Wednesday, May 16, 2018

What I'm Loving

I left to join my husband in the Middle East in the middle of April just after a late season snow storm and the day before another. The grass was brown, the trees were bare, and the temperatures were below chilly so one of the things I'm loving on our return is

The beauty of spring--The blooming trees are covered with pink and white blossoms, the grass is "spring green", and the leaves are bursting out. I've broken out my summer clothes and put away my heavy sweaters. I love every season, but right now, the variety of greens is amazing! It makes me wonder how anyone cannot believe in a Creator.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. Romans 1:20

Hugs from my grandkids--As a card-carrying Grandma, I have to say that the seven littles who call me "Grandma" are just about the most adorable things on earth! There is nothing like having a two-year old squeal when they see you and run toward you, arms open wide, and then be enveloped in their joyful hug! That goes for seven year olds, five year olds, three year olds, and one year olds! We are looking forward to a weekend this summer when we will celebrate my father's 90th birthday and have all of them together at once!

Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, Proverbs 17:6
Sheet pan meals--Like this one or this one oooo, or this one! What a great way to cook lots of delicious vegetables and only have one pan to clean up for your whole meal! Plus if you line the pan with parchment paper or foil, there's not even a lot of clean up!

Four generation meals--Most Sundays we are in town both sets of our parents, our two in-town kids, a daughter-in-law, and two of our granddaughters come for Sunday "dinner" right after church. I can't believe the blessing of all of us being in one town. I grew up always living at least a thousand miles from my grandparents and my children grew up on a different continent from theirs, so the Lord orchestrating that so many of us are together now is a privilege!
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. Exodus 20:12

Veggies--Several members of the family have started working on eating healthier and are (finally) appreciating the roasted and stir fried veggies I've been serving up for years. They really are good, and good for us!

A full guest room--We arrived home from our latest trip overseas and a couple of days later had five Indians (as in people from India) staying with us for a week, the family of students at Emmaus Bible College, here for their graduation. Some we can talk to and some have much less English, although more than we can speak of Malayalam! Next week we have some people from Scotland and France and the week after that New York and California! We sure learn a lot from visiting with these people and get a little taste of heaven.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.
Hebrews 13:2

Do you think any of these people are angels?

Scripture Typer--Last year I decided I needed to get back to memorizing scripture. I had heard about this app, so I looked it up and started using it. In the last year I've learned 75 verses! I love that it reminds me when to review verses based on how well I did the last time I reviewed and I review all the verses at least every three months. I also like the motivation of earning points and seeing how faithful I am to reviewing. (By the way, I get no compensation for this, I'm just telling you what I like.)

I have stored up Your Word in my heart
that I might not sin against You.
Psalm 119:11

What are you loving these days?

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Family Begins with Fathers and Mothers

Does it bother you, too, to hear people on TV and in movies deny their blood/marriage/adoption families and tell a group of friends, "You are my family." Usually this involves not including the people they are related to in an important life event and instead asking coworkers or friends to step in. Family? No, good friends. 

I'm not naive enough to think that every family member is willing, able, or even deserves to be included. But family is the people we are related to.

I guess my problem is the way our society wants to redefine family as any group of people who love each other. I'm thrilled that people can have friends who will be there when they are needed, but they are friends, not family. In our culture, we often live far away from people we are related to, so we do need to have others who are not family around us. And God provided for that by placing us in the family of God with people we are related to by adoption

For example, Jim and I just returned from a trip for Emmaus International to five countries and stayed in the homes of Indian, American, Jordanian, and Dutch believers. We also had meals with Lebanese and Egyptians. Each one generously and happily welcomed us into their homes for a meal or even for weeks. They put everything they had at our disposal and served us the best things they could. What love! Family? Yes, God's family.

Meanwhile back home, my dad came down with pneumonia and a neighboring believer came over to help my mom get him to the hospital. My children and another member of God's family made sure she did not have to stay overnight with him as they took it on themselves to do that. (Dad has severe memory loss, so needs extra care.) Mom had visitors every day from our local church and texts and phone calls from Christian friends and family all over the U.S. Now that they are home, people from church are helping me provide some meals for them. Family? Yes, both God's family and earthly family.

I can't begin to say how privileged we are by being a part of these families! God has provided so many Christians to enrich and help us along the way. God's plan for families and the provision of His family is one of our greatest blessings on earth. But when it comes to who should help my mother care for my dad--while I'm thankful that the family of God can be called upon when I'm not able to be there--they are my parents and I have the responsibility and privilege of being their daughter. We are family.

And mothers and fathers are where families begin. As I look at the earthly family God has given me I am amazed by the strength my mother has shown as my father needs more and more care. She gently and wisely has taken over the things my father used to do in ways that continue to give him dignity, love, and show her respect for him. Yesterday at the hospital he was not supposed to get out of his chair because of tubes attached to him. The third time we had to tell him and the third time he said, "I want to go upstairs," she lovingly asked him, "What do you want to do upstairs?" instead of just snapping (as I might have), "You can't! You are in a hospital." I recognize that I am blessed to have come from this kind of earthly family and to have a mother like her as an example. Not everyone does. 

And so, I want to honor God for creating families and giving us His family. 

And I want to honor my mother for allowing God to work in her life to make her the woman she is today.

Perhaps Mother's Day is a difficult time for you because your mother was not there for you either physically or emotionally or because you are not a mother and you want to be. But if you know the Lord, you have the best Father of all and have been adopted into a worldwide family--a family you are related to. 

Get connected with your family.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Singing at the Table

One day I was talking to the second grade teacher at our children’s school in Bogota, Colombia, and she told me that in social studies they were studying social norms. In order to teach the children what norms were, she thought she would ask them about the mealtime rules in their home, assuming she would bring to light many norms that they all knew. So she was surprised to find out that among her dozen or so students the only rule they all had in common was: No Singing at the Table.

Im not even sure why that’s so often a rule, or at least something mothers say when children start singing at the table. I looked it up and couldn’t find an answer. My only guess is that it interrupts conversation or annoys parents.

But at our table we do sing. We dont sing at every meal (nor while we're eating!), but we always sing during devotions near Christmas and Easter and on other holidays like Thanksgiving and even the Fourth of July. 

In the summers we purposely chose hymns to memorize. My husband and I picked out about half a dozen hymns we wanted our children to know and I typed or photocopied them and glued the sheets into a notebook. Since the hymns often had words that weren't in our childrens everyday vocabularies, I put those words in bold type and I made a glossary for them to use to learn the meanings. 

When we sang each hymn--one everyday for a week while learning it and then once in a while after that to keep it fresh--we talked about what it meant and how it encouraged us.

The year when my husbands brother was dying of cancer, God led us to several songs that had verses speaking of the end of our journey, Gods faithfulness, and our hope for the future. We sang some of those songs when we had our own private memorial for Pete after he passed away.

During that difficult season, hymns were a special comfort to my husband, his parents, and Pete's widow.

When we have singing planned as part of the after dinner activities we provide the words to the hymns we'll be singing. In that way our guests from other countries or who didn't grow up with a hymn singing background can join in. Besides, our singing always sounds much better when others add their voices to ours--especially if those voices are the melodious ones of my parents-in-law and sister-in-law! 

My father's memory is failing, but he too learned many of these hymns as a child and when we sing, he may not remember what holiday it is, but he knows the songs and he knows the One to and of Whom we are singing. Recently I've noticed that as we sing, tears stream down his face. Clearly singing these hymns touches him in a place that we don't often see any more.

That's my prayer for my children, too, that these songs will play on their mental playlists all their lives and will touch their hearts. I pray the Lord brings them to mind when they need them, when they want them, and maybe, most especially when they don’t want them.

Connect with your family through singing. Choose songs that are easy to sing without music, or if you are blessed enough to have a musical family, bring the instruments along! 

Just don't sing with your mouth full.

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This week's hack comes from Maureen:  Set dinner times and meal planning. If we don't have a meal planned and just do "whatever", we tend to eat "whenever". So, a plan and a reminder of how valuable it is to have that time together.

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