Thursday May 9, 2019

Psalm 48:14 “For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.”

“When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Today, Lucia, my littlest child, reminded me of the truth, to be a child to truly appreciate the kingdom of God.  Earlier this week Sara and I watched a film called Courageous.  It was written and directed by a group that has done several Christian themed films, all of which are tremendous.  In this particular movie the emphasis is on fatherhood and how to be a father that would be pleasing to God.  Ever since watching this film I have tried very hard  to recognize times that I can be a better father starting first and foremost with saying yes to my kids when they want to do something with me.  Today, it was Luci’s turn.

Luci has been on repeat lately asking to help with dinner preparations.  At six years old she is not terribly helpful in too many ways but what she lacks in skills, size, usefulness, knowledge, and safety she makes up for, and in spades, with enthusiasm.  And so it was that when I remarked to the kids that I had to go grocery shopping for dinner that Luci was all on board about going.  First she grabbed her pink backpack which she had seen mom use on more than one occasion because of its ability to handle a sizable amount of goods.  Then she proceeded to stuff it full with her water bottle, blanket, stuffed animal, and pez dispenser.  I reminded her gently that we would need some of that space for groceries so she reluctantly put the blanket and “neigh neigh” back.  She announced to all who would listen that she and I were heading out and off we went.

If you have ever gone anywhere with a 6 year old you will know what befell me over the next fifteen minutes.  She was a tornado of movement and a nonstop blur of speech.  The topics ranged beyond my recollection and certainly my ability to keep pace.  But in it all she was simply thrilled.  On such a mediocre journey as grocery shopping you would have thought that she was on her way to the moon.  Skipping, laughing, jumping, and smiling the whole way.  Luci reminded me to take the joy in every moment we have, no matter how “mundane” it may seem.  As we neared the halfway point it dawned on me how much I could learn from her exuberance and so we discussed plans for Mother’s Day dinner.  She was simply thrilled that she was included in the plans and, although her culinary knowledge is lacking, her suggestions were nevertheless enjoyable to hear.

As I reflect now on this time I realize that I must seem a bit like Luci to me as I am to God.  Sadly there are too many times that instead of skipping and laughing I am hanging my head in despair or grief.  But in all times I imagine I am like Luci offering suggestions for ingredients for Indian food (marshmallows and ice cream as it turns out are not traditional sub-jee items).  Here I was thinking I know the answers, the ingredients for a good life, when in reality God knows them far better than I.  I foolishly say my peace but in the end God guides me and we have a fantastic meal together and all the while I am happier.  I just feel blessed to be going on the journey with Him, just like Luci just loved saying she was part of the adventure.

I am happy to be included on the walk, happy that He listens to my crazy ideas about how ice cream will really finish the sauce nicely, and happy that He lets me enjoy the meal when He is finished.  It is hard to humbly admit that my 6 year-old gets it better than I do, but I am sure glad she was there to remind me today.

 

 

Tuesday April 30, 2019

Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Jeff and I both did the afternoon shift today, but I went to the support center a bit early to help with some sorting. It was so fun to be there just the two of us. During our whole time here, we have only done 1 shift together and that was feeding the newborns. It was wonderful to share this afternoon with him, watching him play and interact with the kids. There is one little boy, who is probably about 2 or 3 years old, that absolutely adores Jeff. He just grabbed Jeff’s hand and walked him around the room; it was precious.

My kids can be so stinking cute one moment and complete terrors the next, but here is a cute moment from this morning.

And then on our walk home from the hospital today, Jeff and I encountered some of the largest snails I have ever seen.

We got home from the hospital and the kids were glued to their tablets. I really can’t stand those things and if we were able to get rid of them we would, but I will say, when they are on them I am pretty much guaranteed an absence of fighting amongst them. The problem is not that they are playing on them, but rather the fights always come as soon as they turn them off. It’s like their brains have to readjust to reality before they can rejoin the human world. Any one else have this problem???

This scripture was one that we heard in church while we were preparing and deciding whether to take this year long journey. There were so many sacrifices that would have to be made, so many risks and chances that we often questioned whether this was the right choice. But I remember hearing this during church one Sunday, and then this scripture came to me in another way shortly thereafter and I think this scripture solidified my resolve to do this. To give up our way of life, our safety and comfort zone, our jobs, our retirement (or part of it), our friends and family, etc. all to serve the Lord. This was a cross that we could bear daily. We could make this sacrifices for the well-being of others and little did we know that we would get so much back in return. So much so that we don’t want it to end. We know it has to, but we don’t want it. I guess this next chapter in our lives is another way for us to carry our daily cross and just as I did before, I will do it willingly because He has given up so much for me.

Saturday April 27, 2019

John 10:27-30 My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

We all woke up this morning excited to celebrate Anjali’s birthday with friends at the Adventure Park here in Brasov. This place was awesome. There were so many different courses for our various levels. They had a small kids course for the little ones, which was perfect–it was challenging enough to be fun for them, it even had zip lines at the end of each course! All of the kids and even the adults had a great time. Between my ankle and still not feeling 100%, I decided to stay on the ground and enjoy watching the happy faces of everyone else. Anjali was so excited to be here for her birthday and being able to do a course that was for those 12 years and up. Jeff spent time with the kids and then within about an hour or so everyone seemed to go their separate ways using the buddy system, which is when Jeff opted to try one of the black courses. I got some great pictures of everyone having fun and enjoying being outside, even with the thunder and darkening skies.

Lucia enjoying the younger kids’ courses Lewis, obviously having a blast! Can you find Lucia? Jeff making his way through one of the beginner courses. Jason having fun and working hard, or maybe just having fun! Lucia and Elena doing what they do best, being silly and having fun! The birthday girl in her element! Jeff working hard on the black course and surveying what lies before him David and Coen enjoying the buddy system. Jeff was pretty wiped after climbing the wobbly ladder, but he is not even close to being done. Where’s Jeff?

After a quick lunch of hot dogs at the park, we all scurried out into the rain. Our family walked to the closest taxi stand to make our way to the shopping mall. Anjali and I made quick work of our needed shopping items and then a stop in the grocery store before catching a cab home and ordering pizza. All in all, it was a very successful and fun day, but I was wiped.

I am so grateful that God has healed me enough to enjoy this time with my family and celebrate the birth of our eldest child. I could have easily seen myself still in bed, sick and unable to be here, but He provided again. I may not have gotten to do the courses with them, but I absolutely enjoyed my time with friends and family, and this was definitely a gift from God.

Tuesday March 26, 2018

1 John 3:18 Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

My hospital shift today was wonderful, exhausting, but wonderful. There were three of us there and it was a good thing too because there a lot of babies needing snuggles and care. I ended up with two little guys that were very angry every time I had to put them down to snuggle another one. I went back and forth between two rooms and three babies for the last hour of the shift and it was exhausting. But I will tell you, as exhausting as the morning was, I had so much fun playing with and loving on these little guys. Their smiles just brighten my day! After the morning shift I headed back to the Support Center to wok on the 25 “baby bundles” we needed to restock and then back to the hospital to help the nurses feed the newborns. This mission project has brought me so much joy. It is so easy to give these children all the love I have during the time that I am with them. And just as it has been with our previous work, I am receiving just as much, if not more, in return. The most difficult part of this mission is saying goodbye to these children who are in desperate need of love and affection. They need a caregiver and we are only able to provide such a small amount of what they are needing. I know that God has a plan for each of these little angels, but it is still very difficult to walk away as they are screaming, wanting you to just pick them up and hold them. I hope and pray that what we are able to give them sustains them through the night until we can hold them again tomorrow.

On a totally different note, our kids have been doing so much better at school lately. There are still tantrums, fights, and times when they don’t want to work, but all in all I can see a shift in their mentality. I am not sure if it is knowing and engaging with other families that homeschool or if it is just finally sinking in with them, but I like the change and it is reassuring that we can finish out this year of homeschooling strong.

I also heard that my grandmother is not doing well and had to go back to the hospital again today. I would greatly appreciate any prayers for her comfort and God’s grace. It is so hard to be away from family at times like this and I just don’t want her to be in pain.

Thank you to all that read these daily blogs. This has been such a wonderful way for me to stay connected to the true purpose of this year, showing others the love that Christ has for them. This scripture speaks to that very thing “little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action”–1 John 3:18.

Saturday February 23, 2019

Numbers 14:19-21 Forgive the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have pardoned this people, from Egypt even until now.” Then the Lord said, “I do forgive, just as you have asked; nevertheless—as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord

We enjoyed leisurely getting out of bed and down to breakfast this morning followed by a drive to Mirissa, a bordering beach town where the whale watching is superb. We hired a driver who was more than willing to make a quick pit stop in Galle to check out the old Dutch Fort that overlooked the Indian Ocean. We enjoyed walking around this quaint tourist town, checking out local shops and indulging in some waffles (the kids were in heaven).

We arrived at our hotel in Mirissa and headed straight out to dinner in the sand at a local restaurant. The food here was great and so were the margaritas! This was a wonderful evening watching the kids play in the surf and sand, just like they did last night. I think they are really enjoying the beach lifestyle. I am so thankful to be sitting here surrounded by God’s beautiful creations.

We have to be up very early for our whale watching excursion, so we put the kids to bed and then we headed outside to have some beers by the pool at the hotel. But we ended up sitting down at a table with 2 of the guys that worked at the hotel to drink our beers. We enjoyed some great conversation and laughter. It was a wonderful hour or so getting to know these nice young men. I love that Jeff enjoys this just as much as I do…putting ourselves out there to meet new people and that we are both able to have a conversation and loads of laughter with people we just met. It was a nice ending to our day.

Thursday February 21, 2019

Matthew 5 14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Today was another tank cleaning day and I am surprised at how much fun this hard work actually is. Anjali and David are having a harder time getting involved in this process. They are not quite strong enough to clean the tanks at the same level as the adults, but they are trying. Today Lucia realized that cleaning the tanks is just not something that she is able to do, so she took it upon herself to seek out another job. She found herself working alongside Madu (one of the staff at the project) feeding the turtles. Madu will cut up the fish and then tell Lucia where to take the pieces of fish and which turtle to feed. She is such a joy to watch as she scampers about the hatchery thrilled that she has the important job of feeding the turtles. Her joy is infectious and I can’t help but be happy amidst being covered in green algae and turtle poop!

It brings me so much joy to see her being a light amongst all this “dirty” work. She allows her light to shine through all the raw fish, the algae, the sand, the turtle poop, etc and leads us all by example. Our job is to help protect and care for these turtles, for all of God’s creatures, and even if the work is “dirty work” we should still be joyous and happy; we should allow God’s light to shine through the dirt and muck and be a witness to His creation.

I can’t even count how many times I was leading a tour and folks were just amazed to see my children doing work around the hatchery. Children can be seen as unable to do work and I think it surprises people to see them so happy caring for these turtles. Both Jeff and I had many people ask about our mission and the work we were doing and I loved telling them about our various volunteer projects and how much our family has loved showing God’s love around the world. It is not about us, it is about God and His love for all of us. It is about being a light to shine on those in need, to show them that they are loved by a stranger from the other side of the world, to show them that they are loved by God.

Friday February 8, 2019

Daniel 2:23 To you, O God of my ancestors, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and power, and have now revealed to me what we asked of you, for you have revealed to us what the king ordered.”

We got up this morning and did a very small bit of school with the kids and then headed out to Fremantle about 35-40 minutes away. I was very much looking forward to seeing this old port town. We did some shopping and enjoyed walking up and down the beach and touristy shops. I found a new pair of sandals that I was desperately needing and we all found some fun souvenirs from Perth. We enjoyed a nice lunch right in the bay with a beautiful ocean view and then finished our day with a tour of the shipwreck museum and some ice cream. We headed home for some showers and dinner. It really was a wonderful afternoon with only a few arguments and tantrums. I thoroughly enjoyed the day today and loved the town of Fremantle, though I am still grateful that we are staying outside of the city in our quiet little town of Ocean Reef.

Driving home the kids were so wound up, yelling and playing loudly in the car, and after about 20 minutes I couldn’t take it any more and asked them to quiet down, but as soon as I did I could feel an immediate shift in the atmosphere. You could actually taste the tension in the car and I instantly regretted saying anything at all. They really were not doing anything bad, just being loud and obnoxious kids (basically they were being irritating). Had I just kept my irritation to myself, the mood of the car would have stayed the playful and happy atmosphere. I kicked myself for my lack of patience and vowed to try harder to allow my kids to just be kids.

My poor choice in the car was quickly forgotten when we arrived at the beach with the boogie board and this time we brought the phones for pictures!