Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Charlie Bit My Finger - Again!

If you haven't watched the hilarious "Charlie Bit My Finger - Again!" video on YouTube, let me seriously recommend it. Even if you have dial up.
We have dial-up and rarely spend the hour it takes to load a few minutes of YouTube video... but this one is so worth it! These two little boys are so... well, just watch it for yourself! : )

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Coming For A Life of Gathering Gloom

Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom:
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

- We Three Kings of Orient Are, verse 4

As we sang "We Three Kings of Orient Are" in church today, this verse of the hymn hit me like never before. Usually, everyone focuses on the joy of Christ's birth - wonder, beauty, peace on earth, joy... these are all words we hear at Christmas time and hear in the carols we sing. We coo over the babe in the manger, the beauty of the scene in the little stable of Bethlehem.

We sing, "Joy to the World. " Certainly, Christ's coming to the world - God with us, in human flesh - was the most wonderful, joyous thing that had ever happened to the world since it began. It was joy - for us. Miserable, sin-sick creatures that had a God and Creator willing to stoop to their level...

But on Christ's part, coming to earth was for the purpose of death, ugliness, to become the vilest thing known to man as He "became sin" and "became us" that we might be made the righteousness of God.

May we continue to rejoice that Christ came to earth for us - the wonder that God should die for me! - but may we ever be mindful that He came not just to bring joy and warmness to hearts of shepherds, but that he actually came to become the vilest of sin that we might have peace with God.

May we live with that perspective. Enough people live carelessly. Enough people abuse the grace of God. May I be one that does more than marvel at a Holy Babe in a manger. May I marvel at the Righteousness and perfect Justice of my God and live my life accordingly.

Christmas Cookies

We had a huge cookie baking day a couple of weeks before Christmas. Friends and neighbors participated, and those who weren't here to help us bake received a plate of cookies the next day. We've never made this many fancy cookies before (I think we made 11 different recipes)... but we found it to be a lot of fun and a great opportunity to go knock on a lot of neighbors' doors that we normally don't have a reason to visit! :)

Azarina, Bethany, and Joanna were more than happy to "man" the chocolate-dipping station!

Almost finished... the table is a mess and there's several hundred cookies to package!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Show Us the Golden Harvest There

The whole team spent some time scoping out some property for the family that plans to move over there in January and begin working with the natives.

There really were kids everywhere!

Finally! They have the Bibles, loaded the truck, and went off into the bush to find the schools. (The government doesn't know where most of their school are or who the teachers or students are... They asked the mission team to take pictures and give them a report of what they found!)

And at last, the children were each handed a Bible and book about knowing God. Twenty-two thousand were passed out before the team had to come home at the beginning of December. That's a lot of seed. The boys said it was encouraging to walk through an area where they had passed out Bibles a few days earlier and see people sitting on their doorsteps reading them!

Toward Jerusalem

O Father, help lest our poor love refuse
For our beloved the life that they would choose,
And in our fear of loss for them, or pain.
Forget eternal gain.

Show us the gain, the golden harvest there
For corn of wheat that they have buried there;
Lest human love defraud them, and betray,
Teach us, O God, to pray.

Teach us to pray remembering Calvary,
For as the Master must the servant be;
We see their face set toward Jerusalem,
Let us not hinder them.

Teach us to pray; O Thou that didst not spare
Thine Own Beloved, lead us on in prayer,
Purge from the earthly, give us love Divine,
Father, like Thine, like Thine.

- Amy Carmichael

Pray the Lord Of the Harvest That He Would Send Forth Laborers

The mission team that the boys went with to Guinea Bissau planned to spend most of their five weeks over there passing out Bibles in the schools.

Instead theu spent the first two weeks meeting with governmental officials, getting all kinds of legal documents written up that will (hopefully) ensure them a continued working relationship within the schools as well as give them an opportunity to begin a school for training teachers, etc.

Transportation in Africa is always fun!

Bible study under the tree in front of their hotel

The guys spent a lot of time having Bible studies amongst themselves. And they held services every night out front at the hotel where they were staying. They said that the hotel's main income is usually from the prostitution that occurs there every day. With the gospel meetings going on in the evening, though, the boys said that the usual customers mostly decided to go elsewhere.

'Zaiah down at the port... wishing there was a way to get into the Bibles.

And they spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get their shipping container of Bibles out of the port (the crane was broke, and when it got fixed the operator said he just didn't feel like moving the container, even if they paid him a lot of money!). God finally answered their prayers and they were able to get the container in an accessible location!

"They Have One Thing Right in Africa... Everybody Loves Children!" - Zaiah

Quinn H. attempting to take a picture... What an audience!

Abe with some random little kid...
The kids were always happy for anybody to notice them,
hold them, play with them, love on them!

'Zaiah made friends with somebody's pet monkey.
He jokingly shows the picture off as "the day I met my grandfather in Africa" (evolution!)

Abe trying to relax in the hammock with little neighborhood kids.

When I picked 'Zaiah and Abe up at the airport, of course I wanted to hear all about their impression of Guinea Bissau.
They went on and on about what a backwards country it is... how the people don't use the resources that the U.N. and various humanitarian aid places send them. Many of them live in little huts and shacks, while a spacious new apartment complex stands in town, occupied by nobody because the people can't agree on who should get to live there. It's sat there vacant for a couple of years since it was built and donated to the people. Vandals have stolen the toilets and messed up the brand new building, but nobody seems to realize what a tragedy their wasted resources are. 'Zaiah said that it is hard to even know where to start working in that country because of the corrupted government and the lack of integrity and truth from pretty much anybody.

"But," he added. "At least they have one thing right. They love children. They see the children of Guinea Bisseau as their future and their hope. Kids are everywhere, and people value them."

What a contrast to a tone that has taken over our society in recent decades. The prevailing thought that kids are expensive, difficult, and expendable... Have a couple if you want them, but a poodle or Bull Mastiff makes an acceptable substitute. And heaven help us if we should ever "punish" a woman by not allowing her to dispose of a baby she didn't want!

My old car had a bumper sticker on it that I loved.
It said, "Children... Our most precious natural resource."

The Africans may not have a lot of things right, but I'll agree with 'Zaiah. They have one thing right. Children are valuable and precious!

December Days...

Once again, it's been a long time since I've posted.

No, I didn't get sick. (Praise the Lord!!) Matter of fact, I told one of my sisters the other day, "I can't believe how good I feel when I've had a decent amount of sleep! I could be the Energizer Bunny today!"

Most days the sleep department has been a little short, but that's okay. I've been so immersed in clinicals that I barely have had time to breathe this past week. I love playing the primary role under supervision... I learn the most that way. Who needs sleep when they could be catching a baby instead? : ) And my CPM preceptor is great. She knows what I'm thinking and I know what she's thinking before either of us say anything (usually!). I'm so grateful to have someone to work with and learn from who shares my worldview and with whom I get along so splendidly!

My family has been no less busy with their own projects. Tonight was our bi-weekly Friday night Bible study at our house. We had 21 kids under 10 here! And the house was relatively quiet. That was amazing!

Several of the girls tried to get the year-end letter written this week. But each time they wrote a few paragraphs and then gave up saying, "How do you condense our life into a couple of pages? We need an annual edition of our yearly chronicle!"
Really, though, we have to get it written and print those family pictures and get it in the mail! It's going to be 2009 way too soon!

I wish I was three different places tonight...

Congratulations to my dear friends Halley (in Columbia) and Jessica (in Springfield) who are graduating as RN's tonight!
Congratulations to Allison (in St. Louis) who is celebrating her recent engagement to Brian tonight!
Congratulations to Robyn who graduates as a nurse tomorrow... and really deserves some kind of Purple Heart for managing to go through nursing school, be a midwife, and raise 11 children simultaneously! I wish I could hear her valedictorian speech tomorrow about God's grace in her life in the midst of all of this!
And best wishes to Steff who is hosting a meeting in her home near Kansas City for policy makers focused on fixing our U.S. maternity care system tomorrow afternoon... She's hoping that Tom Daschle makes it there... and so do I!

And I've promised some Africa pictures from the boys... Unfortunately, they are not home this week to tell me if my captions are correct. Anyone who was there or knows is welcome to comment, correcting my captions!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Time to read, but no time to blog!

In recent days I've been caring for an elderly lady a lot. She lives in a quiet little house in town and I spend a lot of afternoons with her and some nights. While she's dozing on the chair, I have time to study with no interruptions. It's wonderful!

However, it ensures that I have no spare moments online. Hence, the lack of lengthy blog posts from me in recent days. I hope to figure out some way to make my blogging work while watching her. Maybe one of her neighbors will decide to set up an unsecured wireless network and I can use that??

In the mean time though, watching her has given me time to read much more than usual. (Yes, most of it is exciting stuff like studying all the cautions/side effects of various medicated creams for yeast infections!) A couple of afternoons ago, I put down Varney's and read the whole of A.W. Tozer's "The Pursuit of God." A few quotes were too good not to take the time to share with you!

One of the premises of his book is that our relationship to God (and thus, every area of life and every relationship) must be one of sincerity and humility. I did some soul searching, and asked the Lord to make me more sincere and humble, and He has been faithful to do just that!

The other day I found myself wondering why so many big, humbling, hard things were happening in one afternoon and wondering what could happen next. I felt extremely insignificant and about 1 inch tall. I was watching everyone else receive exactly what I had wanted so badly and see that they were doing a much better job than I ever could have. There's nothing quite like realizing that God doesn't need you and that other people don't find you indispensable either!!

As I was musing on the turn of events in several areas of life I realized something. This was exactly what I had asked for, right? I managed to smile and say, "Thank you, God! I don't like it, but it's exactly what I asked for, and I still want it!"

"[Christ] waits to be wanted."

"Lift up thine heart unto God with a meek stirring of love, and mean Himself, and none of His goods."

"Whoever defends himself will have himself for his defense, and he will have no other; but let him come defenseless before the Lord and he will have for his defender no less than God Himself."

"To be specific, [the] self-sins are these: self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love, and a host of others like them. They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our natures to come to our attention till the light of God is focused upon them...
They are not something we do, they are something we are, and therein lies both their subtlety and power."

"When we talk of the rending of the veil [of Self] we are speaking in a figure, and the thought is poetical, almost pleasant; but in actuality there is nothing pleasant about it. In human experience that veil [of Self] is made of living spiritual tissue; it is composed of the sentient, quivering stuff of which our whole beings consist, and to touch it is to touch us where we feel pain. To tear it away is to injure us, to hurt us, and make us bleed. To say otherwise is to make the cross no cross and death no death at all. It is never fun to die. To rip through the dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but deeply painful. Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free...
Let us beware of tinkering with our inner life in hope ourselves to rend the veil. God must do everything for us. Our part is to yield and trust.... [But] we must insist upon the work being done....
Insist that the work be done in very truth and it will be done. The cross is rough, and it is deadly, but it is effective. It does not keep its victim hanging there forever. There comes a moment when the work is finished and the suffering victim [Self] dies. After that is resurrection glory and power, and the pain is forgotten for joy..."

-- A.W. Tozer

Monday, December 8, 2008

Trying to Stay Well

In 24 hours time over the weekend, I was exposed to (like, kids sneezing on me, hugging me with snotty faces!) a LOT of stuff... a case of measles, a bunch of kids with pinkeye, 3 colds, a nasty stomach bug, a bad fever-and-aches flu, and 2 cases of Strep, between 5 families. I wish people who are really sick would stay home or give advanced warning when they are coming, germs and all! :) I'm all about informed choice, including being given the information that I am about to be exposed to some stuff I really, really don't want to take home to the 11 other lovely people who live with me!

Wow. I'm hoping my immune system is working overtime for me!

I managed to start a cold/sore throat thing last week, and quickly started my Oregano Oil regiment. (Taking 2 drops of Oregano oil morning, noon, and night - I usually put it in capsules since I've never found any pleasure in burning my mouth on Jalapenos OR Oregano oil!) It worked wonders. (Well, plus I added a couple of Echinacea/Goldenseal capsules and abstaining from sugar to the routine.) Within 12 hours I was perfectly fine. I'm faithfully taking my meds again... and I really hope it works as well this time!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Getting Married Doesn't....

I first noticed this post on Abigail's blog. I guess it's been a hit, though, 'cause I've seen it on at least four or five other blogs in the last couple of days. At the risk of being redundant, I'm going to post it anyway for those of you who haven't seen it. It's a great article.

A quick snippet:

Getting married doesn't instantly make you selfless... it makes you realize how very selfish you can be at times.

Getting married doesn't make you feel loved... it makes you realize love is more of a decision you make than a feeling you feel.

Getting married doesn't take away loneliness... it makes you realize true companionship comes not when you demand it but rather when you give it to another person.

You can read the entire article here.

* * * *

My brothers are back from Africa with thousands of pictures!
I'll upload a few as soon as I get a chance....