Wednesday, May 30, 2007

China - Bottom of the 9th

(the title makes more sense if you go back a couple of posts...)
On one hand it seems like a very long time since I last received an email from Cyndi or B and even longer since the one time she was able to call last week. On the other hand, however, we're now very, very close to seeing them again at the airport tomorrow evening. At this very hour, the team is in the air on the first of their 3 flights, and they'll be traveling for roughly 24 more hours.

So for this "relief pitcher," I guess it's the bottom of the ninth, and I'm now the closer. (Thanks, by the way, for letting me play.) Tomorrow shapes up as a very busy day as K and I spend at least a partial day out at my work (where he'll run around at the home of one of his best friends) and then head out to the airport in the afternoon/early evening. That being the case, I thought I would add this one last post to the blog to: bring everyone up to date on the other couple of emails Cyndi sent; help focus those "bring 'em home prayers" ; and thank you all, once again, for all of your prayers and support. -Luke

Here are her other two emails...

Thank you so much for sending me the email replies! It means so much to me to see what folks are saying!!

We had a great Awana awards ceremony this morning. The kids did a great job on a puppet show and magic tricks, then the clubbers did a craft and we handed out their awards. The kids love Awana and have done well on their verses. Some even recited some for me. They look so cute in their uniforms, I got some great pics. I had two parents tell me what a huge (and specific) answer to pr it was to have Awana here for their kids. Confirmed that it is really meeting a need for these expats.

Please pr for B who has developed quite a bit of congestion esp. in her chest. And of course I didn't bring the right meds. I'm going to keep her in the hotel with me tonight while the rest of the girls are having a sleepover with the college girls. I know. Mean mom. But please pr that it clears up and doesn't become more severe in the next few days, esp since we have numerous flights over the next 4 days, and then of course, being the good parents we are, we are going to hand her off when I get home... Ha!!

I miss you and K terribly. We are heading out in just a few minutes for another English Corner and then a graduation party for one of the MK's. Tomorrow is our team debriefing (doesn't seem possible!!) and we are checking on our new friend at that store that I mentioned a couple of days ago. Hopefully she'll have more questions.

Y'all give each other hugs from me and kiss my little dog.

Talk to you soon,

Hi there,We are wrapping up our time here. We had a team meeting/debriefing this afternoon and then went to a team dinner. Some wonderful, wonderful things have been happening this week. The oppression has been real, but so have the victories! It's been a really fruit-bearing time for our team.
We head to the airport in the am to go to BJ for a couple of days. Tomorrow afternoon in BJ is shopping and then we tour all the next day. I'm really ready to get back, now that our work is done... but who knows, maybe there are some more appointments in BJ?? We'll be glad to reunite with the D-city team and see how they've been. The college team is staying here for another couple of days (not going to BJ) and they have three more going swimming with them tomorrow afternoon at the hotel pool. PTL!!!
Love you bunches, and I'll contact you from the HK airport during our layover if I can. If not, I'll see ya when I see ya. I love you and miss you like crazy!!!Hugs to everyone,me

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

China - Part 2

Here's the second email Cyndi was able to send the other day/night from China. Thanks for all your continued prayers.



Well, we can no longer claim that when we are dying of heat and humidity it is "Ghana hot." It is "China hot" as well. Oh. My. Goodness. B and I both agree that we haven't been this hot E.V.E.R. I couldn't even video or take pics this morning because all of my lenses were too foggy. I've got every hair clip I brought pinning every bit of my hair up on my head. It's purty. But, enough about that.

We have had some wonderful times of sharing the past couple of days. One time was in the back room of a shop when I was making a purchase for Tammy. The girl there had limited (VERY) English skills, looked at the gspel color bracelet B had on (that has "good news" and some scptr references) and asked, "What is your good news?" Wow! We had an incredible time sharing with her and will go back to check on her this weekend. She was unsure as her entire family is bddhst, and she had lots and lots of questions. Her name is Ghandi. (Yes.) Please be pring for her.

The puppet show at the autism school went incredibly well this AM. We had Ann Tang translating, and she is so gifted she could've done the whole thing herself with no puppets! For the first time I was aware of how intently the adults (parents and teachers) were listening. They were enraptured by the story of Noah. And they responded very favorably to the news of Dad and Son and how they are loved by Him. It was a very fruitful morning.The puppet show at the English school went very well too. Afterward the kids got to split up with small groups of children and really explain s-l-o-w-l-y what the Story meant. It was a wild bunch of kids, so it's hard to know how much got through, but the words are living, so I know they did.

The people seem genuinely glad that we are here. The college kids are amazing me with what they are doing at the university as well. We were over there this morning with them. We talked to some Philippino girls who are Sisters and who attend ICF (the fellowship) where we'll be this weekend.

I've been preparing bags for the Awana party and finalizing our plans for the weekend actitivies. We are about to forge your signature on some more awards. I'll try not to write too neatly. (sorry) :) The team is staying healthy and seems to be using their time to the fullest potential. I have gotten to put together Jennifer's school materials for next year and organize her school room shelves. Please pr for our endurance this weekend. Lots and lots of activities back to back. Many folks have been invited and there will be some great opportunities. Several folks seem on the edge of decision.

I'm sorry I haven't emailed you more, but this is only the second time I have been at the 4Fish's apartment. You know how that is... too busy doing it to email about it!I have been feeling great. My heart is still beating like it's supposed too. I've had one heart "flip flop" but that's nothing new and it didn't last long enough to need any medicine. I can feel the pr covering. We've only had one team member with a small stomach ailment, but he's up and at it again, no problem. (college team) We are eating our way around the city noodle by noodle! :) I am sleeping at night all the way until 4 AM usually. Woo hoo. My body has no idea what time zone it's in!

I miss you so, so much. It hit me today. One of the college kids (Chinese) that we saw today was a Brother named "Luke." I almost hugged him. But I didn't. BUt I might if I see him again. :)I forgot this weekend was a holiday weekend, so I'm glad you and my little Kyle will have some time off together. I guess we're both "fishing" this weekend. Fun!!!

Thanks for sending all of the c&p'd email. I cried. I just love all of our pring friends. The Body is an incredible incredible thing.

Love you bunches!!!

Monday, May 28, 2007

China - Part 1

Have you ever been to a pro baseball game and sat through a lull in the action while one of the coaches makes the long trip out to the mound, talks a bit and then waves for a relief pitcher to come in? After a long trot from the bullpen followed by a number of warm-up pitches, he's ready to go. That's usually when the loudspeaker will come to life and the stadium announcer will introduce the new pitcher.

Well, if this blog were a ballgame you might hear the announcer say something like this today: "Your attention please... Now pitching for Cyndi's Blog - #2, the husband... Luke... ( with the rest of the announcement being drowned out by the roar of the crowd, no doubt) On the t.v. broadcast, the color analyst might say something like "This IS a surprise, to see them trot out the rookie right-hander with the team in contention and at such a crucial point in the game. Let's see if he has what it takes."

So, here I am, underqualified but having received good coaching and definitely with some good stuff to share. As most of you know, Cyndi and our daughter left for China over a week ago. I've been able to share some updates by email with a few of you, but thought there might be others who check her blog that would enjoy reading what the Lord has been doing through the two of them and the entire team this week.

Here's a portion of the first of several emails she's been able to send:

Hi there! I'm finally getting on a computer after all this time. I am SO sorry I haven't been able to contact you, but B assured me she's been able to email and call.

We arrived safely and wonderfully, and have had a terrific first two + days. We have pr walked a market area, a Buddhist temple, and the University. They have been quite powerful times and I just LOVE it. Love, love, love it. We walked the university today with a lovely sister in her first year there, who became a sister at The Bridge a couple of years ago (where we will be doing an English corner later in the week- confirming what a wonderful sharing opportunity that is). We took her to lunch after our walk and really enjoyed getting to know her. The teens have a puppet show later this evening at an "English" school. Not sure if we will have translators or not, but the students will have some level of English understanding. The Story is very, very clear. Our puppet team is being quite bold, so this is a wonderful opportunity. Please PR that many will understand what they are saying.

Today when we were at the temple, we were pring separately and I had some of my scrptrs that I was pring from and a woman approached me, pointed at my paper and was very interested in what I was reading. At first she seemed almost angry with me, but then John told her I was pring (I'm sure she assumed to the same "person" she was) and then she laughed. Hm. Jennifer shared with a cab driver two days ago and he laughed his head off. It truly is foolishness to some, isn't it? Pring for many breakthroughs this week.

You should see your daughter. The 4Fish girls aren't always with the other three, and B takes right over, talking to people. Some teens approached Daniel yesterday and she translated and conversed with them. They went back today to invite them to Saturday's beach party, but they have to work. Last night at the night market, I wish I had been videoing her negotiating. It is amazing. I can see Dad really gifting her in this area. Today she helped me buy a new pair of sandals (my other ones gave me blisters) and she spoke to the sales girl about the price, size, etc. It's amazing to listen to. I'll video her later in the week. All that studying and all those Chinese words taped around her bathroom seem to be sticking with her!

The rest of the week we have another pr walk, a puppet show at an autism school, a scavenger hunt around the city where each American will have a Chinese partner (so pr that our kids will each find someone to invite!), a beach party, a fiesta for the mk kids, the end of the year Awana party, and two English corners. There are also times to meet with friends they are meeting and invite them out to get a meal and share.

I've got loads to share, but this is all the time I can spend on the computer right now. I love and miss you so much. I can absolutely feel the prs of everyone. You have no idea. I feel like time is going really, really quickly and there is so much work to do. Isn't that how it always feels?

Give a big hug and kiss to my little K, have him hug you tight, and love on my little dog for me, too.

OH-- I almost forgot to tell you- I found those "Solomon and Friends" story books like we have in the Awana catalog at Xiao Ping's store- in Chinese- with the Awana logo- in Chinese- on the front. So much for not wanting the name splashed around. I bought a set for our club. Can't wait to show them to you.

I miss y'all so much and wish we were all here together. I know someday we will be.

Hu Shen Ting

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Look what I discovered in my suitcase last night! Isn't that just the cutest? He has always done this. And he lays on the laundry when we get back. He's been moping around...

Well... once I shoo'ed the stray dachshunds out of my bags, they are all zipped up and ready to go! There has been a bit of stress involved in these past few days- some that I'll blog about in the future I'm sure- but God once again proving Himself to be sufficient and so, so faithful to His children.

I was thinking of the hymn yesterday "Praise to the Lord, The Almighty" ("Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation.... Oh my soul bless Him for He is thy health and salvation...") Anyway, I was singing it to myself and came upon the part that said, "Hath thou not seen, how thy desires 'ere hath been, granted in what He ordaineth." What He is ordaining in my life- the difficult as well as the easy- is accomplishing the very things I have been praying for lately: closeness to Him, taking shelter in the shadow of His wings, a bolder witness, thankfulness, abiding in Him. How I praise Him indeed for what He is granting!

I'm going to give my sweet husband "Blogging 101" lessons in a few minutes, so maybe if I can send some pictures he can post them. Please know that you are going with us in our hearts and those of you who are praying are very much a part of this team. In a very, very real way you will be impacting what is going on across the world. (Or just "next door" :::waving to Alycia:::)

We are flying to LA and then Hong Kong, then to our city. Just 26 or so hours of travel. I'll be lookin' SO good by the time we get there, LOL. I'll be 13 hours ahead of you (if you're in the states) so we can pray for each other while the other one's asleep! Fun!

Check back! I love y'all!!

Ephesians 3:20,

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Happy Birthday, Son!

I can't believe it's already been eleven years! What a fun eleven years it has been, too. You came into this world smiling and cracking jokes. From the minute you became mobile, I have not been able to keep up with you. You tell me you love for me to teach you, but you teach me something new everyday. I love the way you are ready to help anyone at any time, how you love Jesus, how you love to fish with Dad and cook with me. Thank you for bringing laughter to my lips and a smile to my heart.... and keeping me on my knees in prayer!

I have your name written your name by many verses in my Bible, but here is the one I pray for you most of all, Psalm 1:

"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers."

I know you will bear much fruit for your Heavenly Father.
Happy Birthday, son! I love you!


We finished our schoolyear yesterday, so we're off today for a fun birthday breakfast at IHOP with Grandma, then a day at the science museum and to see Spiderman 3. Then, we'll come home and have everyone's favorite chicken enchiladas with Dad and open presents. Turning eleven is fun!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Email Updates

Hey blogging sistas! I've been debating how to do this... Several of you have indicated to me that you would like to keep up with us during our days in China. I will not have access to my blog from there, most likely, though I will have email. (Even if I could blog from there, I'm not sure if I would. From what I understand, the gov't has blocked access to blogs from there recently.) SO, if you would like for me to add you to an email group for my husband to forward messages to, would you please email me (you can get to my email from my profile) and I'll put you in a group. I'll be finalizing the group on Friday. My sweet husband told me yesterday that he would post on my blog for me while I'm gone, so I'm giving him a quick "Blogging 101" class this week, too. I'm just not sure how much info should go on the internet vs. what would be better for private email.

I'll be waiting to hear from you!

Hands Outstretched

A snippet from my 31 Days of Praise book this morning, Day 5:

"I praise You for Your sovereignty over the broad events of my life and over the details. With You, nothing is accidental, nothing is incidental, and no experience is wasted. You hold in Your own power my breath of life and all my destiny. And every trial that You allow to happen is a platform on which You reveal Yourself, showing Your love and power, both to me and to others looking on. Thank You that I can move into the future nondefensively, with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead, for You hold the future and You will always be with me, even to my old age... and through all eternity." (From Daniel 5:23d; Isaiah 46:4; Hebrews 13:5)

God is El Roi, the "God Who Sees". He is never caught off-guard or by surprise. How I am praising Him for that today!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Come to the Cafe!

I've saved you a seat! I'm over there today, with four words for you that just might change how you see things...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Before I get to this week, let me just tell you the Taco Soup last week was a hit around here, as was this Baked Catfish recipe. I also made this Toll House Pie one day on the spur of the moment (I left out the walnuts). We loved it so much, I made another one yesterday. That was the ONLY thing I did in the kitchen all day. For Mother's Day my sweet husband did all the meals, including grilling the best burgers and making the best homemade french fries I've ever had!

Well, this is my last "menu plan" for a few weeks. In just a few days, my daughter and I leave for two weeks in China and then when I get back my husband and I will be going on another trip for a few days, so I won't be in my kitchen for awhile. I know we'll be eating some interesting things in the weeks to come, so this week I'm sticking with some tried and true favorites in our house. And Tex-Mex. (Since that seems to be in short supply in Asia and in the northeast!)

Monday: Baked Potato soup, salad, garlic bread
Tuesday: Out to eat with my parents (Mexican food!)
Wednesday: Chicken Spaghetti, green beans, Caesar salad, rolls
Thursday: Chicken Enchiladas and all the fixin's for my son's birthday (He's requested this Blueberry Banana Pie instead of a birthday cake.)
Friday: Leftover buffet
Saturday: Whatever they're serving on Cathay Pacific Airlines!

Visit Laura's for more menus or to link your own. Have a terrific week!

If I Hadn't Had Children

"If I hadn't had children, I probably would have more money and material things.
I probably would have gone more places, gotten more sleep, and pampered myself more.
My life would have been much more boring and predictable.

As a result of being a parent, I have laughed harder
and cried more often.
I have worried more and hurried more.
I've had less sleep but somehow I've had more fun.
I've learned more and grown more.
My heart has ached harder, and I've loved to a capacity beyond my imagination.
I've given more of myself, but I've derived more meaning from life."
~Reader's Digest~

Someone sent me the above quote ten years ago, when I had a one-year-old and a three-year-old. Today I find it taped inside the cover of the Mom's Devotional Bible that I keep in the car, for those times when I'm sitting outside of music lessons or sports practices. It is in those moments of pause in the midst of hurrying, herding, and all that goes into a day of mothering that I love to read these words and remind myself of all I might've missed if I had not had these kids. My lanky 11 year old woke up this morning and came downstairs, whispered "Happy Mother's Day" to me, and folded himself all up to fit on my lap. My husband took my daughter to work at the church this morning at 7:00, and they let me sleep in, so I'll see her later. Last night, she hugged me tight, kissed my face and said, "Happy Mother's Day tommorow, Mom. I love you." I can't wait to see her when she gets home in a little while... Today they are giving me gifts, but don't they see? They are the gifts! Thank you, Lord, for this gift called "Motherhood."

Happy Mother's Day to my mom, who modeled godly motherhood for me as I grew up. It was your mothering that fueled my desire to have kids of my own.

Happy Mother's Day to my mother-in-law, who raised the man who loves me more than any other man on earth could love me. It was your mothering that made him so tender towards me, and towards our children.

Happy Mother's Day to my Grandmother, who has spoken so much wisdom into my own mothering. You continue to model for me the kind of mother and grandmother (and great-grandmother!) I want to be.

Happy Mother's Day to my sisters-in-law. I am in awe of each one of you. You have no idea how I'm inspired by the relationships you have with my precious nieces and nephews. Even though I'm older than all of you, I want to be like you when I grow up!

Happy Mother's Day to all of my fellow "Mom-sistas" - in my life and in blogland. Thank you for the ways your words and examples encourage me to be a better mom and to embrace this season of my life. May today be a blessed one in your homes!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Meme Combo: Purse and Randomness

Recently I've been tagged for a couple of fun memes, and in the midst of my busy-ness and taking myself so seriously as of late, I haven't taken the time to do them. SO, today is a chance to catch up! Let me just say in advance that I will NOT be taking part in the Show-Us-A-Picture-of-Your-Morning-Face meme or the Show-Everyone-Your-Desk one. Nope. It may be rooted in pride, but I prefer to think of it as... I just love y'all too much to subject you to those images. Besides, your kids might be near the computer and I'm all about internet safety for kids...

Mindy (The CWO Challenge winner! Check out her fun, new look! ) tagged me for the "Show Us Your Purse" one, and Jenny, Tami, and Susanne tagged me for the" 7 Random Things About Yourself" one. It just so happens that I can combine the two!

7 Random Things About Me (and a peek inside my purse)

1. My first random thing about me is that I'm a total purse-aholic. Yes, I live a purse-driven life. I love purses, always have. (Just ask my poor Dad who just about had to buy stock in Dooney and Coach in the 80's.) I think it comes from Luke 12:33 where it says "... provide for yourself purses which will not wear out." I haven't looked it up in the Greek, but I think it means that I should have cute purses. SO, here's my purse:

It's my purse-du-jour, since I'm wearing a pink top. I've seen all sorts of disclaimers on other people's blogs saying, "Don't worry- it's not real!" or "I'd never have bought a real Coach, it was a gift!" Well, I know for sure this one is real because the nice girl who sold it to me in Beijing for fifteen American dollars kept exclaiming to me, "It's real, friend! It's real! Real Coach, friend!" And I know she would not have lied to me. (cough)

And since we're supposed to show what's inside, here you go:

From left to right: Sunglasses, mints, Purell, cell phone, wallet, keys, iPod, tablet (inspired by Dr. Sam) and tissues. It was pretty cleaned out, since I just changed into it today. Later when I go to gymnastics with my daughter it will also have homeschool catalogs and a bottle of water in it.

2. I love, love, love to sing. I have memorized all the harmonies to all the Point Of Grace songs in the hopes that someday if they ever need a new POG girl again and should happen to call me, I'll have a leg up. I don't sing anywhere regularly, but God is so faithful to provide me opportunities to sing- I sang at a ladies' retreat for our church once, and recently I sang at our African Partner church. (Though right in the middle of belting out "I Am A Friend Of God" I realized my mike wasn't on. Were they trying to tell me something?)

3. I had heart surgery in my early twenties. I had to have it before I could have children. I had a successful surgery and then went on to have two really easy pregnancies and uneventful births. So, at gatherings when everyone's sharing their blood curdling birth stories, sometimes I have to play the "heart surgery card." (Just kidding.)

4. I love superhero movies, especially Superman. (Although I can't wait to see Spiderman 3! For my son's birthday! Next week!)

5. I am also a flip-flop aholic. Basically, I just want whatever kind of shoes I can have a lot of, which at $2.50 a pair would be... flip flops.

6. Pedicures are one of my favorite things ever. I don't get them on a regular basis, but I would if I could. I LOVE a good pedicure. In another loose (or mis-) application of Scripture, I usually go get one before a mission trip because the Bible says "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news."

7. I sneeze really, really loud. It startles my husband and has made my weenie dog run under the ottoman on more than one occasion.

There it is. Randomness. My son just sat on the couch beside me, glanced at the computer screen, and exclaimed, "Wow! I've never seen what's in your purse before!"

Good man.

Since these have been all around, I don't know who to tag. But, please play, if you haven't. It's fun. :)

Tag, you're it!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Feet Shod With The Gospel

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Romans 10:14-15

It is a time of preparation. I have never had a blog during my times of preparing for mission trips before, so I've never really written about what I do. With just over a week until our departure for China, I have been working all along on some of the "nuts and bolts" of what needs to be done- making lists, preparing materials for some of the work we will be doing, emailing the missionaries and team members. To be honest, I have not posted much about this at all, simply because I'm not sure what I should post. (I'm a bit nervous about posting about our work specifically, as I don't want to unwittingly post any information that might jeopardize what our missionaries on the ground there are doing.)

Generally speaking, I will be doing some training in the International Fellowship there that our missionaries are part of, as part of their Sunday School program. We will be having a Mexican food party for some teen "MK's" (missionary kids") who are are hard at work for the Lord, and could really use some Rotel dip and tacos! We will be speaking to college students in a university setting, as well as in a coffee house. We will be speaking and ministering in a house church. We will be visiting a Buddhist monastery and prayer walking the area. My daughter and the other teens on the team will be performing some puppet shows in schools. Mostly we will be on the ground and available to do whatever the Holy Spirit directs. It's an exciting time!

But, if I'm honest, it's also (for me) a time when fear and anxiety begins to settle upon me. I've always been a pretty "tightly wound" person, but I have been plagued with fear and worry to an unparalleled degree during our years of short term missions. Things I have never worried about before can become areas of paralyzing fear for me, and even manifest themselves physically. I have recognized this as a ploy of the enemy, and have (by God's grace) been able to press through and go anyway, but nevertheless it remains a battle, from the moment I commit to a trip, throughout my entire time on the field, and even weeks after I return. God has been unspeakably faithful to me and has used this to draw me closer to Himself, further my understanding of Him and strengthen me according to His Word.

Today, I thought I'd post about what I do to prepare for a mission trip spiritually. The weeks leading up to this trip have been incredibly busy for me in every area. Socially, we have had more than our usual amount of obligations. Our ministry work in Awana has been quite time consuming. We have lost a dear friend. We are trying to finish our school work. My son has a birthday 2 days before we leave. Our house is in disarray as we are still working to put it on the market. Busy, busy, busy. And, I believe that is no accident. The enemy would love it if I would get totally distracted with the "mechanics" of my life right now and neglect the spiritual preparation needed for this trip. This would leave me completely vulnerable and could render me useless in China. I must guard against that.

This week I'm sharpening "my sword." I have a thinline Bible that I travel with. It's not the Bible I usually use for church or study, but thinner and easier to carry in my backpack. Since it's not the one I always use, I find that I can't easily flip through it and find passages as quickly as I can in my other Bibles. This week, I am having my daily quiet times in my "travel Bible," reacquainting myself with it. How I loved pulling it off of the shelf! It was like seeing a dear friend and travel companion. It's got sand and dirt in the creases- sand from Mexico, dirt from Ghana. Business cards from China (with the cell phone numbers of our missionary friends) fell out as I opened it up. A quote from an African pastor is written on the front page, "The devil sometimes strikes when you are not at work. Let us not become complacent," it says. Good reminder. I have a small heart sticker stuck inside the front cover, a reminder of a devotional I did with the kids on our team one summer when I gave them all a sticker to remind us that according to 2 Chronicles 16:9, "the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His." He sees my heart, He will strongly support me! What a promise! I must go boldly, clutching that promise.

Inside the back cover of this Bible I have Scripture references written for key Gospel passages. In my jet-lagged state, with the language barrier and the stress of being in another culture, sometimes it's hard to recall when I'm sharing with someone. I have found it a big help to have them written down and the scriptures highlighted. I also have the Roman Road scriptures listed in order on the first page of Romans with the corresponding verses highlighted. I have been reading back through these key passages and preaching the gospel to myself (which I wrote about here). Not only is this solidifying the Gospel in my heart and mind, it is causing me to operate in His power. The Gospel is power! What a covering!

Something else I have been doing, is praying through my 31 Days of Praise and 31 Days of Power books and highlighting Scriptures pertaining to God's attributes... His absolute goodness, sovereignty, love... There are moments of intense oppression on airplanes, layovers, late nights in my hotel room, and walking through heavily oppressed areas where I need those scriptures at my fingertips. Again, in the stress of the moment I might not be able to find these passages, but locating and marking some of them ahead of time and reading and meditating on them before I go is an immeasurable help. And this week I have been finding Scriptures I've marked and prayed through, that have been a lifeline for me in the past. God is using them to remind me of His past sufficiency and the promise of it in the days and weeks to come. He is so, so good.

So, this is a little of what I've been up to in my preparations. To those of you who are praying for us... thank you. I have tears in my eyes just now thinking about it. You have no idea what a lifeline those prayers are to me. No idea. Thank you, thank you. May the blessing return to you a hundred fold.

I'll post more of our preparations in the coming days. Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Amazing Indeed

The time is drawing near for our next departure to China. It's hard to believe! Here I am, folding laundry, teaching my kids their math, fixing meals for my family... and a week from Saturday I will be on my way across the world. We serve an amazing, big God. I have been centering my thoughts more and more toward the work there, remembering the precious people, those piercing almond-shaped eyes looking into mine, searching for truth. It's hard to describe how it feels to sit and share with someone across the world the concept that there is a Most High God, and that He loves and cares for them. To watch them come to grips with what Christ did for them. To see them change and be transformed.

I was praying about it this morning, and the Lord brought back a most incredible memory to me from my last visit.

If you have studied or read what is going on in the church in China, then you know that there are what are called "house churches." These are churches that meet in homes, not at the state-sanctioned churches. I cannot tell you what it is like to sit in a house church and be among those who are so on fire for the Lord. They are risking so much. (If you have not read Safely Home by Randy Alcorn, I encourage you to. Tears welled up in my eyes just now thinking about it!)

We were privileged to attend such a church, and to speak and minister to some of its members. I cannot remember how it came to be that I was at the house by myself that day, but I was. During our stay in the city, (and by God's grace!) I became more adept at taking taxi's by myself (I could say the name of our hotel in Chinese!) and getting around a little bit. But the house where I was was tucked way back off of a road, and I was not sure how to get back to where I could get to the main area where I could wait for a taxi. The woman I had been meeting with was an English-speaker, but she needed to stay at the house with her children, so she asked a young man there in the house if he would walk me to the main road. He indicated to her (in Chinese, of course) that he would. He was a precious college-aged believer ("brother") and he smiled at me as I put my backpack on my shoulder to begin the half-mile trek through the winding village streets.

We walked for a bit in silence. He knew no English and I knew no Chinese. (Unless I wanted to tell him "hello" and the name of my hotel!) I did say something like "It is very warm today" while gesturing toward the sun and e-nun-ci-a-ting all of my consonants. (Why do I do that? That, and talking louder. Doesn't help.) He nodded and pointed to the sun as well. We kept walking in silence. The houses were right up to the narrow street, and the doors were open just feet from us. I could see inside the homes or smile and nod as people were coming in and out of their doorways. I felt such a kinship with this man after we had worshiped together and shared a meal, that it felt awkward to walk with him and not speak. I remember feeling that at that moment that if I would just OPEN my mouth, something Chinese would come out. Surely I could say something!

All of a sudden, something indescribable happened. The young man I was walking with, my precious Chinese brother, started singing "Amazing Grace." In English- the kind of English that you can tell is simply memory of the sounds, not the words (no doubt like my "Chinese" must sound). I immediately joined in. His face burst into a wide grin at me as we continued to sing:

"Amazing Grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me...
I once was lost
But now I'm found
Was blind but now I see..."

We sang together as people coming in and out of their homes looked at us strangely. We continued to walk and sing. After that first verse, he continued to sing, but in Chinese, as I continued to sing in English. It was the most unforgettable sound- the same notes, same words, different languages. To the same God. The One True God.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed...

And on we walked. And on we sang. Verse after verse, all the way to the main road. The sound of our voices filled that tiny street. There in that village where you have to be so careful... where churches are tucked into places that must remain unnamed... we sang of the amazing grace that draws those formerly living in darkness to become a "brother" or a "sister" in a persecuted place. We sang of the same amazing grace that drew a suburban American housewife to China. We had completely different languages and backgrounds, but that same saving grace is what drew us together. It draws us together before the throne even now.

What an amazing God we serve. He is doing an incredible work in the hearts of the Chinese people, and all over this world. Somewhere today, while we are doing our household chores or working at our jobs, His name is being lifted up in tiny villages in Asia. May we pray for them. May we pray for those who are taking His name to those who have not heard it. His amazing grace is at work.

The Lord has promised good to me...
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be...
as long as life endures.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Well, I didn't get to post my menu last week, but I wanted to mention that we had this Honey Chicken Stir-Fry one night and it was really good. Once again, my chef-in-training son made the sauce, so it is a quick and simple recipe that we all enjoyed! Since our hearts were in Ghana due to the week's events, we had Beef Congolaise (the only African dish I know how to make) using the recipe I posted here. It is so good, I encourage you to try it. It's so yummy, and very easy.

Our guys went on a fishing trip last week, so we will be incorporating fish into our weekly menus for awhile. While they were gone, my daughter and I enjoyed Chinese food, Sonic hamburgers and "junk," so I'm glad to be getting back in the kitchen! Here's what we'll be enjoying:

Monday: Ground Beef Baked Beans, tossed salad, hot bread
Tuesday: Baked Catfish, steamed vegetables, rice
Wednesday: Savory Chicken and Broccoli Bake , salad, bread
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Taco Soup with Romaine and Avocado Salad
Weekend: Leftovers, sandwiches, and out-to-eat after church

Taco Soup

2 lbs. ground beef (browned and crumbled)
1 can shoepeg corn
2 cans Rotel (I'll probably just use one)
2 cans pinto beans w/ jalopenos
2 cups water
1pkg taco seasoning
1 pkg Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing

Stir ingredients together until hot and simmer. Serve hot, garnish with shredded cheese and crushed tortilla chips.

I'd love to read what you've got cookin' this week. Visit Laura's to share your menu and to read others. Have a blessed week around your table with those you love!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Body of Christ

As I drove to Target to get the photo enlarged, I thought, "I can't believe this is why I'm getting this photo reprinted." As I drove to Hobby Lobby to get a frame and easel, I thought, "I can't believe this is why I'm shopping for a picture frame. (By the way, in true God-has-gone-before-me fashion, large picture frames and metal easels were on for half price this week. Whoa.) There his picture sat on the table in my long entry way, ready for the memorial service yesterday afternoon.

What a healing time. What a unique time. Usually when I go to a memorial service, I feel like I'm partly going to comfort the family. His family is 10,000 miles away. This time, it was simply to be in the presence of those who felt close to him and to share stories of how he touched our lives and revealed the character of God in our circumstances. The fifty (or so) of us in that room yesterday were very much family. We cried, we shared, we mourned, we rejoiced for him, we prayed for his dear family. It was as much a picture of the "Body of Christ" as I've ever seen. I felt truly connected to everyone there, with a connection that transcended knowing and loving Dr. Sam, and that's what he would've wanted.

I'll share what I shared (if I can remember, and if I can see the computer screen through the blur of my tears!)

Several years ago, when Ghana remained a place we'd never been, but was still a prayer on the lips of my (then) 9 year old daughter, she and a friend had a snow cone stand in front of her friend's house. She spent the night at her friend's, and we met the next morning at the soccer game in which both of their brothers would be playing. She showed me the whopping $6.35 they had made, and told me that they were going to give the money to Africa. To Ghana, specifically. I thought that was a fine idea, and mentally wondered how I would get that exact money over there, wondering if perhaps I should add to it enough to make it a big round number and simply write a check... come to think of it, how do you get pocket change like that over to Africa? Hm. Well, I'd figure out how. Little did I know, God already knew how.

Within moments, our dear friend Jeff approached us with this tall gentlman, whom he introduced to us as Dr. Sam., visiting from Ghana. Wow, what a "coincidence!" The girls were so excited, because they had just raised money for Ghana, and now there was a real, live Ghanaian to whom to give it! That precious man of God knelt down and accepted that money from those two skinny, blonde girls. While on one knee, he put his big, dark arms around them and prayed a blessing over them for caring for the people of his country and for giving to God's kingdom work. I now know that he was to be travelling to Pittsburg and all points in between before heading back to Ghana, but I have no doubt that that snow cone money made it all the way back and was put to good use in one of his (many) ministries. He conducted medical missions as a doctor, he started water well projects, he began a ministry to raise goats for hungry families... he always found a way to minister to the physical needs of his countrymen with the ultimate goal of ministering to their one TRUE need- a relationship with with Jesus Christ.

And, as he had once scooped up my little daughter and assured her that her $6.35 made a difference in the Kingdom, he did that for me spiritually. So often in the presence of the spiritual giants whom God in His grace has ordained that I should meet, I feel like I am bringing a meager $6.35 worth of spirituality or giftedness to the endeavor. Who am I? Just a suburban, homeschooling mom! But, when we were with Dr. Sam here, or when we were over there visiting his clinic and praying with his patients or partnering in a medical mission, he would assure us that what we were doing was making a difference in the Kingdom. But not just on the mission field. He encouraged me to see every area of my life as "Kingdom Business" and to operate in the Holy Spirit on all occasions.

I didn't share this yesterday, but this has been simmering in my mind the past few months...Last summer, he was with us around our table on a Monday night. He had preached at our local African church the day before and it had apparently uniquely met a need. He shared that he didn't know what he would preach about until about 4:30 that morning. How did he know? God told him. God woke him up and told him. He had an awareness of a specific need in that congregation, so he specifically addressed that need from the pulpit. So, I had to ask. How do you know that things like that are from God? He told me that it is in two ways: (1) If it is backed up by God's Word, and (2) If it comes to pass. He was fully prepared to say what he was to say, and for there to be no visible response. It still was what he felt led to preach about, and it was in God's word. But the fact that what he said met such a specific need further affirmed that what he had understood was of the spirit. He told me he kept a pad of paper in his pocket, and when he felt the Holy Spirit impress something on his heart, he wrote it down. Then he would wait. If the event came to pass, he knew it had been of God. Or if it was something he needed to act upon, he would act in faith anyway, and God would confirm it. Were there certain things he had "acted on" that God hadn't "confirmed" yet? He answered, yes. That was God's business. Were there times it was confirmed right away? Yes. Again, that was up to God.

I'm quite sure I'm not adequately conveying what he said or how I understood it, but it has changed how I pray and how I "listen." I, first and foremost "listen" through God's Word. His revealed, unchanging, complete, accomplishing Word. If what I'm thinking does not match up to a Scriptural precedent or the whole counsel of Scripture, then I know it is just me... a fleshly thought. But, if what I think I'm sensing in my spirit is of God, He has been so faithful to back it with His Word. And then, in His grace, He has allowed events to come to pass which bore out what He was impressing on me. It's so unexplainable, but it's real. It's one way that walking alongside Dr. Sam has changed me personally- daily dialoguing with my Father, all day, throughout the day. And I keep a pad of paper in my purse. :)

Here's the kicker: So many of us shared yesterday about what he said to us, wise words that he spoke into our lives. I have posted about the sermon he preached. He was a strong, vital man. But the real miracle is that he spoke anything at all. This man, not long after we met him, had to have his vocal chords removed due to throat cancer. He had no voice! When he spoke, it was in a raspy whisper. I believe one of the reasons he was still audible at all was that God had words for him to say, and just as he was supernaturally able to speak them, we were supernaturally able to hear them. Really. It's hard enough sometimes (especially for us English-speakers who only know one language anyway!) to understand someone's thick accent. But how much more difficult is it if that person has no vocal chords? I believe God helped us understand Dr. Sam because He wanted us to hear what he had to say. Dr. Sam was able to speak because his message was of God. And what he spoke has changed many, many lives.

If you have read this far... bless you! It has been so healing for me, after a dark, silent week on my blog, to post this. Thank you for your sweet comments, too. They blessed me more than you know.

And that's the Body of Christ, too.

Have a blessed Lord's Day.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

God is Good... All the Time

I've saved you a seat at the Internet Cafe, and your cyber-coffee (or tea) is brewing! Join me at the cafe today to talk about praising Him at all (and odd) times.

It's a "latte" fun...I'll see you there!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"There's That Chicken!"

"Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His godly ones." Psalm 116:15

Yesterday were doing school on the back porch when our "happy Monday" was shattered by the news of the death of our dear, dear friend in Ghana, Dr. Sam. We were so very blessed to have him in our lives for a season, and to have him here in our home just a few months ago. I am reposting what I wrote after his visit, and pray you will be blessed. We miss you, Dr. Sam. Oh, how we miss you.


We had a wonderful time last night, enjoying fellowship in our home with our friend Dr. Sam from Ghana. He is such a dear man. It is obvious to all who are around him that he walks very closely with God. The Holy Spirit is clearly manifested in the way he talks and in the things he says. He hears from God. He speaks wisdom. He is absolutely fascinating to be with! So we sat last night around our dining room table soaking up what Dr. Sam had to say. I'm still processing most of it, so it will surely come out in my "blogging" at some point.

What I love about his testimony is that he wasn't always a Christian. He didn't accept Christ until well into his adult life. So he's gotten where he is spiritually in relatively few years, which really inspires me. I asked him last night when he began to really seek after and sense God's presence in his life, and when he began to actively listen for the Holy Spirit's "voice" for himself. He told the story of his 12 year old daughter, "W", who is a sweet friend of Bethany's.

When W was four years old, she came upon a dying chicken. This chicken was apparently lying on the ground, paralyzed, to the point of death. Dr. Sam (who is, in fact, a medical doctor) explained medically what had been wrong with the chicken. I'm not sure what he said, but the point was that it was clear this chicken was dying and that was that. Well, not for W. She went over to the chicken, laid her little four-year-old hands upon it and spoke healing for the chicken in Jesus' name. She claimed it, she believed for it. The matter was settled. Well, it was not long before that chicken was up and clucking around with the other chickens! That chicken had been healed! Dr. Sam said last night, "When I saw what the power of God would do for a chicken... I knew he would do that in my life too!"
Last night as Dr. Sam was leaving our house, Kyle showed him this picture that we have on our refrigerator. W drew this picture and sent to us earlier this year. I love that verse, and it is a reminder of our sweet Ghanaian friends each time I look at it. When Dr. Sam saw the picture his sweet daughter had drawn, he said "Ah, yes. There's that chicken!" Though I had heard the chicken story before, I had not made the connection. To me, the chicken represented the "feathers" and "wings" in the verse. But to the artist, it represented power!

Now I see that picture differently. I'm so glad I see the chicken! How often I'm a chicken. Not just a chicken, but one who can't move! If God can be called upon by a four-year-old to bring life to paralyzed poultry, He can certainly be trusted to infuse every area of my life with that same power, when called upon with believing boldness like that of a child.