Monday, December 31, 2007

The Shorter (Westminister) Catechism... put to music

For those of your looking for really edifying music, with a blend of historical orthodox theology, or those interested in teaching yourself or your kids the The Shorter Catechism, we just got turned onto a album by Bruce Benedict (go to ITunes) called “The Shorter Catechism, Vol 1”, which uses the exact words from this 1600’s catechism, but put to folk rhythms. Already, even our kids have started singing the words (and reinforcing a similar catechism that we’ve already been doing with them). Check it out if your interested. We just wanted to pass the word for those interested. Usually, songs kids enjoy are not enjoyable to parents or vice versa. At first, it sounds strangeto hear such substantial lines put to music, but they begin to grab you after a listen or two.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Most Encouraging Christmas.

Here's my big guy at 3 months! Also his 1st Christmas!

So here's the juicy details of our Christmas month. It's been the most encouraging month by far. It started out with 4 separate Christmas parties hosted by our family and visiting friends. While crazy, it was wonderful! It has had much relational fruit. Selah got to go over to her friends house for dinner, Brad now plays basketball every Sat. night with some men (this is wonderful, because the men here are hard to meet because they are ALWAYS at work) and we got invited to a party by a Korean friend. All of these friends, and hopefully more, were made through these parties. We also got to have a local store worker over for a little bit-also a hard task because they work 7 am-10 pm and sleep in the same store.

Then, last Sunday, we had another small Christmas party with some local friends. We've also gotten to know some friends better this month and done lots of dinner hosting. Here's us at Christmas dinner with a friend who's family is out of town right now. We even got to introduce him to real American apple pie!

Christmas morning we had a friend and his wife over for cinnamon rolls. They wanted to come over and give the kids gifts before they had to leave for work, so 6:30 am and we're hosting. He's been incredibly busy, so it was nice to see them both. They stayed and had coffee with us while we opened our stockings. After that, we talked with some family in Texas and then it was off to open more gifts. We rested in the afternoon and did a little of our Christmas story reading of "One Wintry Night" by Ruth Bell Graham-fantastic book about the entire story of Christmas from Creation to Easter. The pictures and story are beautiful That night, we had a friend over for dinner (see picture above) and then crash into bed. It was a wonderful holiday.

This month was our anniversary also. We decided to go to a hotel and eat some Indian/International food. It was wonderful! The back drop to dinner was a choir of Santa dressed young people. The best was when I was about to sit down, what did mine ears hear? Nothing other than "Feliz Navidad" sang by the aforementioned Chinese choir. It was actually a "Feliz Navidad"/"Rudolph" medley. You just can't pay enough for that type of entertainment.

Here's a family Christmas picture. We are no longer worried about if everyone is smiling, but rather if everyone is sitting down in the same place.

We are also getting more and more encouraged at our language skills. Are we there yet...hardly. But we are getting more comfortable in speaking and actually having more in depth conversations. Life here is getting to seem more like life rather than this frantic, confused existence.

Sorry for the random pictures with few captions, but I figured the pictures weren't hard to figure out, so I just did them randomly. We have spent much time rejoicing this month. For answered requests, fun care packages, new friends, more mad language skills, wonderful and healthy family, the season itself.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Christmas Offering: "God's Gift"

Inspired by Isaiah 53:11a on Christmas Day 2007

God's gift to the world is rejected
not initially embraced
it is covered in flesh wrapping
bound in suffering lace

Opened in anguish
smells of death raise up high
but oh what joy awaits us inside

Such pompous for rags
a waste of time seems his shame
who will awake early and eager?
so profane is this thing

Though no eye can now see
yet a rattles shakes noise
how quickly we'll put aside all of our toys

To accept such a grace that joy may be won,
for glory eternal, let no one lament,
cannot be apprehended
efficiently or in a moment

by BV

Friday, December 21, 2007

Seeking Contradictions!!

First of all, some qualifiers… (1) We are not against “big churches”, rather we’re against the mindset of those in big churches who hide in the big group, apathetic in living like Christ. We’re not against “seekers” (as in “seeker churches”) as should be obvious. Rather, we against the notion that the church exists for seekers rather than for God. Romans 3 makes clear that actually, no one seeks God! In fact, by definition, “church” in Scripture is the assembly of God’s people, of whom “seekers” are not a part. Therefore, in fact, it’s impossible to have a “seeker church”.


With that lengthy qualifier made…it dawned on us what a walking contradiction “seeker churches” are in much of what they do. For example, every seeker church will be very quick to say we’re saved by faith, not by works. {So far so good}. However, in stead of being places where the content of this faith is fully declared and articulated, “seeker churches” tend to be the last place one will find thoughtful, comprehensive theological teaching. Rather, every church I hear that praises a “seeker sensitive” mentality spends all their time on “how to” teaching {How to be a good…How to live…. How to find…} Catch the irony….the necessity of faith for salvation would seem to compel more rigorous preaching and certainly more God centered sermons. How to’s concern works, which they supposedly minimize (in the conversion process). Seeker churches, of all places, claim to focus on the unsaved, nonChristian.


In short, “seeker churches” fill their building with a lot of people who don’t love Jesus (after all, they’re “seeking”) to tell them how to live (i.e. do works), despite the fact that they can only be saved through faith (the content of which is barely if ever taught).


Consequently, the very method attempting to win seekers may be sending them to hell!! (since they are being taught how to do works but unfamiliar with the content of our faith).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

9 years ago, today!

We were walking down the aisle to get married! I cannot believe it was that long ago. I wish I had pictures, but that was pre-digital cameras.

4 kids, 4 continents, endless moves, deaths, and many starbucks later, we are still having a great time being married. Anyone who says that married gets boring the longer you're married have just stopped trying. My wonderful husband does a fantastic job of taking me on dates, serving our family and leading us all in Godliness and intentionality.

We're going to enjoy some hot pot after the kids get to bed and go out this weekend. We've got some friends baby-sitting for us! We'll get some pictures and post them this weekend.

To my wonderful husband-here's to 9 years and the next 90-I love you!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Romans 9--Passionate Love and Rigorous Thinking

There is a terrible lie that abounds saying essentially that one is either “loving and practical” or “aloof and theological”. Similarly, it is said that if you truly believe in God’s sovereignty of all things, even the human will, we’ll become cold, lazy, and fatalistic. (Of course, this runs absolutely counter to history’s greatest kingdom laborers, like Spurgeon, Edwards, Whitefield, Judson, Carey….to name a few.) In Romans 9, ironically, both one of the most neglected and yet hotly debated chapters in Scripture, we see both coming together. In most of the chapter, Paul lays out a very full argument on the sovereignty of God in individually electing who would be His people (i.e. what people today call “Calvinism”). However, notice 9:1-3, where Paul pours out his heart more sincerely and passionately that perhaps any of us have for His people: “I am speaking the truth in Christ--I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit-- 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” Let this convict us not to compromise Scriptural teachings for the sake of worldly logic and in the so-called name of “love”. Let our hearts not grow cold for God because we think we are growing warm towards people. We are pierced in heart at how deep, hard thinking and zealous, consuming love come together not only in this text, but throughout the church’s history….but how easily we separate them.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Song Lyric of the Week

Robbie Seay wins it this week with his song “New Day” which says, “If you’re like me, you need a hope, a coffee, and a melody, so sit back down and let the world keep spinnin’ round…”

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Honor and Shame in Practice

A lot of people know that China is more of an honor-shame culture. In America, we really have no parallel. It’s far more than mere pride or peer pressure. It’s a group dynamic where conformity is valued, sought after, and enforced holistically.

Recently, we’ve seen a few noteworthy examples of the daily implications of this honor-shame dynamic. Example #1: Bank loans—we asked one of our tutors about what would happen if she did not pay back her student loans, what would happen? She replied that they bank would post her name on the internet. “So…?” we thought. When asked about it, she explained how horrifying it would be for that to happen to her. We asked, “Who would read it?” She said probably no one, but nevertheless, she would know and be humiliated. Example #2: No Smoking in Beijing Taxis—recently it was announced that smoking in Beijing taxis was prohibited (at least by drivers, we think passages but can’t recall). The punishment was that people would have their pictures posted online.

Though we laugh at how crazy this sounds to American ears, we see again how much we all desperately need help if we are to learn to communicate with so many people in the world who think so differently than we do. When we surround ourselves with like minds, it’s easy to forget our narrow our vision can become.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Idol?!

Today,the girls that come over everyday were taking notice of our Christmas tree. Twice I looked over at one of them and she was on her knees, hands folded and murmuring something. I think she was praying to the tree. I asked her, but she didn't seem to understand why I'd ask that.

Brad thought I was crazy. I see NO other reason why someone would be kneeling in front of a tree, hands folded and eyes closed-murmuring. The verdict, she was the tree.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

From Selah's eyes

These kids are my friends from my Chinese school. But they're Koreans. They don't say very much because they don't know very much Chinese. But they are also very nice. These pictures are from my camera that I got for my birthday from Mimi and Grandpa. I took them all by myself. This little girl is my friend from school. She also has a brother. These pictures are from the Christmas party we had. We decorated lots of cookies, we did a play and I was Mary. Then we all sang 'Silent Night" together. That's all. We had a great time.

This picture is Mrs. Christina, when they were visiting us in China. But they left today.

This woman at the bottom is also Korean. She is the mom of the girl above her. But I've never seen her husband, when she picks her daughter up from school. Maybe she doesn't have a husband. All the pictures are of my Korean friends. They are all Korean....except Mrs. Christina.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Why are more people offended by lack of choice rather than abortions themselves?

China is well known for their one child policy--that a family is only allowed one child, otherwise, they will be fined severely. Abortions are normal here, encouraged or compelled either by family or other authorities. Consequently, many in the West, especially America, scorn China for its abortion views and practices. It is regularly decried by Americans that such "forced" abortions are immoral and unjust. What is interesting however, is comparing the differences between America and China related to abortion views. We read an article recently saying that there are about 2.5 millions abortions a year in the United States. Strangely enough, only Christians bemoan this number so strongly. More typically, the fight is over the choice to abort or not to abort. Yet, on the whole, there is not the "outrage" in America against herself as there is again China. What is the difference? The only difference appears to be CHOICE.

The issue apparently is not abortion itself. Apparently, the outrage is that people in one country are not getting to choose abortion. In contrast, where there is choice, there is no outrage. Abortion then becomes an arbitrary matter. The real "issue" for many people is CHOICE. Consequently, we could just as well expect such outrage is the people in China we denied the CHOICE to drink Cokes whereas Americans were given the choice. Would we see the same outrage and cries of injustice? Would other countries be so hated because of the lack of "choice"? I doubt it. The truth is that our society uses the hot issue of  to give stronger persuasion to the value of choice. Pro-choice-abortion advocate have no grounds to malign China or any other country so long as they defend its existence in America. It's an evil everywhere it exists.
A related aside, a quote from an article I read this morning about a woman charged with killing her unborn fetus, "Freeman was initially charged with murder under a 2005 law that allows murder convictions of people who cause the deaths of fetuses that could live outside the womb. However, that law contains a specific exemption for women who cause the deaths of babies they're carrying." Contradiction?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Last few from the parents trip

Here's a few more pictures from my parents trip. We had a wonderful trip with everyone. It went by much too quickly, for sure. I'm having trouble with blogger, so pardon my wayward 'the' that's dangling in space.

Here's Kesed-about 9 weeks now! He's rolling some and smile often. He's been a great baby so far. I'll tell you, it's hard not to spoil him when you know he's probably your last.

The grandmother's got these costumes for the kids! Now we'll have some things to go along with the various objects Malachi uses as a sword-pencils, sticks, half eaten bread, crackers...pretty much anything will do.

We have some good friends of ours visiting right now, so we'll try and post some of those pictures soon. We also had a great time having some Christmas parties this weekend. We'll blog that later also.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Olympic Park and Urgent trip to Beijing

Here's a few more pics of our trip with our family. Right now, actually, Brad is on his way back from Beijing with my sister and her husband. She has an abscessed tooth and needs a root canal. But the doctor was able to drain it (ouch...) and she can get the rest done in the States. Then they had to take the slooow train back to our city. The fast train takes 2 hours. This bad boy that they are riding comes in at a whopping 5 hours. Just what my sister wants to do, I'm sure. But at least they will get back tonite and tomorrow we will celebrate Selah's birthday.

Malachi's got Uncle Casey right where he wants him.

Aunt Kim and Selah posing with a random statue at the Olympic Park.

Here's part of the gang sitting with these three fat rolling men at the Olympic Park. I'm not sure there's an Olympic event that includes "fat, rolling men."

Post Thanksgiving meal. Getting our crew to all sit still and snap any kind of picture is nothing short of a miracle. But my sister's the master photographer and she got some.

Selah and Malachi are with Mimi and Grandpa at their hotel and watching Shrek 3. Carrie and the smaller 2 are at home and are going to bed by 7:30. Pathetic, I know.

This is just a small update on things here. We're having a great time!

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Curried fish, peppered noodles, pizza and Indian tomato soup....just like every thanksgiving. We ate Thanksgiving at my parents hotel's International Buffet. It was wonderful and NO dishes! We all had a great time eating and swimming and then headed to our house for some dessert/dinner.

Here's my parents, sister and brother in law and us as we ate. What a blessing to have them here.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Family Coming!

Carrie is going to pick up my family tomorrow and we are sooo excited. We'll get them from Beijing tomoro and come on back here the same night. They will be here for about 8 days. We'll post some pics when we've got 'em.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wretched I am! Who will rescued these kids from these parents of death?

Every parent knows the frustration of constant reminding, of seeing your kids continually not trusting you, of seeing your sins grow legs and live in your house for 18 or more years….We see what it does to our hearts…sometimes anger, other times hurts, other times their sin discourages. We then see so quickly that we are enflamed against the same sins that linger in us, that are so slow to die. How the Lord must fees both anger and sadness in view of our sin! Our Jesus grieved and “marveled because of their unbelief,” (Mk. 6:6). Yet, how little we rage against our own sin! How indifferent and excusing are we! How awful is our sin. How I learn every day to hate my sin more and more. Oh how beautiful grace is for those who have trusted entirely on Christ for the forgiveness of this wretchedness within us.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Here's our sweet 6 year old! I can't believe it. She told me this morning "I, like, even feel bigger today, because I'm 6! Like, taller and stuff!" She's full of life, curiosity, joy, empathy, concern for others, and love for the spotlight. I could go on and on about how much we love our Selah. She's such a blessing and it seems as if the Lord is growing in her daily. She LOVES to pray and worship through song and dance.

And that hat she's wearing- I made it!

We're going to wait to have a party when Carrie's parents, sister and brother-in-law come to visit. Only 4 days!

Here's our lazy Saturday morning. We try not to get out of bed until 7:00. One day a "lazy saturday morning" will actually include being lazy.

Friday, November 09, 2007

For all you 30 somethings

Since the Christmas season is quickly approaching, I just couldn't help but dig into the archives of greatness.  This is from the classic "The Christmas Story"-one of the greatest of all time.  So long as you forgive the unsantifiedness of the plot.  Is "unsanctifiedness" a word?!  I'll leave it because it works here.  
Well, I have discovered here on the other side of the world, another Randy Parker (Ralphie's Brother).

For those of you who have never seen the movie-to you, I am sorry for your deprived upbringing (and the totally confusing blog).   But those that can relate, I love Ralphie's brother Randy.  So here's our tribute.

Good Times

Last night, we had over Charis' baby sitter, her husband and a girl that is living with them (she is also my tutor).  We had a spaghetti dinner followed by dessert.  My tutor can speak decent English, but we told her that we wanted to try and speak Chinese most of the time.  So we did!  About 85% of our evenings conversation was in Chinese!  We were really excited and only made about 785 mistakes :).  But they were gracious and kept telling us to just slow down and take our time in speaking.  

Both our helper and tutor love kids.  The kids were watching VeggieTales in this bottom picture, so we all joined them for a minute.  The idea of singing Christian vegetables was very interesting to them.  

We had a great time and can't wait to have them over again.  My parents (Carrie) come next week and they are all excited to meet them!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Simple Pleasures

Ok, it's time for a "simple pleasures" blog. This week has been blanketed in thankfulness at how grand our Lord is and how He has allowed us to recognize the things we are to be thankful for.

1. Being able to read signs in Chinese.

2. Watching the old man clean his plant, leaf by leaf, each day at 11:45.

3. Having your 5 year old daughter come to you saying "mommy, I'm sorry for my disobedience today. My heart wasn't right." And the most amazing part was that it was unsolicited by mom and dad. Totally her initiated.

4. Singing worship songs with our kids at night. Charis (our 21 mo. old) sings at the top of her lungs with her hands raised straight above her head.

5. Watching our newborn sons eyes get huge so he can take in everything.

6. iTunes

7. Making homemade volcanoes

8. Being able to see my feet (that's for all my recently pregnant friends)

9. Apple cider and Pumpkin spice candles

10. Introducing the concept of Christmas to those who have NO idea why it exists.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Kids and Trials

It's been a weird week and Kesed here has beautifully captured how we feel now. Over the last few months, we've known probably 10 people who have had babies. Some with emergency c-sections, some at 23 and 25 weeks along, some totally healthy. And then we've got friends who are suffering from terminal illnesses or lost jobs. We've also listened to quite a bit of teaching on suffering. As I process our friend's suffering and try and make sense of it in Scripture, I am reminded of Paul. He suffered insurmountably. And he continued in joy and continued in faith. Why...because he knew that Jesus was worth it. Do I really live as if "dying is gain"? Really and truly, do I believe that heaven is better than life now. Paul KNEW heaven was worth it. But to have joy in the MIDST of it is hard for me to imagine. To treasure Christ in both suffering and times of peace. Brad and I were talking that sometimes treasuring Christ above all, in times of peace, can sometimes be the more difficult task.
Through all of this, I have been brought to a place of thankfulness. Thankfulness for today. For today, all my kids are healthy, my husband is wonderful and life is good.
But the key is my continued thankfulness when God decides to take away, when he decides to break me down.
I know this is heavy, but it's also healthy. Too often, we don't ponder on our suffering and eventual death. And we should not merely ponder these things in order to appreciate this life more (to cling to life can easily become and idol of worship.)
but to appreciate our Savior who suffered and died and yet overcame death because of his perfection. It is THAT that we are to rest in. That Jesus is worth it.

I added the pictures in order to come up for air.

Suffering and Death

It's been a weird week and Kesed here has beautifully captured how we feel now.  Over the last few months, we've known probably 10 people who have had babies.  Some with emergency c-sections, some at 23 and 25 weeks along, some totally healthy.   And then we've got friends who are suffering from terminal illnesses or lost jobs.  We've also listened to quite a bit of teaching on suffering.  As I process our friend's suffering and try and make sense of it in Scripture, I am reminded of Paul.  He suffered insurmountably.  And he continued in joy and continued in faith.  Why...because he knew that Jesus was worth it.  Do I really live as if "dying is gain"?  Really and truly, do I believe that heaven is better than life now.  Paul KNEW heaven was worth it.  But to have joy in the  MIDST of it is hard for me to imagine.  To treasure Christ in both suffering and times of peace.  Brad and I were talking that sometimes treasuring Christ above all, in times of peace, can sometimes be the more difficult task.  
Through all of this, I have been brought to a place of thankfulness.  Thankfulness for today.  For today, all my kids are healthy, my husband is wonderful and life is good.
  But the key is my continued thankfulness when God decides to take away, when he decides to break me down.  
I know this is heavy, but it's also healthy.  Too often, we don't ponder on our suffering and eventual death.  And we should not merely ponder these things in order to appreciate this life more (to cling to life can easily become and idol of worship.)
 but to appreciate our Savior who suffered and died and yet overcame death because of his perfection.  It is THAT that we are to rest in.  That Jesus is worth it.

I added the pictures in order to come up for air.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Humility of Guanxi

There is a very important dynamic in Chinese culture we see daily here. It’s called guanxi (“relationship”)…which basically means high speed relational networking. We’re reminded of the mob but without the crime, shooting, etc… In other words, relationship is everything. Who you know makes every difference in daily life…not merely getting a job interview, but dictating every cause and effect of your life. Anyway, while guanxi can created various injustices and frustrations, we see that there is yet an inherent humility to the system. At least, they see with humble, realistic eyes their need for others. They do not presume an independence from others such that casual persons can be brushed off so easily. From their perspective, it is worth asking, “Who knows who is connected to who? Or what “use” they may have?” While distorted manipulation is far from love, some lessons are worth learning. In our home culture, we think we are self sufficient individuals who don’t need other people. It’s far from humble and grossly naïve on our parts. In our day of ipods and other isolated hobbies, we fear our generation has lost the skill of relating, the art of conversation, and a genuine appreciation for people. Just think about it, people pay 4 bucks at Starbucks everyday to stick headphones in their ears, stare at a laptop, and not talk to anyone….yet [so we think] we are “in community”. It’s a sad reality.

Reason 27 why we love China

Yesterday, we had to get our dining you light fixture worked one, including some rewiring. Our light would not turn off ever. I saw a big flass a while back when I turned the light on and it was never the same. The wiring was a joke. Together, the electrician and supplies cost about 75 cents!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Very very thoughtful

This is not normally a political blog. However, I do appreciate thoughtful article that make us think. An article in Newsweek by Michael Gerson, No Cause for Hypercaution, is well worth reading, regardless of your position on Iraq. I have found myself fed up this past year, but it is always healthy to listen to both sides, as there are intelligent, well intending people on both sides who typically are arguing for different means to often similar objectives.

Monday, October 29, 2007

An Ode to Lotion

Saturday night has welcomed the unwanted guest of winter. Literally, it swept through our city and took all the leaves and color with it. I came from Houston, where fall apparently migrates to in the winter, because it rarely gets cold. That with the added fact that it never dips below 98% humidity has left me in a place of naïveté. My entire life, I never understood why people put on lotion. I thought it was to smell nice and to keep your hands soft. So I tauttled off to Bath and Body Works just like all of my teenage friends and bought the latest multi-fruited varieties of lotion. I got them for Christmas, birthdays and just because. All the time, having NO idea what function they serve outside of my humid hometown. I have now resided in Boston and China, where both are extremely dry in the winter. I have found myself tossing the Cucumber-Melon, for the grandma brands like Luberderm (where they don’t even try to make it SOUND pretty). I have had to discover lotion because my skin is in dire need. It’s staging a revolt.

Why the sweet nothings about lotion, you ask?! Because I am always looking out for the things I’ve been missing all my life. I like to cling onto the things that officially categorize me as an “adult”. And I think using Luberderm lotions is just ONE of those very things.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Foggy Epiphany

I just got back from taking the kids to school and doing a little
exercise. While out, I had an epiphany.

Both yesterday and today have been blanketed with fog. Maybe 25 ft.
of visibility. While I was walking today, I was led to have the
following thoughts:

I am being passed by bicycles and motorcycles on both sides of me.
As I watch them pass, their image soon trails off and they enter into
seeming nothingness. Their riding is slow and oblivious to what is
around them. And all I see is hundreds of people riding one by one
slowly into the fog only to disappear forever. As I was watching
this, I had the eery reminder of why we call this place home.
Because that is exactly what is happening. Slow, uninterrupted travel
into eternal nothingness. I also saw one young man with his glasses
pulled up to his forehead. Because maybe if he used something to
help him see clearly, it would fog up where he really wanted to go.
Others darted in front of cars they didn't see. They had no idea
what kind of danger awaited them right around the corner. And yet
they all keep riding.

I want to interrupt the riding. To clear the fog and make clear
paths. Some will choose to ride with their glasses pulled up to
their forehead and others will stop to look around for a clearing.
Whatever the person, I am to interrupt the travel.

Choose to interrupt someone's "travel" today.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Homemade Pop Tarts

A friend of mine sent this to me and I've had several requests to pass the recipe along. These tasted really good. Our family preferred the brown sugar, but both were great! We put food coloring in the frosting and put sprinkles on top. A fun cold day activity.


8 T. unsalted butter
1 c. sugar
1 lg. egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar (optional)(I didn't put this in 'cause I don't have it, and it was fine)
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ c. milk

Fruit Filling:
1 ¼ c. jam
¼ c. flour

Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Filling:
6 T. soft butter
3 T. flour
¾ c. light brown sugar
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt

2 ½ T. water or milk
1 ¼ c. powdered sugar
Colored sprinkles for decoration

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add egg and vanilla and beat well.
Blend flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Alternately add flour mixture and the milk to butter mixture, beating the dough until it's well blended. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for several hours, or overnight. (Mine chilled for 10 min…didn't have time)
Before removing from refrigerator, prepare fillings. Mix jam and flour together. Mix all brown sugar ingredients until smooth.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Divide dough into quarters. Roll out each piece separately on lightly floured work surface. 12-8 inch rectangle, 1/16 inch thick. Cut into 8 3x4 inch pieces.
Place on lightly greased baking sheet. With a pastry brush or your finger, lightly moisten the outside edge of each rectangle. Spread slightly more than 1 T. of filling onto each rectangle, leaving about a 1/8 inch border all the way around.
Place tops of top of bottoms. Seal each tart with fork dipped into flour. Prick top of each tart 10-12 times with toothpick.
Bake 18-20 minutes until lightly golden brown. Transfer to rack to cool
Frost and sprinkle.

Best eaten within a day or two of when they're made.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


It was recently pointed out to us that the first ones listed to be thrown into the Lake of Fire in Revelation 21:8 are “the cowardly”. Wow…if this doesn’t make all of us all examine ourselves in order to find where we have been ashamed or afraid to share the good news of Christ, or when we have not loved others radically at the cost of our pride or expense, then nothing will.

In our day, when so many of our Christian leaders want to make everyone like them in order to grow a big church, (contrary to the fact that Jesus himself said everyone would hate his people), this passage is deeply challenging, saying to us, “Speak up!”

xiao bao bei

"xiao bao bei" means "small treasures." We are considering these to be the things our kids say that are priceless. We'll add them from time to time to our blog because they just say so many things that are cute and often times convicting.

"The clock is not our boss." "Mommy and Daddy are."


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Burma and subtle genocide

We have a friend who is a research specialist on the Southeast Asian subcontinent (i.e. Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, etc…). He informed us of a subtle strategy of “acceptable genocide” that the Burmese Junta have undertaken. They have taken leaders from minority group communities and expelled them to other majority group locations. In their place, the government has sent in majority group leaders and a substantial population of majority people, creating inter-ethnic marriages with the minority group women. This being done across the country over time, slowly minority groups are dieing out, being replaced by the majority ethnic group. In essence, genocide is happening through relocations using political and economic policy. Yet this goes unnoticed by the world. Such a strategy is being used elsewhere in the world. We know of another country in the region that has long occupied another people group’s region. Their strategy has been manifold. Through economic and political strategy, through flooding the population with the majority people, they have also tried to “westernize” it so that their customs and national identity become diluted to mere “culture”, in the same way that many people in America think of Christmas as centering on Santa or Easter as a celebration primarily of Easter eggs. In the present state of world affairs, no country demands the moral high ground in the eyes of the rest of the world in order to rebuke such a regime. Pray for Burma.

On this note, we too should beware. Brutal pagan governments can be more shrewd than the Church, for how often we become so infatuated with our culture that we cease being authentic Christians and wear Christianity as a sort of social badge. In fact, we then are killing ourselves! Who needs enemies?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Why Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness

Why Money Doesn't Buy Happiness
Actually, a well thought out, researched article, not merely some conjecture with a few anecdotes.

Crazy Trip Home!

If you've been journeying with our family for any time now, you know we do the airplane thing rather frequently. And everytime in my small faith, I get anxious and freaked out about traveling with all of our children. And I often refer to our traveling as an episode of the "Beverly Hillbillies." Well, everytime we are sent what we call our "traveling angels, " just to prove to me that my worry is in vain. This time our angels came in the form of the Iraqi National Soccer Team.

Our trip to Thailand was defined by food poisoning. Thank Goodness, on the way home, Kesed was the only one who threw up and it was on me, so no big deal. We flew all the way home with the entire Iraqi soccer team. Although we couldn't communicate, they were wonderful with our kids. They played and held and were very attentive with our kids. Brad and I both felt an overwhelming desire to apologize for what has happened to their country. All we could do was smile and offer warm pleasantries. Curse the Tower of Babel and therefore our lack of ability to communicate.

We then hopped in the car that we had hired to take us back home. It was actually a van and a car this time. We all piled in and were off in just a few minutes of arriving at the airport. We stopped after about 30 minutes of driving to take off the license plates. This is fairly normal (albeit illegal, I'm sure) so this doesn't surprise us. So we get to the first of three toll booths. The van paid to go through and we gunned it past the toll guard. That was followed by peacock-esque squealing and yelling as we sped away and wove through traffic. But no license plate means no being caught. Our driver is FLYING down the road and we are seatbeltless. He shaved about an hour off the time it usually takes to get us home.

Tollbooth #2: Pull up to tollbooth and looked for closed booths to go through. None were open so we did a u-turn on the highway and headed down some side road to avoid aforementioned toll. On the way, almost being careened into by a truck carrying shredded paper.

Tollbooth #3: Both van and car find a large bus to get behind and we coat tail it through, therefore, avoiding the fee of all 3 tolls.

There was also a random stop on the side of the road to exchange something and then continue on. Tired and dirty, we walk into our apt. to find our electricity has been turned off. Candles it is for two days. But we're back to normal now and started back at school today.

We got a laugh out of all of this as we both exclaimed "we're home." The moralessness of this place was a reminder of why we are here.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Going Home!

Well, we received Kesed's passport and visa this week and we will be returning home on Sat! It's been a whirlwind week, but we are excited to be going back. As we have started thinking about going home, we have realized just how inadequate we are.

Inadequate to learn the language

Inadequate to build relationships that are fruitful

Inadequate to love our children as they should be

This is really not a pity party, but a full realization that there is nothing we can do in ourselves that will bring fruition to our days. It's only through the movement of the Spirit in us and in our lives that will allow us to be a part of anything good. He is good and has continued to show that to us, daily. So we travel back to our city, hoping that we have furniture and that our apartment hasn't been ransacked by theives. But we've got our kids and our laptops and everything else is expendable :).

Friday, October 05, 2007

Elephant Park

We got to go to the Maesa Elephant Camp last week and here are a few pics. Thailand is famous for their elephants. They used to be workers, moving huge logs and helping in construction, but they are now trying to preserve the species and therefore have outlawed a lot of the work the elephants are allowed to do. We have been here before and really appreciated how well kept the elephants were. Brad got a call on his cell right before he and the kids finished their elephant ride. The guy said "hey man, are you busy?" Brad replied "well, I'm on an elephant right now."

He and the kids got to have a 30 min. ride around the park. The kids loved it!!

Charis....not so much. This was a majority of her elephant park experience. She actually fed one a banana towards the end of the day. But mostly it was spent in the arms of this sweet woman.

The elephants put on a show where they play soccer, throw darts, play harmonicas and paint these beautiful pictures. Some even sell for hundreds of dollars.

Here are the elephants taking a bath. This is one of the babies peering up at onlooking tourists. They also have these poor women who stand down rivere with large baskets, catching whatever the elephants decide to "drop" in. Think your job is rough?!

Here's Selah and Malachi feeding them sugar cane and bananas. We did an impromptu lesson on elephants where we made masks, read about them online and talked about their possible extinction. The next day we spent the entire morning feeding, watching and riding them. It was really a blast.

Kesed's Baby Shower

We were blessed with a sweet baby shower on Wed. We celebrated with some friends who also just had a baby. To get to have a baby shower for #4 is such a treat. He got some non-hand-me-down clothes, towels, diapers and some other wonderful things.

Here's Malachi after sweating outside and playing with some friends.

So after much pouting about having to come to Thailand to birth, we've realized that it has been a real ministry to our family. We've had tons of fellowship, help with the kids, and western food (we even had a week of meals made for us post birth!). It's been a much needed break for us and we thank everyone here who has been such a blessing to us.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...