Our Myanmar Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from Myanmar! I hope you each have a really wonderful Thanksgiving. 

It is Thanksgiving evening here and we are winding down. We really did have a great Thanksgiving and I wanted to share what we did here today. 

I didn't think I would be too sad on the holidays because we haven't been gone too long but I was a bit sad this morning knowing family was so far away. However, Dave and I still had a really good time. I'm also glad Dave and I are a team because hopefully we will always be together for the holidays. 

God always knows how to lift us up and take care of us. I sat down and read Psalm 150 and it talks all about praising the Lord. It says we can praise Him in the sanctuary. We can praise Him in the firmaments. We can praise Him for His mighty acts, and there are so many mighty acts God has done for us that we can praise Him for. I was reminded that we can praise Him anywhere, at anytime. We don't have to be near family or in a cold winter to praise the Lord.  I was thankful for that reminder. 

I started my morning by going across the street, to the local market, to purchase more potatoes. I love mashed potatoes and I always make them for the holidays so I volunteered to make them this year. I bought a Kilo of potatoes for around $1. 

Oh and I don't have my gear to transfer pictures right now so you get a picture of a picture. Glad you all understand. =)


There are four people who came over from Kansas to help with fun day at school. They were willing to give up Thanksgiving with their families to come and help with fun day at school. It has been really neat getting to know them. 

Before we devoured an enormous amount of food we each went around and said what we were thankful for. It was really encouraging to here of the many blessings God has poured out on each person. 

After we gave thanks we ate. A lot. As always, I ate more than Dave. #GoMe

Instead of watching football we headed out to go shopping. Our friends were looking for some local jade and gems so we went hunting for that. We stopped first at the largest temple in Yangon as they sell some gems there. 

After that we went to the local markets. They have gems, pearls, jade, fabric, hand woven baskets and much more. If you come visit I'll take you there. =)
Here is what I got from the market: the purple cloth is a wrap skirt that I paid a whopping $4 for. The rest are some fun goodies that I'll be sending home as souvenirs. 

I hope you enjoyed this post - it took a zillion times longer than I planned because of the wonderful internet in Myanmar. However, I'm thankful I can update even if it does take longer. 

Happy Thanksgiving friends! 


Runners Tell All - My Biggest Running Fan

Hello and welcome to November's RTA! Runners Tell All is a monthly linkup hosted by Sunshine to the Square Inch and The Lady Okie that occurs on the 21st of every month. Our goal is to build a community where we can encourage and inspire each other on our running journeys. November's prompt is your favorite biggest running fan or running hero!  Next month is the last month for our linkup! We will be reflecting on 2014 and sharing our 2015 goals! 

Sponsorship Update:
We are still offering two co-host options for December. This allows for us to connect with you, advertise your blog and it will also help fund our last RTA giveaway! Each co-host spot comes with entries into the giveaway as well as a month of advertising on each of our blogs. Because I am in Myanmar with limited internet Amanda will now be taking care of all sponsorships. If you are interested in sponsoring Runners Tell All please e-mail Amanda at theladyokie{at}gmail{dot}com.  We currently have two spots available for December

The picture above might be deceiving because my dog is not my biggest running fan - I just think she is cute plus I miss her since I'm living in Asia. 

I have two biggest running fans. The first person that comes to mind is definitely my Mom. My Mom is a night owl but yet she manages to get out of bed for the majority of my races. She even came to Seattle with us when I ran my first marathon. She's always up for running adventures and is willing to hold our gear, drive us to a location and be there to support us. 

Here is a sign I made for my Mom to hold up during my first marathon. My siblings and I have a running joke of who is the most favorite sibling. I, of course, am that sibling (just in case my siblings need that clarification). ;) Unfortunately my Mom forgot this sign on race morning....

My other biggest running fan is Dave! Dave always encourages me to run and be healthy. We ran one half marathon together and he was really good at keeping me going. We do not train together because Dave is a short distance speed runner (6-7 min. mile) and there is no way I can keep up with him. I usually end up annoyed at his speed and my lack thereof. However, races are great!

Who is your biggest running fan? Do you have a running hero?

PS - Who is my running hero? I truly am inspired by Melody who blogs over at Will Run for Margaritas. She's an awesome runner and is currently running for TransAmerica where a dollar is given to various charities for every runner she passes.

We aren't having a giveaway today. Booooo, I know! However, we do have a fun giveaway for December planned so come back for that one! 

Now it's your turn! Share all about your biggest running fan or running hero and be sure to visit some other bloggers! 


Visiting a Maple Syrup Farm - Vermont

I'm taking you on a little trip to Vermont today to learn all about maple Syrup. It's hard to believe a month ago we were in New England and today we are in Asia. 

Dave planned pretty much 99% of all the activities for our New England trip because I was 'planned out' after organizing everything for our big move to Asia. I helped him book some lodging but that was about it. He did awesome finding fun things to do. For Vermont, he mentioned that he wanted to go to a maple Syrup farm and like pretty much all the other activities I just said "ok" and went along. There are many farms to choose from but we went to Goodrich's Maple Farm

This maple syrup farm blew me away! It was super interesting and I learned so much. 

For starters the farm we visited had 45,000 maple trees! Whoooah! The trees have to completely rock solid freeze, which is an easy task in the frigid Northern winters. Once they start to thaw out the farm has four men that go out on snow shoes to tap the trees. Tapping and gathering sap from the trees only happens for about three months. 

Tapping in and of itself was interesting. They tap (drill) the tree and place a spile inside. The spile drains the sap into a tube. This tube then drains down into a master tubing system, which connects all the trees. The tubes then drain into large barrels, which are then taken to the boiling house. Hopefully the picture below will help you understand. We didn't see the taping of trees because it only happens during winter. 

I thought the tapping of the trees would hurt the longevity of the trees life but it does not. The maple trees have quick healing properties. So healing, in fact, that they have to tap the trees each year because if they leave the spile in the tree, the tree will heal over where it was drilled into. 

The sap is brought into the farm house and placed in this large machine. It boils to a certain temperature and then is placed in large barrels. The company sends out a majority of their syrup to be packaged. They also do not sell to grocery stores but only sell to individuals or to local bakeries. 

The sap isn't thick like you would think either. It has more of a consistency of water and it has to be boiled down to get the thick consistency of maple syrup. In fact, it takes about 45 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup! 

Maple syrup also has different grades or colors. I thought this had to do with how long it boiled but in fact it has nothing to do with the boiling process. The maple changes based on when it is tapped from the tree. The longer the sap stays in the trees the darker it becomes.

If you are thinking maple syrup has way too much sugar rest assured, pure maple syrup is full of health benefits. It has anti-oxidants and lots of other health benefits. I'm not saying go drink a gallon (unless you are Buddy the Elf) but in moderation it has health benefits. There is a whole article about it's health benefits here.

Now, I live in Asia where it's 90 - 100 degrees out but I know all my friends in America are getting snow! So go get yourself some maple syrup and make some pancakes! You can even order it from the farm I visited. The company doesn't even know I'm writing this post so really it's just an honest review of an awesome product.

Lastly, if you want to visit this awesome farm they have animals. I named this goat George. =)

What do you think about Maple Syrup?
Do you love it? Do you ever use it?
What is the weather like where you live? Are you getting snow yet?


Myanmar - Our First Few Days

Hi, friends!

Our first few days here. Whew! I don't even know how to describe them properly. It has been good. It has been filled with lots of new things but overall we can say that God is good and He is taking good care of us. 

A "side cah", spelled in the Beka way. I think they look interesting and I'll be riding one before I leave. 

Our flights here went really well and we had zero problems with customs, visas, etc. We were elated to see our friends here. There were definitely tears of joy, mainly from Pam and myself. We have enjoyed staying with them, visiting and getting to know them more. 

They have shown us around parts of the city and I'm going to be honest, I'm having some culture shock. I knew there would be culture shock but knowing and experiencing are completely different things. I am sure The Lord will continue to help me adjust to life here just fine. A verse I have quoted and read over and over has been the following:

Psalm 18:1 - I will love thee, O LORD, my strength. 

Sunday morning we got to meet many of the kids that attend Sunday school here at Pam and Zam's house. It was nice to meet them and they are super duper cute. We also broke bread with Zam and Pam's family and that was such an encouraging time. 

Monday we toured a big portion of the school and were introduced to many of the kids and teachers. I'm really looking forward to getting to know the students and teachers more. 

We have been searching, praying and looking for housing. We looked at a total of five places and we have narrowed it down to two places: a green house and an apartment. Both are excellent options so we are going to pray, scout out a few more things about each option and hopefully decide by Friday. I hope to share a full post on house hunting here some time. 

When I moved to Korea I wrote and shared about the things that first struck my fancy there so I'm doing it again here in Myanmar. It's always fun to read it a few months down the road for a good laugh. Here are just a few things:

Electricity  |  The electricity goes on and off here. It's just a normal part of life. And by on and off I mean our 2nd day here it was off for 6-8 hours during mid day. 

I know you all are nice and chilly in America but let me tell you it is in the 80's here (if not hotter) and humid, like you can breathe water in kind of humid. Having the electricity off for those hours was a nice toasty day for us! I was in a class when the lights went out and the only person who batted an eye was me. 

Why I missed Sunday School  |  One of the boys missed Sunday school this past week. When Pam saw him in class she asked why he wasn't there. His reply: "I got bit by an eel." um ... what? He did indeed say that though. Apparently last week it rained and rained here. The boy said he was out in the flooded streets and apparently there was an eel in the flooded streets too. 

Lizards  |  I like the lizards here. I'm completely thankful that I lived in Brazil because the lizards here are like the ones in Brazil. Oh and when we went apartment hunting I felt something run under my foot and lo and behold it was a little lizard. Those little lizards also eat mosquitos and to that I say - thank you! I'll get a picture of one sometime and share it.

City Living  |  I think the biggest shock for me is the city life in general. I just came from small town Oklahoma where you could see out for miles and miles. The city here has buildings everywhere and you can't see far at all. Everything seems piled on and is smashed together. The city life isn't like Chicago or NYC it's Myanmar and I just don't know how to describe it. I have felt a little overwhelmed and a bit claustrophobic by it. When we went apartment shopping they showed us an 11th floor apartment and when I saw the view I started crying because it was the first time I could see out for far! I am positive I will adjust over time so I hope this doesn't sound like a complaint.

the beautiful view from the apartment
Hope you all are doing well on the other side of the world! Thanks for the prayers and for supporting us while we are here in Myanmar. 


Back to the Book Nutrition

I was honored when Beka asked me to come over and share a bit about myself here on her blog. Beka and I have never met in person – we connected over our mutual desire to experience God in our eating and health in an email conversation several months ago, and we’ve kept in touch ever since. We share a passion for Jesus and living life with Him to the full!

Today I’d love to share with you a little about my personal journey, which I don’t get to delve into much in my day to day food blogging over at Back To The Book Nutrition. Plus, read on to the end, and you’ll get 5 practical steps to true physical health!

Grab a mug and pull up a chair!

My Journey to True Health
Today I’m a registered dietitian with two degrees in nutrition, I have worked for one of the top cancer treatment facilities in the world, I operate a growing food blog, and I enjoy life with my husband and two beautiful, healthy kids.

Sounds good, right?

The behind the scenes view isn’t so neat and tidy – is it ever?

Rewind a few years and it gets messy.

As a teenager, I was self-conscious about my weight. I was never fat - just a little chubby.

So, at 15 years old, I put my foot down. I did some “research” in women’s magazines and diet books, and came up with an eating and exercise plan that was sure to help me shed a few pounds.

One year and 20 pounds later, I was lightheaded, unable to focus, and completely oblivious that my obsession with calories, workouts, and every curve on my body was beyond unhealthy.

By the time I went away to college, I was spiraling headlong into full blown disorder, desperately clinging to a pendulum that swung between restriction and excess. I began to feel helpless against a raging monster inside of me, and no physical achievement satisfied my insatiable desire to be thinner.

Ironically, I lacked a single criterion for the most commonly diagnosed eating disorders, so I told myself I was okay.

Until God made clear I was not okay.

More clearly than anything I’ve ever “heard from God before,” I heard Him say through the pages of scripture and through the voice of His Holy Spirit inside me,

“You – you, Dena – with all your love for me and love for church and love for the lost – you are an idol worshipper. You love yourself, your body, your daily workouts, and your skinny ideal more than you love me.”

I was undone. Not only was I grieved by the truth that God had made plain to me, but also by the helpless feeling of knowing I could not change on my own.

But God…

Don’t you love those two words?

In His kindness toward me, God picked me up and carried me step by step for those first few desperate months, and then in the years that followed. He rescued me, loved and forgave, revealed the truth of His word to me, empowered me to change, and restored His rightful place on the throne of my heart.

Lots of hard work, healing, failure, and redemption happened in the years between then and now, but the summary is, Jesus saves!

Jesus brings eternal salvation, no doubt. But, Jesus also extends the offer of literal, physical salvation from the deepest, darkest pits of life. Whether trapped in addiction, self-loathing, abuse, doubt, or dark despair, you are never too far from His reach!

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me;

he drew me out of deep waters.

17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.”

Psalm 18:16-19

Now my greatest desire is not to perfect my own body, but to share hope and help with others so that they too can experience true health that nourishes the body while honoring God, His truth, and His creation in the process!

I firmly believe that we are healthiest when we eat and live by God’s design. Here are my top 5 tips for how to do it.

1. Recognize that food, health, and your body are gifts from God.
I’ve experienced such freedom from remembering that my body, my health, and food are not my own. They are gifts God has entrusted to me. I so long to be a good and grateful steward, handling these gifts in ways that serve His purposes, not just my own.

2. Eat mostly foods that He made.
The healthiest foods are the ones God himself made and gave to us. Real, whole foods made from things that grow, walk, swim, and fly, and that were raised in ways that most closely reflect God’s original design. Examples include fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, grains, meats, poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs. It’s really that simple. No counting. No weighing. No list of allowed and disallowed foods. Simply choosing real foods made by God.

3. Allow food to open the door to relationship.
We were made for relationship – both with God and with others. Have you ever noticed how often Jesus’ teaching and healing were accompanied by eating? Food is a conduit for relationship – in every culture around the world, sharing a meal with someone opens the door for deeper conversation. Celebrate and serve great food, but remember that the food itself is not the ultimate goal.

4. Sleep.
Our fast paced culture pushes us to stay up late, rise early, and max out every waking moment. This frantic drive for more takes its toll, first in unseen ways (e.g., neurological and hormonal), then in outward ways. This is because God designed our bodies to heal and rejuvenate themselves overnight while we sleep.

5. Exercise.
Studies show active people are happier, healthier and sleep better than inactive people. That’s because God designed our bodies to work. Since physical labor is less necessary than ever for survival, most of us have to plan to get regular exercise. It’s hard to do, but something that will reap both immediate and long term benefits in our health.

For more information about inviting God into your eating and health, and for practical tips for when, why, and what to eat, I’m currently offering my e-book for ONLY $7.99!
You can preview the book for FREE here and BLOG SUBSCRIBERS GET 50% off! {Click here to subscribe!}

When you subscribe to the blog, you’ll also get great recipes, nutrition tips, and health advice you can trust, all delivered to your inbox each week!

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!


Random Facts // Round 4

By the time you are reading this I should be in Asia! Wahoo!!! Here are some more random facts! The first one is all about chopsticks, which is very fitting right now =)

Chopsticks  |   Since I am back in Asia I think talking about chopsticks is fitting. I have found so many uses for chopsticks. #IBlameKorea! Korean chopsticks are metal so they aren’t as fragile as wooden ones. Here are a few ways I use chopsticks: roasting marshmallows over my stove (aka s’mores at 11pm), getting pieces of dropped food out of the stove, getting stuck toast out of the toaster, checking baked goods to see if they are done (goodbye toothpicks), dongchim #JustKidding, stirring coffee and more!

Attention to Detail  |   or should I say the lack thereof. See, here is the thing: I will write something and then proof read it over and over and over. I get this little feeling that there is an error but I can’t find it. For example, my prayer cards! I put my e-mail as sunshinetothesquareinch but it is actually sunshine2thesquareinch. #OHNO I realized this error after they were printed and after I sent a bunch of them out. Epic fail you guys! #SomeoneGiveMeTheConeofShame. What did I do with the remainder of the cards? I hand wrote the correction on the cards. If you got a prayer card and there isn’t a hand written change in there then you get to hand write the correction in there. You're welcome! The correct e-mail address is sunshine2thesquareinch {at} gmail {.} com 

Mugs  |  I have a secret love for mugs but I haven't acquired many ... until recently. Dave and I have tried not to acquire many things plus living in an apartment doesn't allow for random mug collections but I just couldn't resist a few mugs. I purchased a mug in Hawaii, followed by a mug in NYC and then we had a girls night where a mug exchanged had to happen. eeep! They are going into storage but it will be like Christmas when I get back?

What's a fun fact about you?! 

PS - Want some more random facts? Check out this post herehere and here! 


Thailand - An Update on our First Few Days

Hi, everyone! I thought I'd give a keep recap of what our first few days have been like here. I have good internet here and figured I'd should take advantage of it. 

our flights over  |  Our flights over went great. The flights and layovers were the best ones yet and I'm positive it's because you all prayed for us - thanks! 

prison visits  |  We arrived to our friends home around 11:30pm and were up and ready to go by 7:30am the next morning for our prison visit.

We throughly enjoyed visiting the prison. The visits are monthly and it is basically a church service. There were about 200 women and many of them have become Christians. They sang louder than any church I have been in (with the exception of The Brooklyn Tabernacle). Dave and I both shared our testimonies and other people on our team shared testimonies and verses as well. They had me pray over the women who have a life-long sentence or who are on death row and humbled isn't even a fitting word for that. A lot of the women have a life sentence or are on death row for having over 1K of drugs. They can have their sentence reduced at times so that is good. 

After the service was over we got to visit with many of the women. They knew we spoke Portuguese and Spanish and we got to talk and pray with several of the women. One lady was from Mozambique, a Portuguese speaking country in Africa. Two other women spoke Spanish and it was nice to be able to listen to them and pray for them. 

We are hoping to be able to coordinate some of our visa renewal times during the first of the month so we can go along with our friends to visit these women again. 

Thursday and Friday Dave went to the men's prison as well. He said it went well and he got to visit and answer many questions that the men had. 

Please keep these prisoners in your prayers. Pray that God would continue to save many of them and for the ones who are saved, please pray that they will be a light to others. 

rest  |  We have been resting a lot. Jet lag wasn't as bad as it normally is, again, I'm positive it's because of prayer. I have come down with a cold but a lot of rest is helping me get back on track. 

visiting with friends  |  We have loved staying with our missionary friends here. They have a large house and always have something going on whether it is English classes, Bible classes, or having people stay with them. We have been able to meet a lot of people and at lunch someone pointed out that we had 5 languages being spoken at the table: English, Thai, Philippine, Pakistani and Myanmar. It's been neat to spend time with so many believers from all over the globe. 

a festival  |  Our missionary friends had someone take us to a festival. It was quiet interesting and honestly more packed with people than any place or festival I have ever been too. I thought Korea was packed but man, Thailand - you showed us what packed really is! 

First off, here is a picture of the traffic on the way there. Our missionary friends here have a driver and he does an excellent job. 

Here is what I mean by tons and tons of people. Also, this is before the 'crowded' part and I'm not kidding.

The festival is a Buddhist festival where everyone purchases a floating arrangement made from banana leaves and flowers. They confess their sins and place the arrangement in the water. This is supposed to take their sins away. 

After purchasing a flower arrangement they have several options on how to get them into the river. They could get in a long boat which held about 4-6 people.

They could get in this big boat which held a hundred to two hundred people. 

Or for the third option they could just smash in with thousands of other people to confess their sins and place their floating arrangement in the water.

After placing the arrangement in the water there were three people to push the arrangement out. One was this guy standing here. One was a kid on the side. The third kid was in the water pushing away all the candle lit arrangements so the wooden dock wouldn't catch fire. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw that little boy in there. Can you see him?

They also had a lot of other items for sale: balloons, food, live fish and turtles in plastic bags and lots of other knick knacks and toys to purchase. Oh and they had a beauty pageant as well as a group of men playing basketball via 'hackie sack style. It was really entertaining to see. 

As you can tell, the Thai people need Jesus. Please keep praying that many of them will get saved.

Burma  |  Tomorrow we leave for Burma. We should arrive there around 2pm. We are excited to get over there and start helping.

Thanks again for all the prayer and encouragement as we are making our transition over here. We couldn't do it without all of the support.


Creating a Victory Section in your Journal

If you have ever struggled with something time and time again then this post is for you. For many years I battled and struggled with the same sin. It was hard. It was frustrating. As a Christian I wanted to do what was right and I'd even determine to do what was right but shortly after, I'd go out and fall down flat on my face again. 

It took me a long time to come out of that dark valley but I did and I am here because Jesus is faithful and brought me out. The Bible says He sets the prisoner free and I can attest that that is true. Something that really helped me was creating a victory section in my journal. I have no idea why I created this but I'm sure The Holy Spirit put the idea in my head. 

I created a 'victory' section in my journal for the moments when I would get super emotional. My emotions and heart would tell me so many things and they were all big fat lies. I finally decided that I needed to write some truths down in concrete. That way when I was alone and my emotions started with the crazy talk I could open that section, read Biblical truths and come back to my senses and stay on track. It wasn't easy but it really helped! 

If you decide to write a victory section I can't tell you what exactly to write but I can give some guideline of things I put down and hopefully they will be a help to you.

Scripture | The best thing is Scripture. Scripture is solid truth and you can always trust it. I looked up verses that God had given me to help me fight my battle and wrote them down. I even had someone randomly e-mail me once telling me that God wanted them to tell me about James 1:12. Although it felt a little odd I was really glad my friend listened to God and that verse was a big help to me. 

Quotes | Write down some good, Biblical and truthful, quotes that apply to your situation. You can go to Pineterest and look for Biblical quotes or even Google. My only word of caution is that you need to make sure quotes align with Scripture. You don't want a quote that says "follow your heart" because the Bible says we aren't to follow our heart (Proverbs 28:26).

God Stories | I mentioned above that I struggled for years. I also know that during those years God, undeservingly, poured out love into my life. I can recall moments when I was at rock bottom and God did something specific to keep me going and living for Him. Moments like that ... write them down! Seeing what God has done and how he loves you keeps you going. 

Others | This might sound weird but write down how continuing in sin will hurt those you love and write down how living correctly will help those you love. Sometimes that gives you a perspective of how you can effect others, both positively and negatively.

Be Vague | This might just be me but I never wrote down "I sinned again by _____ and _____". I don't see it as healthy to write down sins. In Christ, my sins are under the blood, forgiven. Philippians 4 also commands us to think on only things that will give virtue and praise and writing down sins doesn't fit that category. I also keep in mind that someday someone could read that journal and some things are better left unsaid.

Your Own Topic | I don't think a section in your journal just has to do with battling a big sin. It can be a topic or a life situation with lots of information to encourage and help you. The newest section in my journal is called "Long Distance - for the times when you have to say goodbye". I hope to share the verses, quotes and thoughts I wrote in there because I know my Mom, sisters and friends could use the words of encouragement.

My question for you would be this: When you battle sin what do you do to fight it? What do you do to hold on to truth to keep you focused? If you have something that is really helpful please leave a comment for others to read.

Have you ever created something like this in your journal?