Sunday, February 28, 2010

Burdens Can Get Heavy

I've posted quite a bit about being busy and the struggle it is.

I was reading through some bookmarks today and came across this great article on carrying burdens you weren't intended to carry. I thought I blogged about it and linked to it previously, but now I can't seem to find it. So, I'm doing it again.

It's found on a website called Keeper of the Home (click here). I'm not endorsing the site, since I haven't perused the entire thing. I just really like this article. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ugly Nasty Sin

I had a plan this morning. It involved me getting up earlier than usual to shower, get dressed, and be ready for my kids and the day. I got up, made sure their doors were closed (they wake at any amount of light!), and proceeded with my plan.

I heard quiet voices in my bathroom as I was finishing up my shower.

It was the girls. I sent them back to bed...just as I told them I would do the day before.

I am not a morning person.

That's an understatement.

Okay, I'm not that bad. But, I'm not really cheerful and I take a bit to wake up.

I want to be that mom. You know, the one who has it all in order and rises before dawn to prepare for the day, is showered and dressed before she has lunches packed, cooks a nutritious breakfast for her family, wakes her children with a kiss and sweet song, helps cheerfully with her girls' hair, and wears a smile to represent the delight it has been to serve her family before 8am.

But, I'm not that mom.

Instead, I'm a mom who had a plan. I'm not yet sure if it was from the Lord or of myself. If it was from Him, I wasn't doing it in His strength because it failed. Plans that don't work either aren't from Him or aren't done in His strength.

At this point, I'm thinking He wanted me to plan, but wanted me to be flexible and plan to be interrupted. I don't want to be interrupted.

I'm also thinking I was trying to do it in His strength but gradually took control myself and then when things didn't go as planned, I just let loose.

By loose, I am referring to my tongue. I was angry. I was irritated. I was not happy that I was being disobeyed. I did every single part of it wrong.

Stop. Let's just stop right here. As my wise friend reminded me today...let's thank the Lord for the good things instead of focusing on the bad.

On a good note, all I did was yell. It was short lived. I asked my children to forgive me and talked to them about how God forgives us. I talked about how God doesn't ever discipline us in anger or act so mean. I talked about how discipline should look. Loving discipline. They still disobeyed, but I should have redirected and been patient. I hugged them. I cried. I was honest about my own failure and shortcomings.

Honestly, I really don't want to tell you what a wretched sinner I am. I'd like for you to read this blog and think "wow, she's amazing". But, truth of the matter is I AM NOT.

If there is anything redeeming in me, it is Christ. If there is anything my children can be thankful for, it is Christ. If there is anything worth emulating, it is Christ. He alone is worthy of adoration, admiration, and attention.

I gave my life to Christ and told Him I wanted to be like Him on September 11, 1993. I have grown in many ways since that day. But, I have so much more growing to do. I am so thankful that God accepts me as I am, yet desires for me to look more like His Son. He is continually at work in my life shaping and molding me. I pray I will remain pliable.

This song has been sung at two worship services this week. I have enjoyed the time to ponder on the words again.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

It is well, with my soul

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In His Strength

I often do things because the need is great or there is urgency in the request.

Here are two more quotes from Brother K.P.'s booklet The Lord's Work Done in the Lord's Way that challenged me:
"One of these well-meaning actions, for example, is taking on work that God did not give to us, just because the need is so great, the opportunities seem unlimited, and we are driven by urgency." (18) "In fact, it seems the more we take the time to wait and hear from the Lord, the more actual work that we do--but rather in His strength, not ours. This is how the Lord's work is done in His way--by loving Him more than the ministry He gave us to do...." (20)
I saw this in action today. From an outsider looking in, I probably appeared rushed, crazy and hectic. Maybe the tasks looked overwhelming. They look too big when I look from my own perspective too. But, when I look through the eyes of the Lord and go from moment to moment in His strength, I am able. More than able.

It is such a freeing thing to walk in His strength. It is such a freeing thing to let go and only do the things God has given me to do. What joy is found in freedom!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Busyness - Family First but Not Only Focus

*I wrote this post almost two months ago as the Lord was teaching me about busyness. I came back to it this morning and found that I needed to read it as much as I can imagine anyone else needing it. So, hopefully it will bless you too.

My number one ministry is my family--Joel and my three children. But, even my ministry to them can be lacking in fruit if not based on the time I spend with the Lord first.

K.P. writes
"If we continue the work without His direction, leading and strength, it won't be His work at all, It will be only a hollow shell that might look all right but in reality has no life and bears no lasting fruit." (26)
I can train my kids using the Bible as my guideline, but if I haven't spent time with Jesus, getting His direction for the day, for the situation, for the particular child, then my ministry to my children will have no lasting fruit. My attempts to love my husband will be worthless.

While my ministry to my family is first and foremost, I do not plan to make my own life, my own home, and my own family my idol. I could easily get lazy if I only poured all my energies inwardly in an attempt to be less busy.

I want my home to be a refuge for my family, a comfortable and welcoming place for our friends and neighbors. I like beauty. But I can idolize it. I can spend way too much time (and money) focusing on just my kids, my home, and our comfort.

I know that as I continue to grow where God has me right now and spend time with Him each day, He will show me the balance between serving my family and serving outside my home.They say more snow is coming our way tomorrow. I'm refusing to believe it right now. I choose warmth and sunshine and springtime. Can't I have my way?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Want to Air Your Dirty Laundry?

Millions of people watched yesterday as Tiger Woods spoke out for the first time in months. He apologized publicly for making really bad choices.

I find the whole topic interesting.

I've heard commentators say it was "too little too late" and that he should have spoken out sooner. I heard others talk about his body language and true remorse and that his speech sounded canned. I heard some say they thought he was genuine.

I guess I have a few questions. First, why does Tiger have to apologize to the public? He is a golfer. He isn't legislating anything (yes, I think politicians have responsibility to the American people when they screw up). He was held in high regard by a lot of people, but he never said he was anything but human.

Second, who are these people to judge his statement and choices? Scripture is quite clear that he who is without sin should cast the first stone. I, for one, would be the pot calling the kettle black for criticizing him.

I think athletes are in a very powerful position and influence many people, particularly children, teens, and young adults. But, I don't know that I think they owe it to anyone except their families and those directly influenced by their personal lives to apologize publicly.

Someone commented yesterday about Nike and other partnerships. They were business ventures. Those companies knew they were taking a risk and should have assumed such.

I'm curious what others think. Care to comment?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Too Good Not to Share!

Valentine parties were postponed last week due to the snow. So, yesterday Rylee came home with tons of candy and cute cards stuffed in her backpack. She was generous and shared a tattoo with her sister and a sticker with her brother. Aww...

Today was the twins' turn. I am officially the 'room mom' for their class, so I told their teacher I would take care of the party. One hour to celebrate love...how hard can that be?

Ha!

Really?
Let me just say that if you've read this blog for long or know me at all, you should know by now that I stink at crafts. We (meaning I) determined over a year ago (after Christmas of '08) that crafts were not something to try in this house unless they involved food. Anything food related...we can handle. Glue, glitter, scissors, paint, and the like are all items that spell disaster when it comes to me and preschoolers.

So, why, oh why, did I say I'd handle a party for a 3-year-old class at preschool?
Because...I love Mrs. Sonya. She is amazing. She is loving and compassionate and fun and energetic. My kids absolutely adore her. She teaches them, loves on them, and handles those 10 3-year-olds for 10 hours every week! I get to serve in our ministry office and help people in Asia hear the Gospel because of her. She really is great!

The party was set to start at 1pm. I headed over and was, alas, a little late. It's the story of my life, no matter how hard I try. First we were going to make some pudding. Yep...pudding. Yum-o!
I poured the contents of the vanilla box into a quart size freezer bag and then did the same with the chocolate. We talked about Valentine's Day and why we celebrate. We talked about love. (I was trying to keep them focused.) Then, we added 2 cups of milk to each bag. Despite spilling a little on the table and then almost dumping a bag on a little boy, I managed to get them closed and put inside another quart bag each. We took turns shaking the bag as I tried to lead in singing a song about love. Yep, forgot a CD with love songs.

Another mom who was there to enjoy and help took the bags to the fridge to set. So, we started on the second part of the party--the craft. Go ahead, start laughing now.
We were making candy necklaces. I got the idea here, on Family Fun's website. Love their stuff. So much of it is way over the ability of 3-year-olds though! This was going to be easy. (Ha! More laughter.) Tear off a long piece of plastic wrap. Lay about 10 pieces of candy on it, roll it up, tie ribbon between each piece and then tie it around the kids neck to make a necklace.
Now, imagine doing that 10 times with 3-year-olds. Not enough ribbon...had to go get some more. Candies rolling off the table...find some cups to hold it. Tell the kid to get out from under the table...their turn is coming. Tie as fast as you can...3-year-olds have a short attention span.
Whew...almost done with the necklaces. Oh, I forgot to get the jumbo tweezers to do the next game. Glance at clock...probably not enough time to do it anyway. We'll just do the pudding treat and call it good. Send the other mom to get the pudding.
Ha! Roll on the floor laughing at this point. Go ahead. The pudding is still nothing but liquid. Two bags of nothing but liquid sweetness. Not even close to edible...at least not in a cone and not for 10 preschoolers.

Confused, I run grab the box to make sure I'm not the moron I felt like at this point. Ah--someone bought us COOK & SERVE pudding instead of instant!

Well, at least I don't feel like a dork. And, thank goodness I grabbed a box of vanilla and a box of chocolate instant pudding from my pantry before I left the house this morning! The mom quickly stirred together one of the boxes. We only had enough milk left to make one.
We cleaned up a little more and just let the monkeys monkey around. I stuff a jumbo marshmallow in the bottom of each ice cream cone (to fill the space and not have to use so much pudding). Five minutes passed--quite quickly--and Mrs. Sonya returned with thick pudding. We scooped some into each cone, threw on a few sprinkles and the three-year-olds were delighted!

They never knew.
I admire Mrs. Sonya. That one hour exhausted me. Ten hours every week; she's a hero.

*This post is being uploaded three days late thanks to my point and shoot camera having issues with uploading photos. Urgh... But, we're still celebrating. In fact, today we're going to a Valentine party at church which was postponed from last Friday due to snow. It's good to celebrate love all month!

Monday, February 15, 2010

More Snow Pictures

I didn't realize I hadn't downloaded the last of the snow pictures from my camera. oops. notice how frosty's face is covered over in snow.
Here are some shots from our playtime on Friday...with our neighbor...and in our backyard. i love the snow-covered branches!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Winner...and Snow!

Thanks to all who cast their vote for a new family picture for our prayer card. Picture #1 was overwhelmingly the favorite with 91% of the 36 votes. If you'd like an updated prayer card and you don't live in Arizona, you can email me and let me know. (gofletchblog [at] gmail [dot] com) <-- can someone tell me why I do this? Is it to avoid spam?
Asa said "I'm just going to sit right here and watch it" after he woke up and realized it was snowing on Thursday. He didn't even ask for food right away, which is typically his very first request every single day!

So, in other news...we got snow in Texas! Bunches of it. It snowed all day on Thursday. Jenna & Asa had their school cancelled on Thursday. Their preschool (our church) is located in a different school district than Rylee, and she had to still go to school.
The snow was powdery and sticking on the ground quite well, though it was just making the roads slushy. After a slower start to the morning and some dialogue between me and friends, Joel and I dropped J&A off to play with friends and we headed into the office, which was officially closed (they go by the same school district closings as our church, since it's almost right next door).
I am working on a project that I really need to finish. I'm still not close to being done, but I got some good work done on it. That's something specific you can pray for, if you're wondering. You could ask God to give me wisdom, His direction, and focus during the time I'm in the office. You can also pray for me to be able to get some work done while at home, too.

The snow was still coming down steadily when we arrived home at lunchtime. Joel went back to the office and then offered to drive the carpool for the afternoon run, which was nice because temps were falling and the slush was getting more slushy.

Once Rylee arrived home, Joel and the kids all bundled up to head outside. Joel made a huge snowman. I had no idea you could roll snow into a ball the way he was doing it. It rolled up like a piece of carpet; it was amazing.A neighbor stopped by and told us they saw a snowman in the median of our cross street. They were returning from taking a picture and then proceeded to snap one of our family (and Frosty). We took a walk around the block and took a picture in front of the cool man with outstretched arms.There was something very peaceful and sweet about being outside with my family that afternoon. I guess in some ways it seemed like time was just standing still and play was okay. Maybe it was so special because Joel's usually not home at that hour and weekdays aren't usually so much fun!
We came home and warmed up. The snow kept falling as we ate dinner and then went to bed. The next morning, Frosty had a good three more inches of snow on his hat.
Looks like someone got Jenna in the back of the head with a snowball.

Our back-door neighbor came over to play for a bit. Then, other neighbors were talking about sledding at a nearby park and our kids got excited. Joel found a few odds and ends from our garage and we loaded up to go sledding too. I didn't take any pictures of sledding--it was crowded, I was focused on the kids not getting hurt, and we were getting colder. Rylee finally realized her boot was full of snow and proceeded to have her own meltdown. Her poor feet were freezing, though.
We headed home and got the kids into a warm bath. Ahhhh.... I called to check on my friend and discovered that her husband was off work, as well. So, our families met for a fun lunch.

We had lots of fun with the snow. I even enjoyed it. That's actually saying a lot. I wasn't too sad to be leaving snow behind when we moved from Pennsylvania. The people--I was terribly sad to leave, but the weather--not so much. In fact, I don't know that I ever really played in the snow during the 5 years we lived in PA.
Our first year, it was a novelty. Our second year, I was pregnant with Rylee. The third year, Rylee was only about 8-10 months old. The fourth year, I was pregnant with twins/had two newborns. The fifth year, I had two babies who were too little to manage outside, so I let Joel take Rylee out. Then, we moved here to Texas!
Jenna liked eating the snow best of all.

This was a good snow. We got probably 6-8 inches. We didn't measure and people around here are saying all kinds of different things. It wasn't too cold and frigid, even with the white stuff blanketing everything. It was powdery and perfect for making snowball and playing. And, best part of it all, it was pretty much ALL gone by last night! I don't mind snow that comes in one day, let's you play the next, and leaves completely on the following day.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cast Your Vote--Favorite Pic

We are printing new prayer cards.
Help us pick the best new family picture.I'll include a few of the fun shots here, but I'll put a number under a few. (okay, I moved them to the bottom so it would be a little easier)
Jenna was having "issues" when we first started. It was incredibly frustrating. Melt-downs seem to always occur when I'm trying to get a family picture done. Just ask my step-mom. (It was Rylee having a melt last summer; I guess it was Jenna's turn. Rylee was just being silly this time.)So, for those of you looking at these pictures thinking that you have a hard time ever getting a good photo, don't envy us for getting one. Ellie took probably 100 in just the 20 minutes we tried. And, at least 10 of those minutes were spent disciplining Jenna. In fact, the picture of Joel offering knuckle sandwiches to Asa (above) was snapped while I was in the bathroom dealing with Miss Grumpy-Pants.We took the pictures at our GFA home office here in Texas. And, Ellie, who you have probably read about here on our blog, took our pictures. She's a very neat teenager who loves our kids and helps take care of them and has a great eye for photography. We all love her!
Feel free to comment, but to cast your official vote, use the survey on the right sidebar.
Thanks for helping us! **poll is now removed, see this post for the results**

Photo #1
Photo #2Photo #3

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Last Days in India

Our last stop in India before returning home was back to Delhi--the city in which our tour began. I think we were all really glad we went back to Delhi and had a little more time with our brothers there.
The day we rode the camels, toured the palace (in Rajasthan), and then flew back to Delhi was Jenna and Asa's 3rd birthday. We were blessed to be able to call them once we arrived back in Delhi. Though I had been thinking about them all day and was sad to have to wait until evening to call, it was actually the morning of their birthday in the U.S. by the time we got to sing and wish them Happy Birthday!
My mom stayed with our kids for the first 10 days. Then, our friends and coworkers at GFA, Butch & Mary Lou, cared for the kids. Mary Lou made them each a birthday cake!

My emotions were a little interesting by this part of the trip. We were physically tired, but I was also surprisingly at peace. At one point I began to doubt myself as a mom because I was not worried about my children. It's funny how we ask God for His peace and then struggle with being so at peace when He gives it to us!
This second visit to Delhi included some time for us to shop and see a few sights not directly related to our ministry work in the area.
We were told to negotiate on prices. Having lived on the U.S./Mexico border growing up (and enjoying trips across for delicious tacos!), I wasn't hesitant in the least. It was fun to watch some of the students go from shy shoppers to firm negotiators. Many of us wanted to buy clothing (punjabis for the ladies--the outfits we wore while in India), spices, and handicrafts. Journals, scarves, fabric, decorative items...you name it, they have it, and one of us probably bought it. We actually didn't buy that much.
It was both neat and sad to experience the shopping. On the one hand they had very cool things, it was exciting to go back and forth over a price, it was fun to pick out gifts for family and friends. But, on the other hand, it was sad to see how little money some items sold for. For some, this was how they made their living. It was also a struggle to have kids ask us for money. You can't go around giving it out or you'll attract everyone within a half mile radius. But, it was especially hard to not give them a few rupees when we had just spent so much more on "stuff".

There are quite a few scenes in the movie Slumdog Millionaire that took me back to my trip to India. It portrays life for Dalits in India very well. The kids you see begging in the movie...the things they do to make them more profitable beggars...it's a reality.
After the experiences of shopping at various places, we went to visit the Lotus Temple. You can google it to see more images and learn more about it. It's a Baha'i temple. The whole Baha'i faith is interesting...and not Christian. We went inside and you sit in silence. It's weird. Our whole team felt the need to pray as we walked out and sat on the steps. It was a very different place than the market we had visited.
I'd have to say that while we didn't visit any official ministry sites during our last day in India, what we saw solidified in my mind the massive need that exists. I left the country more determined to love, to give, to serve than when I entered. I left the country changed.
Mission accomplished.