Friday, April 27, 2007

Flowers, Flowers, Everywhere!

My apologies - I haven't been updating very well lately! Last weekend, our little family went to the wildflower garden near Nagoya Port. It was threatening to rain and Chloe was a little grouchy, but the temperature was pleasant and we had a good time. The garden was divided into a number of theme rooms/areas, which was pretty neat. I got lots of ideas for how to spend lots of money when we get home. :) Mike and Chloe tiptoeing through the tulips, so to speak, shortly after we entered the park.

A view of the main section of the garden, facing the port. It was really a pretty gloomy day. This garden is placed right in the middle of the most industrial section of Nagoya and I'm not sure that you can get a view of any part of it without some kind of concrete tower or factory also in sight. We kept checking Chloe's diaper because there was this kind of stinky-sweet smell in the air... just like baby poop!

Daddy and daughter posing for the camera. They had both been blowing spit bubbles for me a minute ago, but now it's just Chloe. :) Chloe and I hanging out in front of the wildflower meadow. Are these all native to Japan? I don't know. Unfortunately, Chloe's not really old enough to think the flowers are all that interesting. Darn. What do you notice about this picture? Look closely! You can click on the image to make it larger. Well, it's not real, it's bonsai! One section of the garden had these little dollhouse scenes of Japanese culture surrounded by all different kinds of little bonsai trees. One thing I've learned here is how many plants you can "bonsai." It's pretty incredible.

This one's for Sam. I thought this fountain was pretty cool. I think there were actually little frogs in this pond, but Mike thought that they were speakers.

And finally, a Pretty Flower. I don't know what it is, but I thought that all the little spikeys coming out of it gave it a very interesting look. ***Edited to note: I'm wondering if this might be a variety of spider cleome. Does anyone know?***

That's all for now! This coming week is Golden Week, the week when the entire country goes on holiday. Mike and I are going to try our luck camping, so pray for good weather for us. Mike's co-workers keep saying, "With the BABY??? You are going camping NOW, with the BABY???" Well, we thought about leaving her home, but we were afraid she might trash the house... Pray for good weather! Did I say that already? :)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Chloe's Baptism

Ultra-long post warning! Feel free to read along out loud - your parts are in bold! :)
Meito Christ International Church
April 15, 2007
Fujigaoka, Nagoya, Japan
Pastor C: God, who is rich in mercy and love, gives us a new birth into a living hope through the sacrament of baptism. The power of sin is put to death in this holy flood, and we are raised with Jesus Christ to new life. We are united with all the baptized in the one body of Christ, anointed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and sent out in mission for the life of the world. Mike and Meika: We present Chloe Jean for baptism.

Pastor C: Trusting in the grace and love of God, do you desire to have your daughter baptized? Mike and Meika: We do.
Pastor C: As you present your child for baptism, you are entrusted with gifts and responsibilities: to live with her among God's faithful people, bring her to the word of God and the holy supper, and nurture her in faith and prayer, so that she may learn to trust God, proclaim Christ through word and deed, care for others and the world God made, and work for justice and peace among all people. Mike and Meika, do you promise to help your child grow in the Christian faith and life? Mike and Meika: We do. Pastor C: People of God, do you promise to support Chloe and pray for her in her new life in Christ?

People: We do. Pastor C: I ask you to reject sin, profess your faith in Christ, and confess the faith of the church. Do you renounce the devil and all the forces that defy God?

Mike and Meika: I renounce them. Pastor C: Do you renounce the powers of this world that rebel against God? Mike and Meika: I renounce them. Pastor C: Do you renounce the ways of sin that draw you from God? Mike and Meika: I renounce them. Pastor C: Do you turn to Christ as your Lord and Savior? Mike and Meika: I do.
Pastor C: With the whole church, let us confess our faith. Do you believe in God the Father? People: I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. Pastor C: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God? People: I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. Pastor C: Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit? People: I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic [universal] church, the communion of saints, the forgiveess of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Pastor C: Our gracious God has always desired to hold his people in a covenant embrace. He declares over and over, "I will be their God, and they shall be my people." Pursuing this deep desire, God called Abraham and Sarah to trust in him and gave a covenant sign to show that they belonged to him. In baptism God now claims us in Christ, marks us as his own people, and seals our membership in God's covenant community, the church. Baptism is the covenant sign that God frees us from the power of sin and death, uniting us with Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection. By water and the Holy Spirit we are washed clean from sin. God's grace in baptism calls us to give ourselves to him in trust, love, and obedience. From the beginning, God graciously has included our children in his covenant. All his promises are for them as well as for us. We are to teach them that they have been set apart by baptism as GOd's own children so that as they grow older they may respond to him in personal faith and commitment. Therefore, send your Holy Spirit upon this water and upon she who is washed in it, that she may be given new life. To God be given honor and praise through Jesus Christ our Lord, in the unity of the Hoy Spirit, now and forever. People: Amen. Pastor C:

Chloe Jean, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Let us pray. We give you thanks, O God, that through water and the Holy Spirit you give your daughters and sons new birth, wash them from sin, and raise them to eternal life. Sustain Chloe Jean with the gift of your Holy Spirit: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, the spirit of joy in your presence, both now and forever. People: Amen.
Pastor C:
Chloe Jean, child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever. {Chloe is being anointed with oil here.}
Pastor Suetake:
Walk in the faith of Jesus Christ crucified and risen. Shine with the light of Jesus Christ. {Chloe is presented with a candle symbolizing the light of Christ.}

Pastor C: Through baptism you have been received into the household of God, entrusted with the good news of Jesus Christ, and strengthened to serve by the holy and life-giving Spirit.

People:* Chloe Jean, for you Jesus Christ has come, has lived, has suffered; For you, he has endured the darkness of Calvary; For you, he has triumphed over death; For you, he prays at God's right hand; all for you, little Chloe, even though you do not know it. And so in your baptism and our baptism, the word of the Gospel is fulfilled: "We love, because God first loved us."

*Note: This blessing was shamelessly borrowed from Erica. You should really check out the original on her wonderful blog, Don't Flay the Sheep. :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Springtime Baby

As you may have noticed, photo shoots are a favorite activity of mine. Here's the latest.


Just a Little Showing Off

For a while now, Chloe has enjoyed being pulled to a sitting position and looking around while she holds onto our fingers (or while we hold her hands - she hasn't quite figured out that if she lets go she goes boom). Yesterday I had her sitting up while she was just in her diaper and she seemed to get a good look at her toes for the first time. Chloe was pretty put out when I laid her back down again - she wanted to check those things out! Anyway, to this picture - Mike was trying to spur her onward and upward by getting her to sit by herself... and lo and behold, she managed to balance here for a few seconds by herself! It'll be a couple months before she can manage this on her own, but nonetheless - isn't she just the most clever baby in the world? :)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

He Is Risen!

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia! Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia! Where, O death, is now your sting? Alleluia! Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia! Where your victory, O grave? Alleluia! Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia! Following our exalted Head, Alleluia! Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia! Ours the cross the grave, the skies, Alleluia! (hymn by Charles Wesley) Happy Easter, everyone! Have a most blessed day!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Life Is Fleeting

The significance of the sakura is in its fleeting nature, glorious for ten days and then gone. In theory (so I've heard), the ohanami parties beneath the trees are to reflect on the fleeting nature of our own lives - in practice, they're a good opportunity to reflect on the fleeting nature of a bottle of sake. All in good fun. "All people are like grass, and their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever." -1 Peter 1:24

More Cherry Blossoms

Chloe went for another cherry blossom stroll on Tuesday, while Mike was at work. The sky was a brilliant blue on this day and it was even more beautiful than the weekend had been. Here are some pictures I took on that day.

And here's a link to an article that talks a little bit more about the significance of cherry blossoms in Japan.

Sakura Outing

Cherry blossom (sakura) viewing is extremely popular in Japan, and it's so beautiful that we can see why! The very brief season - the trees are only in bloom for around ten days - began around last weekend in Nagoya, so Mike, Chloe and I took a little trip to the nearby Yamazaki River for a little ohanami walk. It was so beautiful! This is a famous place in Nagoya for cherry blossoms, as the river is lined with them for a good couple miles. Apparently some of these trees had escaped the bombing in World War II and are quite old.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Always Good for a Laugh

This posting is too funny! Check it out... :D

Daddy and Chloe - Video!

Chloe loves to jabber at Mike - he really knows how to speak her language! When he saw this video he said, "Great, I can hear them now - 'Who's teaching whom, Mike??'"

WAHOOOO! First video!

I'm pretty proud of myself - I finally managed to post a video on the blog!!! I uploaded it onto Google Video then pasted an embed command in here. I was reading somewhere that that command might not work with all browsers, so let me know if you can't access it and I'll try to figure it out. Enjoy!