Sunday, January 18, 2009

the angels' song... and a prayer

We've said it before... but we are REALLY delighting in Bible stories with our kids from the Jesus Story Book Bible (link under "favorites" on the right.) Last night Matt read aloud the story of the angels announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds and the song that the angels sang struck me sweetly and powerfully- from Luke 2.

"Glory to God! To God be Fame and Honor and all our Hoorays!"

Is there any greater song for us to sing with our lives? And doesn't singing a great song, greatly move us, bring us joy... even the kind of joy that brings a tearful gladness in times of sorrow? Oh to have our hearts and minds anchored in that same joy of the angels.

So often I think we- definitely I- get distracted by such smaller, lesser things. We can slip into treating "our Christianity" as a way to have God's blessing- his wisdom, help, protection- on our lives for us to do as we please, with all his favor on top of it.

Lord move us to see YOU at the center of the Gospel, and know that our deepest joy and pleasure and soul satisfaction comes in knowing and treasuring you. Help us to better understand that our lives are really wholly hinged on you, on your greatness, your kingdom, your purpose, your glory... and not the other way around. You are our center, core, the glory we run hard after. YOU deserve all our Hoorays!

"Lord we love to obey your laws; our hearts desire is to glorify your name." Isaiah 26:8

May it be so, oh God.

prayer request

I got to see our little bun last week in an ultrasound. Heart is strong. Spine is solid. Brain looks like genius material. We could have found out the gender but we're going to wait for yet another surprise! The little one is perfectly on schedule size-wise (now almost 19 weeks) and is set for a mid June arrival. Everything looks healthy, but we also learned that the cord is wrapped once around K3's neck. At this point there's still lots of room for wiggling and K3 needs to summersault and get his/her head down for delivery still so there's lots of "chance" that the cord could come off the neck- or, honestly, could wrap again. We know who is in perfect control of every chance, so we're giving this need to him. Thanks for praying with us!

new commute

We just started taking language classes at a new (to us) school a little ways across town. Our commute includes a nice little bit of exercise- walking and, when needed, running to the bus stop- and study time built in as well... listening to texts, reviewing words and phrases. Here are a few shots of very regular, daily stuff just in case you're curious...



thanks for your recipes!

Friends,

Thanks for your kind contributions to our family cookbook!  I'm really grateful to have your names next to several new recipes.  I know there are some great recipe sites, but a recipe is a real gift- far more special- when there is a friend of mine behind it!  That goes for recipe sites too... it's fun to remember them as "N's favorite site, E's favorite recipes..." 

I should have been more specific about our pork issue at home.  Since we have friends that have strict prohibitions against eating pork, we don't cook any pork so our friends can still eat with us.  (Their religion states that they can't eat any food that has even been cooked with the same pots/dishes/utensils as has cooked any pork.)  So, for the porky meals, we'll see how a chicken or beef switch works :)

Thanks again dear friends!  It's special to have these gifts from you!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

family shots

Here's a few recent shots from our living room....

We only pull the TV out on rare occasions....  it was so sweet to see how these two chose to situate themselves for the best viewing experience-  as snuggly close to each other as possible!  It was cute while it lasted- which, of course, wasn't long!

There was a lot of fun had this evening just running and jumping onto a pile of pillows and blankets.  Who needs toys anyways!?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

calling for recipes!

All eaters and cookers~

I would love to learn from you some of your best recipes.... I'm thinking of dinner meals mainly, but any other favorites, I'd love to hear as well.  

Unfortunatly, I do have some serious stipulations.  Stovetop is best (my oven is tiny- think toaster).   Flour, salt, and white/brown sugar are the only baking ingredient that is easy to find (Baking powder, soda, powdered sugar, mixes- all less accessible.)  The best ingredients would be fresh veggies, fruits (we enjoy vegetarian meals), or chicken or beef.  Most dairy products (except milk, butter, and one standard cheddar- which I stock up on and freeze-- can't go without cheese!), and basically every "convenient" food is pretty hard to come by.  But if your recipe is worth the wait,  I'll gladly look for your goods at the import grocery store the next time we have a doctors visit across town (near the store).  Rice is the easiest staple, but just recently, pasta is becoming a regular item at our local grocery store. (What a TREAT!)  And, of course, we can find potatoes too.

Some substitutions and adjustments I've learned to make here:
Refried Beans-  I think I might be in a minority for this, but I really enjoy bean burritos or beans and rice.  I recently discovered that 4-5 hours on high in a crock pot gets pinto beans to a great texture.  Throw in some salt, garlic, taco seasoning and a bit of tabasco.  (Thanks to you friends who have recently sent over the taco seasoning!  It hits the spot!)
Sour Cream-  When I can, I like to pick up cream at an import grocery store.  I'm learning that it makes several different foods taste better!  (Chicken soup is yummier creamy I think.) And one of my favorites is a cup of cream with a bit of vinegar mixed in... let stand for 5 minutes and it's a decent sour cream (though often still quite runny.)  Start small with the vinegar and add till the taste is right- approx 1+ tablespoon.  

You can email me your recipes or (maybe it will work?) to leave it as a comment.  Thanks friends!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

story time with Larry Crabb

A very lengthy quote from Larry Crabb's book "The Papa Prayer." I haven't read the book, just heard this one story. It might seem like a slow start, but in the end, the story is well-worth reading. Oh that our hearts would burn like David's, who asked for one thing from the Lord.... to gaze upon the Lord's beauty and seek Him all his days...  (Psalm 27: 4)

Here's the quote, beginning on p 151:


For just a moment, fix your eyes on what you can't see. Tilt your ear toward the world of the Spirit, and listen in on a dialogue going on right now between you and God.

God: I've kept a list of everything you've ever asked Me for. Some requests I've granted. Some I've denied. Look over the list, and add to it anything you would like to ask Me for now.
You: Will you give me everything I ask for?
God: Yes.
You: But you didn't before. I've asked for lots of things You didn't give me.
God: Every unanswered request was not a true prayer. Those petitions did not come from your heart.
You: I don't understand.
God: You will. Complete the list. Ask for anything you want.

Confused but excited, you read through the hundreds of prayers that contain every request you've ever made to God. You have asked for much, little things and big things, things that mattered to you a great deal and things that you merely preferred, like good weather for your holiday picnic.

You're surprise at how many requests have been granted. You're grateful. But many requests, both big and little, have been denied. In some cases, you can now see a greater good was served because God didn't give you what you asked for.

But not in all. It still makes no sense why your son's heart was hardened when he was first caught smoking marijuana. And it's only gotten worse. You've prayed daily that he'll find God and return to the family.

That request is already on the list. It fills a dozen pages. But didn't God just say He would grant whatever request you add to the list? The story of the persistent petitioner comes to mind. You grab your pen, turn to the blank pages at the end of the sheaf of papers in front of you, and eagerly write: I want my son to become a Christian, to give up drugs, finish college, marry a wonderful Christian girl, develop into a godly husband and father, succeed in a worthwhile career, and live to advance God's kingdom! Amen.

Your heart races. God told you to ask away, for anything. You scribble more requests: Good health, no Alzheimer's, 20 percent annual growth in my pension fund, intimate marriage, lifelong friendships, renewed energy, no headaches.

Your imagination kicks into high gear. With the freedom of no embarassment, your desires swing wildly between "good life" hopes and "spriritual" yearnings: a bigger house, a pure thought life, lots of money, deeper peace, exciting sex, powerful impact on others. Then God speaks again.

God: Look deeper into your heart. See if there are more desires you have not yet expressed.

You feel silly, but you write down your desire to eat what you want and never gain weight, to exercise as little as you want and still get in good shape, to convince your spouse he needs to be more sensitive, less critical and more appreciative of all you do.

As you read what you've just written, you become aware of deeper desires within you:

I want a life full of meaning.
I want my church to become a real community.
I want to love my family better.
I want to be a good grandparent.
I want to be content, not greedy.
I want to feel joy and hope and love.

Your dialogue with God continues:

You: I'm finished, God. I can't think of anything more to add.
God: You haven't yet discovered your heart.
You: What do you mean?
God: I told you I would give you whatever you want. Its this what you want?
You: My list is complete. I have written down everything I want.
God: Then I will give you everything on your list. But on one condition: You will never hear My voice again. I will withdraw all sense of My presence from you. You will never know Me.

Immediately, you tear up your list into little pieces. Thousands of requests on hundreds of papers lie scattered on the ground in scraps all around you.

You fall down in the middle of them all.

You: God, theses are second things, all of them. I see it now. Yes, I want them. But they mean nothing if I don't have You.
God: You have discovered your heart. You will now meet Me as your guide into love, your healer of selfishness, your king with all power, your friend in the highest place, your Giver of Life.

Friday, January 2, 2009

kiddos



Marian and Isaiah are big fans of the Papa Horse who shows up pretty regularly for rides and tickles in our living room. Isaiah is becoming a very attentive big brother, helping Marian get things she can't reach or doesn't know she needs. And Marian is becoming quite the hugger... as you can see!

bicultural, bilingual, and plenty of sin to go around

We live in a great exciting place, and I want to share more about not only our kids (though they are spectacular) but also about life here- with all of it’s quirks, struggles, and excellent worthwhileness. (To better understand what will and won’t be posted here, click on the link to understanding.)

I’ve realized this week that sin is more evident to me, comes out of me and flourishes in my heart when I function in the local language than when I function in English. Maybe I just don’t see it in my English life as clearly (yes, of course)... but, what I do see in me here, now is absolutely awful. I’m impatient with people, unforgiving, unconcerned to connect with our babysitter because her education level is so low and it sometimes seems like there’s so little to talk about that doesn’t anger me (she was so excited her sister had taken some medicine after she was pregnant to help her have a boy- impossible- except that one of the intentions of the medicine is to kill a baby girl.) I can resist so strongly in my heart and with my words when people (young girls and grandmas and everyone, both genders, in between) advise me on how to care for my children, how to teach them, how to discipline them, what they should wear, and what they should eat. I rebel so proudly and push back in such a way so that I’m sure many times these dear local friends can’t think of how to respond to my refusal of their words, my disagreeableness to converse with them on these topics. They are only trying to help and show their love and concern for me. Oh God HUMBLE me! Humble me. Haven't we come here to show Love?

Praise God that this junk in my heart isn’t the only thing that is ever there, but how I need to be refined by his grace! Oh for more of Him. He must become greater I must become less... much less.

regarding resolutions

New Year is a great time for me: I feel like I've got that fresh start and permission of some kind, maybe from myself?, to start after new goals, or reshape last years goals, or refocus... Hopefully it is a time for all of us to seek God and find His heart, and also know His desires for what to do in us and through us in a new season.

I just came across a a helpful reference to use as we look at setting goals for a new year. Don Whitney lists some excellent questions to guide and inspire us as we look forward...

Here's a bit of what he shares:

1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

8. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?