I am thankful…for snow!

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This year has been full of blessings and adventures. In January, Clarissa and I accompanied Tim on a work trip to Hawaii. We had a wonderful week while he worked. In February and March, Clarissa and I went home to Virginia and Pennsylvania to visit both sides of the family. In April, we moved to a different city in South Korea when Tim got a new job and promotion. We have since visited Seoul and Okinawa on vacation.

This Sunday was actually a holiday in the South Korean church. The church chooses one Sunday every year to celebrate Thanksgiving Sunday where they give thanks to God for all of His blessings. It just so happens to coincide with American Thanksgiving. The service was so good. I think it was the first time we’ve had communion since we moved to Korea. After church, we had a Thanksgiving feast for lunch as a congregation. It was nice to celebrate with friends and family.

This week we took a break from our normal homeschool curriculum to focus on Thanksgiving. Clarissa and I read some books about the history of Thanksgiving. We also spent some time talking about what it means to be thankful. One of my favorite books to read with her is God Gave Us Thankful Hearts. We read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” We talked about what we were thankful for.

The library on post had some coloring sheets that you could put together to make “My Book of Thanks.” Clarissa colored several of the pages but we have not finished it yet.

We attended a playgroup this week at Brownstone. The children were supposed to draw a picture of something that they were thankful for. This is what Clarissa drew.

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When the teacher asked her about it she said, “This is the castle in Okinawa where all the knights and the king fight bad guys. But they are dead so we can see their house.” I guess she was listening on vacation when I was trying to teach her the history of Shuri Castle.

On Thanksgiving Day, Tim woke up with Clarissa so that I could sleep in. But once it started snowing, Clarissa ran in to wake me up because she was so excited. She then thought that it was Christmas (because it snows for Christmas and not Thanksgiving) and wanted to know when she could open her presents…We had turkey sausage and biscuits for brunch. By the time I was finished with dishes, the snow had melted.

We were thankful to wake up to snow this morning. I made sure to head out right after breakfast just in case the snow melted. It wasn’t a problem since it started snowing again while we were outside. Clarissa’s snow suit hasn’t arrived yet, but she lasted about an hour. We had so much fun!

We have been working on teaching Clarissa what it means to be thankful. We are so blessed and there are so many needs in the world. She helped me pack two boxes online for Operation Christmas Child. We will look through Compassion’s Gift Catalog to choose a birthday present for Jesus. We can talk about being thankful all day long, but if Tim and I are not living out contentment and being thankful, Clarissa will have a hard time learning it. So we are making more of an effort to talk about our blessings.

Enjoy! a book review…

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As someone who grew up during the “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” movement of the late 90’s, all kinds of purity messages were thrown at me. I entered college thinking “sex is bad.” Or at least, to avoid any kind of physical intimacy whatsoever. Then I got married and expected the programming that I had heard for the last 10-15 years to magically disappear and be excited about sex.

Don’t get me wrong. I have been married for 8 years now. Sex is wonderful. But it took a while to reprogram my brain. I think that while talking to Clarissa about sex the conversation will be more like, “Sex is wonderful. But God designed it to be with one partner for life, once you are married.” I don’t want her to need to reprogram herself once she is a married woman.

I really liked Enjoy! The Gift of Sexual Pleasure for Women. The book is written by Christian sex therapists and published by Focus on the Family. It was helpful to read, from a Christian perspective, what a lot of women think and feel during sex. Made me feel normal instead of weird. The chapters weren’t super long so it was nice to read one night and then spend a few days thinking about what I read. It took me less than a month to read the book.

 

Seoul Grand Park Zoo

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Today, Clarissa and I took the monthy CYS trip to Seoul Grand Park Zoo with some friends. I had never been to this zoo before and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Seoul Grand Park is a subway stop on line 4. The zoo is exit 2. But you can also get to the Science Museum at exit 5.

The parking lot brings you to the bathrooms and a place to buy tickets for the elephant train that will take you to the zoo. You can walk if you prefer. The guy said it was a 15 minutes walk. But the train was super cheap. Adults pay 1,000 won (about $1.00) and little kids like Clarissa pay 700 won.

After our train ride, we bought tickets to the zoo. Adults pay 5,000 won (less than $5.00) and preschoolers are free. We thought we would also try the theme garden which also has farm animals which costs 2,000 won. A combination ticket for both was 5,600 won.

The zoo was great. We saw monkeys, giraffes, zebras, elephants, rhinoceros, lions, tigers, and bears.

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A lot of Korean zoos near Daegu were sad. But this zoo was actually very good. The animals had similar enclosures to what I see in the US. They had maps in English and Chinese in addition to Hangeul. There were also signs throughout the zoo in English. The names of animals were in English and several directional signs were in both English and Hangeul.

There are several restaurants for lunch. Plenty of Korean food but they also had a Lotteria and a Nazar Kebab. The Lotteria does not sell French fries but most of the normal menu was available. The vegetable bibimbap was good. The price for food was what you would see in town instead of inflated prices.

There was an insectarium that was pretty good. It was two floors and I really liked the layout because you could only flow in one direction. There was stroller parking outside. Clarissa really enjoyed the insects, spiders, and frogs.

There was a section on the map for a dolphin encounter and marine life so we walked all the way to the end to see them and apparently they had been released. I guess I should be happy for them. But the girls were pretty disappointed.

Thankfully, we found crocodiles, snakes, and lizards on the way back.

There were plenty of random animal statues for the girls to look at and take pictures with.

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We had to get back to the bus so we didn’t have time to do the theme garden or the farm animals. But we really enjoyed our time at the zoo. I am sure we’ll go again.

For my Camp Humphreys friends : CYS does a family field trip to Seoul every month. For $10, your family of four ($15 for families of 5 or more) rides the bus from post to the location of the field trip. The bus leaves the old CDC parking lot (across from the helicopter statue) at 9 AM and returns at 5pm. You can go anywhere you want from the location in Seoul, just be back in time for the bus. For example, last month the trip was to Lotte World. We rode the bus and then walked down the street and did Lotte World Mall and the aquarium instead. You are responsible for admission, but taking the bus is worth it to avoid traffic and parking.

My Favorite Podcasts

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Last fall, I subscribed to the Focus on the Family Magazine. I really enjoy reading the articles about faith, marriage, and parenting. Towards the end of every magazine, there is a list of upcoming Focus on the Family Radio Show topics. At some point, I decided that I really wanted to listen to one of the shows (I don’t remember what the topic was). I found the Focus on the Family App for my phone and started listening pretty regularly while I was making dinner.

I got out of that habit before the move to Pyeongtaek. But, after listening to the Online Homeschool Convention in May, I decided that I really liked listening to something while I was making dinner and doing the dishes. I remembered the Focus on the Family broadcast and thought that I might be able to find a few different things to listen to. I downloaded the Stitcher app for my phone and found several that I enjoy. One thing that I like about this app is that I can make a list of my favorite stations (podcasts) and when there is a new podcast added, the app will notify me.

I still listen to the Focus on the Family Radio Show. I just use the Stitcher App now instead of the Focus on the Family App.

I have two favorite podcasts. The first one is God Centered Mom with Heather MacFadyen. She is a Christian mom with four boys. I like the way she interviews her guests. I find out about really cool books and speakers from her podcasts. Her heart is for moms to know that they are worshipping Jesus just as much while they are washing dishes as when they are in church.

My newer favorite is Cultivating the Lovely with MacKenzie Monroe. A Christian homeschool mom of four, she has great guests as well. She just seems very real. And she reminds me a lot of my friend Mary back home so that’s a plus.

I also seem to be in the mood to listen to Dave Ramsey about once a week. Sometimes his guests ask crazy questions. But I like his no-nonsense answers about finances. I also appreciate that he comes at personal finances with a biblical perspective.

 

Online Conference Season

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As I mentioned before, I have really gotten into online conferences in the past year or so. I like that I can find life giving information that I can watch at my convenience. Most of the time, it’s even free!

When we lived in Daegu, the PWOC always did two simulcasts each year. Beth Moore in the fall and Priscilla Shirer in the spring. They were my favorite days of the year. I enjoyed a full day of “girl time” where I also had a chance to worship God and hear teaching without distraction (read- they are always Saturday so Clarissa stays home with Tim).

What I didn’t think much about before was that the simulcasts were also available to individuals. In April, I planned to have the Priscilla Shirer Simulcast be my last hurrah in Daegu, but the movers changed my plans. I was devastated that I missed the time with my friends and Priscilla. So I googled it and I found out that I could pay $20 and have access for a whole month on my own. So I spent some time each night of hotel life listening to the Simulcast. I was able to enjoy the worship and the teaching so I got a lot out of it. I did eventually get my girl time in as well.

I went to my first simulcast at Camp Humphreys on Saturday. You can still hear Beth Moore talk about vision until October 16 here.

The other thing I have really enjoyed is online conferences. These have all been free. The catch is that they will post a few sessions per day and they are only available for 24-48 hours so you have to prioritize what you listen to. Each session also usually has a website or some kind of freebie from the speaker. But it is possible to get your favorite sessions in for free because each session is less than an hour long and you can start and stop as you need to. And if I wasn’t really interested in a session once it started, I could just stop. They also have a paid option where you can have access to all of the sessions forever. Though I have really enjoyed the conferences, I have not tried paying for them yet. I spent a lot of time listening to things as I made dinner or washed the dishes Also, let’s be real. Clarissa didn’t complain about getting to watch extra movies on those days either.

Last year, I really enjoyed the Mom Conference. It was only three days and I listened to sessions about getting your kids to eat healthier/teach them how to cook, organizing your life, budgeting, marriage, and even traveling as a family. The Mom Conference is happening again soon. You can sign up now and the conference will be live October 17-19, 2017. It looks like some of the same sessions from last year but some new ones as well.

In May, I listened to the Online Homeschool Convention. I really enjoyed this one. It lasted most of May. It had 3-4 sessions per day that were available for 48 hours. I usually only listened to 1-2 per day. But it was really encouraging to hear from people I really connected with and just really encouraged me in my thinking. It was also helpful to hear from people I didn’t agree with to think about what I really want for our family.

There was an overlap for a Homeschool Summit during May as well so I didn’t really get to listen to most of this one. That one was mostly about curriculum. There is going to be another one that focuses on teaching from October 16-21, so I am going to try to listen to some this round.

Once I got into a rhythm of listening to these things while making dinner, I decided that I really liked that routine so I started listening to podcasts. I think I need a separate post for that though.

Nehemiah: A Heart that Can Break

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My last Bible Study in Daegu was Nehemiah: A Heart that Can Break. I only finished half of the study with my class. But I really liked it so I decided to finish it on my own once we moved.

I had never done a study by Kelly Minter before. I like the format of weekly homework with a short video to tie things together. The five days of reading each week wasn’t as long as some other studies I have done so it didn’t seem overwhelming. Two of the big themes in the study were service and obedience.

Some of my favorite takeaways from the study:

  • Nehemiah always prayed before he did anything. “When Nehemiah heard about Jerusalem’s tragic state he didn’t call a meeting, gather his smartest friends together for a quick think tank, or take a poll about what should be done…the first thing he did was pray” (16). He did things like pray for four months before we went to talk to the king.
  • Knowing the Word of God/scripture is important.
  • It is important to serve as a family and for Clarissa to participate in that.
  • Nehemiah chapter 3 lists a bunch of people and their jobs. My big takeaway from that was that God uses ALL gifts and there doesn’t seem to be a hierarchy. My calling is just as important as anyone else’s.
  • If I regularly record answered prayers, then I can remember the things that God has done in my life. It is faith building.
  • “Essentially we are just living as slaves when we’re not enjoying what God has promised to us” (130).
  • When God puts something on my heart, there is NO WAY that I will see the end game before I start walking in obedience. (Hebrews 11:8)

Crash The Chatterbox

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This summer, I attended the evening session of PWOC at Camp Humphreys. I enjoyed my time with this great group of ladies. We read Crash The Chatterbox by Steven Furtick.

I really enjoyed the book. It talks about replacing the negative and distracting thoughts  and voices in your head with the truth of what God says about you and your life. He says, “God has given us the ability to choose the dialogue we believe and respond to” (p. 4). There is a DVD that goes with the book, but you will learn plenty just by reading the book.

Some of my favorite thoughts from the book:

  • “Most of the decisions that send our lives in the wrong direction are the result of wrongly answering the question ‘Did God really say…?'” p. 50
  • All complaining does is give a second life to bad experiences.
  • Comparison is the death of contentment.
  • Another thing that really changed my thinking was the idea of thinking about your fear. Just ignoring a fear doesn’t usually make it go away. Instead, try thinking through it. What is the worst thing that will happen if that fear is true?
  • The reminder that I can do NOTHING to make God love me any more or any less than He already does. It doesn’t matter how I perform.
  • “God’s assessment of you isn’t limited by where you’ve been before or even where you are now. His words reflect the places He plans to take you and the purposes He intends to fulfill through you” (p.135).