Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bringing In the New Year

After a wonderful prayer meeting at church tonight, my family came home, popped a pot of popcorn, and played a rousing game of Settlers of Catan! We figured we'd be awake until midnight with all the firecrackers resounding around us, so we might as well have a good time while we're at it! :-)

I'm heading off to bed now to read awhile before the big SHI-BANG that is soon to go off. First though, I stopped by my computer to check email and found the following poem from a friend. It struck a chord within me, so I thought I'd pass it on!

Standing at the portal of the opening year,
Words of comfort meet us, hushing every fear,
Spoken through the silence by our Savior's voice,
Tender, strong and faithful, making us rejoice:

"I, the Lord, am with thee; be thou not afraid!
I will help and strengthen; be thou not dismayed!
Yea, I will uphold thee with My own right hand;
Thou art called and chosen in My sight to stand.

"For the year before us, O what rich supplies!
For the poor and needy living streams shall rise;
For the sad and sinful shall His grace abound;
For the faint and feeble perfect strength be found.

He will never fail us, He will not forsake;
His eternal covenant He will never break.
Resting on His promise, what have we to fear?
God is all sufficient for the coming year.

Onward, then, and fear not, children of the day;
For His Word shall never, never pass away.

-Hymn lyrics by Francis Ridley Havergal

May God's face shine upon you all in the coming new year!

From the bookshelf...Pt.1

I've been reading some really great books this month that I'm excited to tell you about! So over the next couple of days, there will hopefully be several blog posts dedicated to the description of various sundry titles you might want to check out some time!

Just David is the delightful story of a young boy who captivates an entire town by his winsome personality and amazing musical giftedness.

Raised by his father in an isolated moutain cabin, David was trained his whole young life to interpret the world around him through music. The whistling wind, the gurgling brook, the beauty of a sunset - none were fully experienced or appreciated until David had played their melodies on his violin. His father, however, instilled within David far more than just an affinity for nature and a love for music. He also raised his son to be a young boy of character, always striving to be in tune in the great Orchestra of Life.

When illness claimes the life of his father, David is reluctantly taken in by a grumpy old couple who are exasperated by his strange ways as well as astounded by his incredible abilities on the violin. As David slowly adjusts to life in the "real world" far away from his beloved mountain home, his charming innocence and friendliness begin to win him friends of all ages throughout the small town. He brings the world to life for a blind boy through music, unknowingly unites two lovers who thought they would forever be estranged, and is influencial in the return of a prodigal.

Just David was authored by Eleanor Porter, who is best known for her other children's book, Pollyanna. I found Just David to be a delightful read! It is both inspiring and hard to put down!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Nugget for the Day

"Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee... " (Psalm 91:9-10)

The Lord...thy habitation.

Now there's an amazing concept to meditate on for today.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Praising God today for the most wonderful gift ever given - JESUS!

Hoping your Christmas is blessed...

Love to all,
Katrina

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Our Family Christmas Letter


Hello everyone!

We hope this letter finds each one of you doing well and rejoicing in the blessings of the Lord! Seeing how it is the time of year for the exchange of Christmas greetings, we certainly want you to know that we are thinking of you all with fondness! On behalf of our family, I (Katrina) also wanted to include a newsletter with this year’s Christmas greetings. I just love receiving newsletters from other people in our Christmas mail, and so I thought it was only fair to write one myself. :) Therefore, without further ado, sit back, relax, and enjoy an update from Texas!

Dad is still greatly enjoying his position as Procurement Manager for Stallion Oilfield Services. He does a wonderful job handling the company’s purchasing of the equipment, vehicles, and housing accommodations needed to outfit each oil rig they service. Working with a mutli-million dollar budget requires a great deal of integrity, and Dad certainly fits the bill on this note! On the weekends, when he’s not engaged with a family activity, Dad can be found working in the yard or tackling another home improvement project. Some of his accomplishments from this past year include landscaping the backyard, rebuilding the deck, and doing some intensive tree trimming in the wake of Hurricane Ike. We are all so grateful for Dad’s hard work! Mom never has to write him a “honey-do” list because he writes them all himself! :-) Dad also serves as a deacon at our new church where his servant/leadership qualities are a blessing to everyone.

Mom continues to excel at her position as Director of Home Affairs and is the one who keeps our household running smoothly in the midst of busy lives. We all greatly appreciate the loving care Mom constantly demonstrates in so many ways. In addition to keeping us well fed and wearing clean, pressed clothes :), Mom is engaged in several ministries with women and children. She oversees the organization of donated items at a local crisis pregnancy center as well as helps with one of the client Bible study groups. She also runs the children’s Sunday school program at church, where they’ve lately been working hard on a Christmas production of the story of Jesus’ birth. Mom definitely lives out that Scripture verse about women being “adorned with good works.” In her *spare* time, it seems she is always making a meal for someone in need, providing childcare for a busy mama, or giving counsel to a friend on the telephone. I am so grateful for her example!

Katelin’s year has been a busy one in many ways. Since last January, she’s been working full time as a nanny for a home school family whose mother died of cancer. With four little children to care for, ages 10, 5, 3, and 1, Katelin’s days overflow with activity! In addition to making the long commute to and from work each day, she cooks meals, cleans house, teaches school, changes diapers, and engages in all manner of child training. Though her job is not easy, Katelin loves the children dearly and they likewise adore her! A two-month mission trip to Ukraine this past summer provided her a welcome break from work as well as the opportunity to observe ministry in another country. Katelin greatly enjoyed her experiences with our missionary friends, the Steeles, and would love to return to Ukraine some day! Meanwhile, she continues to bring much joy to our family with her hilarious stories around the dinner table and energetic love for others.

On a personal note, I continue to enjoy teaching piano, counseling at the pregnancy center, and chipping away at my Bible college studies in rare moments of free time. :) A huge part of my year has been dedicated to Maiden’s Quest Ministries, a retreat ministry for teenage girls and their mothers that a friend and I started back in 2007. Though we only intended the ministry to be a one-time event, God had other plans and we’ve now seen a total of eight retreats take place from west coast to east coast and all across Texas! Five of those conferences happened this year, averaging between 100-200 attendees at each. While it’s been a lot of work to run the ministry, it’s been such a thrill to watch God at work in the hearts of so many young ladies! Now that Maiden’s Quest Ministries has come to a close, at least for the time being, I am hoping to turn my attention this next year toward orphanage ministry of some sort…but we shall see what God has in store!

Despite the fact that our family often runs in four different directions, we still love to work together, play together, and minister together. God has blessed us with many opportunities for such “togetherness” this year, and we are so grateful for the delightful memories made along the way!

Maiden’s Quest itself was a family endeavor in every way! Katelin was not only my assistant along the journey, but she also served as a musician and elective class teacher for each retreat. Mom and Dad helped out with countless preparations ahead of time, and often ran the kitchen during the elegant banquets that were a part of the retreat. They taught or assisted with electives, set up tables and chairs, and tended to all sorts of behind-the-scenes details. My family truly gave of themselves to make the ministry possible, and I could not have done it without them! :)

We also continue to participate as a family in the American Chinese Fellowship downtown every Friday night. Mom and Dad lead adult Bible studies, Katelin often assists with the children’s class, and I teach the junior high/senior high girls’ Bible study. It’s been very exciting to witness many Chinese friends become Christians as a result of the teachings of God’s Word!

Just recently in November, the Lord blessed us with a wonderful, much-needed vacation on the east coast. We stopped off first for an afternoon in Annapolis where the fall colors were absolutely brilliant! Then, we spent several days touring Washington D.C., Mt. Vernon, and Colonial Williamsburg before finishing the trip with a visit to dear friends in Virginia. It was a whirlwind vacation, for sure, but definitely rewarding! Getting to travel to each of these historic places together after having studied them throughout our home school years was a dream come true! Enclosed is a photo collage of snapshots from our travels. Clockwise from the top left you see our family at: 1) the White House, 2) the Capitol, 3) Annapolis marina, 4) the Lincoln Memorial, 5) St. John’s College in Annapolis, 6) Mt. Vernon, 7) Arlington National Cemetery, 8) Warner Hall in Gloucester, Virginia.

As we close out the 2008 edition of the family newsletter, our prayer for you this Christmas season and in the coming new year is that you would be “filled with the knowledge of [God’s] will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding: that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God: strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness…” (Colossians 1:9-11)

May God help us all keep our focus on Jesus the Lord, whose birthday we celebrate! It is Him, after all, “who hath delivered us from the power of darkness…in Whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God.” (Colossians 1:13-15)

We send much love from Texas!
Dan, Patricia, Katrina, and Katelin

Monday, December 22, 2008

Hallelujah for Handel's Messiah!

Over the past couple of years, our family has started the Christmas tradition of building special memories together during an elegant evening out on the town. The first two years, we attended a theatrical production. This year, we went to see the symphony's presentation of Handel's Messiah. It was absolutely glorious!

For those of you who may not be classical music affectionados, the Messiah is a two-hour oratorio depicting the life of Jesus Christ exclusively through Scriptures that are set to music. At Christmas time, we mostly hear songs from the Messiah pertaining to His birth, and of course, the famous Hallelujah Chorus. However, the full oratorio starts with prophecies from the Old Testament about Christ, and then proceeds with verses that describe His birth, earthly life, crucifixion, resurrection, and current glory. The entire presentation was beautifully moving.

As I sat in my plush red chair drinking in the lovely music, I was amazed anew at the talent of George Frederic Handel. To compose such a masterpiece before the age of computer software and copy machines must have taken countless hours and intense dedication. God certainly gave Handel an incredible gift with music.

It was especially exciting to experience a musical presentation that was totally dedicated to the proclamation of Scripture and the exultation of the King of kings. That was my Father, my Best Friend, the Bridegroom of my heart they were singing about! And nobody was complaining! Nobody was offended about the Person of Jesus being so glorified! Amazing.

Even more amazing was the fact that for the Hallelujah Chorus, everyone in the entire concert hall stood to their feet! Thanks to a tradition begun by Queen Victoria, we were all standing to honor the King of kings Himself! I got Holy Spirit goose bumps at that moment. :)

What a privilege to live in a country, that, even with its anti-Christian sentiments, is still a free country in which we can attend such stirring concerts as Handel's Messiah.
Most especially, what a privilege it is to know this Messiah personally.

Dad's Birthday


Yesterday was the birthday of my wonderful Popper-Doodle-Schmidt! (Known as "Pops" for short...or more commonly - "Dad.") As you can see in the above picture, our family has a tradition of decorating the birthday honoree's door and leaving a small gift outside it. This year, though, the door gift was a little bit bigger than usual. :-) We gave Dad a 6-foot ladder to replace his dilapidated wooden one that he's had for decades, as well as a bag of Godiva chocolate coffee. He was excited with both, saying, "The way to a man's heart is through a new ladder!"

I am so grateful for my dad! He is a Godly man of upstanding character with a deep love for his family. His inbred wisdom has directed us well over the years, and he never fails to keep us laughing (or groaning as the case may be) with his corny sense of humor. Dad is a generous provider and strong protector. It has been especially exciting to see changes in his life lately as God has been deepening his faith and leading him forward to new steps of spiritual growth.

When I think of the many millions of children in this world today who are fatherless, I can only stand in awe at the workings of God to not only bless me with a father, but with such a wonderful man whom I am privileged to call, "Dad."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Worried About Nothing, Praying About Everything

The following is a journal entry made back in October 2007 about Philippians 4:6-7. As I've been meditating on these verses again this week, the insights God gave me last year continue to ring true in my thoughts!

"Be careful for nothing: but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which passeth understanding shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

Nothing and everything are extreme words in completely opposite territories that leave no room for the idea of anything more general. Meditating on this verse yesterday and last night before bed revealed to me that there are some things I've been worried about lately, and some things I haven't been praying about (at least not consistently). I have been "careful" (worried) about the following:

- that no one will want to marry me
- my future children may not live for the Lord
- my financial status
- finding the right ticket to Ukraine
- my grandparents' salvation
- our church won't grow
- Maiden's Quest Ministries may not have any long-range effect on girls

I'm sure the list could go on, but these are the majority of issues I am facing right now. Writing these issues down on paper makes me clearly see how very silly it is to worry about these things at all. Worrying or being fretful certainly won't accomplish anything!

My worries simply stem from a lack of trust in my Father regarding each particular issue on the list. Now, I am better understanding why He coupled the command to be careful for NOTHING with the command to pray about EVERYTHING - with thanksgiving! It makes so much sense. This is what I'm trying to do, thus cultivating trust in the Lord and submission to placing all things in His hands.

My God is worthy of being trusted - of this I am certain!

This week, I have been reminded from God's Word that worry is a sin because it disobeys God's command. Furthermore, anxiety is a sign of not praying about everything with thanksgiving. I think God put the word 'thanksgiving' in that verse because praying with thanksgiving demonstrates our trust that God will hear our prayer and take care of everything in His perfect way. Thankful, trusting prayer is the best solution to worry and anxiety.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thoughts on Philippians 4

I have been greatly enjoying the Scripture memory project of Philippians 4 this week! Tara and I met for dinner last night and were discussing the tremendous blessing both of the words of this passage as well as the accountability of memorizing it with a group of young women.

Here are some of the insights God has been giving me for each verse this week:

Verse 1 - Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.

Three things stood out to me about this verse.
1. Paul truly loved his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and told them so plainly! He called them by endearing terms of affection that had to edify their hearts and make them feel special. :-) How about us? Are we being faithful to tell our loved ones that we love them? Do we make them feel special with the words we use?

2. Paul considered his disciples to be his joy and crown. I can totally relate to this verse! When I stand before the Lord someday in heaven, the treasure I will have to share with Him will not be anything I've accumulated on earth but only those precious souls who will be there because I card enough to share Jesus with them.

3. How important it is that we stand fast in the Lord! Standing fast requires strength and focus. It means not wavering or buckling under pressure. I have found this passionate urge of the apostle Paul to be a timely reminder as my family has been experiencing spiritual attack lately. What a comfort to know that our strength to stand fast is not something we muster up on our own, but something that comes directly from the Lord Himself! How I long to keep my focus on Him at all times!

Verse 2 - I beseech Euodies, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.

God places great emphasis on unity in His family and so should we! Where brethren dwell together in unity, there the Lord commands a blessing. Let us strive to be likeminded with our family and our Christian brothers and sisters.

Verse 3 - And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.

Being a woman myself, I always appreciate the example of women in Scripture who served the Lord with their lives. Though we do not have names of women in this verse, we can see how much women were a part of the Gospel ministry even in Paul's day and age. He obviously valued their service enough to speak of it to others and ask for additional help on their behalf.

Verse 4 - Rejoice in the Lord, and again I say rejoice.

The command in this verse seems like such a simple concept - yet so often I forget to heed it! God is showing me more and more how much He wants me to be a joy-filled person, in every circumstance - no matter what.

Verse 5 - Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

I looked up the word "moderation" today in the Strong's concordance and learned that it carries with it the idea of appropriateness, gentleness, and patience. I had to smile to myself at this definition. How often my mother worked with me during my growing up years to act appropriately in public! I certainly want to be known to "all men" as a young lady of good character. I especially liked the last phrase in this verse - the Lord is at hand. I realize this refers to the second coming of Jesus, but I also like to think of it as meaning that He is always with me. Just as my hand is always present with me, so is Christ. I need to act in such a way as to please Him who is always watching...always at hand.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of Your Word!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jesus Vs. Santa

We received the following message in an email this morning. I thought it was worth posting...

Jesus is Better than Santa.

Santa lives at the North Pole.
JESUS is everywhere.

Santa rides in a sleigh.
JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

Santa comes but once a year.
JESUS is an ever present help.

Santa fills your stockings with goodies.
JESUS supplies all your needs.

Santa comes down your chimney uninvited.
JESUS stands at your door and knocks, and then enters your heart.

You have to stand in line to see Santa.
JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

Santa lets you sit on his lap.
JESUS lets you rest in His arms.

Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is "Hi little boy or girl, What's your name?" JESUS knew our name before we did. Not only does He know our name, He knows our address too. He knows our history and future and He evenknows how many hairs are on our heads.

Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly.
JESUS has a heart full of love.

Santa says "You better not cry."
JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you.

Santa's little helpers make toys.
JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs broken homes and builds mansions.

Santa may make you chuckle but
JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.

While Santa puts gifts under your tree JESUS became our gift and died on the tree.

It's obvious there is really no comparison. We need to remember WHO Christmas is all about. We need to put Christ back in Christmas. Jesus is still the reason for the season.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

SNOW!!!!!!

You're not going to believe this, but just an hour ago it actually SNOWED here!

HERE, in the semi-tropics where it NEVER snows! How incredible is that???

Katelin grabbed her camera to document this momentous occasion, but I must warn you, we were - ahem - rather on the giddy side when she snapped the following pix and videos. Okay, I'll admit it - we were more than giddy...ditzy might be a better term. :)

There's just something about snow that brings out the little kid in all of us!

(Even though the snow is a little hard to see in these pictures - it was here, I promise!)




video

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Public Speaking Workshop

I really enjoy public speaking. And I strongly believe that public speaking is a valuable skill for Christians to have. It is Christians, after all, who have the most important message worth sharing, the Biblical worldview worth promoting, and the reputation of the King of kings worth upholding.

This past weekend, God gave me an opportunity to share this interest of public speaking with 9 other young ladies in the Dallas area. Our dear friends, the Bridges, asked if I would come teach a two day workshop on the subject for their daughters and a few friends.

As I began to prepare for the workshop, I quickly realized that knowing how to do public speaking myself was one thing. Teaching it to others was a totally different matter...especially in only two days' time! I prayed and prayed for God's wisdom in the endeavor. And He was so faithful to give it!

I'm excited to report that the workshop was a grand success! The Bridges' cozy home was a perfect setting for the event, and those in attendance proved to be wonderful students. I worked them hard and they responded very well. By the time the parent presentation rolled around at the end of the second day, each student had a great, 5-minute speech in tip-top shape that they were able to deliver smoothly and confidently. I was so proud of each of them!

Here are a few snapshots from our weekend together:

Rebekah and Melissa

Kate and Kylie

A funny picture of me teaching :)

Christa, Emily, and Nicole listening attentively

Kylie, Sharlena, and Kathleen taking notes!

The parent presentation


Christa speaking on the plight of orphans around the world

Kate's speech entitled, "What's In a Name?"

The Effective Public Speaking Workshop Graduates!

With the Bridges in Dallas