Wednesday, August 31, 2011

the big four



Our beautiful Marian turned four years old last week.  She helped me make muffins to bring to school on the real day (the second day back to school) and we brought a cake to our friends house where they were celebrating their Grandma's birthday too.  I wish so much she could celebrate her big day with my mom who is in heaven.... so special they share this day.

Saturday morning was the birthday breakfast:  Daddy made scrumdiliyumtious oatmeal pancakes which we topped with Dream Whip (thanks for the packets Grandma and Grandpa!) and The Unknown Fruit syrup (a friend gave us lots of that delicious, crazy-looking berry this summer.)  There were other bits and pieces that we all enjoyed along with our dear and super cute friends Ella and Addy and Cherry. (Really bummed I didn't get more pictures of them!)  After breakfast, Marian got her gift from us, a dollhouse with a little bunny family to live in it, and then we took off to play in the park together.




A precious friend of mine said ages ago that when her boys turned four, she could hear the angels sing.  We started hearing faint echos of that chorus a few weeks ago.   Somehow, something in her is coming alive... a sweeter concern for others, attention to what's expected of her, generosity and helpfulness.  She is really growing up and I just told Matt that I should remember that all the hard work of discipline through the 2s and 3s really does begin to pay off and I'm encouraged we can see the beginning of some reward for the discipline we've had to give even already.  I said that last night and then we had a  75 minute fit to deal with this morning.  So this growth and discipline and love and service of parenthood is a journey and we have not arrived anywhere yet....  but I am glad I think we're at least moving in the right direction.  (May our whole lives move towards more of you Jesus!  Oh, help me to teach her, humbly serve her, better than I do!!)

I'm sure in no time Marian will be turning 14 and when we scroll back to look at this I know we'll giggle together over what a firecracker she was and we'll delight in the beauty she was and will be.  May your faith in Christ flourish, Marian, and may he cause you to be confident in him, diligent to pursue him, zealous for His glory and radiant with his character of love and his beauty.

We Delight in You Marian Darling!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thank You

Five years ago we moved to China.  We landed on Sept 1.

We left a few weeks earlier from North Dakota, stopping to see a few more dear friends on the way west.  But it's pictures and scents of that scene,  that good-bye in North Dakota, that surge emotion like a flood and send my heart throbbing up into my throat.

I remember all to clearly standing around that dinky Minot airport, all the luggage just checked on, waiting for when we would have to proceed through security.  I remember Mary deciding that the waiting was too much pain:  you stood up, gave Isaiah one last hug, gave him back to us and left with very few words and very many tears.  And those tears were precious to us then and we shared them with you.  Those tears are still precious to us and are still met with more tears here so often as we think of you so far away these five years later.

Thank you Mom and Dad K for your incredible support sending us half the world away, with your only grandchild at the time.  Thank you for sending us with your blessing.

Isaiah was the first grandchild and the first great-grand on both sides of our ND family.  I have more delicious pictures of him with family than I could possibly post, but here are just a few...
 four generations of K men
 can you see that he was just a little bit doted on?



I've thought lots about this recently because Vivi is exactly the same age now as Isaiah was when we left and when we landed.  They were born 2 days apart in mid March.  Thank you guys once again, now actually four times over, for giving us your blessing to be here.  Your support and encouragement, and sacrificial cheer for us to come and live and work here, is of unspeakable value to us, a true blessing on our work, and we know it is a gift to the Lord too.

And... just a quickie...  a little proof that Vivi really does resemble Isaiah as a baby.  I know the pictures of him are harder to see very clearly and it's hard to see similarities in them now, but I think Vivi most resembles this guy of her three elder siblings.  (I might have to look for more- better pics to compare soon...)

Here she is a few days ago with her little big brother John.  And yep, that's her first fountain-do up on top.   They both have eyes that seem, at this point, a little too big for their faces...  (see the little creases below?)




the big three

Preschool is back in swing and our big three are in on the fun!  John is about 92% on target with potty training now (we started early Aug) and his big incentive for reaching that goal was that he could go to school with Isaiah and Marian.  He took off for the slide the moment the teacher opened the door at school, and this mama's boy, and- honest- really he is one, never shed a single Good-bye-I-love-you-mama tear.

We've gotten not a few inquisitive looks for why we have our 26 month old in preschool.  I know it seems just crazy to lots of folks- both foreigners and local Chinese.   But we are so grateful to have this small private preschool, close to our home, that flexs with us to allow our kids to attend mornings only.  As we see it, this is our kids' best shot at becoming solidly bilingual and that will be a huge help to them in all their childhood here and hopefully beyond.  (We can see this so clearly already in our big guy who translates oddball words for us occasionally!)

The best thing about this sweet school is that it's run by local believers that we pray for and really believe are attending to our kids' growth and learning well.  We're so thrilled that our kids are not only learning to play in Chinese but they are together to learn to pray and sing and make friends all in Chinese.  What a blessing for them!

And this is my last year to invest in studying a minority language here before I get to be more busy with homeschool so it is a gift for me to know that our big three are together, in such a great environment, for this time.

(Getting a decent shot of these three is hard... when will I ever get a framer of the four of them?!)

(Revision- Today has been a low point.  Maybe John is around 50% today!  What's this latest development of his constantly leaky front valve?!  We thought he was the Potty Training Miracle Child- He had 4 completely perfect days after about 30 hours of training... but then his record has gone downhill since.  Oh this time to serve my boy, to love him, wait, hold him, serve him.  Help me Jesus!)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Come By Here

Listening to this song, the second track from the almost released album Third World Symphony, by Shaun Groves.  And the third song.... oh, Let Your Kingdom Come!  Ok, the whole album is simply stellar.

"Come by Here" is quite the theme of this season now.... maybe a theme-prayer-song for life?  Yes, it must be.

One of the greatest privileges of my life (among many whose names are on this blog with me) is to sing this song here... to pray this. Here.  


And surely The High Privilege of my life is to trust and know and believe the promises of God.... that he hears these prayers, sees these tears, is able to save, and that

He
Will
Come.

(The best line of the song...)
Come, we have nothing else God, and having you we want for nothing.


Come!  Come and meet us here.  Come and touch our tears, that we may weep no more.
Come and meet our pain.  Come and lift our lame, that we may limp no more.  Come that we may want no more.


Monday, August 22, 2011

good thing the drain's clogged


 first corn harvested... a taste of Buffalo (N Dakota)
four eager tasters who just would not wait...

 oh my.... I gasped and covered my face with my hand when I saw this little doggy lick ...



 Chinese friends all love that he's got two swirls up there...
it does *not* go unnoticed, untouched, uncommented on...
 and... good thing for me that it was just chilly enough that I be warmth for him

may he learn to love good work
 may he still return for cuddles
and for tomorrows clogged drains, may I take joy too



Saturday, August 20, 2011

visiting ayis

At the beginning of this month, when the guys (in the post below) were still with us, we travelled out of town (an hour by public bus) to see the two ladies that help us in our home.   ZF and XL, the "ayis" that work in our home ("ayi" means "auntie"), are sisters-in-law and are such a blessing in our home.  I'm so grateful for these ladies!  And so grateful to get to be with them, in their homes, this day...  thank you Lord.  Part of our visit was spent snapping family portraits for these dear friends.  All these photos are from the skillful Jake.  

{ZF's family, above} She's in the middle, her husband in the back with the red shirt, their sons in the back green and very front, and the two sweet boys kind-of hiding in the middle are the their two foster sons that are severely handicapped and even more severely loved.   ZF comes two mornings a week to watch John and give him Chinese language practice.  (Starting this fall she'll watch Vivi).  She has the sweetest spirt and is a joy to have in our home.  



Their small town was so pleasant!  And I was glad to see that their homes were nicer than I had feared they might be...  spacious rooms with lovely courtyards though I know that it's tough in winter time when their insulation is completely inadequate and the only heat is from coal when the temps reach their bitterest lows.   And, there was no bathroom in either ayi's home...  there are public bathrooms on the street but they aren't pretty.

{XL's family}  Our fantastic helper that comes two afternoons a week is on the back row, right, her husband and son nearest her and their daughter on the far left.    XL comes two afternoons a week and she's mainly my hospitality help....  often fixing cafeteria size portions of delicious Chinese food for us and for guests with us.  Matt and I have nicknamed her "The Whiz" for how she zips around the kitchen and our whole home leaving everything much tidier and this mama much relieved when she goes.  Such tremendous gifts these two ladies are!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

two guy gifts

No, I'm not writing about dumb stuff to buy for guys, but instead about two guys that were pure gift to our family this summer.

TJ and Jake spent several weeks this summer serving with their photography skills to help Matt's company SRE build a web site well worth looking at and they served in every little way that came available for them... including loving on our kids.  We didn't realize till not long before it started, that our kids would be out of preschool for a one month summer vacation and we didn't have much fun planned.  Having these guys with us made for a solidly smiling week.  All gift for these K Kids...




We praise the Lord for you Jake and you TJ and we are praying that He will work mightily in and through you... and bring you back here too!  Thank you for coming and blessing us so!

awed



I wanted to find out a bit about Francis Chan and this was the first video that came up for him on You Tube- grateful me- and now I can't get it out of my head.  Oh to see this....

I watched this with our kids on Sunday afternoon after Tim Keller taught in our living room that morning and one quote from him has been ringing in me since: "we are infinitely lost, infinitely loved."  And now, add to that, that we are microscopically microscopic.  Seeing the size of all this makes me wonder if God was simply showing us how much larger, greater he is than us?

I've been tempted to respond to this "well then, I'm too small to matter"  but No.  Scripture does not allow that view.  Itsy-bitsy for sure, and immeasureably sinfully dirty and still infinitely, intensely loved.  Oh what a God.... the One who made all this, the One who loves like this, who calls himself Father to all who trust in Him.  Praise, praise, praise be!

And one last thought, from another you tube clip called "John Piper- God's glory in his creation", (paraphrased): "When we look at this, we can see clearly:  "This was MADE!"  (And great is the Maker!)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hannah Coulter

I've never read anything from Wendell Berry but have heard so much about him from many who love his words so I'm so grateful to find Christian Audio's free download for this month is his novel Hannah Coulter.  Justin Taylor's post that first tipped me off to this freebie shares good encouragment for sillies like me who are sometime wound up a bit too tight for a good novel.  I'm excited to get past my biographies-and-theology preference and my plain old task-o-craziness and enjoy this one...

(Thanks to Christian Audio for the treat!)

sweetheart




Vivian Hope 4.25 months

Monday, August 8, 2011

space (couch) rocket



Isaiah constructed this spacecraft using every pillow in the house.  I can't describe the loyalty it inspired in their hearts.... They all played together well, maintaing the structure of the side panels (pillows) throughout the long flight and sharing the driving responsibilities.  At one point, Isaiah took off down the hall for the bathroom and I was surprised how quickly he was back.  Apparently, space poops are fast and that's sure a good thing.  This captain's responsibilities were just too great;  he couldn't abandon his ship for long!

And, lucky me, I even got a few fun shots with the famed space explorers!


Saturday, August 6, 2011

sisters


May (nearly 4) and Vivi (4 months) on the quilt that my mama made before their daddy 
was even on my horizon. So, so grateful for all this...


Friday, August 5, 2011

radical words

I just finished reading Radical, by David Platt.  And I know that sometimes I get pretty fanatical about a good read and I'm sure I've written "please read this" a bit too much but, oh dear friends, this book!

I hope most deeply, urgently that every single Christian will read this book.  Maybe too, things that I write about here seem a bit too extreme, maybe just over the top?  Not for you?  Please don't hold my own extreme-o-ness against this book.  Please Read It.  I think that no Christian in America today can afford to live (or die?) without considering this message.

There are too many quotes to share here, too much about it that I love and was needfully challenged by that I just can't sum it all up.  Instead I tried to give myself an artistic outlet for this message and I laid it out in a 6th grade-quality collage of words to confront me...  I'd share it but, like I said, it's really not worth it..... oh but the words, this message is!

I would love to hear from you.  Please let me know your thoughts about it if you can.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Gospel

"The Gospel is not a message that 'we are not guilty for what we've done.'  The Gospel is a message that 'there is a Guilt Remover'."

"The freeing thing is to say, in the face of God, "Yes, I'm guilty of that" and have God answer back, "I have made a provision.""

from the sermon, He Made Purification of Sins, from Hebrews 1, by John Piper

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ephesians 2

video
We've been super blessed to have two cool photographer, expert kid-play, fun guys visiting us for the past week (more about our fun times with them soon).  What a blessing that Jake was able to capture this sweet moment at the table Monday night.   


Oh may the True and Living Word be written deep in their hearts... 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Lord's Prayer

And since I have that clip of John to post (above),  I dug up a video from last summer of Marian praying the Lord's Prayer.  She was nearing 3 years old at the time and she's Grown.So.Much since then!  The video is super dark (it was bedtime) but the audio is pretty clear til the end.  

video

Ahh... and East Africa still lays over my whole heart.  May your kingdom come quickly there Lord Jesus!  Send Relief, send rescue in your name!