Faith

It’s the Final Countdown!

*Cue Music*

In four weeks, Nick and I will leave Taiwan forever.

That’s a little dramatic.  We hope to return some day for some travels, or maybe even some more teaching.  Who knows?!

But no matter, we are excited to move back home.  Taiwan has been a great place for us these last two years and will always, always hold a special place in our hearts, but it’s time for the next chapter in the wonderful book God is writing for us called Our Lives.

Isn’t it great to know that God always has a plan for us?  Even in this in-between time when we’re not sure where we’ll be working or living this Fall, there is comfort in knowing that God has a plan and He will take care of us.  He has most definitely taken care of us these last two years as we made our way into the unknown, and He will continue to take care of us and guide us for the rest of our days!

As we pack up our house, our dog, and our lives, we take comfort, joy, and excitement in the future that God has written for us!

Categories: Faith, Fun Stuff, Taiwan, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Perfection?

Perfection.  We all aim for it.  We all miss it.  We all get upset every time.  Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves?  We’re not perfect, we’ve known that since Adam and Eve, yet every time we miss that mark we ask ourselves why.  Now I’m not here to point out the flaws of the human race or get into some deep theological shenanigans, but I just want to say, you don’t have to be perfect.

God doesn’t expect it.  He doesn’t judge us on how well we climb the corporate ladder, or how well behaved our kids are, or if we remember all our students names all of the time (this is a BIG problem of mine).  He loves us whether we succeed every time or fall flat on our faces over and over again.  So why do we put our self worth on those silly human things?  Lately many of my friends have been telling me how stressed they feel.  How they put so much pressure on themselves to be perfect, and it’s a wreaks havoc on their self esteem.  This is no way to live people!  Let’s put our self worth in God!  We should be filled with joy!  We should be enjoying the lives that God gave us!  So let’s make mistakes.  Let’s miss the perfection mark.  Let’s take some pressure off of ourselves and rely on God!

Psalm 121:1-2  I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD,  the Maker of heaven and earth.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

We’ll fail sometimes, and that’s okay because our God loves us the same yesterday, today, and forever!  He’s always right there, to help us up, to encourage us, to forgive us.  So, when your best laid plans fail, don’t despair.  Turn to God, get filled up again, be refreshed, and remember next time, remember, you don’t have to be perfect.  Try your best.  Ask God for help.  Put your trust in Him, not yourself.  I promise you, you’ll feel better.  You’ll feel calm.  You’ll feel happy, joyful even!  It’s a great feeling!!!

Psalm 16:8  I keep my eyes always on the LORD.  With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Psalm 34:8  Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Isaiah 41:13  For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

Categories: Faith, FYI | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

A Quick History Lesson

This morning in church we learned how Christianity came to Penghu, Taiwan. We thought it was really interesting and reminded us of God’s amazing power and plan. We hope you enjoy the story as much as we did.

Back in the 1860s some missionaries were making their way to the main land of Taiwan. While on their journey, a storm came up and blew their small vessel off course. When they finally reached some land, the found that they had landed not on the main land of Taiwan, but on one of the small islands so Penghu. The missionaries did not let this stop them, and knew God had sent them there for a reason. The missionaries found a town and started doing what they could to share the gospel to the people coming and going from the local temple. Through their efforts, the first two families in Penghu came to believe in Christ Jesus.

If you don’t know, Penghu is an Archipelago, so while Christianity began to spread to some of the islands in the island group, it did not reach them all right away. In 1919 a temple performer from Chi Mei (the southern-most island in the Penghu Archipelago) had a vision telling him that he needed to serve someone named Immanuel. He went searching for more information about this Immanuel. He eventually ended up on the main land of Taiwan and found some Christians who told him about Immanuel. He immediately went back to his home on Chi Mei and began spreading the gospel there.

That’s the end of the history lesson, but not at all the end of the story.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20

Categories: Faith, Taiwan | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Grave Sweeping Day

Last week Taiwan celebrated Grave Sweeping Day. This is a time once a year for families to go the the burial sites of their ancestors and clean and pray to them.  Lucky for us, we got to have a four-day weekend; but it reminded us again of our mission as Christians to share God’s love and salvation with the people we meet in Taiwan and around the world.

At church and during our weekly Bible study at our house, our Taiwanese brothers and sisters in Christ shared with us about how difficult this time is for them.  Many believers in Taiwan are the only Christians in their families, and they are caught between standing firm in their faith and offending their family members by refusing to take part in the ancestral prayers.  This is also true when a family member dies.  The funeral traditions here are to burn paper objects, such as cars and houses, etc., for the family member to use in the afterlife.

On the bright side, while their numbers may be few, the Christians of Taiwan are very strong in their faith and fellowship, and that is a refreshing thing to see.  I have been so encouraged by the faith and testimonies of the brothers and sisters here.  Please take some time and join us in prayer for the believers in Taiwan.  Pray that they will remain strong in their faith and that they will have opportunities to share God’s love and salvation to their family members, co-workers, and friends.

Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…

Ephesians 6:18

Categories: Faith, Friendship, Taiwan | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

A struggle overcome

Do you ever think that you’re just not good enough?  I do.

For years I have struggled with the issue of not being good enough for God.  Let me clarify, I know that God loves me despite anything I can do, it’s not that I think I’m not good enough for God to love, I struggle with whether or not I’m good enough for God to use.  I have spent so much of my life trying to improve myself, which in and of itself is not a bad thing, but when I do that for selfish reasons, like hoping God will love me more or that people will think I’ve got everything figured out, it is a bad thing.  I have constantly looked at what others are doing and have tried to emulate them, thinking that if I could just do that, I will be good enough.  Unsurprisingly, that has not helped my struggle.

Recently, Christ has been working on my heart, constantly reminding me that with Him, I am enough.  God can use anybody in order to do His will.  He did use a donkey after all.  I don’t have to work to improve myself; He is already doing that in His own way.  Every struggle that I overcome, every Bible verse that I read, every prayer that I say is God shaping me to be the person He will use.  How foolish of me to think that I can do His Kingdom’s work on my own!

Today I read 1 Corinthains 2:1-5-

“And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”

This spoke to me in powerful ways!  Paul, one of the greatest evangelists of all time, wrote this, and here he admits that he came in weakness and that he knew nothing other than the fact that Christ is our Savior!  This brought me renewed hope and peace, that I am perfect the way I am.  I do not need to be some great Bible scholar or “super christian” in order for God to use me to bring people into His love, all I need is the knowledge of who God is and what He has done for us, God will do the rest.  This, ladies and gents, is a load lifted from my shoulders.  I hope it helps you as it helped me.

It’s just a thought
-Liv

Categories: Faith, Friendship | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Valentines Day, Taiwan Style

Did you know that Valentine’s Day was last Thursday?  We didn’t.

Valentine’s Day this year was quite a different experience than we are used to.  There were no giant teddy bears everywhere, flower shops were not boasting sales, card shops did not have shelves upon shelves filled with Valentine’s Day cards (in fact, I didn’t see one V-day card), and restaurants did not have hour-long waits.  Without the constant bombardment of romance, the day slipped by quietly.  We realized this the day after Valentine’s Day, and decided to make it special in our own way.

We went to our favorite restaurant, Camera Cuisine, and had a wonderful night filled with delicious food, wonderful conversation, and love.  We concluded the evening by watching a movie together and eating jiggle-pop (that’s the popcorn you have to cook over the stove, we don’t have a micro)!  We’ve never loved the crowds on Valentine’s Day, so this small celebration of our love was perfect!

We also spent this day reflecting on our life together and how much God has blessed us so far.  We are in a new country, seeing new things, and experiencing God in a whole new way.  Through this experience, God has brought us so much closer to Him and to each other, and that in itself is a huge blessing!  In case you didn’t know, we spend pretty much every second of every day together, the only time we aren’t together is if one of us is teaching or in the bathroom (hehe).  For some people, that may sound overwhelming, but for us, it is perfect!  We have come to understand each other better, communicate more effectively, enjoy each other’s company, pray together, and talk about God’s work in our lives.  This experience is one we wouldn’t trade for anything.

us

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23:6

 

Categories: Faith, Family | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas is my favorite Dr. Suess book!  The way the Grinch tries to steal Christmas but then realizes that Christmas came without all the presents, tress, and food just gets me every time.  More than just “getting to me”  it reminds me that Christmas is more than the gifts, decorations, delicious cookies, and fun Christmas carols, it’s about our Savior.  The gift of Christ is the greatest gift anyone has or will ever receive, and the fact that God sent His son to earth to forgive us of our mistakes, selfishness, and mean words, and die so that we can live for eternity in the paradise called heaven, that’s what really gets to me during Christmas.   Now I know Christmas has come and gone, but I come from the school of thought that says Christmas should be celebrated all year long, so here’s our Christmas story.

I was worried that Christmas this year would just go on by unnoticed, but I was so wrong.  Although Christmas isn’t as popular in Taiwan as it is in the US, it still gets some attention.  There are Christmas trees in the stores, lights all around, and Merry Christmas signs in 7-11.  We still have our Charlie Brown tree up in our house, and I’m not really sure when I’ll take it down, I’m sure Nick will make me do it soon. 🙂  Christmas day was not your traditional Christmas considering we had to work, but we spent this Christmas surrounded by good friends, and fellow believers, and that is what is really important.  Our church put on a Christmas play the Sunday before Christmas, and we spent Christmas with some fellow foreigners eating Turkey and all the yummy stuff that goes with it!  On Christmas day, we were also able to skype with our families back home, that was wonderful!

We even had a big Christmas Shebang at the school on Christmas day!  We decorated a Christmas tree and spent the day playing Christmas themed games and Christmas music.  We had a “snow ball” fight, made Snowflakes, decorated ornaments to hang on Christmas trees, and even had a small gift exchange for the older students.  It was a big hit with all the kids, (especially the snowball fight).  Our co-workers and us had a Secret Santa gift exchange, and we got some really fun and thoughtful stuff!  So even though we had to work on Christmas day, we couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend Christmas this year!  We had Christ in our hearts, and that was what really mattered.

Like I said before, Christmas isn’t the big thing this time of year in Taiwan, instead, they celebrate Winter Solstice. Unfortunately we don’t get any time off of school, but we do get to learn about the traditions associated with it.  Winter Solstice marks the beginning of winter in Taiwan, and they celebrate it by making rice balls and in Penghu, rice animals.  The ball is to symbolize safety in the coming year, and I’m not really sure what the animals are for, something about how the people in the old times couldn’t afford real animals, so they made them out of rice. Don’t quote me on that though.  Whatever the reason, making rice balls and animals is a lot of fun!  We spent December 19th (my birthday) making the rice balls and animals.  Although my rice elephant did not turn out they way I had imagined him, I had a blast!

Here are some photos from our Christmas adventures!

Our school Christmas tree

Our school Christmas tree

Snowflake fun!

Snowflake fun!

The snowball fight!

The snowball fight!

The man in the brown coat is our principal.  He's finally taking out all his anger. JK.

The man in the brown coat is our principal. He’s finally taking out all his anger. JK.

Making ornaments.

Making ornaments.

SAM_5315

Snowman!

Snowman!

My sad elephant.

My sad elephant.

rice animals

Categories: Education, Faith, Family, Friendship | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

A Satisfying Breakfast

Hello Everyone!

So I’ve been having writer’s block this week.  We did have some fun this weekend, but I felt like it wasn’t anything to write home about, but after much deliberation and a slow day at work, I’ve decided to let you guys take a small peek at some of our weekend (however bleh it may seem to you).

Saturday morning we were Skyping with Nick’s parents over breakfast and were just planning on having a low key kind of day.  When we were finished with our Skype convo, we got an unexpected call from a guy from our church.  We had been wanting to get together with him for a while because he is from the States, and therefore speaks English.  Yippee!  He has also been living in Taiwan for 25 years, so we thought we could get some wisdom from him.  Well he took us to a brunch place that served Western breakfast!  We both got French Toast!!!!  It wasn’t the best, but hey, it’s still French Toast. 🙂  He told us his story of how he came to live in Taiwan.  This is kind of a tradition whenever you meet a foreigner, everyone wants to know how and why you got here.  He told us a great story of his desire to go where God wanted him to be and all the ups and downs of his journey.  Now he has been happily married to a Taiwanese lady for 14 years and owns his own English school in Penghu.  It’s always refreshing to hear of another believer’s journey of faith.

That led us to ask the question that we had been dying to ask, but hadn’t gotten the chance to yet, and frankly made us a little nervous.  We asked him if there was any way we could get involved at our church here.  We weren’t really sure how two non-Chinese-speaking Americans could help out in a church full of  non-English speaking Taiwanese, but he was quick to reassure us that they would love our involvement.  He gave us some ideas and we have been praying about them this week and will hopefully talk to some people on Sunday who can give us more direction.  The options are A) start an English speaking Bible study in our house.  He thinks people would be very excited for a chance to practice English, as well as go to Bible study B) get involved in the college ministry.  Many of the college students know some English already, so they would be welcoming to us. C)  Get involved with the young adult ministry.

We haven’t made up our minds yet, but we have been praying and would love it if y’all would lift us up in prayer as well!  We (I) am a little fearful, but I know that God will provide a way for us to do whatever He wants us to do.  So it turned out to be a not so low key kind of day.  We were really glad we had lunch with Larry, and it pretty much started the process of changing our lives here in Taiwan!

Sunday was a great day too, but I’ll share that experience with you tomorrow 🙂  Aren’t I a tease?

Categories: Faith, Travel | Tags: | 6 Comments

One Amazing God!

Nick and I were able to go to church this weekend!  We didn’t know what time the church started, so we walked in right in the middle of the sermon.  It’s okay though, everyone was understanding.

While we couldn’t understand what was being said, we could feel the spirit moving throughout the people.  When the praise and worship started, we didn’t know what they were singing, but many of the songs were ones we were familiar with in English, so while they were singing in Chinese we were singing in English.  It brought tears to my eyes to know that even though we are in a different country, and the people are singing a different language, we are all worshiping the same magnificent God!  The knowledge that the same God who sent his son to die for me and the people I know back home is the same God who sent his son to die for people half a world away from me is beyond comprehension!  It really reassured me that Christianity is not just something we do for fun, or because it is habit, but because we are the children of a loving living God!

For God so loved the WORLD that He gave His only begotten son, that WHOSOEVER believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

That’s all for now, but I think it is worth having it’s own blog post.  Take some time today to meditate on who God is and what He has done for everyone in the world.

Categories: Faith | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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