Saturday, June 29, 2013

John and Ezra

Our very own Ezra and John.
"Sports"... Tuesday afternoons when 20ish kids from 6-7 countries gather together for PE type fun.  John and Ezra played together here on the last day before Ezra's family headed to their home country for a family visit.
What a gift this time is for our kids to enjoy!

This is Isaiah and (the turtle) Ezra that John got from us for his 4 year old birthday.  Poor Ezra doesn't seem to be very healthy these days but John is still nearly as smitten with the turtle as he is with his South African buddy....  now our boy John has a friend, a turtle and a stuffed doggy toy all named Ezra!
John with John (the turtle).... yep, he named them himself.  John is a surprising amount of active swimming, rock-diving, ant-eating fun for our kiddos to enjoy.

We all love John and Ezra.... both the boys and turtles!

And Ezra V... we'll miss you and you're whole fam while you're far away in South Africa for the next few months!   May your time be sweet and blessed with family! 

little bits of life... (and some great links)

Just a few little bits of life here...

I love, love, love these wall-climbing, delicious-smiling monkey-silly kids!

I just can't believe this big girl...  she found some hand-me-down shoes a size up, waiting for her in a storage closet and she wore them long enough for this pose (it wierds me out to see shoes on a couch now... we've become quite Asian in that!) .  The pose, the shoes, the chapstick....  she cracks me up!

Toca Builders & Sprinkle... Fantastic ipad games!
Sprinkle is an App of the Week in the iTunes store so it's free for a few more days.  Toca Builders was a big splurge.... $1.99 was more than worth it to hear Isaiah delight so thoroughly over this brick-building, creative, thinking lego-like (and beyond) game.   I'm sure this will be a K Favorite ipad game for a while to come.
I love our gifted ipad to use as a special time or reward for the kids once or twice a week.  And these games are really so well done there's joy for the builder-players and all the observers too! 

Piano Sheet Music Free Online? ....
I can't imagine appreciating any site more than this one!   I love what they've made available and how they it all.  Fantastic songs all divided into difficulty levels and beautifully arranged and free to print.  I love this site!  And....  they've got some biographical pages for composers too.  So grateful for this!

Just two weeks ago Vivi came in from playing outside, dirty as can be, and I took her straight for the bath..... and she said she had to go potty.  She was successful! Skittle Right Away!   I was totally unprepared but we decided we'd try to give her a shot at potty training (I've never eased into it this smoothly!).  After just one week, and after beginning on her timing and not my own plan,  I think she was about 90-95% on target!  We are so amazed, so happy for our big girl!!!

And a bit about the weather....  Word on the street here Sunday morning is that Saturday was 45 degrees Celsius....  I knew it was a hot one.... but I wasn't exactly sure what 45 was in F.  It's 113.  One Hundred and Thirteen Degrees Fahrenheit of City Heat.... the oven baked city effect.   That's hot enough to hurt.... especially all the friends that don't have any air conditioning and that work outside all day long (like our fruit vendor friends whose word day is 5am to 9pm/ 7 days a week.)  Lord, let there be breezes and even a bit of rain today!

Monday, June 24, 2013

mountain air

We have been running hard since our fantastic new friend Tim arrived a few weeks ago.  Tim is a Cornell student (smart!) who loves the Lord and sports and music and has filled our home with beautiful tunes and worship and also loads of fun and silly laughter with our kiddos.  He is such a great gift for us to get to work with this summer... Matt is  especially thrilled to have his help for baseball!

And for a little break, we decided to get out to the mountains that are just 40 minutes from our home.  Now that we have a car (ahh!  we are so crazy thankful still!) I hope we can go much more often (our first two years here we only made it to the mountains twice!)  What a refreshing, encouraging day trip!
The big four year old with cool "Uncle Tim"
At the end of the day she was most grateful for the butterflies, the tadpoles and the flowers....
What a precious, enjoyable girl!

And this one too.... I can't get over her sweetness... or her need for "bling" at the mountains
Matt is so grateful for this guy helping out this summer!
And I'm so grateful for my man.... my birthday recently was the 10 year mark of the day we met.  He's such a lavish gift  to me! 
How can a mama squeeze a kiss (or a thousand) into a photo or onto such a wiggly boy!?
These boys!!!  That I get to be the mama blessed with these flowers and this picker.... Oh.  Thank.  You.  Lord.  
so fun to have Tim with us and ready to take photos.... I love Vivi's face in this one!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Beauty, Honor, Immodesty & Power

I just don't know if it could get any better than this.  Bravo, Jessica Rey.  Thank you facebook friends, for this link!

In this short talk, that is oh-so-worth the 9 minutes to watch, Ms. Rey explains the history of the swimsuit and the research that tells plainly how men react to images of women in itsy-bitsy swimsuits and images of women dressed more modestly.

There are hundreds of comments after the video about girls having the right to wear what they want, but the case has been made ever so plainly (and we all know this anyways) that a woman's dress can be like a trigger for a man.  Yes, still, he is absolutely, entirely responsible for his actions, but there is honor to be had here for women and honor to be given to men in a woman's choice of dress.   And oh, Christians, there is honor to be given to the Lord when we present ourselves beautifully and appropriately for his glory.  What dignity for men and women to relate with each other as equally valueable in the image of God, not seeking to sway, to manipulate others, by our powers of allure or seeking to use others as an non-personal object for "my" pleasure.

A radiantly God-glorifying marriage is the place for magnificent immodesty and all the joy and irregretable freedom in expression and relationship that it should and does lead to.  But our dress in public should be aimed to communicate honor to others (to light up the parts of their brains where they can appreciate us as people), and honor for ourselves (we are more valuable than mere sex objects), and for the Lord who made us in His magnificent image as thinkers, worshippers, feelers, as whole people, and not simply as sexual animals.

She mentions that the 1960's sexual revolution was largely after power for women.... but she presents the case so well ...  (my paraphrase) The power that's derived from the freedom to reveal yourself or draw attention to your body is not equality or honor for a woman or for a man.  The power to make men look at you like an object, like a tool they could use, is not a virtuous power for any person or helpful to any society.  

Yes, modesty is a cultural issue and it does change and it's a matter for wisdom with hearts seeking the Spirit and not the letter of the law.  And it most certainly isn't about controlling anyone.  God-honoring, beautiful modesty is not a matter of controlling women by telling them that they must wear only XYZ but about inviting them to choose dignity and communicate the high worth with which they were made.  It's equally freeing for men because it invites and encourages them to respond honorably to women as people who were made to radiate the multi-faceted glory of God and not just a single sexual impulse.

"Modesty isn't about covering up our bodies because they're bad; it isn't about hiding ourselves.  It's about revealing our dignity,"  Jessica Rey says.  Modesty is important because people are, and people are worth more than just sex.  Our modesty in public and dignity at all times is an honor to celebrate and a delight to give as praise to our Maker!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

our little big guy's big day

John turned four a little while ago.  We had fantastic guests staying with us then (We love you Bart and Judy!) so the party was the weekend after his day, and the photos are finally getting up here after all the everything else.  John had a fun group of really great kids joining him to celebrate....

saying it... and pointing to the cheese,  the sillies!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

pretty slick

"Going to school, la la la...."  the song they sing on the way out the door every morning.
(To the same tune as the after-bath song "drying the hair, la la la.")


Love the near-rapper pose, Vivi.... and Isaiah darling, we're going to have to work on that tongue of yours!
(my personal favorite)
The rainy season is just enough here that we finally broke down and bought rain gear (umbrellas are no fun on the back of the bike all squished together!).  We were over-the-top frugal and planned for each kiddo to wear their rain jackets for 5-6 years at least..... if the plastic lasts that long!

I hope your summer is beginning sweetly too...  perhaps with a glorious rainy season like ours!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Open Heart, Open Home... {Humble, Radical, Hospitable Love}

I’d guess I’m not the only one that has sat through at least a dozen women’s groups, discussions, where someone has extolled the role and joy of homemaking... “because your home represents you, you get to show others your taste, your style, your unique flare.”   And of course, we always smile too that ...”as Christians, we can share all that with others in hospitality.”  And it's all nice and true and there's a place for that...

But this woman (oh how I would love to meet her!) has just land-slided my heart with her first few chapters on hospitality in her book Open Heart Open Home.  Karen Mains (who co-authored Kingdom Tales with her husband.... I hunted for more books from her after reading that one!)  has profoundly impacted me with her beautiful, heavy emphasis on freedom and humility in hospitality... and her exhortation that hospitality can alter the fabric of society if we, Christians, practiced it as the Word of God points us to!  She shares in the introduction that the question she measures the success of her efforts t hospitality by is this:  Did something sacred happen here together?  There’s no thought of “was the house just right, the dinner perfect, were the kids well-behaved?”  No, true hospitality, Mains says, is a matter of putting away pride.

It reminds me perfectly of John Stott’s words about the Beattitudes.  He writes about blessed mourners as those who are mourning their own sin, mourning in repentance.  'Blessed are you when you see your sin right in the light of God’s holiness and repent'... that kind of thing.  And then “blessed are the meek” that immediately follows, that has everything to do with a heart willing and planning to be known to people around you for what you've just confessed to be true of you to God.  

True hospitality, according to Ms. Mains, is about both of these- openness before God and before man- being known and loved and radically welcoming and loving all who come in...

If ever I thought I had figured out something great about how to run our home or how to serve others in hospitality.... this blows all of it out of the water.   I was physically stunned, honestly- a little breathless, and teary when I read from her section on entertaining versus hospitality, these two little paragraphs.  Oh.... the cry of my heart!

Entertaining subtly declares, “This is mine- these rooms, these adornments.  This is an expression of my personality.  It is an extension of who and what I am.  Look, please, and admire.”  Hospitality whispers, “What is mine is yours.”  Here is the secret of community that is all but lost to the church of today.  “And all who believed were together and had all things in common: (Acts 2:44).  The hospitality of that first-century church clearly said, “What’s mine is yours.”   

Entertaining looks for a payment-  the words “My isn’t she a remarkable hostess”; a return dinner invitation; a job advancement for self or spouse; esteem in the eyes of friends and neighbors.  Hospitality does everything with no thought of reward but takes pleasure in the joy of giving, doing, loving, serving.  


And for a bit of loveliness in our homes?  Well, here's a page of beauties, you might enjoy with me?   Really, such lovely printables and all free as 4x6 prints!  Such a gift from French Press Mornings!   They just might be plastered all over our home soon if I can figure out how to print them!

And one more note justifying my power-packed moment reading those words...  (this taken from the Desiring God blog) John Piper calls it “the immeasurable moment” — that instance in reading when we come across a sentence or phrase that unleashes a new glimpse of truth... He notes that many would testify that it abounds when reading C.S. Lewis.   Piper’s just-released new e-book is free for downloading if you’re curious to read more of his Lewis-love.... the book is Alive to Wonder, Celebrating the Influence of C.S. Lewis.