December 30, 2007

Coming home to Christmas cards


It's quite fun to go through almost all of the Christmas cards that have been sent through the season at one time... and since we were overseas for most of the Christmas season, we were able to do it again this year.

We love receiving cards ... the notes, the photos, the letters... How else can you watch little children around the country/world grow up (through the annual photographs) each year? It's one of the best things about the season. (Can you find yours above?)

Adele

December 27, 2007

Another Malaysian Christmas

We celebrated Christmas in Malaysia this year, with family and friends. Above is a downtown view of a very modern and hip Kuala Lumpur from our hotel room.



Here's Malaysia providing some competition for Texas, with their gigantic tree decorations and holiday performances.





It's snowing in Malaysia... inside the mall. William enjoys absorbing the foam into his perfectly sculpted hair.


One of our favorite mall performances - a choir singing Christmas songs.... while snowing inside the mall (again!). Texas malls could definitely learn a thing or two from Malaysia.






Here we are enjoying a wonderful dinner (as usual) with William's family in Kuala Lumpur. We love to visit with them!




William reunites with his childhood friends in KL via facebook. I had the treat of hearing some good stories.


After a few days of hanging out in Kaula Lumpur, we are off to see William's mother and father in Kauntan!




We most enjoyed the Christmas show at the church. Lots of singing, dancing and fun... but the most fun was being able to see William's mother line-dancing. Again, Texas can learn a few things from Malaysia :)





We also enjoyed Christmas dinner with friends!








I even got a Malaysian outfit - A Baju Kurung.




More eating, more friends, more delicious times :)




Introducing... Neslo, the new pet puppy of the Chan household.


December 18, 2007

Beijing


We are visiting Beijing for the first time! We saw the Forbidden City, The Great Wall, The Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace among a few other things.

Here's William at the entrance of the Forbidden city with Mao welcoming everyone at the Tiananmen gate:





Inside, there were many buildings, and most were being renovated for the 2008 Olympics.






In the Emperor's Garden, we took a shot in front of the "Embracing Tree".

We saw many ... actually hundreds (if not thousands) senior citizens dancing, singing and doing all sorts of interesting recreational activities in the streets and parks. They are very fit!

We had a refreshing tea ceremony at the end of our day, sampling many types of looseleaf tea - our favorite being oolong.

We were able to connect up with an old childhood friend of William's (from Kuantan) who now lives in Beijing with her husband and two children. We had a fabulous Peking duck dinner!

We traveled to the Great Wall... and enjoyed a steep journey to view this amazing wonder of the world.

We also visited the Emperor's tombs. When the Emperor died, his concubines had to commit suicide and hang themselves immediately so they could be buried near him.

We saw the Temple of Heaven which was surrounded by parks where many elders were seen enjoying life. Dancing, Hackey-Sack, Badminton, Calligraphy, Tai Chi ...

These are hundreds of people gathering together... to simply sing! For no apparent reason - but to sing in the park.

Here's the temple...

One of our favorite spots was the Summer Palace, a "lake house" for the royal family. Many houses... many steps... many hand-painted pictures everywhere.

Every lake house needs a boat...


December 12, 2007

Advent Conspiracy


[AC] Advent Conspiracy from Jon Collins on Vimeo.

Merry Christmas!!




Click here for a very special message from the Chan family:

Click here

Just a little Christmas giggle for your day.




Our wonderful friend,Deji, wrote the perfect blog posting, so I'd like to share:


Christmas was meant to change the world



So this is what Christmas has become - a deluge of "Holiday" catalogs & special offer e-mails. Every year it seems to kick into a new gear of marketing and solicitations to come spend, come buy, send gifts, receive gifts, show how special you think the other person is by outdoing their own efforts to get stuff for you. I will admit - I am guilty. There is a certain pleasure to it. I think even an amount of narcissism. That part of the drive to get those gifts and find just that special one that will put that look on the face of the child, spouse, parent, sibling, friend, significant other ... etc is ultimately about me. That I will have been the one who got just that special gift that put that look there - and I can smile and bask in the pleasure of having done that. It does feel good doesn't it? At least for just that moment.

Then there's the part that is just about me. Just about getting that gizmo that I've been putting off getting all year and now it is Christmas and you know what, I think I deserve to get a something that I really want. Right? :-) You don't know how convicting it is to write this. The B&H Photo store catalog arrived in the mail a couple of days ago and so did the gift guide edition of Wired magazine.

So what is the problem? Well, the question is - Is this what Christmas is really about? It is supposed to be a birthday celebration but who is getting the gifts?

"'... For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' ... 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" - Matt 25:35-36, 40

What if we made Christmas about giving gifts to the celebrant instead of the guests? What would that look like?

"Christmas was meant to change the world"

"Advent Conspiracy is an international movement restoring the scandal of Christmas by worshipping Jesus through compassion, not consumption."

It is a bit of a change of focus isn't it? That the truth of Christmas is not about having stores say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays". That it is not about the stores at all. It is about giving life, restoring hope, easing pain, sharing grace, bringing peace.

I will probably still buy some gifts, but I might also make some or make the gifts themselves more meaningful and I will find a way to give life and share grace with people I don't know and whose faces I may never see, realizing that this particular gift is not about me and is definitely not about any recognition for it. That maybe through all of this I might realize that whatever it was that I was able to do did not come from me but only passed through me.


I hope you enjoyed his post as much as I did. Thanks for the inspiration, Deji! Merry Christmas everyone . . .
to God be the glory.






November 26, 2007

Another Nebraskan Thanksgiving

We traveled to a very frigid Nebraska for Thanksgiving again this year. Below is our family... can you tell who the out-of-towners are?

First we spent some time in Omaha with my dad's wonderful newlywed wife, Nancy and her sweet family.


A recurring theme at all family gatherings throughout the cold prairies of Nebraska is...
CARDS! One must play cards, no matter how zoned out you are from all the turkey. William is still having trouble adapting to this ritual.


But he has definitely adapted to the ritual of overeating... and even developed his skills as a baby whisperer.


The day after Thanksgiving, we rose before the break of dawn for a 2 hour drive to Hastings - a city where most of my extended family still resides. My dad brought 18 lbs of his famous prime rib and I was in charge of keeping it warm in the back seat. We traveled through parking lots of crazed and frantic shoppers at 6am.


But we still made it!

Unfortunately, we were too busy gorging ourselves with the fabulous feast that we forgot to capture the moment of the amazing food. Ooops, we'll try again next year.

And the card games begin... again! If not, we would all just pass out on the floor from stuffing our faces with delicious food...


William is still struggling with finding the time to play cards.... Instead he finds solace with the small fry. Actually, he was looking for someone to play some video games.... he needed a partner!


This is an example of my dad's "nice, dumb guy" poker strategy....


before he smacks it to you with an evil eye and a royal flush.


Here's Grandma... she may look sweet, but she's the queen of bluff and takes her card playing seriously! (I was in trouble when I was her partner) :)


And cousin Darren? His strategy is...to keep us wondering.
As always, we really enjoyed our Thanksgiving time in Nebraska. We are thankful for our fabulous family. And thankful for being together.