Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Money is Dirt : Giving Radically

Eric Metaxas tells the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer traveling with his students on a short trip and then- to their surprise- buying their return train tickets for them.  One of the students protested modestly, offering to repay the teacher for his ticket.  Bonhoeffer told him simply, "Money is dirt."
Who says that? 
Only a man who lives gloriously freed from the snare,  a man who doesn't love it.  (And that's a crucial mark for a man of God because if down deep he’s (or... I’m) really clammering for the stuff.... if the stuff of the world is really my heart's aim, well then, it’s been said plainly enough:  I'm an enemy of God.)

But really, dirt?  Money is Dirt?   Of course it's about that precious where we live all well fed, air conditioned, pampered, and fashionable.  And I love Dietrich Bonhoeffer and I light up with joy at these words of his.  But this freeing truth isn’t all, always true.  The problem is that most of the world needs that dirt for food and water and a roof and education and medical attention just to live.  
Once again sweet Ann has posted some outstanding exhortation on giving and living radically.  Here are the points that speak the clearest, loudest to me... (my notes in parentheses) 
1. Pray.
This is doing something — the first thing.
Prayer isn’t a substitute for action — prayer is the source of action. Pick a country to pray for, a person, a people group — make it a habit of your day to wear compassion and justice and prayer.

2. Make it your goal to tithe 10% (And what a joy to get to give 20%, 30%, even more of our income as He enables?!)  

3. Give Wisely (I’ve adjusted some of the links from Ann’s original post)
When giving, Tim Keller says, the most effective way to make to give, to support is:
Straight Relief = immediate aid  (put food on a plate of a hungry child, give medical caregive water to a neighborhood whose been death beaten simply by dirty water) 
Societal Development= micro enterprise loans, educational and  infrastructure development.
Soul Reform = evangelism and discipleship
There is no better way for Christians to lay a foundation for evangelism than doing justice,” write Keller. “On paper we may ask, ‘Should Christians do evangelism or social justice?’ But in real life, these things go together,” offers Keller.
I can't help but add one more point too....  4.  Buy Less (much less).   Such joy and freedom to not have to hunt for stuff, pour money out on it, maintain it, clean it, organize it, store it, repair it, resell it....   So few things are actually needful in the first place!   It has been such a glad, freeing gift for me to not have any place to go shopping in the town we live in.  I have so much time without wasting it there and more money to give.  Yes, I hope to be something of a Proverbs 31 woman who provides well for my family's needs, but... needs.  We don't need every pretty thing.   Buying less makes rare buys (wants) all the more special and gratefully enjoyed.  We've found this little tip to be all around gladness.  

Let's give, friends!  Invest in eternal joy!

We've got a great group of links that we love, organizations that we delight to give to or groups that our friends work with or have commended to us.   I can't post the list of links here but I can email it to you if you're interested or you can find it on my first pinboard.    Please take a look.... such beautiful org.s to give to!  Such joy to be had in giving to His glory!

There are several groups that are quite sensitive to mention but this is one group we can shout out.  
Abba Fund   is just one of many agencies that give grants to families to help cover the costs of adopting a new baby into their family.  We recently had the joy of meeting this family as they came to our town to bring their new baby girl into their family.  I don't know if they received grants, and if they did- I don't know which ones, but they did say that the cost of their adoption was largely supplemented with donations.

What an Awesome Joy to see....  No more orphanage for you, Mattie Grace.  You have a hope and future.  You are forever loved and you will grow up knowing it, hearing it, seeing it... the Gospel of Jesus.  We are so sooo glad for you, darling girl!

And ohhhh.... for the millions more orphans waiting.  What is the heart of God for them but that his people love and care for these little ones!?  Oh move us to action for Your name, Jesus, and for these little ones!

Monday, July 23, 2012

the first to go

He lost it July 6 at school. I was teary eyed to pick him up and see him toothless!  
 and a few more recent joys...
loving the hose action and these sweet friends

thanks for the stick-on mustaches Auntie Abby & H family
Tom and Joe spent 6 weeks with us here this summer.  What a blessing they were!  And what a treat to celebrate their last dinner with us in the mountains!  (It's cheaper for us to rent a car for 24 hours than to simply take a taxi to the airport for our friends' departure..... it was a sweet send-off for these very cool friends.)
Fun in the creek.... except that Vivi got a mouth full of watery sand before I grabbed her hand and she had some serious tummy issues for a week.  Argh.   Praise God that it's mostly done now.

We got to spend some time with these precious new friends because of this beautiful little girl.... just days before adopted into their family (more about them soon).  Another teary-eyed joy to behold.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

Please don't disturb the guests

These words at the right are entirely from Ann Voskamp’s recent post at MomHeart.com .  In a quick blur of wannabe artistic ambition a few weeks ago, I wrote out these points to hang in a busy place where I’ll see them hopefully when I need them.  
The last phrase...  Celebration in our Community...actually isn’t in this post from Ann, but it’s well within the realm of other words she’s written and most importantly, it’s true from The Word. Yes!  Let their be celebration of all God's grace among us!  It’s made quite a difference for me recently as I’ve thought about our kids in their daily celebration of life.  
Sadly, sometimes I’m just not in the festive mood that our four kiddos are.  Sometimes I’ve been grumpy just because they are being especially sillyzanymessy (normal) kids. But as I’ve thought about touching Christ, the cross, the cave and then touching the children, it has led me to think of all the joy that Jesus brought to that wedding.  In his presence and in his gift he blessed that whole crowd, he blessed their messy joy at that wedding feast.
And I’ve thought about my grumpy spots, the moments I believe the lie that I’m merely a janitor who simply cleans messes all day long.  And I’ve preached this to myself times before but I need it again....   

There is a time to celebrate and let things get crazy messy, Jill.  And, I’m really not a janitor.  I should be a celebrant with my kids at the festival of God’s every day grace.  We should be dancing, laughing worship together daily.   I have every reason.....  oh his steadfast love, the myriad ways he expresses and demonstrates his love!
Father, thank you for your sweet, convicting voice on loud speaker in my heart recently...  and imagined in our home/reception hall:  “Would the janitor at the back, please not disturb the guests who are honoring the bridegroom with their joy?...  And would you too please, go get your wedding clothes and join the party?!"  
These celebrants with me, they’re not mine, they're his.  I am called to lead and teach and serve and bless them... but ultimately they are celebrating him and I do best to join in lighthearted joy with them, to spur them on in hope and point them toward their eternal joy which is found only in God.  
This is for sure all grace.... because naturally, managing four little kids in a culture I still don't know how to swim in quite right, where we walk everywhere and make everything we eat from scratch and try to throw open our doors and arms daily for guests....  I too easily slink into grumpy janitor mode.  But the Father beckons and he welcomes me to join in his joy and this is all grace from him!  

So may we dance well and laugh heartily today!  
Praise, praise to such a God of grace!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Vivi & Mama's Whirlwind Tour

We're so happy to be home again and so super grateful for a very blessed trip.  Here are some pics...

so fun to travel with this dear friend (on the left) and fun for Vivi be her help to meet new neighbors too

the sweet family we stayed with in the cantaloupe capital city
we were treated with so kindly, so super generously by our friends who hosted us in their homes
oh these kind friends! 
we toured a site where kings of old were buried... and they had a small plaque honoring three western ladies that had travelled through this region for good reason about a hundred years ago (I think) by donkey cart.   
and so is watermelon....  everywhere.... and Vivi always has room for more

we got to pose for a pic with the performers in a cool cultural show at the museum
my dear friend Karen and the grandma who hosted us for our last dinner in town
back in the provincial capital, my girlfriends painted my nails and toenails with traditional henna stains (the color will be there until my nails grow out!) and some non-traditional (except in India/ Pakistan!) henna tattoos on my feet.
my girlfriends, in their home city again

We love this province, these people.  Matt and I are increasingly desiring to get our family to this capital city as soon as doors open.... and may it be soon!

And hopefully you saw the pics of Matt and Isaiah's trip there too?  We divided and conquered this summer- to save kiddo airfare and help us be more mobile on the ground.  The middle two missed out on traveling but they're both getting double birthday parties this summer... and that makes everything good for them!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

waking up is hard to do

But it gets better fast when big brother comes to play...

 these two adore each other...

all their precious smiles and tickles and giggles and faces...  oh I love love love them all

I'm not sure how I feel about these black and whites...  I seem to love other's BW shots but my own I'm much less sure about.  Perhaps it's just the same rule at play here.... a recipe (a photo) always tastes better when someone else has made it? 

What do you think, friends? 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

God Only Wise

from J. I. Packer's classic, Knowing God

God's almighty wisdom is always active and never fails.  All his works of creation and providence and grace display it, and until we can see it in them, we are just not seeing them straight.  (p 91)

Monday, July 2, 2012

little stuff

the kids in their new vehicles.... see the "go button" on top
lovin' the hand-me-downs
she brings me these shoes now and sometimes tries to put them on herself...  and these sweet little legs?  they're starting to move just a bit faster than Vivi seems to know how to handle...  she's on the verge of running and it usually happens with much big sibling inspiration and horse/motorcycle sound effects too

really?  you'd waste chocolate for face paint?   

Apparently so

and this guy has a Loose TOOTH!  (which is just a little scary the first time around)

she was *thrilled* with the animals-in-her-tights toy she made

(and this one's a bit scary to me)  he was gleeful over turning his fuwa into "beef"

one of four

Isaiah is our first little graduate.... the first of our four, and one of only four in his class.  I didn't have any idea what his school would do for a kindergarden graduation but they made it so special, especially for the shoestring budget they were working with.  Poster board caps and poster trimmed, trash bag gowns!  They gave Isaiah his own Big Picture (bilingual) Bible... such a generous, wonderful gift!

Jia En, Isaiah, Ya Lun, and Joshua (not seen)

Guo Laoshi

We love this school and these teachers so dearly!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

more June

the view over my shoulder as I bought fruit

I think I've got a pic of me looking just like this... but I was wearing perfect 70's earth tones 

she's a zoomer (on the Bee Bike)

with neighbors at the back square in our apartment complex

she found the flour bin
He calls them his light glasses since everything is light blue.  Thanks Grandma and Grandpa!

the last building in our complex has a tiny strip of gardening behind it...  Clever neighbors!