Saturday, February 28, 2009

Miracle on Britford Street


I am SO excited!

The LORD has heard and answered my prayer!

My assignment on the book of Isaiah is officially DONE and IN THE MAIL!

May the Name of the Lord be praised!!! He has worked a miracle for me this week and I am so grateful!

My goal all month has been to finish Isaiah by the end of February. (Since I do correspondance studies, I set my own deadlines.) However, on Monday of this past week, I approached my schoolwork rather dismally. I still had 26 chapters to write an exposition on, and my track record up to that point had proven that I took about one hour to complete each chapter. I knew there was no way I could log 26 hours this week on school work! I contemplated tossing my self-imposed deadline out the window, but finally decided to just buckle down and work as hard as possible to at least see how much progress I could make.

And I prayed. I begged God to somehow, someway help me complete the work by February 28.

Well, He did! Due to the fact the chapters 40-66 are so familiar to me (compared to chapters 1-39), I found that I could complete my work in half the time it had taken thus far! The Lord encouraged me greatly this progress and I took hope that maybe...just maybe, I could actually get my work finished by the end of the week!

Sure enough, by 11:00 p.m. on Thursday, I leaned back in my chair with a deep sigh of gratefulness. The last sentence had been written; the last verse quoted. I was done!

Today, my mom and I proof-read every page one last time and then into the mailbox it went!

I can't tell you what a relief it is to have brought closure to this assignment that has been in the works for five months! I was so ready to have it complete - and the Lord has made it possible!
Now, it's time for a little break (and maybe a little blogging!) before my next assignment arrives in the mail. :-)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Connection of Communication

The following article is one that I wrote at the request of my friend, Sarah Earnhart, for the online newsletter/blog she recently started to encourage fellow "MKs" (missionary kids).

I hope you will find these thoughts inspiring!

The Connection of Communication

No matter what age a person is, everyone loves receiving mail! Right? I know I do! There’s something exciting about opening the mail box and finding an envelope with that distinct handwriting of a friend or loved one. I can’t wait to get inside to find out what’s in their letter! In fact, I usually start ripping open the envelope as I walk up the driveway and have finished half the note by the time I step foot in the door. A handwritten letter or card carries with it the concept of care. Someone has cared enough to take time from their busy life to send greetings and news my way.

Then, there’s the wonderful world of e-mail! Although it’s not quite the same as receiving a handwritten note with a stamp on it, finding an email from a friend waiting in my inbox never ceases to bring a smile to my heart! And I love the fact that I can type a response that will reach that person instantly. Yes, electronic communication certainly has its benefits.

Receiving mail may mean a lot to me, but I know for a fact that it means the world to missionary kids. MKs are a special group of people. Because of their parents’ call from God to serve in a foreign country, MKs by default grow up in that country, experiencing the best and worst of two worlds. For missionary kids, getting mail from friends and family “back home” isn’t just a nice addition to their day. It’s like getting a cold drink of water on a hot day! Refreshing! Invigorating! “As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.” (Proverbs 25:25)

I’m not an MK myself, but I’ve lived with a couple different missionary families as well as observed many others. From this perspective, I’ve learned that MKs (and their parents for that matter!) need the connection of communication. They need to know that they are not living in some far-off, forgotten speck on the map, but that people from their home country think about them, pray for them, and care about them. People who care enough to keep in touch…and stay in touch.

I remember being in a missions conference at my church and hearing the missionary speaker from Ghana, West Africa, tell how his little girl had gone to bed with a stomach ache the previous night because she was so excited to finally meet her pen-pal of several years the next day! I don’t think it’s possible for us in America to fully understand just how much genuine friendship and caring communication means to MKs. All too often they have the discouraging experience of meeting new friends while on furlough who *promise* to keep in touch, only to discover that these good intentions get swept away by the characteristic busyness of American life.

For those of you reading this article who live in the United States, my guess is that most of you know missionaries personally or attend a church that supports missionaries. I’d like to encourage you to “adopt” at least one of those families as your own special interest. Devote time to building a relationship with them and let them know you care!

Five years ago, God gave me an adopted missionary family whom I absolutely love and adore to this day! I was 18 when I went to live with the Earnharts in Peru for six months. My purpose in being there was to teach school to the Earnhart kids (who at that time ranged from 6-12 years old) as well as assist in their church in whatever ways possible.
Those were some of the best six months of my life! We became very close and have worked at keeping in touch ever since.

However, you don’t have to visit a missionary family on their field in order to strike up a friendship and be a blessing to them! Here are some ideas for keeping in touch with MKs that I’ve learned from the Earnharts as well as from personal experience. (By the way, the same ideas apply to adults serving on the mission field!)

~ Write them letters or cards on a regular basis (international postage on a letter costs 94 cents). Or send emails to let them know you’re thinking about them. Either way, share news from your life, happenings at your church, book recommendations, poetry, quotes, pictures, and things the Lord has been teaching you lately.

~ Remember their birthday with a card, a phone call, a little gift, or all of the above! Gifts that fit into flat envelopes include tea bags, Kool-Aid, stickers, gum, perfume samples, jewelry, CDs, baseball cards, bookmarks, etc.

~ Send e-cards just for fun!

~ Cut out magazine or newspaper articles you think your MK friend might enjoy reading, or if they’re younger, color a picture they can hang on their wall.

~ Ask them for prayer requests, be faithful to pray for those needs, and then care to find out how God chose to answer that need.

(As a note to all MKs reading this article, those of us who send you mail or make phone calls your way also love to hear from you! I can speak from personal experience that anytime I send a package to Peru I really appreciate hearing whether it made it and how the contents were enjoyed. It also totally makes my day to receive a phone call or email from one of the Earnharts, and know that they care to keep in touch with me just as much as I do with them. So if you are an MK who is blessed by correspondence from others, make sure you respond!)

God’s Word tell us, “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16) I know life gets busy for all of us, but let’s not allow that to be an excuse for neglecting to communicate with missionaries. Your letter or email will certainly bring a smile to their heart, and may even be the highlight of their day!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

True Love Celebrated

He left a throne in heaven to come to Bethlehem;
I will not forget the way He loved me even then.
And everywhere He traveled He spoke with words of love
That said He'd go to any distance to show what I was worthy of.
And when at last the dusty road had turned to Calvary,
He picked up a rugged burden so one day I would see.

He loved me with a cross. He loved me with a cross.
In answer to the call of love, He loved me with a cross.
Though I could not imagine what knowing me would cost,
Jesus went to Calvary and loved me with a cross.

He knew from the beginning the price He'd have to pay,
for my heart had gone so far beyond what other loves forgave.
I wasn't on that hillside to see Him on the tree,
But as my guilt was upon Him I know that somehow He saw me.
And I would be a sinner enslaved by all my sin
If it hadn't been for Jesus and the way He loved me then.

He loved me with a cross. He loved me with a cross.
In answer to the call of love, He loved me with a cross.
Though I could not imagine what knowing me would cost,
Jesus went to Calvary and loved me with a cross.

Lyrics by Joel Lindsey and Sue Smith

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Learning from Isaiah...

With Thursdays being one of my "home days" each week, I try to take advantage of the lack of outside commitments in order to complete assignments for my Bible college studies. Today has been especially quiet and has certainly afforded ample opportunity for attending to school work!

Isaiah has been the book of study for the past several months, and I'm currently working on the final assignment which is an expositional outline of every chapter. (Gulp!) "Slow and steady wins the race" is proving to be true, though, and I'm hoping to be able to mail off my packet of homework by the end of February.

As I was typing out a summary of chapters 24-27 today, I came across several verses that especially struck a chord within me, and I thought I'd post them here!

"O Lord, Thou art my God; I will exalt Thee, I will praise Thy Name; for Thou has done wonderful things; Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.

For Thou has been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.

The desire of our soul is to Thy name..."

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bless the Lord!

"Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindess and tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's."

~ Psalm 103:1-5

May we all live today in such a way that we are a blessing to our God!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Last week in a re-cap: Sunday

Sunday was the final day of the missions conference, and was it ever a full one! We had two preaching services with lots of special music, a potluck lunch, and an evening youth party for John Loo who is leaving soon for a 3-month stay in Mexico.

All in all, it was a GREAT day!

Pastor Taylor makes a point as he introduces missionary John Lawrence to preach.

Following the sermon, a young ladies' ensemble that we organized closed the service with a song about God's provision. (We thought it would be fitting for the kick-off of our Faith Promise missions giving program.)

After lunch, Marilyn Lawrence delighted us all with a puppet show featuring her own hand-made puppets, Trust and Obey! She had us rolling with laughter even in the midst of a serious lesson about Christ's return. :)

One of the last special music presentations of the day was given by our pastor's family. The reason people are laughing while they sing, is because the Taylors used to be missionaries in Africa for 16 years. :)

Nathan preached a great message for the afternoon service.

Later that night, we started the farewell party for John with a rousing game of 4-square. (My dad is picture in the background serving as the official referee.)

The line of eager players!
Katelin organized the games for the party and did a great job!

We played Bible charades...
enjoyed Root Beer Floats...

had a time of prayer for John...

and finished off the evening with The Couch Game.
Michael and Melanie Jiro are lots of fun to have around!

Cara is trying to strategize how to get a member of the "no-shoe" team onto the couch.

Last week in a re-cap: Saturday

One thing is for sure about the women and young ladies of The Church at Katy.
We love to fellowship together!

Saturday morning afforded a pefect opportunity to slip away from the busyness of home lives and gather for a ladies' brunch at La Madeleine. With delicious pastries at hand, an edifying devotional given by Mrs. Lawrence, and live music in the background (compliments of JB and John), we had a delightful time!

Mrs. Lawrence gave a wonderful devotional entitled, "The Ministry of Reconciliation." It was all about communicating as a Christian with truth, meekness and fear, careful words, wise reproof, wisdom and kindness, grace, compassion, and the goal of reconciliation.

Needless to say, Marilyn loved the gift basket that our pastor's wife had put together for her. :)

Later that evening, our whole church gathered at the daycare center where we meet for services to participate in night 3 of the missions conference. The evening included special music, a Parade of Nations, a Passover meal demonstration, and the Lord's Supper.

The idea for a Parade of Nations was conceived based on the fact that we have so many different countries and cultures represented in our small church body: Bulgaria, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Colombia, Guyana, Ghana, and the United States. For the parade, representatives from each country donned traditional dress and shared with our church interesting facts about their nation such as the geography, religious beliefs, and language of that country. The line of parade participants stretched all the way to the back of the room and definitely outnumbered the few Americans still seated in the chairs. It was a wonderful sight! We are so blessed to attend a church with multiple cultures coming together to worship the same Savior.

Following the parade, John Lawrence shared a demonstration of the traditional Jewish Passover meal, and explained how every detail throughout the meal points to Christ in some way. The symbolism is so rich...and yet so many Jews miss it. My compassion for these needy people has definitely increased as a result of this missions conference.

To close out the evening, we shared in the Lord's Supper, which was Jesus' version of the Passover. I learned that He deliberately left out many ceremonial aspects of the traditional meal to signify His fulfillment of those pictures. Only broken bread and poured-out wine were shared with His disciples to portray His forthcoming crucifixion.

Despite its length, Saturday night's servcie a great time of worship, education, and edification.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Last week in a re-cap: Wednesay/Thursday

Last week was a whirlwind time of activity, fun, laughs, inspiration, food prep, dishes, music, driving, short nights, and loads of great memories! It was like being on a mini-vacation --- only we didn't leave home!

My family loves to engage in hospitality whenever possible. This past week was a time of just that as we were privileged to host a family sleeping at our house, several friends who joined us for meals and activities, and half of our church who attended one of the mission conference services in our living room. :-)

We met the Dana ladies during the Bandera Maiden's Quest retreat this past fall. Recently, when Mom and I traveled to San Antonio for the film festival, we stayed at their home, and enjoyed getting to know their whole family better! Last week, we had the opportunity to return the favor and host Mrs. Dana, Sarah, and Samuel while they were in town for a home school speech and debate tournament. They came in on Wednesday evening and left Sunday morning. Even though we didn't get to see them a whole lot during their stay, due to their long days at the tournament, we enjoyed our limited time with them very much!

Also on Wednesday night, our missionary friend, Nathan Day, arrived in town for our church's missions conference. (Nathan is pictured above - on the right - with Richard, the fellow he stayed with. ) Katelin and I have both gotten to know Nathan during our experiences in Ukraine, so we had a blast catching up with him and taking him around town on fun excursions.

Needless to say, we had a full dining room table on Wednesday evening as we re-connected with far-away friends from all over!

On Thursday, we took Nathan rock climbing along with Brian (a really great 14-year old guy whose faith and Godliness is an inspiration!). Rock climbing is one of my favorite sports activities, and I love any excuse to go! Since Nathan has only been outdoor-climbing in Ukraine, we thought it would be fun to take him to an indoor gym. It was certainly a good workout for all of us! :-)

Nathan and Katelin listening to instructions on how to belay.

Brian and I take to the rocks! ( know. The pretend rocks.)

Way to go, belayers! We couldn't do it without you!

Howdy from the top!

"Okay, dirt me!"

Nathan and Katelin take their turn.

Rock climbing is a great team activity.

A fun day indeed. :)

The rest of our week to be continued...