Wednesday, May 27, 2009

First Five

Marian has begun to string together longer sentences all of the sudden.  Her first five words (repeated today as six, with "Papa" at the end) was:  "Go Ouuusi(de), shooo wa wa gun".  Recently both our kids have been completely obsessed with their new water guns and not an hour goes by when they don't ask to shoot them.

We're also hearing more and more in the local language.... her vocabulary is steadily increasing and we've heard at least one 4 word sentence there too.

Our girl is a linguist and a singer too...  she loves the ABC song (like her brother) and she has her own rendition, that she likes to sing with all her might:

Now I know my ABC
(and on it goes... She can sing the real version if I sing along with her, this is what we get when she's solo.)

In other news, I'm feeling like (not sure if it's physical or just GREAT desire) we might be getting to meet K3 soon- maybe soon, soon?  Please pray for us in this....

Saturday, May 9, 2009

more spring photos

We had a great time at the grounds of an old ruined palace not far from our home. This is the best time of year to be there and it was a sweet time to share with friends. Isaiah is especially glad to have his dearly missed best bud back from the states (we're all glad for the whole fam to be back here!)

And... there's no better place to strap on your gun.... (ahh, how is it our boy plays with a gun!? It's definitely not our favorite toy for him!!!)

Friday, May 8, 2009

what if I fail?

This afternoon I got to meet with a really great group of women for some great discussion and prayer together. Just wanted to share a piece of our discussion that came up as we went over chapter ten from "Calm my Anxious Heart" by Linda Dillow.

"What if I fail? What if I fail at ______"

My dear friend P explained how this question gets mulled over in her mind and then she shared her simple answer:

"If I fail... then, I fail. And God will either completely redeem my failure for His glory or He will not let it happen."

Oh for eyes of faith that Trust and Rejoice in God's sovereign goodness to work like this in our lives. It reminds me again that God resists the proud (who try to control everything according to their wisdom and management schemes) and gives grace to the humble (who lean on Him and look, trustingly to Him.) James 4:6

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died- more than that, was raised to life- who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceeding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?"

As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, not height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:31-39

Thursday, May 7, 2009

catching onto catechisms

Matt really enjoys listening to a podcast called the White Horse Inn (many thanks CS for the recommendation a while ago.) It's a radio broadcast and now an iTunes (free) podcast.  I was glad to listen in to one episode with my man this week.  We listened to April 26 th and found it an excellent piece... needful and worthy for Christians to THINK on for a while.

The brilliant guys that gather there were discussing the value of catechisms- the dire need in the church (and Christian homes) today to educate and train especially our young people in the faith. Too many churches and Christians settle for knowing "Jesus loves you" and not hardly knowing a thing deeper or wider than that. And sadly, way too many Christians are fully content and pleased to know just that little about "what and why they believe."

A solution? The guys all agreed that catechising our kids (teaching them to know and understand and even memorize a catechism) is a needful thing for Christians.

What is a catechism? As far as I understand, it's a set of questions and answers used to teach material that is worth knowing well.  The Christian church has some beautifully rich, deep, historically trusted catechisms available for us (Westminster, and Heidelberg being the top two that I know of.)  There's so much value in it.  Instead of asking a 4 year old or an adult who's just 4 weeks into believing in Christ "what do you think about _____?" or "what does this mean to you?" a catechism teaches by providing the question and the answer. Yes, we value teaching people to think for themselves.... but first let's model teaching them to think well, to understand what is the truth and then to explain it as their own brains want to describe it as a later step.

The thought of teaching kids a catechism strikes many of us as too boring.... not life-giving. If you're arguing this by the time you've read this far, please listen to the podcast and let me know your response. They compared it to language learning: a painful (we know this so well!) but needful and positively worthwhile step to accessing a whole new world of information and understanding (or people.)

At our house, we've been working on a little catechism for a while now because we haven't been able to find any questions and answers that really seemed appropriate for tiny little ones. Most all the other stuff I've found (I'm sure there's excellent material that I haven't seen- please leave a comment if you can fill me in!!) seems more appropriate for maybe 4 or 5 years old on up. So, we've developed a super simple little catechism for our new 3 year old and our 1.5 year old. We plan to move on towards a more legitimate, and far more historically-rooted catechism around kindergarten years, (we'll probably go for the Westminster Shorter Catechism,) but for now, we want something of a starting place for these little ones!

Marian (20 months) is also working on some verses already. For example, Psalm 119:35: I say, "Direct me in the path of your commands, for there" and she joins in, "I yind de-yight." (translation: "I find delight.") It's so sweet to hear her say-shout it!

We are really having fun getting to recite some scriptures and catechism questions together while we play or snack or the kids take a bath...  Here are some verses and eleven super simple "catechism prep" questions we're going over whenever we can:

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.” Psalm 95:6-7
The Lord says, “It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it.”
Isaiah 45:11-12
Who made you?(1) God!

“…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31
“Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise His holy name.” Psalm 97:12
Why did God make you?(2) For His glory!

God is the “Blessed controller of all things, the King over all kings and the Master over all masters.” 1 Timothy 6:15 (Phillips)
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:11-12
“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
What kind of God is He?(3) He is holy, sovereign, and loving.

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” 1 Tim. 1:15
“if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, [God’s] Son, purifies us from all sin.” I John 1: 7
John saw Jesus… and said “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29
Who is Jesus?(4) God's Son, Our Savior, who came to die for us

“at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly… God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5: 6,8
“…the blood of Christ… will cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” from Hebrews 9:14
"sin is lawlessness"  I John 3:4
Why did he die?(5) He died to forgive our sins.  Apart from his grace, we are dead in our sins.
What is sin? (6) Dishonoring God, disobeying His word

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’- which is the first commandment with a promise- “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:1-3
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
How can you glorify God? (7) Honor God and others with a joyful spirit
How are you to obey?(8)
Immediately, willingly, and completely

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
“…your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit… You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” I Corinthians 6:19-20
How did God make you special?(9) He made me in his image, to be like him, and he put his Holy Spirit in me.

“Your statutes are forever right; give me understanding that I may live.” Psalm 119:144
“For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword…” Hebrew 4:12
The word of God is the sword of the Spirit. From Ephesians 6:17
“To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless. Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.” Psalm 119:96-97
“I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.” Psalm 119:45 (NLT)
“Whoever obeys the law is joyful.” Proverbs 29:18 (NLT)
Why is the Bible the best book?(10) Because it's God's Word, it's true!

“For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
Who is your Protector in life and your Promise- your sure hope- in death?(11)
“The LORD is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life- of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

May the Lord write His living Word on our hearts 
for our great joy in Him and His great glory!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Well Loved, Little One

Lots of kisses for the bun in the oven!

Elevator Short-Circuit

We live on the 12th floor of a 22 story building. It's not my choice for a favorite place to raise a family, but it is where we live. And we are very grateful for our home here.

This morning was Marian's first day wearing pigtails in her hair (I think she looked cuter than ever). It was her first day to climb up to the "big slide" AND get on it and come down all by herself. And, this morning- on the way to school, it was her first time to get on an elevator alone and get completely lost from me- all by herself.

I was just a minute behind her- 30 seconds even- but by the time I got to the elevator I saw Isaiah and a nice neighbor lady who was pushing the down button, hoping to open up the elevator that was going up from our floor. I told her "it's ok, we'll get on the next one" and then started looking for my girl... when the neighbor replied that she had jumped on the elevator.

I was upset at first- flustered that I was behind my baby enough to let all that happen without me being there, and struggling with sinfulness in my heart, accusing the elevator, the neighbors who must have been on there, anything... it was all awfully ugly, untrusting, blaming-others junk coming out of my heart. Still, for the time, I think I looked somewhat calm. I just stepped back and waited for the elevator to reach our floor again. Surely she would be on it. It was peak rush hour at the elevator and I thought that any of our neighbors would be able to help her stay right where she was until mama found her. (We stand out quite a bit here and I think many, if not most, of our approx 2,000 neighbors in this building know us, our kids names and maybe even what floor we live on.) But that didn't happen.

Like I said, I was pretty calm until she wasn't on the elevator when it came back by our floor. Sadly, at that point, I completely lost my cool. I screamed and totally freaked out Isaiah. I scrambled up the stairs not knowing where I was going and then ran right back down yelling for Matt to come help, come watch Isaiah, no- come run the stairs looking... (K3 slows me down a fair bit these days.) The kind lady took off too... in the end she ran up all the stairs, checking each floor till the 22nd.

Dumb fears started swirling in my brain- what if someone tries to take off with her? Takes her into their apartment and I'd never find her? I asked Matt to go straight down to the first floor- check each flight- and then wait for a bit at the bottom... no one would get to sneak our princess away from us! (Ridiculous, I know!)

Finally... way too late in the game... I told Isaiah that God is watching out for Marian, He will protect her and we should pray together. So we did and we were both a bit more calm after that, but still...

Not having the best plan of attack, it did take a little while to find our girl. It was the kind lady who finally- felt like 2 hours later, but was probably just 10 minutes- came back to our floor and told me that a grandma was holding her on the 22nd floor, waiting for us. I thanked the kind lady (but not enough, she's getting a big Thank You note tomorrow morning.) And then Isaiah and I met Papa in the elevator on the way up. Together we got to retrieve a totally calm and content Marian from a sweet older woman who knew just who Marian was.

She told us she had had a little conversation with Marian (in the local language) and was enjoying her visit with our darling. No problems at all...

Except in me. I had completely short-circuited.... lost my whole heart.... screamed when I saw my baby girl gone. Isaiah flipped out so bad when I screamed that he- my 3 year old little man- had to try to calm me down, "Mama, don't scream like that because it makes me scared."

I repented to the Lord for my untrusting, proud, accusing heart and I confessed my sin to my boy too, since he had been so sadly affected by it as well. In the end, I think it was a good lesson for him to hear his mama broken and humbled by this... but how much sweeter for him to see a humble, trusting mama bring situations like this straight to the Lord!?

It is so painfully evident to me that probably one of my hugest area of weakness is submitting my Mother's Heart to the Lord. Why is it that I short-circuit so easily, soooo fast when it comes to caring for my kids, protecting them, teaching them, or defending myself against locally given words of care and critique? It's as if the process of filtering every impulse, every scrap of input in my life, through the Holy Spirit, through the grace of God, ( a process that at other times actually does bear sweet fruit in my heart) just collapses, skips it's due course and I revert to a sadly self-reliant, able-to-do-nothing-but-groan flesh in stressful mom moments like this.

I want the grace of God to lay on me- lay into me thicker, that all these things come to me with the awareness, the assurance that God is in control. Oh control me so Lord! Give me grace to be self-controlled! I CANNOT provide flawlessly for these little ones that I love. You alone can be trusted for their care.

Oh for more grace to submit my kids, my parenting, my whole heart and my every single moment completely to the Lord... For as embarrassed as I was of myself all morning and all day long (I'm sure I woke up some neighbors in our paper-thin-walled building with my 8am scream), I do take great comfort and encouragment that the Lord is still walking with me, even when I break down like this. My sin and weakness take him less by surprise than it does me! "If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself." (2 Tim 2: 13).

"Rise up and help us; redeem us because of your unfailing love." Psalm 44:26

Yes Lord, Redeem! Not because I'm worthy (clearly, not at all), but because of your unfailing love. Praise be to God for His unfailing love!

Be glorified Lord- let your glory even shine out of this cracked pot. (2 Cor 4:6-7)

Congratulations J & YY!

We were glad to get to celebrate the wedding of a cool neighbor of ours here a few weeks ago. He married a sweet local lady and their wedding ceremony was special in every great way- such a time of worship and joy for the Lord's blessing and grace towards these two! In a letter they wrote and shared in the booklet that was given to everyone at the ceremony, J quoted some fantastic words that he wrote to his bride in a letter he gave her when he first declared his desire to pursue her. Praise the Lord for such godly manliness to so pursue a godly woman!

He wrote to her: "I hope that you will not walk into any relationship (whether it's with me or someone else) thinking that that relationship will be the solution to any problems you feel you have. The solution is always to be found in Jesus. I don't want you thinking that I could ever be the way you solve your needs. If, however, as a couple we could grow to know and love Jesus more together, then I can think of nothing I would rather do with my life."

J, Way to speak the truth and romance your woman, as you point her towards Christ!

May God abundantly, richly bless the two of you with grace, wisdom and joy, for His glory!