Friday, December 28, 2012

Cross Culture Powerpoint

One of my classes this semester has been Cross Culture Communication. I had the students do a final presentation, and I am incredibly proud of this powerpoint. I removed the authors name, but I was amazed at how well she did! I thought she did a great job getting a grasp on both cultures


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Photoblog 2012

Christmas With The Ransom 5

Getting in the Spirit

 Sharing Christmas

Alyia's First

Christmas Eve Traditions



Great Food

The Aftermath

Thursday, December 20, 2012

30 Reasons I Love You...Happy Birthday Renee

Even though you are trying to avoid it, today is your birthday. In honor of this incredible day, I made my own "30 by 30 list", but with a twist.....
30 Reasons I Love You

1. You like making lists like this
2. Your need to be right in all situations
3. Your musical talent
4. There is nothing you can not do
5. You allow me to hog the covers
6. You see the best in everyone
7. You are beautiful

8. You are silly

9. You love to travel

10. You homeschool our kids
11. You married me

12. You can fix anything
13. You have a true servant heart
14. You repeat everything for me
15. You are the most amazing Mom in the world

16. You do the kids hair
17. You like to watch shows with me
18. How smart you are
19. You don't need me, you want me
20. Your patience
21. You have specific goals in life
22. You wake up early, and get much less sleep than you need
23. You get bored easy, and are always doing new things

24. Your children love you

25. You mop the floor
26. You put up with me
27. You are independent
28. You let me buy cool electronic stuff

29. You are organized
30. Because we have another 30 years (at least) together!

I Love you so much. As you once told me, 我永远的爱你

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Lessons from a Cup of Yogurt

It seems as though we are learning more these days from our kids and their experiences than we are from our own lives.  I guess that's the way God plans it though.  I've learned so much about what it means to have the faith of a child by watching my children's faith bud and blossom.  (see Lessons From a Hurting BoySuperheroLessons From My Son)

Usually Tae Kwon Do class runs late.  It's supposed to get out at 8:30, which is already late for a 5 and 6 year old, but is often not dismissed till 8:45.  At the last class, they did an activity involving parents, and after I went, I saw that class was not yet winding down.  I saw an opportunity for us to gracefully sneak out, so the boys put on their coats and jackets and we headed out.  At that point, the teacher stopped us and said we couldn't leave yet (yeah, they're my children and we can leave when we want, right?).  I told the teacher that it was already late and that they needed to get to bed.  I explained that foreigners go to bed earlier than Chinese because we don't take a 2 hour nap in the afternoons. He responded by saying that if we wait for just 5 more minutes, they have a gift for each of the students.  Now last time they had a gift, it was a framed picture of each kid doing a Tae Kwon Do pose, so that was really nice.  I wasn't excited about waiting, but we did.  

The boys took off their shoes and coats and got in line with the others.  Then came out a huge case of yogurt cups...yes, the kind we have about 10 of in our fridge at all times. 

I braced myself for the reaction of my boys, but was pleased as punch to see that they were polite and took it without complaint.  Of course my attitude was not right at all.  I was frustrated because it was cold and late, Alyia was already in bed, and I knew that the boys wouldn't be in bed till around 9:15.  

After receiving their yogurts, the kids were dismissed and we were on our way.  Of course, the boys wanted to drink them right then, which was fine.  They were given the choice to have that or the banana that I had brought as a snack.  

As we were riding the bus home, they asked me, 
"Why were the other kids (and grandmas) so excited to get ONE cup of yogurt."  


Heart check for Renee!  That and a big fat teaching opportunity.

I explained how not everyone has the same things we have.  While those yogurts are a staple item in our fridge, Chinese people see them as a treat.  They aren't that expensive, but most people here see it as an unnecessary expense and they'd rather put their extra 3 RMB (50 cents) toward kindergarden tuition.  We compared the attitudes of the kids in the class to our attitudes, particularly pointing out all the presents under the tree. Thankfully, our Christmas shopping is all done, and we only spent about $5 per kid thanks to some generous people who wanted to reward our kids for the lives they lead...that's another blog post for after Christmas!  

The lesson here is this:  PERSPECTIVE!  GRATITUDE!  NO EXPECTATION!  

The Chinese people never expected to get a gift.  They were excited and grateful for it, yet they will continue to live without future expectation of such treats.  As Christmas is upon us, it's a good reminder for us.  Those presents under the tree--they are "treats".  We should not expect them.   They are blessings that we should be nothing but grateful.  And as our family's birthday season is also approaching...yep, we still have work to do in this area...

Sure, we'll continue to do gifts for our children, but I'm grateful for this perspective lesson that they witnessed with their own eyes and from their own friends. I'm sure it's a story we'll return to on a regular basis, and I'm grateful for the little reminder that I got too.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Lessons From a Hurting Boy

There's a quote that I heard recently, but for the life of me can't remember.  It's something about how when you live your normal, daily life in an upright and holy manner, that's when the Light truly shines the brightest.

I went back and found the quote that I couldn't remember, so here it is a week later.  


"It is not in the busy doing for God,
but in the simple "being" that God uses us the most 
to touch people we would least expect!"
~Danny Lund

Okay, so I did a really  bad job of paraphrasing it, but the meaning remains the same. 

Sure, we love our "programs" and "meetings" but it's at the vegetable market, at the playground, on morning walks, on the bus, and in the university classroom that people see us as just normal people.  Those are the times that they get to see our character under various circumstances, and those are the times that cause them to wonder why we are so different.  We've had so many people tell us that they saw us at the McDonnald's on the other side of town, or when we were buying winter coats for our kids, or at the hospital, etc.  They are quick to detail every little thing they witnessed in our family.  Certainly, we make an impression (our family does kinda stick out), and we pray that everywhere we go, it's a good one.

So, you can see why we are so eager to live among the people.  We do our best to allow our children to live a "normal" life, being involved in activities and such.  We often catch a lot of slack from people thinking that we are wasting our time in these activities, but we've seen so much come from them.  

In Tae Kwon Do class the other day, the boys had their first real experience with a bully.  Though the kid was younger than both of our boys, they were definitely not his first victims.  It started out before class when all the kids play around on the mat.  It usually ends up getting rather chaotic and quite often a little rough.  There was what looked like a game of tag going on and the kid was whacking the boys really hard.  At that point the teacher called all the kids over to some ballet bars to stretch, but the one kid refused.  In typical Chinese supervisory fashion, there was no supervision going on.  The kid knocked over both Tegan and Preston as the were stretching.  I gave him the "mom" look and told him not to push.  Then he came, with me 2 feet away, and spit in Tegan's face.  [INSERT MAMA RAGE HERE]  I talked to his mom and told her that she needed to do something.  She had obviously seen everything, but she was just laughing it off.  [INSERT MORE MAMA RAGE HERE]   I told the teacher what was going on, and he said he'd take care of it.  He held on to the kid for a few minutes then let him go.  Well,  the kid went straight to Preston and spit in his face too.  [FUMING MAMA RAGE NOW]  I somehow managed to keep my cool and talked to the owner of the school who had just walked in.  

We've seen this kid be completely unresponsive to any discipline.  If he's told to stand up, he sits down.  If the teacher whacks his bum, he laughs.  If the teacher grabs his hand and says, "Come here,"  he becomes dead weight.  If the teacher yells in his face, again he laughs and makes faces.  We've even seen the teacher beat on him pretty hard, and the results are the same.  He even acted this way at the previous belt test when he was supposed to be showing his form.  All the while the mom just laughs.

(Disclaimer:  The teachers know that they had better not EVER lay a hand on our boys.  It's so much a part of the culture here, but they know it won't fly with us.)  

What really makes this sad is this.  If the boy reacts this way to the teacher's discipline, what does it say about his home life.  I'm guessing that he gets beat on a regular basis. In fact, I'd be willing to bet his mom gets beat too.  You can see the hopelessness in the mom's face.  She has no clue what to do with her son, and has obviously bullied him.  She most likely has hopes that this Tae Kwon Do class will help to straighten him out.  

I must say that I am VERY proud of our boys.  They didn't once fight back.  They didn't complain.  In fact, they said that they felt sorry for the boy.  We explained to them that he is acting this way because he is hurting.  We talked about how he needs to feel loved, and how that's something that they can show him.  Though you'd never guess with how rough-n-tumble they are, they really are compassionate boys.  

So the lesson here is this:  We call him a "bully" but really, he's just a boy that's hurting, a boy who is acting in the only way he's been taught.  There's always a back-story, something we don't know about. Our job is only this--to love on him.  Our society so often sees bullies and groups them into a heap of others that are termed to be beyond hope.  Don't they have access to the same Hope we have?  YES!  Are they any less deserving of that Redemption?  NO!  So we love them...

Though it's unlikely that we'll be able to have a direct impact on the family, we pray that he and his mom will see light in us.  I pray that I didn't scare her too much and that she'll understand that I have to protect my children.  I hope that she's seen the way we talk to our children when they are in the wrong and she'll learn that violence isn't the only way to communicate disappointment.  Maybe at the next lesson, I'll get to talk to her and find out why she's hurting so badly and just maybe I'll be able to encourage her not to take her pain to her son, but rather to The Son.  

The next post will be another lesson we learned from Tae Kwon Do class and a cup of yogurt, so stay tuned!

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Born-Dec. 31, 1975
Healed-Nov. 17, 2012

I clearly remember what went through my mind the first time I met you. "Oh my goodness, she looks like a real-life China doll." As I got to know you over the course of the next two weeks, it became clear  God was giving me an amazing, new friend, and I looked forward to seeing you again on the other side of the world.

Never did I guess that when I saw you a few months later, you'd be arriving in China on the same plane as my future husband,

 and that you and Danny would mentor us through our dating days. 

Never did I guess that we'd plan a youth retreat and witness this kind of craziness together

and introduce a new generation to "Saved By the Bell." 

Never did I guess that you'd be the one feeding my Butterfinger addiction every time you went to Beijing.

 Never did I guess that you'd be throwing Josh and I a wedding shower, 

that a few short months later, I'd be throwing you a baby shower for Caleb and Karen Vi

or that I'd be telling you draw a picture of your baby while blindfolded.

Never did I guess that you would be sitting at my wedding 

and praying for my marriage.

Never did I guess that we'd be crying tears of joy together

 and that our kids would eventually play together.

Never did I guess that I'd get to know some of the people that you influenced in such great ways.

and that some of my favorite pictures of Chinese people would come from the city that you loved and served with all your heart.

Never did I guess that visiting you in Beijing would be the last time I would get to spend with my dear friend.

In your last few months on earth, you were in more pain that any person should ever have to endure, but you allowed God to use you to minister to so many people.  Your one prayer request was that your faith would not fail.  That is such a testament to the woman that you were.  Now that you are with your Creator, I think you'll see just how many lives you have touched and that your faith has moved mountains in the hearts of many all over the world.  

For me, it's been 10 years to the day since Jesus first took my heart.  What a day to loose my best friend!  But I know that loosing you here on this Earth means that you are forever with Jesus.  I imagine you dancing with him and having a grand ol' time.

I'm a little jealous, a lot sad, and incredibly blessed to be able to say that you were my friend.

I already miss you, my friend.  Love on Jesus for me!