Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. We have a lot to be thankful for. A friend recently did a month of Thanks and posted 10 things (almost) daily. I'm not going to commit to a whole month because I doubt I'd keep it up. But, here's 10 things I'm thankful for...

1. salvation and God's grace--knowing the Lord intimately because He holds on to me
2. my husband--he's absolutely amazing. He just built the coolest play structure for our kids out of scrap lumber and it looks awesome! He loves me and does so much to express that love. He is an outstanding father--the best! He challenges me in my faith and is a great partner in life.
3. Rylee--she is so sweet. I love watching her grow. It always blesses me to see how her heart is absorbing the little things I try to teach her. Just yesterday she was telling Asa that the Bible says we shouldn't say "poopy" (a word they have picked up as funny, and we're trying to teach them it's not okay). She went on to explain that God says we should be loving and kind to one another.
4. Jenna--she is a hoot. Just scroll down below and you'll see a bit of her adorableness.
5. Asa--he is Joel as a mini-me. He looks like him and even acts like him in some ways. When he gives his adorable smile, my heart melts. Really, it melts inside me.
6. My family--they love me. They like to laugh and enjoy being together at the holidays. I miss them.
7. Joel's family--His parents taught him hard work and community. After 50 years of marriage they are still going strong. They pick and laugh and talk about old times.
8. the missionaries in Asia--their commitment to the Lord humbles me and challenges me
9. our church family here--God has blessed us with neat friends. some through GFA staff, others through our church. They encourage us, do life alongside us, love God, and make us laugh.
10. my house--I really like it. It's not anything spectacular, but it's ours. It's roomy and yet cozy. It's all one floor, which I love. We have a great backyard and our kitchen is now so great (goes back to my wonderful husband...he's so handy). I never imagined God letting us have such a great house for our family. We are so incredibly blessed!

okay 11. I have thought about this a lot lately. I am really grateful that I was born in America. I'm grateful that God allowed me to live where freedom is valued and fought for. I'm grateful that I can worship God without hindrance. I'm grateful that I can write this blog--about all the little or big things I think. I'm thankful for all the men and women who sacrificed their lives, their time, their comforts for me. I am so grateful that I have so much to be grateful for!

I actually did a toddler project recently. I made turkeys and the kids added feathers for the last week or so with things they're thankful for.
Asa is thankful for cheese noodles (what we had for dinner that night), his friends, The Ridge Church, his sisters, his daddy, his mama, Jesus giving love to us (that was actually his second feather and completely NOT initiated by me), Bhutan (another on his own!), and Piccolo, Cassie, Luke, Case, Daniel.
Jenna is thankful for Scooby, her Rowell blanket, the Rowells, her mama, her daddy, food to eat, her brother and sister, and lunch and apples. (Actually Jenna said "food" --or a food item--almost every single time we asked her.)
Rylee is thankful for Pooja (our Bridge of Hope child), Ms. Amy (her preschool teacher), Asa, her mama, Jenna, her daddy, Grandma and Papa, friends (the interns who came to our house), our food, the Carnines, Jesus, and The Ridge Church.

It was precious to hear their thoughts of Thanksgiving throughout the week. Some nights we missed it and would do multiple feathers other nights. It was a great way to teach them what Thanksgiving is all about. I think they got the point that it's a day of giving thanks!

Okay, here's the clip about Jenna's cuteness I promised above.

I really do have so many reasons to be thankful. We want this season of thanksgiving to continue in our home. We want to continue remembering God's goodness to us and then respond to Him. I think that's really what a walk with God is all about. After all, He starts it in us. He creates us, we respond. He blesses us, we respond. He saves us, we respond. Our life is just a response to Him--His existence, His care for us, His love for us.

Our church is taking part in Advent Conspiracy. You can check it out here. The bottom line is that we want to choose compassion over consumption. Choose to give. Sure, I can give my kids more toys, but that's really giving to myself. They can give me a gift, but it's really me giving myself a gift. There are missionaries in Asia who need warm clothes and tools to share the Gospel. There are families in Asia who need a way to make a living and we can provide that through a gift via Gospel for Asia's Gift Catalog. (Click here to learn more.) So, we want to give.
We aren't entirely sure what God is telling us to do this year. Several thoughts are on the table and we're waiting on the Lord. Do we match what we give to "ourselves" and give the same to missions? Do we give a first fruits offering of everything we receive as a gift? We're praying.

But, I have to say that while we're waiting to see what the Lord wants us to do, we've been talking a lot about the GFA gift catalog. (I'm also coordinating the childrens skit for our GFA staff Christmas party and it's about, in part, the gift catalog.) So, we've been talking a lot about animals (one of the many things you can give). Yesterday, we went to Ft. Worth to the stockyards.
There was a petting zoo. My kids got to pet a pig, a goat, a lamb, see rabbits, ride horses.... How awesome! It was a perfect opportunity to talk to them about what they'd like to give to the people in Asia! God is so good! (We actually went inside the pen at one point, but we were too busy to snap pictures.)
In any event, we're talking about giving around here. It's always a challenge. I could make a long list of my wants. My kids can too. But, what will really matter in the long run? I know I won't be impacted for eternity by any gift I get this year. But, those in Asia might. We hear stories of precious people coming to know Jesus because they received a lamb. Oh, I want to know I did something that really counts! I want to know more people will be in heaven in a few months because of what I did to celebrate Jesus coming to earth this year. Jesus gave. So should we.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Toddler Worship

Do other bloggers think like me? Do you randomly think "oh, I will want to blog about that" and write things down? Why do I think people care what I think about throughout the day?

But, honestly, some things are worth sharing. I'll get around to some of those things eventually, but for now I'll post my latest "project".

I love my Mac.

I don't use it to its fullest capabilities by any means.

Since my camcorder stinks (and is ruining footage during playback) and my digital camera takes video but with no sound (which is somewhat pointless), this is one of the ONLY clips of real video I have from the past year.

What a sad mama I am. Well, not really. But, I do wish I'd video more of my kids' fun toddler moments. They say some hilarious things.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Two Weeks? Too Long!

Sorry I've been a lame blogger lately. Life back in the saddle has been at a full gallop lately!

I have thought about blogging, but just haven't downloaded any new pictures. They will come soon! I'm working on a cool video of a special moment during our PA trip. You'll see it soon. I promise!

Until then, I wanted to share a special mama moment. Jenna, Asa, and I were riding in the car yesterday to go pick up Rylee from a friend's. We all love to sing and do it often. All three kiddos sing at random times and it is always interesting to hear what bellows forth!

Lately we've been singing "Mighty to Save" quite a bit.
The lyrics are:
Everyone needs compassion
Love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Saviour
The hope of nations

He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender

Shine Your light and let the whole world see
We’re singing
For the glory of the risen King

Okay, so the song has some great lyrics. Rylee began asking questions. Questions like "Mama, what does 'author of salvation' mean?" Yeah...answer that to a 4 year old! Makes you understand your own faith, for sure! I love parenting!!!

So, besides Rylee's deep theological inquisitions, the songs bring out some neat 'substitute' lyrics--by all three kids.

Yesterday, Jenna sang the bridge (Shine your light...) as:
Singing Lion
Let the whole world see him



I SOOOOOO wish I had a digital camera that records sound. Mine does video, but no sound. And, our "real" video camera has now gone kaput. Won't rewind. Makes tapes garbled. Stinks.

I shall be looking for a new hybrid digital camera so I can easily capture those adorable toddler moments. You should have heard my precious Jenna! I wish you could see the Lion she was so passionately singing about. If only she knew how that line could actually be used to sing about our Lord!

Oh, the joy that must be the Lord's when He hears precious babes singing His praises!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We're Back in Texas (with more pics)

I love how our kids just jump into life.
Here's Rylee enjoying the play area in the Harrisburg Mall.
All three of our kids jumped right into our cross-country adventure and had a blast visiting family & friends.

We drove north to Joel's hometown last Thursday.
There's a beautiful spot to stop and take pictures and soak in the beauty just before you get to Williamsport. The kids enjoyed seeing the water, bridges, and airport below.
During the first few days of our trip, whenever someone would ask how we like Texas, Joel would say "I don't." Then he would explain how it's flat and there aren't mountains around, etc.
I finally got him to say "I don't like it geographically, but..." He really loves serving at GFA. I felt like his fixation on the flat land was giving everyone a wrong picture!
I, on the other hand, LOVE Texas! I've always wanted to live in Texas. I like that I can see where I'm going from far away. (I spent 14 years in southwest Arizona and learned to drive there!) And, I like the warm weather. (We left PA wearing jackets, pants, and socks. I'm sitting with no shoes on wearing shorts and a t-shirt today!)
My adorable kiddos were cowgirls/boy for Trunk-n-Treat!
They even had their horses!
Grandma went to collect candy with us. The kids had a great time visiting their grandparents.
Decorating sugar cookies for our financial supporters as a way to say Thank You.
The kids colored and I wrote.
Jumping in leaves is always fun!
They make the funniest faces.
We set up a table at Bentley Creek Wesleyan Church, Joel's childhood church. It's always a treat to visit our brothers & sisters in that congregation. We never lack for encouragement when we're around that group! We thank God for their faithful partnership with us.
Laura came to visit us for a week before we left Harrisburg last summer. Though Asa didn't really remember her, it took him NO time to fall head over heels for her. I've never seen him act this way around anyone else! Just look at his smile!
Kari is Laura's sister and refers to Joel as her half-brother. We just love her to pieces. And, Jenna took a liking to her during this visit!
We went to visit Aunt Vickie (Joel's sister) and Uncle Shawn's farm. It was milking time! The kids loved it (and had to wear their cowboy hats).

Grandma & Papa's next door neighbor, Mrs. Leone, is a faithful supporter and special friend of ours.

We stopped by Aunt Marge's to visit before leaving northern PA.

Our last night in PA was lots of fun. Mr. Jim took the twins to see the fire trucks. Then we picked up Chinese food...yum-o!

The Rowells were so gracious to let us stay with them while in Harrisburg. They also loaned us their van for our entire visit! One of my favorite things about the trip was Jenna with Scooby. When we arrived, Jenna was terrified of her. Before long, she was giving Scooby kisses and calling her to come lick her hand. So precious!
On the plane home...
...just before the twins sacked out!
Thank you for faithfully praying for our trip! We had a great time. It was wonderful to see our friends & family in PA. God has raised up an army of saints to stand with us as we serve here at Gospel for Asia. We could not stand strong in this battle without them. We appreciate you all more than you know. In our every remembrance of you, we praise and thank God!