12.30.2016

2016 - A Look Back | 2017 - A Look Ahead


As I look back on this year, my soul just feels a big huge sigh of relief. I love traveling and being adventurous, but I can not even explain how good it has been to be back in Wichita, in a home, where I can be still. That would pretty much sum up my year in one big thought.

However, 2016 brought lots of other things too.

Dave and I started off the year by traveling from Canada all the way down to California, through Arizona, New Mexico and then home. That trip was one of the most beautiful trips of my life. The scenery on the west coast is one of a kind and if you haven't traveled that way I highly recommend it. It was also special to see my brother fly his jet out of San Diego for his deployment. That trip was also one of the most stressful of my life. From sleeping in our car a few times to knowing that when we got back to Kansas we had no home of our own nor did we know where we would live sent my emotions into one big massive roller coaster. It's so weird how a trip can be so wonderful but so hard at the same time. I'm still glad we went though.

God opened doors for Dave to get a job in the ER, and although it's been intense, I'm thankful He has that job. I've worked at the Y as a swim instructor and that has been a big blessing for me.

We purchased a home! A home that would, a few months later, need new plumbing which would mean a 20' trench in my backyard. SO STRESSFUL! And our yard still isn't fixed. Oh well. I still really love our house and I've become a huge homebody. I have always been a homebody but having my own place to just retreat away is exactly what I have been doing.

2016 also brought some really hard things, the kind of things that make you fall on your knees in tears and prayers. The kinds of things that only God can fix, and although the journey isn't easy I can, with confidence say, that God answers prayers. He picks up shattered pieces, restores and pushes back the power of darkness. God's grace is sufficient. I've heard that all my life but seeing Him restore and redeem is something so beautiful that I can only stand back and praise Him for.

This year, with Dave's crazy work hours, I have had some time to be alone and be still. It was weird at first to be home and alone so much, but to be honest, so many nights I turn on worship music, cook and pray a whole lot. It's been a really good chance for me to get alone with God and I'm thankful for those times. It's also weird because I have NEVER in my life been afraid to stay somewhere alone. However, shortly after we moved in Dave went to Texas and the first night he was gone I heard gunfire. Not just one shot but EIGHT and it terrified me. Then the next night someone kept knocking on my window so I frantically called my Dad to rescue me and he figured out that when I walk upstairs it makes one of our doors rattle, which also sounds like knocking. ha ha! It was so scary though. It took me about six months to not be scared at night anymore when I was alone.

We can't forget flowers. There were lots of those too! I think one of my favorite memories from this summer was meeting my Mom or Dad at the Farmer's Market and buying goods and I pretty much always left there with flowers.


And here is a list of my favorite things this year:

-sidewalks, like real genuine sidewalks that don't have holes with sewer under them.
-blueberries
-walking in my neighborhood
-planting my garden
-planting flowers
-painting my front door teal
-seeing my parents more
-seeing my family more
-seeing friends more
-laughing with friends
-traveling to Colorado with Dave, that was probably my favorite trip of the year
-having Ana, Elliot and Alba come here for a month
-going to Whidbey to babysit my nephew and niece and to spend time with Alba
-going to Idaho to see my brother-in-law, sister, Z and Ike
-sharing Christ with kids at the Y
-getting Dave's cat, Weasel back. Which by the way, I'm her favorite.
-Burgers & Dresses
-My birthday
-My Mom's 60th birthday


Can you all believe 2017 is here? That is so so crazy! Here are some of the things I'm looking forward to this year:

-Traveling in March for our anniversary trip. I told Dave we have to go somewhere warm with an ocean.
-Photography - I'm hoping to start up a little photography business
-Planting a new garden
-Fixing our yard
-I'm running a 1/2 marathon. I don't know if I should be excited or cry but I'm hoping to hit it hard and run super fast!

Here are some blog posts I will be sharing in the new year:

-A word - There is a word that has been such a big blessing in my life over the years and I want to share it with you all.
-A person
-What I miss about Asia
-Some thoughts on prayer
-Foundations: Living our Life on the Bible
-My Travel Bucket List. Yes, I still have one even though we've traveled a lot.
-Hand Lettering


What was your favorite memory for 2016?
What are you most looking forward to in 2017?

Kansas City


This photo pretty much sums up what life is like being married to a photographer. And that has nothing to do with this post except that I took this picture in Kansas City. 

The weekend before Christmas Dave and I headed to Kansas City for a little getaway. And I'm so so glad we did because he had to work all Christmas week and I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't emotional about that. That was not fun, but back to Kansas City. 

The entire reason we went to Kansas City was to go to the WWI museum. I don't normally like museums but was actually looking forward to this one because it is supposed to be one of the better ones around. It's also super pretty, which is nice too. 
Initially Dave suggested we go to some gardens up near KC. We stopped there and let me just say zero degree weather and strolling outside don't go together. We walked around a super small statue area and left. I just can't do hiking in the cold. 
I talked Dave into going to the mall with me and I'm so glad we went because they had a carousel there and pretty much all my childhood dreams came true from riding on that. SO MUCH FUN! 


We then popped into the Museum at Prairie Fire. We actually just went inside to look at at the awesome glass and the massive dinosaur there. That part is free so we did that and left. The museum is supposed to resemble the fires that Kansas has and their glass did a great job representing that. 


For lunch Dave suggested Arthur Bryants. He was surprised when I told him I hadn't tried any of Kansas City's famous BBQ joints. I usually go to the Brazilian restaurant and the Cheesecake Factory. However, after eating this amazing meaty sandwich I'll be going for more bbq in KC from now on. 


Kansas City is known for its really cool library and I must agree that a wall that looks like books is pretty neat.


This is my 'payback' picture. Dave loves to take pictures of me while I'm taking pictures so I am returning the favor. He didn't think it was too funny. ;) but I did.


The library has a rooftop lounge which was amazing but I stayed out there for about 1 minute due to frigid weather. 

Friday afternoon we went to the Hallmark Museum, which was really fun! They have a machine where you push a button and it creates a bow for you. I got 3 bows! I don't know why I thought it was so fun but it was. That evening we went to The Plaza, which is so lovely at Christmas time. We ate Brazilian cheese bread and drank Brazilian soda and then went to The Cheesecake Factory for an appetizer. I didn't take any pictures because, hello frigid rainy weather!

We stayed at the Sheraton at Crown Center and I'm so glad I picked that place because there is a link that connects the hotel to shopping centers and then on to Union Station. You don't have to go outside at all which is great because it was -6 Saturday morning with ice. We took The Link all the way to Union Station and explored that area.


In the background of this picture you can see the WWI museum. That is all we saw of that museum because they closed due to weather, which I thought was ironic because that was the whole reason we went to KC.


Union Station is amazing at Christmas. It is decorated so lovely and they have lots of things for kids to do there for free.


Since we didn't get to go to the WWI museum we went to the Art Museum in Kansas City. There were some neat things but let's be real, modern art is a tossup between betting on if an artist or my 4 year old nephew slapped some paint on a canvas. It's so weird!

And then the art museum closed because of weather so we packed up and headed home.

I'm excited to go back to KC this spring when it is warmer so we can go to the WWI museum. Has anyone else been there?

12.22.2016

Why The Angels Sang



Every Christmas season, I feel like a theme or a thing about Christmas stands out to me. I think The Lord gives me these ideas from reading my Bible and I'm so thankful The Holy Spirit teaches me truths from The Bible still. I also like taking one concept and thinking about it over the Christmas season.

This season I actually have had two thoughts I keep turning over in mind. They aren't really related at all, except for the Christmas theme runs through both of them.

First off, I keep thinking, "Why did the angels sing?"

Can you imagine heaven when Jesus left? I wonder what they thought? Did they rejoice? Did they weep? I guess I think about that now because when we left America for Burma, I often was reminded that Jesus went through culture shock that I'll never know about.

But seriously? I still wonder what heaven was like when Jesus left? Then the angels came to earth sing and celebrate His birth into this broken world. I would not be singing if my child was born in a cave where animals and rats lived. Then, to think that the people on this earth would mangle my son where he didn't look human is not a reason I'd send angels to sing either. But God sent them. They rejoiced over Jesus coming to Earth and I know they rejoiced because they knew that Jesus would be the one to endure the shame, to pay the price for sin, for every sin, for my sins. They rejoiced because Jesus came to earth to buy us back. And guys, I'm so so so glad!

I still have no idea why God would love me. I don't know why He would choose me, with all my sin and brokenness, to buy me back and restore me to Himself, but He did. And that's why those angels sang. And that's why we should sing too.



The other thing I have been thinking about for the past couple of months is abortion. I know, not very "Christmasy" but here me out: Jesus birth defies abortion.

His very story of conception to birth made him a perfect candidate for an abortion. Mary, an unwed mom, would be a perfect candidate to get rid of her baby that would so shame her life. Having a baby before being married in Bible times was not accepted very well. Once Joseph decicded not to divorce her and leave her destitue, they had to make the journey to Bethlehem to be counted in the census. I don't many pregnant women that want to travel on a donkey to a city with no reservations of where they will stay. I'm positive having an abortion would have been much easier than riding on a donkey and giving birth in a cave. But Mary chose life and Christ was born.

As I have been thinking and hurting for the 50 million babies that have been murdered in the womb since Roe v. Wade I keep thinking that Jesus came for them too. And he came for those who had the abortion and for those who give the abortions. He came to save us all and I'm just so so glad.

So no matter where you stand today or what you've done, know that Christ came for you and that's why the angels sang.

Merry Merry Christmas, friends!

12.20.2016

Opinions - 2


I sat down to write this post about 15 minutes ago and my computer just finished warming up. #insertangryemojihere! 😡 I never want to see the beach ball on my screen again, but it will show up. My computer is actually full and out of room! AAAAh! I blame it on the 15,000+ pictures. I did purchase a 4TB external hard drive so I need to delete and transfer items soon. #1stworldproblems 😡 PS - I had no idea you can add emojis into blogger but you can! =) , wait .... 😀, that's better. 

You know what drives me nuts? When people drive through the parking lanes in a parking lot. Why can't they just drive down the aisle? Are they that lazy? It actually drives me nuts because I think it's a safety hazard and one day I am afraid I'll get smacked by someone driving illegally in the parking lot. Drive in the lanes people! 

Today I am going to a group home for pregnant teen girls to take portrait shots of them in front of the Christmas tree. There might also be a newborn baby that I'll get to photograph today too and that would just be epic. I used to work at this house many years ago and thought it would be nice to volunteer to do photos for them.  If you want to read more about my time working there you can check out this post about my jobs. 

Last weekend Dave and I went to Kansas City. We were going to ice skate at the outdoor rink but the temps were zero and sub zero so we opted to ride the carousel at the mall instead, aka all my childhood dreams came true. I told Dave I need a Ferris Wheel and a carousel in my backyard. His reply? "Our yard is too small." =) 


Is anyone else already feeling sad that Christmas will be over in less than a week? Whaaaaaaa! Speaking of Christmas, I was at Michaels last week and they had a doggie Santa suit for 70% off and I just had to get it for our dog. She is super cute in it and actually doesn't mind wearing it. We think it is hilarious. 


I can't quit looking up all the cute pictures that come with the hashtag "#blueheelers". SO. MANY. CUTE. DOGS!!!!!!! I told Dave when Static dies we must get a blue heeler puppy. They are so cute and I need like 10 of them. ;) But for real - you should look at this litter of puppies and basically every dog on this page right here. Good thing I have a husband or I'd have a backyard with a carousel, a Ferris Wheel and 20 Blue Heeler puppies. ha ha ah! 

I thought GoFundMe was bad before but oh my word! I guess Go Fund Me is the new "I should get a second part time job". And yes, I'm all for giving, especially when emergencies happen and I think GoFundMe is a great place to do that but I'm just so burned out on GoFundMe popping up all over the place. I think we should start a campaign called 'Go Work Me'. Amen! 

Speaking of work would you please say a prayer for me. My boss at my current job is currently leaving and I'm praying and thinking about whether I should apply for that position. I'd have to negotiate my hours because I want to guard my time with Dave but it would be a really good opportunity to minister to the families that come through there. Even now I have had several chances to talk about God and The Bible with families there and next week I am going to meet up with a family from Syria that I met through the Y. 

That's a wrap for today folks. I gotta go charge my camera battery and take some pictures. 

How is your holiday season going? 

Is anyone else sad Christmas will be over? 

If you'd like to purchase me a miniature carousel for my backyard I won't object. ;)

12.14.2016

Burgers & Dresses: A Christmas Outing


Somewhere I heard that people fall into two main categories when it comes to friends: you either have a lot of good friends or a few super close friends. Now, I know that doesn't define everyone but I have always thought about that because I fall into the latter. I'd rather have a few really close friends than a big group of friends that I don't know as well. In fact, being in big groups is kind of nerve racking for me at times.  

I'd say outside of family I have 4 best friends. Three live in Kansas and my other good friend is Elicia who lives in Morocco, and oddly enough, we have only been around each other in person twice but we chat all the time and just 'click'. 

In the above picture is my friend Kirsten (left) and Shenel (middle). I've known Shenel since high school and our husbands have been friends since they were like 3. Kirsten is my friend that I met at the Hyatt. All three of us get along really well and get together once or twice a month. 

For Christmas this year we decided to wear dresses, go to a burger pub followed by a fancy chocolate shop in town called Cocoa Dolce. There's nothing quite like wearing a fancy dress and eating a burger. ;) 

This burger place, called Dempesy's Pub, is so so good. Another big bonus is that they are in my neighborhood about 1 mile away. I don't know if that is a blessing or a terrible thing? Anyways, they make their own dipping sauces and their burgers are just so so good. I ordered the bacon mushroom swiss. Divine.

yes! I did 99% of that burger and fries all by myself. 

After burgers we went to a fancy chocolate shop where drank hot chocolate, swapped Christmas gifts and laughed until our bellies hurt. We are also friends because we equally enjoy fatty burgers and hot chocolate. Amen and amen!


Can you find us in the circles?


I also have no idea why I am sparkling in this picture but I find it oddly funny. Lastly, I finally bought a curling and now I am wondering why I didn't do that sooner? It's so easy to curl your hair with that rather than a flat iron.


Do you have a few close friends or a big group of friends? 

Have you had get togethers with your friends yet? 

12.07.2016

Things we got told in Asia



As pretty much everyone knows, living abroad brings lots of changes and cultural adjustments. But did you know one of those big adjustments was learning to accept the things people said to me? I'm about to tell you some of the things I heard this past year in Myanmar and Thailand. If you have lived in Asia you will probably slowly nod your head in agreement as you read this post and will think: “I totally know what you are talking about!” If you have not lived in Asia you will think “How rude!!!!”  

To be honest I see both sides of things.  

Before I share these conversations though I must give you a little background information: people in Myanmar and Thailand (and Asia in general) are really honest and straightforward and it isn't considered rude. It is very normal to just tell someone if they are gaining weight, to tell someone they are fat and so on and so forth. For some reason it is just not rude to be told that. 

The conversations I’m about to tell you have made me smile, have left me with my jaw wide open and have made me come home and say "Dave, you won't believe what so and so told me" followed by an outburst of tears and then I was over it. I realized that for the most part, people were being friendly and conversing, so sometimes I just had to tell my emotions to deal with it and keep on smiling. I also wouldn't trade about 99% of these conversations. It was fun to just let people ask questions and to be open in answering them. I think that's one of the neat things about living abroad. 


So here are some of the conversations I have had with people over here! Hope you enjoy them. =)

Person 1: “Beka, What do you do to exercise?”
Me: “Well, I used to run all the time and then I lifted a lot of weights before I came here but now I don’t do anything because exercising here is so hard to do.”
Person 1: “Yeah, I can tell. Your stomach is getting big.”
Me: I don't know what I said! I know my face turned red and it was awkward for me but I tried to be polite. Then I went home and cried to Dave. 

Person 2: “That little girl, her Mom is very pretty but ... that little girl looks like her Dad.”
Me: “I think the little girl is cute.”


Did you catch it? They were trying to say that the Dad is not good looking at all and that the poor child looked like her Dad. Rude! Thankfully the parents or child were not around to hear that one. 


Person 3 came up to me and started rubbing my belly like there was a baby in there. I can kind of see someone doing that if I was 8 months pregnant but to not even look pregnant and have someone come up and rub my belly is just in another category of its own. The person didn't mean any harm by it and I didn't take offense so it was okay. I've learned to just smile during situations like that. A smile gets you through so many awkward conversations. 

Person 3:“How is the baby in there?”
Me: “There is no baby in there.”
Person 3: laughs, “Oh! Well do you want a baby?”
Me: “Someday”
Person 3: “Do you want a girl or a boy?”
Me: “A girl”
Person 3: “Okay! Well I will pray and God answers my prayers!!!”
Me: awkward smile... 


That above scenario has happened twice. The second time I just gave a look; the look where they knew not to keep going down that road and I told them that they already knew that no baby was in there. 

Person 4: “We want you to stay here in Thailand and work full time!”
Me: “Well, our full time ministry is in Myanmar right now and that is where God wants us.”
Person 4: “Well! God can just send someone else to Myanmar! I’ve been praying and God answers my prayers!"
Me: awkward smile...


***Disclaimer*** person 3 and 4 may or may not be the same person.  



This next conversation happened in Singapore and Dave and I cracked up. We were headed to the Gardens by the Bay. We were in the vicinity but just couldn't figure out how to get there. We went to the concierge at the mall and this is what went down:



Dave: "How do we get to the Gardens by the Bay? 

Concierge: "Are you afraid of the sun?" (ha ha ha! I was trying not to laugh at this point)
Dave and myself: "No, no we aren't."
Concierge: "Okay then you can take three lefts, take the elevator and then take the walkway."

Now, I  do know why they ask that here. Asians are super protective of their skin and they don't like to tan or be in the sun too long. Plus, it is ridiculously hot in SE Asia so I get it but still! Dave and I cracked up. I guess if you are afraid of the sun there is a covered route? I should have asked. 


During the year Dave and I taught Bible to the junior high kids. I had the girls and he had the boys. We told them they were free to ask anything they wanted an oh my word! Here are some of the things we got asked from our students. Mind you, this is edited. I can not, nor will I ever put the things they asked in full detail on the blog. But I will tell you, it's very eye opening and sometimes hilarious. I am glad they felt like they could ask us anything and we tried our best to answer in a way that was appropriate and helpful.

- So, girls don't have balls? <--- That's a true question. Anatomy isn't taught much there, obviously. Dave and I each did a body book with the junior highers that covered basic anatomy and all that stuff. It was eye opening to them. 
-Are aliens real?
-Which state has the fastest internet? <-- As weird as that sounds I do know why they asked that. In Burma different states have different internet speeds due to population. In Yangon, where millions of people are, the internet is so sloooooow because there isn't enough internet to go around. However, in smaller populated locations it is faster. 
-Do police like donuts?
-How much does one bullet cost? <--- I have no idea why they asked that. 
-What type of birth control do you use? <--- Dave got asked that and I'm pretty sure he just told them it wasn't their business =).


Lastly, about 99% of my taxi rides had the same conversation. After I would explain a million times where I wanted to go and we finally figured it out I'd hop in the car. Soon I could see the driver switch between watching the road and looking at me in the rear view mirror. When I saw that happen I got ready for the following conversation: 

Driver: "Hello!"
Me: "Hi!" 
Driver: "Where you from?" 
Me: "America." 
Driver: "oh, America! Very good! Very good! Obama! You like?"
Me: "Nope!" 
Driver: "Oh ... Bush?" 
Me: "Yes, I like Bush" 
Driver: "Very good! Very good! Job?" 
Me: "I'm a teacher and my husband is a doctor." 
Driver: "Oooh very good! Very good! How many babies?" 
Me: "None?" 
Driver: "Whaaaat? No babies? Oooooh! When?" 
Me: "Um ... not in Asia. But someday." 
Driver: "oh! Very good! Very good!" 

Seriously! I can't even count how many conversations I had like that. Every taxi driver was so so so shocked that we had been married 2+ years and weren't popping out babies right and left. In Burma it is pretty much the norm to get married and 9 months later have a baby so I know we were a rare exception. 

I also kept thinking how bad I felt for women who came to Asia and struggled with infertility. I can not imagine. So, if you ever plan to visit or do a missions trip or something along those lines, please research some cultural things and get an idea of what people might ask you. Also get ready to be told you are fat. I'm not fat and I was told I was. Don't worry though, I'm sure I went home and comforted myself with mashed potatoes or a mango or something along those lines. ;) 


What do you think about these conversations? How would you respond if someone said something like this to you? 

If you live abroad are they blunt like this as well? If so, how do you deal with it? 

I'm also writing a post with things people have asked us since we have been back. Questions like, what do you miss the most from Asia? What was the favorite place you traveled to, etc. So, if you have a question comment below with it and I'll add it into my post. 

12.05.2016

Life Lately #I lost count what number I'm on...

Hi!

I thought I'd pop in today and fill you in on what's been happening lately.

First thing first! We got our Christmas tree and it is a REAL one and it smells divine! Do you get a real one or have a fake one? I also found a real wreath at our local grocery store for a whopping $9.99 and my front door needed it! 



If you follow me onInstagram you will notice that I have been doing some hand lettering. Well, not too long after I posted a picture of my work, the nail salon I went to asked me to create some gift cards and menus for their salon. We decided we would swap services. I'll do their menus and gift cards and they will do my nails. It's been a learning process for me and I also think it is fun to trade services.

Photography!

Do you want to know a secret? I love photography but the thought of doing portrait photography kind of freaked me out and wasn't appealing at all. Being around people I didn't know well and posing them without knowing for sure if the photos would come out was scary to me. Well, one of my best friends asked me to take 6 month pictures of her son and I agreed to do it. And you know what? It was so much fun! I later did his 1 year pictures too. Then, someone at church heard I take photos and asked me to do their family photos. There were 16 of them and they picked 2pm, which if you know anything about sunlight, you know that is a hard hard hard time to shoot photos. I did my best and they turned out fine for 2pm sun. One of my friends referred a family to me and I did their family photos last week. They were such a neat family and I'm so glad they hired me to do their pictures.

I'm going to pray about pursuing photography as a side business. I think it would be good to create my own schedule so I can work it around Dave's. I also have decided that I want to be affordable and give people full rights to their photos. If anyone else out there has a photography business, if you have any tips and tricks you want to share I'd greatly appreciate. Also, if you have a webpage comment with it and I'd love to see it.

Here's another random photography fact for you: I know the market is smaller but I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to be a floral photographer. Like how awesome would it be to do photos for flower companies in town so they could have good pictures for their social media sights and web pages??

Anyways, here are a few pictures from my two photo shoots. Any feedback of what is good and what I could change would be much appreciated. I feel like I'm learning a lot still and it's been a big change from capturing landscape and traveling to portraits. 



Tonight Dave and I went to a burger pug and they had football playing. This is how the conversation between Dave and I went: 

Me: "Dave, what is that team? I have never heard of MNF? Who are they?" 
Dave: "Who?" 
Me: "MNF!" 
Dave: "Who? Where?" 
Me: "Right there on the screen. Don't you see it?" 
Dave: "You mean, Monday Night Football." 
Me: "ha ha ha ha ha! I clearly don't know anything about football." 

How many days until the Super Bowl is over? I am so for reals having an Anne of Green Gables party this year on the Super Bowl. Bring it on. 

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about The Bible and beliefs. Mainly, I just feel sad that so so so many people I know live their beliefs on culture and respecting others rather than in obedience to God and respecting His Word. It doesn't shock me that the world does this but what shocks me are the Christians who do. It's no wonder people aren't getting saved more. Maybe someday I'll share more about it on my blog. I'm honestly not even sure how to process all of it right now but I know I need to keep praying and staying in The Bible. I'm just glad God doesn't change. 

Okay, friends. That's a mini recap of what's been going on lately. How have you been? What has been your favorite part of December? 
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