Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It is well

The song, "It is Well with My Soul," has been on my mind for some time now; and figuring out how to blog about my life and the significance of the writer's life circumstances as well as the words to the song have been weighing on my mind for awhile.

Much of my life I don't feel comfortable writing about on my blog. Not because I have problems being authentic or real. Not because I haven't done much introspection or self-examination. And certainly not because I don't care. And, most certainly not because I do not understand a sense of community care. Life, lately, has been a bit turbulent.

Have you heard the song, "It is Well with My Soul," written by Horatio Spafford? Here's Wintley Phipps singing the song.

Here are the words to the song:

It is Well with My Soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

(Refrain:) It is well (it is well),
with my soul (with my soul),
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
(Refrain)

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
(Refrain)

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pain shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
(Refrain)

And Lord haste the day, when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
(Refrain)


Are you thinking: "That's a nice song, but I need some context." I understand if you're not moved and sobbing. Yet.

***


Spafford's life is a real life, modern account of Job. Horatio Spafford lived from 1828 to 1888. He was a prominent lawyer in Chicago, with a lot of real estate investments, who lived comfortably with his wife and their four young children. Their only son died in 1871 at the age of four. Then later that year was the Great Chicago Fire of October of 1871. The fire that devastated the city destroyed nearly everything Spafford and his family owned. Those two tragedies weren't the only ones the family endured.

A mere two years later, in 1873, Horatio sent his wife and four daughters ahead by ship to Europe, while he stood behind to take care of some business. On November 21, 1873, the ship S.S. Ville de Havre had a collision with a British iron sailing ship; sinking the ship and taking the lives of his four children (Annie - 11 yrs old, Maggie - 9 yrs old, Bessie - 5 yrs old, and Tanetta - 2 yrs old) along with many others. His wife was the only one in his family to survive that accident. Anna and Horatio had three more children: Horatio, Bertha, and Grace. Little Horatio died at the age of 4 of pneumonia. Horatio Spafford died of malaria on October 16, 1888.

***

Horatio Spafford wrote the words to "It is Well with My Soul" while on a ship, passing over the area where his four daughters had drowned.

Wrap your minds around that folks. Losing six children and loads of wealth and all the while praising the Lord. All kinds of misunderstandings are out there about being a Christian, I wouldn't even know where to begin. But being a Christian who continues to mature in faith and in relationship with the Lord isn't easy, especially in a world that mocks and snickers at Christians and in a world that is extremely rough and cruel. Life here on earth isn't the end; and you've been thinking this is all there is, you are gravely mistaken. Better to believe in Christ as Lord and Savior in this life here and in the life here after. This isn't just about "feeling good." I hate all the propaganda about short-term hedonism, because I believe that's a sell out. But being a Christian - a follower or disciple of Jesus - is about that which is truly good. The only goodness there is.

I think Horatio Spafford's writings and his life (he and his wife, some years after the ship sinking tragedy, moved to Jerusalem and set up the American Colony where they reached out to the poor, regardless of religious affiliation - running soup kitchens, hospitals, orphanages, and other charitable organizations) are reminders of life's tumultuous circumstances, Christ's sacrifice and love for us and how we are to regard Christ. I am continually trying to change or modify how I live my life - whether it's spending more time with Him through prayer or reading or reaching out to others - in hopes that I grow closer to Him and that people can see a glimpse of Him through my character, who I am, or interacting with me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My little girl turns four

2010-9-19

Sunday, the 19th, was my baby's birthday. My older one's birthday. Four years old.

I know that growth and development are normal, and such changes should be welcomed; but my eyes are full of tears observing the fact that they're not babies anymore. Saturday afternoon, as a family, we took Isabella to pick out cupcakes for her birthday. Would you like princess rings on the cupcakes? She loves the Disney princesses. Would you like the frosting made to look like flowers? She loves flowers. No, and no. She wanted the little plastic toothpick things that had ABC's on them. That's just one of many signs that I have a preschooler on my hands. She loves preschool: having a teacher, interacting with classmates, celebrating little persons' birthdays (including her own), painting, making crafts, singing songs.

2010-9-19

She has also communicated what she wanted for her birthday: new outfits, new pajamas, cupcakes, and pizza. Anyone who would listen: family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers all got an ear full of what she wanted. She repeated what she wanted, for free, just in case someone wasn't listening or for emphasis. Or to make sure the ideas sank in.

Well, she certainly got her wishes. She got a HUGE bag full of brand new clothing from a friend of mine, including: outfits, socks, underpants, a headband (which I may borrow from time to time), pajamas - before her birthday even arrived. Got loads more clothes from a variety of people: A-ma & A-gong, Grandma & Grandpa, the list goes on.

The morning of her birthday, before church, we ran loads of errands on behalf of the birthday girl: picked up ABC cupcakes from Target (great price and delicious butter cream icing on top of tender and spongy cupcakes), some mylar helium balloons from the dollar store (mylar balloons are the ones that float longer than the latex or whatever balloons; mylar balloons can cost up to $4 or $5 a piece but only cost $1 at real dollar stores, where everything is a dollar), and pizza making ingredients at King Sooper's.


Went to church, and the birthday festivities started thereafter and went until dusk. Had a little party for Isabella at the neighborhood park. That way, the children would have ways to expend their energy outside and I wouldn't have to clean up my house before and after wards. Unfortunately, the sun was unforgiving and piercingly HOT. Had a great time and parted with all party company a couple of hours or so later. After everyone, including the little ones, had plenty of opportunity to smear sticky sweetness from the frosting all over their faces, hair, and clothing. Yippee.


2010-9-19




2010-9-19

After wards, my friend Xieting came back to the house with us for pizza making festivities. Isabella opened the remainder of her presents, and with her presents covering our hardwood floors in the living room and dining room, I got to work. Troy rolled out the dough, and Xieting and I did the rest. An hour or so later, we were feasting on pizza, all five of us, and I was ready to pass out. By the time I took my friend home and got home myself, I passed out into oblivion. And that was my daughter's birthday.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

September 16th



Truth be told, last week was a difficult and trying week. In the end, it was a test of depending on the Lord for anything and everything in my life and learning that we mustn't place much stock in our own abilities. . .
  • My laptop, where I usually upload photographs for blogging, inherited a bunch of insidious viruses, FOURTEEN OF THEM, including trojans. I intend on being back in the blogging world with greater regularity, once the laptop is no longer sick and is in working order.
2010-9-16

  • The blessings, wishes, phone calls, and presents I received were rays of sunshine and rainbows in an otherwise stormy week.

  • A moment of flattery and glory: I had been telling some people that I was turning 24 last week. When I told a friend, a former student of my husband, he was genuinely apologetic; he thought I was turning 25, not 24. He was afraid he had insulted me by guessing a bit high. Made my day and week.
September 16th is also the actual day Mexico celebrates its independence, and this year, they celebrated 200 years, I think. . .

On my birthday, on Thursday this year, the 16th, I went on a coffee date with a couple of girlfriends (Sara & Sarah), daughter (Evie) of one of the gals, and my girls. Dropped Isabella off at preschool, and enjoyed a morning at Hudson Garden with the same ladies.

2010-9-16


We woke the girls up early from their nap and, as a family, went to the gem and rock show outside the Denver Coliseum. My husband had to teach at night. One of my dear girlfriends brought her dog over, so the girls could play with Oscar. She stayed until the girls went to bed.

The blessings have continued. . . I went with another friend to see a live stage musical last night. My spiritual mentor is treating me to a massage Thursday of next week. People are really extending themselves out and loving me. When I feel so undeserving and so tired. I am deeply moved.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Somewhere over the rainbow

Yesterday was such a lovely day, with loads of time in the autumn sun. Except for the fact that I had slept approximately an hour the night before, all seemed well, until after the festivities. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

Two events were planned for the day: Hudson Gardens and Global Fest. Hudson Gardens had a free day to commemorate 9/11/01 and to celebrate their anniversary. Global Fest was an event celebrated by Christian groups representing different ethnic and cultural groups from around the world.

Hudson Gardens spans acres and acres of land. I've only been once, back when my youngest one wasn't really walking much. Went there with the girls, as the only adult. Saw some wonderful dancing performances but not much beyond that. Back then, I didn't have enough courage to venture out with two very small ones on my own. This time? There were three adults and two children. My friend, Xieting, came with us.

Isabella's at a phase in her life where she makes loads of different distinctions: shapes of objects, various colors, who speaks what languages, real vs. make-believe, etc. She informed me that Xieting know how to speak Chinese. Correct, little one. Usually Mommy speaks to Xieting in English, so she can practice speaking English, but I've asked her to speak in Chinese to you and your sister.

2010-9-11

The girls are looking at a fountain with lily pads in them. They're trying to figure out how this is a fountain for looking but not for playing or splashing. I was also attempting to get them to see a rainbow that had made a brief appearance.


Can you see the rainbow?

This flower, resting in water, communicates peace and serenity to me.


Xieting (otherwise know as Nancy to people to struggle to pronounce her Chinese name) with Isabella.


Saw loads and loads of breath-taking, beautiful flowers. These roses had already shared their scent for so long, they had no more to give.


The girls, at times, would giggle and run with each other. Other times, "Mommy hold me." "Daddy hold me."


I'm telling you, the boldness and variety of color in these flowers were gorgeous.


Some of the flowers were huge.

I'm loving this deep reddish purple color, contrasted with the yellow center.



This autumn color captured my eye, as well.


Then, my younger one, Victoria, found it entertaining to torment, I mean chase, the geese.

They decided that they didn't want to play and flew away from her.


We also checked out some bee hives, some bee houses. I told the girls that these are good kinds of bees - they usually stick to the business of making honey - unlike the sort (wasps) that have invaded the inside of our house. Wasps are not welcome in our home, and as far as I am concerned. . . they. Can. Die.


A lovely pumpkin patch. Finally learned the word for "pumpkin." Nan gua. Some were deep orange and some were ginormous.


I spotted a perfect opportunity for my preschooler to participate in tree climbing, and she loved it.

Loved climbing trees.

Loved climbing trees, so much she didn't want to stop or leave. At all. A tree hugger, honey?


Daddy and the smaller one crossing a bridge to a little teeny tiny island.

The girls decided this horse needed to be fed some grass. I know you love animals, girls, but grass is hard to keep alive in Colorado. Please don't make the groundskeepers very unhappy.


This was a designated hobbits area. Love the tribute to the Lord of the rings, and Isabella did as well.


After a couple of hours at Hudson Gardens, we headed to Global Fest.

Loved the performances and wish we could have stayed longer to enjoy the rest of them. But eating and sleeping for the girls and maintaining sanity are kind of important.

For quite awhile, my younger one was holding on to this flower for dear life. With a death grip. She was sitting on my lap when I snapped this photograph, hence the odd perspective.



At one point, Victoria was so caught up, intrigued, and fascinated at the performers' dancing, she emulated the dancing.


At one point, she got up really close to a dancer. Daddy carried her away from the dancer, and she was a very, very unhappy camper.

But, I will not show you what that looked like. Some things are better left unsaid and not shown.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

When school is exciting, fun, and people don't want to leave - Isabella's first day of preschool

Remember a time when school was exciting and fun, and leaving was neither desired nor preferred? I don't. Well, that's not completely true.

I have strong or vivid olfactory recollections of one of my first days at a day care or preschool sort of place. The scent of cleaning substances was strong, and I also have recollection of the cafeteria food smells. Aside from that, I recall being distracted by something, turning around, and noticing my mom had disappeared. Mommy, you left me in a strange smelling, weird place! Worry not, folks, I ended up doing fine.

***

Isabella's been talking, talking, talking about going to class. I would talk with her about going to school, and she would turn around and translate for Daddy, "I have to go to work." Something got lost in translation. Whatever the case, she has been super excited. And, that's a gross understatement.

I've been in eager anticipation on her behalf, but I have also been a bit concerned about how Victoria would react to her playmate and best friend being gone for several hours. Would she play well, on her own? Would she be hanging on one of my legs perpetually? Would she only want to nurse? How would she respond?

Back to Isabella, here she is, getting ready to go to school or "work."

See the excitement in her body language? She's smiling, she's raising her arms up in a running fashion, and she's bringing a leg up.


What about now? Is the giddiness in her body language apparent?


And she'll even help hold the door open for Mommy and Mei-mei (pronounced "may may," meaning younger sister). Proud big girl, that she is.

2010-9-9

Posing on the steps leading up to her classroom. Don't let this fool you; later she would tell me to stop taking photographs. My baby is already at the age where she doesn't want me to take her picture. Baby, you have no idea. . .

Climb.

Forget climbing, RUN!

She was ready to sprint up the stairs like a tornado but obliged Mommy briefly by turning for a shot. Thank you, honey.

Mrs. H. is showing her her cubby, and Isabella is all too eager to see. Oooooh, there's a picture of her there as well as a name sheet.

Check that out.

Mrs. H. asks whether she recognizes what's on the laminated piece of paper. "That's my name. Isabella." When did my little baby become such a big girl. I'm not crying; I'm not crying. Yet.

Then Mrs. H. directed Isabella to a table to work on tracing her name. Isabella didn't look back (at us when Victoria and I were leaving), didn't say 'bye.' Nothing. She was lost in what she was doing. Having such a great time.

I know, I know, that's the way it is supposed to be. But, that's my baby. She didn't even give me hugs and kisses.

It didn't take long before Victoria missed her sister. As I was situating her in the car, she asked for her sister. Isabella needs to sit in her seat and buckle her seat belt, too; she informed me. We headed to a playground we frequent, where I would try to give Victoria some undivided attention (whilst reading for class and visiting with friends passing by).

Here she is with Evie.


I've got to tell you, Victoria very much missed her sister. She wasn't as active as usual, and she really, really clung to me. Even though there were other little ones playing. Even though there were toys all around. Even though there were slides, climbing surfaces, and stairs to adventure. Mommy hold me, Mommy this, Mommy that. Oh honey, your sister will be back soon.

***

When we went to pick up Jie-jie (which means "older sister"), we had gotten there early and Mei -mei was getting quite restless. On the contrary, Isabella had a grand time and could have continued.

See?


A sense of being proud and a sense of accomplishment on her face.

Yay!

Sometimes Isabella smiles a certain way that reminds me of my own mom or a combination of my mom and dad.


Some of what she brought home from preschool are as follows. There are over 20 activities from which the children can choose, at different points, and Isabella chose to do a watercolor. I'm so impressed by this that I think it is too good for hanging on the refrigerator; perhaps framing.

Some more art. Love it!

She even got homework. I am to offer minimal help on this, just with labeling stuff.

And, it's a faith based preschool. The kids, who come from different parts of the community (non-believers and interests), hear about Bible stories. And, the preschool is well rated and respected in the community. I think that combination is super cool.