I Celebrate You

A few months ago I wrote out a list of all the amazing things I could remember about you. I should have shared that list with you. I was planning on it. Maybe I would have even given it to you when we came home. But I didn't. Don't worry. I'm sharing it now. I want everyone to know all the amazing qualities, talents & gifts you had. Those who knew you, I'm sure will say 'amen!' to the things I say. 
Since you've passed, I'm learning so much more. So many gifts, so many stories of the lives you've touched. Stories that make me so proud to call you my dad. It's like I'm getting to know you even more. I know it's going to continue. In ways, I'm actually excited for the viewing, because I can't wait to hear stories about you.  Stories I will treasure in my heart. Tell me people! Tell me what he meant to you! Tell me the dumb stuff, too! Tell me everything! I can't wait to know you more. To praise God for you more and have more stories to rejoice over. 
I celebrate you. I celebrate your life. 
So, here's my list Daddy. Here's a few of the things that  I love about you.
The way your t-shirts smell.  I can remember wearing them as a little girl to sleep. They made me feel safe & cozy. They were the smell of my daddy. 

You are strong, manly & clever.

You are an amazing cook.

You love to share your skills, teaching us & others how to do things.

I love that you made saw dust & paint, the smells of comfort & home to me.

I love that you never let us see you smoke when we were growing up. For some reason, you wanted to protect us from that, and I kind of like that. 

You are so outgoing, active and fun.

You are such a hard worker. 

You are always making something better or creating something new.

You are one of those people that's just good at everything you try. 

You are good with your hands. It seems that you could make anything.

Your constant tan.

Your hair that turns white in the summer.

Your hands. They are strong. 

You always provided & worked so hard growing up.
You are so dang creative. 

You decorated our house outside every Christmas.

You taught us to like big trucks and appreciate good food.

You taught us to hunt.

You're more Texan than I am, though you're a transplant.

You make friends everywhere you go.

You're the kind of guy who's name is known at random places, like the car dealership or the pet store, because some how you're close friends with the owners, just because you're so friendly. 
I love that you help others. 
You are always available to help. You will always come to the rescue.

You're ridiculously clever. 

You try to suck the marrow out of life.

That you told me I looked beautiful on my wedding day, right before we walked down the aisle. 
You are funny & crazy & adventurous.

That you always, always say I love you. 

You were the kind of dad who..
brought home animals, which made things pretty exciting around our house. 
always taught us things.
encouraged Justin's love of reptiles & amphibians by filling our house with them.
won contests for us. (Justin's Pine Wood Derby! Best Decorated House!)
told us we should be outside playing.
was super fun.
loved to wrestle. I can probably thank you for my wrestling skills.
loves to play. 
insisted on dinners at a table.
made us huge forts.
built us swing sets or cages for our rabbits.
built us castles for beds.
bought us chicks, just because. 
let us play in the rain & mud.
always said 'I love you.' 
pushed us on our bicyles.
let us hang out in the garage while you worked.
set up trampolines for us Christmas Eve. 
would go on roller coasters with us.
 will catch ducks for us at ponds & parks. 
supports us, no matter what. 
I love you so much.

I Miss You

I miss you. I can't believe you're gone. It sucks & it's weird. Right now that's my word, it's weird. I think that's what they call that stage of grief called shock. It must be & feel something like this. It's weird to think that you're not here. That you're not at the lake. That you're not listening to music. That you're not making some joke. That you're not creating some thing more beautiful or something new. That your gone. But you're not gone though. You're so here. You're ever present in my mind. I can't stop thinking about you. Every thing I think of, I think of you. "Let's have Korean bbq. My dad would love Korean bbq." "Wow, that head scratcher feels good. My dad would like that." Silly stuff like that, and then all the memories. All the good ones. I think about you in the future, like, "I can't wait to have a bbq or ya, we should get sushi." I think of a place that we were once at together and then, this overwhelming feeling of anxiety fills my chest and stomach. And I bawl. I bawl. That must be the stage of grief called acceptance. I weep because you're gone. But the you're not and it's this weird paradox we're living where your body has failed but you're so fresh in my mind. In all of our minds. You're so alive. So free.

You're treasured. Every memory is a treasure. A gift. Your life, a gift. Gosh, I wish I could hug you and tell you that.

Today, my students made you cards. They wrote "I love you Shaun!" And drew pictures of Buck with 3 legs. They drew you rowing a boat. I told them you liked to be on boats. To them that meant rowing one. They drew the things you liked. I told them about you. I love these little pictures they drew & I loved seeing their little hands write your name, Shaun. My daddy. I kept thinking, "I should have done this when he was living." Though it probably one have been quite strange to you to receive little cards about yourself from random kids in China. ha! It would be a predicament. They're nice and all, but what do you do with them? Do you hang them on the fridge? You don't even know these kids but yet, you don't want to throw them away! You know, maybe this was the perfect time for my little kiddies to draw you cards & write your name. It was like healing balm to my heart.
Daddy, you'd be so humbled and encouraged by all the amazing things people are saying about you. Man, people loved love you. Every one has stories about how kind & helpful you were. How you take kids under your wing. How you love serving people. How you always come to the rescue. I used to say you were like Superman. You really were in so many peoples lives.

 People are giving to help pay for your funeral. Out of love for you, out of love for your life. If ever you lost hope in humanity, and the love in people's hearts, or the great, great love God has for you, take hope. I have seen God's hands in words & love, in the generosity of so many people since you have passed. All of our face book pages are basically going viral, out of love and out of the desire to share ounces of hope, words of prayer & words of love and life.

I already know, your funeral is going to be bursting at the seams. I just know it. Because you're just so stinkin' loved. I hope you knew how loved you were. I pray you did. I pray you can see it now.

We get to go home the first time in 3 years. I wish I was going home to see you. I wish I could hug you. I wish I could crawl into your arms like a little girl. That's what I'm wanting these days,
to just act like a little girl, and let you be my daddy.

I love you fascha. I miss you more than you could ever know. I'm so, so very grateful for the time we had & that you were my father.


The Monkeys of Loboc River Resort

I've never seen a monkey up close besides for at the zoo. It's been one of my unspoken bucket list things. Really on my list is to hold one, and get all snuggly,  but this was good, too. At our resort in Loboc, they had a tiny little island on their property. It was surrounded by a small river. A river big enough to keep these, afraid of water monkeys, on their little Monkey Island. Before you get all PETA on me and talk about how messed up it is to trap monkeys on a small island, just know these guys are happy & fed very well. Also, anyone from a country that actually has monkeys roaming around will tell you that most of them are pests & little thieves. To spare everyone at the Loboc River Resort & all the neighbors from being attacked by hungry monkeys, the resort trapped them on their little island, and feeds them every day. If a guest is so inclined, they can go with for the feeding time. Reader, I was so inclined. I was VERY inclined. I was jumping up and down with excitement inclined.
 Z and I jumped on that little boat there, to make the very, very quick trek across the tiny river to Monkey Island.
 Z on my lap, of course.
This was what they looked like as soon as we hit shore. This being an every day routine, they knew what was coming, lots of fruit goodies! Food! They were very intent & jumping around all over the place in anticipation.
Oh ya guy. The food is coming. 
 The resort had set up several little pedestals that we'd put food on, to avoid monkey fights. Only one monkey dared to by on the pedestal at a time. They'd jump up & grab the food super quick. Sometimes so quick, they'd not even grab something but accidently knock it off. They were skiddish little things.
 This guy was the king monkey & was the only one daring or brave enough to take the food directly from my hand. He didn't do this casually either. He'd eye me for a minute or two, until he stuck his hand out super fast to grab what I was holding & run off as fast as possible. Several times he was in such a hurry to grab it he ended up just knocking it out of my hand, then looked at me, like  I was the crazy one about to try and mess with him with my food flying everywhere, when really he made it fly. Crazy monkey. The other monkeys were afraid of him. Any time any of the little guys would grab food, they'd look to see where King Monkey was, to make sure he wasn't about to attack them or steal their food.
This was by far one of my favorite pictures. He was watching King Monkey in the tree, while searching with his hand for the mango peel. He couldn't bare to take his eyes off the tree while grabbing for it.  He finally found it with his hand, stuck & stuck it in his mouth, all without taking his eyes off King Monkey. Monkey King must be pretty mean by the way these guys were acting.
 Thankfully, he usually always had food, so the other ones could get their own.
He was always looking hard for more food & to make sure I didn't make any sudden movements.
This was the closest most of them would get before they'd quickly reach out to get the food I was holding.
You guys, if ever you get the chance to feed or interact with wild monkeys, take a good camera with a fast shutter speed. Our big camera was out of battery so we just took our small one, and I was disappointed with how blurry most the pictures came out. Those monkeys move fast & aren't stopping for any picture! I was beyond ecstatic to be a little more up close and personal with these little creatures. They were fascinating & not in the least bit cuddly, but it was wonderful. Thankful. Also, please notice Zachary isn't in any of these pictures. That's because Zachary just sat back watching his wife try to become a Monkey Whisperer and convince the King to climb on my shoulders, or let me touch his hand or something. Zachary could have cared less about the monkeys there. Crazy, right?! But hey, at least he's supportive. :)
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Mornings in Loboc

If I could somehow recreate and multiply mornings, these would be the mornings I'd multiply. Mornings in Loboc. It's no secret by now just how in love we were with Loboc & our time at the Loboc River Resort. I'm dreaming of years to come (well at least the next 3) of a week of mornings there as a spiritual retreat. It was just so idyllic. The perfect place & time to reflect & reconnect with the Lord.
Our mornings in Loboc started a little later then usual, even Zachary slept in a bit. We'd wake up & step out onto our balcony to see how far the river overflowed each morning. We'd give a good morning to our friend, Boo. We'd then make our way, past the flowers, the shimmering pond & pool, to the dining area.
We'd always choose a table next to the water, because duh.
Also, I'd always get lattes. And because we were in Loboc, I'd get a regular latte. And what do you know, Reader, lattes made with real milk, not non fat, are quite delicious. I didn't even add Splenda. ;)
Each morning we'd get a simple American breakfast. Toast, with butter & jam, eggs & bacon. Fruit & coffee for me, tea for him, on the side. Aren't these type of breakfasts just delicious? Why do we never make these at home? 
We'd also always get a little something extra from the chef. This day we had grilled sweet potato with chocolate sauce.
This day he treated us with candied bananas.
Some days we'd get mango.
Some days we'd drink entire coconuts.
And some days we'd get mango and banana and the chef would give us a little pineapple, too. Because he's nice like that. And it's our mornings in Loboc, where everything is wonderful.
After breakfast we'd make our way to the lounge chairs by the river or the ones by the pool. We'd listen to worship music, pray, journal, read books or the bible. Talk. Dream. Enjoy.
After a few hours, we always found ourselves drinking on of these chocolate, banana shakes, too.
If I could recreate mornings, I'd recreate them here, in Loboc, with my husband & our Lord. I'd do the breakfast thing, the relaxing thing, the praying thing, the chocolate banana shake thing, the take a run & work off my breakfast thing & then I'd get ready for a lunch, next to the river, with all our friends & family. We'd laugh, and dream. We'd kayak. We'd eat. We'd play. It would be like heaven on Earth. It'd be amazing. Isn't the Lord so sweet to give us these moments?
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