The Filipinos know how to kick off the weekend

Every Friday evening at 7pm (7am ET in the US – the start of my workday), they shoot off fireworks over the water by the Mall of Asia to commence the beginning of the weekend.  They only last about 4 minutes and I try and step away to get some pictures off our balcony.  Last week I walked to the corner and watched them with a different perspective.  Lots of people out on a Friday night!  Brian said they refer to the weekend as “SatSun” at his work.  Needless to say, I’m always happy to see the fireworks when they appear.

I’m nearing the end of my third trip here to Manila and am more familiar with our apartment and the local surroundings.  For those of you that know I love to do dishes, it has taken a bit getting used to doing dishes in lukewarm water (only hot water is in the shower…for which I’m thankful.)  We also have this washer/dryer combo….sounds like a great idea – other than a “normal” cycle is 3 ½ hours and the clothes come out pretty wrinkled!  That being said we started taking Brian’s dress shirts to the “Suds Laundry & Dry Cleaning”  in our building (very affordable) and only doing a quick wash for 30 minutes for the other items (and hanging them all over the house to let them dry.)  Security called immediately when I tried hanging clothes on the balcony to let me know that was not permitted.  Oh there’s no oven – guess they figured it’s too hot there (which it is) to heat up a big appliance.  Now one thing that is great where we live is the air conditioning – they have room only units that do cool the place nicely.  With temps in the 90’s and 100’s with humidity almost as high it is a must-have.

We are in a great location (Shell Residences) – Mall of Asia is a quick walk and they have just about everything (food store, department stores, restaurants, currency exchange, etc.)  Traffic in general in Manila is pretty insane…I am thankful we have access to a driver and that Brian’s office is within walking distance (he walks home on occasion in the morning.)  The airport is only 15-20 minutes away now that they’ve built a new “skyway” that lifts the airport traffic above the normally congested roads.

Life is very quiet for us here – truly no responsibilities outside of work.  I am learning to appreciate the down time…reading, working out, watching Netflix and HGTV, even playing solitaire with a deck of cards Erica gave me.  I don’t mind traveling back and forth to the U.S. – typically a 24 hour commute – but Brian is not quite as fond and has been here since the beginning of March.   He works long days Monday thru Friday, and weekends are spent catching up on sleep and sitting by the pool.

While Brian has had some interesting challenges at work, God is definitely at work.  The office has small clubs of all kinds for the employees…sports, travel , drama, Christian life, among other groups.  Brian has had the opportunity to preach on several Saturday mornings at the Life Group.  They have a large gathering the beginning of every month and July 1 there was over a hundred people there!   We are confident that God has a much bigger plan for our scheduled time here.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my trips back to the U.S. to see friends & family in California, Ohio, and Mississippi.   Jonae and Jus were able to get away a few times which left me as grandma on call – Juliet and I had lots of fun.  She’s a true joy and is a pleasure to be with.  I learned all her favorite movies and foods, her daily routine and fun ways to keep us both entertained.  Naomi the pup was happy to see me, but she clearly has settled into a nice routine with Juliet.

The area where we live is near the water, but it meets the land by way of a sea wall and docks.  I felt the ocean calling and when I arrived back here in June we took a flight to Cebu here in the Philippines.  It was so nice to put our feet in the sand for the weekend.  We were up early Sunday and caught a beautiful sunrise while my son Mitch caught the sunset on the other side of the world.  Stunning!

Now that U.S.to Tokyo to Manila is my new commute, I’m finding that this is all pretty surreal.   My eyes are open and my breath prayer remains “Almighty God, show me.”  I want to be found faithful and not miss an opportunity to share God’s love with those I know and those I’ve yet to meet.   Thanks for reading ~ have a blessed summer!

On the Move

The last six weeks have been nothing short of amazing!  As we prepared to move, I spent as much waking time as possible with my sister and my friend Michelle.  We ate out, made it to the movies a few times and took lots of long walks (before it got too warm!)  My parents were out for a visit and I was able to see my brother & sister-in-law.   Brian enjoyed time in our swimming pool and was sad to leave it.  We even put the dog in once and found out that Naomi can dog paddle!

The last two weeks of May were extremely busy for my sister as she wrapped up her school year and attended the boys programs.   In addition to graduating two years early, my nephew Kennen was valedictorian of his class.  His speech at the ceremony lifted the spirits of everyone and he is enjoying the summer before heading off to college in September.  My nephew Zander completed sixth grade on the superintendent’s honor roll as well.  So proud of both of them!

After graduation festivities wrapped up, Michelle and I went to Laughlin where we met some friends from Ohio (including Erica!!)  We had such a great visit!  My parents delivered Pam for a night – just long enough for her to hit two progressives on nickel poker.  Woohoo!  We also had the opportunity to recreate some photos from the first time us four girls went to Laughlin twenty years ago – what a blast!

God has truly blessed every bit of our relocation from Victorville to Hollywood.  We secured a nice two bedroom apartment that exceeded our wish list:  reserved covered parking, air-conditioning, pet-friendly and rooftop pool!  We are located in a (busy) residential area between Hollywood & Sunset Boulevards just east of the 101 freeway.   From the roof you can see the Hollywood sign, the Griffith Observatory, Capitol Records, downtown Los Angeles and beautiful sunsets.  Our new home is within walking distance of the metro, bus lines, yummy restaurants, our bank, food store and many other amenities.  I’m expecting lots of visitors – please send me your dates so I can add you to the calendar!

Our granddaughter Juliet is nearing 11 months old….on the move physically (walking!) and her daddy has accepted a promotion that is moving them just outside of Memphis.  Stay tuned for more details as the entire Cleland/Powers clan changes addresses this year (with the exception of Adam at school!)  Until next time – enjoy the warm summer breezes, colorful sunrises and sunsets, balmy evenings and lots of time with loved ones.  May God Bless You abundantly.

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Great-grandma says she’s “Perfect”

Hello & Happy October!  Wow – time is going so fast!  (It’s amazing how that happens when we’re older)  We had a *wonderful* visit with my parents last weekend.  From the moment my mom held Juliet, she looked at her with such love in her eyes and repeatedly said “she’s just perfect.”  We ate lots of delicious food, watched golf and football, and even made it to the Georgia Aquarium on Monday.  Oh and LOTS of baby snuggles and holding Juliet time!

Brian and Mitch flew to California on September 26 as planned.  Flight was great and they even managed 5 suitcases and 2 carry-on’s without issue (well until someone accidentally took one of the black suitcases….but it was recovered a few days later.)  Their welcome into California wasn’t as easy as their departure from Atlanta…from over-crowded car rental lines, extreme traffic, missing suitcase, and then to arrive to our new home and find out the air-conditioning wasn’t working!   Exciting times, no doubt.  (I have a feeling Brian didn’t tell me “everything” he was feeling…thanks honey.)  A week later and they’re still figuring a few things out, but praise God the air and the internet are both working.

Although I was planning to go to North Carolina for a few days of sunshine (and pick up Erica), evidently God had other plans (as He so often does.)  Crazy, crazy rain they are receiving – what a mess for so many people.  Erica will now catch a quick flight to Atlanta and we will head west on Wednesday after lunch.  I’m hoping we can get all (or at least most) of our belongings into the car.  If nothing else, it will be worth reading my next blog to see how it all went down.

Thank you for taking this journey with me.  No matter how we met or how long it’s been since I’ve seen you, I feel connected.  And it’s a really good feeling.  Have a blessed week – love you!

Great-grandma & great-grandpa are in love.
Great-grandma & great-grandpa are in love.

AquariumAtlanta

And baby makes three!
And baby makes three!

Hands of time

Four generations
Four generations

Thank you for being my friend

Before I get too far removed from Ohio, I just have to post a quick note about my wonderful friends.  I took every opportunity to spend time with them this summer.  Just for the record, please know that I have the most *amazing* group of friends – they are without a doubt a gift straight from God.

My friends have graciously loved me, supported me, cried with me, traveled with me, laughed with me, studied with me, worshiped with me, and celebrated with me.  I would not be where I am or who I am today without the impact they have each made on my life.

Please enjoy my pictures!  If I didn’t get one with you – it doesn’t mean I love you any less – it just means we need to get together sooner.  I praise God for you and love you all so very much.

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Blogging 101: Who I am and why I’m here

Hello & welcome to my blog!

I love to write and this has been a dream of mine for years.  The encouragement of a few friends and the perfect timing of this Blogging 101 course has inspired me to make the time to share what God is doing in and through my life.

I turned 50 in 2014 and it was a fantastic year.  This year my husband and I are embarking on a new adventure.  Our youngest of four children (his, hers & ours) will graduate high school in May.  Since our primary jobs allow us to work from home, we will no longer be tied to a physical location for either work or school.  We live in Ohio now and are tired of the cold winters.  First stop on our journey:  California (to be closer to my family)

I want to stay close to all my dear friends and this blog will be just one way I can take them along with me!  I hope others will join as well.  I will be honest, sincere, and share deep from within as I strive to be truly intentional with my time, talents and thoughts.

Buckle your seat belt – we’re in for an amazing ride!