Wednesday, September 30, 2009

just sharing...

Recently, I've been learning a lot about God's character... I guess I use the term 'recently' loosly because it's actually been a theme to my Bible reading for probably a few weeks/months. It's neat how God is just continuing to reveal more and more about Himself to me!

This morning I was reading in 2 Timothy 2 and verse 13 really blessed me...

"If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is."

So beautiful...

I am so human and I can't even estimate the number of times I have been unfaithful to God... but how amazing is it that no matter how many times my good intentions fail, my passion fades, or I allow my priorities to get shifted, God will ALWAYS be there for me because He is faithful... and He always will be because that's just who He is!

Some days, like today, simplistic truths sink deeply into my heart. I have been a Christian for around 13 years or so, I grew up in a Christian home, went to Christian schools and yet I feel like there's SO much I don't know about God, the Bible and being a Christian.

Even though it's hard to think about leaving because I've gotten so settled here, I'm starting to get really excited about my plans for after I leave. At this point, my plan is to work for a while, go to Bible school in the fall (I'm leaning towards Millar) (and then I'll be working on coming back to Japan full time). Although I've never really enjoyed being a student, I am excited to be learning and growing in my walk with God and my knowledge of Him through Bible school.

Anyway, I should be getting ready for bed so I guess I'll quit for now!

Tell me about what God's been teaching you these days!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tenth Avenue North....

I got my free CD from the House FM today (my prize for being the featured listener) and I just have to say that I might have a new favorite band! (I'd never be able to place my favorites in order, but this one is certainly in the top 5!)

I chose Tenth Avenue North and I'm really glad I did! I had heard a few of their songs on the radio before and really liked them... now that I've listened to their whole CD I like them even more! They're pretty mellow (my favorite kind of music) and their lyrics are just really good... lots of depth and meaning to them.

Anyway, there's my little plug for Tenth Avenue North... check them out here if you've never heard of them before!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The smiles continue...

My computer decided to crash on me (I'm borrowing one now) so I couldn't post this yesterday, but here's my smile list for this week!

-an unexpected stomach growl from the lady sitting beside me in church... and then her giggles about it after

-having a picnic in the park and watching families spend time together


-watching a little girl run ahead of her dog, making her poor Mom run with the dog because she was holding the leash

-getting the titles of 'fashion model' and 'like God' all in one day... (I 'modeled' a kimono after front of everyone- only to find out I'm too wide...yes, thank you for pointing that out in front of everyone...I really enjoyed that...not!) (apparently my habit of being agreeable to anything makes me 'like God' according to one of the church ladies!)

-the sound of a little girl giggling as she made her little brother pick up 8 cards while playing Uno!

-watching fish jump out of the water as the tide came in

-hot pink clouds

-the word "sprinkles" in a weather forecast :)

-Dad buying Mom a single red rose... just because :)... and how Mom knew that I would put that on my smile list as soon as I said 'awwwww' when he showed it to me on the webcam :)

-making kids laugh

-Dad 'throwing me a football' on the webcam and then asking 'are you going to write that on your list, Hill?!' : P

-getting an e-mail from a the exact format of the 'absence note' we had studied last week (including the date at the top right hand corner!) just to "inform it [me] of the e-mail address" of he and his wife

-the beautiful chirping of a bird early in the morning

-answered prayers

-finally crossing something off of my on-going to-do list that has been there for months!

-getting "real" mail

-being called 'Miss Hillary'

-the cute little happy songs that play over the loudspeaker in Hirao at certain times... (I've only ever heard the 12pm, 5pm and 10pm song, but I think there's one pretty early in the morning)

-making other people smile when they 'make it' on my smile list :)

-Bosco, my teammate's dog... one particular highlight was watching him chase 2 cats up a tree, as well as taking a long walk along the beach with him and watching him hop in the air in attempt to avoid the waves that splashed up a little higher than he was expecting!

-"Howard" (ok, so it's kind of an inside joke...)

-camping... spending time with teammates who remind me of my family

-doing devotions on the beach

-watching a sunrise for the first time in a long time

-butterflies in my stomach

-Reese's Peanut Butter cups

-coming home to more 'real mail' containing the BEST card ever from a dear friend :) had a voice clip in it and a funny little song that made me laugh! (Thanks Cassandra!!)

-songs written by my bestest friend Nadine

-multiple requests on myspace to 'get to know me' and messages telling me I'm gorgeous!

-one of our Friday Night friends (and one of my English students) pointing to a picture of Bobby and asking "what's this?!" ...ah yes, the superb English teacher strikes again! : P

-4 days in a row of waking up without an alarm clock!

-the flowers on my table and the peanut-butter-chocolate fudge in my fridge :)

This week I had plenty of smiles, but thanks to my wonderful memory, I couldn't remember everything... but I think the 'top ones' made it on here :) I am so blessed to have a life filled with laughter and smiles! God is so good to me and my heart is overflowing with joy :) I love making these lists!!

Don't forget to tell me what made you smile this week!

Friday, September 25, 2009

a pictoral description of the 'Central Team 2009 Camping Trip' *updated with more pictures!*

Day 1...
As the old saying goes, getting there was half the fun :)

(Bobby's car in the lead)

a friendly little praying mantis that decided to take up residence on my tent door

The view from my tent...

my tent (above)

Bobby's tent and our little shelter for the food/camping supplies

Bob and Teresa's tent

Day 2...
We went on a little hike and then a beach walk and these are some of the pictures I took... (along with a couple from Bob!)

I'm in my happy place :)

Day 3...
I woke up earlier than usual and I went down to the beach and did my devotions by the water. I was up early enough to watch the sun rise (which I haven't intentionally done for a long time because everyone knows how much I love mornings!) so I took some pictures of it (and my surroundings)

I think we all had a really good time with plenty of relaxing and enjoying each others' presence. I'm very thankful God allowed us to do this and gave us this way to refresh ourselves and take a break from our usual busy-ness! Although we didn't get a whole lot of good sleep, we were VERY blessed to have absolutely perfect weather and stunning scenery around us to enjoy...I left feeling quite refreshed! (and quite sad to leave!)

It was super fun to see the 'relaxed side' of my teammates and spend time with them in a more causal setting. It's fun how camping is a fast way to sides of people you haven't seen before and watch people 'let loose' just because they can!

I've said this several times before, but I absolutely love my teammates. They really do remind me a lot of my own family. It was very special to spend time with them this week and I'm very grateful to them for making this happen :) I got quite spoiled this week, getting to choose the place we camped (ocean vs mountains), getting the first pick of where my tent went, getting the last Reese's Peanut Butter cup, and playing my 'family game' several times. Thanks for all your hard work guys... I hope you had as much fun as I did! It was a camping trip not soon to be forgotten!

Thank you God for this wonderful week. Thank you for the time of relaxation and refreshment. Thank you for laughter and the gift of good friends. You are so good to me :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Normally, I love waking up to the sound of the rain... but this morning I was a little sad when I heard the rain falling because we're leaving to go camping today!
We've got plans to go rain or shine, but with my teammates, there's no doubt in my mind that we will have a great time no matter what the weather!
Hopefully we will get some sunshine though...especially since we chose a spot on the coast! I'm really excited about this week and I can't wait to get on the road! I'd appreciate your prayers for safe travels and good weather!
I think Japan should enforce 3-day holidays like this one at least once a month!! (I'm so spoiled!)
See you in a couple of days! Do you have any classic camping stories for me? Please comment!

Monday, September 21, 2009

ok, I quit!

I give up!! I can't seem to figure out how to get a new template without losing all of my old gadgets and it's taking too much time to get things 'just right' (I'm too picky!) so I quit... I'm sticking with a plain old blogger template!
I had to re-make my blog list so if I forgot to add your blog to my list on the right, unless yours has private settings (I have all of those in my favorites), please let me know and I'll add it!

under construction...

ugh, I cannot seem to create a blog that I am happy with! I can't seem to find a balance between simple and complicated! I'm still hunting for a blog template or style that I'm content with so bear with the ugliness for a little while! Using a 'fun' template is a lot of work, but the set ones are kind of boring and I want to add my own flavor to it...
I'm hoping that eventually I'll find something but it's kind of time consuming!
any tips??

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I heart Downhere...

Today I was reminded just how much I LOVE this song by Downhere... I felt the need to share it because it's that good!
If you don't know who Downhere is, they started up at the Bible College I grew up at and now they're pretty famous, living in Nashville I think. I just love them and I like almost all of their songs, but I think this one is my favorite! let me know what you think of it! :)

I almost made it in time for a gorgeous sunset... When I was biking home from church I could see the sky was beautiful and I could see the big round sun starting to set so I decided to take a detour back to my road by the river... but apparently I was just far enough away from my new sunset viewing spot to miss the climax! But, I did get to enjoy some pretty spectacular colours! Here's what I was able to see...

Even though my pictures aren't really anything special, I still enjoyed it and wanted to share some of the beauty with you! Maybe later this week I'll get my timing right and be able to share the breath taking beauty of the setting sun in this corner of the world!

I felt the urge to take a self portrait for my Momma because she always laughs at me when I do that! I made the necklace I'm wearing :) and yes Mom, we can share it when I get home! : P

This week I'm going camping with my teammates and I'm SO excited! I love camping and I haven't done it in a long time... maybe 10 years? We used to go camping a lot when I was little, but my parents decided that the only part they really liked about camping was the campfires so they built a fire pit in the back yard and we haven't gone camping since!!

I'll be sure to take lots of pictures!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Smile list...

It's my favorite time of the week! this is what made me smile this week... enjoy!

-inspiring others to make 'smile lists'

-getting an e-mail asking for my address (and knowing that something is on it's way to me in the mail!)

-having friends from High School that still write letters, and then reviving the dieing art of letter writing by writing back to them :)

-watching the swans, ducks and fish (and 2 Canadian geese!) at the park during prayer day

-playful banter between teammates and fellow missionaries

-2 little boys in just t-shirts and underwear frantically waving and shouting "bye bye!" several times as we walked past them on our prayer walk

-a brave little 7 year old boy and his friend approaching us with a confident "Hello. Nice to meet you" and a firm handshake.

-finding a 1.5 L of Calpis soda for 200 yen at the grocery store... that means saving even more money... and more Calpis soda for me! :)

-Brent McCoy's song about one of his triplets... listen to it here

-talking to my plants and flowers to make help them grow better... yes, I know, I'm like a little old lady but I'm sure it makes a difference!

-God's incredibly deep love

-a very sweet and meaningful e-card from a friend :)

-the fact that my smile list is getting longer each week!

-hearing my name on the radio all week long!

-my teddy bear's funny squished face that made it look like he was complaining about how I had just tossed him in the closet when I put my bed away the day before

-the smell of honey after a sneeze... and how it makes me think of my Mom (yes, I know it sounds pretty crazy, but seriously, the next time you sneeze, see if you can smell honey right after!)

-long e-mails from my big sister... and skype dates at 2 am :)

-hearing that Dad was bragging about how many times he made it on my last smile list!

-teaching the difference between "I am excited" and "I am exciting"

-hearing one of my students say that he wishes I could teach him English forever!

-passionate gardeners

-David Crowder Band's song "How He Loves"....

-getting compliments on a necklace I bought at the 100 yen store... and the surprised reactions that come after I reveal the "secret" of where I bought it!

-being called "Martha Stewart- without the criminal record" :)

-cookies and cream ice cream popsicles... mmm mmm good!

-an e-mail from a pregnant friend containing cute belly pictures

-girlishly oogling (yes, I made that word up!) and ahhhing at pictures of Il Divo with two of my students (one of them is a HUGE fan and she recently went to a concert!)

-the teammate that I called 'thoughtful' last week refusing to sacrifice the last ice cream popsicle for me... and then proceeding to tell me it was 'really good' when he finished! (I was just teasing and I didn't really want it... I was just trying to make him feel guilty, but apparently it didn't work!)

-being able to help some students understand something because I knew the Japanese word for it... on more than one occasion lately!

-plans to go camping with my teammates next week!

-the sunny flowers I bought last week that are continuing to open up

-a real conversation (in Japanese) with the girl at the bakery... all by myself!

-dramatic students acting out 'health problems' along with struggling to pronounce 'sore throat'

-my new-to-me cutlery and wonderful new cutlery holders (the one drawer that I have in my kitchen is not big enough for a set like this so I found these tin cans at the 100 yen store :) They're a little taller than I wanted them to be... but they're hot pink and they add a nice little touch of sunshine to my kitchen!)
-teasing Dad on skype and getting the classic reaction of "Hillary..." when he can't think of anything else to say! (Hearing Mom say "you still got it, Hill" also made me smile!)

-this news story...

-a lady carrying a bag with pictures of my Snuggle Bear on it!!

-long leisurely bike rides along the river and discovering new places

-the smell of plain cooked hamburg... I have no idea why but I love plain ground beef!

-the sound of kids giggling and laughing

-great big beautiful butterflies

Thank you once again, God, for the countless ways You've made me smile this week. Thank you for the beautiful gift of laughter and joy! :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

bike rides and sunsets make my heart happy :)

This evening I decided to avoid my to-do list by spending some time with God by the water. I hadn't made time for a 'proper' quiet time this morning so I brought my Bible and prayer journal with me. As usual I really enjoyed it, but once again I was invaded by the creepy crawly bugs that seem to come out of their hiding places as the tide comes in... and I also had another curious onlooker peep over the stairs. (this guy actually talked to me though!)

Anyway, I decided to pack up and go for a nice long leisurely bike ride along the river, going down a road I had never been down before. I'm thinking about 're-locating' so I was scoping out new possibilities. I wish I had of started this journey a little earlier because I found a spot that will be really nice for watching sunsets... one of my favorite things to do :)

Here's the tail end of the sunset...

I caught these last two on my way home, in the same area as my "usual" spot. I'm loving the sunset setting on my camera!

It kind of looks like it was foggy today in these pictures, but I think that's actually smoke because there were lots of farmers burning their fields today.

Anyway, just thought I'd share a little glimpse of my day today :) Guess I should get back to that to-do list!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Today I'm having one of those days where all you can do is say "Thanks God for giving me this wonderful day!!"... and it's only 4:00!

Every Thursday I have an English class with some ladies from a nearby church and then we eat lunch together. After lunch I have a one hour Japanese class with my Japanese teacher and then I take the train home, stop by a bakery and then ride my bike home... and then teach another class in the evening.

This morning's class was ok... it's not really much of a class because we just visit the whole time. We had a good lunch together and then I had my Japanese lesson. Today I just wanted to throw myself a little party because I felt like I understood and remembered a lot more than usual! (it helps that this lesson was a little bit easy, but hey, I am excited any time I understand something!) I was even able to converse (in Japanese) a little bit with my teacher as she drove me to the train station!

After my train got to the station where my bike is, I stopped in at the bakery and picked out a few treats. There's this one girl who is working almost every time I go and she is just so sweet! She is always smiling and she just seems like such a nice person! She looks pretty young so I decided that I wanted to invite her to our "Friday Night" ministry next week.

As I've mentioned before, each time I go to the bakery, I'm usually only able/brave enough to say nothing more than "this looks delicious" or "it's hot today isn't it?" so obviously I had a challenge ahead of me! I had been praying about it and God certainly answered my prayers today!

I handed her the flier and told her in Japanese 'this is my church. please come.' She understood and asked if we were making tacos and I said yes, we would make them together and then play games after. Unfortunately, she can't come because she works until 7 and then has to clean up after. I told her she could come later, but I think she said she is very tired when she goes home. but... I'm pretty excited that we actually had a conversation and we understood each other!!

I know, I know, my arm is going to get sore with all the back-patting I am doing, but I just had to share my 'small victory' and treasure this day while it lasts!

Language learning is full of ups and downs and I've certainly experienced plenty of days where I couldn't feel any dumber and I just feel like curling up in a ball and crying. Japanese is HARD!! That's why I've learned it's so important to cherish these kinds of days when they come! I'm sure tomorrow will be another challenge, but for now, I'm just going to spend a little time thanking God for answering my prayers and giving me this day to encourage me to keep pressing on!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I love my 'job'...

I am starting to really love teaching English! Sounds kind of scary that I used the word 'starting' even though I have been doing it for nearly 7 months now, but let me explain...

When I first started my TESL program and did my 10 hour practicum, I couldn't really decide if it was something that I really loved. Even when I came to Japan and started teaching, I wasn't sure! But, these last few days I've really really enjoyed teaching. I can't say that I love all planning and coming up with creative ways to teach difficult material, (although I am blessed to be using a really good curriculum that requires very little planning and prep) but I can say that I absolutely love getting to know my students, and seeing them progress in their English. I know that a lot of their progress comes from the studies they do on their own, but it is very rewarding to be able to help them understand new things.

Yes, teaching English comes with it's fair share of difficulties, but the fun and laughter that I experience makes up for the challenges. Sometimes I have classes where I just can't seem to think of anything to talk to my students about, and things are painfully quiet and awkward for longer than I am comfortable with. Sometimes I get frustrated with beginner students who have placed themselves in an intermediate class, continually saying "I can't speak English" and rely on the other students to translate for her. Sometimes I just can't explain an English 'rule' and I just don't know what to say. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with not knowing how to get my students to stop speaking Japanese to each other (about things very unrelated to the lesson)...just sitting there as clueless as can be wondering how to get things back on track. Sometimes I get annoyed by the way certain students just don't catch on to the 'helpful' corrections I try to make and roll my eyes at the number of times they continue to make the same mistake over and over.


I love the satisfaction that comes when 'the lights come on' and a new word is understood or a concept has been grasped. I love the "ahhh, I understand" moments. I love the 'teachable moments' that come from daily conversations. I love seeing students carefully take notes from what I've said or written on the board. (and I love how I have one student who takes pictures of the whiteboard all the time!) I love the satisfaction of hearing someone correct their own mistake. I love hearing someone use something they learned in a previous lesson. I love seeing the excitement and pride that comes after someone shares about what they did last week or what they will do on the weekend. I love seeing each person's smiling face as they walk in and say hello, knowing that they are excited about coming to class. I love hearing the laughter during a game I planned... and I love laughing with my students as they enjoy their learning time.

As I'm looking at it now, my reasons for loving my job seem a little selfish, but that's not what I'm going for... I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm really enjoying how fun and rewarding teaching English can be.

Learning a second language is hard work and I really admire each and every one of my students. Since I am a language student myself, I'm a lot more sympathetic to my students now.

I was also thinking tonight about how much I love teaching sort of depends of the kind of student(s) I am teaching. I've got quite a few students that are 'harder to love' because they just seem to be so uninterested or they just don't 'get things' or as I mentioned earlier, they seem to keep on making the same mistakes over and over. Those are the students that make me not too eager to teach and sometimes they make my hour of teaching feel like an eternity!

But, on the other hand, I have several students that couldn't seem to love learning English any more! Having a student who constantly takes notes and asks questions and actively and enthusiastically participates in the activities just fuels my passion for the lesson. Having a captive audience makes such a difference... my whole attitude changes! As I think about it, it makes me wonder how my Japanese teacher feels about me... (hopefully she doesn't feel like her hour with me is an eternity!)

Some of my students are just SO sweet, trying so hard to learn and understand my lessons and stories. I especially appreciate the students who take the time to ask me what I did last week before we move on to the lesson.

I think one of the things that I love most about teaching English is my students and the joy they bring to me. I rarely have a class without laughter and I love that! Sometimes I have to hold in my laughter because it would probably damage someone's pride, but most of the time, I get to laugh along with my students because they really are having fun! I don't know if I can see myself teaching English for the rest of my life, but I really do enjoy it for now!

But, the thing that I love best about teaching English is how it's bringing people into contact with the church and people are studying the Bible for the first time because they've come to my class. It's a blessing to have this 'skill' to draw people into the church, and be a part of them studying the Bible. In spite of my insecurities as a teacher, I'm honored that God is using me to draw people to Himself through my English classes.

These days, I've really been focusing on what a blessing laughter and joy really are and I am so thankful for the amount of joy that God has given me in my life! I would be so miserable without laughter!

anyway, I suppose that's enough rambling for now! I realize that was a lot of random thoughts strung together, but I hope it makes sense! thanks for reading! Have a great week! Don't forget to take some time to appreciate the things that make you smile and bring joy to your life... and be sure to thank God for them!

Monday, September 14, 2009

I'm practically famous...

Scroll half way down this page or check out Brent's blog and look who gets to be the featured listener this week...

(Yes, I know... I'm such a nerd for posting this link on my own blog!)

The House has been a big blessing to me since I don't have a TV or radio... and it's a blessing to have Christian English music here in Japan! Check it out and I'm sure you'll love it too!

My Mom listens to it at work all day so it's fun to think about how we're listening to the same music even though we're miles away from each other! Sometimes we send e-mails back and forth about something funny Brent or Janelle say! Her and I have been listening to this station for so long that when the morning dj and his wife had triplets, we both said it felt like someone in our family was having triplets because we were so excited about it!

Anyway, just thought I'd spread the word about my week in the spotlight and share the House with you too!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The weekly tradition continues.. here's my "Smile List"....

With recent news of a dear family friend going to be with Jesus yesterday, it was especially good for me to think about what made me smile this week...

-dad asking how come he didn't 'make the list' last week (but really he did!)

-2 girls pushing each other in a wheelbarrow

-being tickled by a 60 year old lady while I was trying to carefully pour communion juice into the cups

-new candles/candle holders from the 100 yen store :)

-daddy reading me a cute story over skype :)

-compliments on my white skin... that never happens in Canada!!

-reciting memory verses with Teresa

-waking up cold instead of sweating... and using a blanket for the first time in months! snuggling up in a hoodie certainly made me smile too! (it's not really that cold, but I love any excuse to put on a hoodie!)

-one of my lower level students saying "Hey Bobby!" in a very casual tone when he walked into the room... for the record, I did not teach her that!

-a cute little boy so sound asleep on his dad's shoulder that there's a puddle of drool on his shirt

-dad quizzing me from a Japanese phrase book he just got

-a student thinking out loud in Japanese while writing a paragraph in English

-finding a birthday present for my Momma :)

-waking up from the best 20 minute nap ever! (I slept so soundly that and I thought for sure I had overslept and was late for class...and there was a huge puddle of drool on my pillow!)

-finding out I get to be the featured listener this week on the House FM! (and getting a free CD!)

-having a very sweet little old lady sit down beside me and explain to me (in Japanese) why she was late for church... meanwhile I didn't have a clue what she was saying and I had to hold in my giggles because I knew I looked clueless! (and it didn't help that I could hear Teresa chuckling in the seat behind me!)

-a weather report that says "now: 26, feels like: 26!" :) ... can you tell I'm "done" with summer already and looking forward to fall?!

-watching a lady "load" her walkman while waiting for the train... that's right, I said walkman, as in cassette tapes!

-the fact that my Thursday night class was completely different than last week... it was the biggest test of my patience yet with 2 very beginner beginners! (yes, I wrote that twice on purpose!) When Bobby came in to start the Bible time, he asked them something like "The weather was very nice today, wasn't it?" (said very slowly and clearly) and I wish I had a camera to capture the blank look on both of their faces because it was priceless! It made me feel like such a good teacher! : P (It does make me feel better that they didn't understand the question when he asked it in Japanese either!)
But, I really can't complain... I had my Japanese lesson earlier that day and I am sure that my teacher feels the same way about me! (one of my students actually said the same words to me that I say that I say to my teacher every week- "I'm sorry, I'm so slow!" so it made me realize once again just how patient my teacher is with me!)

-Momma telling me I'll "always be her little twerp!"

-teaching my Saturday morning kids class 'emotions' and seeing the funny faces they come up with when I ask them to make sad/tired/happy/angry/scared/sick faces. (and hearing them giggle at each other)

-The newest addition to my door (see below)... courtesy of a thoughtful teammate :)

-understanding a 3 year old girl when she told me (in Japanese) she was going to eat a hamburger with her family that night!

-the image of Dave and Ed together in Heaven now, walking around with Jesus with no need for wheelchairs

-flowers... and the smiles that appear when you give them to someone else :)

I think that's all I can remember... although as usual I'm sure there was more! You know the drill... let me know what made you smile this week too!

Friday, September 11, 2009

could I be any clumsier?

Today was my day off so I decided to finally tackle my very disorganized closet.

Turns out that dealing with the top shelf is not a good idea for the queen of clumsiness... I was slowly taking everything off the top shelf (which is where I have been placing things that I don't know what to do with over the last 7 months)...

(captured mid-way through the process of spreading everything out on my living room floor to organize)

All of the sudden, as I climbed down from my chair to place another stack on the floor, I hear the dreaded sound of shattering glass....

uh oh, that can't be good. Do I really want to turn around and see what just broke?

I turned around to assess the damage and this is what I found...

I had a bag of small gifts that one of my teammates had bought me for my birthday up on the shelf and I guess I didn't make sure that it was stable after moving the pile beside it and the whole bag (and a few other items) came crashing down! This picture might be a little dramatic because some of the things were on the floor already, but you get the idea! There was actually a lot of broken glass, but thankfully most of it stayed inside the tissue paper.

The bag contained 5 very pretty small plates and sadly, only 2 of 5 survived :( I am such a klutz!

I've always been clumsy... just ask my family! Unfortunately, I don't think that will ever change!

Just a few weeks after arriving in Japan, I had already made quite a few clumsy mistakes. (such as sending several ice cubes flying all over the floor while trying to get them out of the tray, near tripping experiences, clanging glasses and plates together... and many other things....) One evening while eating dinner with my teammates, I almost knocked over the jug of water as I reached for some bread or something.

Bobby, who has witnessed the majority of these clumsy stunts, looked at me and said "Hillary, are you a clumsy person?" Dorothy (another teammate) was absolutely shocked that Bobby had just asked me that so she looked at him and says "Of course she's not!!"

Oh, Dorothy... if only you knew! She's so sweet always thinking the best of others, but unfortunately she was wrong this time! I am probably one of the clumsiest people you will ever meet!!

Anyway, I realize this is another random blog, but I figured it would make my friends and family smile and think "ah, that's our Hillary, the queen of clumsiness!"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I make myself laugh...

I think I've got a serious addiction... no, it's not an addiction to Facebook anymore...

I'm addicted to Dollar stores!! (100 yen shops in Japan)

Every time I walk in a dollar store, I feel compelled to buy something... there's just so many 'neat' things... I can always find something I can use...whether I need it or not!

Today I went in with one item in mind to purchase.... I came out with 3, which I guess is not so bad, (It's better than usual!) but it does prove my point! It's especially hard for me in Japan because everything is so new and 'cute'. (and of course it doesn't help that I'm always looking for good reasonably priced souvenirs for people at home) I just love dollar stores! I just discovered that there's a website for the main chain of 100 yen stores in Japan... check it out here if you're bored! and maybe if you find something you like, I might be able to bring it back for you!

Sometimes I couldn't be happier with my purchases, but other times I end up thinking... "hmm, there's a reason why this was so cheap!"

Good grief, I sure do know how to write random blogs... how do I go from blogs about what God's doing in my heart to blogs about dollar stores?! That's why I called today's blog what I did! If I don't make anyone else laugh, at least I can make myself laugh!

Guess I should move on to something a little more productive... like making dinner and doing the dishes! thanks for reading! Stay tuned for my 'smile list' this weekend! :)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Don't say I didn't warn you that this blog would be random... it's in the heading of my blog!

Sometimes I wish my brain came with an 'off switch'... or at least a pause button!

Usually I don't have any troubles just slowing down, stopping to think about 'nothing' and enjoying some peace and quiet. Unlike a lot of people I know, I never have trouble falling asleep because my brain won't shut down. But... lately, I feel like my brain just won't stop! I've been thinking a lot (I know, I'm just asking for a witty comment with that statement!) and whether it's about deep spiritual things, people, my daily activities, or things coming up in the next few days/weeks/months/years, I just can't seem to stop my mind from thinking about something.

These days it's been a lot of spiritual things and personal reflections that have been preoccupying my mind... figuring out my emotions and feelings, thinking about what's really important in life, what I'm in Japan for, what my future holds, figuring out my priorities, how I can be growing into the person God has created me to be (and the changes that need to be made in my life to become that person), how I can draw closer to God, and so on...

I guess it's not a terrible thing to be thinking about these things. In fact it's good. I like knowing that I'm working through things and growing and being stretched... but is it really necessary to be thinking almost 24/7?? It feels like there's always something I am thinking about at the back of my mind (if not the front!) at all times lately.

Last night for the first time in a long time, I couldn't fall asleep because my mind was just running at full speed! I've also found that during my quiet times, I just can't seem to focus completely on my Bible reading or prayers. I'm constantly 'scolding' myself for my drifting thoughts and it's becoming really frustrating. On Friday I tried getting away from everything and I went to 'my spot' by the water for a couple of hours to pray and read my Bible. Although there were certainly less distractions and it was peaceful and quiet, I still really struggled to give God my full attention.

What is up with my brain these days... why does it feel the need to constantly be active?!

Any good tips to get me focused/train my brain when it's allowed to think and when it needs to just shut down???

Saturday, September 5, 2009

My "smile list"

This week I remembered to keep track of the things that made me smile so here you go! I hope they make you smile too!

-Playing the "particle guessing game" while studying Japanese with Bob and Teresa... It went something like this every time I needed to use a particle...
" 'wa'! (pause) oh... that's not right? oh I know... it's 'o'! (another pause) really? that's not right either? OH! I got it... it's 'no' right?! (longer pause) uh oh, I'm running out of particles to use. wait..I got it for sure this time! it's 'de'! (this is where the laughter starts) GRR! Seriously, I don't know which one to use... WAIT! I've got one left I can use.. is it 'ni'?? (and this is where the applause comes!) YAY! I got it right...and only after a few tries!" ...This repeats itself SEVERAL times! I can't wait to have these silly particles mastered! Thanks for your patience Bob and Teresa!

-the excited chatter among my students who hadn't seen each other for a whole month... it's so fun to watch them make friends :)

-my 'friend' that at the bakery I stop in at every Thursday...maybe one day I'll be able to say more than "this looks delicious" and "it's hot today isn't it?" :)

-Discovering a the pastry I bought has chocolate in it!! :)

-long e-mails and letters from special friends

-My gas man trying to read the amount of my bill English for me when he came to collect my money

-Japanese pears! Yum Yum!

-"Catching" Mom wearing one of my necklaces (again!) thanks to a webcam and skype! I think it's cute my Mom wants to be just like me! :P

-a big can of calpis soda for 100 yen in "my" vending machine when it's usually 120 or 130 everywhere else... oh how I love the satisfaction of knowing you've saved money!

-My Thursday night class... they are seriously SO much fun and it's the best class to finish the week off! This week we were reviewing present continuous and I had the students practice asking each other questions in the present continuous. One of them says to another student, "Are you sleeping?" That might not sound so funny, but it was extra funny because this student actually did look like he was sleeping! The apology after the question made me laugh too.
Then I was asking the students the questions and I asked someone, "Is she studying English?" (which obviously she was) and the other student quickly and confidently answered "No, she isn't!" She was so cute! I think it was because I had asked the last 3 questions expecting a negative answer, so she had probably rehearsed her answer in her head for when it came to her turn! We all laughed and she also ended up apologizing to the other student! I love this class and it was such a blessing to finish my week with them this week. We laughed so much :)

-Another 2 hour skype call with Dayna... which led to her finding me the "yip yip family" song on Youtube... and the fact that I had remembered it word for word and to the right tune before I watched it! ah, don't we all just love Sesame Street?! :)

-a full moon and being able to capture a pretty picture of it over the water (see my last post)

-Finishing my weekly required Japanese study hours before 6:30 on Saturday! (usually it's closer to midnight or after!)

-A budding romance between two of my students... and the pride that comes with knowing that I called it in my mind a few weeks ago!

-Quiet time at "my spot" for an extra long time on my day off...
there's actually a funny story that goes with this one so I'll try to make it sound as funny as it was when it happened.

I had been praying out loud when I heard some voices on the road that was 'above' me. I stopped because I knew they could probably hear me talking. Then I could tell they had stopped talking too so I turned around for some reason to look at the top of the stairs and I happened to 'catch' an older man looking down at me, probably trying to figure out what I was doing there just sitting there talking to myself! He was really embarrassed when I turned around though! He quickly jumped back and I think he mumbled "sumimasen. konnichiwa." (excuse me. hello) I got quite a laugh out of that, but maybe it was one of those 'you had to be there moments'. I'm sure I looked pretty crazy!

-a helpful student who apparently didn't understand my definition of 'review' and timidly tried to tell me that we had already done these pages!

-Stephen Curtis Chapman's new song "Heaven is the Face"... actually it almost made me cry rather than smile because it's about his daughter that died last year, but the image of them reuniting in Heaven puts a big smile on my face... especially the line that he uses about her leading him to Jesus. I recommend watching the video (I hyper-linked it in the title) and read the lyrics here if you can't quite hear them.

-hearing that Mom and Dad had picnic by the river in my honour :)

-peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough for breakfast

-reading and understanding a whole paragraph in my Japanese textbook!! (There was just one word I didn't know, but I successfully found it in my Japanese/English dictionary!) I was also able to understand one of my students mothers today when she told me her kids wouldn't be able to come to class the last Saturday of this month. (It helped that she was pointing at a calendar... but I was able to pick up that they would be absent because of something at school) I'm amazed at how our brains work... how they piece things together and process different languages.

So, there's my list... I'm sure there's more that I forget, but I'd probably put you to sleep if I posted every little thing that put a smile on my face!

Make sure you let me know what made you smile this week... last time my family members were the only ones to comment!

Thank you once again, Father, for a week full of smiles. Thank you for giving us laughter when we need it. Thank you for the many things that you have given me to be thankful for! You are so good to us!

Friday, September 4, 2009

We have the most amazing God... Look at what He made for me to enjoy tonight...

the heart of a single girl...

I am a little hesitant to post this blog because I have a feeling it will be quite honest... I often seem to subconsciously just write what's on my heart only to later find out it was very real and honest, but this time, I know it will be. It's one of those times where I am debating whether to hit publish or not... but, I have a feeling that maybe someone might benefit from what I have to share and if nothing else, this will help me organize and process my thoughts!

Recently I happened to catch some radio broadcasts containing interviews with Elisabeth Elliot speaking on her one of her "specialties"... relationships. I was especially eager to listen to this 3 part series because all three were directed to singles.

Over the years (that makes me sounds so old!) I have had many up and down moments with this gift of singleness that God has chosen to give me. I've had moments where I couldn't love being single any more because it is so wonderful but I've also had moments where I just plain old want to be married. It is a daily "struggle" (I don't like using that word for some reason) to consciously decide to be content with the stage of life God has placed me in right now.

These days, I have to say I'm somewhere in the middle. I am content, but every now and then a day of discontent sneaks up on me and I start wishing I was married. I think especially because I am on the mission field, I can see the benefits to both sides of serving the Lord while being single and while being married. And to be honest, there are some days where I just wish I had someone to go through the struggles and joys of being a missionary with, especially when I think about returning to Japan as a career missionary.

I'd love to have the opportunity to serve alongside someone and work as a team to please the Lord. As I watch the way my married teammates work together and use each others' gifts to serve, I do look forward to being able to do that one day myself.

But, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7, I know that there is a big advantage being a single woman... I can focus on "the Lord's affairs" and be "devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit" because I don't have a husband/family to take care of. For that I am truly thankful! What a privilege! As I write this, it really makes me wonder if I am using that gift to the fullest. (Here's where this blog is more beneficial to me than anyone else!)

I deeply want to be content with being single because I know that God has chosen to have me be single for a reason... I need to trust that He knows what is best for me (He did create me after all and He knows me like no one else does). and accept and enjoy this period in my life. I know that if God does allow me to get married one day, there will be times when I look back and wish I could live my single days again!

I know for a fact that He has chosen this time for me to be single so that He can shape me and mold me into the woman He created me to be. I feel like I have grown (and am continuing to grow) so much in so many ways in the past year and I am pretty sure that I would not have grown in the same ways if I was married or in a dating relationship! Again, for that I am truly thankful!

Back to the radio broadcasts I listened to... I listened to all 3 broadcasts at once so I can't remember which thoughts come from which broadcast but one of them really challenged my perspective on the word "dating" and what our culture has turned that into. It also affirmed my desire for high standards for physical boundaries when the time comes for me to be in a dating relationship. (That's a whole other topic that I think I'll refrain from writing about today!)

It was also affirmed that I want my parents to be involved in my dating relationship(s). That's always been important to me and I've always wanted my future spouse to be consulting my parents at every stage of the relationship from the initial desire to "court" to thoughts about engagement (and beyond!), not just because I am old fashioned, but because I value and deeply respect their opinion and advice. And, they know me a lot better than anyone else because I've been blessed to have a very open relationship with them.

I was also pleased to have my thoughts about 'male initiation' affirmed. I've always been a firm believer that guys are supposed to be the pursuers and initiators and I refuse to be one of those girls that tries to take things into her own hands and does everything possible to let a guy know she's interested. Elisabeth is also a firm believer of girls just trusting God and waiting for Him to give the men the courage to act on God's leading.

The biggest theme from one of the broadcasts was that I need to just sit back and trust that God will bring the right person to me at the right time. Although I am only 23, sometimes I "write myself off" as a single missionary for life. I know that God has so many plans for my future and have no right to put limits or restrictions on what He has in store for me. Who knows, maybe I will be married in a year or 2 or maybe I won't get married until I am 60... or maybe I won't ever get married. The point is, I don't know and I have no control over it so that means I need to trust that God knows what He is doing and He will reveal His plan for my life in HIS TIMING, not mine!

Anyway, I know that I am by no means a relationship expert (because I've never actually been in a relationship) and I know that haven't done justice to these broadcasts so I highly recommend listening to them if you have time. Part one here Part two here and Part three here

I think that's all I have to say for now. I hope that all made sense and that it will be worth the hitting publish button. Please share your thoughts and comments too!