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Great Questions!

The past two afternoons I have been surprised by some awesome conversation opening questions!

Yesterday I was at the local shop buying yogurt for dinner.  I have been feeling convicted to go deeper in my conversation with the shop keeper, and had hoped to yesterday, but when I got there, two other women as well as another customer were in the shop.

I figured I would stay a few minutes and small talk before JJ and I headed home for dinner.  The women were oohing and ahhing over JJ and his blonde hair, and then out of the blue one, asked “has he been baptized??”.

So we talked…all of us leaning on an ice-cream cooler…about baptism and how we will let JJ decide when he is ready to be baptized as a teen or as an adult.  Their response?  “That makes more sense because then the person is able to decide if they want to be baptized”.  I shared that for us as Christians, baptism is not something to get checked off on a to-do list in order to be saved, but rather a public declaration of our decision to follow Jesus as our savior.  Again, they both repeated that they thought it was a great idea to have people wait until they are ready.

I let it be at that for the night, but might have to make a trip over sooner than later to keep talking?

Then this afternoon, I sat down to try and get some office work done…(the administrative part of missions takes some time and there isn’t always quiet to work on it).  My phone started to ding with a Whatsapp message.  A friend who has been drifting from the church lately wanting to ask a question.  Her question?  “With the things we were talking about at Bible Study last week, does that mean I shouldn’t be going to the novenas or celebrations for the Holy Child?”.

How exciting are these conversations!!!!

So we chatted on our phones about when Jesus served, when Jesus performed miracles, when Jesus died.  All as an adult.  That he was born as a baby in order to be completely human, but that God didn’t call him to teach or perform miracles or die until he was an adult.  And that the Jesus we follow is Jesus whom God used during his adulthood.  She’s feeling much less in love with the Holy Child than she was a year ago, but for some reason is struggling with the topic right now.  We’ll see how the conversation progresses!

The opportunity to engage in these conversations is super exciting…and at times a little scary…my desire is to be able to answer in ways that help people draw nearer to the Lord and strip off the layers of religion that keep them from seeing the truth!

Please pray that I would be faithful, wise and courageous when these questions come up.  And that we would always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15)

 

 

 

Time for What….

Time is so very tricky.  It seems to slip by each day faster than I could ever imagine…While I am busy trying to plan what I’ll get done, the day keeps on running and sometimes nothing gets accomplished the way I hope (or even need).

We are definitely a house-full. And, all my homeschooling mama friends will agree with me that schooling kiddos takes up a lot of time (and my non-homeschooling mama friends will probably also agree that all the things that kids in the school system need done in a day also takes up a lot of time!)

Some days though balancing this time thing can be discouraging for me…

Should I spend some time answering emails that people have sent to check-in on us, to encourage us, or business emails?

or

Should I work on getting things ready for school (ie lesson planning) to cut down on the times I have to ‘wing it’?

or

Should I catch up on some of the blogs?   I appreciate so much the notes that people send to let us know they enjoy the blog, and I know it is an important means of letting you know a little more about what is going on here…

or

Should I get some exercise to help my body stay strong and healthy amidst the stress?

or

Should I write some more thank-you’s to the wonderful people God has called to support us each month?  We are thankful for your support and definitely want you to know it…

or

Should I cultivate the relationships we have growing with non-believers here in town.  Dropping in to visit the shop-keeper and invest in her life so that there will be more opportunities to share the gospel?

or

Should I get to reading the books on marriage and ministry that would be so very helpful as we begin to prepare for the months ahead?  We don’t want to or need to re-invent the wheel, there are so many wonderful resources….

or

Should I catch up on the financial pieces we need to submit each month?

or

Should I sit face to face with Matt so we can put some more plans down on paper?

or

Should I work on marking the kids schoolwork and recording their logs?

or

Should I sit down to pray and think about how we can find a few new supporters to make up our shortfall each month?

or

Should I take 15 minutes and play dolls with Taylah?  She’s asked three days running now….

or

Should I start preparing for the Bible Study I am doing with a friend?

or

Should I run to the grocery store?  …there is no bread or milk or any fruit for snacks…

or

Should I fold the laundry up so we can get into our bed tonight?

or

Should I grab a short time of rest to recharge my heart and mind before the meetings tonight so that I can be fully there?

or

Should I go wash the mountain of dishes?….oh those can wait!

There are only so many hours in a day.  And, there are only so many that I can be awake and totally functional for…

It is always a give or take.

If we do one thing (because it is definitely a team of two with Matt and I), we can’t do the other.  Some things get done, others have to wait, and sometimes others things fall completely through the cracks.  If we focus on ministry and building relationships which takes time, and our partners feel like we’re not thanking them enough, perhaps they’ll stop their support.  If we spend too much time working on administrative pieces and aren’t in the community, perhaps we’ll miss the opportunity to be there for a friend when they are most ready to hear the Good News.

Our choices won’t always please everyone.  Our choices sometimes don’t even please ourselves.  But, choices we have to make, every day.

I confess that I am terribly bad at rushing off on my own thoughts about what needs to be done instead of putting it all before the Lord.  Perhaps that is why it is so overwhelming at times…

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

~Proverbs 3:6

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

~Proverbs 16:9

Perhaps it is time to shift my focus from the insane to-do list to instead ask the Lord “what do I do today?”.   To make sure my focus is on glorifying Him alone and not trying to make sure everyone else is pleased. And, to learn to have more grace with myself…there are only so many hours in a day, period.

Who is driving your to-do list?  You? Others? Or the hand of the creator of time himself?

 

 

 

 

 

New Year’s Eve

While we were pretty well organized for all the Christmas activities, I somehow kept thinking that after Christmas there would be time to prepare for New Years….but wow that week went fast!

So, the afternoon of New Year’s eve, we were trying to figure out how to make a monigote (the “doll” that gets burnt and jumped over), and what we were going to eat for a ‘special’ dinner.

And, somehow we pulled it all together…a doll with a Yoda mask and all.

The kids stayed up until about 10, and surprisingly, Matt and I made it until after midnight.  There are lots and lots of fireworks that go off at midnight, so we figured we might as well wait until after those to go to bed.  But, thankfully by 12:45, everything had quieted down and we were off to bed!

Here’s a little peek at our jumping-through-the-fire fun New Year’s Eve…

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Christmas Crafts in Sauces

It was hard to believe that the last time we did crafts with the women in Sauces was February 2015.  Somehow the year flew by!  But, we weren’t letting December slip away without some sort of activity for the women, so Narcissa and I set to dreaming about what we could do.

We decided to make snowflakes out of toilet paper rolls…they are beautiful and the cost is super affordable!!

Narcissa and I had met once to plan who would do what at the event and then got together one morning to make a ‘model’ and to cut the toilet paper rolls.

 

We were super excited with how it turned out!

The day of the event, there were 8 women.  Some I had never met.

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We shared in a time of worship

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And then started off the activities with a game that quickly broke the ice (this might be one of my favourite parts of these events is seeing the women relax and laugh!)

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A finished Christmas scene…a decorated tree with a fire and stocking, gifts, a star….Explains the laughs!

I shared a short devotional about the uniqueness of snowflakes, the uniqueness of Jesus as our savior, and the unique path there is to eternal life.

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Then we got to work…

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Things were coming together beautifully until the lights went out!

Viche was there and his phone offered enough light until we could find some candles…

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A generator had blown down the street and the power wasn’t coming on anytime soon.  This meant the glue guns weren’t working either so we had to stop…Well, after we had these empanadas that Narcissa made…

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The ‘regular Tuesday night Bible Study’ group met at Viche and Narcissa’s house and just spent some time in fellowship before the lights came back on.

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The women met the next afternoon to finish off their snowflakes…sadly, I couldn’t be there for the second day, but they turned out beautifully!  Again, I am so thankful for the craft supplies we do have here and how it helps us to minister in special ways to some of the women here!

We continue to try to plant seeds in the community of Sauces, as we support the work that Viche and Narcissa are doing.  And, we hope that in time God will bring a great harvest!

Looking forward to what God has planned for Sauces this new year!

 

Christmas Craftiness

2015: The year the house was unpacked all in one place and I knew where the craft supplies were (especially since my husband made me ultra-amazing storage shelves for everything)

And so, 2015 also was the year that we made Christmas crafts.  And, it was so fun!  (not to mention such a wonderful reminder for my transition-weary heart that we are not in transition!) Funny, the things I kept saying “once we’re settled we can do….” And, this year we did!!

We even managed to make something for Thanksgiving

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We tried to work different crafty things into school

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The big boys made me a spectacular wreath

 

We decided to make these really neat Christmas trees to share as gifts with people who have been a part of our lives this year…

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I even got to do crafty baking and make a sheep costume (another post)

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This was a special time of getting ‘ready for Christmas’ fun.  It’s been many years that we’ve told the kids “not this year, there just isn’t time”  or” We won’t be back in time to do that”  or “everything is already packed”.  It’s hard to explain how much fun it was to be able to plan (a bit…I am not so great at the planning piece), and to spend some hours around the table making fun things!

Thankful is just the right word.

 

Struggling with Sabbath

Monday is our sabbath day.

But really, I stink at sabbath.

God rested.  We need to rest too.  And, because Sunday’s are often very full, we’ve followed the lead of many other friends in ministry and chosen Monday.  A day to rest and refresh and take a break from the busy week.

The problem is,  Monday the kids still have school.  There is still laundry to do.  There are 7 tummies that seem to still want 3 meals.  There are things to pick up.  There is planning to be done.  There are newsletters to write….

And so, resting isn’t happening.  It seems far to easy to take ‘intentionally unscheduled so we CAN rest’ and turn it into ‘work on all the things that don’t seem to fit anywhere else in the week and say you are catching up’.

Sabbath FAIL!

I don’t do terribly well with resting.  Or, if I do sit down to rest, I pretty quickly fall asleep!

So, we’re still trying to figure out what sabbath means.

We’re trying to figure out what sabbath means in a house full of children.

We’re trying to figure out what sabbath means  when there is always so much to do and the temptation of using the time to catch up on tasks is so very real.

We’re trying to figure out what sabbath means as a time for worship and re-focusing and re-fueling and re-charging.

We want to do sabbath well….

But ‘doing’ is not the object.

This is so confusing for my personality type!

So, each week we keep on trying.  Perhaps some day we’ll be able to share “Sucessful Sabbaths”, but for now, we’ll keep struggling and working to try and rest well in the midst of the busy-ness!

Gingerbread Mania

Christmas 2014, we were in the process of arriving.  The container arrived barely two weeks before Christmas and all we managed to make happen was to decorate a bit and celebrate as a family.

This Christmas, we wanted to have some fun with friends…to open our house up (I have missed that SO much) and enjoy fellowship and laughter.

And so was born, Gingerbread Mania (divided up into two parts!)

We wondered if people here had ever made gingerbread houses (they hadn’t), and whether they would enjoy it (they did).

We invited some of the young adults we’ve gotten to know and come to love one night for round one….

A little ice-breaker…

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And then to work!

We were astounded with the creativity and intricacy of their houses…there were no four-walled shacks anywhere in sight!

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We only gave them a limited amount of supplies, and when they needed more, there was a price list!  Our kids ran the “store” and loved making the big kids dance and sing for their candies!

 

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We had a display and contest at the end for the “best”.  Though they were all pretty spectacular!

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And the winners were:

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It was a fabulous night and just such a joyous time with everyone!

Then a couple days later we had round two which was family version.  These guys didn’t have to sing for their candies though! (Maybe next year???)

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More creativity and intricacy….yes even an outhouse.

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It was a super fun afternoon, and our kids were glad to have been able to participate in construction this time!

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Both Gingerbread Manias were huge successes!  Lots of icing lots of laughing and lots of fun!

We’re already scheming and planning for Gingerbread Mania 2016 edition! Wanna come??

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