Unexpected Gifts

When I left Papua New Guinea I received many gifts.  Most of them were bilums which are traditional bags, and in our area they are made with hand rolled fibers.  This is a laborious process and I was blessed by each bag I received that represents a relationship with an individual or a whole family.  I also received some other gifts but one in particular stands out.  One of my co-workers presented me with a spoon but this spoon came with apologies.  He had hand-carved a large, beautiful spoon out of dark wood but was sorry that it wasn’t a bilum.

IMG_0528Now that I am back in the US, I still am grateful for my pile of beautiful bilums and all the memories but it is the spoon that lives on my stove.  My husband used it yesterday to stir chorizo while we were making breakfast.  And each day that I see it, I am reminded of PNG and my sweet co-worker who apologized for the gift that I now use the most.

This gift is also a reminder to me that sometimes what I think isn’t right or good enough, is actually wonderful and often more than ok.  I’m very hard on myself and most of the time assume the worst in a selfish way.  For example, if you text me that we need to talk, my mind immediately thinks that I did something wrong or you’re mad at me.  You could have good news to share or have some important prayer request that’s personal to you but unfortunately that’s not what I would think of first.  In conversations I’m often worried more about what the other person thinks of me instead of concentrating on the topic.  I worry that people aren’t comfortable or are noticing the mess when they visit my house.  I think that my husband doesn’t like the meal (despite taking seconds!) just because it isn’t his new favorite of all time.  And when I give gifts, I worry if people will actually like them.

Whew.  That list isn’t even exhaustive but enough confessions.  This isn’t about my insecurities, it’s about a great spoon.  The unexpected gift that came with an apology.  It’s the gift that reminds me that it’s ok that something isn’t perfect or what everyone else would do, it’s often ok.  And more often than not, even better.

Remembering the First Kiss

4 months ago I married my tall, dark and godly husband.  16 months and a day ago, Ryan and I met for the first time.  And I have to be honest, I was pretty annoyed that he didn’t kiss me on the first date.  I mean the date lasted 5 hours!  We laughed, we talked, we walked, we enjoyed a meal.  It was one of those amazing Santa Barbara days that wasn’t too warm or too cold.  The day was wonderful!  He held my hand and I thought that this tall, quirky man would at least kiss me good-bye.  But no.  He told me that he wouldn’t kiss me until we were in a committed dating relationship.

So I had to respect that.  He was straightforward and told me what I should expect and then he followed through.  On this side of things, I really do appreciate his honor but at that point I was a little miffed.  My mind went crazy with explanations.  We had talked a bit about past relationships so I knew that he had been on lots of dates so I thought, well maybe he has a checkered past and is trying to set good boundaries for himself now.  I also thought that maybe this was a midwestern thing.  And I wondered if it was maybe a ‘holier than thou’ stance not out of honest reflection but because “it’s what Christians should do”.  I thought also just for a brief moment that he might have never kissed a girl but then I pushed that right out of my head because that was impossible, right!?

Well, we went on a few more dates.  No kiss.  I left for Atlanta and we talked regularly on the phone.  I came back to California.  We met up again.  No kiss.  And then one day it happened.  We were in the backyard of the house where Ryan was living at the time and he went inside to grab something so I stood up on this little ledge across a bridge that goes over the koi pond.  By that time I knew he was honorable and wasn’t going to kiss me until he asked me to be his girlfriend so I was just waiting for that moment.  And because Ryan is so tall, I liked standing up on a step so I could be closer to him.  The ledge was a great spot, overlooking this beautiful yard, listening to the running water from the fountain and shaded by the pergola.  So I stood there and waited.

Ryan came back out, stood in front of me and read me the rest of the poem he had written and had been sending me stanza by stanza.  And then he bent down and under one of the boards on the bridge, pulled out a rose that he hand hidden earlier.  He handed me the flower, asked me to be his girlfriend and once I said yes, he kissed me.  And. it. was. terrible.  The kiss was sloppy, uncomfortable, awkward, strange and everything else that you don’t want in a first kiss, or any kiss for that matter.

We retreated to the hammock and I tried to pull my thoughts together.  At this point I really liked the guy.  I thought there was great potential for something more but the kiss was really, really bad.  Kisses are important and intimate and should be wonderful.  So what happened!?  Well, it was indeed Ryan’s first kiss.  And as we talked, I realized that it wasn’t a midwestern thing.  Ryan wasn’t trying to redeem anything from his past and he wasn’t thinking that he was better than anyone else because of his choices.  He had just been convicted by the holy spirit a long time ago and knew that he wanted to save even his kisses for someone more than just a casual date.  At that point he wasn’t proposing marriage but we both were dating with the future in mind.

I am happy to report that the kisses improved very quickly and I couldn’t be happier with my husband’s lips.  I feel loved, honored and cherished each day because I married a man who made a choice to save his kisses for me.  I had mixed feelings about it at first and wondered for awhile what was wrong with him.  But then I realized that nothing was wrong, he was just so counter cultural that I had no category for this amazing man.  He elevated kisses to something even more beautiful, intimate and lovely.  I know that he has amazing self control, after all he waited 33 years for his first kiss.  And I’m so glad he did.  He will tell you that it wasn’t easy but it was worth it.  And our first kiss as husband and wife, oh yeah, it was beautiful, fun, amazing, fireworks and wonderful.

FP_RJR Wedding-60

Reception Card Highlights

Thank you everyone who attended the Sacramento Reception and for those of you who helped behind the scenes.  It was lots of fun!  Ryan and I enjoyed seeing and chatting with everyone.  We wished we had time for longer conversations with everyone!  More pictures to come but until then I hope you enjoy this amusing card and gift.  But before the amusing one please turn your attention to the unsigned one.  Anyone recognize this card and handwriting?  We would love to thank you properly:-)

IMG_0297Now having a wedding almost guarantees that you will receive a high volume of cards.  Ryan and I have enjoyed the travel themed ones, the funny ones and the sweet marriage blessings.  But every once in awhile there is a very unique card and this one deserves sharing.  It came with the game of Twister and it reads…

“You should physically come together regularly [to play Twister].  You need each other daily [to play Twister], you need each other often [to play Twister].  Do not deprive one another [of playing Twister] except for purposes of prayer and fasting.” -your wedding


Thanks friends.  You know who you are:-)  Anyone know the real reference?  I’ll never be able to look at those verses the same again.

He is Risen!

But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. Acts 2:24

EasterCrossThis is the lovely flower cross that was made in Ukarumpa this year.  The residents bring flowers to the sunrise service and decorate the cross.  It looks different and amazing each year.  Thanks Laura Dokken for posting this great picture.  It’s a beautiful reminder of life after death.  Christ is risen indeed!


A Thank You Candy Gram

Today I attended a widow’s lunch and was able to share about my work and vision for Australia.  These ladies are very sweet and definite prayer warriors.  As a thank you I received this Candy Gram made by one of the ladies who has known me for many many years.  It was very fun to bring this home along with two “You’re Special” balloons.  There is no doubt that I feel special today.

IMG_9468The Candy Gram says:  From all the Hot Tamales, SweetTarts and Chunky gals in Widow’s Ministry.  We know you will be on a RockyRoad for a time but you will bring lots of Snickers!  Are you going to the MilkyWay or Australia?  Aren’t they equal distance?  BabyRuth said there are a lot of BigHunks there but we hope for Mr. Goodbar for you.  We will pray for you and your mission Good and Plenty because you Skor high in our hearts.  With Mounds of love from the FOPC Widows.


Merry Christmas!

Hello again.  So my computer isn’t back yet but the nice people at Toshiba will hopefully get it happy and working sooner rather then later.  But until then please enjoy this comic with a little Australian twist.  For those of you who don’t yet know the wonders of Vegemite, stay tuned.  I’m sure Vegemite will have it’s own feature soon enough.  Those of you who know and love (or don’t love) Vegemite will hopefully enjoy this one.  Merry Christmas everyone!



A Little Bit of PNG

Each morning I wake up and see “Tupela Pisin marit i Raun long Bush Painim Kaikai” which is the title of this painting “Two married birds go to the bush and search for food”.  It makes me happy to have a bit of PNG in my room.  When I returned last year, I shipped a few paintings and slowly had them all framed.  Most of them had been on my walls while I lived in PNG but I just had them held up by blu-tack.  It’s amazing what a frame does for them and of course these photographs don’t do them justice.  They are beautiful.  I have another couple of bird paintings and I enjoy getting to still have a little bit of my Ukarumpa home in California.


I also have a little bit of my Walagu home in the form of a pastel portrait done by one of my fellow co-worker, Liz.  I didn’t know Liz at the time she drew Elisabeti, I don’t think I was even in PNG yet.  However, little Elisabeti holding her pig is very special to me.  Liz passed it along when she left PNG and I had it up on my wall.  I knew Elisabeti as a sweet, smart and kind child but that was all.  However, near the end of my time in PNG, Elisabeti’s mother had another baby girl and she named her Joy.  Elisabeti is the older sister of my nesaiyo (namesake).  So without knowing it, Liz drew this beautiful picture which is a sweet memory of my PNG family.