encouraged our hearts more than words could ever truly express.  Thank you!!!!

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Love.

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Cam’s coach in junior high had twin daughters one year older than Cameron…fast forward to college…one of those daughters married the drummer in a band Cameron was in.  I had the pleasure and opportunity of getting to know one of the sweetest friends I have, Nicki.  She is one of those people whose face lights up when she smiles and anyone who witnesses it, can’t help but to smile with her.  She is also one of those friends that no matter how long it has been since you last talked, the moment you see each other, the time melts away and it feels like yesterday.  Through the years, our families have grown, and we both have three daughters, almost perfectly paired to one another, who became fast friends the moment they met.

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Gracie and Bree played as babies.  They may not remember it, but I sure do!  They looked similar to each other then, and act similar to each other now!  Bree sent things specifically for Gracie…a letter, a photo album with pictures and memories, and the cutest phone case, perfect for our little preteen.  The album grabbed hold of my heart and wouldn’t let go.

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We all enjoyed the pictures!  I love that I now have a picture of me and Nicki, although looking at it makes me tear up a little (excuse the “I don’t have on make-up and just woke up from a nap” look I am sporting).

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Opening a box is a little like Christmas and a treasure hunt all rolled into one.  You just never know what will be hidden down in the depths.  Watercolor paints and special paint pads were a huge hit…so were the Starburst candies that I hid as soon as the girls backs were turned.  Ha!

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It just kept coming…and coming…

…craft supplies, medicine, parmesan cheese, brownies!, jolly ranchers, scrapbook paper, mechanical pencils (Bless you.), highlighters, mayo, notepads…

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Jillian, Faith’s friend, sent her this adorable donut friendship necklace (that had us all wanting a donut!). pictures and the sweetest letter!  Faith and Jilli are two peas in a pod.  They have a crazy sense of fashion, zeal for life, and big contagious smiles.  They are both the middle girls, and those middle kids need encouragement!

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Chloe sent Ellie a stuffed unicorn with magnetic hands and a zippered mouth.  Ellie LOVES it.  She also got a sweet friendship bracelet, that was put on immediately, and a letter/drawing.  Chloe is a few years younger than Ellie, but the fact that they are both the babies gives them a bond that is super cute to watch!

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This thoughtful, wonderful, package blessed my heart and encouraged my soul.  I am so thankful for friends willing to sacrifice things from their own lives to show us love.  I am especially thankful for sweet Nicki, who sends the most timely, encouraging emails and texts letting me know I am on her heart and that she is praying for me.  What a treasure to me you are, Nicki!

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Helllloooo Barbie!

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When I was a little girl, playing with Barbies, I always imagined I would have a pink convertible when I grew up.  Then I grew up and realized that really wasn’t reasonable or feasible.

When the opportunity arose to buy a scooter for myself (Thank you Grace Temple!!), that no one else would be driving, the logical choice, of course, was Barbie pink!

Actually, if I am being truthful, my first choice was aqua.  However, after hours of searching and multiple shopping trips (Cam had so much patience with me!), we realized that choice wasn’t available in the size that we needed.  So I defaulted to pink, which never completely left the table, and I LOVE it!

I love to look at it and see it parked nicely in the parking garage under our building.  Driving it…that’s another story.

Y’all.

There are a million people driving the streets.  All of them have their own set of street rules.  Stopping at the lights are optional for scooters…you don’t pay attention to what is behind you, so getting cut off is totally normal and to be expected.  It takes defensive driving to a whole new level.  I have realized I am not observant of my surroundings…nor am I brave when it comes to darting out in front of oncoming traffic.  I scream and squeal and wobble like a weeble, but I don’t fall down!

I am taking it slow (staying safe), and I have the most amazing and patient teacher that takes it slow so I can follow behind.  He’s pretty cute too 😉

Once I get the hang of the streets, our family will be able to travel so much easier, faster and cheaper than using cabs (which are a nightmare to find).  We are all (cautiously) excited…and have had to establish a rotation system for who gets to ride with Mama.  Ha!

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Around town

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Cam got a call from a newish friend he has made the other day asking if we all wanted to hang out.  He mentioned a movie, eating lunch, going to a park…really anything that sounded good to us.  Cam tried to tell him that we were in the middle of schoolwork with our girls, but he was persistent.  I think he didn’t quite understand because it was a holiday and his kids weren’t in school.  Therefore, no other kids could possible be in school.  It just wasn’t a possibility in his mind.

Well, Cam hung up with a worried look on his face and said, “I think he may be coming over here.”  Cam had told him not to because we were busy, but sure enough, ten minutes later, he was at our gate.  We spent some awkward, slightly uncomfortable minutes meeting his children and trying to make them like us entertain them.  Finally, it was decided that they would leave so we could finish our school day and we would meet them at a mall in a couple hours to either play in the arcade or see a movie.

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Due to the fact that my children wouldn’t understand a movie in Chinese, we decided to go the arcade route.  It was definitely an experience we won’t forget!

Apparently arcades here aren’t just for kids and teenagers with nothing better to do.  The smoky haze that floated overhead had it feeling more like a casino…as did the old men who were all lined up in a row at slot machine lookalikes playing games reminiscent of Bejeweled.  Old men chain smoking next to toddlers playing the same game.  We aren’t in Texas anymore, y’all.

Asian people, especially young adults, love the dancing game.  Fast feet and swinging hips, they line up and play this dancing game nonstop…and they have the moves memorized.  I just can’t imagine

1. being able to think that quickly and

2. playing something so often that I no longer have to watch the screen to know what to do.

Ellie flash backed to her toddler years and crammed herself inside the kiddie rides while licking a lollipop (and I just wanted you to see the awesome freckles on Faith’s face in that last picture).

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Once the arcade money well ran dry, we tried to say goodbye to our new friends, but typical in the Asian culture, the separation wasn’t quick and painless.  He really wanted us to eat dinner with him and his kids, and although our minds were at home with the fajitas we had marinating, we ended up joining them.  Since we were his guests, we didn’t really have input in the ordering process.  And since the place we happened to walk into was more western inspired than Asian, he didn’t really know what he was ordering.  We ended up with lattes (I am fairly certain mine was sprinkled with black pepper), french fries, a club sandwich with fried eggs inside instead of meat, a chicken sandwich on toast, Chinese hot dogs wrapped in Chinese bacon (trust me.  it is NOT the same as what you may be imagining), shrimp pizza, and fruit covered in mayonnaise.  We all nibbled, still trying to play the “we are eating at home” card, but our friend wasn’t buying it.  He wouldn’t let his very hungry kids eat because we were the guests and the food was for us.  So, with no other option, we started eating.  With whispered threats, the girls tried it all.  Cam and I picked up the slack.

The reward was a beautiful balloon flower as we walked out of the restaurant.  Somehow Ellie scored all three flowers and wore them like this the whole way home.  She’s a special one for sure!

And check out the recycling truck we saw!  I really liked the basket touch tied onto the back.  And I’m sure this pile was extremely secure…positive.

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Coffee and blue skies.  More words really aren’t necessary.

The weather is cooling down enough for me to have coffee and Jesus on my balcony in the mornings without sweating, and I really can’t imagine a better way to start my day!

And coffee at Starbucks is also a perk that happens on occasion.  This particular day, our internet was down and I had to do some lesson planning for the week, so a friend and I headed to the Bucks for some iced lattes.  What was funny was that I had a free birthday drink on my card and she forgot her card, so I gave her Cam’s to use.  We never told them our names, but our cups were labeled (from our cards) like this when they called out the drinks.  She was Cameron and I was Strange. 😉

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And this little doll has stolen our hearts.  We wake up every day waiting to see a new picture of Miss Abigail.  How my arms ache to hold her!  I am so in love with this little niece of mine and am counting months until I get to meet her in person.  22 more to go…

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I’m 30! (Again)

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Yesterday was my birthday.  Today was also my birthday.  This is one of the perks of living overseas…we get to celebrate twice!
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I was truly spoiled by my dear husband and daughters (and friend!).  The day started around 7 when Cam and I headed out to jog.  He slowed his pace down and jogged beside me instead of leaving me in his dust.  There was just something really special about it…although I never would have thought to want that.  Then we picked Ellie up from home (because she was the one awake) to join us for some lap swimming.  You see, I knew what was coming later in the day so I needed to burn some calories early on.  Ha!

A couple days before my birthday, my sweet friend treated me to a massage and Starbucks.  We were kicking off Birthday Week well!  Then, in the afternoon on my birthday, I got a cryptic text saying “knock knock” from this same friend.   This beautiful and happy plant was waiting for me outside my door.

The girls all presented me with handmade cards and creative presents.  Then I got to FaceTime and text with family.  Gracie even decorated the white board so I could be reminded it was my birthday (not there was a chance I would ever forget).

I am so blessed.

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Then.  This happened.  Cam grilled burgers topped with cheese and bacon.  I know this looks ordinary and may see like a strange and easy birthday meal.

Let me break it down for you.

Beef (could be water buffalo): $14.19

Buns:  homemade

Bacon: $5

Tostitos chips: $8.39

Velveeta and rotel: only from America

Guacamole made with 3 avocados: $12

Cheese: $5

It isn’t ordinary.  It can’t be bought from one store.  And it isn’t easy.  It is a special treat and exactly what I wanted!

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Boston Cream Pie.

Y’all.

He made it from scratch!  He doesn’t bake.  I’m pretty sure this was his first cake ever, and it was superb!  In fact, it is my new favorite…and I am requesting it every year from here on out!

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The gifts.  I am a present loving gal.  I love it when someone takes time to choose something they really hope I will love.  Nothing means quite as much as that.  Cam picked out some wooden wall art for me, bought me a fabulous teal scale (that I have no picture of), and some Starbucks mugs for my growing collection.  It really couldn’t have been more perfect.

Well…

Except for this.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 9.02.27 AMMy niece, Abigail, was welcomed into this world on my birthday!  She waited until evening to come, but my dear family face- timed me right after she took her first breath of air.  I got to hear her sweet first cries, see her weighed and rubbed down, and watch the people I love, fall in love right before my eyes.  With tears streaming down my face and my heart feeling like it may burst from longing to be there, I realized how blessed I am that I did get to be there.  Praise the Father above for technology!

This precious child will always be close to my heart.  We will always share something that no one else in our family gets to share with us…our birthdays.  I may not get to touch her or cuddle her right now, but I do get to pray for her.  Every day, I can lift her to throne room of Jesus, and that will always give us a bond that can’t be broken or torn apart.  No matter the distance. Sometimes the cost of obedience feels like too much, but then He goes and does something amazing that blows my socks off. He knew the way my heart ached from having to miss her arrival.  He knew.  So, He chose to show me His love in a way so special I hadn’t truly dared to hope it could happen.

Best.  Present.  EVER.

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This will rock your pork world

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Cam goes out a lot on his scooter…he runs errands, buys the things on my lists, explores the city…and he always seems to come home with an adventure to tell about.

Chinese people eat pork.  A lot of pork.  When we lived in the states, our pork world consisted of bacon.  Now, we call it chicken and eat it more than I want to think about.

Especially when we pass by these scooters loaded down with freshly slaughtered pigs.

Can we say sanitary?

*gag*

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Here is a close-up of the trailer scooter full of meat for the markets.  I would really hate to be driving this thing…

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Look as closely as you dare.  Those pigs are sliced from the middle of the snouts to the middle of the tail.  Two halves.  I just wonder what kind of knife they use! *shudder*

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Glimpse of Our School

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Considering that homeschool isn’t new to us, you would think the transition would be easy.  However, it has been far more challenging than I ever imagined.  We set up a fun room to have school in, complete with yoga ball chairs, a white board, and fun additions that Cam’s mama sent us to organize with.

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Gracie is in 7th grade this year, Faith is in 4th, and Ellie is in 2nd.  How did that happen?!

We are using Classical Conversations as a base for our schooling, and there are so many fun projects that we get to do!  Pinterest has come to life in our classroom…and Cam is so thankful that there is no Hobby Lobby nearby I am sure.  Ha!  We learned about Columbus the first week and the Mayflower the second week.  We watched many videos highlighting the events and even made some hard-tack crackers to experience a bit of what they ate.  Dried fish is readily available in this part of the world, but the girls weren’t interested in even discussing trying any.  I think the thing that stuck in their minds the fastest was that on the boat, the beverage they drank was beer due to the water not being fresh.

*sigh*

I have been asked about it daily…

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Gracie is using a different science book than the littles are, so she gets to do experiments on her own and teach us about them as she does.

She learned about chemical reactions with vinegar, cabbage, and a balloon.

The littles were learning all about cells and their parts, so they made edible cells.  Gracie got in on the action because who doesn’t want to eat jello filled with candy?!  Ellie was super proud of her cell and requested a solo picture.

She will most certainly see this picture later in life.

Guaranteed.

School3We have moved onto bones and muscles, so this week the girls got to dig into a chicken quarter.  Faith broke the bone in half with her brute strength (ask her about that sometime).  Ellie was thrilled that her bone had a joint connecting it to the other bone.  She kept bending it back and forth.  They peeled skin off and found the ligaments inside.

The germophobe inside me was freaking out.  I had to take deeps breaths and tell myself everything would be fine.

As visions from Contagion flashed through my mind…

For those of you who have prayed for us as we started on the homeschooling journey again, THANK YOU.  It has gone smoothly, with only a few tears, lots of laughter, and hugs at the end of the day telling me how glad they are they get to spend the whole day with me. It wouldn’t be possible without the guidance of our Father and His ever present help!

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