Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fun Weekend

We had a staff retreat this weekend. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and fun.

We went swimming, canoeing, swinging, walking, and blobbing.
Yep, blobbing.
Here's me flying as Joel blobbed me and then Joel flying as someone blobbed him.

More to come...

**forgot to mention this when I first posted, but both of these photos were snapped by our faithful, wonderful, dear Ellie--who is wonderful at caring for our kids each week while I work and is also a very talented photographer who is learning and growing in her skills all the time. she ROCKS! just ask my kids!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Joel and I finally watched Slumdog Millionaire. It's a very good movie. The portrayal of life in India, and particularly the slums, is amazing.

Having recently been to India, I could feel it. I could smell it. I could hear it. I could taste it. It's hard to explain, other than to say that it's a very good portrayal of their life.

I don't know how anyone could watch the movie and not be stirred.

My heart broke for the hundreds of thousands of children whose lives never end up like that of the main characters. Just this week Brother KP explained how the blinding of innocent children to be used for profit is all too common. Sex trafficking of children is very real.

My heart was moved.

I am so grateful to serve these children.

I really don't have words to say to explain how I feel or what I'm thinking.

The people in the slums would like to get out. It absolutely amazes me that we have missionaries who give up millions to go in...for the sole purpose of bringing hope into the slums.

Our video team put this together.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

True Parenting

I read a good article today on parenting and God's grace.

I searched on google using some words I recently heard someone say "redemptive parenting". I don't remember ever hearing that before. I'm guessing I have since the author of this article actually recommends Tedd Tripp's book Shepherding a Child's Heart, which I have heartily endorsed on my blog before.

But, I'm sure it would not be okay to copy and post the article since it's copyrighted, so I'm putting in a link. It's a little long, but it's a very good read on parenting for the glory of God.

Becoming a Parent: Facing Your Fears and Frustrations by Jonathan Dodson

Here's a portion of a section entitled "True Parenting" that really caught my attention and made me want to do a blog post about the article (found at the link above; all credit belongs to Jonathan Dodson for the words of wisdom below):

There are places in our hearts over which we have hung the teenager’s sign, “My Room. Do Not Enter.” These are rooms where the dirty laundry of our hearts reeks of selfishness. We want to parent on our terms and when our terms aren’t met, we get bitter or despondent. We yell because we can’t fix things and sulk because we are losing our identity. What is really happening? God is fixing us by reshaping our identity, and our fears and our frustrations are flares warning us of parent-centered parenting.

When our freedoms are removed, our idols are revealed. For some it may be the idolatry of time—I want to do what I want to do. For others, the idolatry of identity—I’m not just a mother! In these heart-wrenching moments, when we sense a loss of freedom, God is bringing us to himself through our children. It is when we find ourselves acting like children, defiantly insisting on our own way, that God wants to meet us. His aim is to show us our sinful rebellion against his way and lead us to repentance and renewal.

With the outstretched arms of the Spirit and the Son, the Father calls us away from bitterness and despondency into the delightful refuge of communion with the Trinity. God wants to lead us from frustration into fellowship with him by showing us that we do not have what it takes and that we can not always get our own way. Through the frustrations of parenting, God seeks to magnify his sufficiency by releasing his redemptive power and love in and through us to bless us and our children. In those moments of weakness, he wants to give us his strength, knowing that we become true parents when we are truly dependent on him.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

preschool activity websites

Parenting is a huge job. I often feel overwhelmed and under qualified to do this task! The impact of my job frightens me at times, especially when I am face to face with how wretched I truly am. Were it not by God's grace, I would think I had nothing to offer my children. Praise the Lord, I have lots of offer them. Most of all, I can point them to Jesus. And, that's the goal of everything Joel and I do as parents. We want our kids to know and love God.

We attempt to do that every day. I thank God for the ways I see my kids growing in their knowledge of Him and their love for Him. Just today as we walked through the mall, I heard Asa say aloud "Do you know God? [pause] Do you know God?" I'm not sure if he was asking certain people or just sort of saying it (he was behind me). But, when I turned around to look, he asked me. I said "yes! I know God!" He said "me too". Rylee chimed in "I know God too!" It was cute.

Later, as we were sitting eating lunch, Rylee was singing a worship song (not uncommon). She sang a line of "At The Cross" (posted here on my blog). "You tore the veil, You made a way when You said that 'It is Done'" She asked "what does it mean 'it is done?'" WOW! I love those times.

We talk about the Lord a lot. We talk about God's grace a lot. (I need His grace all the time!!!)

We also talk about regular old preschool things.

That's what this post is about, actually.

I found a great website with resources for moms. It has stuff for kids preschool through grade 5. I just finished printing some flash cards for Rylee to use. The site is called KidZone.

I also found another site that lists all kind of activities for toddlers. I plan on putting together some totes/boxes with things for the kids to do when they are "bored" of playing with their toys and 'regular' things around the house. I will also use the set of totes for times when I want the kids occupied--like when I cook dinner or work on a project. It's a site called "Paula's Archives" and the section I found is called "preschool activities." I can't vouch for the entire site. I just found the list of preschool activities to be cool.

Hope some of you moms out there with preschoolers (or elementary kids) can find these resources helpful.

Hopefully I can snap some cute pictures of my kids actually playing with these things and post them. Since it may take me a while to create...don't expect those pics anytime soon.

But, I have to put at least one cute picture on this post. I found this to be one of my favorites recently.

*Please note: the child in the top photo is NOT my child. I did NOT take that picture. I typed "parenting" into google and it was the first image that popped up!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ellie

Ellie is great. She has been watching our kiddos for a year now (can you believe it, Ellie?!). Originally she watched them Thursday afternoons so I could work in the GFA office. Then, we switched to Wednesdays. Finally, we have made it to Mondays, and that seems to be working.
My kids love Ellie. She brings books to read them or games to play with them. She plays outside with them and pushes them on the swing.
Sometimes she lets them watch a movie after they nap.
She gets them a snack.
And, she takes lots and lots and lots of pictures of them.
Ellie is very creative and does a very nice job with her pictures. (I especially like the ones of Jenna in her big tu-tu outside!)
All these photos are by Ellie. Thanks Ellie! We all love you!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Labeling

Yeah, it might be fun to write a post on how we apply labels to people. It would be a good discussion if people would post their comments on judging others based on appearance.

But, that's not what this post is about.

I'm working on the labels on my blog. You know, those bunch of words over there on the right-hand side that are green/black. I made them into a 'label cloud' b/c I think it looks better than a list.

The more I've posted about a particular topic, the bigger the word is. I think it's cool.

But, I want to streamline my labels.

However, I've noticed that I struggle each time I get rid of a category. Some labels are easy to get rid of. I'm not sure what I was thinking in the first place. But, other categories I go back and forth over.

How will someone know I wrote about a particular topic if it's not in the label cloud? Maybe, just maybe, someone would see a label listed, click it, and be blessed by what I wrote on that topic--even if it's a really old post.

The only reason I would think such a thing is because it's happened to me. I learned many things that have helped me as a wife, mom, and Christ follower from clicking label links on my friend Heather's blog.

So, I guess the reason I'm writing this post is to get your feedback. Since YOU are reading my blog, what do YOU think?

Just today another person told me they read my blog. So, I know you're out there. Reading this randomly or not so randomly. Some of you read it anytime there's a new post, you even check daily (or hourly) to see if there's a new post. I'm honored!

Really. I'm honored that you would care at all about what I have to share.

So, back to my question, which I never really asked. How should I label things? General? Very specific? Somewhere in between?

I thought about very general like: ministry, kids (still doing each kid specifically), ...but then I ran out. Almost all my posts are about those two things! I guess I also write about faith, God, etc. So, "christianity". That's pretty broad!

So, here's the list:
1. Do you even pay attention to the labels?
2. Have you ever searched by label (topic) on my blog or someone else's?
3. Do you think I should do very general, very specific, or somewhere in between?
4. Got any suggestions?

Thanks for taking time to help me get organized on my blog. Hey, guess I'll have to label this post too. Ahhh man!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Things That Make You Go "Hmmm..."

My friend Beth is reading a book I want to read soon. She included a few of the most challenging parts of the book in her latest blog. I was glad. The last quote was incredibly challenging to me.

The book is Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper.

"Where in the Bible do {people} see "retirement"? Did Moses retire? Did Paul retire? Peter? John? Do military officers retire in the middle of a war? How many Christians set their sights on a {retirement} of life - resting, playing, traveling, and so on - the world's substitute for heaven, because they do not believe that there will be one beyond the grave. The mindset is that we must reward ourselves in this life for our long years of labor. Eternal rest and joy after death is an irrelevant consideration. What a strange reward for a Christian to set his sights on! Twenty years of leisure while living in the midst of the last days of infinite consequence for millions of unreached people. What a tragic way to finish the last lap before entering the presence of the King who finished his so differently! (104,5)

-- I love things that challenge me on whether my beliefs come from Biblical culture or the culture of the country I was born into...

This quote makes me want to read the book all the more.

There are times I struggle because we aren't socking away for 'retirement' like good, financially smart Americans should do. But I always go back to the question of what 'retirement' means.

Our pastor told us this morning that he believes that if he and his wife don't work overseas before 'retirement' that that's how they will spend their golden years. That sounds glorious to me.

I don't want to be foolish. I think Scripture is clear in Proverbs 31 that the wise woman plans ahead.

But, what exactly am I planning for? What do I really need?

I want to align my life with Scripture and live for an audience of One!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Rylee's Birthday

We had a tea party to celebrate Rylee's 5th birthday.
We invited her friends from GFA and church. The girls were asked to wear their favorite party dress. As they arrived, they were given a pair of pink gloves, a 'diamond' ring, a feather boa, and a big hat. The girls looked so cute!
Each girl decorated a picture frame with princess designs. I snapped their picture and they'll be getting it soon in their thank you cards.
After making the frames, we sat down for tea. My friend, Michelle, helped me. Without her, I would never have been able to make it such a success. She helped serve the girls milk or lemonade from tea pots. We had finger sandwiches, scones with chocolate cream, and cheese cubes.
I made the fruit floral arrangement that was our centerpiece. The girls really enjoyed eating the fruit off the sticks.
Instead of cake, I made teacup cookies (I forgot to take an up-close picture). And, we decorated little hand-shaped cookies with "nail polish" icing and sprinkles.
Rylee really enjoyed the gift opening. Her friends were exceedingly generous and she was thrilled!
I can't believe my baby is a big 5 year old! It has been such a joy and blessing to watch her grow. Rylee has always been inquisitive and bright. I remember being amazed by the way she would "read" books to us (memorize the words after hearing them just a few times). She has loved singing since she could talk (and dancing to music long before that!). She was verbose long before she was verbal (talking in sign language until she was 2 1/2 years old). Once she started talking, she hasn't stopped--much like her mother. Her sweet smile and big blue eyes have always attracted compliments. And, her spunky spirit has made her friends with many. My greatest delight is seeing her learn about and worship Jesus. I love hearing her pray. And, I look forward to seeing how God is going to use her in the years ahead. (Below: Rylee at 1, 2, 3, and 4 years old.)
Happy Birthday Rylee-bug!