Saturday, November 21, 2015

In Response to a Balanced View on Immigration

I deeply respect Pastor Kevin DeYoung.  Over and over again he has brought insight and wisdom and laughter for Matt and I as we've considered issues with him from his blog posts.  We are very grateful for this man, for his Biblical teaching and his writing.   He has more good thoughts for the immigration issue we face now and I like many of his points, like how we need to consider the importance of sovereign nation states.  And yet, this time, I want to humbly offer a point of disagreement, in the spirit of Christ-exalting discussion.  

Pastor DeYoung, wrote "Christian charity means loving the safety of the neighbor next door at least as much as loving the safe passage of the neighbor far away." 

It seems to me that Jesus' words in Luke 10:25-37 don't allow us to prioritize serving the safe neighbor near us and the neighbor in dire need, the victim of violence, equally. He doesn't balance them. 

Isn't Jesus' point in this parable that to love God and love your neighbor means to love the ones in need, even risking to enter into a situation where there's been violence?  A lawyer asked Jesus "who is my neighbor?"  Jesus didn't say it was the guy next door.  It is the one who was unjustly beaten and robbed.   The guy with the current, dire need. When the Samaritan saw the man all crumpled, helpless on the road... it could have been a trap.  He could have been the next victim.   Of course he was scared, but he entered into that mess and loved anyway. THAT is what Jesus said it means to love your neighbor.

And isn't the difference between the sheep and the goats (Matt 25:31-46) not that they cared well for the ones who already have much, are protected and safe, but that they cared for the ones who were in need:  hungry, thirsty, strangers? 

I don't see a way to Biblically argue for protecting our lives here.... that is precisely what the Gospel means.  It's totally radical and it's not a stitch easy.   And that's nothing to shy away from for any reason.  It's something a Christian could only do when ruled by the Hope of Heaven.  We have been called to lay down our lives for the needy.  

For many commenters (on DeYoung's post) who argued that Christians wouldn't be willing to invite refugee families into their own homes.... may they be proved utterly wrong.  

It is exactly because of God's promises and power and eternal truth that Christians ought to be the ones to be reckless and ridiculous in lavish generosity to meet needs for broken, devastated people in this hour.   Heaven is ahead of us!  

When we stand before our King, will there be more glory in having protected the "safety of the neighbor next door" or in risking to provide for the "safe passage of the [needy] neighbors far away?"  [additional word and bold is mine.]  

When our neighbors near and far see our lives, what message are we showing, telling them with our choice here?  If we're out to protect our safety here and now... what are we living for?  Or might it be the best, bold, bright witness to our neighbor next door that they see us open our doors to the needy?  For the world around us, in our country and beyond, to see Christians open their homes and provide for these refugees, it just might speak loudly enough of promises and the absolute certainty of God as our provision and safety, that our lives could be just what He commanded us to be...  like smelling salt to wake a near neighbor from slumber.  

(Now I'm moving to more thoughts on the issue, less directly related to DeYoung's post...)  

Did we think that sacrificial love would be easy? That Christians should only care for others as long as they're safe? Do we think that the Samaritan paid for his battered friend's food and lodging but it somehow didn't cost him anything?  No dust on his knees, no time spent, no money wasted?  Isn't self-sacraficing love to be the stuff that distinguishes the bride of Christ from the world and when does it ever come in a neat and tidy package that doesn't cost?  The Savior sure didn't balance His safety with my need for a safe passage to the Father when he hung on the cross for me.  

This is precisely the thing we aim to share with Muslim friends in imploring them to break free from the deception of Islam... (And let us not be blind with dazzling political correctness to say that Islam is not the reason for this terrorism.  The Koran drives this, the suras abound.  It is a grace indeed that most Muslims we know, most Muslims around the world are, as my husband says, "so much better than their religion.")  We want our friends to see that Muslims are fleeing these Islamic countries. They aren't heading to other Islamic countries (many of which have higher per capita income than ours) but they're heading towards the places that have been influenced by the Self-Sacraficing King and his love and his Word and ways. They are coming to the lands and the peoples who still, at least to the non-west world, are known as "Christian."  Let us take up the banner of Christ in this hour!

May Christ be shown in his people who would be radical enough to follow in his steps... the one who touched lepers and cuddled messy children, who walked into suffering, being beaten and crucified for us. We who follow Him ought to be dirty with the same stuff he was dirty with.  As Amy Carmichael wrote, we ought to be scarred...  not safe.  We ought to be willing to suffer, even rejoicing that we can suffer in serving the least of these...  as serving Him.  (Yes, I know the context of the disciples rejoicing was different, by I think it's still applicable, considering Matt 25:40, 45 and Hebrews 13:2 and all of Hebrews 11.  I believe it goes against the spirit of much scripture and the heart of God to say that these verses mean we should only show care for Christians in need.- Lev 19:34, John 4:1-42.)  

Yes, of course, we'll get wounded in this. (We'll be wounded somehow...  either as uninvolved Parisians or risk-taking, radical servants rescuing lives.  May it be that our suffering be for our King's glory!)   Isn't the climax of Hebrews 11 a long list of wounds received in the body of Christ?  May we, the church of Christ, welcome refugees in faith... as the ones who have gone before us in that chapter.  May we do it with our eyes on the Reward to come.  

Yes, of course it will take courage, power, wisdom, sacrifice. Is our God not sufficient to give us all this that we need? Is He enough, His word sufficient... to be courage and power for us?  If we think not, we have great reason to question the name by which we're calling ourselves.  

Lord, give us faith to walk in your ways, willing to suffer, to bind up the wounds of the broken, to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, to create jobs and even share our homes.  (Give me courage to act!  Give me Faith to follow you, Jesus.)  And may it result in eternal glory and eternal joy for us and for the lost... eternal glory for You.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


The Lord, he is God and he is good.  
It is he who made us, we are His. 
His love pursues us forever. 

I’ll trust His love and sovereign might
and receive with thankfulness what he gives me today.   
His Word is my guide and my delight.  
His command, my privilege to obey.  

The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, 
who loved me and gave himself for me. 
The life I now live in this world, I’ll live as a light for the praise of my King,
honoring Him and others with love and humility.  

I will gladly sell all to have more of the joy
of God, my great Treasure, my Wisdom, my Way.  
I give all that I am for His glory,
in my character, relationships, learning, work, play.
His joy is my song.  His Word, my anchor and sword.
I live all by His grace and all for His glory.
I pledge my life to my Savior and Lord!

There's a book about habits that starts off with a story of training soldiers, of drilling them with commands that they need to learn to obey with immediacy and precision.  And it struck me how practice and training and rote memorization also have a part in my work of growing up these treasure kids that I love.   

So...Cheers!  Here's a K family pledge of allegiance that I hope will stain our hearts with His beauty as we mull over the wonder and lavish great goodness of God- that we get to live in His love and walk in His ways.  May the words of this pledge be a spirit-true prayer from our hearts and lives... as we pursue Him together who first loved us.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Grand Visit

Can I just say...  A thousand cheers and crazy happy Hoorays! for the incredible grandparents who flew around the world, made it through the day of sacrificing sheep (they happily stayed at home) and the day(s) afterward when we had to step over stinky puddles and piles of things on the road, and who generally thrived even through water outages and blessed us extraordinarily just by bringing their fun and card games and memories to laugh about and crazy love for each of us.  Oh!   We are exceedingly blessed by these grands!!

They brought in a crazy load of gifts... including Marian's 8 yr bday smelly treats 
"Spa Day"...  the girls got smelly lotions and facial scrubs and manicures and pedicures with Grandma.  This was their introduction to a phrase that Grandma taught them well on this trip:  "getting pampered."
He took a bite of a nectarine and then ran to look in the mirror and was scared when he saw blood.  It was just his first loose tooth.  Way to save your first tooth for Yeye and Nina's first day with us, buddy!  I asked him to wiggle his tooth so I could see how loose it was and he just wiggled it right out of his mouth.  We had no notice that he even had a wiggly tooth but then it "dropped" (as we say in Chinese) just like that!  

Looks like Yeye, amidst his myriad of talents, doesn't have the knack for the Chinese squat!
at our favorite park in town

Having the grands with us, let Matt and I get out to visit with neighbors during their time of sacrificing,  without having to drag the kid along.  We have such a great group of neighbors.  (since last year's photos were a bit much for a few friends... I'll keep the lamb sacrifice pics off here this time.)  
It's common for kids to get a spot of lamb's blood on their forehead as part of the celebration. 
Most of them are dressed in all their new clothes that were imported with love....
We had a great time just relaxing together, vacation at home days with family.   So, so special! 
lots of reading aloud...
We didn't do many outings, but we did make it to this "resort" near us...  where we could swim and eat 3 meals for the day for about $8/ per kiddo ($13/adult).  A sweet gift to enjoy with a silly fun grandma!  Doesn't she look fabulous in her scrubs/resort wear? 

this girl is a storyteller.... with full dramatic effects
love these high flying boys
Thank you for coming, for blessing us with the best gift.... Time With You!  We love you Grandma and Grandpa!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Summer, for the record...

So this online "journal"... it won't be much of a record if I don't get in a few more details of this blessed summer for our family.  (And as for recording things, the Lord knows this summer has also broken our hearts with one burden that is laid before Him alone.)    

I might have posted this already?  We're so deeply grateful for the friends the Lord has put in our kids' lives....  like Hudson, Isaiah's buddy since pre-2 yo.   May the Lord be gracious to use these precious friendships over the years of growth and change ahead to spur our boys on in Christ-rooted, Christ-exalting manliness.  May they sharpen each other owards excellence and holy risk and the kind of valor that will ring with praise and joy for all eternity.
This firstborn son of ours is an indescribable gift...  such grace to be Isaiah's mama.  I love you, son.  
It was a long glorious summer of play for our kiddos.  I doubt any group of kiddos on the planet could have possibly wanted to play more baseball than our kiddos played.….  Monday through Thursday mornings and Sat AM and PM.   But our crew loved every minute.  Such a gift... especially here, where kids' sports are crazy rare.  

It was a treat for all of them… and a treat for me too!  I got some quiet time.  Real quiet quiet.  I rested and read.  Had a breakfast visit with no distractions with a delightful neighbor friend.   Finished two family photo albums from years ago to try to give my kids a photo record of their many-moves, silly-joys, full-of-friendship and many good-byes lives.  

The boys never wanted to miss a day of practice.  It helped that all of their best friends in our city played too.  And sometimes, if our boys rode with Matt’s co-worker and his sons, Marian would ride alone with Daddy and every time that happened, I’d get to hear about who they jammed with on their drives…. Rich Mullins and Toby Mac are Marian’s fav.s.  

These guys have serious Stratego skills...  (I can't beat any of them!)... and that time Isaiah chased down my 10 with a 6 and I ran from him b/c I was sure it must be a spy!?  Oi!  crazy boys!
It was hot.  Hottest summer in 30 years we heard.  And a few times I thought of boasting about how horrifically hot it was, only to feel disappointed with my bragging stats…  supposedly the temps were only high 90s or 100.  But then my local friends told me that was all that was reported because if the temps rise over 40 degrees C, around 100 F, the government has mandated that companies need to allow workers to complete their jobs in the evening hours.  The handy way around that is to simply never “let” (or report) that the temp has surpassed the limit.  So… there was something brag-worthy there.  Supposedly we were 105-113ish for most of 2 weeks and over 100 for most of July and into early August.  We felt the concrete magnification and the AC-lessness loud and clear.   And we survived!  And we’re pretty giddy grateful to be enjoying these 70s Sept days now.   (Baseball practice was only cancelled a few days for the heat…  but many days baseball was traded for water gun battles and there were no complaints about that!)

Matt made it through his first, our family first, need for local medical attention.  He went more than 24 hours without being able to swallow any food or water more than a tiny sip.  He could breath just fine but not swallow... even a tiny sip of water.  Not good for a baseball coach in such heat!!  We were so grateful that the Lord provided a dear local friend to go through the hospital system with him that afternoon and an excellent trained doctor who unblocked his esophagus quickly….  after 7 hours of waiting and walking around the hospital for 14-15 different office/doctor visits and payment stations. Once the final doctor saw him, he was all cleared up in no time!  We still need to see how to move forward caring for this issue for him.  

the real first day for the littles...
This boy has a sweeter tender side to his evident rough boy default.  I could not be more smitten with John! 
oh this girl!
More Vivisms-  (While sitting on the potty) “Mom, I can hear a song in my heart.”  “Really, what is it?”  “Well, I think God put it there.”  “Yes, I’m sure he did…”  (we trailed off at that point… probably time to wipe up)

A few days later, we had the same conversation and I asked her what was the song?  I thought such sensitive, spiritual wisdom would mean that she was going to sing something along the lines of the Doxology… but no.  “I think the song is “Twinkle, Twinkle.”

She said to me this morning “In the night, I felt the Lord with me on my bed!”   So glad for her (and for me!!) to be sleeping peacefully.  Since Easter this year, most moments of affectionate words from Vivi have included “I love you with all my heart!  Jesus is Risen Indeed! Jesus is Risen indeed!”  This afternoon, while she was listening to a song from Frozen, she got really concerned and quieted down and then asked me with more seriousness than I usually see in her:  "Mom, do princesses love Jesus?".... I love her tender side!

Our kiddos launched into a whole new year of school.  Isaiah’s in 4th grade (wow-  that was a big year for me!  How did my baby get that big already?), Marian is in 3rd, John in 1st grade and Vivi in PreK (she’s all set to move up to the K level class next semester if it seems like she’s tracking well enough….I’m hoping that plan will work b/c I think it seems good to me for homeschool later, if they can swing it, to have John and Vivi back to back instead of with a grade in between them.)  Here’s our fake first day of school pic….  I think it was actually the eve of our second week.
So they didn't forget about the ring pops that were gifted to them a few weeks ago....  I was sure hoping I could slip those artificial sugar/flavor bombs in the trash...  but no.  They were distinctly remembered.
Isaiah- 4th grade, Marian- 3rd grade, John-1st grade, Vivian PreK.  

And there was that sleepover in the tent on the patio... that didn't quite work but was still fun to try for!
her 8th birthday was her best yet she said....  we're exquisitely grateful for Marian Lynn.  

Friday, September 18, 2015

Dance Party U S Asia

For Marian’s 8th birthday, she planned the entire event…  I simply had to make dinner (Da Pan Ji) and a “cake" (she chose apple pie).  She planned the whole thing to be a Dance Party.  There was some time for dressing up to begin with, and then there were a few dance-off competitions, but mostly the whole things was just song after song (daddy was the DJ) of silly, giddy, jumping and laughing cool moves.  Sadly, I only got a few videos of that and all of this only with my phone since my battery was gone!  (argh!)

This girl…  She’s growing up so much.  I can really see Marian maturing to understand her role as a growing up girl, to communicate with people well, to take responsibility to help and serve others, to finish her work (even when she’s sure that that much homework will take her 4 more hours… and it actually only takes 20 minutes.)  She’s growing up so beautifully before us and we could not be more grateful to know and love and care for Marian Lynn.  

Dear love, we pray that you will continue to grow up in the Lord in every way, being pleasing to Him in your mind, in your heart and character, and all your relationships, skills and talents, work and play.  Keep seeking Jesus first, dear!  Oh we love you so much precious, treasured girl!

She said... "This was my best birthday ever because my two teachers came!"
The K crew

and when our dear guests had all gone... the dance party gave way to sword fight

Monday, September 14, 2015

Love Poems (from a four year old)

So, our family might have a little case of being just slightly, over the top verbal.  Just a few of us Ks would probably be somewhere over the rainbow off the charts on ridiculosity for over-expressive wordulousness. The four year old is just one such poet.

She's blossomed with a whole new chapter of lovey words for the two of us.  Somewhere this summer I started asking her "Who do I love?".  And there's been a few times when she's asked me "Who do I love?"  (Sometimes every five minutes.)  We go over it ever time "Jesus, because he died for me.  Mama and Jerry and then Daddy and all the kids."

Wait a minute.  That's not cool.  No crush can come above your daddy for a long time yet, dear.  Coach Jerry (who just started working for Matt's company) is a pretty awesome guy.  But he can't come above Daddy on your lovey list yet, dear.  She cried when she had to go with the little kids at baseball practice and Coach Jerry led the bigger kids' exercises.  But she's agreed to reorder her list now so Daddy's up there where he should be and we're all a little more happy ..... though I'm pretty sure Jerry felt super honored with his original ranking.

Then her loveyness turned to her asking me, "Why do I want you to sit next to me at the table/brush my teeth with me/ wipe my bottom/ read to me on the couch....?"  Both "because you love me" and "because I love you" are acceptable answers.  I love that game.

And when I told her "I love you to the highest height, the sweetest sweet, the deepest depths, the yummiest yummy, the silliest silly..." she returned "I love you to the stars like that too."

She was set on catching those "stardusts" in the sunshine.
But then she up and came up with some lines all her own.  "I love you ten thousand times the cushions of it."  (I have no idea how she came up with that but she says it with such serious joy confidence, and well over a hundred times now, that I don't want to bother her with the semantic technicalities.... I catch her drift.)

And my current favorite of her love poems:  "I love you to the stars- Never evah fight the stars."  (Yea, we can all pretty much agree that that's a battle to pass on... and that somehow she's managed to super-power her affection with those words.)

And Vivi Hope... "I love you to the stars like that too, crazy sweet lovey girl."  

Saturday, August 22, 2015

another desert visit

One day we drove from our first friend's place out farther into the desert to visit Matt's former tutor and his wife and baby...  Matt and Isaiah visited these friends three summers ago.

We drove through a canyon with these caves at the end, just before we reached their town...

Taken from the same place as the shot above, just looking outward from the canyon...  such beauty!  (And... check out the 150+ oil rigs across the plane beyond town there!)

cemetery on the way into town

the flaming mountains and their vineyard village

if a picture could capture heat... this one shows it pretty well.  

Since Isaiah has raved about the desert since his trip with Daddy years ago, all the kids wanted some time to run on the sand slopes.

This little beauty, with the traditional beautification of her sadly separated eyebrows, was named after the first woman to be martyred for Islam.  Oh how we love these dear friends!!