Random Thoughts Sunday Evening Post Birthday & Taiwan

I miss having chopsticks as my primary utensil. It's not the same being back in America and not having a natural and consistent need for them. My entire family was surprised at how well I used them. For me, it was just natural because I have for most of my life since learning at age 7. I'll wield them once again come Chinese food time, but when I am back home, I primarily eat more mediterranean/italian/some american. 

I celebrated my twenty eighth birthday on Saturday, April 25. All I wanted to do was go to Fig + Olive, and I did so with a best friend and my best boy. It was a little stressful attending such a nice place with an active boy, but it's all I wanted to do. Those olive oil based dishes were delicious, and the chocolate cake they gave us was pristine. No complaints!! Just gratitude! Very special thanks to Amanda for her enthusiasm and willingness to go there with me. 

I am fortunate to have have such incredible and considerate hearts around, asserting my value in their lives on a day that recognizes my existence on Earth. Texts, calls, friends wanting to touch base, Facebook comments. It's interesting because I don't always see my own value. I don't always feel it. I understand that ripples my loss in this world would create, primarily in the life of my mancub child. I am touched by the kindness the words of friends old and new, and of family. On the evening of my birthday, I just ordered Italian food and watched Despicable Me with Caleb. He picked the movie. :)

Today I had a picnic in the park with Kait, JT, and Caleb. Our neighbor and his son came by so the boys played. It's enough, and it's good. I feel so full of heart in any realm of celebration already because Taiwan was so richly incredible. Rich in colors and tastes and smells, that land is like my own after a mere week. Make no mistake, I am glad to be home, albiet suburbia. But I miss Taiwan and its people, my family. I miss my chopsticks and dumplings and loving cousins and aunts and sweet old uncles. I miss the natural beauty of the land and the busy streets. I miss watching all the scooters and noting the differences of life. I miss the activity and busyness of the people. Taiwan also has abundant and amazing bakery shops and delicious street foods in carts and housed on sticks. 

I am back at home and eager to go back to Taiwan, and hopefully next time, bring my boy.

My son just sleepily staggered out of his room in a daze, eyes half opened, wordless, clad in ninja turtle pajamas. (Side note: Tonight when he was brushing his teeth, he told me his "shell" hurt. He then repeated himself saying it was his chest. But still, funny. It's because his shirt is a TMNT shell print-ha!). I picked him up and carried him back to his room and held him for a moment. He's getting heavier, that big boy. I thought about us,  small and finite. Fragile in our humanity, yet strong. Strong mama and strong boy. Last night I was strangely spooked in my apartment. Occasionally this happens. And you never know why this could be. I was looking at a card from Kaitlin of a painted, majestic lion, resting, and I thought of Jesus, who is also called the Lion of Judah. I thought of this great lion, reminiscent of Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia, walking my apartment home. I held Caleb feeling our smallness and the precious value of this small family unit, and I thought of Judah. I prayed, "Jesus be with us", and without delay he said, "I am." 

Today at church I felt unworthy even to take communion. It's optional, which I like. People ought to be mindful and ready of what they are doing. When a plate is weekly passed around, it holds risk of becoming a mundane routine, or something done out of obligation. I know that is not the churches intent, but it can happen with just regular people sitting in those seats week after week. Even though each week offers a fresh experience to encounter God. Anyway, I like that people can get up at will/at their ready and take communion on their own or with others at The Village. 

Anyway, today's sermon was about meeting and connecting with Jesus regularly and knowing him in the most basic ways, such as reading scripture. I fail at this tremendously, especially in the last several months with more demand at my job and my general lack of personal discipline in this area. I feel like I am unfruitful as a follower of Christ. And I am not sure about fruit, but I know in my own life, Jesus is the source of life and spark. When I deny this, I am dull within. I feel it. So as I sat there feeling rather unworthy, I was reminded that this is what grace is for and that none of us is worthy. This is why grace is a gift born of love. Jesus says, "It's okay, this is why I came. To give life and grace. Come to me." We can always return. I thought of all this as I held Caleb before laying his heavy body back into bed. And I thought of my great Lion of Judah standing with us. (To be honest, I also thought of Game of Thrones and what "My lion" and "lion" means in that show. Lots of context for lions in media. haha. But the most pivotally important, timeless, and true of all is that of the Lion of Judah).

Photos below are from my birthday lunch at Fig & Olive, Newport Beach, with the lovely Amanda. And yes, she is lovely indeed and packed full of excitement and love-abundantly more than I've had-for my birthday. It's very sweet and somewhat refreshing. We had as lovely as a time as we could have with my monster truck mauling boy. :) 

(Side-note indoor trees in settings like this. If a restaurant has them, I am usually all about checking that location out. Like Javiers at the Spectrum? Indoor trees. That may or may not be a large reason as to why I still have a desire to go dine there at least once. )

Kaitlin had Caleb paint this frame for my birthday. I used it to frame one of the above images in which I made black and white purposefully for this frame.

Thanks to my dear McGarvey for such a kind gesture in helping Caleb with this. (She has one of the best hearts I have ever known. Really, one of the best in all the land, that girl. My friend. I'm the lucky one here.) 

As I mentioned, today Kaitlin and her main man came over to picnic for my 28th. Here are two photos from that:

While they don't necessarily mean to be, they really are like another aunt and uncle for Caleb here. I don't deserve such friends. And they see it all. The good and bad and ugly of this single mommyhood. They see Caleb's moodiness post-missed nap time. 

I am thankful for the grace of my friends. And of my family. And of my God.

Thanks for all the birthday wishes. You're a kind bunch. :)

That's a wrap for this random thought Sunday evening post bday review.

With love and thanks always,

R.