Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Importance of Being Ernie

Which muppet are you?

You Are Ernie

Playful and childlike, you are everyone's favorite friend - even if your goofy antics get annoying at times.

You are usually feeling: Amused - you are very easily entertained

You are famous for: Always making people smile. From your silly songs to your wild pranks, you keep things fun.

How you life your life: With ease. Life is only difficult when your friends won't play with you!

I like Ernie! As a kid I always liked his shirt and his laugh. I liked how he annoyed Bert. If I had to pick a muppet character to be around all day, I guess it would be Ernie. (To be honest, I was expecting to be Oscar the Grouch! I'm a bit relieved...)

Of course, I'm not sure if it's entirely accurate, as I do have Bert-like tendencies and I definitely have a "Miss Piggy" side. The "easily entertained" descriptor is spot-on, though. The fact that I spent time taking this quiz and pondering its results is proof enough of that!

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Dog's Eye View

Zac Before...

"Oooooh, take me! Take me!!"

And after...

"Aaaaahh, you're home! ::::sniff, sniff::::: Did you bring me a treat?"


My alarm went off at 3:00 AM. (I didn't care!) The coffee pot came on at 3:15. (Boy, was I glad!) We were out the door at 3:50. (I couldn't wait!) We found out the flight was slightly delayed, but at 5:45 I saw her through the glass and eagerly watched as she made her way through the revolving door. Finally!! It was a fun reunion with Grandma, cousin Maggie, Kyle, Luke and I, along with Nick and two faithful friends- Jonathan and Brett who had gotten up in the middle of the night to welcome their friends home.

We just returned from a fun breakfast, and now we are enjoying catching up and looking at the goodies she brought home. What a wonderful morning!

Maggie, the best cousin in the world, made her this sign which she brought to the airport. She had all the family sign the back. So sweet!

Breakfast at IHOP. Returning to the US from China and ordering French toast ..."international" indeed!

"Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen."

Ephesians 3:20

Friday, June 23, 2006

Those Three Little Words

"I packed today." Those are the words that thrilled my soul this morning. Yes, I know that technically the "three little words" everyone wants to hear most are "I love you," which our family always says to each other everytime we say good-bye (either in person, or on the phone). But, until today I hadn't known how badly I wanted to hear the those other three words until I heard Bethany say them a few moments ago from across the world. It's time to come home!

They're going to a fellowship tomorrow morning (which is their last full day there). They have international fellowship on Sunday morning, then at some point they will depart for the airport. She said she's ready to get back and see everyone, though not really ready to leave China. I completely understand.

Meanwhile, what has happened to Kyle while his sister has been gone? Why, he's really "gone to the dogs!"

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

One Day More... Then Three Days More!!

"One day more, Another day another destiny..." That is one of my favorite songs from the musical "Les Miserables" (and where I got the title for my blog), and we're going to see it tomorrow!! We have been absolutely taken with this musical since we saw it in the summer of 1990. We've driven to other cities to see it, and someday we'd like to see it in London ::::sigh::::: I was able to get *really* good seats for tomorrow's matinee performance and gave them to Luke back in April for his birthday. "Can you hear the people sing?..." We will tomorrow!

Well, last night was the end of the Mavericks season (sadly). Time to turn our attention to... SOCCER! Tomorrow the US plays Ghana. Choosing who to root for in the NBA finals was a no-brainer, but tommorow's game, which we've known was coming for awhile now, was a tougher call. But, I think along with Bethany, who several months ago stated, "Well, I know who I'm rooting for!" when we saw the divisions... we will be pulling for Ghana. We were there last summer when they won a qualifying game. People came out of their shops yelling, cars were honking, people in the streets were jumping and celebrating. It would be great to be there for tomorrow's game! We were with a Ghanaian gentleman last night, Dr. Sam Somuah, who is a special assistant to the president of Ghana (the equivalent to being on the "White House staff" here... I guess it would be "Castle Staff" over there since the president offices in a castle...) He is a wonderful Christian brother. It was a privilege to spend time with him and we look forward to future interactions with him as we work together to advance the gospel in Ghana and in West Africa.

The countdown in on! Five more days!! There is no possible way for Bethany to know how much she has been missed at home these past 4 1/2 weeks. I remember a quote I heard many years ago, "The only place you're irreplaceable is in the home." Boy, is that true.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day!

A fun day fishing in North Carolina when the kids were little. This has always been one of my favorite "Daddy" pictures of Luke!

My dad and me a few years ago when we played a concert together at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas. A fun memory!

Luke III with his dad (Luke Jr.) and his dad (Luke Sr.)

"As a father has compassion on his children,

so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him."

Psalm 103:13

Photo Shoot

Hair and make-up! She said it took her 30 minutes to get all of the make-up off.

Apparently after he did this to her hair, he pulled it back. So the end result doesn't look so "wild!"

They went and got "xitos" (where they wash your hair and massage your head) after the shoot. She said it took quite awhile to get all of the "product" out of their hair!

The "finished product." The final pictures will be in the fall catalog. We can't wait to see it!

In addition to the modeling "gig," they also got to be extras in a Chinese soap opera on Saturday! They were filming it at the university close-by, and they went over to watch them film. The crew noticed them (What? They didn't blend in with the crowd?) and asked them if they wanted to be in a scene.

It's fun to see them enjoying their "15 minutes of fame." They certainly won't stick out when they return to the Land of the Blonde and the Home of the Bleached in another week!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Model Tourists

Bethany and Stephen were hired for the modeling shoot! She called this evening to tell me that a couple of days ago the company sent over clothing for them to try on and someone came to take some "test shots" of them to see if they looked "natural" enough. Sure enough, they passed the test, and have each been hired for 800 Quai apiece (100 US dollars). They will have their "shoot" tomorrow afternoon. Stephen has described the clothes as "hideous" and Bethany said one of the pair of pants she is to wear say "Good Girl" down the side of each leg, but they are so excited to be paid, they would probably wear chicken suits if they had to! They will be featured in the fall catalog for the clothing company. SO-- you heard it here first! "Good Girl" pants will be all the rage this fall...

We are in the home stretch! Sunday begins their last week. I noticed yesterday that when I schedule upcoming activities on the family calendar, she will finally be here for them. I'm so glad!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Bethany and her best friend Hayden the night before she left for China and Hayden left for Senegal.

Out for a ride during a brief break from the rain

Peace in the East, man!

Be proficient with chopsticks or go hungry...

The world-renowned puppet team!

Saying Goodbye

We returned last night from San Antonio, where we have been with Luke's family for the past couple of days following the death of his sweet grandfather. It was a bittersweet time of fellowship, as most funeral gatherings are. We had a wonderful time reconnecting with his fun cousins and precious aunts, as well as relatives we hadn't seen since we got married. Grandpa became ill late in 2004 and has been lovingly cared for in the home of Luke's Aunt Sharon for the past 2 years. Grandma and Grandpa Janecek had 5 daughters, and of course, numerous grandchildren and grandchildren-in-law (like me!) and he always made each of us feel special. The past few years he would work out in his shop creating beautiful birdhouses and bird feeders. One Christmas he presented each of his grandkids and their spouses with a bird house or feeder that was unique. No two were alike. He said that he had designed each one of them according to what came to mind when he thought of the person for whom he was building it. Mine was a beautiful white church! I have treasured it so much, no bird has touched it yet! It was evident this weekend from those in attendance at the services just how much he meant to so many in his family and community. It was wonderful to see and be a part of.

The motel we stayed in was right next to a "Pig Stand" restaurant, which was a sweet reminder of where he and Grandma (who passed away in 1992) met. They first met at the Pig Stand on Gaston Ave. and East Grand in Dallas back in 1939. According to an essay Grandma wrote back in 1991, "...It was good to have a place to go to just talk and enjoy music..."Beer Barrel Polka" was the hit tune to dance to. Here we are 52 years later with 5 children, 18 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren, and very much in love... and to think, it all started at the Pig Stand!"

Grandpa's Seasoning

Grandpa and his brother Jerry concocted a special seasoning blend that we use with every meal. He used to give it to us occasionally, and finally Luke and his brother got the recipe and began making it themselves. Whenever we've given it to people, they always ask for more! At our table, saying "Please pass the Grandpa's" is said more often than, "Please pass the salt." During the last couple of weeks as Luke's aunts sat together by Grandpa's bedside, they spent time writing a wonderful multi-paged booklet about Grandpa's life, which they gave each of us this weekend. One page had "Grandpa-isms" on it. When I first read them, I immediately thought of them as "Grandpa's Seasonings" that he would sprinkle into conversations! Here they are:



"Aw, that's alright, we don't need that piece..."

"Want to go to the cafe?"

Well, damn honey!"

"You can't get them to work, but they sure can suck back a Miller Lite."

"Okey-dokey, we better run Honey!"

(and my personal favorite) "You can tell them all you want, but you can't tell them much!"

Grandpa, you seasoned so many lives. You will be missed.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Puppet Workshop

I received an email report this morning from Jennifer about the puppet workshop:
"The kids did such a professional job today. There were about 25 in attendance from several cities. The kids did a great presentation, puppet show and instructing the attendees how to use the puppets. It was comical as always. We were able to borrow some Chinese music and the Chinese enjoyed being able to have the puppets sing in Chinese! "

Some of those in attendance traveled 5 hours each way in order to be there. There really seems to be an interest! I don't have any pictures from yesterday, but so that you can see their enthusiasm and interest, here are some pictures from the workshop they did last year (in April of '05).

Here are the American puppetry "experts," sharing their techniques. They look so young! (I'm sure I'll be saying the same thing next year about this year's pictures...)

Here, they were learning proper hand placement, practicing moving only the thumb. (Harder than one would think!)

Then they got their turn, which they LOVED.
They had a lot of fun with it. Here, they were performing the "Laughing Song," which, as you
can see, transcends any language barrier.

"Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, 'The Lord has done great things for them.' " Psalm 126:2

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Jin Qu Mavericks!!

Bethany called during halftime! She was watching Game 1 on a station broadcast out of the Philippines. Sure, it's first thing in the morning and the play-by-play is in Chinese, but it's exciting nonetheless. Woo-hoo!!! (Or should that be wu-hu?)

Well, shut my mouth!

I took this quiz and scored 74% Dixie. :::gasp::: I, for one, am SHOCKED.

My Jesus, I Love Thee

I just wanted to share the hymn I sang during my quiet time this morning, and that is playing in my head today as my "soundtrack" for the day so far...

"My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.
I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree;
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now."

That last line is what is lingering in my mind the most. I have sung that to Him both aloud and silently, at so many different times in the midst of so many different emotions. What an appropriate thing to say to Him at any time, whether we're celebrating, grieving, sick, healthy, surrounded by loved ones or loney. "If ever I loved Thee..." His grace, mercy and love speaks to every single situation in which I'll ever find myself.
"Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love Thee..." John 21:15

Still loving it!

I know some of you have been emailing with Bethany or checking in with her blog, but here's a quick update on what's been going on... They finished their second week there last weekend and the college team left to come home. I spoke with her before the team left. She told me that she was "SO glad" she wasn't coming home with the team, and that she just "didn't know what she would do" if it were already time to leave. I guess that's a great way to feel when there's still 3 weeks to go!

They've been enjoying making new friends, taking language and cooking lessons and absorbing the culture.
Here she is playing "Janga" with her new friend, "Shirley."
(Shirley is the
American name she's been given,
and that is what Bethany calls her.)
Shirley's dad taught them how to make dumplings last week.

They've had rain almost every day since they've been there, but apparently today (while we were sleeping here last night) it wasn't raining there because right before I went to bed I got an email from her that said she would have called, but they were about to leave to go hike in "some garden area." Judging from her last hike, I'm just glad this was apparently in the daytime! Jennifer told me that this weekend Bethany and Stephen are doing a puppet workshop for people from all over the province. Last year they gave an excellent puppet seminar. I was very surprised at how well-attended it was and how truly interested people are there in how to do puppet shows! And I was also impressed with how much the kids knew about puppets (I didn't know there were so many techniques and "tricks of the trade.") It's a great opportunity to share.
I received an email from John this week with a copy of this picture of them that was in 3 of the local newspapers. It's typhoon season, and right before they arrived a fairly large one hit the area. Monday was "Clean Up China" day (similar to our "Earth Day" I think) and they were invited to be VIP guests at a local 4 start hotel, not knowing why they were invited. They were fed a great meal (free) and then given these red gloves and invited to help clean up the beach with everyone. Several newspapers were on hand to take pictures of the "foreigners" who were pitching in to help clean up China! Stephen's mom, Nancy, is going over next week to stay and visit and fly home with the kids when they return. Bethany has asked me to please send some snacks and some more money. When I asked her how much money, she told me the amount in Quai. She's already thinking in Chinese!

She's going to call in the morning (her time) to find out the score of the Maverick's game while we're watching it here tonight. She said Dirk is in all of the papers there. There are tons of Maverick jersey knock-off's for sale, and they keep seeing people wearing them. She said when they see someone in a Dallas jersey they cheer! Morgan has been doing some modeling for a clothing company over there for the past couple of years. She's been in magazines and catalogs and on billboards. Blonde American kids are what they really want for some reason! Jennifer called the company to tell them that they had two friends visiting, in case they wanted to use them for any photo shoots. The woman told her, "I know! We have already found them!" Someone from their company had seen Bethany and Stephen around town and they were planning to call Jennifer. SO, if Stephen fits the clothes there will be a photo shoot soon (and they will make $$- Bethany likes that part!)

She calls every other day or so, and sometimes everyday. She's having the time of her life! We miss her terribly, but it really feels like she's where she's supposed to be. Thank you for your continued prayer for her and for us. She has stayed healthy and is having a wonderful (and I believe, life-changing) experience. A little less than three weeks to go!
I can do all things through Christ!