Friday, April 27, 2012


Well, the day is here. There's no more dreading, avoiding or bemoaning to be done. 

I'm 30, flirty, and thriving, (not thirty, hurting, and crying)
This has been a difficult milestone for me to face in some ways. Like many, I found myself approaching 30 thinking I was supposed to have a lot more accomplished by now. Thanks to a few pep talks and a lot of prayer in the last few months though, I'm feeling pretty ok. I don't have to have it all together yet. I can start making choices now that will affect my life in my 30s, 40s, and beyond.
God has also been bringing a lot of words into my life for this time. In the last few weeks, almost every verse I read in a devotional has been something about Him directing paths, guiding our way etc.

Another quote that has kept popping up is by Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Do not go where the path may lead, instead go where there is no path and leave a trail."
It's scary to think of being a trailblazer. It's hard work. It's so much easier to just follow. But perhaps I was not born for that.
Another passage that touched me came from kind of an unlikely place: the book of Numbers (everyone's favorite, I know), where in chapter 4, the different Levite clans are being set apart for service to the Lord. It is mentioned repeatedly that those between ages 30 and 50 are being called to serve. I have my best and most effective years not behind, but ahead of me! Any new goals? I've been so focused on getting to 30 that I didn't think about what I'd do once I got here. So I guess it's a blank canvas. And hopefully that's not so scary anymore.
Thanks for joining me on this journey.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

before 30.... (#29)

The birthday celebrations have begun...on Monday night my class got me a cake, on Wednesday and Thursday I had birthday meals with friends. Tomorrow I have class in Hualian with a birthday dinner in the evening. I got myself two birthday presents this year - the first was getting my house cleaned ($2500 for half day of cleaning - about $75 Canadian). It seems like a luxury I guess, but it feels good to be starting my 30s with a clean home. I'm also trying to get rid of more unnecessary stuff.

The second was coloring my hair a fun and vibrant red. I figure as I get older, my hair will probably lighten a lot, so I wanted to try going darker at least once. Some have said they like it, others told me "next time don't get that color," but hey it makes me kind of feel young and adventurous still. There is a little voice that tries to tell me that after 30 there will be no fun to be had. Of course I know that's not true, but in these last few hours of my 20s, the doubts are flying hard and fast.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Grown-up Skills (#28)

So I was browsing Amazon looking for some fun stuff for my Kindle last night when I came across a book about turning seems I'm not the only one who has a mid- (quarter?) life crisis when approaching this age. Here's what the book description said:

Competence. Now in convenient book format
You’re old enough to own property and have a family, but can you safely open a bottle of champagne? Or change a flat tire? 30 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do Before Turning 30 provides idiot-proof instructions for mastering these and other essential, face-saving, and possibly life-saving skills.

You’ll learn how to...
1. wrap a present
2. start a successful fire in a fireplace, at a campsite, and in a barbecue
3. finish a piece of furniture
4. get a raise
5. order wine at a restaurant without getting stiffed
6. parallel park in three breathtakingly beautiful movements
7. dance a “slow dance” without looking like an idiot
8. use a full place setting properly, including chopsticks and Asian soup spoons
9. clean your place in under 45 minutes, when friends, relatives, or prospective lovers are coming by unexpectedly, and soon
10. hold your liquor
11. cure a hangover
12. do the Heimlich Maneuver
13. use a compass
14. change a flat
15. jump start a car
16. open a champagne bottle
17. send a drink to someone’s table
18. cook one “signature meal”
19. whistle with your fingers
20. take good pictures
21. fold a fitted sheet
22. remove common stains
23. sew a button
24. carve turkey, lasagna, and birthday cake
25. hold a baby
26. change a diaper
27. keep a plant alive for more than a year
28. make dogs and cats love you
29. help someone (an older or ill person, a woman you’re trying to impress, your mother) out of a car
30. write superior thank you notes

Apart from those that have to do with alcohol and driving a car, I would have to say I can probably do many of these things. But does being able to whistle with your fingers, wrap a present, or keep a plant alive (three that I may possibly fail at) really make you an adult?

What are some skills I have or want to develop, as I "put off childish things" and move into my 30s?

  • Being able to call and make reservations, get information etc.
  • Being able to book your own plane tickets online
  • Being able to figure out a subway map in a strange city
  • Knowing how to do your hair/makeup/accessorize
  • Knowing when/how to appropriately answer emails
  • Being able to resist impulse buys
  • Gracefully dealing with inconveniences
  • Baking perfect chocolate chip cookies
  • Still knowing how to have fun
  • Writing real letters
  • Sticking to a budget
  • Doing things that are good for you, even when you don't feel like it
  • Being able to enjoy the company of those much older or younger than you
  • Being able to speak in public
  • Not taking yourself too seriously
Like I said, some of these I'm still don't hold your breath for a real letter from me, quite yet.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hiking (#27)

One of my 30 before 30 goals was to do more hiking in Yilan. There are so many amazing hiking trails around here, and many I didn't even know about before. The first thing I did was make a list of all the trails I knew how to get to on my own, and checked off each one as I hiked it. Since I love making lists, this really did help me to achieve my goal. There is one trail that I haven't made it to yet, but I do have one more week to go! I think this year, I will try to do each trail a 2-3 more times.

Another thing I did was suggest hiking as a group activity or accept invitations to go hiking with others. This led me to some new places, including a botanical garden with an amazing English garden on the top of a mountain. There were "Watch out for monkey" signs, but to my disappointment, I didn't see any.  The view from the top was incredible. We could see the whole Yilan area. Another hike I did was to a waterfall, that turned out to be 4km each way! Unlike the botanical gardens, which was a lot of stairs, it was a very flat trail, but I was pretty tired by the end of it. I've also been walking along the trail near my house a couple times a week, and went out to a couple of small lakes. It feels like a reward to get outside when it's been raining for a few weeks, and I usually get some great pictures! Looking for a walking partner? Please do call me up!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Podcasts (#26)

Life just keeps going at breakneck speed. It is just over two weeks until my birthday, and I have 4 more blogs to write! This week has been a pretty typical week:

  •  Teaching at the girls school (their annual school fair is this weekend, which I'm looking forward to)
  • English bible study (a small but sweet group of low level students in the small town of Zhuang-Wei outside of Yilan) 
  • Small group (meeting in my home since October, we're in James chapter 4 now) 
  • Writing tests (never ending) 
  • Doing homework (ironically, my project due Monday is to create an achievement test) 
  • Teaching in Hualian (funny story - the school has been asking me to do more classes, even offered to pay me directly. I really do like the school, so I emailed our office and recommended that we could add a couple more classes this semester. I got back a proposed schedule of 8 more classes in the next two months which would have me going to Hualian almost every week... inch - meet mile. I don't think they're going to get them all) 
  • Going for walks now that the weather has gotten nice
And that is the topic of  my post today. I've discovered podcasts! They're typically the perfect length for a nice walk, and give you some food for thought on the way!
Some of the fun ones I enjoy (all free on iTunes BTW) are: Freakonomics (for when I want to feel smarter), The Fringe Podcast (I really like the show, ok?), Jillian Michaels (Though she kind of gets rambly and new agey sometimes), Relevant (info about new music, yes please!), The Vinyl Cafe (go Canada, eh!), and my new favourite, Mosaic.

Mosaic Audio PodcastLet me tell you a little about the sermon series I've been listening to, it's called Artisan, and it talks about the fact that as humans we are uniquely both the created and creators. I really encourage you to listen. It discusses the creation narrative and other bible passages, and each  message has been full of inspiration and challenge, sometimes I find to be rare in sermons these days.
One great example of this was the Good Friday service I mentioned last week. It was great to work as a team with the other people in church, and I realized that one of my gifts is seeing the big picture, coming up with a theme, imagining how it will all flow together, and creating a plan. But even though I was involved in leadership, I also helped stack chairs, and run the powerpoint and sound, and make a list of things we would need to get. The next day I listened to the 5th message in the Artisan series: Craft, which reminded me that talent needs to be honed into skill, and art into craft. We can't expect everything to simply fall into place just because we happen to have a natural knack for it. There are no shortcuts. We have to be willing to put in the hard work. Just like an athlete must train. We also need to acknowledge that our greatest accomplishments shouldn't be a one time thing. Our greatest accomplishment should be our life. That's why one of my favorite verses is Philippians 1:6:

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Good Friday (#25)

Easter is coming! It's one of my favorite holidays. It's a time of reflection, mourning and rejoicing, and the promise of new life. Last Friday, I was at church when the pastor asked me if I had any ideas for a Good Friday service. We talked for about an hour, and by the end, we had put together a really cool program! I'm really excited about the opportunity to be involved in this way, and that my church is willing to try something a little different, that will hopefully be meaningful to them.
We're doing a partial candlelight service that includes video, singing, silent reflection, spontaneous prayer and dramatic scripture readings. The major church holidays aren't really celebrated in Taiwan, even in the churches, so I'm glad that we can spend a little more time on Easter this year.

I also wanted to share my Easter playlist, partially inspired by my friends Amanda and Hope who have both shared some of these songs with me. I'm making them links to youtube in case you want to go and listen.

10. Jesus paid it all (Kristian Stanfill)
9. Jesus Thank You (Sovereign Grace)
8. Glorious Day (Casting Crowns)
7. Blessed Redeemer (Casting Crowns)
6. Jesus Messiah (Chris Tomlin)
5. Jesus Remember Me (Taize Worship Chants)
4. Nothing but the Blood (Jesus Culture)
3. The Wonderful Cross (Chris Tomlin)
2. Oh Happy Day (Tim Hughes)
1.Christ is Risen (Matt Maher)