Friday, April 29, 2011

Our Easter Sunday

Sunday, April 24, 2011

This is a record of the manner we spent our Easter Sunday as a family.

Tim preached during Sunrise Service at Cornerstone Church with the following verses as his reference:
 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. ~ 1 John 3:16-18.

He did a great job challenging us to love the way God intended us to love.  It was indeed a great Easter message!  And for the first time -  he used programming concepts to illustrate his point.   This is something I wanted him to do for a long time.  I still wished that he did not use me as an illustration but what can I do - I must be the most obvious life within his observation ground.  :)  I thank God for helping him. He had to prepare his script after a long busy week.

Ueli and Sue

Preparation.   After coming back from the Sunrise Service I cleaned the house and prepared part of our luncheon with our friends, the Lippuners.  Tim, Shannon and Brahms went back to help in the second regular service and Sunday school.  Our menu included ham, potatoes, Caesar salad, green beans with bacon, Jell-O salad, herbed rolls, and carrot cake.  I actually did not do much of the cooking since Shannon made the rolls and carrot cake while Sue made the the rest except for the ham.  Everything was very delicious.

The two families - Lewises and Lippuners (including Nick, Ueli's dad) ate together again as we always did in the previous Easter Sundays.   We ate like a big family as we listened to our friends who just came back from a week-long mission trip to San Francisco.  It was very interesting and educating to hear about their experiences.

The  Kids

Nick L.

Tim and Ueli hid the eggs in the garden.  Now that the kids are taller than they used to, the eggs were hidden in much higher places.  The hunt began.  Both families are Christians and are aware of the true meaning of Easter - the sacrifice that Jesus did for mankind.  This activity has evolved from something a thought into a tradition.  Sue and I thought of the idea for a one-time event but the kids liked it - so we did it again the next year...and again...  I asked my friend if we should skip the egg hunt this time and her response was "Are you kidding?"  With that, the message was very clear.  The tradition must go on. 

Sue in the hammock.

Erich spots another egg.

Trading candies.

Anna and her grandpa.

Counting and sorting candies.

Navigating the vegetable garden.

Filipino Church.   A few weeks ago we saw a sign on East Bidwell Avenue for a Filipino church that meets at the Folsom Lake College.  Tim and I went to visit the church after the Lippuners had left.  It was a very pleasant experience.  It reminded us of the good old days when we lived in the bay area.  This church is a newly planted church.  The people who go there do not even know each other very well.  However, it does not matter because every Sunday they spend more time visiting than sitting down listening to their pastor preach.  Soon they will be like family. 

The Elders.

He is Risen Indeed!!! We believe in Jesus Christ our Savior.  He came to live among us and then died as the perfect sacrifice for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God.  On the third day he arose.  He has conquered death.  He has risen!  The bible says that "whosoever believes in Jesus Christ will have eternal life."  He gave up His own life so that He could offer Life for you and for me.  Do you believe in Him?  Do you accept his offer of Life or do you choose death.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

All-Girls Week

The three of us girls are all alone together while the boys are in Milpitas doing their own business.  The atmosphere is always different when girls are together.  My daughters seem to like to talk to me more when I am one-on-one or one on two with them.  There is a sense of privacy that comes from being alone with Mama

The times I spend with my daughters are priceless.  It is the time when they get to be "real" with me.  When there is no one else listening to our conversations they have freedom to be honest and vulnerable at the same time.  I consider it as the prime time to float my influence as their attention is focused on me. Young girls need a time to be with their moms because it helps them grab on to the confidence that they need before they open their wings into the unprotected world.   Parent, in general, are pioneers.  Healthy children look up to their folks for guidance and assurance.  In the absence of a strong influence in their lives, the kids search for one either in their teachers, peers, friends, etc.  We just hope that they will not consider the impersonal World-Wide-Web as a place to look for a role model.

Yesterday we went hiking on the hills that border El Dorado Hills and Folsom.   It was very nice to be on a hill where we could see both towns.  It has been my observation that Shannon is spending more and more time with Miriam teaching her some of the things that she need to know before she leaves to go to college.   She taught her how to create a video of her drawing and posting it on YouTube.

Today we went to see the movie "Rio" with Emily Kennedy and her mom (Linda) and sister (Julia).  Emily is one of Miriam's best friends.  We had lunch at McDonald.  Miriam had piano lessons from Shannon while Shannon had her lessons from the PIOM.  We went to Wal-Mart and bough all sorts of things ranging from clothing to cake mixes. 

Tomorrow we plan to go to Costco and get Shannon a new pair of glasses. She needs something to use when she does not want to use her contact lenses.   Shannon will work for an hour to tutor Charlotte Leszinske...We'll see what we can do for fun tomorrow. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's Official...

God willing, Shannon will be going to study in UC Irvine next fall!  It's official.  Last Saturday (April 16, 2011) she filed her letter of intent.  Yesterday she applied for housing.  One by one details of her going to college are popping up like mushrooms...and everything requires that we give a credit card number - but all are exciting.  She is thinking of getting a new bike as her means of transportation around campus. 

Since she was admitted in the honors program she will get to stay in housing dedicated for students in this program.  She found out today that the dorm is provided with a common kitchen.  Students can choose to cook when they want to.  This reminds me of Sibly Hall where I stayed during part of my time in Reading. During meal preparation time our kitchen emitted smells that combined African, Asian, European and Indian cuisines.  The worst days were when the students from Nigeria received their care packages from home that contained dried meat of some animal that I could not tell.  The meat was so hard that it required all day of boiling to hydrate and cook.  The kitchen and the hallway would smell funny for at least a couple of days...But to some, it was comforting.

Reality has set in.  Now all of us have started imagining how life will be when Shannon goes to college.   Her absence in the home will change us all.  It appears that her attitude has changes from this-is-my-chance-to-go-away mentality to how-will-life-be-away-from-home.  The practical aspects of her going to college have become an important topic of conversation around the house. 

When she applied for the different universities we asked God that He would guide us in choosing the right place for her.   I did not imagine how He would have made it clear to us but now I know.  UCI was not her choice nor was it ours (Tim and I) but at the moment, it seems that it is God's choice and by his grace it will be done.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mito Kids Walk

El Dorado Hills Town Center.

Last Saturday Shannon,  Brahms and I joined some four hundred people for the Mito Kids Run/Walk.  This was the second year of this effort to raise money for research for mitochondrial disease.  This campaign was initiated by one of the teachers in Oak Ridge High School.  Two of her grandchildren are diagnosed with mitochondrial disease. 

Mito Kids
A child with mitochondrial disease cannot enjoy eating - the pleasure that we take for granted.  Their systems cannot convert food into energy which means that they are fed intravenously (?).  Each of the kids has a small cart that holds all their feeding paraphernalia that are attached to them.   According to the limited information that I have, the kids are expected to live only up to their teenage years.  I do hope that these kids will live longer than that.

My kids and I had fun.  We got tired power-walking five kilometers but we rewarded ourselves generusly afterwards.  On our way home we stopped by our favorite donut place - to replenish all the lost energy.  :) 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Commitment etc.

Brahms (April 1, 2011)

Today marks the day when Brahms played bass with the Praise Team at church as Brahms instead of substituting for someone else.  Denise Danberg, the Praise Team director, was telling me that it was his debut - which probably means that his involvement will somewhat appear on the regular schedule.    He played really well and I was very happy for him.  Mother's pride, I guess.  I continually marvel at his willingness to take on more responsibilities; he seems to love being able to do something or help others.  In that - I see his father in him.  However, my poor son took some of my negative genes - at times he gets overwhelmed by the amount of work that he has to do at one time.  When this happens I see myself reflected.  As I have learned over the years, he needs to calm down and list down his tasks bit by bit.  There is a sense of progress derived from knowing that one item is crossed out as opposed to waiting for the whole project to be done.  It's easy for me to say this when I am calm but the idea escapes me when I am stressed.

A week ago during the Robotics competition he was assigned to make the video for his team, "Circuit Breakers".  He planned his time well but as they say, the worst always happens at the worst time.   He planned to spend Thursday night to finish the video to be ready for the next day.  But then at four in the afternoon of that Thursday, one of his teammates calls him to say that the video was due that day at 6 pm.  So now he had to work on it in super high-speed.  That would not have been so bad if the computer was working.  The computer was not cooperating and usually when we have technical problems in the family, we have Tim to help us.  This time he was on his way home from a business trip from Seattle.  At this point Brahms was stressing like Armageddon was coming in the next thirty minutes.  Whatever we (Shannon, Miriam and I) said added pain to his struggle. All of us kept quiet as we watched him agonize over this deadline.  But his teammates kept calling him to ask about his progress.  He finished the video at 5:50pm but the agony is far from over.  Now he had  to send it to his team who are at that time at UC Davis by email.  His computer wouldn't send it.  At this point his hair looked like Albert Einstein's, he was sweating, and as if he was not breathing anymore.  Had we said anything at that time he would have bursted into tears.  The pain has not spread to us.  Shannon quietly suggested that he used her computer to send the file.  She also suggested copying the file into a USB then copying it into Shannon's.  All these things did not occur to him; hopelessness was the only reality that filled his senses.  Five minutes before six...tick tock tick tock... Then he finds out that he does not have the email address to whom he would send it to.  So he calls his team.  He gets it.  Sends the file...and it was sent. Whew!  Now he is done!  Wait...not quiet.  His teammate calls him and said that he will have to wait to see if they can get it in on time.  He sits, he paces back and forth - not knowing what to do and very worried. 

"Breath now.  You are done!" I said.   "Whatever happens now is not within your control.  You have been stressing your energy out and forgetting to depend on the ONE who can help you." As if he was awakened from a terrible nightmare.  It is hard to let go but when we think that we have done our best, the only thing left is to WAIT.

The good thing about Brahms is that he learns from his mistakes.  He is willing to go back and point out where he blew it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Narrowed Down Options

University of California - Santa Cruz

Shannon applied undeclared to nine different universities - five UCs and four private.  So far she's accepted in the honors programs of UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine; and UC Santa Cruz.   She has not been accepted into three of the private universities she applied to but she waits for the decision of her highest priority university - St. John's University.  With the arrangement that we made with Shannon it is likely that she will not be able to afford the latter unless the university will offer her a substantial financial aid.

University of California - Santa Barbara

Therefore, her options are down to three very good universities.  Will it be Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz or Irvine?  When she applied to these colleges we prayed that God will show us the best place for her by the responses she'd get.  I personally was hoping for UC Davis because I wanted her to be within an hour drive from home.   It turns out that it will not be that way.  Santa Cruz is beautiful; the ocean on one side and the university is nestled in a Redwood forest.  Santa Barbara is similar to Santa Cruz - located on the coast just further south from Santa Cruz.  We've heard some opinions from other people we know about these campuses but we remain waiting on God's final say.

University of California - Irvine

As of this day, Shannon is leaning towards Irvine.  She liked it when we visited the place and the offer to be in the honors program is very encouraging.  She will be given the opportunity to work with the faculty.  UCSB's offer is similar but we seem to favor Irvine.  It would seem to be the most practical place for her to go.  Tim and I agree with her although it would mean that I will not be able to drive (seven hours) to go see her.  Flying down there, on the other hand, takes an hour.  

So, will she go to Irvine?  We do not know yet.  Until she has to make a decision, we will wait for sharper instructions from God.   It is my prayer that we will be sensitive as to differentiate our desire from God's will for her - so that we may choose His will over ours.