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The gifts of singleness

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It’s an odd intersection of dates on the calendar. It’s the day before Chinese New Year, in the Christian calendar it’s Ash Wednesday, and of course, unavoidably, it’s Valentine’s Day.
Having the day off (for Chinese New Year), I did a lot of ‘adulting’ stuff—laundry, spinning class, meeting with friends. I arranged the delivery of a medium-sized appliance to my house because it would be too heavy for me to carry home myself. I considered purchasing a smaller vehicle because, 90% of the time, I’m the only one using it.Oh, and I did most of these things in my second language. I’m a single, 30-something expat. Because of the time difference, I’ll have about 36-hours worth of Valentine’s Day posts on social media to avoid. And so here I sit in Starbucks on Valentine’s night writing one to add to the mix. I occasionally check my peripheral vision for eligible-looking singles, because wouldn’t THAT be a story to tell. I was actually in the coffee shop to write an article about singleness w…

2018 - The year of Fullness

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So I know we’re already 2/3 through January, but I wanted to post about my word for the year! It’s not a New Year’s Resolution, so I figure I can post about it any time I want! For the past several years, I’ve chosen one word to form and inform my goals, attitudes and actions for the year. And as 2017 was coming to an end, I had a very long shortlist, I knew that I’d have to choose during my trip to Zambia since that’s where I would be ringing in the new year, but I had no idea that, like so many times before, the word would choose me! The word FULLNESS was already in my top 3, and it was confirmed in a very beautiful way!



The moment the picture below depicts was when we went to meet the Chief. I’d brought a gift from Taiwan for the occasion, but I wasn’t sure if it would be appropriate for me to give it or not, after all, I was there accompanying my dear friends, and very content to remain in the background. The Chief is a man of impressive vision and authority. He shared his belie…

By Degrees

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This pre-Christmas, stream-of-consciousness reflection was originally posted on Bold Cup of Coffee

We hopped from pool to pool, basking in the warmth as we plunged in to escape the cold air. These hot springs, a good pastime for a winter's night, held a lesson for me too. The first pool we entered had a sign telling us the water was 40 degrees. Lured by the nearby milk pool, we switched to its mere 39 degrees and immediately felt a difference. The next pool, at 37.4 felt practically frigid. Now this story isn't about the science of how we adjust to contrasts, nor is it the oft-repeated parable of the frog in boiling water, though on further reflection, maybe it is one and the same

Degrees.

How can what we perceive to be the slightest alteration make such a difference? Faith and fervency, and maybe the little things are really the big things. Now my mind was stirring; something was bubbling up from within. How often do I slack, let things down by a few degrees, stop feeding the …

Friends Near and Far

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With only 10 days until I return home, I've been thinking with much anticipation about the friends I'll be meeting this summer. I've got some amazing friends and family back home whom I only get to see once a year, if that. This summer, I'm flying to see a friend of almost 20 years whom I haven't seen in 5! I wish I could see everyone every time I go home, but with time, money, and geography, it's just not possible. Plus there are so many Taiwan friends who have returned to North America that I would love to see in addition to the Canadian friends I left behind 10 years ago. It's really hard for me sometimes to choose to see someone, or not to make the trip to see someone, to impose myself on people helplessly (I'd love to visit you, but I'll need you to drive me an hour or more to an airport afterward), and to have to say "you only get a few hours of my time" when it would take much, much longer for us to catch up. I also don't want …

Thankfulness

Recently there has been a lot of bad news coming my way.
In the past few weeks there was news of two sudden deaths from afar.
It is really hard to grieve when you are not there with everyone else, especially for an avoider like me.
But as a friend recently reminded me, it doesn't make sense for us to wait until the end of someone's life to express how much they meant to us and how much we appreciate them. This is something we should tell them NOW, while they can still hear us.
So here are some goodbye thoughts for those who have moved on, and coming up, I hope to post some #sayitnow words of gratitude and appreciation to people who have impacted my life!

Auntie Mona

Yours was the first wedding I remember going to, and I remember as a child always thinking you were so beautiful. But even more than that, you were the aunt that always took the time to talk with us kids. You would do our hair sometimes, and compliment us, and just make us feel like we mattered. One memory that com…

Writing again??

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So I don't think many people are still following this blog, especially now that we have Facebook, which admittedly, is one of the reasons my blog started to peter out. Increased privacy, greater engagement, friends not needing to sign in and type weird codes just to leave a comment: all bonuses. But on Facebook, I was left with another problem, who exactly was I writing for? Did I want certain people to see it? Would I be spamming my non-Christian friends with faith-related content all the time? Because now that I've been in Taiwan for almost 10 years, many things that were once new and notable are quite routine. And I was feeling a desire to move into more deeper reflections, but not really sure how or where to do that. Plus there was the monster of people-pleasing out there whispering that it was too dangerous. I wouldn't be able to control others' reactions. I wouldn't be able to cater my words to every possible audience at once. And so I started to feel crippl…

A Reason to Remember

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This past Sunday, my local church put on a Tomb sweeping service. It’s the first our church has ever done, and the first I have ever attended. And I found it to be deeply meaningful. Growing up in a Lutheran church for a while, and being part of this generation that seems to be moving away from consumerism and entertainment-driven worship and toward liturgy and a deeper connection to past, future, and community, I found it refreshing to be a part of this service. Now for those unfamiliar with the holiday, Taiwan celebrates Tomb Sweeping Festival on April 5. It’s a day off when families traditionally visit the family plot where their ancestors are buried, and, literally, sweep or clean it up. Cemeteries in Taiwan do not, to my knowledge, have groundskeepers or other employees. Thus it is the family’s duty to make sure grave sites are maintained. Traditionally this would be accompanied with burning incense or ghost money, making food offerings, and prayers to the ancestors for blessings…