Saturday, June 30, 2007

Without Complaining

Have you ever asked yourself, How little would I have left to say in a day if I cut out all my complaining?


Do I have to...?

I recently had a conversation with an old friend about sharing your “testimony”, basically one’s personal story of how Jesus changes your life. After some discussion, he asked me, “When I give my testimony, do I have to talk about all that stuff about the cross?” What else would we have to share, I wonder? It dawned on me how little we (including me) share Jesus when and if we tell people our stories. Could someone know the good news by the time we’re finished? I’ve learned recently that typically our words and testimonies subtlety challenge people to be moral or religious, but not Christian.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Comments now allowed

We now have allowed the comments function on our blog though we will sensor any if needed. (We get to see them before they hit the web.) Sometimes people in the past have said too much…that’s why…Thanks!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Struggles as an American Indepent

I've realized that many of my American values and virtues are really causing me to struggle in loving people correctly here. Brad and I laugh at just HOW different Chinese and American cultures are. We've decided that we do have a few things in common, like: eating, breathing, sleeping and loving. And even those are executed a little differently.

We are joined in our language class by mostly other Asian nationalities. As I sit in class and observe, my American tendencies creep up and I begin to get really frustrated with them. They are all wonderful people, just different. As an American, I value indepence and struggle with authority. Here are just a few examples of what I mean from our classes:

1. Everyday, I sit on the floor before class to study. And EVERYDAY, my classmates and teachers tell me that it's bad for me. My internal response "it's none of your business." Yet they are simply trying to care for me.

2. Then, they open the door and tell me "come in, come in, the door is open." My internal respone "yes, i can see the door is open and i will come in when i want to come in." Yet they are simply trying to love me.

3. The teacher comes in and the other students rush to make her tea and clean the chalk board for her. My internal response "you are just kissing up. Sit down and mind your own business." Yet they are simply serving their authorities and being kind to the teacher.

4. The teacher told me that I shouldn't eat bread for breakfast, but eggs. It's a pregnancy thing, they think. My internal response "she wants me to eat eggs, I want to eat more bread for breakfast." Yet she is simply trying to help.

My independence has been disgusting to me this week. So many times, our American evaluation of a situation gets in the way of simply loving people. I am so focused on my own rights or feelings that I am neglecting those around me. Independence is fine, but can also really effect our views of love and community. I could go on with this forever....but will wait for future blogs.

For whatever reason, the Lord has made my internal monologues really loud. And they are sickening to me. I want the voices to stop and the simple act of loving to start.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


When people read the Bible, there’s one topic that especially turns people off…and no, I’m not talking about hell or judgment. It has been called everything from heresy, to a peripheral issue, to irrelevant and impractical theological jargon. Even among people who believe the truth of this topic, they tend only to be a bit embarrassed by it. One problem though faces anyone who cares about the Bible…the Bible talks about it at all the “wrong” times. I’m not going to argue any theological point here on a blog—there are plenty of books on it—but I will simply make some observations. Let me warn you…only keep reading if you’re willing to get greater joy in the Lord.


I’m talking about the doctrines of grace—also called “election”. This is the Bible teaching that God sovereignly rescues those who will be his people from among the universally sinful population of the world. Now see this…and feel free to email with questions or comments if you want. God talks about election (also called predestination) at every place most of us would think utterly wrong or useless.


1…to backslidden people (Malachi 1:2-5)

2…to a very worldly church (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)

3…to a young church (note how much it’s referenced in 1 and 2 Thessalonians)

4…when God’s justice is challenged (Romans 9)

5…when Paul really wanted to celebrate God with the longest run on sentence in the Greek (Ephesians 1:3-14) the grounds for universal, practical love (James 2:5)


Arguably also……as encouragement to a dejected people facing God’s discipline yet looking for grounding for His promises (Deut. 9:4-6; Ez. 36:22, 32)


For more on this topic, John Piper has a lot of essays and sermons on


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

M bags and gang beatings

We just wanted to let the world know that my dad sent some boxes via M bag on June 11th and we picked them up today!! Usually these babies take 3-4 months to arrive. Now we haven't gotten all of them, so who knows when they will come. We figured there was something in them that we REALLY needed to read. We were blown away that they got here so quickly.

The other strange thing was that as we were leaving, we got caught up in the middle of some type of gang beating. I, Carrie, was with the older two kids and I came up on a group of about 15 young men running to get-away cars holding big pieces of wood. We did some investigating and there was a man laying down, beaten. The police soon arrived, but the guys were long gone. I could've taken some good cell phone pics, but was glad that I bought a cheap phone without a camera. I might have ended up in the middle of it more than I wanted to be.

The frustrating thing is that they won't be caught and if they are, they'll get off if they know the right people.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

007 Wedding

We had our friends wedding today. James Bond and his wife-Liu Hui. They actually got married over Chinese New Year, but this was the more formal ceremony. He has been a good friend of ours for a couple of years now. He wanted our family to be a part of the ceremony, so Selah did the flower girl thing (the other girl in the picture is another friends daughter, Hannah) and Malachi the ring bearer role. Brad gave a short speech. Here's us pre-wedding.

Last night was the rehearsal and dinner. Normally there's not a rehearsal, but they wanted a more Western wedding, so rehearse we did. We went to the hotel and in the front lobby was a tank full of HUGE toads. The kids loved it. They sat and laughed and watched the unsuspecting frogs swim gleefully around their tank. After spending some time admiring the huge frogs, (enter gloomy-on-your-way-to-your-death music) there appeared two shadows from above the tank. What were these two shadows?! Nothing less than nets. And why nets you ask (or at least the frogs asked), well, because dinner needed to be served. So two of the frogs were whisked away. The kids were asked to follow them into the kitchen to watch, but mom intervened. I'll have no frog cooking nightmares on my watch.

We told James that we didn't want to know which dish the frogs were in, but I think it was diced and served with cabbage. And we had already told our friends the foreigner rice trick. The rice trick is that when you go to formal banquets you always save some rice in your bowl to hide the strange dishes that are served. Promptly stuffed to the bottom of the bowl and everyone saves face. So he was watching us. But we got everything down and the meal was actually wonderful. Both at this meal and the wedding meal we got to have octopus, duck, shrimp, and some great spicy dishes.

All was well and we had a great time with our friends and their families.

Friday, June 08, 2007

...and with a joyful heart

Our kids know how to answer the question, “How do we obey?” The answer is “Right away, all the way, and with a joyful heart” We’ve gone through various Scriptures with them about each part of this answer.

This morning I read a horrific chapter in Deuteronomy 28, where God lists in detail some of the gruesome curses that he would send upon Israel if they disobeyed. What is noteworthy however is 28:47, which gives reason for God’s punishment, “Because you did no serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart….”

This is not only applicable for parenting, but in our being His children. Why do we take less seriously his commands to rejoice and delight than we do other commands? Piper says it well, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Whether we murder, glutton ourselves on food, or have thankless hearts, our sin proclaims to the world that he is NOT our delight? Today, rejoice…again I say rejoice.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Children's Day Festivites!

So June 1st was Children's Day in China. Although it seems as if everyday is Children's day here. But nonetheless we embarked upon quite the Children's Day festivities. I won't go into graphic details because the pictures will fill in the gaps. The weeks preceding Children's day were filled with endless practicing and preparation. No performance is small, that's for sure. Selah had what I thought was a practice on Monday night. Well, come to find out it was a HUGE performance in front of hundreds of people. She was accompanied by roller bladers, models, singers, dancers, the works! We had no idea what was happening. We ran through the rain and were soaked. So by the time we showed up for "practice", we were exhausted. The night was fun, but late and exhausting.

Enter Children's day on the 1st. We get to the kindergarten at 7 am sharp. No time for breakfast at school, because it's time to get dolled up. Here's Selah, post make-up session:

And yes, here's Malachi, post his time in the chair:

So the kids loaded up on a bus to head to the performance hall. There we were met by parents and school officials who had found the same fate in their battle with the eyeshadow. The teachers dressed up in several outfits and did multiple performances. Each was followed by a speech given by 4 and 5 year old announcers.

Each class had a different dance. Here's one that I think was about recycling and how happy the earth would be if we would all recycle. During it, I'm thinking, "let's just start with throwing your trash in a trash can and not the ground", but I guess they have the right to be visionaries. Here they are dressed in coke cans-I think they are the bad guys!

And now come our kids. Malachi is all but enthused the entire time. He is dreading his performance and now you can see why:

His class striped down to their underwear and put on flowered, clear garbage sacks. The sacks were accessorized by a dazzling arrangement of fluffy plastic placed oh so gentily on their ankles, wrists and head. Needless to say, Malachi was not excited. If you know our son, you can understand why. This is the face he made the ENTIRE performance as they danced around acting like babies-i think that's what they were at least.

Selah's class did an Olympic theme and she represented water sports. She loved the whole thing! On Monday's performance, they interviewed her and she spoke Chinese and just loved the whole deal. She was in her element, for sure.

The kids were great sports. And now we have some great rehersal dinner material for Malachi's wedding.
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