Friday, December 25, 2009

Immanuel, God With Us

Learning God’s character, as displayed through His names, was something that revolutionized the way I live my life.  Every need I have finds it’s ultimate fulfillment in Him.   I cling to Him as my Home when I am lonely and longing for stability.  I look to Him as Counselor when I am needing wisdom as a parent.  And I recently cried out to Him as Jehovah Rapha when I went blind in my left eye (in His great grace He has restored my vision almost back to normal). 

This Christmas, more than any other, the name IMMANUEL (God with us) has been so precious to me.  It’s no surprise, really, when I have just been touched by Him in such a powerful way.  I speak not merely of His work as Healer, but also as the One who accompanied me through each test, IV treatment, each moment of waiting.  The One who carried me through each disorienting hour, each sleepless night.  He was WITH me in a way I have never experienced before, and now I have the joy of knowing Him more deeply.  The very One who came as a babe, to die for me, is WITH me.  My Savior.  My Immanuel. 
May He be WITH you today in a special way as well!  Merry Christmas! 

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Side Effects and Lies

It was Monday night.  Willing myself to sleep, I was quietly praying until that moment of surrender would come.  It’s been so elusive and hard gained lately, just one of the side effects of my medication.

My prayers stilled though as He began to speak.  “Child, you’ve been believing me strong and powerful enough to completely heal your eye.  Why won’t you trust me to help you cope with the side effects of your medication?  Have you forgotten how much I care about ALL the details of your life?  Did you not think my Spirit’s power sufficient to give you strength to cope in a godly manner?”
Humbled and a bit stunned I say, “No, God.  No.  You’re right.  I haven’t been believing you for that.”
The realization is sickening.  I’ve been trying to deal with it all on my own.  The heart pounding anxiety that creeps up, the lack of patience I feel when I’m surrounded by chaos and most of all the harsh tone my words take on as they fly from my mouth in an effort to make it all stop. 
It dawns on me that deep down a lie is lurking.  I’ve been believing that God is not enough, that He doesn’t really care about something as pesky as side effects.  The fact that I didn’t even think to ask Him to empower my mind and my will to overcome the negative effects of my medication shows me one thing.  At the core of my belief system, I am lacking faith in His character as the God who is passionately interested in renewing every detail of my life.   
Though tempted to feel shame, I at once feel delight and freedom.  For a betraying lie once captured and identified can be imprisoned and put to death.  And as the traitorous soldier is carried away, I find there is room for truth to enter in and dwell. 
I’m so thankful that His Spirit is faithful to reveal to us the darkness in our own hearts, the lies lurking there that we have yet to confront.  And I praise Him that He really is enough, that His power is unending, that His character is sure, that His works are perfect and His words are right. 
Whatever you are facing today, I pray that you will look to the truth of God’s character and be changed at the core of your being as you cry out together with me, “Lord, I believe!  Help Thou mine unbelief!
“Lord, you have brought light into my life: my God you light up my darkness.”  
photo: egahen

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas at My House

Merry Christmas and welcome to my home!  I’m so glad you’re here!

With my recent vision scare, I really focused on keeping things simple this year and it took me several days to get everything out.  I was surprised at how very enjoyable it was to just do it little by little.  And great news, I CAN SEE IT ALL.  My left eye is still dimmer than the right but I am seeing amazingly well!  Thank you so much for praying for me! 

Hall Table Nativity Small

My nativity from Venezuela (our former country of service) greets you as you enter the room.  Traditionally, Venezuelans do not place the baby Jesus in the manger until Christmas day, which I love the idea of, but can never quite bring myself to do. 

Wrapped Picture Matte Small

Every year I cover the matte of our family picture with some wrapping paper.  It takes about a minute and gives it a festive touch.  Here’s what it looked like last year. 

Curtain Ornaments Small 

A few ornaments in the kitchen make me smile while I do the dishes!   

Nyanduti Ornament Small

My tree is gold, red and cream.  This is Paraguayan Nyanduti that I thought would be beautiful as snowflakes.  They would use these to embellish a top or a dress. 

Bird Small

I just love my little 10 cent birdies.  I think my husband finds them mildly creepy though!  :)

Snowflake Small

My favorite ornaments (also used on the kitchen curtains) were an after Christmas clearance steal at Target last year while we were on home assignment. 

Stocking Small 
With cement walls, we don’t drill holes for stockings, so my ring clips came to the rescue!  I love how “limitations” make you more creative and you come up with something unique that you really love. 

Thanks for stopping by!  I only wish it was in person so I could make you a latte and share some yummy Christmas cookies over a good visit!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Father’s Presence Changes the Storm

I’ve never been afraid of storms.  In fact, I rather love them.  Some of my favorite memories with my father include sitting out on the porch together during a good storm: watching, listening, being awed by a powerful lightening strike and feeling thunder reverberate through my body.  I love storms because my father loves storms. 


Last night, I had the joy of storm watching with my Darling Little Redhead.  We laid on our tummies and watched from the bedroom window.  He talked and giggled and gasped occasionally.  And I smiled repeatedly, because he wasn’t afraid.  On the contrary, he was actually delighting in the storm and in being together through it. 

The thunder is still rolling now twelve hours later.  All through the night she woke me with her groans.  Sometimes near, sometimes far, but consistently reaching my heart with her message.  “I am not to be feared!  I only exist to give you a chance to sit next to Your Creator God, where He can guard your heart with peace, in the midst of me.”   

Are you going through a storm of your own today?  Is fear gripping you?  Keeping you inside your cozy home, cringing at the sound of thunder, frozen so you don’t move?  My friend, step out onto the porch with our loving Father!  Behold the power of the One who made the storm.  There is such joy in riding it out at His side, holding His hand, looking into His heart and knowing NOTHING can touch you that He doesn’t allow .

“Who is this man, that even the wind and the waves obey him?”  Luke 8:24 

photo: nespresso

P.S. With everything going on, I forgot to announce that my friend Alisha in Argentina won the My Two Favorite Things Giveaway!  Congrats, Alisha!  

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bruises Fading, Fears Rising

There are only four of them left.   Streaks of purple and brown, standing as gates marking painful entrance to the river of life, to my life blood.  Gates pried open to give carriage remedy for my blind eye.

Fading to green and yellow now, they’re very unbecoming.  Still, I look at them and cringe a bit as they fade, crumbling away, being toppled by time.  Resentful, perhaps that they are stealing my reminder that I was sick.  That I was blind.  That I was broken.  That I called out to God in desperation, in full trust.  That He was there completely, powerfully encompassing me.

It’s not that I want to stay blind, to stay sick.  I want to see.  I plead with God for His mercy and the complete return of my eye sight. 

But as they fade, these bruises of mine, I find in their wake a wicked host of fears rising.  I should be honest.  It’s really only one fear.  The fear of forgetting.  But this woman, this fear, she quickly gives birth to a thousand children and before I know it they are surrounding me, laughing at me, mocking me.  Their names are mediocrity, normalcy, routine living, lack of the passionate pursuit of Jesus, failure to acknowledge His power and presence in my life again. 

And I don’t want to forget.  I can’t afford to forget.  I want this to be my Ebenezer, an indelible landmark upon the map of my life that God has been my Helper. 

Oh, I know fear will not guide me to the place that I long for.  For my fear is born of self dependence, of self effort, of self importance.  Self would never allow me to circumnavigate these treacherous, rocky straits.  It would not, because it could not for self can only return to self. 

There’s only one way I’ll only survive this storm of reproach and condemnation.  If I look up to my True Compass, God my Helper.  Only then can my ship be guided safely to the peaceful harbor of His grace.  Only then can I arrive whole at the beautiful banks of my homeland and run into His open arms.  Only then can I remain in the land of remembering.

“For the word of God is full of living power.  It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires.  It exposes us for what we really are.”  Hebrews 4:12, NLT

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Word of Praise to Our Great God!

Finally!  I am so blessed to be sitting here in my own home, thinking about you, having the chance to write to you myself.  How can I even begin to thank you for accompanying me through these past two weeks?  For walking through them together with me, holding my hand, leading the way when I myself had fallen blind?  Your unceasing prayers and expressions of love bolstered my faith in our Great God and His mighty power to turn all my darkness to light. 

For though I found myself blind in one eye, I was not overcome by fear, nor did I fall captive to the darkness of discouragement.  Indeed, I was surrounded by great peace and true rest the majority of the time.   Only let me be very clear that it was His light, His peace, and His rest. 

And now the blessed light is returning to my left eye as well, rather much more quickly than we had even hoped.  Each day, I see more and feel less disorientation with the disparity in my vision.  Yesterday I was able to see color for the first time and read large letters without great strain.  The distances are still a blur, but I can identify large objects such as cars and trees easily enough.  God has been so gracious to me. 

I want you to know that I am absolutely CONVINCED that this experience has come to pass so that God will be praised, so that together our hearts could exalt His name together.  “My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection.  That is why I can never stop praising You; I declare Your glory all day long.  I will tell everyone about Your righteousness.  All day long I will proclaim your saving power, for I am overwhelmed by how much you have done for me.”  Psalm 71:8, 15 

As you praise God with me, please also remember to pray for:

  1. For good rest.  I have not been sleeping well for the past week.  Mercifully, friends have been helping with the kids and meals this week!  After today, Honey will be on school break as well so he will be available to help with our two sweet, redheaded boys. 
  2. My continued healing and the ability to know my limits (not a great strength of mine!).
  3. My acceptance of each day, with the vision I have, as a gift from His hand.

I’m so thankful for your part in this miracle! 

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Touched by the Healer, Touched by You

Thank you so much to all of you who have tirelessly been praying for me!  It is so touching to be so loved by each one of you.

I wanted to let you know that I am indeed seeing some improvement in my vision.  On Tuesday, I was completely blind in my left eye.  Today, I can see some shadows and shades of gray at short distances.  The team of doctors treating me were very encouraged on Friday when they saw the rapid progress I had made. 

I thank God that today is my last intravenous treatment, and that I will now be taking three weeks of a much lower dose oral treatment which should have very few side effects.  We are looking forward to getting home sometime this coming week but will return in a few weeks to see the Dr. 

If you would like to pray for me specifically today, you can ask our loving and gracious Father to help me focus on each day as it comes.  Right now, two weeks from now, or even tomorrow is just too overwhelming to think about.  One thing I do know is that His grace is sufficient FOR TODAY!  So pray I will dwell there. 

You can also pray for the process of regaining sight.  We are so thankful for any improvement, but it seems like the more I see out of that left eye, the more disoriented I become.  Pray that I will slow down, be gracious with myself and not expect too much and also that I will not be fearful in public when there is much noise and activity surrounding me. 

God is so gracious and kind, and His love has been poured out upon us.  We are truly grateful to Him and to each one of you for your part in carrying us through this journey.  You are very loved. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Gift of Lost Sight

Last Thursday, I began to lose sight in my left eye.  It just so happened an eye doctor was in our little town for three days.  I saw him that day.  And then the next day, when my sight deteriorated further.  And again the next day when the darkness continued to creep in.  It was nothing to worry about…just a little inflammation.  No work was allowed, just rest and a drop in the eye. 
Somewhere in one of the quiet moments of rest, the Lord planted a seed in my heart.  “This is a gift,” was all He said.  No explanation.  No pretty package portraying what kind of flower would bloom from this seed He had carefully buried  in my heart.
And then, the gift was everywhere.  It was the sweet things I saw with my right eye.  A smile.  My husband working tirelessly.  My sister-in-love laying on the bed with me to talk.  It was the sweet things I heard.  The laugh of two sweet redheaded boys, a prayer said over me, text messages pouring in from concerned friends.  And it was what I felt.  Blessed for the chance to slow down and appreciate all I have been given.  
By Sunday afternoon, my eye sight had continued to deteriorate.  We packed up the house and prepared to head to the capital for a second opinion.  Friends were already praying, making appointments, and providing a safe and loving place for my children to land. 
And the gift was love.  Always much love. 
Monday.  Oh, how long ago it seems.  We arrived to the capital in amazing time considering the fact that the drive shaft dropped out of our car a short way into the journey.  A friend quickly loaned us his car and we arrived, dropped the kids off to a saint of a woman, and made our way to the clinic. 
The appointment with the ophthalmologist led to an MRI.  What at first seemed like wild video game noises, led to a migraine and tears, but still…this was a gift, right?
Yesterday, how strange it seems to type that word for it could have as well been a year ago, I awoke to complete loss of vision in my left eye.  I noticed that when the light flicked off, a strange desperation filled my heart to flick it back on as soon as possible.  A bit of fear finally settled in my heart.  Tears waiting to fall, I opened to the Words of Life.  “For when our sufferings increase, so does our consolation.” 
This time the gift looked a bit less becoming, more foreign to my eyes, for the gift was suffering, a greater chance to know the immeasurable depth of His consolation. 
Calmed, we headed out for another day of pokes and prods and questions.  Our attending physician speaks perfect English, strange comfort since I feel at home in Spanish, and the other is a world-renowned Retinologist. 
“I can’t promise you that you will regain any sight, but we must act quickly to protect the other eye,” they warned stoically.  Prepared to receive a diagnosis of a virus or even MS, I had not allowed myself to entertain the notion of the permanent loss of my sight. 
That of course, is still to be determined.  The door is not shut.  For in these days, the Lord God of the universe has at His step another persistent widow.  She bears the face and speaks with the voice of a thousand friends around the world, unceasingly begging for grace and peace and if it would please Him, the restoration of sight. 
I too pray.  Mostly, mostly for the ability to see the Gift.  To accept whatever should fall from His hand as something beautiful and perfectly chosen for me, be it blindness total or partial, be it complete healing and a life much unchanged.  And I pray that this tender green shoot of faith, which I hold onto for dear life, will be a gift back to Him as well.   For there is no offering too large to be placed on His altar, especially the altar that birthed the Gospel, of which we came to speak. 
Currently, I am undergoing a series of high dose intravenous treatments.  After but one night hospitalized, I was allowed to come to be with my family, to wade through these murky waters together.  I would be a fool to deny that we feel the threat of flood, but we are not afraid for we hear His voice echoing, even in the unknown closets of our hearts, “when you walk through the flood, I will be there.”
And that, for today, is the gift
I will likely be unable to post regularly for some time.  Even now, this is a stolen moment, a forbidden one, but I had words which needed escape.  I hope God will speak to you through them and that you too will take on the face and the voice of the persistent widow on my behalf!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dressing Your Thanksgiving Table

Are you a busy mom who needs some simple and doable ideas for making your Thanksgiving Table beautiful?  Head here to check out a few of my favorites!   


Monday, November 16, 2009

He’s My Home

We had just moved again. Tearfully saying goodbye to a beautiful season of ministry, I was propelled into another unwelcomed one. For the first time in my life, I was somewhere I didn’t want to be. I was hanging onto my calling to missions, but only loosely. My hand limp, I cried weakly, “God, I can’t do this. It’s too much, this missionary life; this inevitable, unstoppable series of moves from one place to another.”

In the darkest and loneliest season of my life, I wanted only one thing. I wanted to go home. Except we couldn’t. So my cries of inadequacy were quieted only when I sat down with my Bible. One day in that fleeting quietness, I reached Psalm 90: 1, “Lord, through all the generations you have been our home!” Tears streaming down my face, dotting the page, I could not move my eyes from that word. Home. It wasn’t a place 3,000 miles away, it was a person. It was Him.

Slowly over the course of the next few days, I was able to identify what home meant to me, release it and delight in the perfection of my new Home.

I started out by declaring that I wanted to live in the same house on the same street for the rest of my life. No more moves. No more suitcases. 

He gently corrected me.  What I really wanted wasn’t a white house on Main Street, but Him. “Child, the stability you crave is only found in me! I am the eternal, incorruptible Lord. I do not change! I’m the same yesterday, today and forever. I am your home.”

Then I explained that I wanted to be one of the belongers, to have my name written in the collective story, the shared history of a people. No more wondering how I fit. No more being an outsider.

He spoke back, “Have you forgotten? You are already one of the belongers. I chose you before the foundation of the earth. I wrote your name in the epic of the redeemed with My own Son’s blood. You’re not an outsider! You’re accepted in the Beloved and seated at My right hand forever. I am your home.”

Finally, I confessed my longing for deep, meaningful relationships. Friendships that would allow me to barge through the front door with barely a knock, plop down on the couch and tell my truth without fear. Ties unthreatened by the brokenness of my humanity, ties unadulterated by judgment. No more being weighed in the balance. No more exhausting guardedness.

This time He whispered. “Child,” he said, “this freedom to barge into an earthly den and be met with open arms? It’s only a shadow. I am the fulfillment, the One casting that shadow. You have free access to Me through the Spirit! I welcome you to pour out your heart boldly and frankly, though you are broken and naked and lacking. There is no condemnation for you at this throne. Only grace. I am your home.”

It’s been seven years (and as many moves) since the light of Home shined hope into that dark season of my life. Still, I have much to learn about this exchange of temporal for eternal, of seen for unseen, of the shadow for the fulfillment. How thankful I am that the Spirit faithfully directs me Home to the One who satisfies my every longing.

“That something we long for, whether it be an island in the west or the other side of a mountain or perhaps a schooner yacht, long for it in the belief that it will mean joy, which it never fully does, because what we are really longing for is God.” --Sheldon VanAuken, A Severe Mercy

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Looking Unto Jesus and Nothing Else


"Looking Unto Jesus

and at nothing else,

to fix our gaze upon Him,

and to turn it away from everything else."  

Looking Unto Jesus, translated from the French of Theodore Monod by Helen Willis
Photo: TouTouke

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What’s Different – They Ride Bicycles

One of the things that makes my new home so charming, is that elderly people (and people of all ages) ride their bicycles around town. 

Every time I see that one of them meandering along, I’m transported to a more wholesome era.  An era when people took time to enjoy enjoy a scenic ride to the grocery store, to wave and call out a greeting to their neighbor.  It’s very Old Europe and I love it!  

And yes, they do have baskets on their bikes.  Is it strange that I love that so much?  :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Looking Unto Jesus – the Author and the Finisher

1212536_open_bible nathanpaw

“Looking unto Jesus,

the author and the Finisher of our faith:

He Who is its pattern and its source,

even as He is its object;

so that by Him our faith may be inspired,



and led on to its supreme consummation.”


If you haven’t already, be sure to enter the My Two Favorite Things Giveaway by tonight! 

Looking Unto Jesus, translated from the French of Theodore Monod by Helen Willis

Photo: nathanpaw

Friday, November 6, 2009

An Empty Shampoo Bottle

It might not mean that much to you, an empty shampoo bottle.  To me, it’s a sweet comfort.  A little reminder that we’ve been in ONE place for three and a half months now.

Before we arrived to the Chaco of Paraguay, we had lived in five different locations in the course of 14 months.  Most of those places kept with them a partially used shampoo bottle, evidence that we had passed through.     

Don’t feel sorry for me though.  While I would PREFER to live in the same house for the rest of my life, it’s not an all consuming desire like it used to be.  Now I know that my Home travels with me, or I should say, I travel with Him. 

Still, I thank God for the small comforts He offers me in my flawed humanity, things like squeezing that last little bit of shampoo out for one more wash. 

Don’t miss My Two Favorite Things Giveaway!  You have until Sunday night to enter!
Photo: contrapart

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Two of My Favorite Things for You!

I'm excited to share two of my favorite things with one blessed reader through a little giveaway!  Unlike many giveaways, this one IS OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL READERS as a shout out to all my missionary sisters around the world!     

One pound of coffee beans


a digital subscription to Country Living Magazine through Zinio.
I was thrilled to find Zinio since I was unable to afford the overseas subscription to my magazine!  I hope you will enjoy it too!  

The giveaway is open until Sunday night, November 15th at midnight PST.  You can win one entry for each of the following:
1.  Leaving a lovely comment telling me what you are most thankful for today
2.  Becoming a follower or subscribing in a reader OR already being a follower/subscriber.  
3. Posting about the Two of My Favorite Things Giveaway on your blog

Please leave a separate comment for each entry.  Good luck everyone and thanks for being such wonderful readers!  Hugs from Paraguay!

****If you have a mailing address in the continental US, you can choose to forgo the coffee beans for the paper version of Country Living if you prefer.****   

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What’s Different – The Food’s From Around Here

One of the neat benefits of living here in Paraguay is that we live very close to our food source.  Everything from our milk products, to our peanut butter, to our dried beans, to our bread and even some of our fruits and vegetables come from within a half hour drive of our house.  Our supermarket also sells homemade pasta, home canned pickles and locally made pastries.   

Small local foods

My eggs come from a neighbor down the road and it floors me how H.U.G.E. they are! 

caanan land eggs

We eat quite healthy when we are living abroad because we don’t eat pre-packaged, processed, preservative laden foods.  Convenience foods are virtually non existent and canned foods are very expensive.  A can of tuna, for instance, can cost you $2.00 (as compared to 33 cents in the US).  A small 8 oz can of black beans costs $1.50 here (as compared to $.49 for a 16 oz can in the US).  So we cook the old fashioned way, which I enjoy and which really tastes amazing, even though it takes a lot more planning ahead!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Living Without Target


Living without Target and JoAnn's Fabric can be a good thing.  Don't believe it?  Head over to Missionary Moms and read about how it changed me. 

Photo: Pottery Barn

Looking Unto Jesus to Forget Ourselves

"Looking unto Jesus 
to go forth from ourselves 
and to forget ourselves; 

so that our darkness may flee away
before the brightness of His face."

Looking Unto Jesus, translated from the French of Theodore Monrod by Helen Willis
Photo: jazza

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Stench of Paint Thinner and Guilt

They’ve been piled on top of the dryer for a month now, the turquoise tee that's just my color and my last pair of comfortable jeans.  They speak to me every time I put in a load of wash, “It’s not that hard.  Just get out the paint thinner and take our stains away!” But I drowned out their accusing whispers. 

“Hush,” I say. “I’ll deal with you when I want to.  I hate the smell of paint thinner!”  So there they sit, reminding me of my own selfishness, my embarrassment at my lack of gumption, my shame that I even went so far as to pick up two pairs of thrift store pants to avoid them. 

Still, yesterday their cries were louder and more haunting.  I can't get them out of my ears.  “Doing all you can to avoid what stinks?  You know that what stinks worst of all is inside of you!” 

“Hush, hush!  Let me be!” I cry, but I fall to my knees, broken.  Humbled.  It’s true.  There are piles of stained laundry in my heart.  Some might call them filthy rags.  The cleanser is there, but I don’t want to smell the stink of the revelation, to feel the ache of the process of change.   

I don’t, but I do.  My new man fights with my old man.  “Be new!”  “It’s not worth it!” “It’s been accomplished already” “Lies!  The cost will be too great!”   Back and forth, back and forth they alternately whisper and scream, offering peace then stealing joy.

So I run to the only place I know to silence the struggle.  To truth.  To Him.  I need to hear His voice.  Desperately. 

He speaks.  “You did right to barge into My presence.  Just think how My son’s blood has purified your heart so that you can worship Me.  His blood has made you clean.  You are perfect forever, even though you are still being made holy! ”

Unlike the stink of paint thinner, His perfect cleansing is sweet and soothing because it carries with it no condemnation.  It’s devoid of the acrid, disdainful stench of guilt.  The smell that I had feared so much wasn't the cleanser at all, it was my own guilt.  

When you've been made perfect, there's no need to fear being made holy.

Scripture: Hebrews 9:14, 10:2, 14, 19-22

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What's Different - Tea Time (Tereré)

Every day at 9 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon, the people of Paraguay take a collective pause for tea.  This tea is called Tereré (te-re-ray) and is made from yerba maté (Yerba ma-tay) which is a species of holly. 

Everywhere you go, people carry with them a water thermos and their tea supplies.   It's the equivalent of the latte in American culture. 

There is quite a rich culture surrounding this tea, the most important of which is the invitation to and solidification of friendship.  Paraguayans are extremely friendly and accepting.

The tea is served out of a guampa (gwam-pa) and taken through a bombilla (bom-bee-ya) which is a metal straw with a strainer at the end of it. The host fills the guampa with tea, then nestles the bombilla down to the bottom.  Water is poured over the tea and taken through the bombilla.  You should drink until the tea "talks" or makes a little slurp as it is considered uncouth to leave water in the guampa. 

The server (normally the host) takes the first drink because the tea is somewhat bitter in the beginning.  After that, if there is a person of importance present, they would receive the second drink, followed by the next person in clockwise fashion.  If you didn't already catch on, everyone shares the same cup and straw!  

It is considered rude to refuse the tea when it is offered.  Remember, it's not just a tea, it is a sign of friendship.  After two or three rounds, you can finish without giving offense.  A simple "gracias" lets the server know that you are through and he will skip you through the rest of the visit.   

Traditionally, tereré is not mixed with food, though certain sectors of the culture do regularly eat a snack with their tea.  We were advised that it is good to eat a little snack just before you drink Tereré to give a "shelf" for the tea "to rest on" in your stomach.   Tereré should never, ever be mixed with watermelon - though I haven't been able to find out exactly why that is!  :)  

While 9am and 3pm are the "recognized" times, there's never a bad time for a  tea break, especially in this hot climate!  I personally find Tereré refreshing, especially when enjoyed in the company of good friends!   

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Touch of Fall in the Middle of Spring

Down here in Paraguay we are in the middle of Spring.  However, I have to confess that I have been a bit of a rebel today and done some fall decorating!  :)  After spending so much of my life in northern hemisphere, it almost seems like a betrayal to not put out some sort of fall decorations during October and November!

So today I gathered up the pumpkins I have been buying whenever I find one of a good shape, along with some forgotten pot stands from the yard, and some beautiful orange berries from one of our trees.  Here's the result!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Looking Unto Jesus For the Task for Each Day

Looking Unto Jesus to receive from Him 

the task for each day,

with the grace which is sufficient to accomplish the task; 

the grace that enables us to be 

patient with His patience, 

active with His activity, 

loving with His love.

Looking Unto Jesus Translated from the French of Theodore Monrod by Helen Willis

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hospitality at the Zoo

Every once in awhile, you get a glimpse of how God has changed you.  For me that glimpse came last night.

Busy, crazy day.  Clap much too loud for Darling Little Redhead at his end of school program.  Grocery shopping.  In and out of the car with one functioning door.  Lunch, naps, and "what? the groceries still aren't put away?".  Off to a friends for tea.  Hurry home to start dinner for company.  Realize I have a text message saying nephew is in the hospital for an emergency appendectomy.  Kick into overdrive making phone calls and sending emails.  Hubby picks up other two nephews and niece.  

Chop, chop, dice, dice.  Stir fry ready to hit the pan.  Put kids to work making lemonade and setting the table so they don't worry about their brother.  Company arrives.  Sit down and enjoy scrumptious Teriyaki ribs.    Power goes out halfway through serving dessert.  There are officially two usable candles in the house.  We laugh.  "Oh well.  That's the stuff memories are made of, right?"  Nephew 2 starts an asthma attack so he and hubby run home to get inhaler.  Guest washes dishes in the dark while I put food away.  Hubby and Nephew 2 return. 

Nephew 1 comes through surgery fine.  "Praise God!"  Parents at home while grandparents with Nephew 1 in hospital.  Hubby runs kids back home.  Power returns.  Visit with our guests for a bit before Hubby runs them home.  Call it a night.  

Are you getting the sense that things were rather a zoo at my house last night?  And yet, I was surprised that the chaos didn't settle down into my heart.  Granted, I was a bit distracted and my nephew had to ask for the lemons four times, but I wasn't franticly worried about how it would all turn out or if I had enough food for everyone.  Strangely enough, I was happy (though obviously concerned for my nephew) and at rest.

And that's where the glimpse of growth came.  I used to be so worried about perfection and everything being just so, that I missed the joy of just BEING with our guests.  I rarely let people help and often was snappy with my hubby right up until the moment company arrived when I pulled out Little Miss Perfect.  Hospitality back then was at the expense of the peace of my home.   

What freedom there is in recognizing that we are imperfect and yet, God can redeem all our chaos and bless us...and hopefully make us a blessing as well.  I'm not saying Little Miss Perfect never rears her ugly head...but thanks to His grace there is usually true hospitality...even at the Zoo. 

Photo: Blue Skies Inn

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What's Different - Um Hmm...Do we have to talk about this?

One of the things that is probably the hardest for North American's to get used to is having to throw your TP into the trash can, instead of into the toilet.  For us, the idea is just, well, gross.  But believe me, it is much better than a backed up toilet which is what can happen if you put the TP into the toilet as the plumbing system is not designed to handle TP (small pipes).  Enough said.

Photo: nkzs

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Toward a More Inspiring Work Space

My desk is a dresser/vanity that came with the house.  I didn't really enjoy looking at myself as I typed, so I set out to see what I could do about that!  This project did not cost me one cent because I challenged myself to use only items that I already had.

First I covered the mirror with some burlap.  Then I put out my birthday lamps from last year and some other odds and ends I had made.  And this is how it stayed for about a week. 

Then today, I finally got around to putting up some pictures and momentos.  Every single thing has a memory tied to it!  If you didn't already know that I'm're about to find out!  A plaque with my favorite verse was a recent gift from a friend, birthday card from my parents, watercolor of a store we visited on our honeymoon...everything has a story.  When something catches my eye while I am working, it brings a smile to my face!  One feature you can't see well in this photo is that I hung clothes pins and the put stacks of my favorite photos in them so I can change them regularly.   

This mirror was a steal from my birthday last year...Honey took me to Farm Chicks!  It was wonderful! 

The center of this flower is a token from the El train in Philadelphia, PA which Honey and I rode on one of our first dates.  

This thread is the most worthless stuff I have ever encountered in my life for sewing, so I figured it might as well be put to use somewhere else!  :) 

This baby necklace has a tiny mustard seed in it and was given to my grandmother, by my great great grandmother, when she was pregnant with my dad.  My great great grandmother was just sure my dad was going to be a girl!  :)  It also has this verse inscribed on it. 

I definitely enjoy sitting down to work a lot more now!  :)  Does your work space make you smile?  What could you do to make it more inspiring? 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Looking Unto Jesus Who Gives Repentance

Looking Unto Jesus 
who gives repentance
as well as forgiveness of sins
because He gives us the grace to recognize, 
to deplore,
to confess,
and to forsake our transgressions.  

Looking Unto Jesus translated from the French of Theodore Monrod by Helen Willis
Photo: kajrdj

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What's Different - Greetings

Here in Paraguay greetings are a little different!  The first time you meet someone, you shake hands.   Generally, after that, you would give that person a kiss on each cheek.   

Here are the rules (as I understand them):
     Man to man - shake hands or hug if a close friend
     Woman to man - man waits for women to lean in, then he knows it is ok to give the kiss greeting.  If woman is uncomfortable for whatever reason, she offers her hand instead.  Normally, however, here is no problem with giving the kiss greeting to a man.  
     Woman to woman - a kiss on each cheek
     Dignitaries or other important people - shake hands to show respect

It's also important to greet everyone in the room when you enter.  North Americans are notorious for entering a room and just giving a "hey, howdy, hey!" to everyone.  That is considered very rude to a Latin.  Here you enter a room, and go around the room greeting each person.  When you depart from a gathering, you should generally also say goodbye to everyone individually.  The handshake or kiss is repeated at departure.

The population of the Paraguayan Chaco where we live is about one half Mennonites.  I just found out that they greet each other with a handshake or a hug if they are close friends.  Oops!   I had been giving the kiss greeting for about two months!  Obviously being Paraguayans they are familiar with the kiss greeting so as far as I understand it wasn't offensive, just not the way they normally do it. 

As a side note, Honey and I found it difficult when we were home in the US last year to remember NOT to give the kiss on the cheek at greeting.  It's funny how you get so used to one way of doing things, you don't even realize it's become a part of you! 

See you next Wednesday for the next installment of What's Different!  If there is something specific you are interested in, let me know in the comments!  I love comments!  :)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Looking Unto Jesus Revealed by the Holy Spirit

"Looking unto Jesus
revealed by the Holy Spirit,
to find in constant communion with Him 
the cleansing of our sinstained hearts, 
the illumination of our darkened spirits,

 the transformation of our rebel wills..."

Looking Unto Jesus, Translated from the French of Theodore Monod by Helen Willis
Photo: PocketAces

Friday, October 9, 2009

Creating Beauty for the Glory of God

I love to curl up on the couch with a big thick stack of design magazines.  I’ll admit it.  I love decorating.  I used to feel guilty about that and wondered what use it could possibly have on the mission field.  It seemed so shallow to think about coordinating fabrics when so many have yet to hear the Gospel message.

Recently, though, I’ve come to a place of contentment and gratitude.  The guilt is gone.

To find out why, please visit Missionary Moms where I'm posting for the first time today!  

Photo: Country Living

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What's Different - Mopping

The mop in much of South America is a long handled squeegee and a thin absorbent rag.  The rag is dipped in the mop water, wrapped around the squeegee, then passed over the floor until it needs rinsed.  When you are finished mopping, you wash your mop rag.  I personally really like the idea of starting off with a clean mop rag each time, instead of trying to get a mop head clean after each use like we do in the US!   

Come back next Wednesday for more What's Different and if you haven't read about the Widow Maker, click here!  

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hall Table Makeover

We purchased this hall table used shortly after we arrived to the country. I loved the bones of it but it needed a little love.  So I had the drawer fronts replaced and bought a can of green paint.  Then I got a little worried that I was crazy. 

Until I saw this coffee table that Kimba built.  Then I felt not at all crazy and just a little happy! :) 

So somewhere in the ballpark of two months later, I actually got this lovely lady through rehab!

I learned a lot through my first refinishing project!  I'm definitely looking forward to painting something again soon.  (Honey, if you are reading this...just take a deep breath!)  

I'd love to hear what you think!  And may I just apologize ahead of time for the dizzying flooring in our rental!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Looking Unto Jesus Glorified

"Looking Unto Jesus Glorified
to find in Him our Heavenly advocate
completing by His intercession the work inspired by His loving kindness for our salvation, 

who even now is appearing for us before the face of God
the kindly Priest, 
the spotless Victim
continually bearing the iniquity of our holy things." 

Looking Unto Jesus, translated from the French of Theodore Monod by Helen Willis

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What's Different - The Widow Maker

I'd like to introduce you to what locals call The Widow Maker. My husband refers to it as a Self Electrocution Kit.

We don't have a hot water heater so any water we want to warm has to be heated on demand with one of these fancy contraptions. It's a scary thought to have wires in your shower, believe me! And because we have a high mineral content in our water, I was getting shocked every time I tried to adjust the temperature of the water! Yikes!

Then some experienced missionary told us you can just put some hose on the shower handles and then you won't get shocked. Much better!

Thanks for reading the first installment of What's Different! Come back next Wednesday for more!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I Wish I Could Do More

I got a letter from a dear friend the other day. She's going through an unspeakable trial. Heart breaking, gut wrenching, wake-you-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-thinking-about-it kind of a trial.

As I finished reading her letter, I found myself thinking, "I wish I wasn't so far away! I would love to do more than just pray"! You know, take a meal, watch her kids, be there to listen.

But in about one millisecond, the Spirit pressed in on me. It was quite uncomfortable actually.

Ouch. But He was right. It's so much easier for me to bake some cookies, or babysit, than it is to do the work of prayer. Once again, I showed that my knee jerk response is to try to DO something in my own strength.

Prayer wasn't my preferred response because prayer is an act of surrender, of utter dependance. It's proclaiming to God, "This is beyond me, but You are capable!" And I wasn't feeling desperate in that moment, I wanted to DO something to help.

But now, I do feel desperate. Desperate for the deep down soul belief that I NEED to pray and desperate for a behavior that manifests my belief.

"You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed." John Bunyan

How have you grown in your appreciation for and need of prayer? At times like these, I'm so thankful that though I often fail to pray, the Spirit intercedes for me!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Looking Unto Jesus Risen

"Looking Unto Jesus Risen,

to find in Him the righteousness which alone makes us righteous,

and permits us,

all unworthy as we are,

to draw near with boldness,

in His name,

to Him who is His Father and our Father,

His God and our God."

Looking Unto Jesus
translated from the French of Theodore Monrod by Helen Willis


Related Posts with Thumbnails