Saturday, November 30, 2013

humbled with thanks {and pressed full of joy}

My heart is full.... thanks and wonder and astonishment over the goodness, the severe goodnesses and graces of God..... and with this, there's that throbbing longing too, longing for more of Him, especially here.  The needs are so very great.   I've been re-reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts lately and it has been so good to ruminate again on how receiving gifts, calling them good and naming them-calling my attention to them, is a humbling thing..... and what better joy is there than to be humbled before the most loving Father in all creation and receive his love in all His gifts?

We've celebrated Thanksgiving two years in a row with Matt's parents.  Last year in Florida, this year in our Asian home.   What an unexpected, delightful joy!  This past week we enjoyed an especially special time with them... an in-town *vacation* gift.  We stayed in a beautiful hotel complex, in the 4 star hotel but for the 3 star price (the lady behind the desk let us know that it was only due to a translation error at our booking site, which didn't bother us in the least), and we got to swim in the 5 star POOL.  What a treat!  It was a beautiful two day rest together with them and all of our little swimmers (little flyers- see below).


Monday, November 25, 2013

A harder, happier way

We drove through a rainy evening and she sat in the front seat telling me how dietary choices affect her and her family and that even if it's hard, she wants to choose the most helpful, happy way to fuel her body, her life, her family.  She wants to cut back on sugar and processed gunk....

I want to cut back on stuff... materialism, clutter, addictions, distractions.  Oh for a mind, a soul, consumed, consecrated!  I want the happier way too, even if it's hard....  harder even than the path where the crowd flows naturally, wide and welcoming, and I wouldn't have to think about "Why?".  And I want a Christmas all about Christ, not also about Christ (and I can hear my dear Ann here, her heart and her words in this, and I'm grateful to the Lord again for all of this, and all of her influence...).

I have the joy of being washed by Him.... now for the joy of feeding His lambs, washing their feet, giving water to the thirsty, and pointing the way to those who are lost (which always includes me).  I want His Word shaping, anchoring, forming and filling me more than the force of our fast-fleeting, aimless and arrogant culture. I want to be free in Christ, given to Christ, glad in Christ. I want the love that endures forever:  His love, His Word, His gladness, His glory endures forever...

So fitting is this song that I learned a decade ago and sung as a lullaby for our kiddos tonight....  I need it as a sermon for my soul and maybe we can begin it as a regular prayer and blessing at bedtime for our cherished little loves too...

I offer up to you my Lord, a living sacrifice
All I am and have to give, oh Lord, even my life
To know you more and make you known, your call I will embrace
To tell the whole world of your love and never ending grace

Oh hear, my cry, I stand before you Lord
Willing to die, for the cross you set before
Oh teach me Oh God, to walk the narrow way
And to die to myself, each and every day

a grand time....

They're here.... after 5 flights and a few days of traveling, they're on solid ground again and now, 5 days in, they've completely turned their body clocks inside out for a night and day switch.  We are all so grateful they would come all this way.  Oh we love these *grand*parents* so much!

Last week we got out of town for a little hike.....  (many) more photos coming!


Life has been moving just a bit faster than I have been....  at least faster than I've been able to blog about it!  For now, here's just two moments to record from just before Grandma and Grandpa's arrival last week.  The second Creative Arts Concert that our friends hosted.... this time our four sang Michael Card's song My Help together a capella (mostly the big two sang and the little two just smiled cute).  Isaiah presented a poem and drawing "Boats sail on the Rivers" and Marian showed her cake baking  / decorating and displayed two potholders she made.  Such sweet moments of joy...

This treasured neighbor friend is tucked deep in our hearts...
Then, followed by this afternoon of coolness.... a field trip to a fire station.  It's not something officially allowed, that a fire station should open up for a tour for kiddos,  so the firemen and the station stats can't be shown.... but it was a thrilling hour of hoses and horns and trucks and fireman jargon!

Monday, November 18, 2013

heat, a freebie and one quick romantic read

We have heat now.  Hot heat....  It's a privilege and a blessing and it's really wayyyy too hot and we have no control (except to turn it off completely and Matt said the valves weren't made to be adjusted more than twice a year and we risk seriously injuring the pipes there.)  It is sadly wasteful and embarassing even, how very warm our place is when so many don't have any proper heating other than a smoky stove... and have I ranted here about the lack of public education when so many in the streets warm their hands over fires of burning plastic grocery bags and toxic trash?  It's grievous.  So I'm sad and I'm grateful.  Laundry can dry again.  Our floors that three days ago were as cold and clammy as any thing in the fridge, are now a bit like baking sheets for every crumb under the table (and I need nonstick spray for our entire dining room floor.... and I'm hardly joking.  oh well... to be warm now is a crazy privilege.)

Now for even better news:   My friend Abby told me that Seeds Family Worship has an entire free CD until Thanksgiving!  Friends... this is very good stuff!  Every song is scripture and the music is really good.....  well worth the minute to download.   Go HERE and click on Digital Album (don't click on Buy Now) and name your price $0.  I just got it.  And love it... love it.

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord is the Rock eternal...

These are songs for everyone.  I hope you will be refreshed by the Word washing over you and planting seeds of hope and faith in your hearts like I know will be planted in us.... Praise be to God for His Word.

And just one more tiny note....  I love most all of Ann Voskamp's posts but every now and then she writes one that I simply must shout about.   I read this one aloud to my man this evening..... Ever so grateful, eternally grateful, that I can be married to this best kind of boring man, the best friend, the best earthly love of my life.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

winter wimp

So this So Cal girl married a North Dakotan and we're raising our four blondes in the middle of black-topped China and we've just come through a decision process of whether to move to the tropics or the tundra and, well.... the tundra won.

It's been in the 40's here lately (and getting colder by the minute.... ahh, day, I mean, by the day) and the heat won't be on for a few more days (the government determines that schedule).   We can see our breath in our house and theres little bursts of mold flowers growing each morning between the drips of water streaming down the windows.   And I am a ridiculous wimp for this....  as in, I currently have on enough layers to be plain uncomfortable (yep, wimp).

So the girl who feels the mental lethargy of a day in pajamas any time she's got to wear 5 layers to stay warm, she hasn't been cleaning house all that much (or blogging).... she's basically been tending to the laundry these days and trying just to keep up with our constant joys (and fairly frequent struggles) in homeschool.  We bid our dryer farewell a few weeks ago (when just inside the door had shards of plastic swinging right around that little "danger, fire" sticker that we all understand in any language.)  So I've spent most of my domestic energy on rotating clothes near the one space heater we've got working in the kids room (and surrendering to the stink of most our clothes that took 4-5 days to dry) and moving every other little mess to be sorted or reorganized to our room, where it's piling up fairly thick now, but at least I can stand to have guests in our living room without too much mess there.

We've got 5 days from the second promised start date for the heat to get cranking before Matt's parents arrive and I really want to have our home actually clean by then, and oh!  to be functioning at the mental capacity of a normal thinking adult.  That would be great.  It's ridiculous how much a wimp I am for this!  I do feel like this, but I know it's really not this bad....

(The link to this photo's post ... all beautiful pics of vanishing tribes. HT: AV)

When we were in N Dakota last winter, one of Matt's groomsmen and his sweet wife and son visited us and inspired us with their committed outdoors-ness that we simply need to invest in the right winter gear to make getting outside in winters more doable.  And now that we know we'll be living in the land of 5 months of snow/ year... where much more of life- grocery stores and transportation time is on foot outdoors- it's really going to need to happen!  (As is a little buck-up-ness and bravery for this chicken mama.  Lord help me!)  

I just hate spending crazy time to search for stuff online in 汉字 or in markets here where usually, if it's in our price range, it's super poor quality.  I would be able to get all that we need for a quarter the price, probably easily accessible, at Once Upon A Child or Goodwill in the states.  And yes, there's an unabashed hint in here for our North Dakotan friends.  Anyone of you with hand-me-downs piling up in your garage, how 'bout we could be your designated hand-me-down recipients!?  I'm thinking kids' boots, jackets, hats... any and all down gear.   It would all be well used, well worn, well loved....

Truth be told, you may have to arm wrestle Grandma.  She is one committed gift giver, as is Grandpa.  But even Santa needs helpers, right?  We sure are excited for Grandma and Grandpa's arrival and their sleigh luggage full of winter warmth coming next week!