Wednesday, July 31, 2013

DIY Dad: Cut-Out Pancakes

So, the wife is off to the big city on an overnight shopping trip, and I am in charge of our four kiddos while she's gone. Which is fine. Hey, I take care of my kids all the time, but it's a little different when the spouse is absent. For one thing, Brooke is a cook. Or, more like a chef.

I always feed our finicky foursome breakfast, but that's normally oatmeal. No, not instant. We use old fashioned rolled oats here, thank you. I cook them on the stove and everything. Way healthier, and none of those instant maple and brown sugar-loaded packets. But the other morning, Leif told me, "You know, dads can make pancakes too."

Of course, I know that son. I survived as a single until I was 28, thank you. Your mommy didn't cook for me while I was in college by myself, and living in Taiwan as a single. There was a fair bit of cooking that went on during those years, not always worthy of Julia Child, but not inedible either.

But after getting married, frankly, when you're married to Julia Child, it doesn't make a lot of sense to take over the kitchen too often.

But when mommy's gone, daddy does his stuff. Last night, I made pancakes for supper, and the kids loved them. But, they are an unpredictable bunch, sometimes they eat a ton, sometimes not so much. We had LOTS of pancakes left over.

Enter cookie-cutters, leftover pancakes, and the microwave. I'm sure some other cooler dad posted something like this on Pinterest long ago...but hey, at least it felt like my idea.
Pure pancake star happiness
For lunch today, I microwaved our leftover pancakes, gave the kids some cookie-cutters, and let them go. They soon were eating everything from hearts, circles, Christmas trees, maple leaves and sometimes the scrap that accompanied each new shape.
Have a heart. A pancake heart. 
Ok, I ended up making my entire meal from the leftover cuttings from their pancakes, but they were happy, we ate the leftovers and they got to say, "I did it myself!"
Skye demonstrates proper pancake cookie-cutter-cutting technique.
My whole crew, from the 2-year old to the 6-year old enjoyed it, and next time mommy is gone, I'm thinking we might go for another round of Cut-Out Pancakes.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Unity in Diversity

What do you get when you stick Koreans, Australians, Americans, a Canadian, Filipinos, New Zealanders, a Faroe Islander, and Germans all together in one big room?  That would be our NTM regional missionary conference. One of the coolest parts of our job is getting to work with brothers and sisters from literally all over the globe.
We spent three days together, doing everything from singing to business meetings, with teaching and a lot of ministry updates in between. For those of us who work in support roles, it's really encouraging to hear what's happening in the tribes--knowing that we are a small part of a very big team. 
And we all have different gifts! Brooke used her love of baking to bless the ladies who came. She cooked for literally an entire day-- and the result was delicious. Belinda, a good missionary friend in town hosted the party at her house, and she and Brooke worked together to make a very special get-together for the missionary ladies. 
Belinda spiffed up her house all pretty, and was a great host, while Brooke did what she does best---make food that looks and tastes heavenly! It's cool that they were able to work together, each getting to do what they love. 
In case you're wondering why they are pictured in the bathroom...here's a little background: While Brooke was up to her elbows in flour and going crazy trying to cook up a cornucopia of culinary deliciousness, she got a hold of Belinda and wrote: "Really questioning my sanity right now…knee deep in flour and sugar….hahaha"    Belinda's response: "Your reward is in heaven!!! While you're knee-deep in flour, I'm scrubbing baseboards and cleaning toilets! :) (which I MUCH prefer over using an oven!)"
Brooke's response: "Ughhh…see this is why we’re a good team…  thank God I’m in the kitchen and not scrubbing toilets!  Haha"
So, that's why they took a picture together with the food and together in the bathroom...God uses very different people with very different gifts and different likes and dislikes to accomplish great things together!  
And, all the ladies had a fun time. Many of them live in the tribe where get-togethers like this are a rare occurrence. Check out Belinda's cool blog post here.
And, we were blessed with...child care! While we sat in meetings, a group of volunteers ran the kids program. There were lots of kids, and LOTS of willing helpers. 
Brian got the chance to do something he loves--sharing from the Word. He spoke on 1 Peter 2--and had a great time. Hopefully the folks listening did too. :) He also got to lead music and give an update on the language and culture program.
Our kids LOVED the children's program. They got to hear great Bible stories, learn about caterpillars, butterflies and metamorphosis, do fun crafts, sing, play games, skits for the parents, and as Skye said, "I had SO FUN!" 
Then, for lunchtime, the helpers piled the kids into the mission vehicles and brought the happy crew to the meeting place. In case you are wondering, kids carseats are pretty much non-existent where we live.  
Here are some of the young ladies who helped with the kids program. There were several other helpers too-- and they were ALL greatly appreciated.
And, here's one of the coolest parts of our conference. This is a tribal couple. They are believers, and are partners with some of our missionaries, but the missionaries can no longer live in the tribal area So, every month, this tribal couple travels 12-14 hours both ways to visit the missionaries. They work long hours together, checking Bible lessons and fellowshipping, and then they take the new lessons back to the tribe to teach the tribal people in their village.
This is the song they sang for us-- I can't remember it all, it's in a tribal language we don't know, but it's called "No Reason" and basically the premise is, "There's no reason I shouldn't praise You!"

And for us, looking around at all of our team members, we definitely can agree with that. We have people from all over the world, all of us very different-- different first languages, different skills and different gifts, but God is using our very diverse team to bring the Gospel to those who otherwise wouldn't have the chance to hear. We have a lot of reason to praise, and many reasons to thank God. 

And one of the coolest is this: that tribal couple who are themselves a part of the missionary team--bringing the Gospel to their own people. 

We serve an Awesome God, and we get to do it with some really special people!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Back 2 School

It's the first day of school! After a crazy two weeks of summer break, the Johnson Homeschool is back in action. (And that is a totally lame name for a homeschool....We are thinking of having a blog contest to come up with a better name...stay tuned for further updates...) 
Anyway, as of today, Asia is a rookie elementary student, and she's excited out of her mind to be back in school. When she started kindergarten, Asia wanted to be a strawberry farmer. But, when you begin elementary school, you have to start getting realistic about potential career paths, so she's changed that goal to prima ballerina.
And, here's the whole student body with their young and attractive teacher. (This is Brian writing by the way.) They said the Pledge of Allegiance and got down to business. With three preschoolers and one 1st grader, there's no time to mess around, there's learning to be done. 
So, welcome to Ancient History. We've got our timeline that has now taken over our entire living room wall. Every time the kids see it, they will see everything from ancient Pharoahs to their own pictures next to their birthdates, since everyone is at least a small part of history. Skye, our almost-three year old got something out of it. She ran to me today and yelled, "Dad, I was born!" So, we're getting there. 
This year, we also have Road Scholars. They are taking a "school bus" all around the US, and Slater is giving us an idea of what that school bus will look like.  
Leif is continuing his love of constructing complex geometric shapes with pattern blocks... 
Asia has jumped right back into handwriting... 
Skye still hasn't stopped eating... 
And, we started something new this year...Visayan class! We're beginning simply, just a few minutes a session, with laminated pictures of common objects, and teaching them to comprehend and point at the pictures when they hear the correct words. It's called TPR or Total Physical Response, and it's one of the first things our new missionaries do when they start language study. I (Brian) won't be around to do it with them all the time, but it was nice to be able to do some foreign language class with my kiddos, especially on their first day of school!

So, one day down, and only 15 years to go! Thankfully, the kids love learning. Every day is a challenge, but we are so blessed to have the chance to homeschool our four young scholars. Here's to tomorrow, and all the years ahead!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

10 Years!

On July 18, 2003, Brooke and I walked barefoot on a beach at Cape Henry, Virginia, and with porpoises playing in the background, and lighthouses on both sides, we said "I do." You can see our Wedding post here.

That's probably the last time something in our lives really went according to plan....:)
Today, as we celebrated 10 years, our day was different, because we had expected to be back in the USA, with some grandparents babysitting our kids, so that we would have a date (as in, just the two of us for once) to celebrate 10 years...ha. Maybe for our 11th.

But, God's plan is perfect, and better than ours. We had an awesome time as a family, celebrating a very special day.
I (Brian) did my best to sort of recreate Brooke's wedding bouquet...the calla lilies here are about 4 times bigger than in the US...but it turned out ok.
We spent part of the morning making potstickers together, one of our favorite foods from our first year of marriage in Taiwan.
Ok, they are delicious, but they take a LOT of work. Especially when the wrappers refuse to stick together...and they are square and they are supposed to be round.
In the afternoon, we had the Bergens, one of the couples in the language program, over for meryenda and a nice chat. Of course, we had Oatmeal Cake, because there's still some left over. It's still delicious.
And, we enjoyed one of our favorite Taiwanese treats...Bubble Tea! Or, Jen Ju Nai Cha as we used to call it in Taiwan. A cool Bubble Tea shop just opened in our town this week, so the timing was perfect.
We had a special supper out on the town, with our four favorite little people...
And, we finished off the day by watching our wedding on video. I just got Brooke's mom to make a DVD copy of the old VHS (wow, we are old) and send it to us, so it was the first time we had seen it in ages. The kids loved it, and as we were getting married, Skye yelled, "you winned!"
Brooke's parents also called, so the kids got to talk on the phone to their gramps and gram, and we were able to talk to them a bit too. It's been a great day! And we thank God for giving us 10 years, and four adorable little ones to share it with. Here's to the next 10!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Oatmeal Cake Yumminess

Many years ago when I was living in Oregon... I went on a road trip with my dear friend Shilo (and some other friends...one of them is now her husband!!) to visit her family in Washington State...When we arrived at her parent's house...her mom had this amazing still warm from the oven oatmeal cake and lattes ready for us. It was an amazing trip with friends to a beautiful place and to a lovely and very welcoming family.

Ok, this might not be the healthiest recipe in the world...it's a caramely, coconuty concoction whose flavor seems to necessitate a fancier name than Oatmeal Cake... But, perhaps Oatmeal Cake is a good name....because when I tell someone I'm eating Oatmeal Cake, I can almost make it sound like I'm having a health food. 

Well, this may not be an everyday health food, but it is definitely worth the 10 extra miles I'm going to have to go run now.   

Cut a piece still warm  from the oven and savor every bit with a latte or a glass of milk...seriously...Wow!
That's some good home cookin'!

Oatmeal Cake
1 cup quick oatmeal
1 1/2 cups boiling water
Pour water over oatmeal.  Let stand 10 minutes. Do not stir.  Put 1 cube butter in oatmeal.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Ok...honestly...I've never been exactly sure what 1 cube of butter is...but I decided that a stick or 1/2 cup of butter is a cube in my book...because seriously...A little butter is not best, if more butter can be better.
Add:
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs(beaten)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour
Mix that all up and bake @ 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.  Frost when done.

Frosting:
3/4 cube butter(again with the cube...I just use 6 Tablespoons or 3/4 of a stick)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup coconut
4 Tablespoons milk or cream
Mix together & Pour over cake-place in oven 10 minutes.  I mix all these ingredients together in a saucepan and make a little carmely-coconuty sauce...partly because it's sooo yummy and partly because sugar just doesn't dissolve very well here...and 10 minutes in the oven won't dissolve it.  Once I make the sauce...I pour it on the cake and then, pop it back in the oven for 10 minutes. Take it out, and enjoy.

Independent review: Brian Johnson, husband. "Absolutely delicious! Let's hide it from the kids."

It's time for your own Oatmeal Cake awesomeness. Bake some up and let me know what you think!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Art @ Cha: A Bubble Tea Shop Review

It finally happened! We have a Bubble Tea shop in our town...It's called Art @ Cha!

It actually has not even had its grand opening yet, it's still in the soft opening phase, but we had to go try it out.

The owner is a good  friend of ours, and she is an amazing artist, so we weren't surprised with the attention to detail inside. The shop has a very cool design-- nice old photos, beautiful tea pots, attractive decor and even some original artwork done by the very talented owner herself.
We tried the milk tea, and we along with our kids had several fruit teas-- the mango, hibiscus, strawberry and blueberry teas, and the bruschetta for a side dish.

First of all, Brooke and I have had a LOT of bubble tea in our life--- I lived in Taiwan for two years, and Brooke lived there for one year, so bubble tea, or boba tea, or Jen Ju nai cha as we called it in Taiwan, was on our menu on a very regular basis.
The owner also happens to be an identical twin!
And, the verdict is, this place has REALLY GOOD bubble tea. I had the classic milk tea, and it was just right-- just the right sweetness but not too sweet, and real black tea flavor. The other teas tasted great also. Or, as Slater said, "This is delicious!" Normally the bubble teas I have had at other shops here in the Philippines has been too sweet, but this was perfect.
We also tried something new-- normally I have had regular pearls in my tea, but for the first time we had popping pearls-- pearls that have lychee juice inside, that pop and burst with flavor in your mouth!

I'll probably stick with regular pearls in the future, but they were fun for a change and my kids loved them.
There are the popping pearls, regular pearls, and also nata de coco (coco jelly) available.

Along with the assortment of teas, there is also a variety of meryenda (snack) items to choose from. For our meryenda with our tea, we had the bruschetta, and it was delicious-- high quality olives and olive oil, and great overall flavor. There's also sandwiches, lasagna, baked macaroni, cake, etc. We'll have to try some of that next time.

Our whole family had a great time, and we'll be going back soon!
Asia already commented that it would be a great place to go on dates.
If you come to our little town in Mindanao, It's located on Claro Recto street, about 100 meters from the highway. Give it a try!
Here we are with my good friend the owner after enjoying our yummy tea.

Monday, July 15, 2013

4 Colds and a Thank You

Sicky daddy and sicky daughter being semi-miserable together.
The persistent little virus hit fast, and before we knew it we had 4 out of 6 people with coughing, runny-nosed colds in our house.

And, when this happens, I seriously start thinking about how thankful I am.

As I dealt with fussy stuffed-up kiddos, and was probably somewhat fussy myself (that's the worst cold I've had in a looong time) I was really thankful.

Because, whenever we actually get sick around here, it is a reminder of how ridiculously healthy we are.

I'm serious. I look back at the last nearly four years overseas---taking care of 3 kids, then Brooke's pregnancy and safe birth of Skye, then taking care of four kids, and we have just been amazingly healthy.

We have had one trip to the ER while we've been here. And that was because Leif stuck a bead up his nose.

For a bit of comparison, we took Asia to the ER twice before she was 1. the first time, we got rear-ended in our car and as freaked-out first time parents, we rushed her in. (She was fine.) The second time she had croup so bad in the middle of the night that her breathing sounded like a seal barking and, probably even more freaked out, we took her in again.

Twice in 1 year with 1 child.

As opposed to once in 4 years with 3 and then 4 children. Yes, we are thankful.

I know someone could get sick tomorrow, and I'm ready for that.

But our good health has made living here sooo much more doable.

When I'm well, I often forget how well I am. And it's easy to forget to be thankful for what we've got until it's gone...and we realize how blessed we were.

God can have us get sick, and He is still faithful and I can praise Him in the midst of that. If and when that happens. I have many friends and family who have and are sick or deal with lots of sickness.

If that happens, I am praying that I will still be thankful for each day.

For this moment, as I sit here, over my cold and feeling better, I am just thanking God for an amazingly healthy four years with four kiddos and my wife---

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Funnies

Well, here's the latest round-up of Funny Stuff From the Mouths of our Fantastic Four...
Asia:  "I'm gonna be the bride. Because I have a wedding dress. And one of those handsome boys is going to be...what is that called again??"
Daddy: "The groom."
Asia: "Oh, yeah."

Asia: (another day) "Oh pickle sticks and crumbleberries!" (Apparently this is her latest epithet)

Brooke: Do you know who the first President of the United States was?
Slater:  Jesus
Talk about Sunday School answer/ultimate parenting fail!

Skye:  The clouds never melt.  Butter melts.  Clouds don't melt.

Brooke:  Asia, please, point to and name all the continents...
Asia:  North America, South America, Africa, Australia, Asia (pointing to the continent of Asia)....
Skye:  No, that's not Asia....that's me!  This is Asia! (pointing to Australia)
That's the trouble with naming one kid after a continent and not any of their siblings...though I did try to convince Brian to have 7 children and name each one after a continent...he's such a spoilsport!
Skye just still doesn't quite get that she's not a continent, she is above all the continents.

And, just to finish it off...
We like to call this: "Philippine Gothic"



Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thankful Thursday: The Table


If you ever come to visit us in the Philippines, one of the first things your will probably notice is that it rains. And then, after raining, it tends to...rain. Living in the mountains is WONDERFUL for temperature....waaay cooler than where we lived in Manila, but it seems to kinda have its own altitude-induced weather system, majoring on wet and cloudy.

The best chance you have to get outside without getting soaked is in the morning. But, as you might guess, morning is also the time when all the kids are having school, and Brian is working.

This has meant many wistful looks outside at the fleeting sunny weather, that is replaced by yet another rainstorm (with accompanying cloudy countenances) by the time we can go outside.

For a long time, we have wanted a table for outside---so that we could take advantage of the available sunlight. Frankly, everybody in our household seems to be happier when they get a shot of natural Vitamin D on a regular basis.

But, for a long time (as in about 1 1/2 years), the only tables we liked were too pricey, and the only ones we could afford were hideous. So, we waited and prayed we could get something that would work.

Finally, this last month, we found a plastic table that fit the bill--reasonably-priced, only semi-ugly, and great for doing school and working at!

It may seem like a little thing, but our Vitamin D absorbing sessions are rising in frequency, and the kids love to color and do schoolwork and "have picnics" at their new table. And, it even works for us grown-ups to get stuff done while enjoying the sun.

Thanks God for our sweet new table!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Simple Plan

It's furlough time! Well at least that's what we thought.

In just about 2 months,  we will have been in the Philippines for 4 years.

Our plan, since September 2009, was to go back to the USA this summer or early fall. But, because of a very complicated visa situation, we now have to wait until the end of 2013 or early 2014. Lord-willing, we will make it to the USA for Christmas this year. We'll see.

Plans change.

This isn't exactly news to us, because it's happened throughout  our life---We didn't exactly plan to have 4 kids in three years.

And when I was four years old, I still remember planning to go and live in Paraguay in South America, because that's where my dad was going to be a missionary pilot. And I still remember, two days before we were supposed to leave, my parents came and told me that our plans had changed. We would go West instead of South-- To Southeast Asia instead of South America.

Basically what I really remembered from that as a 4-year old was that we were planning to go to Disney World in Florida before going to South America, and we never got to go.

Our plans change. But God's never do. And His are better in the end. (Although it can often take a while to get to the point where I can admit that.) 

So, I lost Disney World for a day, but I grew up within minutes of a beach with coral reefs and close to a mountain stream that had a waterfall you could slide down. And, I ended up going to Disneyland on furlough anyway.

In Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)  He reminds us:

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Lots of us probably know the verse, probably even memorized it at some point. But it's good to be reminded of the context...It was written to a group of folks whose plans had turned to dust--- They had lost their homes and ended up in exile in a foreign country.

We chose to live abroad, these folks were forced to go. They had probably made lots of life plans, and now they were all gone. But God reminds them, He still has good plans for all of them, even if they have lost hope. They don't need to worry.

And for a lot of us, our plans haven't worked out the way we wanted them to. Could be a lost job, a broken marriage, or relationships with our kids that are not working out the way we had envisioned.

But, in the midst of a seemingly impossible situation, God reminded his people---Their plans may have turned to dust. But He still had good plans for them.

They may have lost hope-- and feared for the future. But He promised to give them hope and a future.

When the finances are drying up, or the job is gone, or you have to wait seemingly an eternity for your kids to get to go back to the USA to see their grandparents,and tomorrow seems full of uncertainty, God has our back. He knows our future, and He has our truly best interests at heart.

It doesn't mean life will be easy. But when Plans seem to be unraveling, and life has gone crazy, I know He is still in control. 

He is in control, and He has The Plan. He can see a future Me---one who survived the insanity of life by relying on Him, and as I did so, became more and more conformed to the image of His Son. He knows what I can be, I just have to be willing to let Him change me. Even when it hurts. A lot.

One of my favorite parts in the Chronicles of Narnia is in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, where Eustace has become a dragon, and only Aslan, the Christ-figure, can change him back to a boy. At first, Eustac tries to tear the dragon skin off himself, and some comes off, but his efforts are in vain.  Aslan tells Eustace that only he can help him...with his huge lion claws...And Eustace recounts what happened next...


I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know – if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.
Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I was smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on – and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again.”
-C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Good book--- with lots of good allegorical reminders of Who is truly in control, and that He willing to change us. Even if He has to dig really deep, and even if  it might hurt.
Because He knows the endgame.


 I can spend my days and nights worrying about tomorrow, and my plans. Or, I can put my hand in the One who knows all my tomorrows, and rest in the One who made The Plan. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Expendables

Have you ever had one of those appliance cycles?

You know, the time when the entire house decides that it's time to quit on you.

It's been one of those weeks all month long.

It had been building. Our electric fans had been less and less reliable, even though I had lubricated them...I knew they wouldn't last long. Finally, they stopped altogether and I had to have all three of them fixed.

House with no fans in tropics = not good for family life.  Bushings replaced on two of them. Bushing and capacitor on the other. Wow. Bushings are more expensive than I thought...but still way cheaper than buying a new fan.

But I really noticed it when our electric water heater broke. Where we live, you don't have hot running water. A 'water heater' over here is a little electricity-sucking box that you stick in your bathroom so that you can have a semi-warm shower. And, sometimes even when the water isn't that hot you get warmed up anyway by getting shocked by the silly thing. Because as any high-school graduate can tell you, never mix electricity and showers in the same space.

Anyway, the heater broke, and so I finally broke down and bought a new one. I broke down quickly, because I knew that I would have a full-scale family rebellion on my hands, led by my beautiful wife if I didn't get one quick. (Just kidding, hon.)

So, I removed the broken heater, and started drilling holes to install the new one, and yup, my trusty Black & Decker cordless started blowing black smoke out of both sides. Yes, I appreciated the irony. One of my most expensive tools decided to break while I was trying to fix one of our most expensive appliances.

The DVD player just broke this week, (which actually might not be a bad thing...though the kids might disagree) and I better type this fast cuz maybe the computer is next.

Along with that, our towels are starting to smell like they've been in the tropics for four years, and our tupperware has lost almost all of their ant-resistant sealing capabilities. Apparently, it's about time for furlough.

I'm sure you've been there....sometimes stuff just decides to go all at once.

But it's been a good reminder for me---when it comes to stuff.

Frankly, all the stuff that broke and started getting smelly was important, but all of it was finite, replaceable, and honestly not THAT important. It was stuff. It was Expendable.

What we can afford to replace, we will replace. What we can't replace, we learn to live without. Or we pick out the ants, and deal with towels that smell like my high school gym locker. But my kids and wife are the Unexpendables---and in the spin cycle of life, appliances will come and go, but I have one shot at making it work with my family.
They are irreplaceable. Trying to spend more time to accomplish more, get more, make more---in order to be able to buy better, cooler stuff with more RAM and maybe hotter shower water, towels that smell like lavender & roses and the latest space-age ant-repelling tupperware won't be worth a thing if that's my focus, because I'm focusing on the Expendables.

Thankfully, this time the fans are fixed, we have a new hot water heater, and one of these days my Black & Decker might stop kicking out black smoke. But no matter how nice that stuff is, it's all Expendable, and non-essential.

Taking care of my kids, wife, the rest of my family and doing our ministry here---that's what really matters. Because my family is Unexpendable. And so are the people we are here to help.

If you make a column chart with "Expendable" on one side, and "Unexpendable" on the other side, which list is longer? and more importantly, on which side of the list are you putting your heart, your soul, and the best hours of your days and nights?

We have to work, we have to provide, and that takes time. But where is our focus?

What's on your list? And if you really think about it, which side of the list defines your life?

Expendables                                                 Unexpendables



Thursday, July 4, 2013

An Expatriate Independence Day

 Independence Day is just finishing for us expatriates---and we finally had a day of awesome weather in the middle of our (very) rainy season. So, we celebrated...
Nicest weather in a loong time! We were planning on making it a family day, so we wasted no time. We celebrated our freedom at the pool.  As expats, it's really important to us to teach our kids about their heritage. So we try to make the 4th a special day. On the way to the pool we said the Pledge of Allegiance, sang the national anthem, God Bless America, and all the words we could remember from "God Bless the USA." Come on, admit it. You only know the chorus of that song too. 
The best part about swimming today? It's totally not a local holiday and all the kids are in school...so the pool was basically empty. Skye must have tapped in to her patriot power, because for the first time she wasn't afraid to paddle and kick her way around the big pool by herself. She kept telling me, "I don't need you, dad!" I wonder if I feel the same way King George did in 1776. 
The boys had their dive sticks in the little pool, and they literally threw them in, jumped in the pool, got the sticks off the bottom, got out of the pool and repeated the process for about an hour and a half straight. This might be why they asked to go to bed at 5:45 PM. 
Don't be fooled. Just like our nations first president, we cannot tell a lie. Our patriotic princesses, Captain America and Joe Cool look happy. This is because a picture is a 1/64 second long slice of life. And that is almost exactly the amount of time they were not fussy, fighting over one of the flags or hitting each other during the 4th of July photo shoot.  
We finished off the day with our awesome bubble maker---popping these babies is as close as we got to fireworks. 
But, the kids loved it. 
After they kept popping the bubbles, we got them to sit still so we could make some bigger ones. 
And, this is about 1.2 seconds after they were all sitting still. You  gotta pop those bubbles!
God Bless America.
Thanks to all of you who are serving or have served our country!
Sometimes when living in a foreign land, we are especially reminded of how much we love our country. 
Happy 4th to everyone living in the Land of the Free.  
And a big happy 4th to those sleeping far away from home right now, doing what it takes to keep us Free.