Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
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!
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.
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.
A few ornaments in the kitchen make me smile while I do the dishes!
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.
I just love my little 10 cent birdies. I think my husband finds them mildly creepy though! :)
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.
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
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
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
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
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:
- 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.
- My continued healing and the ability to know my limits (not a great strength of mine!).
- 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
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
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
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.
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
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
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 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
Friday, November 6, 2009
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!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
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.
My eggs come from a neighbor down the road and it floors me how H.U.G.E. they are!
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
Thursday, October 29, 2009
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.
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!”
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
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!
Monday, October 26, 2009
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
Thursday, October 22, 2009
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
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
revealed by the Holy Spirit,
Friday, October 9, 2009
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.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
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
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
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
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
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
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Looking Unto Jesus translated from the French of Theodore Monrod by Helen Willis