October 20, 2014

Living with a Lizard: Update from Manila

Y'all, I consider myself a tough kinda gal.  I am not too frou frou and even though I avoid it as much as possible, I don't get all bent out of shape about getting sweaty and dirty.

But living with a lizard is like living with a spring-loaded jack-in-the-box!  You never know when that stupid thing is going to turn up!  Good gravy!

No, they are not poisonous or dangerous.  They do not attack or bite or even hiss.  They just creep and crawl along the floor and the wall--at will!  They strut their stuff right in front of you without regard to your personal feelings.  They are very selfish and self-centered evil beady-eyed creatures.  *shudder*

I've been fighting the lizard battle NON-STOP since we arrived. It's ridiculous!  Last year, we had ONE lizard.  One.  Just ONE!  It lived in the closet and we rarely saw it (only flashes as it darted away) and it never bothered us.  We did manage to capture and "release" it (into the toilet), but prior to that we lived in complete harmony.

This year, totally different story. The lizards are taking over.  I imagine them darting to and fro as I see phantom images of them out of the corner of my eye.  I'm not even kidding.  I may need therapy after this trip.  I have a severe case of the heebie jeebies!

On top of the lizard infestation (yes, 3 is an infestation!), I have ant issues.  Ugh.  They wouldn't be so bad if we didn't get the mean ones that bite.

I feel like I'm living in the middle of the jungle!  I wouldn't be too surprised if a lion or zebra didn't walk through the living room!

Besides the pest control issues, life here is pretty routine, but more fun--because we are in the Philippines!  HA!  Everything is more fun in the Philippines!!

Trent and I have started taking Sir. Flowers' night school class on leadership.  We are studying leadership through the book of Nehemiah.

I recently enrolled in a certificate program through Apostolic School of Theology.  The certificate program is Congregational Counseling.  It has been a very LONG time since I was a student, but I have been feeling a nudge regarding going back to school and this opportunity opened up and it just seemed like the right fit and the right timing.  So, here we go!!

The first week, we were required to read an entire book.  Not a huge issue for me, because I am a total nerd about reading.  I also had to write a 3-page paper and that was a bit intimidating, as the only "writing" I've done is blogging (doesn't count) and changing my Facebook status (totally doesn't count).

It would appear for the time being that we are all healthy and happy.  I have a minor cold that sends me into coughing fits when I talk too much, but the rest of us are all feeling finer than a frog's hair.  FINALLY!!  Besides lizards, it seems we have battled illness or ailments galore this trip.

We are especially thankful to our partners, family and friends that have supported us and continue to support us!  We recently experienced a financial miracle/blessing!  We knew we would have to renew our visas for the remainder of our stay and it was our hopes to be able to do this for the same amount we paid last year and had budgeted for this year.  However, we were quoted a MUCH higher price.  The next day, a pastor friend of ours felt led to send money to our paypal account.  Thank you Lord for your provision!  I replied to the email thanking him for his support and prayers and told him that this money would help cover an unexpected expense.  He replied by sending an additional offering!  Thank you Jesus for your goodness and abundant blessings!  I am telling you this story because I recently taught my first year students about giving.  When we give, God WILL give back.  I have been faithful in my giving of offerings, even while here in the Philippines, and God has not held anything back from us, including this huge financial blessing!

Despite the creepy crawlies, we have been blessed and blessed more abundantly while we have been here.  God's hand upon us is evident and we are so thankful to be serving Him!

Much love from Manila--until next time,

Am


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September 27, 2014

Leaks, Lizards & Lysol

Long overdue update, I know.

Ok, first of all, we braved our first typhoon of the season here.  Torrential rains and flooding and although we did not have any flooding here, we did discover some leaks in the kitchen ceiling.  A tiny little river was running the length of the kitchen when I got up the next morning.  Thankfully, the rains stopped and the floods (in other parts of the city) subsided fairly quickly and so far, just "normal" rain and no more leaks.

We have a "pet" lizard.  Now, normally, I would be screaming and panicking about having a reptilian creature living in my home, but I am much more terrified of dengue fever (google it!) than a little 6 inch lizard.  I believe they are geckos and pretty harmless.  All I know is they eat mosquitoes, so I am ok with ONE living in my house.  As long as he/she stays hidden most of the time, we get along quite well.  The lizards are VERY common here and just yesterday, I noticed our lizard must be a "mommy lizard" as there were TWO babies under my sink.  Here I am, minding my own business, trying to get a trash bag from under the sink, and two teeny tiny lizards are just sitting there taunting me.  I forgave them for not knowing the "one lizard per household rule" and was quite pleased when Dodong (the resident driver, handyman & apparently exterminator) came to my rescue and captured the babies & set them free.  The mommy is still here…she escaped behind a cabinet.  Again, she and I have an unspoken agreement about staying hidden and just eating the mosquitoes (thankyouverymuch), so she can stay.

Which brings us to Lysol.  Oh, the wonders of Lysol.  Apparently, I ate something that did NOT agree with my US tummy and it sent me into one nightmare of a bellyache.  I have been either in bed, on the couch or in the CR (bathroom) for what seems like a miniature eternity.  After nearly a week of this nonsense, I stopped eating because I was SICK of visiting the CR after every meal.  Liquids seem to stay in place better, so for two days, I was liquids only.  I decided that since my stomach seemed to be cooperating better that it was time to return to class.  Trent (bless his heart!!!) had been teaching his classes AND taking my classes as well!  I felt sorry for him, and thought I could at least do this class and then get back downstairs, have some breakfast (dry toast) and be fine.  Totally totally totally NOT THE CASE.  I made it through the entire lesson, and was just wrapping things up when I began to see spots.  This was not my first rodeo with passing out, so I knew what was coming next, so I tried to excuse myself so I could get a seat in the office until my head felt better.  I never made it.  I woke up with the students hovering over me and Bro. Flowers fanning me with some papers.  Trent was there and I struggled to come to.  After several different people giving the account to different people, I finally figured out what happened.  I passed out, hit my chin (virtually knocking myself out) and then fell backwards & hit my head (possibly on the wall).  After getting me downstairs and tiny bit of food on my stomach, I STILL felt awful.  Nauseous and dizzy, I struggled to stay alert.  I went to the doc and he gave me meds for my stomach issues.  Now, I didn't know at the time I had hit my head, or likely I would have had to have further testing done.  I didn't find any of that out until several days later.  Anyway, the meds seem to help immediately (thank you JESUS!!!!) but I was still struggling with dizziness & being lightheaded & foggy brained.  I kept thinking:  "I wonder if I gave myself a concussion…"  Well, after hearing a more accurate account, I'm fairly certain I did just that.  Go me!!!

I have been doing my best to just lay low.  Resting and keeping my movements limited as much as possible.  No headaches and no nausea, so I'm pretty sure my head is gonna be OK soon.  I still have a bit of dizziness and fatigue, but next week is testing here at the school, so it will be a "light week" for me, and I believe after that I should be as good as new.

Today is Sunday, and I stayed home while the kids went to PARC with Grandee & Papa Flowers.  Trent is preaching out today in Cavite.

I know that a little network of prayer has been going up for me and my family while we are here and I am truly humbled by the support & love from everyone.  Y'all are the greatest!!!  Thank you so much for caring about us and I am truly sorry for all the worry this has caused.  Ugh…so not my style!

Much love to you all!!!!!


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September 4, 2014

How to tell if you are part Filipino

So sorry for the delay in my first blog post.  As you know by now, we arrived safely in Manila late Thursday night.  Because of the routes we chose, it felt like a REALLY long day and we crashed in bed around 1 am.  After what seemed like a lightening fast weekend, we began our work here at the Bible School.  My class schedule looks like this:

Monday: 7:50 pm Life of Christ (1st yr night class)
Tuesday: 8:20 am Bible Intro (1st yr)
Wednesday: 7:30 am Life of Christ (1st yr)
Friday: 7:30 am Life of Christ and 9:10 Christian Education (1st yr)

Trent's class schedule looks like this:

Monday: 8:20 am Epistles and 8:40 pm Doctrine 1 (1st yr night class)
Tuesday: 11:00 am Doctrine/Epistles (1st yr) and 6:00 Spiritual Ministry (2nd yr night class)
Wednesday: 8:20 am Epistles
Thursday: 7:30 am Evangelism 2 (2nd yr) and 11:00 am Doctrine/Epistles (1st yr)

We will be VERY busy and I love it!

Tuesday, after class, we took our first trip to Divisoria.  Trent wanted to be able to look for barong fabric and I needed to pick up a few things for our guests that are here for Spiritual Emphasis Week and a Crusade.  Tuesday was also Ma'am Flowers birthday!  Wow!  I cannot wait to celebrate my birthday sometime in the PI!  It starts as early as you wake up and continues until you go to bed!  Greetings, cake, presents, love and attention are POURED out to honor you on your special day.  Sis. Flowers was serenaded at 5 am by the students who tried to surprise her with a cake, but she ended up surprising them and nearly lost her cake in the process!  HA!  The students were not expecting her to swing open her door at 5 am but she did and surprised/scared them before they could her!  Ella and I had a balloon bouquet made for her at National Bookstore!  Such a fun little idea and I believe she loved it.  Ella enjoyed bossing the girls around at the store telling them how she wanted it just so.

We are thrilled beyond measure to have Bro. Stephen Hill and his mother, Sis. Hill, here with us.  Bro. Hill has been preaching the Spiritual Emphasis Chapel services (to the students) and will be preaching a crusade service (supported by the local churches/pastors) on Friday & Sunday.

There are many things about living here that are a bit different than living in the US, but I am surprised at how easily I slipped back into the PI habit of doing things.  I know that when I return home, I will probably have to adjust back to life there, as well.  One of the first lessons you will learn in the PI is to buy it when you see it.  HA!!  I'm not sure if it's how they receive shipments or how things are imported (from Australia) but chances are you may never see that item or brand ever again.  I was surprised to find Kraft Macaroni & Cheese at Unimart.  Yes, I bought 2 boxes at P88 (About $2/box)!  I doubt I will see it again, unless I go to S&R (the PI Costco/Sams).

Trent is getting along pretty well here with the broken foot.  He is fighting wearing that big ol' heavy & hot boot, and no doubt counting down the days/weeks until he can take it off.  The students are very concerned for him and I've had several ask me about him and if there is anything he needs or that they can do for him.  I believe, if he needed a student to carry him up and down the steps at the school, there would be a little war as to who would get the honor.  Haha!!!

My kids are at home here.  Yes, despite the heat, they are playing hard and making new friends and re-aquainting themselves with the 2nd year students.  The girls are enamored with Ella and have spoiled her completely rotten!  She comes in from playing outside with candy, sweets, and has acquired 2 masks that she will wear to town!  Jon is teaching the boys how to ride skateboard.  He is able to skate a little here at the school and will practice his tricks and it is mesmerizing to the boys!  They also try to ride, but have not got the hang of it yet.

One of the most surprising things for me, is the heat.  I have been cold, yes COLD, here!!  I am not sure if I've just turned part Filipino or because it is the rainy season, but I've found myself shivering at times!  HA!!!  To clarify, I am only cold when we are indoors (in the apartment, the office or at the mall or restaurants).  The AirCon here is intense (which is lovely and quite refreshing!) but on damp skin can be very chilly.  It's ok.  I will take it!

That is enough rambling for one post.  I just wanted to give an update and brief glimpse of life so far.  Even though it is the first week of a totally new school year, it seems like very little time has passed since we were here last.

That's all for now!



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December 23, 2013

Others

This isn't really the right platform for this, but I am not sure how to get this out there.

I want to thank all of you (pastors and saints) that have thought of OTHERS this holiday season.  You have been a blessing to someone you knew, or perhaps a stranger and while you may feel like it went unnoticed or unappreciated, know that for this OTHER, it has made a tremendous difference.

Maybe you are someone who does things anonymously, you don't need or want the public appreciation--I get that.  Maybe you did something nice for someone and there is NO WAY you will ever get a thank you for it, but don't let either of those things stop you from thinking of OTHERS.

I am an "other".  My family are "others".  And you have thought of us.  You have blessed us!

Thank you for your friendship, your support and LOVE.  Thank you for putting OTHERS on your Christmas list, on your prayer list and yes, even your friends list.

One of my personal goals or resolutions for 2014 is to think of OTHERS more.  I want to be a blessing to more people this year than ever have.  I want to think of OTHERS the way you have thought of me/us.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you!  May this season be filled with love and happiness!  And may you always continue to think of others.   Thank you for inspiring me!!

Love,

An other

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December 17, 2013

The Road to Jesus

A person's Christian walk is often referred to as a journey or path.  And our ultimate destination is heaven.  We all want to go.  We are all marching toward that great reward.

Although there is a promise of heaven, there was also a promise of a Messiah.  Many people came from far and near to see this little baby that was born to save us. How could this be?  Really, a Messiah that is wrapped in swaddling clothes?  This, they had to see!

The wise men took one of the most famous journeys to Jesus. Their efforts are somewhat documented in the pages of history, but I sincerely doubt the real truth was published.

If their road trip is anything like our road trips, they stopped every one and a half hours so someone could "potty".  Chances are the mommas along the journey ran out of entertainment for the kids about 30 minutes into the trip and all the snacks she had so carefully packed were devoured by the time they had crossed the first state line.

Considering the fact that their "vehicle" was an animal, I am sure there were emergency stops for refueling, "tire changes" and possibly even a complete break down depending on the conditions of the travel and the roads.

Ironically, our journey to Jesus is much the same way.  A never ending "road trip" to the one who not only created this earth we traverse, but waits patiently as we run this race.  We have hang ups.  Mistakes.  Struggles.  Potholes of life that seem to veer us off the path.  We don't intend to stop and stay so long at that travel station, but they had a mini-mall inside!!!

The road to Jesus is not always smooth.  Sometimes we go through things that do not make sense.  Snow storms in the middle of the desert?  Yes.  In the smack middle of the desert, we have had to pull over to wait out a blizzard.  That doesn't make sense.  We did not not want our journey to be delayed, but it was.  The very next morning, we got up and continued along the way.  You can't let a little storm keep you stuck on the side of the road.  You MUST get back on the road and keep moving!

Another interesting thing about the wise men's journey to Jesus was that when they left, they went a different way.  After witnessing this miracle, they were changed.  They didn't want to travel down that same road again.  They forged a new path. A better path.

As you celebrate this season and think on Him, and while you walk this road, remember that it is OK to have car trouble, but make sure you get it into the station to be looked out.  Don't forget to fill up your tank when you are running low and make sure you keep traveling until you reach your destination.

Wishing you all a Merry and Miraculous Christmas Season!
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December 5, 2013

Star of Wonder--Christmas Album Giveaway!!

There is this girl I know…

Actually, she is one of three sisters that I claim (whether they like it or not) and boy oh boy is she a talented gal!

I knew she could sing.  I knew she could sing really well…but when I heard her latest Christmas album, I actually got CHILLS.  

So, I wanted to share the love and the spirit of this season by doing a GIVEAWAY!  Yes, you, my dear reader can WIN your very own copy of this album!

First, I'd like to introduce you to the soloist…my amazing and talented sister/friend, Denice:
All Photography courtesy of Deanna Rose Photography

Denice, thanks for agreeing to this interview!  I am so excited for you and PROUD!  

SWRB: What's your favorite style of music?
DL: I have a few favorite styles: I love gospel, jazz, and classical. I like a few other styles, but those would be my favorites.

SWRB: Who was/is your biggest musical influence?
DL: I don't have one in particular. I try to learn techniques from many, many different artists. Female artists inspire me vocally, male artists usually inspire me musically.

SWRB: How long have you been singing?
DL: Pretty much my entire life, since I was probably about 4 or 5 years old as far as I can remember. Any earlier than that would have to be verified by my parents. 

SWRB: What musical instruments do you play?
DL: Just the piano. And the recorder. I'm awesome on the recorder. I'd LOVE to learn how to play violin and flute.

SWRB: Is there an instrument you would love to learn how to play?
DL: Yes! Violin and flute. ;) Cello would be pretty cool, too. And guitar, acoustic and electric. And bass. Lofty goals, I know...

SWRB: Have you always dreamed of recording?
DL: Yes, probably since I was a teenager. Don't know why I didn't try to make it happen sooner, but timing is everything -- guess it just finally got to be the right time!

SWRB: What's your favorite part of recording this album?
DL: The actual recording of it -- studio time is so much fun! I also LOVED hearing how the music turned out before we started recording vocals. I have an amazing producer at Flyway Records who is exceptionally musically talented. Justin Hogue is crazy brilliant at arranging songs. Hearing what he did with these very old carols was so inspiring!

SWRB: Is there a funny or interesting story you can share about the recording of this album?
DL: Interesting factoid 1: The first and only bathroom selfie I took (and ever will take) was with my sisters styling me for the photo shoot for the cover artwork. 
Interesting factoid 2: It's hard to blow glitter out of your hands and smile at the same time.
All Photography courtesy of Deanna Rose Photography

SWRB: Do you have future projects planned we can look forward to?
DL: Yes! Please check on my Facebook page for details about an upcoming project involving a full-length album that is not holiday-related. Well, there may be something in there about Arbor Day or something. ;)

SWRB: Do you have any advice for hopeful recording artists?
DL: JUST DO IT. Can't, never could until you tried. 

SWRB: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
DL: I adore your blog. I adore you. You are amazing. But that's not sharing, because everyone already knows that. 
I would like to share that I have a few social media outlets through which I share my thoughts and project details -- all my handles are @DeniceLanides for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I'd also like to share that I am quite fond of chocolate, dark or milk. 

Last thing I  would like to share: if your sisters know how to style and photograph and blog about you, they are some of your best resources ever. Not only do you get to look good, but you get to have a ton of fun taking pictures and spreading the word about your work!

 SWRB: Denice, I know your real sisters are as crazy about you as I am and they did a great job with styling and photography for your album!  You can follow her older sister Deanna on her photography blog: Deanna Rose Photography.  And you can follow her younger sister (the stylist!) on her style blog: Pretty is This.
All Photography courtesy of Deanna Rose Photography

Now, here's your chance to WIN a copy of this album!  All you have to do is comment below!! I will randomly draw a winner on Friday, December 13th!

Would you like to hear a little sample of what you will win?  If you just can't wait to win it--you can BUY IT NOW!




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November 25, 2013

New Boots--Thanks a lot!

I wore them to church last night…and they are fabulous!  Like real cowgirl boots and yes, they are red. But really, more of a cranberry red, so I am calling them my "more grown up red boots".

I will try to get a good shot of them this week and post pics, because I KNOW you are all dying to see them.

Trent preached a really great message last night.  Miracles Along The Way.  Reminded me of this post.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, it is EASY to stop and think about what we are thankful for.  We are bombarded with the word "THANKS" everywhere we go.  And despite the jolly fat guy and all the lights that try to barge in on this holiday, I really am MORE aware of how thankful I am.

I sigh more during this time of year.  You know, that contented sigh…like when you take the first sip of morning coffee…but I sigh throughout the whole day.  Not because I am frustrated, but because I am content.   I don't have the biggest, the best or the brightest, but I have enough.

I also say "Thank you, Jesus" more often.  Just…because.  I climb in the truck and sit down and say "Thank you, Jesus".  I clean my dishes and say "Thank you, Jesus".  I pick up the toys (again!!!) and say "Thank you, Jesus".  I am thankful.  I don't want to take things for granted.  Even the little things…even the annoying things.  I am alive.  I am healthy.  My family is healthy.  We serve a great big God who is continuously pouring out his blessings on a daily basis…and we get miracles along the way.  

Yes, I am thankful.

PS:  Special thanks to Trent Gilliam for the new boots.  It was time.

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