Sunday, March 29, 2015

Springtime in Austin

We've been enjoying the warm weather here in Austin (almost a little too warm for March!).  Yesterday we even went swimming.  Today I took advantage of church clothes to get a couple sweet shots of the kids.  Unfortunately, by the end of day Matthew was running a 103+ fever.  We are hoping it goes away as quickly as his sister's did last week!

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Tribute

When we were returning to the States, everyone wanted to know where we would live.  When I replied that we were considering living with my in-laws, most often the response I received was "Don't do it!"  No length of explaining or persuasion could convince them of why this might work in our situation.

Now that we've been living with them for 9+ months, the most common question I get is " live with your IN-LAWS.  How's THAT going?"

The truth is, in the spectrum of absolutely terrible to perfect, we would be very high on the "great" end.  Not to say that we don't have conflicts, and we do, but my in-laws, and my relationship with my mother-in-law in particular, are so amazing that people find it hard to believe.

One of the things I value most about her is her ability to bring up difficult topics and her humble attitude about the issue.  This is an area I can definitely learn from, as I tend to like to sweep things under the rug and move on.  Her direct honesty and tenacity, combined with her humble love, is what makes our situation so doable.

To make sure we keep talking about things, she "insists" on having family meetings once a month to talk about issues we're having.  These might be good things or rough things, but as you can imagine, at least once a month there is usually at least one conflict that needs working out.  After one rougher discussion, the following day she mentioned she needed some affirmation, and felt I did too.  She proceeded to email me a several pages long list of all the things she admires about me.  I was humbled and affirmed.  It was wonderful, and went light years towards restoring hurt feelings from the previous conflict.

I can definitely learn from this woman.

I wish every wife could have a mother-in-law like I do.

In the spirit of communicating to the world just how amazing she is, I've decided to post my list here.   This is just a small picture of her amazing qualities, and I am honored to be her daughter(in-law).


Generous: shares her food, her clothes, her belongings with me and my family.  Allows us to live in her house, in her space, use her truck, for months without need for compensation.
Sacrificial: eagerly gives up her space, even her bed, for us so we can be more conveniently near the children.
Intelligent: knows her Bible, finished her masters (with good marks!), able to network at various levels.
Brave: gave up her corporate job to pursue ministry, even for years without much compensation.
Tenacious: works hard no matter what.
Faithful: clings to the promises God gives her.
Humble: always willing to listen to the other side, always willing to accept that she might be wrong.
Verbal: able to talk things out, able to voice her needs, even if I don't want to hear it.
Forgiving: easily forgives her loved ones for harms against her, broken candy dishes, loud children, crack in back bumper.
Protective: will go to bat for any of her children (including me, the in-law!).
Accepting: has accepted me fully as her child, welcomed me into the family with open arms, invested time, energy, love, strength, patience, the list goes on, into my life.  Cares about ME, not just my husband. 
Patient: doesn't get upset by laundry left in the living room, toys scattered across the floor, breakfast dishes left on the counter, ect.
Respectful: respects the way i raise my children, affirms me as a good mother, does not undermine my authority, allows my husband and I to work out differences privately.
Follows through: even when I would like to brush something under the rug, she follows through to make sure an issue is worked through and even follows up with affirmation.
Honest: will always tell you the truth, even when it hurts, in a loving way.  Does not manipulate facts to serve her own purposes.
Servant hearted: seeks to serve more than receive, will go out of her way to make our lives easier.
Forward Thinking: before we moved in, she asked for advice from friends who lived in similar situations and set into action procedures to make our living situation smoother.  Created a family calendar, cleaned her belongings out of "our" space, set up family meetings once a month to discuss issues.
Loving: won't let small things get in the way of her relationship with her children. Fluently speaks every love language, quickly and easily gives a hug, a kind word, a listening ear, a special present when you're down, an act of service.

I love you Mom!  Thank you for loving me as one of your own.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Well, we are more of a third of the way through our month long trip.  In the past 8 days we have stayed in Ontario (OR), Denver, Dallas, Houston, and now Austin.  It has been an amazing week of encouragement, reconnecting, and long, long, long drives.  Prayer has carried our car safely to each of our destinations, and friends have come from far and near to see us.  It is exciting, exhilarating, and exhausting. 

We are hanging around Austin for this whole week.  Next week we have two nights in Albuquerque, then almost a week in LA, a short stop in San Francisco, and then hopefully back to Oregon in time for Matthew's and my mother-in-law's birthdays on April 12th. 

What I've discovered so far:

1. The drive between the Cascade Mountains and Dallas, Texas, is really really boring.  No REALLY.  Sure, you have 10 minutes of beautiful red rock formations in Utah, and maybe Colorado is pretty when it is not so rainy/foggy that you can't see anything, but other than that...desert.

2. Two and a half days is not enough time in Dallas.  We should really learn our lesson one of these days.  Seriously, our friends here are amazing and wonderful, and two days is not enough time to adequately see them all.  Of course, a month might not be either.

3. My kids are awesome.  Sure, there's been the usual if not more than usual periods of whining and meltdowns, but seriously.  They are 4 and 2, and have been stuck in the car for 40+ hours in the past week.  They are troupers.

One of these days I'll try and pull pictures off my camera and post a few, but for now, please continue to pray for safety and timely meetings with friends and strangers that the Father brings to our path during this time.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


Well, it's been 9 months since I last blogged.  Wow. 

Last night I was talking to my sister about seasons of our lives.  Some seem busier, harder, faster paced.  Others are filled with contentment and refreshment.

This year in the States has definitely been a mixed bag.  Some weeks have been nice and slow, times when I can sit back and sew on the porch while my kids play in the sun.  As we gear up to (hopefully) head back to China, we are once again in a fast paced, how much can I squeeze into this day, kind of time.

This week alone, we've had my grandmother's memorial service, entertained three out of town sets of relatives, hosted Lizbeth's mini piano recital, had two sick kids, two doctors appointments, two wet beds, a coffee date with a friend from China, car maintenance, car break down, tax preparation, piano lessons, Nathan's final exams, and on top of it all I am preparing decorations for a conference hosting 700 women next weekend.  Whew.  Oh, and we're speaking at a church tomorrow, which involves practicing piano and guitar, preparing and printing cards, and putting together a powerpoint presentation.

At the same time I have been blessed by family that listens to me verbally process everything, old friends who sit on the porch with me to cut out those 500 flowers for the decorations, and sweet calls of encouragement from new friends I just met last week. 

We are so blessed.

So, where are we now?  Living At His Leading.  Nathan is 3 quarters into his 8 quarter Masters program.  Last month we had a wonderful trip to New York to visit Nathan's brother and his wife and our dear friends the Carmans that we knew from China.  In just over a week we head off for a month to drive around the western USA and visit more friends, churches, and schools.  During this time, we are beginning preparations to head back to China, hopefully in May.  We are still waiting to hear on visas.  It is in the Father's hands whether we receive those visas and head back on schedule, or are denied for a year, in which we will remain in Oregon until the following May or June (2016).  You can be Thinking of us during this time as we truly turn over our future to Him and patiently wait for His leading.