Christmas Joy

Each Christmas the verses of "Joy to the world, the Lord has come!  Let earth receive her King!" fill my mind because this always reminds me of fun Christmas past.  Us siblings, with a lot of shushing each other, would rummage around the kitchen early Christmas morning, preparing breakfast in bed for Mom and Dad.  We would wear white tape covered cardboard St. Lucia crowns and sing "Joy to the World" (probably off tune!) as we marched up the stairs to their room.  These memories always make me smile!  And this year's celebrations gave me reason to smile as well!  I hope you all enjoyed a very joy-filled Christmas, giving thanks for the precious gift of Baby Jesus.

Here's some photo snippets from our first Christmas in Singapore!

There are beautifully decorated Christmas trees all over Singapore.  If the weather can't inspire the Christmas spirit, the Christmas trees can!  

Luminous lights on Orchard - all just for Christmas.  This picture is taken very close to where we're temporarily living.

The day before Christmas Eve we went to East Coast Park with friends.  We had a lazy lunch, rented bikes and explored the area.  Unfortunately no pictures of the biking because it started to rain.  

A picture of one of the many beaches along East Coast Park.  
Enjoying beverages at lunch . . . I am obsessed with fresh, chilled coconuts!

Grandma passed away at 99 years.  While I grieve her loss, I'm sure she and Dad had the merriest Christmas EVER in heaven with Jesus.  
For Christmas Eve we had Peking Duck...  Very good, family style Chinese dining.

Gracious friends who invited us into their home for Christmas.  Thank you!  Christmas wouldn't have been nearly as joyful without your invite.    
Christmas Eve service.  "Joy to the world, the Lord is born!"

And then we cranked down the "aircon"  to 60 degrees, watched Christmas movies and drank hot cocoa from Starbucks.

Christmas morning we even had a 'family' Christmas!  Thank God for modern technology.  

A little football before Christmas dinner...

A lot of yummy food!
A few presents among friends... (we will do our own gift exchange over New Years).

...and some baby lovin'!  Braley Elizabeth is such a sweet babe.  
Merry Christmas from Singapore!


Moving to . . .

I have long been silent on this blog but trust me, it has not been due to laziness!  As many of you know, I started blogging to keep myself accountable to my Big Goals: acing the GRE and enrolling in a graduate program.  But alas, the Lord had other plans that I did not expect.  Enter Singapore, my new home . . .


. . . and here's how it happened.  For those shell-shocked readers, I am aware I just moved 15 months prior to this post.  :)  However, God did say "my plans are not your plans" and I suppose he meant it.  For approximately the past 6-8 months, Cody's superiors have been mentioning possible expat assignments.  The possibilities ranged from Scotland, Germany, Norway to even Singapore.  We were uncertain about whether his company was serious in their occasional chatter (or whether this was truly even an opportunity we were interested in), so we proceeded with our own plans and goals, hoping to begin graduate school in August 2012.  Oh, were we in for a surprise!

Mid-September Cody's company issued a formal offer for a position in Stavanger, Norway.   I won't bore you with the details but it did not work out.  While we would have *loved* to live closer to our dear friends, Jean and Lucas, the Lord still had other plans unbeknownst to us.  On October 3rd, my husband received an unexpected call from headquarters about a "dire situation" in Singapore.  The head honchos had already decided Cody would be the best candidate.  Cody and I had a formal meeting with vice president of engineering on October 10th to discuss whether we could happily live in Singapore for a few years.  After a great deal of prayer, we accepted that God's plans are not necessarily our plans.  So, we moved on November 28th.

But!   Before I start sharing stories along our adventure here, I have to tell you how this experience has taught me that God is with me and will never entrust me with more than I can handle:

1)  I worry about how others will react to my decisions.  My co-workers and superiors in Kansas are by far the most understanding, caring group of people I have ever met.  They were excited for us, willing to work around my schedule, accommodated my needs and even threw me a sweet going away party complete with a "survival kit" for the long 22 hours aboard plane.  On top of this, our families were supportive and always lended a listening ear to my worries and frustrations (despite their own sad feelings over our departure).

2)  I tend to get overwhelmed when stressed.  My loving Mama T (mother-in-law) took two weeks out of her schedule to drive 18 hours in order to help us organize, clean and pack up our house in Kansas.  I am so very grateful for all her kindness and help!  It was such a stress relief to have another person with which to share the load.  She even brought us enough food (prepared by Mama T, sister Hannah, Cody's Grandma and aunt) to last two entire weeks so we didn't have eat Subway and McDonalds.  Such a blessing not to have to worry over meals during the move.  God certainly has impeccable timing.  Had the move happened another time, who knows if she would have been able to help us out?

Mama T & Me last Christmas :)

3)  I wasn't ready to say goodbye to dear friends in Kansas.  Our co-workers and friends  kindly invited us over for fun suppers and celebrated our new adventure.  While we will miss each other, they kept a positive attitude about our move, which helped so very much!

4)  I worried that the movers would be careless and break our belongings.  The movers did a tremendous job!  They were efficient, solicitous and very careful with all our goods, finishing the job 1 1/2 days earlier than expected - with nothing broken (so far!).  Praying for successful shipments . . .

Movers and me in front of the truck . . .

5)  I can't move abroad - I'll miss my family too much.  God knew I needed to spend quality time with loved ones to sustain me until our return in June.  My amazing family in Illinois graciously put us up overnight, feeding us profusely and sharing in our excitement over this new adventure.  But not just my extended family,  we were able to spend time with siblings, aunts and uncles (including the great variety), parents, grandparents, cousins, nieces and nephews and even a few good friends.  Our Pennsylvania "Thanks - Christmas - New Years - appaloosa" was great fun and just what I needed!

6) I couldn't give up Asia for Singapore.  Cody's company recently changed their pet policy and agreed to pay over $4,000 to ship Asia Minor to Singapore!  Also,  my wonderful Mama agreed to care for Asia until she can be shipped mid-February.  I am so thankful for you, Mom.   God knew I couldn't handle leaving Asia.  

Asia Minor

7)  I worried about culture shock and isolation.  Our thoughtful friends, Alex and Ashley, have patiently answered a bazillion questions, showed us around our new city-country and kindly invited us into their home to share in their Christmas celebrations since we are so far from loved ones (all while having a newborn!).  We owe you big time.  In addition, my great uncle knew a really nice young woman, Sarah, who has lived here for 5 years.  She's graciously invited me to brunch as well as into her circle of friends.

. . . I could keep going, but I won't.  :)  There is still so many unknowns (permanent housing, my employment status, making friends, finding a home church, graduate school, etc.) but I will leave those for another post.  Suffice it to say, God had a plan and laid the groundwork to make it happen.

I am blessed!  [More to come shortly on life in Singapore!]