November 29, 2010

What Do You Say?

To say that it was a different kind of Thanksgiving for us this year is an enormous understatement. The most glaring difference was celebrating a holiday not recognized by the country we live in. Life in Singapore was business as usual unless you happen to bleed red, white, and blue. Kids were still in school, most of our husbands still had to work, nothing was closed, and the grocery stores were no more busy than a normal day. There was no Black Friday hype and we had to wait until Friday morning to watch the Cowboys and Aggies play. If you can call what the Cowboys did as "playing", but that's an entirely different post.

We had plans on Thursday to get together with several other families in our building along with some new friends from Houston.

We had reserved the area by our pool for our dinner....a dinner we ordered from the American Club so there was no major cooking required. 5:00 rolled around and the heavens opened up requiring us to move to Plan B. Our neighbors, Don and Anne, were gracious enough to open up their apartment for our feast.

No big deal? Considering there were 12 boys 11 years old and under, it was extremely gracious of them.
We piled into their apartment, decided to eat in shifts, piled the food everywhere there was space and proceeded to celebrate Thanksgiving.

We kinda made it around the kid's table with a "what are you thankful for" kind of discussion that never went deeper than being grateful for brownies and Nerf dart guns.

The parents managed a prayer of Thanksgiving and an uninterrupted meal which is miraculous in and of itself!

Friday we had plans to have dinner with my friends, Tiffany and Lisa, and our families. Tiffany and Lisa made most of the food......I threw on an apron and brought a couple of appetizers and the fixings for mashed potatoes and tried to blend in with the Martha Stewart girls.

We may or may not have had one small towel casualty.....but we did learn a valuable lesson in how to quickly put out a small fire!

We could have fed a small country with as much food as we had. This picture is a snapshot of the appetizers only. There was A LOT of food.

It was an all afternoon/evening affair with kids running between the pool and Wii with stops in the kitchen to check on our progress.

Tiffany's husband smoked the turkeys on his grill and it was hands down the best turkey I've ever had. It was decadant and wonderful meal.....we all rolled out of there completely sick which means it was a successful Thanksgiving.

Yesterday we sat in church as the pastor, whom we've come to adore, spoke on the story in Luke where Jesus healed the 10 lepers. He healed them from a disease that had kept them out of society and away from their family and friends for years. He gave them back their lives and only one returned to thank Him. One. We were reminded of all the blessings we are given and how often we forget to thank the giver of those gifts. Our pastor encouraged us to not only remember to be thankful to God for all He has given us.....and we are ALL so very blessed, but to remember to thank the people in your life that have impacted you.

I sat in the pew and cried. Big 'ol tears just rolled down my face. I am so thankful to God for so much. For my salvation. For His neverending mercy and grace. For being a very big God that cares about the smallest of details. It reminded me of all the years I have looked at my boys when they've received even the smallest of treats and said, "What do you say?". I felt exactly like that. Like my eyes had been opened to all that I had to be thankful for here in Singapore and God was saying, "What do you say?".

I'm very thankful for the people in our lives here. The new friends that have taken us under their wing, have helped us with the boys, have hung around during my often unpleasant mood swings. The friends that have skipped all the silly stuff and gotten right to the nitty gritty with me, knowing that in many cases we only have a year or two to be in each other's lives before we go back to our previous lives. The friends that have opened up my eyes to life all over this planet. Friends that have taken a chance on me.

In my moments of missing all those that are precious to me back home, I don't for a minute want to overlook the blessing of those put into my life right here.

As for you back home, and you know who you are, thank you. I am spoiled in the amount of love and support all of you have given me. I am thankful that you have been willing to go on this journey with me. I am a very, very blessed girl and don't want any of you to ever think I've taken you for granted.

Be thankful. Be thankful and tell Him. Family and friends are a gift. They give us our lives back when we think we've lost them and they make life worth living wherever you are. I am so incredibly thankful for each and every one of you.

We are now looking ahead to Christmas which is a holiday Singapore does big. I love all the lights and trees everywhere. I found my box of Christmas decor that I happened to throw into our shipment and was so excited to see that I had packed our stockings and some of our favorite decorations. It doesn't look exactly the same, but it still feels really good. My favorite is my view out my kitchen window. It makes me smile and that's a good thing.

November 17, 2010

Keep The Change

I find myself saying the phrase "keep the change" quite a bit these days. My only mode of transportation is walking, subway, bus or taxi and I opt for the taxi probably more than I should. I ADORE chatting with the taxi drivers here. So many of them have been so kind and curious about where in the states I came from....offering me all kinds of advice on life in Singapore. I have laughed with some of them and taken notes with others. It is amazing how so many of them have never lived anywhere outside of this little island and yet know so much about the rest of the world. They are kind to my boys and take their jobs very seriously. Every once in awhile I get a driver that is cranky and irritated at my mere existence, but overall they are kind and polite.

Tipping taxi drivers is more the exception than the rule here. I get great amounts of joy at tipping them because they always are so grateful. My statement of "keep the change", even if it is only rounding out the dollar, is always met with gratitude.

Recently, I have not been as gracious with the change that has been handed to me. Before you quit reading out of exasperation for a post where I bemoan my current situation, let me just tell you that this will be the last you hear of it.

When I set out to write about and document our experience I promised myself that I would be authentic in recording the details in our move. That means stuff that's not always fun and exciting. Life is never always fun and exciting. Good, bad, or indifferent I am not going to pretend otherwise.

That being said, I will honestly say that this last month has been the hardest since we've moved. The homesickness has been almost crippling at times and the fight against it often left me exhausted. People deal with emotions differently and I wish I could say that I dug into the Bible or went for a run, but my way of dealing with life that is overwhelming is to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head. I'm not proud of that and I don't think it's healthy, but it's what I do.

This past Friday I found myself with a completely empty day and a completely empty apartment. Of all my options for how to spend my day I chose the one that required the least amount of effort and I went back to bed after sending the boys on their way. It was many, many hours later when I woke up and was completely ashamed of the time I had wasted. Completely and totally wasted time.

I forced myself to have a quiet time knowing that enough was enough and I needed some godly inspiration. I've been studying Ruth and on Friday it was the day that Ruth had a turning point. The day that she was done mourning her dead husband and ready to move on. A coincidence? I don't believe in coincidences.

I spent a lot of time talking to God that day. I told Him that in case He hadn't noticed, I'm not the most graceful with major life change. I told Him that I was sorry for the time wasted. I told Him that I was really ready to be done with the sadness and to be present right here where I am. I also thanked Him for putting some amazing women into my life here in Singapore that deserve a me that is not emotionally high maintenance.

I was reminded of the fact that on at least two occasions in Houston I had spoken to a group of women and addressed how important it is to leave your past where it belongs and not to walk through life looking behind you because that's how you miss what's in front of you. I so love the irony of the opportunity to put into play what was so easy to say.

Friday was the day that I put on my big girl pants. I realize that there will be times when I will still be sad, but the way in which I choose to deal with those emotions is 100% my choice. I am choosing to get on with life.

Change happens to everyone. Sometimes it's good....a new life, a new relationships, a new opportunity. Sometimes it's hard....a lost life, a lost relationship, a lost opportunity. It is what makes life interesting and keeps us humble - a solid reminder that we are not the ones in control.

My goal is to "keep the change" that is given to me and to be grateful for the opportunities it provides. To be real with my emotions and know they're a part of life but that I have a choice every single day in how I deal with it.

Not for a moment do I think it will be all peaches and cream from here on out. But for now, I'm done talking about it and I'm done writing about it.

I'm going to work on channeling my emtions into a love for running. Then maybe my big girl pants will need to get a little smaller. Now that's a change I could really embrace!

November 07, 2010

Double Digits Baby!!

I can't believe you are 10 years old today when it seems like yesterday you were that cute little blonde 4 year old. At 11:07 a.m. Texas time, 11/08, you will turn 10. Last night you told me that I should have just waited until 11:08 to have you because that would have been really cool. Someday I will tell you exactly why matching your time of birth with your birth date wasn't much of a priority in the throes of giving birth to you with no epidural. But there's no reason to ruin your day and steal your innocence so we'll wait for that fun conversation until you're 23.

10 is a big, big deal. Noone in our home is a single digit anymore! This is the big time and I am as fascinated with you today as I was the day you were born. I told you the other night that I wonder why exactly God chose us to be your parents and in place of a witty retort, which is common for you, you just smiled at me and rolled your eyes a little. I find it beautiful that hearing how loved you are doesn't even give you pause because you know it well. That part of my job, I can say without a doubt, I am doing well. Too well, if I go by all the protests when I kiss all over your sweet, freckled face.

It has been quite a year for you. For all of us. Your dad and I made some big decisions for our family and as our kid, you got to come along for the ride. You and your brother have been amazing with all the changes in your little life.

You left behind some really good friends.

But have made some new ones. They don't replace your Houston friends, but they make your life here in Singapore a whole lot more fun!

You have traveled to six different countries this year. Seeing as how your passport was brand new at the beginning of the year, that's pretty amazing. I love how intrigued and interested you have been about all the new places you've experienced. You have met some interesting people and have asked some challenging questions but I welcome them all. Even if I don't have the answers, I am glad to see your world becoming bigger. My prayer is that you embrace people from all over this planet as being unique human beings worthy of love and respect.

You continue to be fearless when it comes to adventure and you have certainly had the opportunity to prove that this year. I don't know whether to be afraid or amazed at your fearlessness when you run off a platform into thin air being held only by a cable or hang out in a ring with a deadly snake. I kinda just think you're crazy.

For some reason you have developed an interesting way to stand still. You don't cross your arms, put them in your pockets, or even on your hips. You stand with your wrists bent creating a nice set of chicken wings. I don't understand how this is comfortable, but it's you.

We still struggle with your tendency towards being dramatic. We thought channeling some of that into a creative source would help. You tried out for and got a part in Annie and loved every minute of it. As wonderful as that was, if something doesn't go your way or doesn't come easily to you, we can easily have an Oscar winning performance on our hands. We have talked self-control until we are blue in the face and you are getting better. I think climbing Masada in Israel in 100+ degree weather was hands down one of the most challenging things you and I have ever been through. I used every single trick in the book to coach you up that mountain with quite a bit of drama and tears from you the entire way, but you did it.

There will be many mountains in your life and I will coach you up every single one of them. We may reach the summit dirty and sweaty with tear stained faces, but we'll get up them together!

Our other struggle with you has been reminding you that even though you can participate easily in most adult conversations, you are still the child. There is a line that is not to be crossed and we remind you often to stay on your side of the line. I love your wit, but maintaining a healthy level of respect and humility is something we are working on constantly!

You have slowly but surely broadened your culinary horizons. Still not the most adventurous of eaters, but you love chicken tikka, buttered naan, egg prata, and you can put away a significant amount of pork and shrimp dumplings! You love the fruit smoothies, or Tropicanas, at school so much you have started a Tropicana club that meets at lunch. Before you know it, you'll be eating duck tongue and fried beetles just like your dad!

You and I share a love of reading and we definitely like the same kind of music. I loved taking you to your first concerts this year.....Newsboys and TobyMac/Skillet. You now religiously follow your favorite artists and know when they're touring and when they'll be in Houston. You've going to have to stop torturing yourself like that!!

Nathan, I am so excited to have a front row seat to your life. I pray for you consistently that God will protect you and that you will have a heart for Him. I also pray for the sweet girl you will marry someday, but you could care less about that right now.

I love and adore you. Even more than that, I just flat out think you are a cool kid.

I love you more!

November 04, 2010

From This Day Forward

I was nervous. Months of planning with every detail a perfect reflection of us and it all came down to that moment. I couldn't look at my dad without wanting to cry so I stared straight ahead into my future. Into the face of the one person I would promise my life to.

I remember how long the aisle was and thinking that I would never make it to the front. How good it felt to have people we loved surrounding us.

I remember trying so hard to be win the fight over letting my mind wander to meanlingless details that may or may not have been completed.

I remember loving my bridesmaid's dresses more than my own.

I remember my dad taking advantage of the moment he gave his first daughter to another man by telling Scot that he and my mom had prayed for him since I was a little girl. How happy they were to welcome him into our family.

I remember staring at Scot and promising him the world.

Fifteen years ago today.

I had no idea what our future would hold and how so many of those promises would be put to the test. I can't help but think what I would add to those promises if I said them all over again today.

I, Keri, take you, Scot, to be my husband.

To this day, out of all the men in the world, I take you. I choose you.

To have and to hold from this day forward.

I want to be one of those couples that I melt over. The ones that are old and gray, but still look at each other with tenderness and refuse to walk alone without holding the hand of their love. I want that for us.

For better or for worse.

I made this promise not knowing what better or worse was going to look like for us. I can honestly say that despite the worse, and there has been some significant worse for us, there is noone I would want to go through that with other than you. You are the better in my life.

For richer and for poorer.

This is the part of the ceremony where everyone chuckles. It helps when you start off poor, things can only get better, right? I am so grateful that the richness of our family is more important to you than monetary richness. You have proven this over and over again. Our family is rich because we have each other.

In sickness and in health.

We have not traveled through significant physical sickness with each other. Something I know we are both so grateful for. I think there have been times when we've been emotionally sick. When our hearts have been broken causing an ache and pain that no bandage or ointment can fix. It hasn't been easy for either of us, but we are still here. That's what matters, we are still here together.

To love and to cherish.

I think back to the moment I uttered those words on that altar and my love for you seems so trite. How much my love has grown through our experiences both good and bad. Through fighting for our marriage when it seemed hopeless at times, I know more today what love truly means than the day I first promised it to you.

Till death do us part.

Except that death won't part us because we each know where we are spending eternity. Not only do we know that, but it matters that we live a life that is worthy of eternity.

Fifteen years ago I stood at the altar and promised you the world having no idea what was in store for us.

Fifteen years later and I would make those promises to you again.

From this day forward......


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