Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Good News....Bad News

Merry Christmas, first of all! It has definitely been a memorable Christmas for us!

First the good news: I get to spend an extra two days here in Tennessee with my family. Which leads directly into the bad news...the extension of our trip is not due to something fun and Christmassy like snow, but a really bad bout of food poisoning, or one of the nastiest viruses I have ever seen. Sunday night we were on our way back from visiting my Mom's family in Atlanta, and we stopped at an Arby's for dinner. As soon as we got home, Mom headed for the bathroom and threw up. Several "episodes" and an hour later, my Dad joined her. Carrie fell victim a few hours after that, followed by Brian. By God's mercy I was spared, so I spent all night emptying buckets, getting wet washcloths and trying to help. Around 6:30 am, I took Brian and Carrie to the ER, where they got some fluids and anti-nausea drugs pumped into them. I brought them back home, caught a couple hours sleep, and then took my parents to the ER. The second time I went, the doctor had encouraging news for me: there is a really bad virus going around and he's sure I'll get it in a few days. Yea. So far, my stomach has rumbled at me a bit, but I'm not feeling anywhere NEAR as bad as the rest of them. Today everyone was up and we managed to open gifts, but that pretty much used up their entire store of energy. So you could pray for us. For healing and restoration for every one else, and that I will continue to stay healthy. I've never seen any of them that sick, and I'd really like to not join them.

Hope ya'll have a great Christmas, without so much "excitement!"

Thursday, December 6, 2007

8 (or so) Favorite Books

So after being kindly and justifiably reprimanded for not updating my blog, here I am. I may be writing to myself, though, as everyone else has probably given up on checking my blog by this point. ;)

I'm currently reading Dumas' "Count of Monte Cristo." Re-reading, actually. But I had a suspicion that I didn't fully appreciate it the first time I read it. That suspicion has been confirmed, and I've been thinking that CMC may end up on my list of favorite books. Which leads us to this posting. I started thinking about other books that are among my favorites, and decided that I would create my own "8 things" list. So here are 8 of my favorite books. Not in any order, because for me, that's impossible.

1. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card - Sci-fi novel that I have read so many times the cover has literally fallen off (it was just a cheap paperback, but still)

2. Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas

3. Amelia Peabody series by Eleizabeth Peters - (Yes, this is a whole series, not just one book, but since I'm making this list, I get to make the rules!) Amelia and her family are Egyptologists around the turn of the last century. Their excavation seasons are frequently interrupted by one or more dead bodies, and each book is an entertaining chronicle of their crime-solving capers. If I had to pick a favorite within the series, it would probably be "He Shall Thunder in the Sky"

4. Woman in White by Wilkie Collins - Heard of this book from Heather Ferguson (she made the book club read it) It's another murder mystery, but with some interesting twists.

5. Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers - (another murder mystery, I didn't know I was so blood-thirsty) I haven't technically read this one since Brian and I listened to the audiobook last Christmas break, but I think it may be my favorite in the Lord Peter Wimsey series.

Hmm...this is getting difficult. I should be doing this at home, where I can run downstairs and look at our bookcases, but I'm at work. I know most people don't need to be reminded of things in their "favorites" lists, but I've never been one to catalogue things into favorites.

6. War and Peace by Tolstoy - I'll add this to the list because it took me three tries to makes it all the way through. The first two attempts I got stuck in the same place (if I ever decide to re-read it, I'm only reading "Peace") But when I finally finished it, I remember thinking it was well-worth the effort and was a great book.

Well, it's about the end of my lunch break, and I can't bring any more titles to mind. So I'll leave you with only 6 favorite books and hopefully later I can finish out the list.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

More Fall Foliage

For those of you who need another "Fall Fix," check out my good friend Juli's blog. She is up in the northeast and just posted a lot of pictures of the fall she's experiencing. I'm more than just a little jealous. Love you Juli!


Two summers ago I took a photography class through the University. I learned a lot and gained a new appreciation for really good photographs. I would take dozens, or hundreds of shots for an assignment (thanks to the wonders of digital photography) and then realize that only a handful of them were really worth turning in. But I really enjoyed the class. Some of the assignments in particular were challenging and fun.

One of my favorite assignments was called "Dogs and Eagles." All our pics were to be taken from the perspective of a dog (low to the ground) or an eagle (high in the sky). Maybe it's because I'm short already, but I really enjoyed the pics taken from the "dog" perspective. So here are a few shots from this assignment. And if you think you recognize some of the things in the photos, you probably do. I didn't range very far for my subject matter.

Friday, October 19, 2007

And the prize goes to...

I was at work yesterday when one of my co-workers came back to me and said there was a guy in the front to see me. My first thought was, "How did Brian get here when I have our car?" Then my co-worker said the person waiting was a younger guy, with brown, curly hair. That had me really confused - Brian definitely doesn't have curly hair. So I walked up to the front desk, a little nervous about who I was meeting. When I got up to the front, I of course recognized our good friend Josh Butcher. On his latest trip to WalMart (to buy flowers for his wife) he had decided to look for the lemon juice himself. And of course he found it. So he dropped by my office to make a special delivery. Thanks Josh!!

Maybe next week I won't be able to find the Bluebell...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

My Linguistic Profile

I found this on "Party of Five," and thought I'd check it out for myself.

After answering some questions, here is my linguistic profile:

60% General American English
30% Dixie
5% Yankee
0% Midwestern
0% Upper Midwestern

I'm not as southern as I thought, apparently. Nor has my Dad rubbed off on me as much as I expected. Sorry, Dad. (maybe Dixie is wearing off on you...gasp!) So I guess I'm pretty much a General American in my speech. Which means what, exactly?

What Kind of American English Do You Speak?http://www.blogthings.com/whatkindofamericanenglishdoyouspeakquiz/

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Where in the WalMart....

I have a question for you all: where does WalMart stock the lemon juice and lime juice? And I don't mean the little fruit-shaped bottles they keep in the fruit section. I'm talking about large bottles that you can use for cooking or baking. I know they exist, because at some point in the past, we managed to find them. They're hiding from me now, however. We've checked the fresh fruits, juice aisle, drink mixes, baking, I even checked near the tea bags, thinking "people put lemon in their iced tea," but nothing.

So if anyone can shed some light on this mystery, I'd be very grateful. At this point, I'd even appreciate knowing where to find it in HEB, Albertsons, Kroger...

Monday, October 15, 2007


The name of my blog came out of the idea that I always have a project of some sort going on. And so I like to think of our study as an artist's/architect's/craftsperson's studio. My original thought for this blog was that I could post pics of whatever project I'm working on or I've just finished. I'm currently working on a quilt, but I haven't taken photos of the completed squares yet. So instead I'll post images of an old project, one of my favorites from grad school.

The purpose of this project was to design a review/display space for the Architecture building. The space was to be primarily used for reviews, but would hopefully provide display space for student work when not in use for reviews.
In grad school, almost all my project work was digital. I designed my buildings, produced images and put together presentations, all in a digital format. Most of my presentations were done in PowerPoint, with large posters (or boards) that served as support to the digital presentation. So a review space needed to accommodate both physical and digital presentations.
I named my final design Re-Play, because I feel that it functioned as both RE-view and dis-
PLAY space. (and was one of the few that did both, I might add) When closed for presentations, Re-Play provides pin-up space on the exterior for project posters. They can be previous projects, or avertisements for the presentation taking place inside.

On the inside, Re-Play has both pin-up space for posters and boards, and a screen for digital presentations (the project on display in these images is my project from the previous semester - maybe I'll post about that one later) The thought for the ceiling boards was that they would help muffle noise outside of the space, and allow the audience to hear the presenter. And in case you're wondering how you get inside Re-Play to see a review, that brings us to the coolest part about this design (if I do say so myself)

With a lot of my Dad's help on the engineering end of things, I designed a system that would allow the individual panels of Re-Play to move in and out on a linear track, as well as pivot 180 degrees on a central point. To enter Re-Play, one of the panels could be pulled out on its track and turned like a large door. This movement also allows Re-Play to be opened up and used as a walk-through display space when not in use for reviews.
And for those of you who like plans, here's one of the infinite ways Re-Play can be opened and postitioned for display...
This project turned out to be one of my favorites for a few reasons. One, I was really pleased by the fact that it worked equally well as review and interactive display space. Two, it gave me a chance to work with my Dad and work out some pretty cool engineering details. Three, it was small enough that I had time to really get into it and work out the small details. Most of my projects in grad school were so large scale that I never got to focus on the little details. This one was small enough for me to think through what most of the materials would be and the variety of ways it could be used.

So, there's Re-Play. I'll try not to go so long before my next posting. Sorry to all the faithful blog-checkers out there!!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

"Falling for Fall"

First, let me apologize for the lack of posting in the past few weeks. I looked at my blog today and was shocked to see that it has been almost a month since I last put something up here. My primary excuse is that I was not prepared for how much time 40 hours a week is. By the time I get home and we eat dinner, it's almost time to start thinking about getting ready for bed. On a normal night. Which we don't seem to have much. ;) Our weeks filled up pretty quickly, with softball on Monday, my Ladies' Bible study every other Tuesday (with dates in between), having the youth over Wednesday and Brian's evening class on Thursday (which does give me time to hang out with Hannah). By the time we get to Friday, I'm tired! I've already been working over two months, but I feel like I'm still trying to adjust to this new schedule. So apology aside, on to the reason for this post...

Fall. (or Autumn, whichever you prefer) I've decided that Fall is my favorite season. Mostly because it's the season I miss the most. Seasons in our corner of Texas are divided into two categories: summer and not-summer. I do ok with the heat until this time of year. In September, I know not to expect cool temperatures, and I think I've adjusted to that. But by October? I want cool mornings. And cool afternoon breezes.
Maybe what I miss even more than the temperature change is the color change of the trees on the mountains. Bristol is nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians. Fall is absolutely gorgeous becuase we're surrounded by mountains full of red, yellow, orange trees. I realized in going through our pictures on the computer, I have no pictures of our area in the fall. But I have to share some photos, so I browsed the net. I found lots of pics that were almost too vivid for anyone to believe if you've never seen it in person, so I went with a couple photos that were a bit more subdued. The photo with the bridge is the bridge we drive over on the way to PA to visit my Dad's parents, so I actually know where that is, and I've been there. I'm not sure where the other photo is. But they're both beautiful, and give a pretty good idea of what I think of when I think of Fall.

(Ok, I just couldn't resist one more with brighter colors)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Go! Daddy, Go!

Two kind of stories I remember growing up with: helicopter stories from my Dad's year in Vietnam, and racing stories from his days on the road racing circuit. My Dad was already involved in racing when he and my Mom met. He said he'd quit once they had kids, but I was definitely old enough to cheer at his races before he quit. (hence the blog title) He gave it up sometime after my sister was born, but he always wanted to get back into it. All my life, as a companion to the racing stories, was the refrain of how much he wanted to race again.

Twenty-five years after his last race, Dad's dream is coming true. He and a friend Steve Layfield have gone in together to start a team. They've bought a car (a spec Miata) and a trailer to haul it in, and are currently shopping for driving uniforms. I am in charge of designing a team logo, as well as team t-shirts. (hope that means I get mine free!) We're all brain-storming to try and come up with a name for this team. Dad & I first came up with "Geezers-A-Go-Go", but Steve didn't like it. Guess he's not old enough to be considered a geezer. ;)

I'm so excited for my Dad, to see this long-term dream come true. I'm looking forward to cheering for him again in future races. This time, I'll be old enough to actually know what's going on!

For those of you who are wondering what a "spec Miata" is...

Hopefully soon I'll be able to get and post some pics from Dad's previous racing career. In my opinion, (no slight to Mazda) I like his old Sprite better. They really knew how to make good looking cars back then.


This past weekend Brian and I travelled out to Alabama to visit family and go to an Auburn game. I haven't been at an Auburn game in about four years, so I was really excited to be at a game. It brought back all kinds of memories of being in school, marching in pre-game, and trying to get back to our trailer after the game.

Saturday morning we all (Mom, Dad, Carrie, Grandmom, Brian and I- quite a group) piled into the Tahoe for the drive down to Auburn. Carrie & I entertained / annoyed everyone else with music from the marching band cd for the first 30 minutes of the trip. We just needed to set the mood! :) We met my friend and mentor (and former CAD teacher) Cindy for lunch, at a great local sandwich place called Momma Goldberg's. Cindy and I still talk about once a month. She encourages me and laughs at my crazy stories of life in the Architecture world.

After lunch, we walked around campus a bit. Things have certainly changed in the four years since I graduated. I was amazed at how pretty the campus looked. I regret now that I don't have pictures, but it didn't occur to me at the time. We braved the crazy, packed bookstores for t-shirts, decals and other game-day paraphenalia, and then finally, it was game time!!
I was very excited to be at a game. I lost count of the times I leaned over and told my Dad just that. ;) It was great to see the band's pre-game show and just soak in the atmosphere. But then the evening went rapidly down-hill. Any of you who watched the game on tv know that this game was not the best performance by an Auburn football team. Finally during the last half of the fourth quarter, the Auburn players came alive and pulled out a win. Then it was lots of fun - jumping up and down, yelling and cheering. There's just nothing quite like being there.

Winning the game meant that I got to introduce Brian to another Auburn tradition: rolling Toomer's Corner. Toomer's Corner is so named because of Toomer's Drugstore that has sat at the intersection of two main roads in downtown Auburn. After an Auburn win, fans go up to Toomer's and "roll" (yes, with rolls of toilet paper) the trees on the corner opposite the drugstore. As you can imagine, it makes quite a mess, but it's tradition! I have no idea how this one got started, but I'm sure someone in my family does. (If you're reading and you know, please feel free to comment) The effect is really neat - kind of like weird snow.

Anyway, it was a great weekend. Even though we didn't get back to Birmingham until 2:30 in the morning. We all definitely took naps Sunday afternoon after church. We got to visit the rest of the weekend with my family, which was really great. Living out here in Texas, I don't get to spend enough time with them.

Friday, August 10, 2007

"Planned Obsolecence"

I picked up a book today that we got as a wedding present. It is "The Mystery of Marriage: Meditations on the Miracle" by Mike Mason. (wow, that's a lot of "m's") Anyway, I think it's a great book, in that it captures the essence of the wonder I feel about marriage. The chapter I came to tonight is on Submission, and one part caught my attention especially. Here are bits and pieces that really struck me as I read:

From one point of view, the whole of life may be seen as a taking away, as one long and painful series of subtractions. We are forever being called upon to pull up stakes, to release our hold upon the things and places and people we have loved and even upon each precious second as it slips through our aging fingers. Our very bodies are like tents, says Paul (2 Cor 5:1), the most temporary of houses, and our whole existence under the sun bears the marks of exile and nomadism...
There is no escaping this fate, no circumventing our planned obsolecence in this world. There is no discipline that will appease it, no faith that will reverse it...Tragically, so large and real looms this specter of unrelenting decay that for many people it is the only side of life they ever see. How many go down to death in bitterness, resentment, and rage!...By waging so pitiful a struggle not to become obsolete, when in reality the whole natural flow of physical life is toward obsolesence, what people really do is to declare a preference for temporal values over eternal ones. What they do, in fact, is to reject the Kingdom of God and its gift of eternal life.
As it turns out, the only way not to reject eternal values is to submit willingly to the erosion of temporal ones.

I think the first reason this passage caught my attention was that it reminded me of Knox, in the author's mention of a "painful series of subtractions." And I thought about how precious our time with our loved ones is, that we can never get it back once it's gone.

But then as the author went on to talk about how people run from the inevitable, I was reminded of how our society fears and tries to avoid death and even the hint of aging. When people have no hope in an eternal life after this temporal one, I guess it makes sense to pursue immortality. But the conclusion drawn from this is chilling. In running after the pleasures of this life in an attempt to prolong it, they are really rejecting the only One who can give them what they truly desire - eternal life.

God, teach me to give up the things I cannot keep, in order to store up treasures that I cannot lose. Give me grace to hold loosely to the things of this earth, to fix my eyes on You and on eternity.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

I've been Tagged!

If you read Hannah Ayers' blog, you know that a few days ago she "Tagged" me. So, after a little delay (just to heighten the anticipation) I'm responding to my tagging. Here goes...

4 jobs I have had:
I have definitely seen God working in my life in this area in the past three years. (1) My first job here in Texas was as a Research Assistant to one of the profs in the Architecture Department. I won't go into details. But I spent a lot of time in the Arcchitecture library picking out slides for his lectures. I got along well with the "boss" of the Slide Collection, so he hired me to work in the Slide Collection starting the summer before my second year of school. (Job 2) At the end of my second year of school, a prof I really liked asked if I would like to be his TA, and I accepted, quitting my job at the SC. However, over the summer, this projf left for another university, leaving me job-less. (3) I was assigned to be a TA for one of the structures profs, and I worked for her for a semester. This prof spoke very highly of me to her husband, who works for BRW, and here I am at Job #4!

4 Films I could watch over and over:
Sabrina (with Julia Ormond and Harrison Ford - too funny!), The Princess Bride, You've Got Mail, Maverick

4 Places I have lived:
Birmingham, AL; Atlanta, GA; Bristol, TN; Auburn, AL

4 Favorite TV shows:
Frasier, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Cosby Show, Jeopardy (which I never get to watch anymore b/c I'm at work :( )

4 Favorite Foods:
Chocolate, lasagna, Chili, Pizza

4 Websites I visit everyday (or almost):
Gmail, Work email (not very entertaining), Hannah's blog, Rachel's Knox memories

4 Places I would love to be:
Cuddled up with Brian :), Belize (it's warm and right now our office is very cold), hanging out with our usual lunch crowd, my G'mom's 95th b'day party (which would involve going back in time, 'cause it was last weekend)

4 Favorite colors:
Deep, dusky purples; navy blue, 1/4 Korean (yes, I'm still crazy in love), sunset orange

4 Names I love but would / could not use for my children:
Benjamin (think about it...); I really like the name Cai (rhymes with eye) for a boy, but Brian doesn't want to use a name if its pronunciation isn't obvious from the spelling; I don't know if I have anymore...we haven't had the honor of naming any children yet, so I can't say what we'll end up not using

Ok, I think that's it for me. Now it's my turn to tag ... Anna Kate, Juli, Theresa, Lindsey Newcomer. And just to keep it going, you need to do this...because as Jack A. would say, "I asked you nicely."

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Search for Hidden Treasure

As I read my Bible tonight, I came across verses in Proverbs that jumped out at me as if it was the first time I had ever seen them. I'm sure I've read them at least a half-dozen times before, but tonight I was really convicted. From the second chapter:

1 My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding,

3 and if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,

4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,

5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.

According to this passage, our time spent in the word is to be active. We are to be seeking out God's truths and His promises, diving deep into the Word. Too often I read passively, skimming over the words instead of searching through the Scriptures, calling out to God for wisdom, seeking to apply His word to my life. I prayed tonight that I would have a greater desire to seek Him in His Word, and that I would be more diligent to apply His Word to my life. Even as I prayed, I was certain of His answer. Verse 6 says: "For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding." Truly our God is an amazing God.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Dear, Dear Friends

This posting is dedicated to Austin Ayers. I realized today that in all my posting about Peru and school projects that I have left out a huge piece of our life. Our Westminster family: the Ayers, Colemans, Lees, and (now it's official) Butchers in particular.

A full explanation of what these dear friends mean to me would take up way too much space, and Blogger would probably cut off my account. ;) I'll have to be content with saying that these families are family to us now and we love them dearly. The kids especially are a weekly source of joy.

I said in the beginning that this posting is dedicated to Austin Ayers. Austin is the oldest Ayers kiddo and the most faithful (and frequent) blog-checker we have. He was very quick to agree this afternoon when I said I'd only posted once since we got back from Peru. And because it's way more fun to read blog postings with pictures, here are pics of these dear friends...

Ayden (Ayers #4) just taking a break after a long day of creating.

How to explain Micah? (Coleman #3) Micah is easily the most energetic of all the Ayers and Colemans.

Anna Kate, Addison (Ayers #3 &4 respectively) Joshua and Christopher (Coleman #1 & 2) hanging out after VBS last summer.

Big boy Asa, the youngest Ayers.

Me and Hannah (Mom Ayers)

Marian and her youngest Cara Beth.

The Lees: Matt, Ashlee, and Gracie May.

And the youngest family, Josh and Hannah Butcher. We got to celebrate with them at their wedding last weekend.

Whew! I didn't realize it would take me that long to pick pictures. Sorry Wade and Kevin, I'll have to get pics of you up here sometime later!

Sunday, July 22, 2007


No, this is not a blog post about the holiday, but my thoughts of thanksgiving to God after we got back from Peru. (sorry about the delay on the post, by the way)

I'm not real sure what order these go in as far as importance, but here they are:

Thank you, God for...

...travelling safety. I always get a little anxious about flying, but our flights were trouble-free. And most of them were even on time!

...safety while we were in Peru. We never had any scary incidents while we were there, but the day before we left, I was reminded to be grateful for that mercy. Three of the intern guys were out at one of the archaeological sites, and walked down into the nearby village. There they were mugged at gun-point. They lost some money and a digital camera, but thankfully they were all unharmed. Quite a forceful reminder of God's care for us.

...the Ferguson's hospitality. I know I start to get testy after I've had houseguests for a few days. But the Fergusons never showed any signs of being anything but happy to have us. Even if Brian did make Heather's life difficult because he doesn't eat cheese! ;) I should thank Miranda especially, since she gave up her room to us the entire five weeks we were gone.

...friends and family back home. I know so many people were reading our blogs and praying for us while we were gone. Thank you so much for your encouragement. I am so thankful for the blessing of my family and friends.

...for the opportunity to go to Peru. God provided, as he always does, what we needed to make the trip. Thank you to all of you who helped support us financially.

I am so grateful for the things God taught me through this trip. Much of which I probably can't articulate. But it was so good for me to see what every-day life was like for the missionaries. And to learn that it looks very much like it does here, just with a few Peruvian twists thrown in! It was great to see what Peru Mission is doing and to get to be a small part of that for a while. It was harder to leave than I expected, and I think I'll always be tied to some degree to the mission and the people there. Please continue to pray for Peru Mission, and for us and for our connection to the mission.

Saturday, July 7, 2007


We did make it out to the beach Huanchaco this afternoon. We piled into two taxis and the kids had fun making faces at each other as our two taxis "raced" to the beach.

The first thing we did was go to a restaurant called Big Ben. No, this restaurant does not have a large clock, nor is it in any way British; Peruvians are just found of naming things with English names. Since it was my last big meal in Peru, I was going to try something uniquely Peruvian, and be as daring as I ever am with food. Well, this time I got more than I bargained for. I ordered fried fish with garlic sauce. I assumed this meant fish filets. Wrong!! When you order fish in Peru, you get fish - the whole fish. I knew something was wrong before they even sat the plate down in front of me: Heather started shaking her head and saying no. Imagine my surprise when I saw my plate: they had fried a fish (scales, fins and all) put it on my plate and covered it in the garlic sauce. Talk about a gag reflex! We didn't even keep the plate long enough to take a picture. Not that I wanted a reminder of it. Thankfully after they took it away and brought out some nice fried fish filets for me to eat.

We decided later to reenact our facial expressions for the sake of taking photos. The first is Heather's reaction as the fish was being brought out. The second is my reaction to the dish itself. (You'll just have to pretend there's a whole fish on my plate - I wasn't going to ask them to bring it back out for the photo op!)

After we survived lunch, the food was really very good, we all went down to the beach. The sand is a mix of dark brown and black; I think very pretty. Brian and I took our shoes off and walked on the beach. The water was too cold for serious wading, however. We spent more time running from the water than walking in it. The kids had fun throwing stuff into the water. All in all, it was a nice, relaxing afternoon.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Last Things

It's hard to believe that our five weeks in Peru are almost over. Before we left the States, five weeks seemed like a really long time. But about halfway through our trip, I realized the time was passing too quickly. And now we leave in two days! Where has the time gone?

Tomorrow we're planning to all go out to Huanchaco, the beach. It will definitely be too cold to go swimming, but it'll still be fun to walk on the beach and watch the waves. This afternoon, I think we'll just be hanging out, maybe with playtime in the park. Right now I'm listening to the Fergie kids as they go through their toys and decide what to keep and what to give away. So far there haven't been too many screams of protest! ;)

This will be one of my last posts from Trujillo, so I thought I would post a few pictures that kind of show everyday stuff. First, the Ferguson's house:
Many of the houses here in Peru are painted colors we don't see very often in the States: yellow, green, fuschia, browns. It makes a nice contrast to the brown of the desert. On a walk one day, I found a house in the Ferguson's neighborhood that I really liked.

I don't have too many pictures of Trujillo in general, but maybe this one will give an idea. This scene is actually a bit less chaotic than many of the things we see everyday, but it gives an idea. As you get closer to the downtown area, the streets get narrower, there are more shops per block and it's busier all around.

In addition to the colorfully painted houses and buildings, there's a lot of color in Trujillo from bouganvillea planted everywhere. We've seen it in several colors, but I really like it when two different plants grow close to each other and the flowers intermingle.

Ok, one last photo. A few weeks ago we all went out to eat to a restaurant called Roky's. They serve really good chicken, but Heather says the kids like it primarily because of the pirate ship playground in the front. I have to admit, it was pretty cool.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Independence and Dependence

I read Brian's posting this morning about Independence Day, but wasn't inspired to write about that topic until later this morning when I went to the orphanage with Heather. Every week she does a Bible study with some of the women that work there.

One of the passages we looked at today was Col 1:13-17: "For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins...whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities: all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."

Two things really stood out to me. "In him all things hold together." And that includes our country. The USA isn't held together by the unity of our congressmen, our economic system, or our military. We enjoy the freedoms we enjoy because God has seen fit to hold our country together. With the attacks and events of the past few years, sometimes I catch myself worrying about whether the US will stay the same, if we'll lose our freedoms, etc. Then I realize that ultimately, none of those things will last. All earthly kingdoms will fall in the end. Jesus' kingdom is the only eternal kingdom. In John 18:36 Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world." I think sometimes it is easy to forget that. Not that I want to belittle our freedoms in any way (I should be more grateful for them than I generally remember to be) but I need to be reminded where my ultimate allegiance lies.

Ok, I've already kind of started into my second point, but here's the rest of my musings on the subject: "he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Today as I read that I was struck by the image of being brought into a new kingdom. Even more than we won independence from Great Britain, Jesus has won for us independence from the power of sin. How great is that victory, yet how often do I really stop and think about what that means, and praise God for it.

One more thought and then I'll stop. I was thinking about our independence from sin, due to Jesus' work, and I was reminded that we are not altogether independent. Steven Curtis Chapman has a great song called, "Declaration of Dependence," all about how we need Jesus every day. "I was made for this dependency on the One who has created me." It's too easy some days to think I can do it on my own, I don't need help. Let me remember more often my total dependence on Jesus.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

...to Cuzco and Trujillo (the end)

Ok, finally, the last day of our travels.

Thursday we left Cuzco to go back to Trujillo for our last week in Peru. Thankfully we were able to sleep in a little bit. We got up and had time to eat breakfast and run down to the main square for a couple souvenirs. Running down to the square was easy. It was the running back up to the hostel that was difficult. Cuzco is at an elevation of almost 11,000 ft, which is definitely high enough to feel. Thankfully, we were spared from the worst of altitude sickness, but we were definitely huffing and puffing from our quick walk up the hill. Even normal activities, like walking up a flight of stairs, had me winded due to the oxygen-deprived air.

We had a long layover in Lima, so we left the airport and did a little sight-seeing. We visited one of Lima's zoos. We saw lots of llamas, alpacas and vicanus, which are basically cousins. I got a picture with a baby llama because he was so cute. I can't remember the name of the animals in the second picture. While seated, they look kind of like hares, but when they stand up you realize that their back legs are as long as their front. They walk like normal four-legged creatures, but when they run, they do so more like rabbits. They were really weird - we stood and laughed at them for a few minutes.

Another plane ride and we were back in Trujillo. We were met at the airport by a familiar taxi driver, and the drive through the familiar streets of Trujillo was almost relaxing.

Monday, July 2, 2007

...To Machu Pichu...

Ok, I'm finally getting around to telling about the main point of our trip - Machu Pichu!

On Wednesday morning, we took a bus up to Machu Pichu. The bus left at 5:30 in the morning and got us up to the Incan city around 6. It was so early, but definitely worth it. We had several hours to wander around and look at the architecture. It was really quiet, and it was just amazing to be there and see it up close. I kept trying to take pictures that would capture the 'essence' of Machu Pichu, but I finally had to accept the fact that it wasn't possible. I did take some photos that I really like, though. The day started off really foggy, which helped create the quiet, isolated atmosphere.

One interesting thing about Incan architecture is the trapezoid shape that appears throughout the architecture. The doorways, windows and wall niches are all trapezoidal: wider at the bottom than at the top. This shape helped with earthquake-resistance. The tour-guide we walked around with during the late morning explained it like this: if you stand rigidly with your feet shoulder-width apart, it's a lot harder to push you over from the side than if you're standing with your feet together. He also explained some other earthquake techniques, but I didn't understand all of it. I gathered enough to be seriously impressed by their understanding and technique, however.

The stone-work is one of the most well-known and impressive aspects to Incan architecture. All of the buildings on Machu Pichu were made of stone. The regular, secular buildings were built using stone and mortar. The sacred, most important buildings were made by fitting stones together without mortar. These stones were fitted together meticulously, with no space in between. It was incredible.

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that this was built up in the mountains, practically on top of one? Stairs, stairs everywhere! I concluded that the Incas of MP must have had incredibly developed leg muscles. And hopefully no fear of heights!

I realized that I have lots of pictures that I want to share, so I'm just going to post some more without descriptions. Just more photos to try to give a better idea of the whole experience.