March 28, 2013

to Hell and back in 90 seconds

We were watching our kids play at a park in Bangkok (one of the biggest human trafficking hubs in the world) when suddenly Zion, our 5-year-old son, was not there.

"Where is Zion?" I casually asked, although given the city we were in, my voice was already crackling with panic.

"Hmm, I don't know," Alisa said.  "He was just here."

I looked around until I saw Daniel, who was on the other side of the playground.

"Look for Zion!" I yelled.  Daniel's eyes grew wide and he dropped what  he was doing, joining Alisa and me as we sprinted through the playground, calling Zion's name, checking every slide, every tunnel.  We didn't see him anywhere.

Daniel took off at a dead run, away from the playground toward the 6-lane, 4-way intersection 75 yards away.  He later told me that he was searching the passing cars for a glimpse of Zion's head, though he didn't know what he would do if he saw him. 

At the time, I wasn't sure why Daniel was running for the street.  Zion is a cautious person and would never step out into traffic.  The only place I could think to run was the other playground on the opposite end of the  park.  It also wasn't like Zion to wander off, and I was going to be shocked if I found him there, but frankly, I was out of ideas.

As I ran through the park, screaming Zion's name, searching for my son's blond hair and blue glasses, I realized that I had just descended into Hell.  It was all I could do to keep moving, because the panic that was setting in was paralyzing.

"Oh God!"  I said out loud.  "Zion!!!!  Oh God.  Zion!!!!  Oh God.  Oh God.  Oh God."

And then, the sweetest sound I ever heard came drifting to me from behind a big tree.


There he was, looking a bit guilty, like he'd been caught with his finger in the frosting.  He had wandered off, after all.  He had not been taken.  He was alive.  I was back from Hell.

Even though this happened several months ago, I thought about it today, when I was reading a blogpost by a mother who has experienced baby loss.  Her advice was, "Hold your children.  Hold your children.  Hold your children."

So I've been holding my children today, pondering the blessing of having all four of them with me, alive and accounted for.  How dangerous - how tragic - to take any of the joy we are given in this world for granted.

March 27, 2013

because all the other guys were doing it

Today, for lunch, Daniel drank marrow from the leg-bone of a pig.  With a straw.  On purpose. 

Wearing a glove?  

Oh my.

March 25, 2013

Hong Kong in a day

My main dude and my second-born dude make relatively frequent trips to the great port city/nation of Hong Kong.  The best pediatric ophthalmologist in the Eastern world practices there, and is doing a FANTASTIC job correcting Zion's lazy left eyeball.

The dudes have trimmed the trip all the way down to one day.  No more tiny, questionable, outrageously expensive hostels.  Just a very, very, very long day of travel, and one tired little eye patient.

March 23, 2013

my little white belts

His English name is Moose, and he is the real deal.  He's a local man, a black belt, who they say can throw a back flip in the middle of a conversation.  Our boys call him Mr. Moose, and we parents have hired him  to teach Taekwondo to our little community of home school boys ages 4-11.

Cute little butt-kickers, aren't they?!

March 19, 2013


This month, Bright learned how to solve for the variable n.

And we realized two things about Jubilee this month: she is a fabulous colorer, and her hair is now long enough for a ponytail (with the help of an extra clip or two).

What ever happened to counting to ten, scribbling outside the lines, and ugly orphanage haircuts?  Those things are long gone, now, I'm afraid.  Time marches on.

March 18, 2013

good for all of us

Daniel comforting his little girl
Monday morning, I woke up early, took a shower, donned skinny jeans and a flowing rayon shirt, and hustled out into the drizzle with my raincoat pulled over my head, leaving Daniel at home with the kids.  I walked up the ramp to the filthy bike room at our apartment complex and unlocked the bike I share with my husband, plopping my book-bag into the basket.  I pedaled to the gate and met up with Alisa, who's four-year-old son was riding precariously on top of her rear tire.  We inched our way through traffic, in the rain, to Zeb's immersion preschool, where Alisa placed him in the waiting, smiling, kissing arms of one of his teachers.

Then we headed to one of the local universities, where we are both enrolled as language students for the spring semester!  We parked our bikes and locked them up, then scurried into the international student building and up to the second floor, where our teacher, Auir, was waiting for us with a dimpled grin.

For the next three hours, Alisa and I poured over phrases like, "Do you want black tea or green tea?" and "The mother holds the small baby," and "What time do you get off work?"  We took a break halfway through class and called our husbands, who were teaching our children their math and handwriting while monitoring our busy toddlers.  All was well at home, so we resumed our studies, and before we knew it, three hours had flown by and we jumped on our bikes and headed home.

Thank you, Daniel and John, for being willing to sacrifice your Monday and Thursday mornings so that Alisa and I can get out and learn a thing or two.  It is as much for our overall well-being and our outreach here as a family as it is for our ability to communicate with our neighbors and people we meet on the street.  You are wonderful husbands!

March 12, 2013

Napoleon Dyna-Bright??

the first day of the rest of her life

Her first day as a believer.  Cutest little believer I ever saw.
It happened, like it did with Zion, a bit earlier than we anticipated.  This morning, during our morning devotions, Jubilee looked at me grumpily and declared, "I don't wanna talk about Jes_s no more!"

"Really, Honey?" I said, touching her little brown arm.  "Why's that?"

"I don't know," she said, and then her face screwed all up into a ball and she began to weep.

"Sweetie," I suggested, "maybe it is the sin in your heart that doesn't want to hear about Jes_s?"

She nodded vigorously.  Though I'll never know how much she was understanding, it seemed like she was understanding every word.

"Sweetheart," I approached cautiously, "do you want to trust in Jes_s today?  Do you want to give your heart to Him, so you can be with Him freely and with joy?"

More vigorous nodding, while two streaks of tears ran down her flat cheeks and under her chin to her neck.

"OK," I said.  "We can help you do that."

We all bowed our heads, and Bright laid hands on his sister.  She repeated after me, confessing her sin and her need for help with that, and then she professed her faith in Jes_s and what he did for her on the cross.

So of course, this afternoon this mama baked another Book of Life cake, this time for a very special little girl who warms my heart daily with her desire to love and bless others.  G0D has big plans for this one!

March 09, 2013

grace extended

If you think you're local supermarket is a madhouse on a Sunday afternoon, try running into mine for a birthday gift on the way to a birthday party with an objective and a time restraint.  Not only must you fight for your place in line, but the clerk moves at glacial speed, runs out of receipt paper, replaces receipt paper at the speed of evolution (which for we creationists is VERY slow), argues the price of a bottle of yogurt with the lady three people up from you in line, and runs out of small bills to make change, waiting a quarter of an hour for a manager to bring more bills.

That was me, this afternoon.  When I finally got back to the car, smoke billowing out of my ears, my sweet husband recapped on the sermon we just heard at our fellowship.  If I wrote it like a story, I would write it like this:

      "Ooh, what happened in there?" Daniel says, looking at my red face and clenched jaw.
      "You don't want to know," I say.
      A sports car lurches into traffic in front of us, almost causing a wreck, and I point at it with my open palm and say, "A zillion things just like that."
     Keep in mind, such experiences aren't rare, in fact they are daily, and normally I can take things pretty well in stride.  But last night we had watched The Promised Land with Matt Damon and afterward I curled up and wept while the credits rolled because the movie made me miss my homeland - my people - so much that it hurt.  Still riding on the wave of last night's emotions, the birthday-gift-buying experience was just too much.
      "Oh, honey.  Don't I know?!" Daniel empathizes.  "But that's why the sermon we just heard was so good!  Jonah and the Jews felt the same way, thinking the people should be circumcised first, in the case of the Jews, or punished first, in the case of Jonah..."
      "Or learn to drive first," I add, "or learn to form a line, or..."
      "Right," he reigns me in.  "But that's just the thing.  They don't."
      Daniel pauses to park the car, looking behind him just in time to see someone almost hit him from behind.
      "They just need grace," he says, putting our van in park.  "Just like the rest of us."


March 07, 2013

rookie mistake

Note to the bleary-eyed woman guzzling coffee in East Asia this morning while her four kids run through the house full of energy and asking for breakfast:  you do not need to actually wake up and attend literary webinars.  Once you've registered you will be emailed a recording of the event complete with all inside information and opportunities.

Lesson (yawwwwwn. stretch) learned.

March 06, 2013

the wind beneath my lil' ole wings

Iffen this lil' ole book o' mine ever done get published [insert "pipe dreeeeam"] the dedication page'll have my husband's name all over it, shore nuff.  Law!  I tell ye, that man is workin' darn near as hard on this thing as me.

(My book does not take place in the 19th century deep south, by the way.  Its just that I've been reading Stawberry Girl to the kids.  Good book about Florida Crackers, if you like learning about tucked-away American subcultures.)


Here's how it goes (with Daniel and me).  I write something, a page or two, and he sits down and reads it before the end of the day.  He is downright ruthless with a highlighter, for which I am so very glad.  He'll say something like, "Your character here is a man.  A man might feel that way, but he could never express himself like that, not without weeks of counseling.  He's hurt, but he's going to come off as defensive.  His pride has been wounded, so he's going to establish himself even more."

And then I set back to work, until I get it right.  I can always tell when I get it right, because a very particular smile spreads across Daniel's face when he reads it.  Like I've hit some sort of sweet spot.  Like I've reached him. 

When he is satisfied, I move on to the next page.  And so it goes.  I simply could not do this without him.

Like tonight, for example.  Per Rachel's encouragement and as a result of her research (are you seeing a pattern in my life of gleaning from the fruits of other people's research?) I am signed up for a webinar on catching and keeping a literary agent [insert "quaking in my boots"] but here's the thing: due to the time difference, I'll be waking up at 2:00 a.m. for this webinar.  Yikes!  Its certifiable now.  I've lost it.  Daniel, early morning meeting the next day and everything, is planning to wake up with me and make sure I get logged into the webinar without a hitch.  What a dude, huh?

He is the wind beneath my lil' ole wings.

March 04, 2013

Help! He's got a sausage!

When I'm not peeling potatoes, guzzling coke zero, stain-treating the knees of little pants, nuzzling my nose into the soft fur of my rabbit, teaching a cursive "d," explaining how it is possible for Isaac and Ishmael to have different mamas, watching my son twist his face in horror at the realization that making babies is even possible outside of marriage, combing my excessively long hair so it won't dread lock (though dreadlocks remain on my bucket list, however close to the bottom they might be), practicing my Chinese with our wonderful new house helper, soaking up the rare sunshine as it squeezes through the pollution to warm our window glass, or listening to the endless chatter of my little girl, I am taking pictures of the goings on around the house.

Such as "playing hostage," a game that Brave calls, "playing sausage."  In this scene, Brave decided he wanted to be the sausage.

I guess this is what happens to the sausage if things go south??  (Jubilee is "bandaged" with strips of curtain from the sheer panels I just hung on the roof)

The weekend's project: kite-making.  Still awaiting a windy day for the testing of the product.

Meet Xiao Huang, our new house helper.  A widow at age 37, with a teenage daughter, Xiao Huang is happy to have the work, and we are more than happy to have her as our Ayi!  We wish San Jie well, of course, but Xiao Huang is a much better fit for our family.  I hope she'll be washing the inside of my fridge and taking my kids to the doctor for years to come.

March 02, 2013

no news is good news

Other than my novel undertaking, and Bright trying to make the most of his time with Collin, there is not a whole lot going on around here.  I guess no news is good news.  Although, on Monday I'll be registering to take language class 6 hours a week at the local university (it's about time).  Oh, and Bright tested into 4th grade math for next year (surprise, surprise).  Yes, and Zion moved up to the 11th percentile in height!! (big deal for Zion).  Otherwise we're just trucking along over here in East Asia.

I could also mention that George F. is going through bunny puberty.  He eats everything in sight, moves at full speed all the time (unless he's asleep), and literally rattles his cage.  It sounds a lot like human puberty, now that I think about it...
Super heroes!  Bad guys, beware.
So rarely seen without his specs.  Look at those handsome blues!
Jubi.  Awwwww.
My parents dressed as "ninjas" to delight the kids during our most recent Facetime call. XXOO