Sunday, December 30, 2007

Best Christmas Card of 2007

I received this Christmas card from one of Brad's students who came over to my house once for dinner...

"Merry Christmas!! May be this is your first time to celebrate your national busiest festival in China, there is not so much jolifications here, but our your best Chinese friends want to send our heartfelt benedictions to you and your family. I hope you have a great time in Yidu and your family have a wonderful festival.
You are very fair and kind, I can use a Chinese idiom ( 贤妻良母) to describe you, it means you are a virtuous wife also a eximious mother, you have this typical visualize on your body. Hence I want to thank you for your goluptious meal.
I don't know what your like and what presents to give you, I just write this card and let brad replace me to give you."

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas 07

I think this picture captures Christmas 07 perfectly!

On Christmas Eve, Katie, Kim, Amy, Brad, and I built a palette on the floor of Brad's apartment. We had every intention of watching "It's A Wonderful Life", but you know us... we just talk and talk instead. Amy begged to open presents just like all normal kids. (So cute!) We did look at pictures of Katie's hometown in Christmas lights. Katie gave me some new pjs. (What a great tradition!) Then we all fell asleep side by side.

On Christmas morning, we woke up and opened stockings. Everyone got homemade stationary and bagels! Then we sat down to a delicious breakfast on the palette. About 9am we started opening gifts and did not stop until 2pm! It was not because we all went overboard shopping, but rather each gift was thoughtful.

From Katie and Kim, I got a new lamp for reading in my bedroom. They also are getting my IPOD fixed which has been broken since leaving to come to China the first time. (Major props for remembering this!!!) Kim gave me some yummy brownie mix and Katie gave me some kid art. (Post more on that later...)

Brad and Amy's gift had me rolling in the floor literally. They made me a choose-your-own-adventure book based on my life in the future. Options included opening a bakery here in Yichang, opening a "Bread and Breakfast" and having 12 children none of which had the name Kermit. They are pretty witty people.

While at home this summer, I fell in love with the Plain White T's song "Hey There Delilah". (Thanks Caitlin who would sing at the tops of her lungs with me!!!) Sometime I made the comment that all I wanted for Christmas was for Brad to learn to play this on the guitar. (This was when we first got here mind you...) Well, he did better than that. Amy and Brad wrote a song called "Hey There Beth Quarles"!! Not only did they write it, but they went to a recording studio with Kim and made me a CD. Brad played guitar and all three of them sang. I laughed because it was so funny. But it also made me cry because it was just so thoughtful. What great friends I have!!!!

Other great gifts included:Frosty Friends and China ornament, potholder and books from Mom, organizer and pot holders from Nana, potholder from Aunt Nancy (seeing the theme?), stationary and notebook from the Smiths, and a letter delivered on Christmas Day from Aunt Sue. Thanks everybody!

After unwrapping presents, we watched half of "It's A Wonderful Life" before dinner. We met up with many of our Family and friends here at our beloved UpDown Dining Hall. After a nice Chinese Christmas feast, we came back to Brad's to sing, share Christmas story and play White Elephant. I think I got the best gift at the party. I won a martial arts show from Chen Tao's boyfriend.

This post cannot do Christmas Day justice at all. Other than the fact that I missed my family in the States, it was beyond perfect.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Belt* Belts It Out...

For those of you who don't know, pastimes in China are quite different from America. That is especially true in the university setting. While I was in college I spent a fair amount of time at working part time jobs, going on road trips, playing board games with friends, trying new restaurants, going to see movies and the every now and then running at Radnor Lake or dancing in Centennial Park. My students don't work, spend 24/7 in the library, play WOW (or some computer game) and for a really good time they go to KTV.

I shudder even thinking about going to KTV (Karaoke for those Stateside). I was not blessed with musical genes. I don't like the sound of my own voice. I can think of a million other fun things to do besides KTV. My students have been dying for me to go with them so a couple of weeks ago I folded. Because taxis are so crazy here I thought there was still a good possibility I could die on the way thus solving the whole singing problem. Nope.

While cramming into a little room with TV and huge karaoke machine, I began to realize just how much my students love singing. I was excited... maybe I could get out of it because they liked the spotlight so much. Nope. To add to my despair they turned on Britney Spears' "Baby, Baby" or whatever that song is called. I got to fumble though the song. They clapped and wanted another one. Shoot me now.

After looking through their English song choices, I made my selection. I found the perfect KTV song. One I will use forever from here on out. Avril's "Boyfriend". It is super fast, more chanting than singing and the Chinese love it! (Note: make sure to bleep or cough in those not so nice word choices) You will go home singing it too.

After 2 hours of singing, explaining "My Humps" probably is not that great of a song and being ogled at by the hundreds of other KTV patrons, I got to come home and crawl into my bed. KTV for 2007 check.

Mark belts out "God Is A Girl"

Kitty sings ballad to her boyfriend

Amanda acting all camera shy...

Spending time with my students makes it all worthwhile!

*Belt is one of my many nicknames that for some reason has stuck


I am crawling back out of my hiding place... Nah, Google applications such as Blogger have not been working on my computer. Thus, I have not blogged. Sadly, now I have tons to catch up on...
Should have some free time tomorrow to start typing away. Check back later to hear about spa adventures, White Elephants, KTV, and the most amazing Christmas. (I still might cry if you ask me about it.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Elf Day

Today is Elf Day!!!! :)

Each year before Christmas I take one day where I am not too busy and do as much as I can. Normally I will pick a place for lunch, finish up whatever shopping I have left, grab some hot drink, go home to Christmas music, write cards, create some gifts, wrap, make something good for dinner and spend the night watching a Christmas movie. A magical, Christmas making day all to myself... Elf Day. A tradition of 4 years.

Elf Day is America was a little different. I would go to Panera or Baja for lunch. Hit Target and Green Hills Mall. Peppermint Cafe Mocha from Starbucks. I could also find all supplies I needed with little to no trouble at all.

Elf Day in China consists of noodles, running all over town looking for something as simple as wrapping paper, calling people to translate some word, hot milk tea, dinner that is just mediocre and freezing in the confines of my own home.

However, wherever, Elf Day is spent, it is special to me. Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. Many people can get bent out of shape because it is such a commercial holiday, but you know what? With Christmas comes joy for so many people. It is a day marked on our calendars where you can have a reason to show people that you love them. It is commercial because we make it that way. This year while shopping I challenge you not to get caught up in the busyness of it all, but to think about what would make some one's day. Don't see it as a list, but thoughtfully spend time thinking about the people you are shopping for. While wrapping gifts or writing cards, take the time to pr*y over each person. Do something outside of your comfort zone... make a gift for someone you don't know very well. Finish your Elf Day by reading of the love that was given to us from someone greater than us. Remember Christmas is about love and nothing more.

One class to go until Elf Day 2007 begins... :)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

"We've Been Spun"

Things I have done the past couple of days...

Last night Amy, Brad, Kim and I went to a spinning class at our gym. The other three are very good about going to the gym on a regular basis. I am very sporadic. The class was pretty good. I did break my bike, but the second one did great. I had a little competition going on in the back of the room with another not-so-kind lady, but it was good because it made me work harder. Probably go back to spinning class again at Sprots...
Yesterday morning, we made banana pancakes. This is kind of turning into a weekly event which I love! We all met to discuss plans for going to India. I am really excited about this, but please keep it in your Thoughts because there are lots of things still of concern.
Friday night I went to a student's house to make dumplings. They were delicious! We even made dessert dumplings. Sugar and jellybeans on the inside. A little too sweet for my liking... It was a good time though.
It is another Sunday morning here which is my favorite part of the week. Soon I will be headed over to the girls and meeting with Family. What a great thing...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Quiet Week and Quiet Thoughts

I am well on my way to completing one of my New Years' Resolutions. When I do I will blog about it. Just a little excited because it is the first one I have ever kept!

We are planning our trip during Spring Festival. Right now it is looking like we might go to India for 2 and a half weeks. I have been told they have real milk there so I am okay with that. Will post more on that later.

Kind of quiet week.

I woke up early this morning while it was still dark. No reason really. It is nice to sit wrapped in my blanket, drinking hot milk tea, Christmas light twinkling, a little music in the background and just talking to Father. I have so much to be thankful for and so many worries/stresses to turn over. I am not so good at that last part.

This is a good time to be here. With Christmas just around the corner it makes it easier to talk to people about our Lives and our Father. I have always loved Christmas and don't get me wrong I do miss driving around Brentwood looking at lights or perusing Target's decorations aisles. But I love Christmas in China. Explaining to people what we do on Christmas. Hosting parties for students to play White Elephant. Baking lots of good food. Caroling and having people think the foreigners have lost their minds. Spending time with my teammates and making Christmas, a time that could be hard being away from home, very special. Sharing what Christmas is really about with everybody. A "tender Tennessee Christmas" is great, but a Crazy Chinese Christmas is pretty fabulous too.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Goings-On of Domestic People

Breakfast- Homemade bagels and pumpkin pancakes

Lunch- nothing

Dinner- Fried Noodles (not bought, but made)

Dessert for tomorrow's lunch- Peppermint Cake Roll (my first roll cake ever made!)

Shopping- new fleece blanket for bedroom; fabric to make Christmas cards

Errands- long shopping trip with friends; post office; dropped off pictures to be developed; grocery store run

Around the House- washed millions of dishes; ironed Christmas table runner and skirt; met repairman to fix water heater; entertained 3 random guests; blogged; emailed

Relaxing- watched The Nanny Diaries but fell asleep the last 5 minutes

Thanks to other Domestic Divas- Kim "The Perfect Pancake Baker" Gaugler, Amy "Roll Cake Advice Giver" Pratt, Katie "My Chinese is So Good" Mcgunninal and Brad "Mailer of Christmas Packages Ahead of Time" Ellis (so I guess Brad would not be a diva... what would he be called?)

Just another day in China...

Friday, November 30, 2007

A Little Honesty

Growing up my dad used to lecture my sisters and I about how one day all we would have would be each other. I thought it was morbid. I know I always rolled my eyes. His point was really that we needed to appreciate and love each other. Little did I know how much I would miss them when I am half a world away. Tonight I watched a movie, made mint brownies and bagels for tomorrow's breakfast with Kim, Katie and Amy. (I love these girls to death, but I am sure they will understand when I say...) I wish I could have enjoyed the evening with Emily, Caitlin, and Hannah. (Rachel is still a tad too young.) Just missing my sisters tonight...

*note: John Travolta shaking it dressed as a woman in the movie Hairspray ranks right up there with Hugh Grant's dance in Love Actually. Oh to hear Caitlin giggle at that...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Because it was asked for...

Beth Quarles
Dept. of Foreign Affairs
China Three Gorges University
San Xia Da Xue
8 Daxue Lu
Yichang, Hubei 443002

90 cents for a letter! ;)

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Beautiful Tree

We have some pretty incredible friends here. All of whom make my life more interesting and a lot more "colorful" as the students like to say.
Last year Brad introduced us to one of his students. She is great at art! In the past she has painted a picture of Brad (a little Asian looking and about 40 years old), a sculpture of a mermaid, and a painting of an American football scene (which she have never seen!!!).
Last night Chen Tao delivered a paint to me! She painted this beautiful tree surrounded by the Fruit of the Spirit in Chinese. It is sooo beautiful! The background reminds me a lot of Tennessee and for some reason my grandparents farm. I love it. It is now proudly displayed in my living room. How blessed am I for such an amazing piece of art, but more importantly for such a sweet friend.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Baking Lessons

Earlier this week I was eating dinner out with some girls. We were talking about boys and food (you know normal things... both of which I have little understanding of...), and the girls asked if I would teach them how to make apple pie. I had made it last year around Christmas time for some of my classes and they remembered. I agreed. So at the insane hour of 8am on a Sunday morning baking lessons began.

I had everything prepared each couple had a pan, bowl and supplies in their own little area. (Did I mention that 2 girls turned into 8 boys and girls. The original 2 did not even come!!) I also printed out little recipe cards for them. It was a smashing success! 4 pies were made, students were happy, and nothing was broken this time. We also enjoyed listening to Christmas music, looking at Thanksgiving photos and catching a few minutes of the movie G.I. Jane. Each had a piece of pie and were sent home with more in tow.

After my students left, Amy and Brad came over for a turkey leftover lunch. I also tried my hand at a new Chinese noodle dish. Came out pretty good for the first time. The sedative in the turkey hit quick (and it was just an exhausting week) so I went to lie down. (After checking Auburn/Alabama score of course... War Eagle!) Sweet Amy and Brad cleaned my kitchen and I took a nap. I woke up feeling very refreshed! I had some Quiet Time, baked another cake for a friend's birthday, watched a little G. Girls and stared at my Christmas trees. Shortly, I will be heading out to meet Family and I am already ready to start another week.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tour of the House

Day after Thanksgiving... time to decorate for Christmas! However when doing that, I realized I never took you all on a tour of my house. So I made some pictures and well, welcome to my home...

This is what you first see when you walk in the door.

The bathroom is directly on your left. (Notice using the toilet and showering are two separate tasks now!)

View of dining room from hallway

My dining area (the table can be made bigger and I have a spare table)

My nice wonderful kitchen! (One of the reasons why I moved apartments...)

Off the dining area, sits my living room. Decorated for Christmas of course. (Post later more about that)

Off the living room there is a tiny hallway... on the left side a guest bedroom. Also, the room where my turtles live...

On the right side is my office. (Rachel's art decorates this room!)

Then, there is my bedroom.

Outside of my room there is a sunporch area. I use it to dry my clothes and for little art projects.

And that my friends is my home. A little Chinesey, but I did what I could. Each day I grow to love it more and hate it more. (Might look good, but the fact is my shower is going to fall though the floor one day (the president of the university lives below me so I am sure it will be fixed after that point...lets just hope I am not standing there naked when it does), my toilet must be flushed by reaching into the tank and pulling the chain, I nearly catch my hand on fire each time I reach into the oven to light the gas burning thing, my sinks floods my kitchen every now and then, etc, etc.) Anyways, it is home.

Come over anytime...

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Well it is officially the day after Thanksgiving here, but for most everyone else I know it is Thanksgiving Day. :) Just a little recap of my day...

8:30am- head out to pick up turkey (ended up having to drop it off at a restaurant to be cooked... my gas in my oven was out... ultimate domestic goddess status will have to be achieved another year)

9am- get back in taxi close to tears because our turkey was soooo cooked

10am- who cares about turkey? we had bagels for breakfast! thanks to and Amy/Brad I was able to enjoy another Panera-sque meal. kudos!

11:30am- run last minute errands before spending the afternoon in the kitchen and set tables

12:30- 4pm- cook pumpkin pies, sweet potatoes casserole, birthday cake, battle the turkey problem with Amy, repeatedly say "I'm sorry" to Brad because my TVU player is not working so he missed UFC (points for anyone who understand what I just said...)

4-5pm- shower, clean and mop my kitchen! (I am not sure you can understand what a feat this is! one hour to do anything I pretty much pleased... talk about how far we have come from last Thanksgiving)

5:30pm- begin eating a fabulous dinner with our Family (yes, 5:30pm exactly when we planned... food all done, everyone arrived on time...beginning to rethink the fact that we are in China (not often does everything go this smoothly!)... last year I showed up 20 minutes late and food was not done!)

5:30 - 8:30pm- eat, sing some songs, talk about what we are thankful for, read Book all with family and love every minute of it!!!

9pm- settle down to watch Macy's parade...oops! did not account for all the times differences/schedules... I got a glimpse of the Kermit the Frog balloon on the news. will have to do!

9:30pm - now- say goodbye to Amy and Brad, climb in bed to watch a little Gilmore Girls, get back out of bed to plan class (oops it is not Saturday!) and blog because now I am on my second wind...

All in all a pretty perfect day!

So from our Family to yours...

May you have a memory making...

bone lickin' good...

Turkey Day!

Let's give praise to our Father who gives us so many reasons to be thankful!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"Famous" Quotes

Even if these are not well known, they are going down in my little book of knowledge.

"She who hoots with the owls in the evening can not soar with the eagles in the morning."

This acrostic poem was written by one of my students...

"Turkey frying in the fire
Unconditionally I love food
Run to the frying turkey
Kiss the cross and pray
Eleven o'clock pm. We share the turkey
Yeah, I full. Thanks, food."

Love it! :)

Monday, November 19, 2007


Tonight I am thankful that our Father is a healer.

Lots of things going on right now that need healing. Relationships, my little sister Rachel, my spiritual walk and my heart. Everyone that knows me knows there is no way in Hades that I could be a doctor. I cannot stand to see people suffering. Right now there is a lot of aching in my heart for people I know that are suffering. In some instances there is not much I can do. However, I do know the ultimate healer. He is my Father. So I will do my part and hand things over to this great Doctor and I ask that you do the same.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Reliant K

Today I am thankful for Reliant K's song In Moments I Feel Faint.

Yesterday like so many others the past couple of weeks was tough. Finally, I decided I need to go run it off so I grabbed my mp3 player. Didn't work. Borrowed Jumping's mp3. Couldn't figure it out. Thankfully Katie's worked and she put it on her workout playlist. I hit the pavement and just ran determined to get this crazy energy in me out. On my way back home, near the point of exhaustion, I saw a free table in the bamboo park. I sat down and this song started playing. It was such a good reminder to me that when I am weak, He is strong. I listened to the song a good 5 or 6 times before getting back home. It was what I needed. I am still working through and pr*ying about everything, but I am starting to let go and let someone take control who is much greater than me.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Coffee Shops

I am thankful for coffee shops.
I have spent a fair amount of time over the last few years drinking coffee at various coffee shops. In high school, we discovered Fido's. We thought we were so cool drinking coffee surrounded by Vanderbilt students. Harding had Midnight Oil. Tennessee Tech had Poets. Then at Lipscomb, I moved on to Starbucks. First it was kind of lonely. I spent time there drinking Fraps and studying. Then, I met Tiffany and really fell head over heals for Starbucks. We spent hours talking or playing Scrabble. Sometimes we would have a friend or two join us, but Starbucks really belongs to us. ;) My friend Nick and I would sometimes head to Fido's to chat. I think he still has such a tradition. At Frothy Monkey, I began playing with idea of doing Good Work with Paul and Jesse. Bongo Java changed my life literally. It is where Dawson, Brad, Amy and I discovered we had no jobs in Guilin and would have to move to Yichang instead. We had fun watching Amy dance this summer at Portland Brew. I miss these coffee shop experiences.

Now I occasionally go to a coffee shop (and I use that term loosely because good coffee is just not found here really...) to grade papers with Brad. We did frequent a real Starbucks in Xian. It was cool to take our Chinese friend to experience true coffee there. Today I went to Mr. Mai's and caught up with an old friend in Wuhan. All of these are good times too.

Really it might be the friends that make these coffee shops special, but hey it makes it that much better when you are holding a mug in your hand.

Great Turkey Search of '07

I am pleased to announce the arrival of a 7.065 kg turkey named Bama. (That is Bama like Alabama for all them Yankees out there...cough..Kim..cough) Proud parent would be Beth's backpack.
Early this morning Brad and I trekked out to Wuhan to buy ourselves a turkey. We had a few other options of things to do such as Dairy Queen and Baskin Robbins. Sadly those options did not happen, but it was still a successful day.
First of all we got a surprise at the Yichang bus station. There is a new McDonalds inside! They don't have a breakfast menu, but do serve up a mean cup of coffee. We got the bus ready for the almost 5 hour journey and shared bread left over from dinner last night. When cut in half it looks deliciously similar to Fazoli's breadsticks. Looks are deceptive though as it tastes just like old China bread.

Upon our arrival in the thriving metropolis of Wuhan we set out in search of food. For quite some time now we have heard of Mr. Mai's coffee shop so we thought we would stop in for lunch. Set back in a little English training center we were quite impressed. When we walked in the door, I was greatly happy to see my friend Freddy. We met last year on an excursion to Wuhan. Brad and I ate tacos, drank root beer and talked with Freddy about all kinds of things. Good guy that Freddy is...

After lunch we went to check out a DVD store and then planned on going to DQ. I could taste that pumpkin pie blizzard. However, time got the best of us and we just went from DVD shopping to Metro. We did get a turkey, cheese, cake mix, bread pan, etc. Brad helped me to shove everything into a freezer bag and then into my pack. It wasn't getting it in so I should have known getting it out would not be much fun. We hopped aboard a bus back to Yichang, sleeping off and on, but mostly just being uncomfortable. Then we were escorted back to the university by a stranger from the bus. Even though we have been here for over a year, he seemed certain we could not do this on our own. He was sweet though.
When we got back my backpack gave birth. It was a push/pull struggle and I have to imagine that it is like helping a cow to give birth. Bama got his name because next Saturday is the big Auburn/Alabama football game and well I just call it like I see it. Alabama...turkey... (War Eagle!) Now he sits in my freezer until I figure out how to cook a turkey. That's right ladies and gentlemen, I am planning on cooking a turkey. I feel as though domestic goddess status will be truly achieved after I complete this task. I remember watching ladies in my family worry, baste, and worry some more over such and now it is my turn. Wish me luck!
The Great Turkey Search of '07 was a success...

Thursday, November 15, 2007


This morning I am thankful for my students.

I have this class I often term as "the bad class." In reality I love them all and do spend time outside of class with them more than any of my other students. However, in the classroom they are a teacher's worst nightmare. They talk, sleep, come in late, no homework and just treat me like I am anybody standing at the front of the room. I have tried write offs, singing to sleeping students, making them stand, everything. I even gave them a speech about how wonderful Chinese students are supposed to be, but they aren't and if I wanted to teach sleeping students I could go back to America where there are plenty of them. Yesterday we had a break through! Our chapter was talking about movies so I asked them to create a movie trailer for something already out, something coming out, or something they created.... They did awesome!!! I was rolling in my chair, crying from laughter. I got to see quiet little girls come out of their shells. I got to see these punk boys listening to others. Amazing... I get to teach them yet again today so we will see how it goes.

On a day where the rain is coming down in torrents, you really just want to crawl back in bed and not face anything, my "bad" students were the ones to get me through it. For that I am truly thankful for my students.

A picture of my "good" freshmen... I don't have any from my "bad" class...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


This morning I am thankful for beauty.

Last night I watched the movie The Fountain and while yes it was totally bizarre in a lot of ways, it was extremely beautiful. Images of a tree, the main character Izzy and her life, the star scenes and even the music. Wow. It was the type of beauty you don't even talk about until it is gone... know what I mean?

Beauty can be found in the smallest of things. A pearl earring, the way some one's smile curves on their faces, a wrinkle of someone wise, the penmanship in a letter of someone special and the twinkle in the eye of a child, just to name a few. I think one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen was a tree (yes, I am totally in love with trees!) was on a trip to Mississippi with Momma. We got out close to Gulfport and saw the Friendship Oak tree. I walked around totally in awe of the size and just loved the way the limbs curved. Some went into the ground and made it even stronger.The shade it cast was perfect. I could have spent days sitting under this old tree. It was beautiful.

While I hate that saying "You need to stop and smell the roses" I think there is some truth to it. We should take the time to stop and see the beauty around us. To really appreciate just how much detail Father put into each creation. There is beauty in everything, we just need to stop to see it.

A Regular Whodunnit?

November 10th, 1935 England

On Friday night Lord Richard Whittington was murdered in his own home. The following night a group of people came together for dinner and to solve the mystery. Presenting the Whittington Hall characters...
Colin Thompson (author)

Signora Rossi (detective and avid Venetian glass collector)

Thelma Cooper(actress) and Daphne, Dowanger Countess of ? (Richard's mother)

Lady Diana Whittington (emotional widow)

Other characters included : Robert Hughes (tennis player and spy), Rev. Thomas Summerland, Sylvia Ellis ( honorable guest), Virginia Dawson (socialite) and Viscount Langley(the surprise guest)

After an evening of British food, intellectual conversation (when else do you talk about the Tudor family?), questioning, birthday cake and great music, the murder was solved. Daphne, Richard's mother was guilty.

This big soiree was really held in honor of Kim's birthday. Thanks to and a little creativity a good time was to be had by all. Happy Birthday Kim! You deserve so much more...



This afternoon as I spend a little time quiet (also known as that hazy time after you wake up from a long nap) I am thankful for talents. Last night Brad, Peach and I went to our brother Daniel's house for dinner. After dinner Daniel played the classical guitar for us. We sat jaws dropped and listened to sounds that came from this crazy dear man's fingers and guitar. Amazing! People here have amazing talents. Amy has the talent of writing. Everything she writes is so elegant and thought provoking. Kim and Dawson both have the gift of music too. I always love it when they sit down at a piano. Katie and Brad have the gift of ministry. Both know exactly what to say to encourage,make people feel comfortable and loved. My Chinese friends blow me away with their bilingual skills! Today I received a paper lily from a student. How can one person sit down with just a piece of paper and create something so beautiful it looks like one of Father's creations itself? Talent.

My mother is an artist. She can paint a beautiful seaside or make a beautiful dress with no second thoughts. Her creativity always floors me. Now I am not near as creative as her, but I know she passed that gene on to me in some ways. I am thankful.

My father has the gift of being emotional. I have seen my father angry, cry, and love with fierce passion. I love that about him. I am probably more emotional than him in some ways, but I am thankful we have that in common. Just big old teddy bears.

Yeah, I am thankful for talents and gifts.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


When we all came to China, we had a lot of dreams for our time here. We thought we would build up a good Family, become that teacher that just changes lives in the classroom, be able to speak Chinese rather well, travel to all of these amazing places and to become this super Chr*stian because we were away from so much temptation. Some of those dreams have come somewhat true, others I laugh at now and some have changed. We have a great Family. Small, but never cease to amaze me. Teaching feels more like glorified babysitting in a lot of ways. All of those creative ideas I have normally fall by the wayside because they just don't work here. Fluent in Chinese?!?! hahahaha. I have seen some amazing sights... Great Wall, Ice Festival in Harbin, Terracotta Soldiers, climbed mountains, etc. Now I face different temptations than I did in the States. Some temptations I still fall too and some I battle out. I do feel as though I have grown up and have changed in a lot of ways. Dreams...

One dream that I know I expressed with several people before I left was to make my life simpler. It was a practice I thought would be easy here and one I wanted to bring home. However, in all of my goofball ways I have managed to pump my schedule to all new levels, have more stuff in this little apartment than one can imagine accumulating in just over a year, computer has more programs than I don't even know how to use,etc. etc. Simple would not be a word that I would use to describe my life at all.

Today I stopped my Myspace account. (Well in the process.... they make you give reasons, email verification and several other tedious steps in hoping that you will get frustrated and just keep it. Pressing on though.) While it is not a huge step, it frees up maybe 10 minutes each day which is normally wasted anyway by just looking at other profiles. I hope to sit down this week and re-examine the craziness which is my life. Hopefully I can plan out some good ways to simplify my life a little more.

Simplifying is a discipline.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Good Health


I am so thankful that I have the ability to walk, see, hear, run, be active and be happy. Much too often this is taken for granted. I am blessed to be able to walk to class each day and clear my head along the way. Blessed to see the older generation playing croquet in the bamboo park each morning. Blessed to hear China's national anthem for hours at a time during weekends on campus. (It really could be worse... I could not hear it.) Blessed to be able to pick up a basketball and shoot a few hoops with my students. Blessed to cook, surprise, write, read, share Good News and a million other things just because I do have good health.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bless Her Heart Moment

Tonight while reading... (My thoughts in Italics)

"For G-d said ,"Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." Man that is a good verse!

"Hey Amy! Check this verse out..." (Beth)

"Yeah. Where is that?" (Amy)

"2 Cor.4:6" oh! I have that tattooed on my back!

Followed by fits of giggles...

Lesson learned: When getting a tattoo remember what it says.

Just thankful that I am still so moved by the verse. :)

Tis The Season

The holiday season is upon us. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, Christmas soon after and then the beginning of the New Year (can't forget the amazing Halloween that has just passed), most people are in the mood for good things. Good food, friends, fun, etc. This is also a time for good Thoughts.

Starting today until Thanksgiving I am going to blog everyday about things I am thankful for. (Yes, I will blog about life and such things too, but really want to try to remember to be in the spirit of gratefulness as well.) Please feel free to leave comments about things you are thankful for as well.

Today I am thankful for parents. This morning I got to see Clark, Eden and new baby Justin and I was just reminded of how wonderful parents are. To watch Eden sit with her Book open and holding Justin in one arm and then seeing her glance down at her son with smile and pride...Wow! What a feeling that must be. His name was picked because it means "upright" and that is what they want for their son. Thank Father there are so many good parents out there. I think of my friends' parents and just the amazing job that they have done to instill in their children good character. A hard job with awesome responsibility, but I am sure great rewards too.

I must say I am blessed to such great parents. I can say my parents taught me the difference between right and wrong. They taught me to be loving and forgiving. They taught me that life should be about service because that is what they have done themselves. So today I sit a world away thankful for my own parents and parents in general. Hopefully one day I will have that responsibility.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Wish List

Because I have already been asked several times, here is this year's Christmas wish list...

Books (anything written in the English language is fine!)
Socks (for some reason now I like fun prints... maybe because they make my students laugh a lot)
Long sleeve shirts (one day I am going to learn to pack better)
Danish Wedding Cookies (Keebler pink box... been craving!)
Oven Mitts (I am a little hard on mine... have gone through 3 pairs..)

The thing I would really love most though is a letter. I don't think people understand how nice it is to read a handwritten note about life in America. It makes you feel connected. Not that I am not grateful for packages, but it is disappointing to not hear about the sender. So if you will, 90 cents is all it takes to make my Christmas or any day for that matter.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Girls Weekend

So still recovering from a great weekend!

Friday night girls traveled in from all over Hubei province and we started the weekend thinking about what it means to be an ideal woman. After catching up with old friends, finding places for 40+ girls to sleep in our homes, and relieved that Lucy walked up (I was already sorting out in my head how to figure out to call her mom and tell her that we have not talked in over a week...) the Yichang women went to bed ready for a new day.

Saturday morning after waking up early to make/invent soup (much to the dismay of Brad who so graciously slept on the couch of our Yichang host headquarters) and deliver bags of muffins and loaves of homemade breads,all the girls got together to discuss what it meant to be a virtuous woman. Scattered throughout the weekend we handed out fab door prizes (thanks Sandra!), had fun singing (yea Amy!) and got caught up in some general silliness (one word...Barbie!) In the afternoon, we had some free time where girls went out to explore the city. We were able to share in our newly expanded foreign foods section of our supermarket. PTL! In the evening we gathered for a banquet and then finished the night talking about a woman of wisdom. This time we crawled into bed after making it through maybe 10 minutes of Maverick.
Sunday morning waking up even earlier, we once again went through bags of muffins and the best pumpkin bread (Brad the Baker strikes again...) We talked about what it means to be a woman who surpasses them all and how great it will be to be able to lay crowns down at the throne one day. We took supper together and felt renewed. The girls packed up, got on buses and trains, and went home thinking Yichang has perfect weather and that we are pulled together.

Looking back, I don't think the retreat could have gone much better. Everyone chipped in from Yichang to make sure all aspects were covered. Cloud seeding might have even been involved. We made some really sweet new friends and were encouraged by the Growth of some since last year. So tired yes, but absolutely happy.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

It's Monday

The weekend has come and gone. I am not sure that things could have gone any better at the retreat. I will post later, but today will be spent in class, resting and cleaning. Thanks be to G*d though for such an uplifting time!

You had your before picture, this would be the after one... ;)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Bring It On

In just a few hours, about 50 girls will be filing into Brad's home. (He is either thankful he will not be there, or sad that he can't join such a beautiful crowd!) We will kick off a great girls weekend of fun, food, forming friendships, and thinking about how to be a "woman who surpasses them all."

Please be Thinking about the weekend for us. As you can see we are pretty excited!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


After I finished writing that last post, I went to take cookies out of oven... burned. Really?!?!?!

The Cursed Hands of Midas

I will never forget it...

Last spring I bought a mirror to have so I could put on my eye makeup a little easier. 2 kuai. Good investment I thought. 2 days later I knocked it off my desk and it shattered into crazy amounts of pieces. As I was sweeping it up I thought to myself,"It is a good thing I am not superstitious."

I am beginning to rethink this whole bad luck thing though. As of late I have the hands of Midas, but not in a good way. In the past 2 weeks the repairman has been to my house 4 times. He will be coming again tomorrow. Toilet, sink, lights, you name it.

Last week while making hot chocolate I fell in my kitchen. I put one foot on the little rug and it slipped out from under me. I ended up with one leg in the kitchen and one leg in the dining area. That was some major pain.

Yesterday I decided to cook an easy dinner with the pre-packaged meals they have begun to sell. All you have to do is throw it in a wok. I cooked one package and started another one when I noticed that it had a funny texture. I had bought intestines! Threw it out and send Brad to the restaurant to get some food. (A little reminder of the banana pudding incident of August 2006.) I also burned my thumb yesterday while trying to scrape pumpkin from the shell. Burning hands is not new to me, however this burn was a whole new level. (Thanks Dawson once again for the aloe you gave me last birthday! It has turned out to be the most practical gift anyone has ever gotten me.)

Today I put batter into a blender which I have done successfully 4 times this term. Peach came in and said blenders scared her. I said no worries. My blender then proceeded to spew pumpkin soup all over the dining area, floor, water cooler and both of us.

Did I tell you that I did laundry yesterday? Well I hung all my pants up to dry and this morning they were all still soaking wet. I got to wear a skirt on one of the coldest days so far. 3 people have already told me I should wear more clothes...thanks.

My English skills have gone to the wayside. (Just ask the other Yichangren.)

It is raining now and I have class in a few minutes. Please pray that I don't lose my life between here and the W building!

In conclusion, maybe there is some truth to this whole mirror 7 years bad luck thing.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Art of Doing Good

We are all busy people. Sometimes we get so caught up in all the things going on around us that we forget to take the time to do something nice for others. Think about how much it makes your day when you get a letter in the mail, you find a little surprise someone left you, or you get a hug on a day that has been very tough. Wouldn't you want to give someone else that same feeling?

There is probably someone you have in mind when it comes to doing things for others. They might even appreciate the fact that you thought of them. However, wouldn't it be the greatest compliment to hear "I can tell (insert name here) loves God because he/she treats others so well." Shouldn't our motivation to do good come from our love of the Father?

This week I am challenging you my friends to do something good. Don't do it to be acknowledged. Don't do it to get another star in your crown. Do it out of pure love. You might be surprised at how doing "good things" can creep into your lifestyle once you start. Whether you have 10 minutes or a couple of hours, something simple can mean a lot.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Making of a Mermaid

The choosing of a Halloween costume is never easy. This year I even looked in America for a costume while I was home. I came very close to being Wilma Flintstone and then an angel. However, it was in the shower one morning I decided to be a mermaid. (Could have been brought on by the many trips to Starbucks in Xian. Did you know a mermaid is the logo for Starbucks? I always thought it was a goddess.)

So how does one become a mermaid? Well, it all started with a sketch. I took my sketches, my sweet friend Chen Tao and headed to a tailor. I found a green fabric which looked like shiny scales, picked some green netting and choose purple cloth for my starfish. After much debating with the tailor about how best to make a mermaid, we decided he would measure, I would piece together, he would sew and I would finish by sewing on the star. Cost 35 kuai. Finished within a week. Strong.

Next, I took a mosquito net my mom had sent me last year to make a shaw. I cut it to pieces (sorry Mom, but it turned out great!!!) I painted some shells and crabs and hot glued them to the netting. Then I took ribbon (also from the net) and glued it to both ends so the netting would not tear. I thought it was pretty fab, except that when actually wearing the black outlines rubbed off onto my skin. Opps!

Now this was not a scandalous party and me being the sweet girl I am ;) I wore a white t-shirt and used a pink scarf as the top. I used a ponytail holder in the middle of the scarf to give that "fitted" look. The scarf did fall down a lot so I ended up having to use safety pins midway through the party.
What is a mermaid without curly hair? Kim and I paid a visit to the hairdressers next to our favorite restaurant. Almost 2.5 hours later, we emerged with super curly hair. I put starfish pins in my hair which I made from the same fabric as the star on my waist. The outfit was complete with my trusty pearl earrings and necklace.
And that my friends is how you make a mermaid...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Finishing the week Undetermined...

So here was the rest of the week...

Wednesday: After my students left, I sat down for awhile to read on my book. I am currently reading The Kite Runner. (Amy was kind enough to edit it for me because I almost threw up and one point.) I am really enjoying the rawness of this story that is set in Afghanistan. I digress... after reading my book, I met up with friends to watch Nightmare Before Christmas. I think that should be required of all people right before Halloween. Then I came home and my friend Peach ended up staying the night. We stayed up til 2am!

Thursday: Class in the morning went well. I am really enjoying my students this semester. I ate lunch with 2 students and then came home for a nap...Yes! I slept for about an hour and a half. I got up to start preparing for the second mass of students coming over this week for dinner and a movie. They were supposed to come at 4pm. At 6pm I sat with no students, 6 pots of spaghetti noodles, and smells of sauce coming from the crock pot. Can't forget the 6 loaves of bread, buttered, garliced and toasted. (Insert chirping crickets here...) I went to Amy's for dinner. Kim and I went to McDonalds to grade outlines and tests with an ice cream reward! When I got home I painted a shirt for Sports Meeting (keep reading) and then decided I had to find my camera cord. (Why must we decide to do such trivial things so late at night?) At 10:30pm I found my cord in a drawer I know I looked in a million times. This was after I cleaned my office (again!), my bedroom and my cupboard for horrors. (You know everybody has a catch-all. Mine is just exceptionally big.) I settled into bed with my book and I must have fallen asleep before 11. Good.

Friday: I got up at an insane hour to finish my shirt. Sports Meeting is a big track and field day that all students may participate in. There are no classes that day. For once there is a sense of unity among the students. Because I had so many students in it this year I thought I would do something special to cheer them on so I painted a shirt. I painted a shirt in Chinese! It says I love my students. So at 8am I show up with Katie and Kim to Sports Meeting at right away found my students. They loved it! They were excited that I even came. At the beginning of the meet there is a parade of all the colleges. I was pumped because I know every single kid in my college. That is pretty unique and I am really fortunate. The college of international communications only has 3 classes of students right now and I teach all of those kids. It is great because I see them so often I can build some relationships that the other teachers can't because they have so many different students. Anyways, I was really proud of my students marching in the parade and then running in so many races. It was a good morning! After sports meeting, Amy, Kim and I went shopping to get some last minute costume items. I came home and made lunch for Jumping and myself. Nice stir fry! We watched the movie Reign Over Me. I also really enjoyed this movie because it was a good character study of someone who was really suffering from emotional pain. Then we trekked back out to visit our gym that we joined last year. Our gym has been closed for a few months now, but they are reopening this week. It feels like a real gym now! Lots of treadmills, elliptical, bikes for spinning and even a hot yoga room! That is pretty exciting. After looking around I opted to come back home. While the others worked out, I was painting and putting finishing touches on costumes for my friends and me. I also reheated the spaghetti dinner for the foreigners to eat. They got home, we ate, listened to Brad read books and played ASAP card game. I ended my evening in my living room were I fell asleep working on my costume. All in all a busy but very good day...

3 naps and 1 night going to bed before 11 (although 2 more night were very close!) was the outcome of my determined week. That is pretty good for me. My friends are making a 3 times a week to the gym rule. Can you imagine? Me committing to something like that 3 times a week! I can't even go to bed before 11pm or take a nap that often. I will still work on this sleeping thing and then we will THINK about going to the gym that often...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ways To Make Beth Turn Red

Did I mention that STD was a vocabulary word in my students' book? Our Chinese class was canceled this week because a Nobel prize winner was on campus. He invented Viagra. My response to students... ask your parents. This is one college professor who is too young for such things.

Almost Undetermined...

So it is Wednesday. Mid- way through my determined week. Here is how things are going...

Monday: Classes went well. I was invited to go eat with some students for lunch which I really enjoyed. I am really bonded with some of my students from my "bad" class. Then with all sincerity of taking my nap I came home and laid down. I woke up in a panic. "What?!?! I slept in my clothes?!?!" I looked at my watch 4:30pm. Sigh of relief. Panic again... I had slept for 3.5 hours! People were coming to eat bread bowls and soup which I had not made yet. I called Kim who quickly came over and we pulled off a pretty decent dinner. Because we had so few for our study I took the time to study my new Chinese with Katie and talked with Jumping a little. It turned out to be quite a useful time! (Try saying shizijia 3 times fast. I can't even say it once correctly.) I typed up a little gift and then was in the bed by 11:30pm. Not so according to plan...

Tuesday: Class went well. Had a nice lunch of leftover pizza and listened to Brad read a book. I ended up traveling out to White Market to buy some items for dinner and then rode home with the most unpleasant man I might have ever met. I was in tears by the time I got home. Then I made tortillas. This is a much easier said than done project. However I was pleasantly surprised at the experience. It was much easier than most times. Then my day continued in a downward spiral. The school vetoed one my class plans for no good reason at all. The water was turned off for two hours (right when I was making dinner...) Then my sink broke altogether. My toilet died. I had to go to a neighbor's house. You try explaining toilet in a language you don't know. (I am admitting right now I have lived in China for over a year but can't say toilet. I can say crab... "pangxie") Without a sink and toilet and company coming over I called superwomen Katie and Kim. We ended up taking dinner to their house. Thank goodness it was taco night. That made everything somewhat worth while. I came home and started cleaning my office and desperately looking for my camera cord (still MIA). Crashed about 11:30pm.

Wednesday: Solved the problem with my school. (Thanks Amy for the backup!) Class went really well today. A kid said I looked like a mother and I gave him a hard time about it. Student thought I was really upset and wrote me a wonderful apology letter. Opps! My lunch date canceled so I sat down with potato soup and Gilmore Girls.Nice. Got dinner for girls weekend booked at about 1/4 the original price. Super sweet. Then while I was out talking to Peach, my student called. A group of about 20 were coming over for dinner and a movie. They were supposed to come at 4. It was 2:45. I ran home and threw everything out in a cupboard. While cooking my sink really fell apart. A flood started! (Did I mention my toilet was still not working???) I called desperately while my students watched the movie. The Madame (our repair lady and Brad's future wife...just kidding...sort of) came over. She stood watching the repairman while I tramped through the water taking garlic bread in and out of the oven while my students watched a movie while two of my male students were sleeping in my bed. (Only to be found out later and will be the first to class from now on or will have quite the punishment which I have not thought of yet.) Anyways, flood drained, toilet repaired, movie finished, spaghetti delish, students gone and Beth sits down. Ahh...What happened to that determined nap? (My toilet is broken again.)

Some days you just feel like this... Still in good spirits though considering the chaos that had been my week. Maybe even back on the path to determined.... ;)