Preparing to Live in China (1986)

Teaching English listening and speaking skills in China circa 1986

I was 23 and selling everything I had.

About this time, 31 years ago, I was preparing to live and teach in China. I really didn’t know exactly where, yet, just somewhere in the Mainland.

But, I almost didn’t go.

I got scared.

Midway into the interviewing process, I found out I would be teaching adults.

Most likely it would be professors at a university. Say whaaaaa?!!!

Yeah, I started re-thinking this E N T I R E thing.

A lot of unique things happened up to this point, and I really felt I was to go to China, but then I heard this little tidbit. 🙂

Not only was I going to a third world country, didn’t know a bit of Chinese, nor any Asians, at all, but now felt this was really stretching it for me.

I had just graduated with an elementary education degree and knew nothing of teaching adults. Much less professors…YIKES!

But, I believed God had called me to do this.

That’s part of the fascinating, unfolding story I will probably share later.

So, I had to trust that He knew what he was doing.

I had always believed the saying, “Where He calls, He will equip.”

And now was my time to step out into the deep and

“DO IT AFRAID”.

Let faith be bigger than your fear vignette.

TO BE CONTINUED…
PS Oh, and I might add, my boyfriend at the time had just proposed to me…
but I would be gone for a YEAR!

Read about our long distance courtship here:

 https://thentherestwo.com/2016/10/23/29-years-ago-i-married/

Do it afraid poster

The Newness of Spring


Spring is my FAVORITE time of year.

New.

Everything is new!

After experiencing cold, bleak days with no sunshine nor sign of color.

There’s now visible life!

Spring signals Easter is around the corner…bright colors, cute rabbits, and chicks.

Bringing a resurrection story detailing the ultimate sacrifice for a dark world.

It, too, brings change.

phlox flowers springing up in April

Newness.
HOPE.


Warmth is on its way!

I love how it feels on my face.

Oh, I don’t usually go out to enjoy spring as my allergies and asthma have kept me indoors, since childhood, but I still enjoy it from inside unless I get a rare day where the pollen count drops drastically. (That’s usually if a storm has rolled through like today.)

Thunderstorm in April in Indiana

Some years, I miss catching the bluebells in the woods, but here they are!

Bluebells growing in the woods in Indiana.

Bluebell flowers in the woods of Indiana

And I just got an early birthday present from my sweet hubby.  A larger iPhone…the 7! (I think he was surprised at how poorly I saw things, too…like his messages to me. 😉 )

So, I just had to test it out!

Physically it’s been a really rough couple of weeks, so I bolted out the door like a puppy that had been cooped up all day!
Enjoy the pictures.

Look! Even the weeds look pretty.

 

15clover and wild violets in Indiana

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woods1.jpg

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4buds on a plum treebluebells of Indiana

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HOPE and the Beach

Only home a second day from Panama City Beach, and I’m already thinking about how to move to the south, sooner!

Panama City Beach, Florida Holiday Inn Resort

I have a countdown going on in my head.

See, Hubby can retire in three years, and my grandkids are sure to arrive in the next few years. There might be a slight problem in that my son just got married and lives here, in Indiana, but my daughter is in Georgia and was married in 2015.

I guess it’s a race to see who has their kids first. 😉



If you’re at all interested in my fam…here’s my daughter’s wedding video. And a post about the wedding day: HERE

 

derek-and-heidi-wedding

And, we just got my son’s video!:  HERE



Regardless, I just can’t handle winters, anywhere, anymore! Even if my kids didn’t live in the south, I would eventually have to move there, for sure.

Or Hawaii.

I LOVED Hawaii. It was like the Garden of Eden.

I’m still trying to talk my husband into retiring there, as well. 😉

Okay, so a loaf of bread costs $5.oo.

Hanalei Bay Resort in Kauai Hawaii with beautiful flowers and trees overlooking the ocean.

INDIANA WEATHER

Don’t get me wrong, I love the change of seasons and the area where we live is known for its vivid, fall colors.

As for winter, I actually love the snow and don’t mind the cold here.

It IS pretty and it does make it feel more like the holiday season has arrived.

Some of my favorite times are going out to take pictures at night when the snow has fallen. It’s SO peaceful.

⌈The neighbor’s house.⌋

My neighbor's house in the snow in Indiana

Heck, I’ve even been known to run errands without a coat during 37º days…menopause or no menopause.

The cold, winter woods after a big snow.

And when this little, Cali girl visited grandparents one midwestern winter, she was totally obsessed with seeing snow, playing in the snow, laying in the snow…not coming in from the snow, period.

I even have fond memories, while living in southern California, of my dad driving us up to the mountains of Big Bear. We’d drive around for hours listening to Christmas carols hoping to see even one flake of falling snow.

We were thrilled to find on one particular visit there was enough snow for snowball fights and sledding. Sledding down steep mountainsides ladened with huge, snow drifts jumping a foot or two in the air and then careening down onto curvy mountain roadways. (My brother actually hit a parked, car’s wheel that trip. That wheel kept him from going under the car and over the mountain cliff. TRUE STORY.)

So the past winters have been fun, but not anymore… they are really taking a toll on me now!



PRAYING/FIGHTING for HOPE

Sadly, my body has developed worsening health “issues” where the winter just really does a number on my eyes and skin, (diseases) and it’s getting worse each year. Truly, these last eight years have been a literal HELL for me, with the last three almost unbearable. The pain has been torturous. Pure. Torture.

Yep, my hope has waned, many times.

I have continually prayed for God to restore my hope especially when the pain didn’t let up for months on end. And prayed he would protect my sanity. (Those with chronic illness/disease or chronic pain will get this.)

And I have to continually fight my mind about looking too far into the future because my 40s & 50s have been the toughest years of my life. I have to tell myself to refocus and just live out today. Many times it’s been a refocusing minute by minute, quite literally.

I have to determine to lean into God hard, TODAY, and praise Him for what I can find that’s good, TODAY.

It’s not easy, I assure you.



HEALING in the SUN

So, hubby suggested a break from winter.

My eyes and skin started feeling better within a couple of days and thankfully, I didn’t have any major reactions like my last trip- uh, YAY!

Just not having that forced heat hit me all day, brought much relief and healing. And leaving the bleak, cold, overcast days just felt GOOD for the soul.

It wasn’t an easy drive for me, with this continual back pain, (It’s been a year now.) but I was sick of so many gloomy days I finally said, “I’ll chance the drive; let’s get outta here!”

I was glad in the end that we made that L O N G, 11.5 hr., drive. (I would’ve rather flown but it allowed me to use all my heating pads, medical devices, etc.. Boy, I sound OLD! (I’m a walking medical lab, now. ha.)

And luckily, my daughter and her husband were able to drive over from GA, joining us for two days. So, it was great to see them, too.

morgan-and-logan

Playing with the sand, feeling the warmth of the sun soaking in, and just having face-to-face conversations with my daughter, just the two of us, as we waded in the water was just what the doctor ordered.

I also realized this was the FIRST time, in YEARS, I could go on a vacation and not fear the sun due to getting off my immune suppressing drug. YAY!!!!!  (*Sun exposure is not allowed due to skin cancer risks.)

That alone makes a vaca a VACA! 🙂

beach-pic

Seashell and hope bracelet found on Panama City Beach, Florida

Digression: I bought this bracelet one night at a restaurant and earlier that morning found this cute, little shell… had to dig down into the water to grab it before I got knocked over by a wave. My daughter was right by my side when I spotted it. 🙂

Didn’t find any more shells quite this perfect. 😉



REALITY

Now we’re back.

And the heat is blowing.

And my sweats and socks are back on. 😦

(going from shorts to sweats=just not cool)

I’m physically suffering again. UGGH.

Yeah, I might have (or might not have) told my husband I may be moving ahead of him.

I leave you with the sights and sounds of the beach. ENJOY!

 

 

 

A Hydrangea Heart

hydrangea heart flower in spring

One day, I was walking around my yard and saw this cute, little hydrangea struggling to be a big pom pom. All of the blooms just didn’t quite fill in.

But I loved the shape I saw!

The uniqueness of a heart-shaped hydrangea.


I later thought of an analogy.

If left with our thoughts, we tend to overthink and struggle too much to try and be something we are not. Others often see the uniqueness and beauty (in and through us) but somehow we are just too busy being consumed with trying to be something other than who we were created to be. Why can’t we step back sooner to see this…what others see?

I’m not sure if it’s a lifetime of experiences, age, access to mentors…

But I sure wish I could tell young people these things and have them believe me.

However, as a teenager once myself, I’m sure I would not have believed my wiser self, either.

Why is that?

I don’t know why it sometimes takes so long, but I guess as we age, life has a way of growing us deep and providing a comfortability with self.

So, be at rest young person (or maybe old) in how you were created.

Stop comparing, stop worrying, forget the “what ifs” because the sooner you do, the sooner you will enjoy your life the way you were meant to.

Life passes so quickly, that someday when you get older, you’ll look back and wish you had relaxed with who you were are a lot sooner.


I love being older only for this one reason. I can just be me.

I don’t have to impress anyone or try to be something I’m not.

I guess time and life experiences have a way of teaching us depth and truth that was there all along.

So BLOOM!

Whatever your shape!

hydrangea heart flower in spring

Saddened by the Disrespect Shown to Another, Young Soldier

uncle-terry-recent

After recently visiting my Uncle’s grave, I was upset to hear, once again, about another young man who lost his precious life.

Another son had died.

In a foreign, far away place.

He fell as a soldier wearing the United States uniform, and now, his parents were bringing him home.

And the reactions of the plane’s passengers made me sick.

VERY SICK and VERY ANGRY!

The article describing the incident here.  

I wanted to cry. I felt horrified to think other human beings could be so calloused. Americans, at that!

I couldn’t even fathom this lack of respect, nor comprehend such a show of self-centeredness or whatever they thought they were trying to achieve.

What causes a person/people to treat a grieving family with such disdain?

What has happened to our America?

I tried to place myself in that family’s shoes; that frozen moment in time they will NEVER forget…

My heart was heavy for them.

But how can my heart be SO different from those that were on that plane?


My family is also familiar with this pain. They could tell you of profound grief.

We, too, lost a young soldier in Vietnam many years ago.

vietnam-wall

He was escorted home, finally.

It just happened to be decades after being listed as Missing in Action. (MIA)


It was the 60s and the Vietnam War was raging. My Uncle Terry had volunteered just as his two older brothers had.

Marine family of uncles, dad, and brother

He was part of a helicopter crew, rescuing the wounded when his helicopter was shot down.

Some of the men were thrown from the fiery crash, but Terry was never found.

We always wondered what the full story was.

terry

Then, in 1993, some Vietnamese farmers came forth with items from a crash. And the story began to unfold.

Forensics were then confirmed in Honolulu, and my brother–then a young Marine himself– escorted Terry’s remains home.

Terry could’ve been buried at Arlington. However,  the family thought it best to teach a community (and the younger generations) a valuable lesson.

A lesson we feared was being lost, not really taught in schools much anymore.

Teach about the cost of freedom flag poster.

Not just one lesson, but many:

That war was cruel.

Kids were still dying to this day.

That we should be there to support families, help where needed, invite a military family over for the holidays.

(You know, just be a good human.)

That this could have been anyone’s son or daughter.

And there were other countries losing their people, DAILY, due to lack of freedom.  Many picking up rifles to enter war as children.

Most importantly,

that freedom had a price. Always has, always will.

A HUGE price.


So, on that hot and humid July 4th, Terry’s high school gym was packed out.

He was remembered for his talented football skills, and his kind, gentle ways.

terry-in-high-school

His ultimate sacrifice recognized.

Our family, once again, was left with distant memories.  Terry’s parents (my grandparents) had wounds reopened all over again.

hoffman-kids

People lined the streets, kids waved flags, and many a biker rode in from the surrounding states to finally return their MIA bracelets.

It was a memorable sight to see them piled high, on the floor, near my grandparents’ feet. It had to be so hard for them.

The news crews were there to capture it all.

The flag-draped coffin.

The thunderous flyover that moved you to your core.

The caisson; a solemn reminder as it passed through town to the beat of a sole drum.

COMPLETE RESPECT was shown that day.

Tragically, for this other family on the plane…

that didn’t happen.

There wasn’t much, if any, shown.


My Uncle Terry didn’t get to finish college.

hoffman-kids-older

And I sometimes wonder what his life might have looked like.

What would’ve been his hobby to tinker with?

Who would he have married? How many kids would he have?

He wasn’t able to marry, have kids or enjoy a weekend with family.

(Just to have another day to show his own thankfulness.)

No, he CHOSE to leave a comfortable life to help in a far away land.

He wanted to show his loyalty.

He wanted to make sure we were ALL afforded continued freedom.

Simply put…HIS MOTIVES were PURE.

USMC, Marine soldier's gravestone


If I had been on that plane, I can tell you…

I could NOT have sat there silently!

I KNOW that I would’ve stood to speak for that family.

I KNOW, I would’ve cried with that family.

I KNOW I would’ve tried to apologize to that family.

AND, I would’ve thanked them and made it clear that this is not the totality of America, that my Uncle, nor their son, gave their lives for!!


Find a military family to reach out to.

Reach out to a grieving widow, a cop, a neighbor…your community.

Invite someone over for the holidays. Say a prayer for others.

Show some thankfulness.

Bridge the gap(s).

Teach your kids.

Show honor and respect.

I know my Uncle Terry would have,

if he could.

Written in honor of Terry who would have turned 72 on Feb. 4th.

Show some thankfulness this Thanksgiving poster.



For Terry’s military documented story:

http://www.vhpa.org/KIA/incident/68081999KIA.HTM

United States Marine Corps

 

 

This Time, Two Years Ago, We Weren’t Supposed to Be Outside!

Facebook recently reminded me of our winter “adventure” back in 2014.

Around this date, we had lots of snow, extreme icing, and a deadly wind chill. The state was under an emergency winter alert where no one was allowed to go out as the wind chill had dropped so low you’d risk freezing your skin off. Sections of interstates were closed down, and travel was restricted to emergency personnel only.

“A powerful storm system brought heavy snow and near blizzard conditions to much of central Indiana on January 5, with a mix of rain and snow across southeast sections of the area. After the snow diminished during the evening, arctic air plunged into the area on strong winds. Temperatures plummeted and significant blowing and drifting of snow occurred. Temperatures remained below zero for over 24 hours at many locations, with wind chills around 40 below zero at times. Temperatures reached levels that had not been seen in 20 years. The snow and cold created dangerous travel conditions across much of Indiana and surrounding areas. Sections of interstates were closed down, and travel was restricted to emergency personnel only. Schools were closed for a week across parts of central Indiana.”-weather.gov

However, this was all we got the other day; it is the most snow we’ve had to date, but not nearly as bad as 2014.

I was also reminded that week my son just happened to be stranded at a hotel up in Indianapolis, during a state youth conference. They were trying to get food to their room and everyone was huddled together risking running to their cars for items. He told us the minute they attempted a short run, they couldn’t feel their face.

And of course, my son brought not ONE winter clothing item with him.

Hat? Gloves? Scarf? NOPE.

Of course not…ugh…

He’s a guy in his 20s, am I right?! :/


I also had my daughter visiting from Georgia. She was quickly reminded why she moved south, to begin with.  She NEVER has liked Indiana weather.

It has always rained on her birthday. Overcast skies made her sad. Easter egg hunting was usually out.

Yeah, visiting her cousins (in the south) made me lose my youngest at an early age. She graduated from high school and off she went!

So, I was secretly happy that she couldn’t leave, perhaps for days! 🙂

The Scrabble games we had started ended up being a week-long tourney!

I never played so much Scrabble in ALL.MY.LIFE!!!

My husband played most of his life, so he’s an expert  Nazi about the rules.

Luckily, we still had power while others did not.

And food.

You always need food.

But, we had to go rescue the son and brave the slick roads, as we weren’t so sure his car would do well on the ice. And, we had to move the car as the daily parking was racking up fast!

That trip should’ve taken 2 hrs (roundtrip), but it was MUCH LONGER at a creep.

We all safely arrived back home for more Scrabble.

Then, Facebook pictures started leaking out as to how hard they all had it up there stranded in that horrible, awful, Indianapolis hotel.

derek-stranded-at-hotel-in-2014


When I first moved from California, we experienced the blizzard of ’78. What a shock that was for us southern Cali kids! I remembered going out with my dad to rescue people trapped in their homes unable to leave their driveways. He had a big plow on the front of his truck, and he’d just lower his huge blade down the middle of the highway. We were the only ones on the road. It was kind of eery.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFaVwg8K8xo&t=89s  

As of right now, the temps continue to be down right frigid but I don’t think we’ll see much more snow this week.

So, as much as I love the look of the new, fallen, snow, I’m also thinking it’s time we also looked south. These winters are just killing my skin and eyes, and it is not fun. (Yeah, I wasn’t made for dry winters, if you’ve read my health blog, I’m basically a lizard.)

I’m actually thinking I wasn’t really made for this EARTH…always something.

Even when it’s 13 degrees out, my house is still set at 62º because this forced heat is just a killin’ me!


Now my son is married and looking to move south as well.

I’m thinking my first grandkids might be in Georgia…the south is callin’ my name! 😉

Hubby cannot retire soon enough!

Countdown.

Please tell me it's time to fly south bird poster.