Saturday, January 29, 2011

Going Home!

Our sweet girl's blood has returned to normal! Which in turn has allowed us to purchase tickets to go home. The beginning of March, we will head back, look for a home, move our stuff and try and figure out how to speak Chinese again.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I am here

No, I cannot sing.

No, it has no music.

But, I wanted to share the song I wrote with you. It's written from the perspective of me speaking to Makaria. And from Jesus speaking to His children.

As I wrote it, I was wanting to convey how I felt as we went through the process to get Makaria. Nightly, I would look at her picture and yearn for her to know that we were coming. I would face her picture that sat on my computer and tell her "Good night, baby, we are coming!" I cried myself to sleep more than once as I turned away from her and tried to find peace. Her picture (ie., the "frame") was the only thing I had that gave me hope that this process would ever turn into a daughter. During that process, I understood the longing Jesus has for His children. We wander and fetter along, having no idea that Jesus is caring for us. That He is waiting for the day when we call Him Father. He looks at our "frame" (Ps. 139) and lovingly counts the hairs on our heads. So, this little ditty is two-fold. It hopefully conveys my thoughts about wanting Makaria as my daughter and wanting to yell through the computer screen "I am coming. Just wait! I'm here!" It also shares how Jesus longs for His children's hearts. For their trust. He so desperately wants His children to understand that His hand is secure. That He is there and won't abandon them. I want Makaria to get that. Jesus wants us to get that.

I am here

I stare at your frame thinking of your future,
but wanting your today.
Believe in my presence, look for my grace.

There will be a time when close won't seem so far
When you will trust in my voice as the moon does the stars.

There will be a day when you will find no season to blame
'cause I have breathed life into your heart.
I have given you a new name.

I need you to know I am not leaving.
I need you to know I am here to stay.
Till dawn breaks new mercies
Till waking brings new days.
I am here.

I cover your future, grace covers today.
Grip onto my promise that redemption's been made.
Rest my child, you don't have to try
I carry your freedom, I've given you life

I am not leaving, you belong to me
in the dark of the night, hope as you dream.
For I am counting your days, measuring your time.
till I can clean off your hurts
and say "you are mine."

I need you to know I am not leaving.
I need you to know I am here to stay.
Till dawn breaks new mercies
Till waking brings new days.
I am here.

I wish I could restore days lost to wondering
if I existed, if anyone was coming.
But child, I am here now and tomorrow the same.
For when I look down, I see not an orphan
but a child wearing my name.

I need you to know I am not leaving.
I need you to know I am here to stay.
Till dawn breaks new mercies
Till waking brings new days.
I am here.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chinese Mothering Controversy

We've had lots of people ask our opinions about the article on Chinese parenting.

This excerpt has stirred much angst here in the States. I don't know if I have it in me to dissect this article and do a full comparison of Chinese and American mothering. There's too much back ground that would need to be given on both sides. Honestly, it could fill up an entire blog.

I've widdled down the premise to two things that have to be decided when you embark on parenting.

1. What is my definition of 'LOVE'?

John Piper puts it beautifully by saying this:

The love of God is not God's making much of us, but God's saving us from self-centeredness so that we can enjoy making much of him forever. And our love to others is not our making much of them, but helping them to find satisfaction in making much of God. True love aims at satisfying people in the glory of God. Any love that terminates on man is eventually destructive. It does not lead people to the only lasting joy, namely, God. Love must be God-centered, or it is not true love; it leaves people without their final hope of joy.

As an American parent, our default setting is to love our children by making them happy. As a Chinese parent, they love their children by making sure they don't get sick and study hard. They love their children by assuring that they will have opportunities in the future.

We need to ask a few questions as we decide how we want to love our children:

a. What does it mean to express love to them?

b. What does it mean to receive love back from them?

c. Practically in my day, what does love look like as I parent them?

2. When I envision my child at 18, what do I want him or her to look like?

At all the homeschool conferences I go to, they encourage us to do a little self-reflection. We make a list of about 10 things that we want for our kids by the time they turn 18.

For example, we want our kids:

a. To love serving others.

b. Be able to share the gospel clearly with others

c. To love have a curiosity that spurs on their love for learning

d. Have a global awareness.

e. Understand how to put together a logical argument

These are just a few of ours. But, if my goal for my children was to have them be the top mathematician in their school, then I would start at 5 and drill in math facts. By 12, they would be doing algebra and spend many hours a day working out problems. This is where the Chinese parents flourish. They see the end goal and they discipline their children to achieve that goal. Whether you agree with it or not, it is commendable that they stay the course. When their children whine and complain at not liking math, the Chinese parents don't waiver. Some might see this abusive, but Chinese parents see it as very, very loving. See? It all depends on how you define love and what you wish to see your children grow up to become.

In my opinion, the wisdom in the article comes when we step back and question our assumptions. Let us not be parents who just survive until the kids turn 18. Set vision. Stay the course. And pray like there's no tomorrow.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Finding God in the Wait

As I hear stories of friends I miss in China, I sit here and wait. We have been waiting for 5 months now. Historically, I have not waited well. But this time around, I don't want to wait like a bratty child who sits with their arms folded at the dinner table waiting for their mothers to serve their every request. I want to sit in awe and gratefulness that He has given me another day to serve Him. But gratefulness in the wait is as hard to find as good Chinese food in America.

I sat in the car as I waited for my kids this afternoon and Lord spoke clearly to me about His wisdom in our wait. Here we go.

Proverbs 2:1-5

"My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,

making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;

yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for

if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden

then you will understand the fear of
the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.

This proverb is chalk full of insights into the heart of God. I'm only going to touch on a few. There are several things in these Scriptures that walk us through understanding God in more fullness. Because there is and if/then clause, you have to work back words a little. We know that the result is that we "will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God." (Prov. 2:5) So, knowing the result we obviously need to understand the path to get there. Start back up at Proverbs 2:1 and walk through these with me:

In order to know the Lord in my wait, I have to:

1. Receive

receiving the Lord's words means humility for us.

2. Treasure His commandments

treasuring His commandments means we have to protect ourselves in the Word. We only treasure things we value and we want to show off to other people. His commandments are a means of sanctifying us and glorifying Himself. They aren't oppressive and legalistic, rather, they point us to our need for Jesus. And that is something to be treasured.

3. Make my ear Attentive

When I am trying to read something or hear lyrics to a song, I need an attentive ear. For me that means that all talking, tapping pencils, scraping of chairs has to cease. I am diligent about making it quiet because I want to hear whatever it is that is that I am listening to. Do I work that hard to hear God? Do I make space and time for stillness? Bottom line is that when a good tv show wants my ear attentive, I make it happen. I just pray that I am that intentional in my times with the Lord.

4. Incline my Heart

When we incline our hearts towards something, we lean into it. We press in. And honestly, when we lean into the Lord, it means that we are leaning away from other things and other people.

5. Call out for Insight

There are several times that we find ourselves calling out. We raise our voices because we feel like we aren't being heard; we are angry; or we are excited. All three of these can be summarized by saying that we are desperate. And just speaking would be an insufficient expression of our hearts. When we are calling out, we are expressing our deep desperation for God to respond in some way.

6. We seek out the Lord's wisdom like silver and search for it as for hidden treasure.

If I knew that silver was hidden for me to have if I could just find it, I would be consistent and relentless in my pursuit. The time spent searching wouldn't be a burden nor would it cause anxiety because I know that the reward is good. I wait patiently because I know that what I get in the end is valuable.

This is where I find myself now. We don't know if and when we will head back to China. There is no guarantee for us in any of the blood testing that is happening for our daughter. But, if I grow anxious in my waiting for answers, then when I finally have some, my response will be "Well, it's about time God! I've been waiting a LONG time. Finally!" But, if my wait is patient, hopeful and trusting. If I walk through these Scriptures in Proverbs 2 and call out for the Lord then my wait will be blanketed in thankfulness and hope. And whenever God finds it good to share His plans with us, I will be grateful and humbled instead of acting like a spoiled kid at dinnertime.

When I think of the fact that God took a long time to save Paul, it gives me much comfort. You see, God saw Saul persecuting His church. He saw the pain that Saul was causing. The destructive path he was leaving behind him. God saw all this and yet waited for Paul's conversion. God had the bigger picture in sight. God apparently saw that if He waited, that He would get more glory.

The summary of what I have learned as we wait is that God doesn't owe it to me to tell me the when, how, where and why's of our wait. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure the end result is the part that God is ultimately concerned with. He is concerned with how we wait. It's in that tension that we grow. It is at that point of limbo that we call out in desperation and seek a God who is bigger than ourselves. God knows this about us humans. So, He gracefully lets us wait because He knows that we will come out in the end with a deeper love and satisfaction in having Him as our Rescuer.

Wait graciously my friends. God wants your waiting. Let Him rest on your hearts and grant you peace beyond all understanding because He is a good, loving and sovereign God.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My song" Find a way" by Selah

Hey, readers. This is Selah. And I really enjoy singing and writing Worship songs. And this is one of my mom's favorites and the latest one's I have done, And it is called" Find a way". Here it is:

Find a way

Find a way to my heart , Lord
For I can not break it,
From stony to flesh. But you can!!
Because you are the everlasting God.

*Chorus* You are the marvelous one,
You are the King of Kings.
And every pinch of pain felt on Calvary was so I could live; was so I could sing.
So find a way , Lord. Find a way, through my stony heart

Verse 2. Lord, you can find a way
through my stony soul and my stubborn heart.
Because you are the marvelous Savior! # 2 times sing

*Chorus* You are the marvelous one,
You are the King of Kings.
And every pinch of pain felt on Calvary was so I could live; was so I could sing.
So find a way, Lord.
Find a way, through my stony heart.

This song was inspired by Donna Stuart's song " Brave to Believe". To know more about Donna Stuart go to this website: Donna Stuart

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How to help your expat friends

No, we don't have medical clearance yet, but I am trusting that the Lord will have us go back to China in a few weeks. We are ready. But, with that, comes the unfortunate part of traveling-the whole saying good-bye part. I won't write on it for long because I hate it. I said good-bye to my best friend two days ago and she asked me what she can do to love me and my family when we are gone. I sat up last night and wrote down a few things. They are not at all earth shattering, but maybe they will help you know how to love the people you know who live outside of America.

1. Send email. Even if it’s trivial, like, I ran into your grandmother at the Bingo hall last night. And she won $15 dollars and a gift certificate to Luby’s. Send them that email. They will laugh and then feel like they are connected to your world in some small way.

2. Send care packages. Put in them the small things that mean a lot to your friend. It doesn’t have to be big, just meaningful. Ask them what things they are craving and put those in. If you can’t afford a care package, maybe send an e-card or buy them a single song online and send it their way. Or send snail mail.

3. Pray for them. And then tell them that you are praying for them. Your friend wants to be reminded that there are people in the States contending for them and their work.

4. Go see them. I realize this is rather impractical for most people. But, if you have the resources and can get time off then do it. I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to have friends come and see your world. You would experience the sounds and smells that make up your friend’s home.

5. Ask them questions about what their days are like. Don’t assume your friend is too busy to answer your curiosities. It shows them that you want to understand their day. We’ve had lots of people tell us that they were afraid to email us because of security. If you are talking about your personal life and what is going on, there is no problem in most places. Ask your friend for email parameters.

We have even had families that get their kids to send our kids emails. This engages our children and gives American kids a glimpse into life overseas. Be creative and be consistent. This will speak volumes and will sustain that person when days get discouraging and they want to use the words in their new language that they learned on the street but they shouldn’t repeat to anybody.

Hope this helps.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Kids' Reading Series

Ok friends, I need your help. What are your favorite kid's series'? My kids are huge readers and they've pummeled through a lot of what we've got. We're looking for something new.

We've done:

Magic Tree House
Nancy Drew
Junie B. (she's a bit sassy for my taste though)
Boxcar Children
American Girl
Encyclopedia Brown
and a few others that I'm forgetting at the moment.

Shoot me your favorite so that i can stock up before we head back overseas. They also LOVE biographies and have read almost all of the Historical and Christian Heroes put out by YWAM. I highly recommend those, by the way.


Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Questions to Ask for 2011

The funny thing about the new year is that it's really just the next day. Friday turned to Saturday, just like it does the rest of the year. But because the ticker moved from 2010 to 2011, it adds weight and power to the change. These are a few questions that I found here to ask ourselves at the beginning of a new year.

1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

I'm going to try and go through these over the next few days in my morning time with Jesus. Good questions to get me thinking for this year.

Happy New Year!
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