Friday, July 23, 2010

little train stations

In a little station stop outside of Shinjuku is the best and I mean the very best bakery!
Mitsuru Bakery

My good friend Chi works here and I'm sooooo glad she does.

At a little station stop outside of Chofu is the cutest coffeeshop and i mean the cutest!

My good friend Asako used to work there and I'm so glad she did...
or I never would have heard of this place and tasted their delicious chai tea.
(this is not a picture of Asako)

At a little train station outside of Shibuya is a Japanese ice cream shop.
No one I know worked here.
But our friend introduced it to Mikey and on a date he introduced it to me.  Yummy!
(the black spotted choice is black sesame ice cream~ actually very delicious!)

At little ice cream shop they give you a little pile of "konbu" or seaweed to break up the sweet flavor of ice cream with something salty.
Not my favorite.
Just give me ice cream and call it good!

At the little ice cream shop there was a little cup of tea...
and that tea was good

to the last drop.

Who knew these little train station stops had so many cute things?  Thank you to all our friends who know Tokyo's little hidden places!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

hummingbirds vs. vultures

Have you ever stopped to think about a hummingbird?

I rarely rarely ever did and still rarely do.  Yet, an analogy that a friend gave to me a year ago has stuck with me and has recently come up.

He said, "Hummingbirds search for the sweet things in life.  They search out and choose only the sweetest of flowers.  On the other side of things, vultures will circle and wait until something dying is totally dead.  They search for the dead things in life."

and then he said, "Be a hummingbird.  Don't get consumed with people's bad points or the areas where people aren't cutting it.  Be a hummingbird and look for the good things, the sweet things in people.  Be an encourager first and always."

So this summer has been difficult for me.  Harder than I could imagine.  I had expectations (darn those stinkin' things! They always get me into trouble) and my expectations haven't been met.  For a dreamer I'm always surprised at how sometimes I can't let go of things.  You'd think I'd be more "go with the flow" but no, I'm kind of a dreamer as in, "it's gonna go this way!"

But things in life don't always follow my plans and deep down inside I'm thankful (truly) for that.  But it takes me away to let go of my dreams and expectations.

So I was having a rough day.  I'd cried once already and was on the verge of crying again.  I hadn't gotten super sweet indepth sharing our deepest hearts desires with the girls on the team... and I hadn't really figured out who I wanted to get to know better from the BEST club with a dwindling three weeks remaining.  So I was pity-partying... yes, I know, sad but true.  I had this inner battle of "Let go!" and "No!" ha ha ha

And then this friend's words came back to me and I realized.

I am such a vulture! I look for the dead things in life (including unmet expectations) and I focus on those dead things.

So I don't want to be a vulture anymore.  I want to get a BIG FAT picture of a hummingbird and stamp it on my forehead.  I seriously don't want to be this silly vulture anymore.

Let's all focus on each other's sweet things and encourage those sweet things... and the dead things, the annoying habits, and the unmet expectations... let's just leave those to the Lord, shall we?


Sunday, July 11, 2010

why not climb mt fuji?

Let me tell you a tale... I struggled with the title for this tale because really it could have been a number of things...
Beastly Mountain Women (BMW)
Jo vs. the Volcano
The Question "Why?"

The Question "Why?" was the title I picked whilst climbing Mt. Fuji.
That's right kiddies, I climbed Mt. Fuji for my second total time. But that's getting ahead of myself...
because what I want to tell you is about the journey.

This is the tale of how everyone conquered Mt. Fuji together...

Some of our friends were more excited about climbing than others... seriously, Ninyo climbed the whole way in this Gachapi outfit.

All the friends started off together and there was a lively camaraderie between each other.
The scenery was beautiful! It's really unusual to be able to see clearly from Mt. Fuji.  Most days there is a thick cloud that covers all of Mt. Fuji and once you climb through it you cannot see below.  But not on July 10th.  We had wonderful climbing weather!!

 Oh my! When I see Mikey I feel like I'm in the clouds....
ha ha that's cheesy!
But seriously, I love this picture of my honey in the clouds!
(Jordan, Mikey wasn't wearing his camelback like this on accident.  He was also carrying my backpack!)

Now if the day was young, the weather gorgeous and I was climbing with the love of my life.  You'd think I'd be skipping up Fuji like Bambi during spring.  I should be a young spring chicken.
But. I'm. Not.
I think the hardest part of climbing was a. catching my breath  and b. the view when not looking out and down.
Because when you weren't looking out and down you were looking UP! Stinkin' up the whole way!  It was SO discouraging to see that your route was long, steep and awful! Emphasis on awful!  No offense sacred mountain but I'm not a fan of your steep upward awful route.
And this is where, my sweet little lambies, I thought of you.
I wrote a blog in my head that is semi this one you are reading although I titled it The Question "Why?"
And the question why is.... Why am I climbing this?  I have this terrible habit of mentally breaking down whenever I physically torture... i mean, exercise.  For instance, when I did my own and only (to date) half marathon I thought halfway through it, "Why am I doing this to myself?"
And so, it was with Mt. Fuji.  I kept thinking, "Why am I climbing this terrible mountain? Why didn't I just drive up to station 5, take a picture and then go home in time to catch a movie?"
But I didn't.
And in case you didn't notice, this sacred mountain is actually sacred lava gravel!
So at this point, my husband was probably wishing he had brought his ear plugs so he couldn't hear me huffing, puffing and chanting the line from the tortoise and the hare, "slow and steady" I'd say for my excuse for stopping at every switchback.  Then we'd make it a goal to go two more before stopping.
Who wants to be the tortoise? No one really. Everyone wants to be the hare but let me tell you something people.... the cocky little hare takes a prideful nap and loses!!
So the tortoise with her slow and steady pace, huffing and puffing, achy knees and cramping back is doing just fine.  Even though she'd wishes at points someone would just offer to carry her....

in the end, the tortoise knows with all her heart that she just had to find her own pace and go her own way and take her time.  And reaching her goal, no matter the time, would feel just as good as someone who takes a cocky rabbit nap.

Hmmm... am I rambling? Anyway, slow and steady won the race that day.  No, I was not the first to summit but I did summit.
5 hours from trail head to top!

And Mikey and I met up with Tomohito our dear friend and we got to finish the climb with him.  That is more satisfying than actually finishing is the journey with people.

And please excuse my silly expressions.  I was somewhere between elation and exhaustion!

point in case...
I'm pretty much in love with reaching my goal!
Climbing the mountain and reaching the top reminded me of my best friend Kelli and a talk that she gave one time about how climbing Mt. Elbert was like her life at that time.  She talked about how the false peaks would discourage her but that she kept her focus upward and onward.  Keeping her eyes on a goal helped her to get through the pain of the climb.
I can see her point and like to consider that practicing climbing or physically exerting myself will perhaps train me in other areas to hang in there and keep going.  We should keep our eyes on the prize and that will lead us onward and upward.
Is anyone else hearing Reepicheep in their ears?

Making the top was amazing butYay! We made it!
Joanna, Kylie and Monique

Burly Mountain Women (BMW)

Mikey's excited to be on the summit! But we had to hurry down before the sun set!

 Thank you Mt. Fuji for not letting me give up.  You did your best to beat me but I conquered you... for the second time.

And now I'm going to go ice my knees!

Sunday, July 04, 2010


I just saw a saying, "Bloom wherever you are planted" and it was so convicting that I am still thinking about that sign.
It's a good reminder that no matter where you are, you should always be at your best.  You should always bring beauty to the situation that life hands you.

It's a good reminder for me.

Friday, July 02, 2010

June 2010

Can I be honest? I have no memory of this past month.
Well, not entirely true... but it has certainly been a whirlwind.  As I look at my pictures from this month trying to kindle a spark of memory I am surprised at where I started this month and where I am now.  Whew! I feel like Dorothy!
And while I'm at my true confessions I'll be honest.  I cannot remember if I've read a book or even finished one this month. Sheesh!

I started this month at my parents home.  Mikey and I were joined by my brother Jonah in relaxing and enjoying the time at home.  I am always refreshed and refilled when I go home.  It's my happy place!  We enjoyed bike riding, sewing, reading (what, though I can't recall!), playing games and hanging out.  It was a great way to start June because after that just got crazy!

Crazy awesome!  There is nothing more honoring, I think, then getting to stand by one of your closest friends as she vows to honor and love the man of her dreams.  Joni's wedding was everything and more of what a celebration should be.  Good food, plenty of people, beautiful weather and beautiful guests of honor.  The bride was the most beautiful I have ever seen and I am so blessed to know and call both Mike and Joni friends.  Love love love this couple!

In the blink of an eye though, Mikey and I were off on our own adventure.
Before I had time to even think or practically pack, we were off to Japan to join some Sunland Region students in Tokyo.  To be honest, I was feeling kind of skeptical of what returning to Japan would be like.  I wondered if it would be emotional for me to return to the place where I struggled and rejoiced so many times.  I wondered if it would feel different or similar to what my memories reminded me of.  You know when you dream of something for so long.... or wait for something so long, like a certain type of ice cream and you think about it and think about it and think about it but when you finally get it, it's not as good as you remember?
Well, that's how I felt going into Japan? I was nervous that it had become some sort of elated paradise in my mind but in reality it would be a disappointment.
*side note* doesn't this look like a fake picture? I really think it looks like we pasted our heads in this picture!

 But it hasn't! Praise God! It's been such a huge encouragement!  It's also been fun to see Mikey respond to different things in Japan.  He says things like, "I have visions of what life could be like for us..." and all I can think of is, "wow, my husbands dreaming!!"
This is huge for us because usually I'm the dreamer and he's the one with his feet on the ground!! But since being in Japan, Mikey has been soaring on cloud nine with possibilities for us and our future.  It's such an encouragement to me and so exciting to talk about Japan with my husband.
*pictured here with our (Lord willing) language teacher Natsukosan!

 Life in Japan continues and who knows what July may hold but I do know that God is causing all things to come together for His glory.  I am grateful for His hand on our lives.

And that reminds me to hope.