Saturday, April 23, 2011


From time to time, I enjoy posting a quote or a couple of paragraphs that I find to be particularly thought provoking. I took this excerpt from a book that I have been reading lately. Regardless of whether or not the author is correct on every point, he seeks to cause the reader to think practically about what it means to be active in the process of sanctification. It is a good example of someone striving to think Biblically rather than letting his pastor, politician, or pocketbook drive his views.

We conclude that sanctification* is not complete without social concern. Sanctification means that we must seek to promote justice for all, through legislation, political action, and the use of the media. We must oppose all forms of injustice: racism, the oppression of minorities, the treatment of workers as machines instead of people, and the like. Sanctification means opposition to abortion on demand, since it causes the murder of millions of potential image-bearers of God. Sanctification means concern for the education of our children; this implies not only the establishment and maintenance of Christian schools, but also regard for the welfare of public schools.
Growth in sanctification requires concern for the environment - using our influence to oppose air pollution, water pollution, irresponsible use of land, irresponsible harvesting of forests, and the like. It means being burdened about world hunger, and working for the alleviation of poverty. It means involvement in the war against drugs, in drug rehabilitation, and in the restoration of alcoholics. It includes concern for better prisons and for programs aimed at reducing crime. It means diligence in working for world peace and for an end to the disastrous nuclear armament race.

All such concerns are an aspect of our sanctification. We must conscientiously seek to implement Christian principles in every area of life. This is what it means to be a loyal subject of Christ our King.

*Sanctification- The process in which we are progressively made more like Christ.

Taken from Saved by Grace by Anthony Hoekema

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Penghu, the beautiful islands

A few weekends ago, we had a couple of days off of school for Tombsweeping Day (more to come on this). We decided to take advantage by going to Penghu, (or, as the Portuguese called them, the Pescadores Islands) a group of islands off the western coast of Taiwan. Here are the highlights in bullet points, followed by Beth's photos:

- Left on a High Speed Rail train at 6:30 in the morning on Saturday. It was a day of high frequency traveling, so we weren't even sure that our friends, Jes & Julianne, would be able to get tickets. Thanks to a mad dash to the ticket line, we did. We arrived at 5:45am and hopped in a line that wrapped all along the bottom floor of the train station. At 6:00, the ticket agents opened up the ticket lines, but people were lined up improperly. When the ticket agent demonstrated the correct place to make a line, there was a mad dash and, fortunately, we ended up with a better place in line. Needless to say, there were some ticked-off people.

-The train ride was amazing... very smooth and fast. Public transportation here is exceptional.

- Made it to the ferry terminal where we took a 2 hour ferry ride across glass-like water.

-Arrived in Penghu, and were picked up by our friendly homestay host, Mako, and his two year-old daughter.

-Obtained scooters so that we could zip around the islands (I was a bit nervous about this, but it really is pretty easy). I vote that we make scooters in the States less "sissified." They are so convenient and easy on the gas. We filled up for $3.00. And we loved the freedom of having our own transportation.

-The three main islands (out of 100ish) are connected by of which, at one time, was the longest bridge in Asia. We decided to ride across all three to catch the sunset on a western-most peninsula. Unfortunately, there wasn't much of a sunset. The trip back was eventful. I was smart and decided to wear swimming trunks and a t-shirt. Well, it is nice in April, but the temperature drops when the sun goes down and scooters have excellent air conditioning. Therefore, my eyebrows were crusted over with ice by the time the ride was over.

- On Sunday, we took a smaller ferry to a couple other beautiful islands, and saw some of Penghu's famous sites, including: the heart-shaped fish trap, ancient ruins, and interesting geological rock formations.

- Spent the afternoon on a beautiful beach, swimming and playing scrabble. Ate amazing barbecue for dinner.

-Camped on a completely deserted beach. We did, however, become keenly aware of why Penghu is considered the windsurfing capital of the world. Throughout the course of the night, the stakes to our tent were getting pulled up, and at 2am, we crawled out to restake a bit.

- On Monday, the weather was quite cold and gloomy, and I had started to feel sick. So we decided to head back to Taipei a day early. In changing our ferry tickets, we were not given seats for the return trip. We headed to the children's area in the back of the ferry and sat on the floor. Only later did we realize that would be a positive thing.

-Our return ferry ride was rough, literally. Beth doesn't do well with the sea anyway, but it was incredibly windy and the waves were quite large. At times, we were sliding across the floor. It wasn't long before Beth needed to lay down on the floor to keep her lunch down. Not long after that, I began to get a bit queasy as well. Our friends told us that about 90% of the people in the main cabin hurled their cookies. We were glad we got to lay down in the back and avoid the horrible smell and nauseating sounds. Though neither of us lost it, Beth was sick for a couple of days after that.




Mako, with his daughter, in front of his homestay

Sites along the western part of the islands



the Double-Heart stone trap, a famous site in Penghu

old civilizations



Scrabble, with Jes & Julianne




Loved the scooter

Thankful for good friends

All in all, we loved Penghu... the islands are surprisingly untouched by tourism, inhabited by friendly people, and stunningly beautiful.

For more photos, check here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


... in Taiwan is quite different from running in the States. Allow me to elaborate.

But first, some backgroud: Kayt and I have been running together since last October... six blissful months of cool Taipei weather. Great. Yesterday, I was surprised by a burning sensation in my eyes caused by the amount of sweat dripping from my forehead. Bummer. And it's only April. Double bummer.

Maybe because we've been in Taipei now for the better part of a year, I am no longer surprised at the many oddities of our situation as female runners here. In general, there just aren't very many women who run, and even fewer white, foreign women. And so naturally, we've acquired some sort of celebrity status. Bizarre.

And so how is running different in Taiwan? I know you're dying to know. Well, without further ado.

Like... in the middle of a race, a man asking to take our photo. Unblievable! Two women, white women... running! We're racing here, can't this wait? Or, at another race, when a group of Taiwanese rugby players crowded in around us and pointed a camera at us. Can we take photo? they asked. Do we really have a choice? we smiled grimly.

Like... the man who saw us last weekend and said, "Da-an! Da-an!" (That's the name of the park we run at.) We smiled and nodded, trying to identify any hint of familiarity. Nope. I guess we are a bit more recognizable. Sigh.

Like... the green bean (not the veggie) soup that was provided as post race fuel last weekend. I thought I would be a good sport and try it, but one slurp about did me in. Excuse me, but where are the bagels and bananas? Oh, right... this is Taiwan.

green bean soup = perfect post race fuel? I think not, but thanks anyway.

Like... the man who was astounded at our record-setting pace and asked us after our run yesterday how he could improve his time. Well, in my expert opinion, sir...

the end.

Kayt and I ran another half-marathon last weekend. It was a bit grueling, but we managed to improve our time and exceed our goal. We were pretty excited. As we were walking away, Kayt noticed the stage and table with trophies. Do you think we got anything? Ha, I doubt it. I laughed. Well, we thought we'd better just check.


As it turns out, we had placed 2nd/3rd in our age range and were awarded massive, gaudy trophies. Are you kidding me? In retrospect, it's quite easy to place when there are only five women running.

All this to say, my return debut to running in the States will be anticlimatic, to put it lightly.

I think I'm okay with that.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Three Little Pigs

Once upon a time, there were three little pigs. Their names were Alvin, Melvin, and Bill. These young piggies were coming of age and recognized that the time had come to move out of their parents crib and into their own digs. Before leaving, they sat down to talk over their future plans.

a brick house

Alvin began with his intentions, "I think I will build a hut of our straw. It gets very humid here in Piggyland and a straw hut will allow great ventilation." Melvin enthusiastically nodded his head, "Great idea, Alvin. I'm sure that will work out very well for you. There is more than one way to build a house." Alvin and Melvin smiled at each other while Bill grimaced.

Their heads then turned to Melvin. "I have decided that I will build a stick cabin. I've always wanted a stick cabin with that rustic, earthy feel. I think it will be great for me!" Alvin shook his head in concurrence. "There is more than one way to build a house, Melvin. I'm sure a stick cabin will work out splendidly for you."

The little piggies heads then turned to Bill, whose frown had only deepened. "If you have ears, hear this. There is a big bad wolf lurking in the area and, sooner or later, he will come for us. Though there might be many ways to build a house, there is only one way that will ensure your safety. That is why I plan to build a house of brick. If you two are wise, you will do the same." Alvin and Melvin looked at Bill dumfounded. "Of course the wolf will come after us. He comes after every little pig," stated Alvin with a condescending air. "Yes, I can't believe that you are so narrow-minded as to believe that a brick house is the only one that can keep us safe. You've always been so intolerant of people with other ideas," stated Melvin. "Don't you think you are being a bit naive?" asked Alvin.

Bill, with sympathy in his eyes, shook his head. "I love you both and only want you to know the truth. Narrow-mindedness and intolerance have nothing to do with it." Alvin and Melvin looked at him angrily, "Yes it does! You are narrow-minded because you refuse to acknowledge that our houses will save us just as well as your house will save you." Bill opened the door to leave before glancing over his shoulder. "Just because you want something to be true doesn't make it so. How can I give credence to something I believe to be absolutely wrong, especially when it involves the lives of my brothers?" With that, he was gone.

a straw house

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dave's Thoughts on Gas Prices

 I found this article on Dave Ramsey's website and thought it was great. Makes me happy that I don't drink coffee...

You've probably noticed that gasoline prices have gone up 13% in the last month. Since most of us are used to daily commutes, running the kids here and there and visiting friends and family, this price increase is affecting us both at the pump and in what we pay for other goods and services.

"But there's nothing I can do," some say. Dave says, "Oh, yes there is!"

It's time to revisit the budget.

Most people feel like they've crunched their budgets as much as they can. But how much is your car payment? How much is your monthly cable or satellite bill? Is the Starbucks drive-through a regular stop on your morning commute?

This may be tough to hear, but new cars, cable and Starbucks are luxuries, not necessities! You can easily survive with a used (and paid-for!) car, no cable reality shows and coffee made at home. Just think of all the money you could use to pay off debt and beef up your gasoline budget if you simply did those three things!

An algebra teacher and Dave fan in Michigan sent in an interesting email on this topic. She wrote:

Dave, I often give my math students this calculation to figure out. A typical latte costs $3.59 for 16 oz. That's 22 cents per ounce or $28.72 a gallon! Ask your listeners if they've drank a gallon of latte lately!


First Things First

You must remember that there is a difference between needs and wants in life. The first items in your budget should be your needs: shelter, food, transportation, clothing and utilities. If you currently go to the movie theater every weekend or have a Hawaiian vacation at the top of your list, but you struggle to pay the electric bill, then your priorities are out of wack. Don't sacrifice your needs to finance your wants. If you do, it will catch up with you and you'll regret it.

Plan Ahead

You can also strategically plan ahead while running errands and commuting to work. If you go to the grocery store twice a week, reorganize your list so you only have to go once a week. If you have a lot of errands to run, plan your route ahead of time so you're not retracing your steps around town. You could also organize a carpool with some of your coworkers who live near you.

It's anyone's guess where gas prices will end up, so have a Budget Committee Meeting right now to see where you can free up some money and keep your family from feeling the pinch.


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