Thursday, October 28, 2010

happy hearts

So true, that gratitude makes our hearts happy.  It is a happy habit indeed to cultivate, to grow wild and bear it's sweet fruit in our home.  We have been given so much- every promise of God is Yes for us in Christ!  And he has given us life and hope and all we need... and more.  

It does make me happy to reflect on all this...

~ for the foreign doctor who practices here and sees a few patients when he’s not caring for local orphans.  What a grace to hear his wise perspective on recovering from the flu and where to give birth....  local medical ideas are so different from what seems wise or reasonable to us, so we are deeply grateful to have this trusted doctor to hear from!

~ taking this week off from classes to let my body rest.... the flu bug took a big bite out of me recently!

~ for this year, 10 months so far to live in this apartment:  spacious rooms with an open kitchen to the dining/ living area (unheard of in Chinese apartments), and a bathtub.  It has been a privilege beyond what we ever expected to live in here.  And we hope we’ll continue to get to live here!

~ for really dear neighbor friends in this complex

~ for the police officer who hasn’t registered us for the past month (after near daily visits or calls) and who might eventually/soon? force us to move from this home.   I am grateful that we are ultimately in the care of a faithful, good, justice-loving God despite these underlings’ authority over us now.  God rules over all these small matters and these officers too.

~ for our local tutors, sharing their heart language with us.... and oh for us to get to share the Language, the Message, of our true Home with them!

~ for songs from our girl, our all the time songbird

~ swinging next to Isaiah and Marian, John on my lap (that won’t last much longer this winter!), listening to Isaiah’s energetic storytelling of “Ba Si Guo Nian” (Buzz Light Year)

~  my mom’s brownie recipe

~ Zana R.’s apple pie recipe

~ the friends that came over to try these American treats and play Matt’s favorite new card game together....  San Guo Xia

~ the playground at the apartment complex next door

~ the sweet, sweet boy who is passionate now about saying "bye-bye"

~ his big brother who delights to wear anything that somewhat matches the little guy

~ warm winter coats

~ a warm enough home and heat that will come on soon?.... we hope!

~ a comfy bed with warm blankets

~ bedside lamps- the perfect glow for the start and end of the day

~ wise friends to advise and encourage and uplift us...

~ our used "student desk" - fits two- so I can be near my love for our attempts to be administrative

~ a season of much less English-speaking, far fewer friends around to hear from and to share my heart with.... this one often feels very bitter, but I know it is also a good gift.

~ a new plan for scripture memory.  Why would I forsake this rich joy?  Thanks Ann for the encouragement and excellent tips!

~ for the bun that is rising in my oven (inside)...  we are dreamy of you, longing for you even now, dear little one!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

God trains his servants by breaking their hearts

Maybe it's a pregnant thing, or maybe just pure sinfulness in my heart, but I've been aware recently that I've been a little looking for pity. Yuck. I really don't need any. I have nothing to complain of, I know that well.

And then I read
this post, honoring a simple pastor and his wife, who are struggling valiantly, courageously to honor Christ in incredible suffering.

I am inspired to persevere, to keep my eyes up, to choose to give thanks, to remember grace. I truly am doing so much better than I deserve. (All of us who trust in Christ are!) Oh to drop the complaining now!

Thanks, thanks is what I want on my lips, in my heart! Thanks for the grace of God, so perfectly displayed and demonstrated in Christ on the cross...

The Ks are praying for you, Jay and Melody. May Christ's grace abound to you.

lullaby

I do not wish you joy without a sorrow,
Nor endless day without the healing dark,
Nor brilliant sun without the restful shadow,
Nor tides that never turn against your back.

I wish you love, faith, strength, and wisdom,
Goods, gold enough to help some needy one,
I wish you songs, but also blessed silence,
And God's sweet peace when every day is done.


I heard this song years ago from a New Zealander who told me it was a national lullaby. Since then I've searched a bit online and only found it credited to Anonymous or a Hallmark card. Poor unrecognized New Zealander...

The tune is magical and I love that our kids tend to quiet down well when they hear these words, this melody beginning. A sweet prayer, blessing, to rest our eyes and hearts with at the end of the day.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

from Psalm 90

Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.

Before the mountains were brought forth, 

or ever you had formed the earth and the world, 
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, 

that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, 

and for as many years as we have seen evil.

Let your work be shown to your servants, 

and your glorious power to their children.

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, 

and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!


verses 1, 2, 12, 13-17

not so tough after all...

Funny that we had so many perfect scores, but most of you did say that there were at least a few tricky pics. Maybe Isaiah and John don't look quite as much alike as I think!?

The answers for the quiz below are: 1-Isaiah, 2-Isaiah, 3-John, 4-Isaiah, 5-John, 6-John. Or... looking at Grandma's answers ("Nai Nai" in Chinese) gives you all you need to know too! Several others guessed correctly, but I don't think anyone probably guessed as quickly or as confidently as this Grandma who knows her little loves so well!

It was really fun to hear from you all for this silly thing.... thanks dear friends!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

guess who?

I'd love to hear your guesses!
These are our look-alike boys.... all of them either John or Isaiah (Sorry, should have told you that when I first posted this). I'll give it a week or so and then post the answers as a comment. It's fun to play with you. We love you friends!

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6


promises... living food


Straight from www.desiringgod.org, Oct 13, 2010.  Posted by Jon Bloom.
...Hope is what energizes the soul, and promises are what we feed our soul in order to get hope—just like we energize our bodies by eating food.
Human beings are specifically designed to eat a particular kind of soul food: God’s Word. That’s why in both the Old and New Testaments, God emphasized that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3Matthew 4:4).
When God speaks, it is much different than when you and I speak. When we speak, we describe or defend our perceptions of reality. When God speaks, he speaks reality into being. Our words describe life and action. God’s word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12).
When God speaks creation, things other than himself come into being: angels, galaxies, gnats. But when God speaks himself, he speaks uncreated, eternal deity. That is his Son, who called himself the life (John 11:17John 14:6).

Monday, October 11, 2010

our big little boy

Here's a quick view of our littlest mover.
We sure love this spectacular boy.



16 months. "Mama, Nose, Zai Jian/ Bye Bye, Mmmo (Moses bear), Mmmmih (Milk), Dada, Aiya (Isaiah), Waaa (wow), Ba(ll), Ame(n)". Climber. Toddly- yet swiftly- runs. Toothbrush OBSESSED. Incredible drool. Identical to his big brother. Wants his own way and screams when he doesn't get it (sometimes for a looonnng time). Besides this, he's still.... mostly all charm and adorableness. We are smitten and so very grateful.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

such a gift

Just saw the tip on Justin Taylor's blog to listen and download for free Psalm 148 and Psalm 111 from Andrew Case. Here's the site to get the music: http://soundcloud.com/andrewdcase

Listen.
Oh please listen. Such beauty, such truth... such a gift to enjoy.

"Praise the LORD from the heavens!
Praise him in the heights!
Praise him all his angels;
Praise him, all his hosts!"

"Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven."

above, Psalm 148:1,2,13

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Willing to Suffer

Sally shared with me this Sunday a line she heard from a counseling class she took recently, "The reason [people who have gone overseas to serve others] often deal with addictive behaviors (I insert "Often!?".... she assures me, "yes, often") is because of an unwillingness to suffer.... "
Daily for a while now, I have struggled tearfully with culture hardships here that seem unbeatable naturally. Pain to just buck up and live in. Culture shock was that big cloud that I expected would hover over people who wanted to work overseas much less than I did. Pride comes before a .... and I am laid low.
"Standing in line is catching on here," Matt said the other day as we rode past a line of people waiting to buy tickets for the train. Well, it is and it isn't. In the days of pre-olympic fury, the country urged it's people to study the 11th.... Every month, "National Stand in Line Day" just like a one standing behind another. It was a great idea but the masses are far from practicing "pai dui" (stand in line) as standard protocol. And it's hard to block off elbows and knees coming at you from all sides, pressing their way forward, coming at you and your three little kids and your now protruding belly. I do get angry. Stand in line, would you? Really, it doesn't seem to much too ask. Not too unreasonable...
But I get way more frustrated with what I call the "Zoo Life" that we lead here. This week most folks are off work and the kids are out of school for the nation's birthday. (We are still meeting with our language tutors though.... we don't really do American holidays the same here because this isn't America and we don't celebrate Chinese holidays because we're not Chinese and I really need to take a break, but that's another story.)
So for a special day today, I took the kids to the park and from almost the moment we got out of the bike, we were surrounded and followed by at least a handful of people. Staring, gaping, gawking is all normal, everyday stuff here. But we are not. We are as odd as can be: blonde hair, blue eyes, THREE kids. The Plural Offspring bit is thought of, it would seem, as physically or naturally impossible by many around us.
I don't mind so much hearing 156 times "3 kids, wow".... but when it's "3 kids!? Agh! Too many! How tiring!" I get angry, sometimes sinfully angry in my heart, and sometimes I say awful things. Today I told a man who kindly asked if he could take pictures of our kids, "Yes, but please don't ask them to pose. (As so many do, wherever we go.) They are kids and we've come to the park just to play. They're not zoo animals, they're just kids." Poor guy.... he didn’t need to hear all that.
I'm really trying to just "smile and nod" as Matt tells me repeatedly, but it's really hard for my too-stinking-verbal self. Oh that every word, to everyone, would be a lead in for, a fragrant demonstration of the Gospel... but I fall hard, fall low, so often and the struggle and the failure both sting.
I was thinking over those wise words that Sally mentioned as I rode us all back from the park this morning. I've always pictured "fixing my culture problem," being victorious in this battle of cross-cultural living, as somehow making these hardships all turn into ease and pleasure. I've had in the back of my mind that embracing this suffering would make it kind of go away. Surely "victory" in culture shock would be to not feel the weight of the shock any longer.
Or maybe it doesn't? Maybe it means counting this shock, this burden, as a suffering that I allow myself to enter into, to willingly, intentionally embrace. So... maybe I should learn to walk in this, dwell in it, trusting that in Christ, he will make a way to dwell in this suffering richly for his glory and for my own good in him. (Yes, that is just his way.)
Then... how? How do I live this? How does anyone "embrace their suffering?" Because surely each life is full of it's own suffering. I’m baffled...
Oh for grace.
I don't think I've thought of things in quite this light before. I would love your prayers for grace to grow in this, to hide myself in Christ for these culture storms here and to, with Christ’s grace and patient humility and servant heart, be willing to suffer. Thank you for praying, friends.
The council "called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. They left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ." Acts 5:40-42
May it be, Lord Jesus. Give us your grace and may this be so...

Good-bye old house

Our faithful cardboard friend reached the end of it's days this past weekend.  For a while I thought I might be the most sad about this farewell...  but it was clear that all of us are going to miss this old house.  Sweet memories and laughter here.  

 John adding his final contribution to the artwork impressed on these walls
Structural integrity was lost Sat am....  she only stood till evening
 Isaiah, with all appropriate emotion.  Marian, refusing to smile.  









 And... here's the finally-finished new fountain at the front of our complex.  Maybe I'm the only one who misses the old, far more modest little fountain, but I'll admit this new one is going to be a blast next summer to play in in the heat.  And yes... that's K4 popping out there too... amidst the blur of elder siblings.