All Ready for Winter

I couldn't resist posting this new piccie of Matthew in a snowsuit gift from some friends. He's raring to make a snowbaby!


What happened yesterday definitely wasn't in the natural realm!

Matthew and I had been to visit our elderly friends down the road, and had taken a walk to the post office and grocery store. I felt fine; it was just a normal morning for us, but as I lunched, wham! The Mack truck of all fevers hit me hard.

I couldn't move very well, and Matthew had suddenly gained about ten pounds, so Stephen came home early to help out. As he walked in the door, I was sprawled out on the living room floor, feeling horrible but trying to keep Matthew from getting into too much mischief. (He loves the TV area; he knows that Baby Einstein and all kinds of music come from that general vicinity, so I think he goes over to try to start things up himself.)

My head was pounding, ready to explode at the slightest movement. My throat was closing up, and by about 8:00 PM my fever was at 39.2 C (102.5 F). I think I was even a bit delirious, but I managed to call my friends at the Nishinomiya Healing Rooms, and they prayed for me over the phone. It was a designated "open" night, when lots of people come to be prayed for, so they had quite a few staff on hand.

Alvin prayed for my healing, and that nobody else in the family would get it. Cindy asked God to give me a good night's rest so I could wake completely well and refreshed. Mr. Hosomi prayed for 100% healing, and Sherry continued to stand in the gap for me, as they all laid hands on her while she represented me.

Whoa! I was checking my temperature the whole time, and it went from 39.2 down to 38.6 very quickly, then spiked again to 39.3 as the battle continued, and then in the next few minutes, was down to a perfectly normal 37.0.

There is no human explanation for that.

As we hung up, I did continue to feel yucky as the war waged on, but I hung on to that 37.0 thermometer reading, and believed that God had completely healed me. I went to bed, slept like a baby, and woke up a new girl.

I'm resting today, and still have a sore throat (which is gradually getting better), but NO fever whatsoever.

You can't argue with God's healing power.

I don't know why some people get healed and some people don't; it's not my business to try to figure out the One who created the entire universe. It is my job to trust, and I do, with God's help. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Look what happened when Jesus laid hands on people who were ill: "When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them" (Luke 4:40). I know it's hard to believe, but in John 14:12 Jesus says, "'I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.'"

Greater things, here I come!

Toothy Grin

(Click on the picture for a larger teeth image!)

In The Jungle

The jungle gym...

Park Place

The Inoues, the Iis, and the Mundays, all in one park. Yuta, Chiaki, and Matthew, together and ready for some fast stroller action.

Weight Just a Minute

Matthew showing great posture.

The poodles are multiplying: Matthew now weighs 8600 g, or 18.95 pounds!

A Cold Day For a Picnic...

... but a great day for seeing the autumn leaves.

Click the panorama image to see a bigger version.

You Mean the World To Me

The reason Google Maps was invented - so someone could make the great mashup that is GeoGreeting.

I Think I'm Turning Japanese

Today, as we do almost every week, Matthew and I visited our friends at the old folks' home down the road. One of the ladies had some visitors, and two of them (they looked like her daughters) came over to see Matthew, who was sitting in a nice grandma's lap. The visitors looked at me, looked at Maeda San (the grandma holding the blond white baby), and asked if I was her granddaughter!

Enforcing Patriotism

Apparently, the Japanese parliament has just passed the first reading of a bill to instill patriotism. This seems rather ironic, since in Japanese the word "patriotism" is ai koku shin, which literally means to have a heart that loves the country. But like any kind of love, it is hard to see how this can be instilled or taught. Something or someone is loved because they are worthy of that love, not because that "love" is somehow enforced.

Three Squares a Day

A Day in the Life

Helping with the laundry.
Looking for his beloved vacuum (it lives in the hall closet).
Sweeping the floor with his belly. (That boy will not keep his socks on! Must take after his mama. She apparently likes free feet as well.)

Autumn Is Here

Retire This Syndrome

Retired Husband Syndrome, believe it or not, is a real issue. And it's gaining more and more notoriety in Japan as women are facing stress-related health issues when their husbands retire and finally come home to stay a while.

It's not just an allergic reaction to Mr. Retired Man's couch-potato-itis, either. These women have raised the children, run the household and the finances, and been in the PTA all by themselves, while Hubby was working till midnight every night. And now they don't know each other.

I feel sorry for both ends of the spectrum. In order to keep his job, Mr. Workaholic felt like he had no choice, and the Mrs. was lonely waiting for him to come home.

I'm so grateful Stephen has a kind boss, and hardly ever has any overtime, but some of my friends here deal with this issue on a daily basis. I don't know about laws and regulations regarding the workplace here in Japan, but companies here really do seem to own the men. Their children are growing up without knowing Daddy, and Mommy has to be Mommy and Daddy, all in one.

I hope this syndrome can one day be retired, and the sooner the better.

That's My Hubby

Stephen and I recently rented Radio Days, a Woody Allen flick, and watched it over several nights. (I don't think we've been able to watch a film all the way through at one go since March, but that's OK. We like hanging out with the Mafilator.)

Well, right from the opening scene Stephen guessed that the mother in the movie also does the voice of Marge Simpson. And he was right.

That's my baby. Don't mean maybe.

News Flash

As of two days ago, Matthew was still in military-belly-crawl mode. He has now graduated to proper I'm-a-big-boy-now crawling, and is even getting another top tooth, just to prove what hot stuff he is.

Evidently the dent in his head yesterday didn't dent his get-up-and-go spirit. (And by the way, his head is completely round again now. Phew.)

A Man Walked Into A Bar....

... and said, "Ouch!"

But it wasn't a man - it was a baby - and it wasn't a bar - at least of the metallic variety. And what was more surprising was that it was number three on the list of Important Things That Happened Today that Abigail told me about when she picked me up to go high chair hunting this evening after work:

"Oh, by the way, Matthew has a dent in his head."

You would think that the fact that Matthew had not only managed to wriggle himself crosswise in his bed, but that apparently he had also spent most of his nap time pushing down hard with his feet, so that his head was getting smushilated (this is a real word we use all the time over here) into the bars on the opposite side - so hard, in fact, that his head had ended up with bar-shaped furrow in the top - would have pushed it up to number one.

Of course, this would have happened just a day or two after we removed his little bumper pads to lower his bed height to make escaping harder once he figures out how to pull himself up into a standing position. Anyway, although a little indentation was still there earlier this evening, it seems to have pretty much gone now, and it never did seem to bother him at all.... And I am really not sure whether that is a good thing or not.

All of which probably leaves you wondering what were at numbers one and two on the aforementioned list....

(But I will tell you that this is the 900th post on Fushigi News.)

Bless 'Em

Yesterday, as an alternative to Shichi-Go-San, our pastor, Yoshino Sensei, blessed Matthew with prayer and Scripture (even though Matthew is not shichi, go, or san). He read from Matthew 19:13-15, which says, "One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: 'Let the children alone, don't prevent them from coming to me. God's kingdom is made up of people like these.' After laying hands on them, he left."

Because Yoshino Sensei's own children were away for a piano recital, Matthew was it! Our church is not children-rich, but what we lack in quantity we more than make up for in quality.

Eight Months Old Yesterday!

Matthew getting ready for a bath
Trying to crawl

The latest:
  • Got a new top tooth this week, for a grand total of three!
  • Gets up on hands and knees, rocks back and forth, throws himself forwards, eats carpet, gets up and tries again.
  • Likes to scrape his new top tooth across the top of his two bottom teeth, which makes for a nice grating sound for the rest of us.
  • Loves hightailing it for the nearest trash can to topple over.
  • Enjoys chewing on electrical cords for the split second he can before I grab him.
  • Turns over his toy basket to pull out ALL of them (though a book I read recently said babies this age get frustrated with too much choice--not Matthew).
  • Still totally loves his bath time.
  • Has a lowered bed now because he's been trying to pull up on our legs when we sit on the floor with him.
  • Still not totally enamored with having any sustenance other than milk.
  • I'm pretty sure he's saying "mama," but it's only usually at times when he's frustrated and wants to be held.
  • Has been putting his head back a lot lately so we can tickle his neck.
  • Loves it when Stephen runs his finger from the base of his neck, over his head, and down to his chin.
  • Is sitting up very well.
  • Enjoys hamming it up for the camera!

Bloomin' Cold But Gorgeous Day for a Wedding

This afternoon our friend Manami (who plays the piano at our church) married her sweetheart Jun in the idyllic setting of Kwansei Gakuin, the same university campus where we attended the Cultural Festival last week with some friends. Kwansei Gakuin is reputed to be the most beautiful college campus in Japan, and I believe it. It really reminds me of Rollins College in Orlando, with Mediterranean-style architecture. The temperatures today, though, were definitely of the Japanese variety. We all had to stand outside for a large group photo, and I remembered why I don't normally wear dresses once it turns cold! Brrrrrrr. I couldn't wait to get home to our heated living-room carpet and a nice cup of tea.

Popeye the Sailor Baby

Matthew loves his spinach...and he's getting more powerful by the minute.

McCain Poised for Victory in 2008

The Democrats gaining control of the House (and running very close at the moment in the race for the Senate) gives them just enough rope to hang themselves in time for the 2008 presidential election. All they need to do now is to pick a really divisive candidate - step forward, Mrs. Clinton - and they will be well on the way to paving a path to victory for John McCain.

You heard it first here.

The Life of Abigail

I am married to the most thoughtful, creative guy on earth. Stephen gave me one of the best birthday presents I've ever received! (I'm just now blogging about it because the present was sent to my parents' address (the company wouldn't ship overseas to Japan), and then it had to make its way over to Japan. It was a little late, but totally worth it.)

Stephen wrote a book about my life in the past year, using blog posts, pictures, and sugoi creativity!

I completely agree with the reviews on the back:

"A literary tour de force...A giant among biographies and the standard by which others will be measured for years to come." --The New York Times Book Review

"A masterpiece...Bigger than Harry Potter, more twists than Grisham, and shorter than War and Peace. The only question it begs is when will the previous thirty volumes be available?" --Time does this amazing thing: You can download their bookmaking software, design all the pages, send the info to them, and they'll make a cool hardbound book for you. My hubby found the funky software, chronicled a year in the life of me, and melted my little pea-pickin' heart!

Tough on Paperwork

Today I had to rush to the rescue of a couple who had been invited out for a free lunch by Alvin and Sherry. Now they should have realized that there is no such thing as a free lunch, although I don't know whether they were bargaining on having a substantial amount of money and both their passports stolen out of the car while they were eating. (I will have to remember this when I go to Denny's on Wednesdays for breakfast with Richard - the carpark there is clearly a Hot Bed of Crime.)

Anyway, they called me up before 4 needing help communicating with the local police officers, who had rushed to the scene, sirens blaring, on a scooter and a bicycle. Little did I realize that we would not get away until 6! Let's just put it this way - the Japanese police may not do much before the event to prevent crime occurring, but after it occurs they really are thorough with the paperwork. Not a stone was left unturned. All the contents of the bag in question were discussed on multiple occasions. The car was dusted for finger prints - as were the four of them (allegedly so that their prints could be eliminated from the enquiry). I think we probably spent longer in the custody of the local constabulary than the perp ever will. And I must admit, I found it rather ironic that the victims had their prints taken more than anyone else.

Hopefully, Sherry will send me a picture of the scene taken at the police station on her cell phone so you can see our merry band.

Poor guys! They had a bad day. I hope they made it back to their hotel in Osaka OK and that everything goes OK at the consulate tomorrow when they try to get new travel documents.

Matthew's Baby Einstein Christmas DVD just had a Santa riding a train doing a Hitler salute. What are we teaching the boy about Christmas?

Day and Night

On Friday night I took the camera and tripod up the hill to take a couple of panorama shots round from Osaka to Kobe to blend them together as one picture. Here is the result:

While looking for the best place to take the pictures from, I bumped into Mr. Kobayashi, who was intending to spend the night up there in his tent. He is a local, but I think he is a bit lonely and seemed to enjoy being able to have a bit of company. While we were talking, his cell phone rang with a call from his friend. Mr.Kobayashi's friend could not believe that he was up a mountain chatting with an Englishman - until he passed the phone over to me, and I suppose my accent gave me away.

The Wisdom of The Crowd?

We have all heard of websites like Wikipedia where the users themselves create and refine the content to produce something better than could have been achieved by a limited editorial body. While this may be a good idea for an encyclopedia like this, or a social bookmarking site like Digg or, I'm not sure that the concept is really appropriate for sifting through highly classified material about WMDs, as seems to have been the case with this US government site brimming with documents seized in Iraq. After all, on the Internet, you can never quite be sure who is in the crowd....

My Favorite Neighborhood Car

The Real McCoy?

As firsthand observers of this phenomenon here in Japan, the article about fake foreign priests who do weddings resonated with things we've heard. I can understand why a Japanese "for-real" priest would get upset about it, but a British guy who does "fake weddings" and was interviewed in the article stated that "the ceremony is not about religion, but about image."

This is not to denigrate those Japanese and foreign Christians who use this platform as a real chance to share Christ's love.

It is interesting, though, how popular "Christian" weddings are becoming here. Apparently, the Shinto wedding room in one of these places is used as a storage facility, while next door, the Western wedding chapel is hopping.

I have a feeling that as with all fads, this one will eventually fade away as people start looking for their long-lost cultural roots.

My hope is that millions of Japanese will find Jesus, and integrate Him (I'm not talking about syncretism) realistically into existing cultural systems. As a Japanese believer in Jesus, why not wear a kimono in a Christian wedding ceremony?

Why is Western culture synonymous with Christianity? Where is the birthplace of Christianity? America? Europe? Nope. (I found it ironic that the URL of the above link actually had "middle_east" in it, even though it was an article about the Far East!)

I'm not Japanese, and I'm not a Japanese Christian, so these are just my thoughts, for what they are worth.

We're Going Soft

When we first came to Japan after we were married in 2001, we slept Japanese-style on the floor on futons. (Except most Japanese people seem to sleep in beds these days.) Then we moved a few miles away to Okazaki, and bought ourselves a nice little bed from Muji. The first few times we slept on it, we were reveling in luxurious slumber.

Then, this last week, we took things to the next level. Costco has a great selection of mattress toppers at the moment - some of which are actually reasonable value - and we decided to take the plunge.

So, last night we enjoyed the kind of cushy softness previously only available to people using the guest bedroom at Mum and Dad's house. We had almost forgotten how nice it is to sleep on a soft, cuddly bed - but the memory foam helped with our recollection.


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