Seeing the Sights

Saturday, July 30, 2011  ::   4 important comments

Jamie has been a constant part of our lives for many years. It was such a joy to visit her, listen to her sweet language skills, watch her interact with the locals, and enjoy her wonderful hospitality. Thanks for hosting us, Jam! 

Esther dealt with jet lag with a little bit of whininess. Whenever she needed a break, she would just pop a squat and chill out. I'm sure Jamie isn't teasing her at all in this photo.  

Leaving Jamie's apartment to go explore on bikes. When Chad and I lived in China many years ago we went everywhere on our bicycles. Riding around brought back many great memories!  

Esther and a warm winter hat. Perfect for weather in the city we visited, not so much for Tucson. 

Yep, I made Esther try on lots of hats.  Doesn't she look good in this one? I really love this photo of the two of them.  

A minority people group in the city makes a very delicious naan bread. We watched for awhile. Mmmm, wish I could get some for dinner tonight! 

This is the oven used to bake the bread. Amazing. 

Sheep brains anyone?? 

Love this shot! We were getting ready to play ultimate frisbee. These precious girls were playing in the area of our game so I took the opportunity to snap a picture. 

Esther's most awkward cultural moment. Esther had a backache during the first part of our trip. This sweet college student decided to give her a back rub. I'm pretty sure it wasn't relaxing for her at all! She handled the situation with grace.

On our sweet rides! 

Tiananmen Square

Jamie and I on the Great Wall

Esther said it was too bad she wasn't taking her senior photos. Two things: 1. Senior photos in China would be pretty sweet. 2. I'm glad Esther isn't a senior yet.  

So beautiful!! 

The Bird's Nest is very cool in person. We loved visiting the olympic village. 

Inside the Bird's Nest. The jumbotrons were playing the opening ceremonies from 2008. I got chills several times. What a bummer for London to have to host after China! Good luck! 

Love both of these ladies so much!! 

A Greasy French Fry

Friday, July 29, 2011  ::   11 important comments

One of my favorite things to do in life is impress Kyle.  He's 11 now, so impressing him gets more and more difficult. When he was younger all I had to do was put a bandaid on an owie, or beat him at a game (which certainly doesn't happen anymore), or know the names of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The rate at which I get that certain "wow, you're cool, Mom" smile has gradually decreased through the years. However, this last week I was faced with a challenge that was sure to impress almost any 11 year old boy.

My friend, Jamie, captured the moment in such a way that almost doesn't need explaining, but I like words so I'm going to explain anyway. For the weak stomached...proceed with caution.

There is an area in Beijing called Wangfujing. When Chad and I had the privilege of being a language students in China more than ten years ago, we were told that Wangfujing is very famous or "famers in our Chinar" if you know what I mean.  It is a pedestrian area with many shops, weird (to Westerners) foods, and in some places, so many people you can only barely squeeze your way through. Wangfujing will cause sensory overload to those who have sensitive senses. To me, it was a great place to people watch, walk, and soak in the "famers" atmosphere that I had heard about in my classes many years ago.

One of the delicatessens on this special road is fried scorpion on a stick.  It's a lovely little snack that is sure to satisfy.  Crazily enough, they skewer the little nasties while they are still alive, so they wiggle and squirm while awaiting their deep fried deaths. I can't exaggerate the experience. Here is a photo of a collection of skewered scorpions:
Thankfully, the friends I was with weren't interested in trying out these huge black scary things or I wouldn't have even cared to try and impress Kyle.  We stuck with the "easier" version. 
Interestingly enough, I had absolutely no intention of partaking in this lovely afternoon snack, but the look in my face begins to explain my thought process. "Hmmm, maybe it wouldn't be so bad. I could tell people that I ate a scorpion! Kyle would be so proud!" 
"Oh no! I'm holding the stick. I can't back out now that would be totally lame! How in the world do I get that gross looking thing from the stick to my mouth and down my throat. If I do this Kyle will be so proud!"
"Here goes nothing! Kyle, you better think I'm the coolest mom EVER!" 
"Oh my gosh. This is really gross. I'm actually eating a scorpion. I hope I can swallow this terrible thing. Kyle, this is all for you!" 
I know several crazy people that have actually experienced eating one of these scorpions.  Kyle happens to be one of them.  The majority of the scorpion munchers say it tastes like a greasy french fry. Now, I hate it when people tell me what I think about something isn't true, e.g, it doesn't hurt when you get a tattoo. It does hurt and people who tell me it doesn't should sit for four hours and get on one their ankle and foot.  So, to me it did not taste like a french fry. It tasted like a super crispy bug. Each little leg was stuck in my back teeth and the body was crunchy and squishy all at the same time. It took awhile to not feel pokey objects in my throat and teeth. It wasn't at all a french fry sensation because I usually can't stop eating french fries, and one scorpion satisfied me for the rest of my life.  

Was it worth it? Absolutely! Kyle was so proud of me. The smile on his face when I told him about my experience was exactly what I pictured in my head while I was trying to make myself bite the nasty little thing off the stick. Kyle said he was impressed which made it all worth it. I fear impressing him will be more and more difficult, but hopefully, it won't involve anymore gross food challenges! 

For now, I'll stick with candied strawberries on a stick. These beautiful fruits were perfectly ripe, still warm from cooking, and perfectly coated with a hard candy shell. Waaay better than a deep fried doesn't taste at all like greasy french fry scorpion on a stick! 

A Brief Look

Thursday, July 28, 2011  ::   9 important comments

I have much to share about my trip to China with Esther, but please don't get your hopes up with this post. Today is Embrace the Camera day and I have a super cool photo to post, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

Is that cool or what?  Esther and I on the Great Wall of China.  It was a super foggy, rainy day so it was beautiful and mysterious.  It seemed as if one could almost hear the Chinese Erhu playing in the background. We had a lovely time taking in the beauty, climbing huge steps, and listening to all the languages being spoken from tourists from around the world.  

Sharing more from our trip will gradually happen, but now I'm going to rest my weary jetlagged body because we got in late last night.  I will say that it was a wonderful trip full of quality time with Esther, great conversation with my friend Jamie, and personal processing for me. 

Moxie Memorizers

Friday, July 15, 2011  ::   6 important comments

I've had the opportunity to talk with many of you in the last two weeks about the scripture you have been memorizing and how God is using His word in your lives. It has been extremely encouraging. I don't want to sound too cheesy, but I'm really proud of all you! Thanks for being brave enough to persevere AND being brave enough to jump back in when things weren't going as well as you had hoped.  The great thing about this group is anyone can join or rejoin at anytime.  There are no rules. We aren't just trying to memorize scripture. We are training ourselves to hear from God!

Here is what I'm working on next:

Luke 6:45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (ESV) 

I so want my heart to produce good treasure!

What scriptures are memorizing and meditating on next?

P.S. I probably won't be able to blog much in the next two weeks, but you can be sure I'll have a lot to say when Esther and I return from our adventure!

Traveling with My China Doll

Thursday, July 14, 2011  ::   7 important comments

Almost eight years ago, Esther and I took a trip to China. She was in first grade. We traveled with our good friend, Susan. We were on a journey to visit our dear family friend, Jamie, as well as some former students from Kansas, Ambre, Michael, and Brandon. 

This Saturday we have the privilege of traveling together to China again. 

I have been thinking about our coming trip non-stop. One of the goals I have for this trip is to continue to be discerning and very open with Esther about her thoughts about being adopted. Chad and I were blessed with Esther coming into our lives when she was 18 months old. We've been very, very open with her about our living in China for two years, talking with her about her birth mom, what it means to be adopted, and how God views adoption. Through the years she has had many questions, but continually has a very level-headed perspective through her thought process and emotions. That's really just the kind of kid she is. Level-headed in every way.

Experiencing this trip with Esther is a precious gift and I plan on treasuring every second of it.  Here are a few pictures from our first trip together. I will definitely share some photos when we return! 

She loved the buses, especially when they were empty and she could just enjoy the ride without being poked or grabbed. When we were on crowded buses, someone would usually put her in their lap to keep her safe. It's a great concept, but a little creepy for an American kid.  

 Jamie and Esther have had a special connection from the first day they met. Jamie called her Esther Rosalina. Esther called Jamie "my Jamie." Because of jet lag and culture stress, Esther was pretty tired and often wanted to be carried. Jamie usually obliged her. She would just bury her head in Jamie's shoulder and enjoy some reprieve from the cultural chaos she was enduring. I don't think Jamie will be able to carry Esther around this time, but maybe she can ride on the back of Jamie's bike! 

These were some of Jamie's local friends that owned a clock store. Esther was remarkably receptive to the older people that wanted to talk to her and hold her hand. I really love this photo! 

Let me just tell you that Esther could put the food away! Some things never change! Isn't her cute little haircut so adorable?  

There is no way I can really explain the significance of this picture. Esther and I are sitting in the garden where Chad and I first prayed that God would allow us to adopt a Chinese little girl. We prayed for her the summer before she was born. Esther and I sat in the garden and talked through the answer to prayer that she is in the actual place we prayed for her. It was overwhelming. I still get a lump in my throat when I look at this picture and take in the memory! 

This is my sweet girl seven years later. She is so beautiful and I don't just mean her looks.  This young lady continues to learn what it means to be clothed with strength and dignity. I pray our coming journey continues to bring her clarity in who she is in Christ, who she is as a Haynes family member, who she is as a Chinese-American young women, and who she is as a friend to people who love her deeply. I pray God teaches us both great and unsearchable things that we do not know! Thanks for praying for/with us! 

Embracing the camera because it's a great idea!  Linking up with Emily. 

Conviction and Clarity

Monday, July 11, 2011  ::   3 important comments

The teaching time at Second Mile this summer is dedicated to Untold Stories. Chad is taking a much needed, long awaited, Angel asked for, God inspired break. (He hates taking a break, by the way. He loves our church and loves to speak to us. I'm thankful he is taking time off from intensive message prep, but please know that it isn't easy for him at all.) Different people take the microphone each week and share what God is teaching them. Throughout the rest of the summer we will have the privilege of hearing from multiple people.

When Chad first asked me if I would be willing to share, I was extremely hesitant. As I thought through my hesitation, I realized it was mostly out of laziness and insecurity. Taking the time to clearly communicate what God has been teaching me did not seem appealing. In true authenticity, the fear of not communicating clearly revealed some ugly insecurity and pride in my heart. After praying and repenting, I agreed to share on a Sunday evening.

For the past few weeks, I've really been trying to listen to what God would have me share. Figuring it out hasn't been that easy. I've looked through my journal notes and thought a lot about the James and Blessed are the Merciful series. Because I have a voice through Moxie and this blog, everything I could think of seemed to fit in a Told Story series and not really be in the Untold realm.

Recently I had a significant amount of alone time to think, pray, and study. Oh man. God showed up. Conviction and clarity...two of my favorite things.

I'll tell you all about it when it's my turn to speak at Second Mile.  For those of you that won't be able to make it because you don't live in Tucson, I'll be sure to write something up.

Dun-dun-dun-dun.... cliff hanger.  Don't ya love it?


Thursday, July 07, 2011  ::   5 important comments

I know it's cliche, but posting about the summer in the Haynes' house just needs to be done.

First of all, it was noon when these pictures were taken.  Everyone was still in their pajamas, except me, but I was still in my gross work-out clothes from my morning spin class, so that's just as bad.  Our philosophy is "Why get dressed when you're just going to put your swim suit on later?" Another summer philosophy is "Why take a shower when you can just go swimming?" Chad doesn't particularly care for the second philosophy. He's a clean freak in every sense of the word.

Here is a typical summer day for my summer-lovin' family:

Chad is rearranging his office as he thoroughly cleans every nook and cranny.  Last week he offered to dust and vacuum the living room which of course I accepted. It took him a couple of hours because he dusted everything and moved all the furniture around.  It looks great, opened up the room, and gave us a nice change.  He's a worker. I like it.

Esther is going to High School in the fall.  She's usually asleep, texting, right by my side, or on her iPod touch.  She only gets dressed and brushes her hair when I tell her it's time.  

Because Chad was rearranging his office, all the photo albums were on the floor. Kyle and Carah took the opportunity to look.  You should know, they are always this happy and cuddly together.  Always.  Except when they are wrestling, bugging, or yelling at each other.

Morgan is my little artist. She is often found creating something. I think she is making a collage of some sort on the back of a round piece of cardboard she scavenged from who knows where.  So artistic...and cute.  

I was trying to make a blueberry/strawberry bowl for lunch, but these nerds kept bugging me.  Esther took a few shots.  In most of them, we all look really weird because we are weird.  This one captures us pretty well.  

One of my favorite things about summer is the fruit. We eat so many colorful, healthy, juicy, delicious fruits. I feel like such a great mom when I feed them foods like this. But, my very favorite thing about summer is having my kids home to spend time with. They are fun and make me laugh regularly.  

I hope you all are having a fabulous summer! What is your favorite season and why?

 I'm linking up to Emily because it's Embrace the Camera day! 

Redeeming Memories

Wednesday, July 06, 2011  ::   7 important comments

A couple of weeks ago at the Second Mile gathering, Chad talked about the importance of remembering. He was teaching through the story of King David taking care of his dear friend's son, Mephibosheth. David had made a promise to Jonathan to remember his family. While David was enjoying peace in the kingdom, he probably had time to reflect and think about how God had brought him to such a pleasurable season of goodness.

Through much of Chad's talk, my head was racing with thoughts of the importance of remembering, setting up memorials of what God has done, and teaching my children to reflect on what God has purposed in our family. Mental association is powerful and as Chad was talking, some of the mental associations I was having with my past took me to deep places of thankfulness for what God has done in my life. Psalm 130 is one of my favorite passages because it talks about God's amazing forgiveness and that He brings full redemption our lives. Some of my memories are pretty terrible because of many choices I made, but because of the amazing work he has done in me, those memories no longer move me to grief, but to an overwhelming, tangible understanding of His love for me. Again, with Jesus is full redemption.

Some of our memories should move us to action. There are people with whom we should reminisce. Some people should be thanked, some to whom we should apologize. To be honest, some memories should just be mulled over with God alone, but again, not so you can punish yourself over and over, but so you can experience His unfailing love for you.

During Chad's talk, I had a wonderful brainstorm. As I was taking notes about what was being taught, I was also frantically writing short reminder phrases of good memories from my childhood.  I don't know about many of you, but Christmas and birthday gift ideas for my parents don't come easily. My heart is to give something meaningful or something they really want which most of the time is more than I can afford. I take great pleasure in making meaningful things for my mom whether it's stepping stones with grandkid handprints, worship cds, or even just a silly little framed scripture that seemed perfect for the occasion.  However, truth be told, I'm not crafty. At all. It's bad. Really bad.


I had an idea and decided to go for it.  She loved it. I'm sharing this with you all because maybe you can adapt it to share some great memories with someone in your life who could use a blessing.

First, choose or make a cute box. I thought about making one, but realized World Market would probably be a better choice for me.  Cute, yes?  $3.99...even better.

Next, type out as many memories as you can think of or whatever number you decide. I wanted at least 25. Because I'm so artsy (sarcastic, of course) I typed each one in a different font and changed the margins so they would look different. Being even more creative, I printed them on different colored card stock and cut them out with different shaped pinking sheers. They turned out pretty cute. 

Finally, lay them in the box so that they look like the treasures that they are. My intention is to continue to send memories in cards and gifts for years to come so that my mom can put them in her memory box.

Memories are powerful. We all have good and bad memories. What we do with those memories is up to us. Do we allow abuse, bad choices, terrible situations to move us to fear, bitterness, alone-ness? Do the hard times overtake our brains so that they choke out the good memories we have? Even in the most difficult circumstances, good memories are part of our lives, but just like so many areas of life, it may take work, mental exercise and discipline to draw them out over the pain. And, one of the beauties of the cross is that Christ's sacrifice allows us to come to Him with those stinky memories and ask Him to work His redemption in us so that those memories no longer move us to tears of anger, grief, or sorrow, but to tears of joy and peace because in those painful places, we can more fully realize the depth of his love for us.

Rodeo in Roswell

Tuesday, July 05, 2011  ::   5 important comments

Every year we celebrate July 4th with my parents, brothers, and their families. It's a good time to catch up with everyone, eat some great barbecue, ride horses, and sit around outside. This year I did a really, really bad job at taking pictures. Some years I take a million and my dad asks if I'm a yankee trying to capture life in the country. Oh, Dad.  However, I did take a couple of good ones, and also came back with a good story.

My dad has horses. His mare had a little filly in June, therefore, her name is June! As you can see, she is super cute and took a liking to Morgan.  

I have two nephews that live in West Texas. They are athletic, smart, country boys. I must admit that I could eat this guy up.  His name is Mark and he is just about one of the funniest kids I know. I tease him a lot about hugging and kissing him. You can totally tell he loves it.  Just look at his face!

Every year we have our own personal fireworks extravaganza, but if you don't live under a rock you know that wildfires have been burning up Arizona and New Mexico. Being the responsible citizens that we are, we stuck with the ground war explosives such as black cats, super thunder snappers, sparklers, and everyone's favorite, noisy boys.  Noisy boys aren't too noisy unless you light 5 or 6 at a time. Yes. We did. It was awesome! 

In place of a big beautiful night time display, my parents made a small fire in their back yard to roast marshmallows. It was a beautiful evening filled with sticky, gooey deliciousness. 

I think Kyle enjoyed the sticky gooey deliciousness a little too much. 

Esther decided it would be a fun idea to give us all a wild rodeo show. Again my dad, being the constant joker/needler that he is gave me a really hard time that I didn't have the video camera. I never video events, but this one time I wish I did.

My dad has a naughty horse named Ralph. He's not really naughty, but more of a work horse than a grandkid horse. Because one of the grandkid friendly horses just had a baby, Grandpa decided to let Esther take Ralph out for a stroll.

Grandpa gave the instructions to Esther about what to do when he crow hopped. She looked hesitantly up for the challenge. About five minutes into the ride, Ralph decided to see if he could get Esther off his back. He took off running, threw in a few crow-hops, and was just an all-around butt.  Esther instinctively (although wrong) dropped the reigns and clung to the saddle horn. She started to tip sideways, but actually held on and centered herself (which was perfect.) When it occurred to her that the bucking rodeo wasn't coming to a quick end, she started yelling, "Help me!"

Grandpa and Dad finally made it over to her to steady the horse. Being the men that they are, they wouldn't let Esther off the horse, coached her a bit, and sent her off on her way again.  This time she was quite the cowgirl, stayed with him, and made him obey. However, I cannot tell a lie and say she had fun during the second ride. As soon as she was told she could be finished, she was off that horse quicker than you can say, "Yeehaw! Ride 'em cowgirl!"

Several points of interest:
  • Esther stayed on the horse and didn't get bucked off.
  • Grandpa told her he was so proud of her and that she did a great job.
  • We all got to watch Grandpa ride Ralph to work him a bit.  He couldn't be put up when he had practically won the match between he and Esther.  It was a real treat for the grandkids to get to watch Grandpa in action. That rarely happens! He even sang I've Got Spurs that Jingle Jangle Jingle! 
  • Kyle got to ride side by side with Grandpa out in the pasture for awhile. He learned a lot and enjoyed the bonding time! 
  • Esther literally had to go change her chonies. She told us she was fine until she started to yell for help and "then the pee just started."  (Told with Esther's permission.) 
All in all it was a fun visit to see the family. Next time I'll be sure to get over my lazy self and take some more pictures! 

Thanks for letting us come spend some time with you, Mom and Dad! And, thanks for taking the kids for a couple of days for the annual Cousins Camp they enjoy so much! 

Be sure to click  here and vote for my blog.  Thanks!  

Moxie Memorizers

Friday, July 01, 2011  ::   15 important comments

WOO-HOO!! We are half-way through our first year of memorizing scripture together! So far, all of us have 12 verses memorized (give or take a few) which means as a group we have memorized almost 200 verses! That, my friends, is awesome! I’m so excited and pray that you are encouraged by the work that you are putting into this!
Isaiah 55:10-11 says, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed of the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish with I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” All of the effort that you are putting into taking scripture into your heart is completely worth it. God is cultivating amazing, beautiful results in your life the same way water causes flowers to grow or bread fills our bellies! Inspiring for sure! 

Because I’m a planner (ridiculously in advance sometimes), I’ve already been dreaming about what our Moxie Memorizers celebration for the completed year should be. I seriously cannot wait to hear everyone quoting scripture to each other.  That’s going to be cool. Also, we will have some treats. Maybe a dance party should be in the mix. The Babler sisters are pretty good at planning dance parties.  Hmmmm. 

Photo used without permission.  (I love these quirky ladies!)

All I know is collectively will have have 400 verses flowing from our hearts and mouths.  That is worth celebrating! 
I’m going to start working Hebrews 4:14-16. Because I sometimes act too big for my britches and say I’m going to memorize more than I actually can, I’m just taking verse 14 for the next two weeks.  

Hebrews 4:14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. (NIV) 

Share your verses. This month as you read everyone’s posts, pray for each person by name that we will be strengthened, encouraged, and excited to keep running this race!