Monday, September 29, 2008

one thing

I started reading this book (One Thing, by Sam Storms) a few years ago but put it down, as I was tempted to do again this time, because the first two chapters are just odd to read.... seems too much like I'm reading a different author's book. Strange, though not bad, because after all it's an excellent message to resound. But, this time I've begun to get past those first few chapters and I'm enjoying the book more now. Here's just a few quotes that I've really appreciated.

The book is subtitled "Developing a Passion for the Beauty of God." I really enjoy dwelling with thoughts on what Storms wrote about the strength and service of beauty in our lives: "Being spiritually smitten by divine beauty isn't simply an experience of joy that satisfies (though he just finished some good pages explaining that it does do this abundantly well), it also sustains the soul through the fire of trial and loss and persecution. Beauty not only evokes pleasure, it imparts perseverance." (p 56, emphasis & explanation mine)

He describes how worshipping God is "magnifying" God like looking through a telescope, "by focusing on something indescribeably huge and massive and causing it to appear as it really and truly is." Unlike a microscope that magnifies by distortion... and gives us the idea that worship is like blowing balloon. But "Worship is not like blowing up a balloon. God is not honored by human inflation, as if the breath of our praise enhances and expands his visibility and worth. To think that apart from our praise God remains shrunken and shriveled is to dishonor him who 'gives to all mankind life and breath and everything' (Acts 17:25). (p 33)

And I love these words that Storms retells from Augustine, he called God "my Father, supremely good, beauty of all things beautiful." (p53)

Oh that our hearts and lives would be changed to dwell more richly, deeply, penetratingly on the beauty of God!

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, who he has redeemed from trouble!" Psalm 107:1-2

Sunday, September 28, 2008

train tickets

The past ten days we've been trying to get train tickets to travel with a good friend of ours to her hometown and visit her parents. It will be a 16 hour train ride and I'll be snapping lots of pictures to share of the whole journey and the less "city" side of this country where we'll be for a few days. We are really looking forward to seeing the sky (I sometimes feel so claustrophobic being outdoors but still surrounded by skyscrapers) and spending this chunk of time with good friends, solid in local language and culture. But this week is a national holiday and since students are off and offices are closed, most the whole city is trying to evacuate for one reason or another. We're hoping to hear tonight whether or not we'll actually have tickets to get on a train! We sure hope so!!

Switching gears here... I recently discovered a cute trend in our family photos. Our sweet kiddos are growing so quick!
this month:



Thursday, September 25, 2008

wearing her brother's hand-me-downs

Marian really enjoyed her first time playing at this little "pond" in our apartment complex. Of course, it would have been no fun at all except that she was playing right along side her big brother, and that they were both well armed with big sticks to slap against the water. Scary for mom but endless fun for both of them!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

grace and peace to you

Not long ago I finally used an iTunes gift card that I got for Christmas- it was the perfect way to get to explore our summer treat- a new ipod. My first chance to listen was while I walked through the alleys from our apartment to my language classroom. Those little ear buds secluded me for a quiet walk (though still very much in the city) and I was deeply moved by these new songs, especially Fernando Ortega singing "Grace and Peace". My heart spilled over again, with yet more deep joy and gratitude when I heard "Sing to Jesus." This is a masterful song to sing while walking down the street, looking into people's eyes. It's just not something that can be put into words. But I hope that you can tuck away for a quiet moment to be before the Lord and enjoy him as his Word is sung to you, sung over you in this song and in this CD. I hope you like it like I do.... and that it blesses and encourages you like it has me, and even more!

Grace and peace to you dear friends, in our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Actually, I just realized I've only linked to Fernando's home page.... the CD that I'm writing about here is his latest: Shadow of Your Wings.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

funding a family in Tajikistan

Thanks CS for tipping us off to a really cool organization that connects people like us to folks around the world who are needing a small loan. Matt and I are really excited to have been able to give to such a worthy need. We made a small loan to a lady who is starting her own business selling dried fruits in Tajikistan and we will be able to track with her business progress at this site. The goal is that she will repay us and then we can reinvest the money with another family/ individual. Check it out if you're at all interested... it's an excellent education just to get to learn about this kind of work, and it's an excellent, exciting opportunity to give. And you can give gift certificates to people so they can give to the person of their choice on the kiva site. super cool.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

public service announcement... and a few photos

Matt's parents will be coming for a visit in November and we are building quite the fun-filled schedule for them. We are so excited to have them come, especially to enjoy and love on these outrageous fantastic kids with us.

If you are really itching to send us something... now would be a great chance to send it to them, for them to bring along. Email us and we'll fill you in with specifics. :)

city children's hospital

God provided for us so graciously yesterday...I got a call while I was in class from Marian's babysitter, that Isaiah had an accident at school and injured his head. I packed my bag and took off running (literally) for Isaiah's school. A good friend of mine, LM, saw Isaiah bleeding on the playground and she called me too, and assured me that his injury was not too bad; it was a sweet voice of an encouragement. Finally, the school called my cell a minute little later, but somehow he had already taken off for the hospital by the time I arrived (approx. 4 min after I first heard), accompanied by a teacher and the school doctor. The tricky part was that the school staff weren't sure which hospital they took him too, and in the frenzy of the moment (I'm imagining) the doctor forgot to bring her cell phone so there was no way to call them and find out where they were heading. The kind office staff were all very embarrassed for these mishaps and it all just made me call out to Jesus more, so in disguise, it was all good for me.

So I hopped in a taxi and prayed that the city children's hospital, 25 minutes away, was where they were, and that I would be able to find them there. By God's clear grace, LM also went looking and she found Isaiah and his teachers at the hospital (6 floors crowded with concerned patients and families) just a few minutes before me, and then I found them soon after I arrived. Our little trooper was doing well... wanted to go back to school to eat lunch and then go home.... and his injury really was light enough to ease my heart still more.

An eye specialist looked at him, (yes, I know this was more than what he really needed, but all the locals around me really wanted him to be seen and treated) and then told me he would need to take him into another room without me to evaluate whether or not Isaiah needed "surgery" (I think he meant stitches, the surgeon was a little too glad to practice his English on me). Yes, he split his skin open and it was bleeding a bit, but just a little bit, and for as prone as I am to overreacting, I really didn't think it looked like it needed much medical intervention. So I thanked the doctor but declined any further treatment and took our little champ home.

Matt and I cleaned him up and bandaged him at home and I was a sad and a bit scared that he bled again a bit more in the evening (this all happened around 11 am) but this morning when we took the bandaid off, he really looked great. And his teachers raved about him at school today- as if they expected him to be nearly comatose because of this tiny cut on his eyebrow! He loves playing far too much to be set back by such a little thing! We are so grateful for God's protection and help for us in this!