Saturday, May 29, 2010

Maelee Day

We had a few close friends in our home today to celebrate Maelee Day. Today our whole family- daddy included- is gathering in Buffalo, ND to honor Maelee and miss her together. Oh how we would have loved to be there but we trust that this really is best for all of us for now.

I would have loved to have a bilingual party but I'm not up for that with Matthew gone... so we kept it low key and English only.

I will admit, I got really into making a cake for Maelee Day... as special as I could think of making.

The kids helped me paint a rainbow of colors on top of our coconut cake and we all had lots of fun. I was glad that it turned out really yummy. Maelee would have enjoyed it for sure.

This swirl of colors reminds us of the rainbow resembling an emerald that John wrote of when he attempted to describe his view of Jesus on the throne in Heaven. (Revelation 4) (I really liked the idea of celebrating heaven this way... picked it up from Ann Voskamp.)
And we colored her name... more for Maelee's name book
Even our sweet friend E. colored a beautiful one.

We read from Isaiah 65:17 to the end of that chapter. Then we remembered how Jesus was taken up to heaven in the clouds and he will come again in just that way! We ended with the story version of John's vision of heaven told in the Jesus Story Book Bible. I cried even between snapping at my kids for constant disruptions through what was supposed to be a sweet enjoyable time. But still I cried for that story- so beautifully told, so wonderfully illustrated-
So Great, So True a Story.

We remembered others that are in Heaven with Jesus too: the beautiful Grandma Lynn who loves these kids so much, and our buddy Justice, another great fun friend to play with when that glorious day comes.

So Maelee is living there now- in heaven- eternal life with the eternal God. We love you Maelee. We look forward to playing with you in the new Heaven on the new Earth.

Thank you Jesus for keeping Maelee in perfect joy till we can join you... and inviting us to that perfect joy with you. Thank you Jesus that it is because of you we can come.

We know you are the Way to the Father.
We celebrate You Jesus whenever we think of Heaven's joys.

Yes, Lord Jesus. Come Quickly.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

good healthcare

Pup and Flower Bear get well taken care of...

And a few more shots...

Marian was sure the car passing by was going to be too loud... if only that concern for volume control carried over to her play at home.

I take that back... I'd rather be glad for her exuberance than wish it away for it's loudness.

for a smile

We love this! What a way to bring beauty and joy.... I want in on this!

So sorry I can't get the whole screen to show... find it on YouTube.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I've been thinking about gratitude lately. Ann Voskamp, my new and delighted-in blog friend, writes of intentional thanksgiving since you can only feel one feeling at a time. Fight feeling with feeling... choose gratitude.

God's Word stated it clearly millenia before she mentioned it. I'm finding again that thankfulness really does work my heart over like good medicine.

Ann wrote about a 4 year-old boy who mentioned his thankfulness "that today is not my birthday." He loved his birthday but decided to that though today was not his birthday, he would be grateful anyway. Ann noted that we've got to be grateful "anyway" before we can learn to be grateful "always." (sorry I can't find the post... but if you visit her site, you won't be sad to look around a while anyway.)

Ann lists the gifts of grace in her life regularly and I don't know if I'll commit myself to weekly posting this but today, it seems good.

I am grateful to God, the Giver of every good gift, for~

~ calling me his daughter, and faithfully, flawlessly loving and rescuing me- the chief of sinners. I could never save myself.

~ grief that is more painful than we think we could possibly bear- that it is short- and for a God who promises eternal life... clearly what we were made for

~ my niece Maelee who I never met, whose empty frame was all her mommy and daddy got to hold- for the Hope she reminds us of and that she is already, eternally rejoicing with Jesus

~ gracious reminders of keeping my heart light, my feet in that spacious place

~ loads of laughter with the 4 people I love most in the world joining me for a pilates workout this evening

~ music and friends who love it too. Songs that lift my heart and eyes to the Maker, especially off the lips of my love dove little girl

~ and her curls

~ sweet fellowship, our worshipping community, home church away from home

~ courage for my two big kids to jump into preschool when they weren't solid in the local language.... they are taking off there already, Praise the Lord! They love it

~ a content, very easy going, loves-to-smile third child

~ that he saved this till we got home

~ for nearly constant, sometimes violent quarreling between my 2.5 and 4 year old (grateful anyways....) for the refining, patience-growing opportunity it is for me

~ the cardboard house that has made it almost 4 months now and the red crayon blood over it's door

~ a sunlit laundry room with a view straight into my kids' room. Perfect. Makes me smile every time I nudge it open.

~ a clean-enough kitchen

~ for big brother tender love for our little guy and how they delight to delight each other

~ homegrown herbs off the back porch of our apartment in the city

~ sermons via i-tunes, well-fed, heart-language happiness

~ a tutor who I delight in who comes to my home so I can learn her unspeakably beautiful language.... and the privilege we look forward to with those words

~ that we all enjoy friendships in the majority language already

~ the most beautiful wedding band in the world, that I get to wear it: simple white gold, etched at the edges

~ the man that gave it to me. oh my...

~ this new piece framed in our home and for January 10, 2004, the day that photo was snapped. Matthew took me for a drive so we could photograph some favorite places.... we stopped at that tree and took that picture and wandered under it's branches till my love found a place to kneel. Then he asked me to marry him. What a great day.

holy experience

Detour... on the self control route

I've felt pretty squeemish about posting such a vulnerable view of my heart in these thoughts about self control recently. I've decided that it's unnecessarily painful and, more importantly, just plain dumb to write all this "for public accountability."

I am still heading the same direction with these thoughts, though. But, I feel a lot better about writing for the purpose of "undefending my sin." All the things I'm thinking of for this issue matter to me because at some point I've discussed with one or maybe one hundred different people sin that too often ends up being defended or justified by me or by others. There's never a justification for it. My make-up tricks don't hide what is truly ugly. And I don't want to hide...

I want to be transformed by Christ, filled with his Spirt, to love radically and serve sacraficially. Too often I think of this kind of battle cry as something to demonstrate to those outside... but I think it must be pure and true right here in my heart and home before it can be shown to, let alone, change the world.

Self Control: But I Have Young Kids

Self Control, Part Three

Toddlers. Slowness. Disobedience. Potty Training. Temper Tantrums.
For me, nothing has rubbed my sore need for humility and patience harder than some of these moments. These moments with the dearest and weakest people in my life.
Too many times well meaning friends have tried to encourage me that my maternal madness is justifiable. I really don’t need any support for this. My own pride does a great job deceiving me at these opportunities. But I think all such justification and unkindness and impatience is really just plain, dirty sin.
Scripture is clear: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another...” This, mixed with all of Jesus’ stooping, serving, patient, joyful, gentle love towards children and his aim that we should love children like that too (it’s exactly how we love him) is too solid a stone. I stumble right there.

I can’t keep walking ahead proudly if I have treated my kids unkindly because we’re late and they should know how important it is that we get out the door. Or if I plop my girl down on the potty harshly because she just had seven accidents, and now she tells me she needs to go? Or when my four year old is howling because he doesn’t want to wear those socks.... can I not handle myself calmly to love him soundly as he needs?

Kindness. I need and really want to treat my kids with kindness. Not just most of the time. I don't think that being their authority- even in discipline moments- allows me to be unkind. Nothing permits unkindness. It's all sin.
I need a great dose of repentance. Sweet filling of God’s Spirit for long-suffering, serving, loving, joyous, self control to bless these immeasurably precious gifts, these eternal images of God, that he has entrusted to me. Entrusted to me for me to model his patient grace and care and love for them.
I will fail. My kids will know that every day and every day we’ll all look to Jesus for forgiveness and grace. But may that same grace also go far in empowering me to be self-controlled in my love and service for these little treasures. I do believe that’s what his grace is intended for.

Come and do your work here, Word and Spirit of God!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

local groceries

Took a walk around our complex.... bought veggies, saw the fountain, rescued flowers.

Our local grocery vendor sells sixty some sauces (ok, maybe 16), rice, bulgur and corn meal, sugar, salt and MSG, fresh noodles, steamed buns and tofu, and the this great array of fruits and veggies and eggs. It's perfect!

Our home is worlds better for my heart than I imagined we would ever have here, in a city of 7 million, well known for it's pollution. This week we heard birds' songs and smelled lilacs. Plus, we have dear friends that make it entirely worthwhile for us to be. right. here.

The flower patch at the front of our apartment complex was being dismantled. Most folks here do NOT waste anything... but these flowers were all being tossed for good. So we took several home with us and sent them home as gifts with a friend too.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

All Those Dreams

For Greg and Heather, as you grieve through this first Mother's Day and Father's Day ahead. Your sweet baby Maelee, our precious niece, is already home with Jesus, not here to celebrate the gift you are to her.

We celebrate you.

We honor you for your love for your daughter. We bless you for the way you both served Maelee, and Greg, the way you served Heather, the whole time of holding her within. We honor your courage to grieve hard for her, to grieve in such a way that your hearts are made soft and tender, not bitter and crooked, by your pain. We honor your sorrowful, grace grip on God's goodness and sovereignty as you hide in him through this time of mourning.

Dear friends of ours here, L & A, blessed us with help and recording/guitar/drum skills to put this song together for you. It is very poor, especially in the verses, as far as songwriting skills go... but we hope that this humble gift will bless you still. Much of it was inspired by 1 Peter 1, that has Maelee's name on it.

We love you so much and are trusting God to comfort you on this weekend retreat. May he come and breathe on you and sustain you with his peace.

All Those Dreams, May 3, 2010

Your journey on a child's dream
Has begun differently
Than all we had prayed for, than hope eyes had seen
Your ears her heartbeat, you both felt her kick
Now it should not be, it should not be like this
It should not be, no- Maelee should have lived

What happens to all those dreams?

You're gasping for courage, hope holds you to stand
Your girl is home now in Immanuel's Land
You're left aching without her
But you know the Way there
And as you travel Him His suffering you'll share

What happens to all those dreams?
What happens when our hearts tear at the seams?

Blessed be the God who keeps those dreams
Who faithfully redeems
All our suffering
Blessed is He who gives and takes away
Our Living Hope remains
He tenderly sustains us with peace

Your victory in Christ, is still ahead
Your story is still to be written by His hand
Though this sad chapter has you forever changed
it is not the end, no it is not the end

Friday, May 7, 2010

away from home

Last week Matt and I were apart for our longest stretch ever: 5 1/2 days. It was tough but we made it... and there was good Reason and benefit from it.

He travelled with his language tutor back to his home province and I had my tutor come and stay with me and help with the kids. It was good language and discussion time for both of us with these dear friends. Here are just a few of Matt's shots.

xiao didi

Marian is pretty into her little brother (xiao didi). We're all so proud of what a mover he's becoming. John has been so content that he hasn't bothered to crawl until very recently (almost 11 months!). He's got a funny, drag-one-knee crawl working well for him right now. I think he'll be making great speed on his knees in another week or so. Until then, we love admiring these goofy moves.

Self Control: Conviction’s Sweet Fruit

I’ve always known self control is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5) and generally a good thing. I’ve known that I need to apply self control if I go shopping. I can’t spend money that isn’t budgeted, that we don’t have. Regarding brownies, I know I need to limit myself to three (or four) servings and no more (I’m a nursing mom!). But honestly, that’s about all I’d considered as application for this virtue in my life. Of course I would have said I want to be self-controlled... but really, what shape would that take in my life?

For several months, the Lord has seemed to bring this virtue before my eyes, convicting my heart for it. I need it badly for life and growth.

Some specific areas for self control:
  • in my relationship and communication with my husband
  • for disciplining and instructing our kids
  • in my thought life- not dwelling on what I wish I would have said, how I could defend myself, what I think she meant by that, or how I could twist that situation for my good or for my pity.
Matt and I really value blessing our kids with discipline (though sometimes you might not guess it if you were to watch them- oh for grace!). We want to train them to make it their aim to please the Lord and to know and do what is right and good. We don’t think they’ll stumble upon it apart from clear direction and instruction from the Word of God.

Being disciplined to learn skills and study to know the world will open up worlds of freedom and beauty for them. Just like the splendor created by a diligently practiced pianist isn’t free to lazy takers. We want this kind of heart and skills for our kiddos and we’re willing to work for it.

And just as this kind of discipline for our kids bears good fruit, I am seeing self-control bear sweet fruit for my own heart and in our home. Oh for more of this sweet grace, Lord!

In the next several days, I’ll be posting about a few of these areas, as a way of public accountability. I welcome your fellowship to walk towards more of Christ in this way together.