Monday, October 27, 2014

Conspiring for More {A Holy Celebration of Eternal Joy}

I found this link a few years back on Ann's site.  She recommended watching and rewatching it once a week for the weeks leading up to Advent and Christmas and I think I must do it, and share the joyful, challenging gift.     What might become of you and I joining in *such *conspiracy*? Glory.... Glory Be...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

wisdom and courage


I read this story last week... a day or two after we saw all the lambs be slaughtered (see the next post).  A perfect read for our family as it mentioned Korban and the young David-boy, fierce lover of God, valiant-heart.

It's a sweet story from Ann Voskamp with two of her sons quarreling and how she got to sit long with the older one and suggest along these lines.... "Buddy, if your life is a story you're writing... not with words on a page, but with the way that you love and the words that you speak right here, to your brothers and sisters... how are you caring for them, how do you want to write it?  Do you think you could choose to love them like a hero in this?"  Our kids heard it deep, I think, when they heard how her older son got up, in the story, got over the little quarrel, and decided to generously serve and create and care for his family for joy and for love with them.  

That night and the whole next day I got to return a hundred times to those words with our big guy...."Dear, don't you see how happy you are when you're choosing such hero-love?!  You're showing such wisdom to choose to show such love to others!  What grace to see you so full of love!  You are blessing all of us so fantastically!  Thank you for how you're loving others so well with your care, your help, your encouragement.   I'm so delighted to see you so happily making others happy!"

That was two weeks ago.  We need another shot in the arm.  But it was a gift to be remembered.  An Ebenezer to restore my faith on empty days....  and we can keep growing in that direction.

Lord you did it once.  Please do it again.   Grow us continually in such grace-strength and heroic love.


She took us to the hospital where they could pierce ears.  It was not quite as cheap as the night market but heart-calmingly cleaner (and still not quite 3$ USD per ear.)   And when Marian freaked out, her beautiful math & local language tutor told her that she would go first.  I couldn't believe it.  I checked with her about nine times.... yea, she decided to get a second hole on one ear since she already had two on the other ear.  (I still think she came up with the plan only when she saw Marian's crazy fear.)  

the hug-hold
Isaiah had been such a supporter for Marian in this and he really wanted to be there for her, to see the process.  But after their teacher's ear was pierced, Marian all but fled the scene.  She was terrified to go through with it.  We quickly figured out that it would be best for Daddy to take the boys and continue to hunt for shoes for our big guy who had a pile of snow sneak in on his toes last week.

It took us a fair bit longer til she was convinced enough to consider trying to really get it done.  Then we finally snuggled into position:  I could hold her and hug her tight- a bit of a straight-jacket with a cuddly blanket type feel.  And she did it.  

She and I were over the moon giddy that she did.   Matt called a few minutes later to see how we were and I told him he'd have to wait and see....  She dashed daringly across traffic to let her daddy see.... and again:  more, much more joy.  From daddy and both the brothers.  What joy for such sweet and simple courage in our girl!

she's still thrilled

the holiday of sacrifice....

These first floor neighbors of ours are just delightful.  Gerneously hospitable and eager to take care of us who have no other family here with us.  We are so blessed to have such friends here...

Well over a month ago they scheduled a visit with us.  We would for sure need to come to their home for a meal for this holiday time.   The first day of Korban is for family only... but we enjoyed many sweet visits the following days.  

(warning... sad, bloody pictures of animal sacrifices below)

There were more than a dozen lambs ready, tied to trees in our complex the night before Korban and another dozen added by the time we were downstairs the next morning.

We went downstairs on the morning of the Korban holiday just to check things out... to see what we would see of our neighbors' celebration.  This is part of the family day- the slaughtering of a lamb or a cow or maybe a camel (we didn't see that though) to commemorate Abraham's near sacrifice of his son.  Our neighbors also tell us that they believe the lambs they slaughter will help them on judgement day to cross into heaven.

It was sad.  Even sadder than I expected.  I thought that slaughtering an animal to be approved as "halal" meat meant that a prayer was prayed over them before they were killed.  It also means that the animal is fully bled to death.  Our local friends looked on these sacrifices as such a joyful thing... the lamb will certainly go to heaven.  And for more than one reason it was just not so joyful for us.

As Christians on this bloody yet beautiful still ground, with these neighbors and their feasting and rejoicing... we find ourselves desperately hungry to communicate the far greater celebration that ought to be taking place!  Why settle for celebrating Abraham's near sacrifice of the son he loved for ten or twelve years... when we can celebrate the God of the universe sending his Son of all eternity to enter into our world?  We can celebrate the craziest, most undeserved and absolutely satisfying (not hopefully helpful) Gift...this Perfect in Holiness and Happiness God leading His own Son to be slaughtered, to die a bloody, spat upon, crucified death to take the eternal death that we deserve for our sin, to trade our condemnation for forgiveness and life forever with Him? 

Oh may there be open doors and hearts and tongues and ears...

After the lamb has died, there is a slit made in on hind leg and the skin is blown into, the lamb blows up very much like a balloon and the skin is separated from the meat to make it easier to prepare.

As the kids were watching and playing, Isaiah kept laughing at silly jokes from the guy in the dark red jacket.  But at the end, Isaiah remembered the blood marks on his forehead (just a way to remember the sacrifice) more than any of his goofball antics.  

Oh may there be eyes to see...

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

glimpses of grace.... (life recently)

morning cuddles
(Vivi asks for a cuddle from one or another sibling almost every morning...  sweetest way to start the day)
Perhaps the most beautiful park I've ever been in in my life... We are so grateful to find this place!  Our kids were invited to go for a special art class where this sweet neighbor/ art teacher guided them with some techniques and tips for drawing landscapes.  

watching the big two in art class...
Who would have thought that our local veggie market would end up with a stall of decently cute, doable quality clothes and everything 5Y!  (Not quite a dollar).  Made for happy triplets in Valentinesy sweatshirts here... our girls with their D family counterpart.  (And we had a fantastically fun overnight with the D kids here this past week during vacation time from school.  Such a treat to have these friends near us!)
This happened.  I was eager for our boy to flick the reading switch on his own over a year ago, maybe two.... but in his time, he's done it.  He downed The Boy of the Pyramids in few sittings and then begged and begged and begged for Marian to read it too.  (She and I still read longer books together.)  Joy.   
And then this happened (when I didn't get to finish a chapter with her soon enough.)  He couldn't wait.  They sat side by side on her bed to delight in the story together.  Exploding gratitude and joy in this mama heart.  Thank you Lord.   
Calm morning devotions-  Matt reads the McCheyne Bible Reading plan on his phone.

Soccer...   this is where my hopes for photographic beauty fall flat.  Indoor, low light, fast movement.
But though the pictures are ugly, the exuberant joy was bright and wild and strong...  We are humbly, happily grateful to the Lord for a field to play in, a place where Matt's company can host a bilingual sports club for kids!