A Just Walk (run, hike, etc…)

"…to the Rock that is higher…"


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Let’s Play Some Racquetball for Christmas

This is an insightful post from a friend! Many things to unpack here, no matter what country you live in.

Chopstix for Seven

In the English-speaking and European world, Christmas is fraught with meaning, tradition, and expectation and it starts early.

It was great seeing pictures of Christmas trees, wandering mischievous Elves, Christmas lights and children’s performances on social media.

Whenever I was online, it was easy to imagine that everyone everywhere in the whole entire world was celebrating Christmas in various ways.

Which is true, in some ways.

Then I realized that at least 1 billion people around me don’t celebrate at all and have no clue what all the fuss is about.

Sure, the mega-malls here have Christmas trees and English Christmas music playing, and Starbux sells holiday-themed drinks.

Of course the stores all have Christmas shopping deals and the new consumer-friendly China is capitalizing on the earning potential.

But, when I talked to any of my friends, acquaintances and strangers about what Christmas actually involves or what it means, they…

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S.T.

Perhaps you remember me telling a bit of S.T.’s story – the Thai adolescent with no known family who suffered from epilepsy and slept on the streets and would sell sexual services when he needed the money.

S.T. died last month. Oof. No! He was found in a public shower. Nobody knows exactly how he died, but I suspect he had suffered a seizure and perhaps hit his head or something. There was no autopsy – not for people like him

The last time I saw him he was working at a night-time street-side noodle stand fixing pad thai and smiling. He was almost always smiling, but that night he looked better than ever.

God bless you! God loves you! He was fond of saying that and told everyone so.

Although his general condition and well-being had improved, he still struggled with breakthrough seizures. Taking two kinds of medicine thrice daily is a challenge even for us in well-fed, well-sheltered, and well-regulated lifestyle.

I met him at U.L., the outreach center for street boys. He had started coming regularly for the free lunch and would hang out the rest of the afternoon. U.L. helped him get a job – it took a couple of tries before they found something he could stick with.

He was essentially an orphan. Beaten by his father, sent away by his mother, he went to live in a children’s home for a while. When he could no longer endure the abuse in the home he ran away and made his life on the street. After a while, options run out for homeless boys and they are easy prey for pimps and pedophiles.

God bless you! God loves you!

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I’m not exactly sure about his faith story, but he told me is grandmother was a Christian and she prayed for him. He must have clung to that hope in Love in his dark times. He didn’t really talk about it. I believe it is one of the things that kept him alive. He was so sweet – truly a boy who craved love and acceptance, but not in an obnoxious or demanding way.

It may seem to you that God let S.T. down in the end, allowing him to die when things started looking up for him. We are not to be sorry or feel guilty. We are to celebrate his life. A life blessed by God’s presence. His life didn’t seem blessed as we tend to understand blessing, but we do not have the understanding of God or the way his blessing works.

I’m sad. I don’t understand. But I’m OK with not understanding. Remembering S.T. motivates me to do more, to make the most of each opportunity, be more present to the person before me.


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Kids These Days

One of the things that I get to do (I’m learning how to say this more often) here in China is teach English. Most of my students are teenagers or young adults.

A few days ago I had a 1-on-1 class with a 15 year old male. There was ample time for “free talk”, which is when the student gets to stray off the lesson plan (if they choose) and try out their English on whatever they want to. Usually the lesson offers plenty of points for interesting – or not so interesting, depending on the perspective – tangents. Generally, this is a positive aspect of 1-on-1 time in class for the student and the teacher.

I’m not exactly sure how we got on to this topic, but he started telling me about how he doesn’t like to hang out with some of his friends at school.

They have too many problems, serious problems, he said. They are always moping around – but they wouldn’t have so many problems if they would just talk to me.

Yeah? Like what kinds of problems?

Girl problems.

Oh. I was suddenly not as interested as before. So, how would you help them?

Well, I just don’t bother with girls. They take up too much time, and I’ve got to study and play sports and I’m pretty busy. Besides, the teachers don’t like you to have relationships. (This is generally true for school-age kids in China – relationships are officially discouraged.) But he goes on: But to be a real man you have to have many girls.

Really…?! Tell me about that.

A man should be strong and to be strong he needs to have many girls. One girl is not enough. (15 years old! where is he getting this stuff?!?)

Don’t you think that love and devotion to one girl is best?

I suppose it would be better to have true love, but that is not possible. Nobody gets married for true love and they don’t stay married forever.

What about the girl? Don’t you love her and love her only?

No, you can’t just love one girl?

And what about the girl? How about her feelings and love and wanting to have

I don’t know about that. But it is for the man – he needs many girls to show that he is strong. He flexes his bicep.

We talk for just a bit more about that but I don’t get anywhere with him about the girls’ side of things.

As we were leaving, he wanted to know what he should buy for this girl he was interested in becoming friends with… AI-YAH!


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Subscriptions, feeds, email delivery, and my learning curve on blogging is oh so steep!

This is a follow up (I commented on this in a previous post) on the problem that some of you are having regarding delivery of my posts to your email. I asked WordPress about this and the support guy suggested that you try this link to their support guide on Managing My Blog Subscriptions. However, this is really only valid if you are a member of the WordPress community.

After more research into this problem, I found myself falling down the rabbit hole of feeds and an application call Feedburner, and that my feed is apparently invalid. Well. What about that, then?

Turns out that composing my posts in Word (which I have a habit of doing), then pasting them in the blog is bad. Something in Word corrupts the technical language of the text, which makes it impossible (can I say indigestible?) to feed to my readers.

I have composed this post entirely within WordPress, and so I hope that you will get this in short order! Do let me know!

I think it is great that I get so much interaction from my readers who see the posts on my notes page on Facebook. However, the delivery is often days late, and the format doesn’t translate as well from the blog to the FB format.

For those of you who didn’t know they could get my posts delivered to your email, then please visit my site on WordPress and click where it says “subscribe by email”

However you follow my blog posts – THANK YOU! It is great to hear from all of you!


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Spam Checker

I have been hearing a few queries from my readers, when I get to meet some of you in person, regarding the problem of irregular delivery, or not receiving updates by email altogether. The only solution that I can think of, not being very tech-savvy myself, is that your spam checker –  your electronic junk mail conscience has automatically deemed that emails from A Just Walk or from WordPress are not worthy of your attention. You may have to go into your email and approve of messages from said sender. You may have to do this more than once in a lifetime. If anybody else out there has another troubleshooting suggestion or solution to the problem, do feel free to comment.

Unfortunately, those whose who are not getting the email updates to your inbox may not get this post unless they are in the habit of checking the weblog site on the internet. Not sure what to do about that. Please spread the word. I’m still posting! I want readers!

Now, I can’t really resist the somewhat cheesy analogy to spam  messages in my own life.  I have to keep checking and resetting my own internal spam checker. I will find myself subject to battering accusations such as, “who do you think you are?” and “why would anyone listen to you?“. Other themes include “there are easier ways to live“, “you are wasting your life and energy“. They go on and on. you know the drill – you have the same sort of messages – the ones that highlight and pick on your doubts and shortcomings and most of all your fears.

There are books written on this, and hours and hours of talks given on how to deal with this. I could tell you stop listening to those messages, those conversations that get you all twisted up inside. I can quote a verse that says to “take every thought captive” (2 Cor 10), etc. You and I both know that it is way more than that. I suppose my simple point in this post is to keep reminding you to check your spam and evaluate the messages coming in.