On my mind, in my heart…

This week has been full of so many ups and downs, that I just don’t have it in me to write a really neat, cohesive blog post.  Instead, you get messy, all-over-the-place, real me (I hope, dear readers, you’ll still come back!).

But, the great thing is that today the sun is shining, children and grandparents are out in our courtyard giggling and playing with balloons, trailing them to and fro, clean laundry is on the line, we’re set to receive visitors next week, and a heap of hopeful thoughts and dreams are on my mind.  So here are those good things, all mixed up for your weekend perusal, and I hope you’re all enjoying yourselves!

  • This week was Chinese National Day, and thus my husband and I had a whole week off, which I was lamenting that we kind of lost to the typhoon-like weather, and being sick.  But I did treat myself to a foot massage, and we enjoyed getting lost in our habitat here earlier in the week and yesterday when the rain finally cleared.  See photos from his new camera below!
The sweet girl who gave my feet a little TLC.
The People’s Park on a holiday.
The modern side of Nanning as seen from South Lake park.
And the more traditional-looking footbridge.
I love how the people look so happy in this photo.
  • Comfort food has been a big part of this week, what with all the baking and pumpkin oatmeal (which seriously fills me up like no else for the whole morning!).  Yesterday’s comforting lunch, though, was a big bowl of cold peanut noodles (the photo below does not do them justice).  I’ve been making this adaptation from a whole living recipe for years (no longer online), but they’re really simple and tasty!
Cold peanut noodle lunch.

Ingredients:

No more than 1/4 cup of peanut butter (I prefer about 2 tbsp.)
2 tsp. of soy sauce
1 tsp. of sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp. of chili garlic paste (this gives you the tang, because the peppers are both sour and spicy)
1 1/2 tsp. of fresh ginger
1 tsp. of fresh garlic
1/2 tsp. of sugar
1/4 cup of water
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar (optional)
1/2 lime juiced (optional)
lots of cilantro to garnish
grated carrots and cucumber

I just use regular spaghetti noodles, either leftovers or fresh, but be sure to cool them down with some cold water. Whisk the first ten ingredients together in a small bowl, and then toss with the carrots, cucumber, and cilantro. Quick and easy, and you can adjust the sauce to taste.

  • I may have mentioned that I’ve been reading through the book of Matthew, and I’m getting to the final few chapters.  I was recently reading chapters 18 & 19 and was really moved by the wisdom and balance of Jesus’ words regarding the parable of the lost sheep, reproving another who sins, and the measure of forgiveness we’re called to provide others (“not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” –Matt. 18:22).  The message of approaching a brother or sister in private first regarding a conflict, and also sandwiched in between the clear message of doing all we can do to search for one another and forgive one another, was so powerful.  We as the church so often do selective reading of these passages, but I’m at once so convicted and challenged (again) by the tall call to live like Jesus.
  • I really enjoyed this article, “Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?” from the always profound Mark Bittman, that I read this morning in the Times.  As a former Bread for the World employee, I’m always interested in understanding how we can help those who lack the resources meet their nutritional needs.  Although I think the article’s excellent, the anthropologist in me can’t help but wish he’d spent more time talking to poorer people about why they make the choices they make, and observing them, rather than quoting survey data and stats.
  • I also was really moved by this article, “Presbyterian Church to Ordain First Openly Gay Minister” in the LA Times.  Whatever your views are on this ordination and the recent steps of the Pres. Church in reforming ordination standards, what moved me most was the open conversation and fellowship that the article described between two pastors, Christians, and human beings, through which they were both changed.  I also appreciated Achtemeier’s final words,

  ‘It has happened through the history of the church that committed Christians go to their Bible and come back hearing different things from it,’ he said.  ‘My hope is that the faith we all share in Christ is strong enough to hold us together as we debate with one another and wait til God sorts out these disagreements.’

These words are very much my prayer for the Presbyterian Church, especially the younger generation of clergy, that as we go forward, that despite our differences in interpretation we can continue together to strive to know Christ better and serve him.

  • Yesterday when I returned home from some research-related work, I found these beautiful flowers on my desk, the site of so much angst for me this week.  I’ve left them there so I can enjoy them while I’m working.  There was also a sweet encouraging note from my wonderful husband (yes, I’m bragging again); thank God for his understanding and thoughtfulness!
Lovely flowers on my desk.

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