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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

FlyLady

I love organization but don't do well maintaining it.   Recently during my computer time, I found a blog that mentioned another blog - http://www.flylady.com/.

I started taking the Baby steps there a few weeks ago - well I guess it's been a month.  It's been good for me. I always feel like I have way too much to do.  But her main point is "I can do ANYTHING for 15 minutes."  - even the stuff I hate. 

So the first day we shine our sink.  We just took a towel and wiped down the faucets and sink at the end of the day.  Then she added one more thing - the swish and swipe in the bathroom.  So I've done these things every day since I started - well, maybe I've missed a day or two.  It sure has helped.  DH mentioned the other day that he's never seen the bathroom looking so good.

Of course, because I shine the sink, I can't leave dishes in the sink.  We don't have a dishwasher, so there is always a dish or two or TEN left after dishes are done and they've always sat on the counter.  Well, her advice is to put a tub under the counter for dishes.  Now, to remember that they're there. :) 

So my counters look better than ever.  Still have to teach the kids to use the tub under the sink.  I did have to move my cleaning supplies, but that's o.k. Baby A is crawling now and would have found that sooner or later. :)

Anyway, I feel much better about my house.  We set the timer, not always, sometimes we just watch the clock and clean a room for fifteen minutes.  Flylady.com always has the current zone that we are working on so I don't even have to remember where to work.  She tells me. 

My house is cleaner and more picked-up than ever before and just in time too, because we have soccer practice four nights a week for the rest of the month.  Some nights it's two kids at two different times, overlapping.   But I came home last night to the table set and supper ready and the house looking fairly good for some of the kids being left at home for over two hours.

Setting out our clothes the night before helps too.  The 27 Fling Boogie is fun.  You should have heard my kids laughing as they did it.  You'll have to check out the website to find out what all these things mean.  Then there is the 5 minute room rescue.  Lots of ways to make cleaning up a little more desirable.  Just 15 minutes is nothing. 

Now when the laundry is done, I try to run over and fold the clothes while I keep the kids on task and then send them for a break from school to put them away.  I always felt that it wasn't fair to them to have them put clothes away more than once a day.  But I've changed it around and told them it's a break from their school and they don't seem to mind that at all.

Things are looking better at my house because of this lady. 
Steph

Monday, March 26, 2012

The fence

Last night we were answering some questions about Hebrews.  Some of the things were thought provoking to me.

The Hebrews, as a whole, were on the fence.  Looking for a life of ease, the temptation was to subject themselves to the Law of Moses, in order to escape persecution.  But really when you think about it, this doesn't seem to be a life of ease.  As I see it, the Law is much harder than grace.  Maybe that's why we like it so much.  It satisfies our need to do something in order to earn what has been freely given.

Do I want to stay on the fence?  Really for me, it's not about being under the Law of Moses.  That would be trying to adopt a whole new lifestyle.  My desire is to just stay where I am and just keep doing what I'm doing.  No more growth - that's too painful.  No more getting to know people - that's too uncomfortable.  I'm fine right where I am.  I want to be able to whine and pout about things that I don't like.  I want to take control and do things my way.

Is that what I want?  Because God is saying to me through His Word that on a daily basis I need to be more conformed to the image of His Son.  That means I'm always going to be learning, uncomfortable with where I am at, seeing the need for more growth.  Eeew, yuck!  But what comes with that?  Peace that passes all understanding, seeing progress in my life, not yelling at my kids as much or at all.  Oh, well, now that - that is desirable to me.

So while it may be difficult, I choose God's way.  I want to choose it all the time.  So what does the author to the Hebrews tell us the first step is?  (Heb. 6:1) Leave the elementary principles.  Hello!!!!  Move past Kindergarten, folks!  Those are the building blocks, the foundation.  Start working on the structure!  So I need to dig deeper and longer in the Word of God. I need to seek ways to understand these truths more. 

Yes, I have distractions.  I need to teach my distractions that there are times that Mommy needs to focus on God's Word.  I need to look for opportunities to study His Word. 

Let's pursue knowing Christ better each day.
Steph

Friday, March 23, 2012

My story - part 6 Indonesia

In 2000, we took off for Indonesia.  Another couple arrived around the same time as we did and we found a house to live in together to study language.  It was a crazy house for us to rent as it had porches and hanging walkways and we, between us, had three kids and they were all 3 and under. 

After language study, we headed to Jakarta, to stand in for the guest home host and hostess.  We enjoyed the church there and had Bible studies with some of the believers there.  We were there for about 9 months.  Our third son, Waterman, was born there. 

We then moved to the island of Borneo.  We continued our language study some as we looked around for a place we could serve.  We didn't do a lot of looking, but pursued going back to the same village where Jeff had grown up.  God seemed to be leading us in that direction.

I had three boys under 3 years old, and was trying to learn the language.  My husband had a head start because he still remembered the language.  So there was a girl, who came to live with us and she helped me with the boys and the housework so I could study.

In May of 2001, we moved in to the house in the tribal location where Jeff had grown up, and even to the house he'd lived in as a child.  The girl, who had moved in with us, moved along with us.  What a blessing it was to have her with us!  She was from this tribal area, but not the village we were in.  She helped e with language even before we moved.

It seemed like living in paradise with a banana grove right outside our office window and red hibiscus flowers in the background.  A beautiful river flowed right outside our house.  When it wasn't raining and flooded, the river was clear and shallow - perfect for three little boys to cool off in. 

Because our river flooded during heavy rains, we decided to build a fence to keep our children from wandering to the river.  The next day we were getting ready to have company for supper.  Jeff was working on a swing set out in the back yard.  Since the girl, L-, and I were busy with supper, we sent all three boys outside to watch Daddy.  This was Waterman's first time playing outside as he was just walking well.  Daddy and I thought it would be fine for him to be out there, but L- didn't know about it.

L- came and said, "Since the river is flooded, I think I won't take the boys to the river with me while I bathe.  I'll just bathe them up here at the house."  Bathing in the village usually took place in the river.  The girls have tube cloths that cover them like a dress, and they are super talented at getting bathed in those things.  I, on the otherhand, never learned well how to do it. 

I thought that would be fine, and I would take mine at the house as well, because I was busy with supper, etc.   L- finished up with her bath and then got ready.  When she was done she came in and told me she'd get the boys and bathe them. 

She went outside and grabbed the boys and brought them in and bathed Sharpie and Jones.  Problem was she didn't even know Waterman was out there and didn't see him when she went to bring in the boys.  So she came to get Waterman and that was the first we realized there was a problem. 

Waterman was nowhere in sight and at 17 months he wasn't talking much yet, so calling for him wasn't working.  I ran to the fence to check the gates.  L- stayed with the boys.  Daddy ran the other way toward a fish pond.  The fence's gates were shut.  So I turned toward where my husband was going when he called, "He's in the fish pond." 

I rounded the corner just in time to see him pulling my baby out of the water.  His skin looked like a porcelain doll.  He wasn't breathing.  I ran to go get help.  Thankfully, our company was a trained nurse and her husband who had come to visit.  But they were quite far away.  As I ran I passed a house that was on the way, these people were co-workers of ours, so I called to them that Waterman had fallen into a pond and wasn't breathing and kept running.

When I arrived at our Western co-workers house, where the nurse was staying, I was out of breath.  We all came running back to help my husband do CPR.  When we got back there was a crowd of people around my husband.  They were telling him to move the baby to the porch where it was clean and not to push so hard - "You might break a bone."  My dear husband (dh) just kept working where he was.  He didn't figure moving him was as important as getting him to breathe, and that a broken bone was better than death.

I stayed away from where they were working because I didn't want to get in the way.  Or maybe it was because I was too afraid to watch my baby die.  We were all sure he was dead.  We don't know how long he wasn't breathing - I had time to cross the river twice to get our Western co-workers for help, and then we all crossed that same river two times and still it seemed forever.

Testimonies shared later told us that at different times someone was giving up while another was renewed with hope.  They took turns doing CPR.  There was no time to find a heartbeat, breathing was the goal.  I was away from them praying out loud in the tribal language that God would do His will in Waterman's life. 

It's amazing how much can go through your mind in a short time, but my mind was reeling with all the different outcomes that could happen and I knew that I couldn't figure out what was best, so I was o.k. with God choosing.  My dh was reminded of the fact that I was expecting our fourth, and was sure that Waterman was gone.  So he was thinking that God had provided another not to replace Waterman, but to help us with our grief. 

After awhile, one of co-workers noticed his mouth twitch.  Dh had seen it too and thought it was just the end.  Waterman started breathing soon after and we took him to the porch and started to warm blankets for him to warm him up. 

During this time, Sharpie was trying to see his little brother and stood up on the bench.  He fell off and split his forehead open on the swing dh had been making when all this happened.  So I picked him up and laid him on the kitchen table.  I knew my baby would be fine with someone else holding him as he was still in a coma, but my little boy needed his mama.  Sharpie was just four, and Jones was three. 

Someone said, "Hey this is like Job, grab the other kid before something happens to him."  So Jones was quickly scooped up and snuggled safely in someone's arms. 

We watched Waterman carefully.  It was too late to call the plane, a little six seater that could take us to the Baptist hospital.  It was a half hour to come from town and then an hour to the hospital.   This was evening and the plane would make it in, but not be able to leave until morning.  We called the hospital on the radio and they told us that they wouldn't be able to do anything anyway.  They would just be able to watch for fever.  So we watched.  He was in a coma for another 8 hours. 

When he came out of the coma I remember thinking that it was like a newborn looking at his mama for the first time - just eyes moving and no head movement.  And slowly he started saying the words that he'd been saying as he looked at a farm book - duck, cow etc. 

But his body wasn't keeping up with his brain.  His extremeties weren't getting the messages.  He held his head cocked to one side and his arms and legs would stop working with no warning.  So we tried to hold him, but for a little boy who's just learned to walk this was extremely frustrating.

Around one, the next afternoon, he started a fever. We quickly called the plane.  The weather was looking bad, but the pilot said he and the new guy would come in anyway.  We hurried to get ready.  Sharpie and Jones would stay with our co-workers who were like Grandpa and Grandma to them.  This couple was there as well as their daughter, who was like an aunt to the boys. 

We hopped into the plane, and took off as soon as we could.  The weather was looking bad and a storm was coming up, but the pilot wanted to make sure that Waterman made it to the hospital.  I remember riding in the plane with lightning all around praying that God would protect us and little Waterman was just smiling at me and playing.  I remember thinking, "Did we really need to go through this storm to get you to the hospital?  You look fine to me."

He recovered, as far as I can tell completely.  A few years later, a person who had taken training in early childhood development was caring for him for a week with a bunch of toddlers, while we parents were in a conference.  I asked her about it and she said she couldn't tell at all

A month later I miscarried. It was very difficult, but one thing that helped me was thinking of Waterman's accident and knowing that I already had so much time invested in him.  I felt that it would be hard to lose him than the little one that I'd only known about for a month.  Not saying that it was easy, but just that I think God helped me to look at it that way so that it wouldn't be unbearable.

We were sick a lot during that time.  I think it was just being newbies and not being used to the germs and such that were there.  My husband and Sharpie also had real problems with malaria and were on meds for that quite a bit  In fact I remember once that they both had it and then six weeks later they had it again. 

It's pretty scary having your little one screaming about spiders on the wall (hallucinations) because of the medicine that helps him get over malaria.  Two were even in the hospital with potential cerebral malaria, which is even scarier too.

Around the beginning of 2003, I was expecting again. So we took a trip to the Baptist hospital to see how things were going.  We found out that I was expecting a girl, but that her brain was not forming properly.  She had "water on the brain".  The hospital was not prepared to handle this so it was either Singapore or America.  We chose America because our boys could stay with Grandpa and Grandma.  I wanted dh to be with me through what looked like it would be a hard experience. 

Dh went with me to the first doctor appointment in the US.  When they did the ultrasound, neither of us saw what we had seen at the Baptist hospital.  The brain looked symmetrical to us and seemed to be fine.  The doctor told us exactly the same thing.  Our little Bugaboo was born in Wisconsin.  At this point everyone in our family had been born in a different state or country.

We are so thankful to God for our two miracles.  And now you know why I call him Waterman.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Surrender

I haven't finished my story yet - not sure I'm ready to.  The time in Indonesia was filled with bittersweet memories.  I would say that will be my toughest story to write, and I will, but not today. 

I want to write about surrender.  A friend recently returned a book I'd forgotten about called "Dangerous Surrender" by Kay Warren.  I started reading in it and it seems to be touching something in my life that is needing to be addressed.

Awhile back I asked a friend to do some vinyl lettering for me.  The words I wanted in my kitchen were "Spend yourself and your light will shine in the darkness."  I know I've written about it before but I'm not sure if it was in this blog or not.  The verse is in Isaiah 58:10, and I've left out some parts so it fits where I want it.  The words still remind me of the full content of the verse. 

Isaiah 58:10 says, " and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday." 

Actually all the verses around it are so encouraging.  What am I saying?  It's God's Word, so of course it is.  But especially to this whole idea of surrender. 

I get the idea of "Go get exhausted on behalf of the needy."  OOPS!  Better stop complaining at home when there are things to do, because it should start there.  And when we complain about all that we need to do in front of the kids, it breeds complaining hearts and whiny attitudes.  Not fun.

To add to the thoughts on surrender, a friend is going through some of the things we went through after leaving missions, and a puppy was hit by a car last night and suffered for what seemed a long hour before dying.

I'm not sure I can explain how this all fits together.  The questions running through my mind are: "Is my heart soft and compassionate to those around me or have I hardened it to the pain of life?"  "Is there a time to buck up and shake it off and go through it?" My fears are if I allow myself to succumb to tears there won't be an end, and yet I want to be moved with compassion.  Can I have both?

My desire is to surrender to God's will for my life, even if it means that I'll never have a minute to myself, or that I'll fall into bed exhausted because I worked almost until bedtime.  But at the same time, I'm thinking, "What if it hurts?"  I already know the answer to that one.  It will!!!  But the rewards will be beyond imaginations so it's worth it. 

Do I really want to get involved?  Staying in my home would be so much easier.  Not allowing the hurt of others or my own to enter my heart seems better and more desirable.  Am I expressing that compassion to my children or am I saying, "Oh, don't see any blood, you must be fine." 

But when they see their puppy lying on the back porch and their eyes fill up with tears, there is no blood to be seen.  But they need someone to love them through it.  I don't want to tell them to quit crying and shake it off.  It really does hurt and pain is part of life. 

I do want them to see that life for that puppy would be awful.  Even if we could will her to live somehow for our own sakes, it would be selfish on our parts.  That death was better for her than suffering in order for us to be happy.

There is growth I think in allowing ourselves and others to process what happens.  When the boys first brought her in, I saw that she was badly hurt.  Her hip was broken and the leg too.  She was hardly moaning and just laying there.  At that point the kids didn't not want her to be put to sleep.  Daddy wasn't home yet, so I called him.  He asked us to wait until he got home.

As we checked on her and I saw the signs of death, the kids and I talked about what was better for Angel.  We didn't even know if she was paralyzed or not.  It was a very stressful evening, but we learned a few things.  It's better to keep moving than to sit and think - whether it's cleaning or even just sitting next to Angel.  We learned that sometimes God says no when we ask for something.

So how can I be the person that God wants me to be, someone who's compassionate and yet not a basket case who has to have a box of kleenex around all the time?  I think of the words "Weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice."  That's what I'm striving toward.  But I don't know the answers to all of my questions.  I think I'm going to keep learning on this one.

Steph

Monday, March 19, 2012

My story - Part 5

God took my best friend home to be with Him, and three months later I met the man I would later marry.  He gave me a different best friend.  At that time in my life, I still had questions about why God would take my mom home.  But He was continuing to work out His plan for me. 

I remained at the missions institute I was at in Wisconsin.  That summer the missionary couple that I had been writing for 4 or 5 years wrote and said that two of their children would be at a conference that was taking place in May.  Our school was hosting the conference or serving at it or something. 

I was glad to know that finally after so many years I would finally get to meet someone from this family.  Little did I know that I was about to meet my future husband.  My husband and his sister showed up and we talked some.  My roommate was also from Indonesia. 

Through some circumstances and misunderstandings we ended up with an hour or so to talk.  He seemed to want to go into missions but had some things that were blocking him from doing so. He was going on a missions trip. 

We wrote that summer and God took away the problems keeping him from missions.  He ended up moving to Wisconsin to the school I had just graduated from.  I, in turn, moved to Missouri for the last step of training - the language institute, where I learned how to study unwritten languages.

In November, I came to Nebraska and met his parents.  We had some great talks around the kitchen table in the early morning hours, around a table that sat right about where I am sitting now, in the house that we currently live in.

In January, we were engaged.  So I moved back to work as a secretary in Wisconsin so we would have time to get to know each other.  We married in June and then moved to the language institute to finish our training together.

Our first son, who I call Sharpie in this blog, was born there.  One month later we moved to Nebraska.  We lived in our house there and fixed it up.  During our time there our second son, Jones was born.  We were able to spend a lot of time at the church that my husband called his "home" church.  I grew to feel that it was my family as well.

When Jones was about 6 months old, we moved to Wisconsin near where my parents and in-laws lived and studied Indonesian with some veteran missionaries and also some missionaries who were Indonesian.  We were there for a few months when our visas came through and we prepared to head to Indonesia.  We were so excited.

Friday, March 16, 2012

My story - Part 4 - Mom

Graduation was over.  I had decided to attend the Bible school where my dad had worked and so didn't even have to move, except up the stairs to the girls' dorm.  I enjoyed settling in and working at the job I had started in high school - McDonalds. (My kids are soooo jealous.)  I remember long afternoons with my Bible open and a journal and just soaking it all in.

My parents moved to a different school because there was an opening at a missions school in Pennsylvania.  I remember that my relationship with my mom changed that year.  I longed to talk with her and to hear her voice.  I may not have shown it much but in my heart I'd always been a Daddy's girl.  I kept every letter he wrote me.  I had been the typical teenager and couldn't wait to leave home, but when I did I found out that I still needed my parents.

The Bible school that I went to had a prayer program for missionaries who were working overseas.  I was assigned to a couple who worked in Indonesia.  The wife wrote back faithfully and I loved getting to know this couple. 

At the end of my first year, my parents headed back to the Philippines.  Mom wasn't completely better, but seemed to be improving.  As I look back now, I was pretty selfish. I don't really remember helping all that much or even knowing what was going on.  My brother and sister would be attending Faith Academy and I knew they would love it.  I was enjoying where I was and all my friends weren't at Faith anymore anyway, so I wasn't too jealous.

The month I particularly remember was October.  It was my second and final year at Bible School.  My boyfriend broke up with me, seemingly for spiritual reasons.  Turns out it was for another girl.  I tripped in an indoor soccer match and fell headlong into a wall.  I ended up in the hospital with a mild concussion.  The rooms were full of ladies in delivery so I was in the hall on a gurney with bright lights shining in my eyes.  Let me tell you, bright lights + concussion = major, major headache.  I remember Heather staying with me through at least part of my time in the ER.  God gave me wonderful friends.

Right on the heels of this all, (I think it was within the same week as the concussion because I remember still being on pain medication and intensifying headaches) came the news from Mr Sullivan.  I remember he called me into his apartment.  His wife was there sitting on the couch.  I thought I was in trouble, but couldn't think what I'd done.  He told me the awesome news that my parents were coming home.   All I could think was, "Why? They just got there.  It had only been three months."  While these thoughts were spinning around in my head, he told me, "Your mom has cancer."  My headaches were back with a vengeance.

They were coming right away and it was October.  They would be living in the same building as me again at least for the time being.  But they needed coats and clothes and all of that was at my grandma's house.  I couldn't drive because of the medication I was still on for those headaches. 

Caleb was a good friend in my class.  His brother, Joe, and my sister were dating.   He and I had both grown up in the Philippines.  We were acquaintances at the most there, but while we were in Bible School we became good friends.   He drove me to my grandma's house.  I remember teasing him for driving over the lines, which he immediately did even more of just to get me laughing.  He didn't say a lot, but I knew he was hurting with me.

I don't remember picking my parents up.  I'm sure I was there.  I don't even really remember my final year.  There are pictures of my mom sewing my sister's wedding dress.  She married Joe the summer she graduated from high school.  Everything is a blur.  My mom's cancer was Hodgkins Lymphoma - the most treatable kind.  I believe it was at the end of that year that she went into remission. 

My dad was packing them up to move back to the missions institute in Pennsylvania.  He asked if I would consider coming and helping, or maybe I asked him, not sure which.    But I jumped at the chance.  It was a wonderful time for me.  I sat at my mother's knee and watched as she grew more and more like Christ with each passing day.  She taught me so much and so did my dad and my little brother those two years. 

Mom was sick again, not so much with cancer, but with whatever it was that had been the problem right before my senior year.  In fact, as soon as the chemo was over, it had started up again.  Things bothered her, but she didn't break out in hives or rashes.  She called it getting "fuzzy".  She couldn't think straight if perfume was worn near her and progressively it got worse. 

After two years helping out at home, I decided I would continue my studies toward my passion - being a missionary.  I didn't know how long it would be before Mom would be better and I felt torn.  But that summer I packed up my car and headed to Wisconsin.  My parents were so supportive.  Later I was told by one of my mom's best friends that she was so happy I had decided to become a missionary.

I continued to keep in touch with the couple I had been assigned to during Bible school.  They had moved back to the States.  They were a source of great encouragement as I started my own journey toward missions.
That year, while I was gone, things got much worse.  I don't think Mom wanted Dad telling me how much worse.  She wanted me to continue studying.  I went home for spring break and saw how much worse things were. She was 100% dependent on my dad and it was round the clock care.  He tried everything.  He had even tried taking her to the hospital, but that made her way worse and so she wasn't going to do it again.  She knew the cancer was back, but wasn't going to do chemo again ever.

Not long after spring break, she died.  God was preparing my heart.  I remember begging Him to take her.  "She's suffered enough," I said.  "If she's suffering to help others, many people have been encouraged by her story, isn't that enough. Maybe the miracle I've been praying for for 4 years is not what You want, maybe you want to do a complete miracle and perfect her body by taking her to be with You.  Please take her to be with You."  Glimpses of guilt would pop up later on when I remember this prayer.  But God gently reminded me, "It was you saying the words, but I was planting the thought there, so that you would be ready."

I am so thankful that I chose to spend two years of my life, helping my dad care for her and for the house.  It was the time when my mom became my best friend.  I know my dad was her best friend, but she was mine.  I could tell her anything without fear of rebuke.  I knew where she stood, but I also knew I had her ear whenever I needed someone to listen without judging.  My parents watched me go through some things that I'm sure they bit their tongue on.  But I know that they were on their knees praying and that it was because of that that circumstances changed or my heart did.  What a legacy they have left me!  I'm so blessed.`

I would say that this is one of the hardest chapters in my life.  There are another one or two left to come and harder still, but as I look back I can see, as the song says, "Never once did (I) ever walk alone."

My story - Part 3 - high school

After my seventh grade year being homeschooled, I went back to the dorm I had been in for 6th grade.  My parents were no longer the dorm parents, but we had great dorm parents that year.  For ninth grade it was back to homeschooling, and after algebra, my mom said "Never again."   But it didn't matter too much as we were off to the States to see grandparents again.  We loved our "furlough" as we called them then.  It was always fun to see our grandparents and aunts and uncles that we hadn't seen for four years.
The cousins four years later.
We lived near my dad's parents again on a church property.  We loved getting to know the pastor.  I think he and his wife had the biggest impact on our family.    It's not easy travelling around to different churches.  I didn't like it much at all.  Usually when we arrived at a church, we hung around helping Mom and Dad set up.  It took us a long time to warm up to the other kids there.  Then about an hour or so before we were leaving, we started having a great time with them.  We always wished we would get over the shyness sooner, but never did.

We headed back and my parents prepared to send my sister and I to boarding school at Faith Academy in  Manila.  My sister was in 9th grade and I was 11th.  So by now, I'm on my third type of schooling in three years - homeschool, public school for 10th grade where the geometry teacher was wowed by whoever had taught me Algebra, and 11th boarding.  My mom took little credit for my Algebra teaching, she figured she was no good at it, so it must have been God who got me through all that.

I would have to say Faith Academy and my 6th and 8th grade years were my absolute favorite school years.  Not that I did well.  I did awful in Chemistry despite the fact that my lab partner was got straight A's and helped me study.  I almost failed that class.   But the family type atmosphere was great for me.  Everyone was away from home except those whose parents worked in Manila.  We all knew what it was like to be so far from our parents and consequently, it seemed to me, treated each other as siblings.

The end of that year I was so excited to come back for my senior year.  It would be so much fun.  Plus it would be my first time ever to do two school years in a row at the same school.  That meant a lot to me.  I had a best friend and she and I and two others were in a Bible study with one of the elementary teachers.  It was a great time of growth for me.

If I remember right, my dad came to get my sister and I.  On the way home he told us that we were heading to the U.S.  It seems we hadn't understood or he had waited to tell us that my mom was very sick. 

Because it wasn't furlough time yet, we stayed "on duty" as it were.  We moved to the Bible school in the town where I was born.  It was a different building.  My dad would be the teacher for the prayer program while we figured out what was up with Mom.  Nothing was making sense.  We didn't know what her sickness was.

My parents
My parents listened to advice from others who worked at the school and sent us to a Christian school in town.  I remember thinking it should be like Faith because we were all believers, right?  But found it was very different and felt that there was hypocrisy.  It was a growing time for me as I had to deal with the hurt of something that was monumental to me - going back to Faith for my final year. 

God provided me with a best friend.  She was new as well, and also was an MK.   We were both seniors and it was nice to have someone to be new with.  We did everything together and we lived in the same place.  Her parents were students, so they lived in the huge building that we lived in and many other students and teachers lived in.  It turned out to be a good year after all.

And so graduation and the end of what seemed to me to be the biggest part of my life.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My story - Part 2

The Australian family was a lot of fun to work with.  Their children were younger than we were, so we were able to watch them while our parents had meetings or worked.  The Australians have a different language than we do, not really but some days it seemed like it.  We had to learn what "nappies", "tins", and "nursing the baby".   Nappies are diapers, tins are cans, and "nursing the baby" means to hold a baby.

At this point in our lives we didn't have an airstrip.  So supplies were brought in by truck.  I can't remember how many hours it took on a good, dry day, but on a bad day, it could take the whole day to get in.  But by plane, it would only take a little over a half hour.  So we started working on a strip.  There was a huge rock in the middle, and no matter how we tried to angle the strip, the rock had to go.  So my dad wore him self out pounding away at the rock.  We even tried building a fire around the rock and then pouring water over it.  It took us a long time to get the rock out, which we eventually did.

In the meantime, the pilot and our team worked out a way for them to drop supplies in from an airplane.  It cost a lot more than the plane coming in and landing, as they had to fly in circles while they dropped as many boxes as they could in a pass, but saved us all the time of travelling to town to get our own supplies. The supply-buyer had to learn how to pack things so that they wouldn't crush other things or be crushed.  The pilot found men, who were willing to hang on in the back with the door open and who were strong enough to pitch as many boxes in one pass as possible.  This saved us money as it took fewer passes.

I remember the record being 24 boxes in a pass and it was the older brother of a classmate of mine from the year before.  Sometimes we had scrambled eggs on the day of the flight.  One time we lost a huge bag of flour to a puddle.  And they even figured out how to drop the gas bottles we needed for our stove.  We stayed pretty clear the first time we tried that. But it worked, with a parachute and all.

And then the excitement.  Hauling all the boxes home and opening them all.  It was like Christmas every six weeks.  We would always open the mail first - all of it.  What a joy to hear news of home!  It was back in the days before e-mail and our only connection with the outside world was a radio conversation twice a day during the week.  The news was always old.  It took about 2 weeks at that time to get a letter from the U.S.   So there were times when it was a couple of months before we received a response to our letter.

Then, after the mail, came choosing what to have for lunch.  Fresh meat, cheese, peanut butter - all those things we'd been craving were in those boxes and it was sooo fun to pick what to eat from the bunch.  Usually there was some fresh fruit which we hadn't had for over a month, unless there was some fruit growing nearby.

Where we lived there was always the threat of rebel activity and we never knew when they may show up and tell us to leave.  They had done it before.  I remember seeing them in their camouflage uniforms and the people around being very nervous.  When our co-worker came to give her order over the radio, she'd gotten used to asking Mom for help.  She never ended up with what she wanted.  One time she ordered a packet of Tide (now this has to last for 6-weeks), and she got a packet of Tide (one load's worth), but what she had meant at least to an American was a box of Tide.  So she knew that if she wanted her order right have an American read it and see if it was ready. 

So Auntie Pam brought over the order one day during all this rebel activity, and Mom read it over.  "Oh, no, no, no," Mom said, "This will never work.  You can't order this.  In fact, what do you even mean by this?"  Aunt Pam leaned over and glanced at the line Mom was pointing to. 

"Oh, yeah, a dummy.  Naomi needs a dummy, because she keeps losing them."  Mom looked at her with a strange look on her face.  Naomi was their little one year old, but why would she need a dummy? 

So Aunt Pam asked, "What do you think a dummy is?"

"A mannequin type thing that looks like a person.  What do you think it is?"

"Well, one of those things a baby sucks on to keep them quiet."  Aunt Pam said.

"Oh, a pacifier. Well, " Mom replied thoughtfully, "I'm not sure what the rebels would think if they say "people" falling from the sky into our backyard.  And that is what the supply buyer would think you wanted." 

We all had a good laugh about this.   But it wasn't all fun.  We had to know exactly what to do if they did show up on our doorstep.  So we devised a plan. 

And then I remember the time when all of those plans came into action.  I was thankful that our co-workers with their little girls weren't there.  We were in trouble.  We needed to get out, but there was a conflict going on both sides of us and we couldn't go up the road or down the road because either way they would think we were on the other side. 

We were trying to make contact with town to get out of there, but the airstrip wasn't functional yet.  Finally, we were told they would bring a helicopter in the morning.  We were all pretty scared, so we all bunked down in the girls' room.  I slept with my sister, and my brother was in my bed and my parents on the floor. 

I was not going to fall asleep.  I wanted to be awake to hear any noises if they were going to come.  All of the sudden I thought I heard the dog growling.  After a minute, I realized that I had been snoring and woken myself up. 

We were flown out the next morning.  The rescuers wondered why we were crying.  We knew we were leaving our friends (the village people) in the midst of a conflict.  My brother told them, "We can leave but they can't.  We love them.)  And we did...very much.

We were able to go back, but the people were worried.  So everytime someone heard rumors of trouble, one of the men my dad trusted would come to the house and quietly say, "You need to go on a vacation."   And as we drove out to town in our white vehicle, the people would call and ask where we were going, Dad would say, "On vacation." and they would all look at each other smile, and say, "Ohhh, on vacation!"  They knew what it was all about.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My story - Part 1

My parents met in college, I'm pretty sure it was Central Michigan University.  They both were interested in missions and after they married, they attended a Bible school in Michigan.  My mom had wanted to be a missionary ever since she found out that missionaries weren't perfect from one who came and spoke at their church and really messed it up.  So God uses even times when we totally flop to continue to work His will in people's hearts.  Praise Him!

I was born 10 months after they were married and while they were still at Bible School.  Bible School at that time must have only been a year, because my little sister was born less than a year later in Florida while they were at the Missions Institute.  Our little brother came along 2 1/2 years later, between their times at Language School.  I'm sure it must have been a challenge to go through their schooling with three little ones underfoot, but God took them through it.

My parents went to the Philippines to serve as missionaries.  The story my mom told was that as we were getting off the plane, maybe in Manila (but somewhere on the journery), my dad was ahead getting the luggage.  She had my brother, who lost his first birthday on the plane somewhere, and my little sister and I who were 3 and 4 at the time. 

Getting off and on planes then was not nearly the same as it is now.  Narrow walkways which contain children are now in place.  There are no stairs.  But then, when we got to the door with my mom holding my brother and trying to figure out which one of us to trust alone, there was the stairway to the runway with a high thin railing.  Both of us were so little we could have fallen between the rail and the steps to the asphalt below. 

A businessman, impatiently pushed Mom aside and grabbed my little sister's hand, said to my mom, "Ma'am, this is not the way to travel."  Then he took my little sister down the stairs with him.  My mom always chuckled a bit when she told us this story.  She was grateful that a stranger was willing to help, though I'm sure at the moment she was terrified at where he may have been taking her little girl.

What a new place they had come to!  The smells and sights and sounds were completely different to anything Mom had ever experienced.  My dad, being the son of an Airforce man, had lived in other countries before, but probably wasn't prepared for a third-world country.  It was hot and steamy, I'm sure.  The traffic in Manila is always interesting and very loud.  I'm not sure what transportation they had that first day.  I believe someone met them at the airport.  They weren't going to leave the newbies to find their way through that huge city on their own.

What we found when we arrived was family.  A huge group of people all connected to the same cause and loved one another.  I saw it through the eyes of a little child.  I can't remember anyone who didn't bend down to speak to the little ones.  We were well-loved.  As I look on it now, I see older missionaries, whose children were in America, missing their own little grandbabies.  So they adopted us.  I loved it.  Conference time, which came once a year, was a blast.  We always had so much fun.

My parents moved to a different city nearby and there they learned the national language, Tagalog.  We went to Manila sometimes for paperwork and other things, but we had a house in the other city, that we rented.  I remember it, only for the one and only experience of being bit by a dog.  I can see the cement fence around our yard that sloped and peaked like mountains when it came to the next post.  I remember singing the little songs that were a mixture of Tagalog and English.  My sister and I clown around with it once in awhile still.  It was a good time.

After a year there, my parents decided to go on a new venture.  A couple were just opening up a work in the southern island of Mindanao and my parents were going there to join that couple. 

One story I remember vividly was when we first moved there. I don't think we were in our permanent housing yet.  I'm not sure exactly, but there were a few apartments that opened into a courtyard.  I remember that my parents told us not to talk with anyone who came into the courtyard until they could get to know them.  But we disobeyed and got into trouble.  Through our disobedience we met Ate' (Older Sister) Honey and Kuya (Older Brother) Ed.  They became a vital part in helping us learn the language.  If I'm not mistaken, they became believers through their relationship with my parents and others. 

In the process there was another couple that also wanted to go, so we decided to live in the same huge house together for Language study.  In some ways this may sound crazy, but I think it worked well for our families, though there may have been struggles, I'm not sure.  


All I knew was they had kids.  Their oldest daughter was not quite a year younger than I and a day younger than my sister.  I insisted that she should be my best friend as she was the oldest and my sister insisted that they were best friends because they were the same age.  No one ever thought that we could all be friends, but that's what happened.  Her little sister was my brother's age.  So we got along well. 

We must have because our parents decided to start a work together, which means that they would move to a tribal village and serve there together.  We lived there for three years, I think before my sister and I went to a place near Manila to go to boarding school.  I was in fourth grade and she was in third at the time. The best part was that our aunt and uncle served at this place.

Language study wasn't easy for my parents. Mom and Dad when they first moved to the village would study nouns for hours after they learned the questions "What is this?" and "What is that?" After learning the visible nouns, Mom and Dad had a few that they wanted to learn that weren't in sight at the moment.


So Mom started describing the thing she was hoping to get the word for. "It's long and thing and has a brush on one end. You put stuff on the little brush and clean your teeth with it. " After awhile of explaining and describing this tool, one of the little old ladies, who looked like they could use one, said, "Ahhh, tootbrus." Seriously?

Another day, Mom was looking for the word for someone who works in the house, helping out. In the Philippines, it was expected to have help so that you could get all your studying done. So for about a half hour she explained the duties etc that this person would have. Finally, someone figured it out, "Oh, maid". Trying to tell them that it was an American word just with their accent didn't matter, according to them it had been in their language since the beginning of time

 During that time my parents found that I had thyroid disease.  I look at the pictures now and see me with eyes bulging and a huge neck, little scrawny bony build, not pretty.  So after trying to care for me there, they decided to go home.  Not sure what caused them to take an early home assignment, but remembering my arm turning purple while they tried to find a needle to draw blood was probably one reason.  My mother was a trooper, and Dad too.  I would have to fast before these blood draws and they never drew blood till 10 a.m or so, so McDonalds, such as it was then, was on the menu for lunch.

All the cousins

Home assignment took us to my dad's home.  We lived near them that year and a half.  Then when we returned it was to my parents being dorm parents.   And so enter, two people I now call brother and sister, but that will come later.  I thought I had always had a wonderful life, but I think this year was my favorite.  I had a best friend who's name was Stephanie as well and her dad called us "Stephanie squared". She was quite a bit older than I and I'm thankful for her friendship.

I was the only girl in the fifth and sixth grade with five boys.  We had a spring on the property where we would go and swim almost every day after lunch and before school started again.  Paradise.  We would play games at night as a group.  It was just a lot of fun.  From this year on, I never went to the same school two years in a row.  Oh, yeah, and the pilot from our mission lived about a half hour to an hour away so his two kids came to school and stayed in my parents' dorm.  I love hearing them tease my dad now about the things we used to do.   They are now, brother and sister to me, as their mom married my dad.

After that year, there weren't enough kids for another year, so we moved back to the tribal group we'd been in but a different place.  There were lots of reasons for that, but I'm not sure what they all were.  Also our co-workers were no longer in the picture, and as a kid, I never wondered about that too much.  So we gained some new co-workers, some Aussies.  And those stories I'll save for a different day.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Treasure the moments

I've been waiting to hear back from him - the man who said these words.  Many times during the last weeks, I have thought about what he said on that day.   I don't even know his name, but he has changed my life.

A couple of weeks ago, a white car pulled into our driveway. We don't have a lot of guests, so I wondered who it could be.  Most of our friends drive suburbans or bigger vehicles. As I ran around trying to find my shoes, I wondered what they would need, and if I would possibly have enough time to help them and yet find my house in order when I returned.  "Please don't need a long conversation." I thought.  Nine children left to themselves gets chaotic in minutes.  Taking them outside on this cold morning would require bundling them up and I just wanted to get out there and get this taken care of.

As I walked out, he got out of his car.  I could see someone in the front seat - his wife, no probably his mother.  She didn't look up as I approached the car and asked if there was anything I could do for them.  He asked if we owned the sawmill that sat over near the barn, and if we do much sawing with it.  I told him it was ours, that we hadn't had it for long and so weren't super experienced with it.  We talked for awhile about prices to cut up logs etc., and I confessed I knew little about my husband's prices as he didn't use it much in his business.

Then he started explaining his interest in the sawmill.  "My wife" he pointed in the direction of the car, "has Alzheimer's.  It's getting so bad it takes me an hour just to feed her one meal.  I need to sell my land and farm as I can't do it anymore."  My heart broke as he shared his situation.  His kids lived too far away to help him farm and now, before he would normally have retired, he was selling out.  He shared his desire to cut down some of the trees he'd been nurturing and then have them sawn into boards so he could at least have a piece of his land to take with him.  I gave him my husband's phone number and urged him to call.

He turned to go and then stopped and came back.  "When Alzheimers takes one, it always takes two."  I didn't understand what he was talking about.  He continued, "You never think about those meaningless conversations before bed, or the chitchat around the table, until it's gone.  Treasure those moments.  Don't forget what it means to have a strong partner by your side.  To a farmer it means knowing she's at home and ready to drive truck when I need her, or just bring a meal out to the field so I don't have to go in.  Now, it takes a long time just to do anything even as simple as eating a meal.  Don't forget, o.k.?"  As he got ready to leave, I shared with him about my dad and how he would understand, how my mom declined slowly.  He lost her as a spouse, as a friend and finally she depended on him full 24 hours a day until she went home to be with the Lord.  I've seen it, but not experienced it fully.

So, as I went to help my man cut down two pine trees in a lady's yard, I thought about his words.  As I prepared his lunch to take to work, I pondered what he had shared.  When I sent my boys out to help their dad, I thought more about this.  I want to be that strong partner and to treasure the moments I have to share the load with my husband.   My tendency some days is to complain.  I'd rather be sitting at home with my feet up.  But this man's words remind me each day to live it up, enjoy what I've been given, because all too soon this season in my life will be over.  Despite the hard days, there will be things I will miss about this season.

He called the other day.  I was surprised, it had been a couple of weeks.  I went out to see him when he was bringing the logs over.  "Bet you didn't think you'd ever hear from me."  He said. 

"I'm so glad you called." I said "I wanted to tell you that I haven't forgotten your words.  I'm so glad for this opportunity to serve you.  I remembered your words when I was out helping my husband cut down trees and  through all the mundane jobs we do together around here."

He smiled, a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes, a smile that showed the fatigue and the pain of watching the one you love slowly fade away.  "I'm glad.  Never forget.  Treasure the moments."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Priority #2 - my husband

Since we've been talking about priorities, I thought we could move on to the second one.  It seems they are all connected to the first one - God, or should be.  When we are making God the first priority in our life, we start realizing that others come first.  And one in particular should stand above the rest if we are married.  That is, our spouse. 

God has given them to us and we need to respect them and honor them in every way possible.  This has been something that has come up over and over in our marriage.  When I disrespect my husband, I am not allowing him to be the man of God he needs to be.  I really need to be before the Lord in how I speak with my husband.  I Peter 3: 1-2 says, "In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior."  I think this means that sometimes we are right, but not always. 

I have married a man of God and he is very smart. I can trust him to make good decisions for our family.  He hasn't always been right, but I know that he is much less impulsive than I and had we done it my way, there probably would have been more mistakes.  I honestly think that most of our men would do well making decisions if they were backed by a wife who whole-heartedly supported them in everything.  When I am talking about this, I am not talking of sin issues. 

When someone is looking over my shoulder waiting to point out everything I am doing wrong, I make a lot of errors - errors I would normally not have made.  So I think with our men.  If they know that we are praying for them and quietly supporting them, think how much stronger they could be.

Now, I know that sometimes it's fun to be the leader and get to say what goes.  At this point in my life though, I lead a lot.  Throughout the course of the day, I'm telling the children what to do, what tests to take, and where they need to be and when.  So I get plenty of that.  And it's under the supervision of my hubby, he has asked that, for now, I teach the children at home.  I'm pretty thankful when I can just let my husband decide something, i.e. if my oldest should go to public school next year.

I don't want you to think this is easy for me.  I am terrified to let him go to public school, but my husband and I have talked about it.  He knows my fears and he has his own.   He is taking my opinion about the matter into consideration. I have told him, "I need to know by such-and-such a time your decision about Sharpie.  I leave this completely in your hands and you just let me know what you decide, so that I can plan accordingly."  Despite the fact that I want Sharpie home next year, I know that this could be a good thing, so I am still 100% (with fear and trembling) behind my husband whatever he decides.

I have been blessed to have a man who loves me and cares about what I think.  We do not all have the same situations, but God's Word is unchanging and He can help us to be obedient to the Word no matter what the situation.

Trusting you to His care,
Steph

Monday, March 5, 2012

Making God the highest priority in our lives

I'm studying Colssians and I'm still in the first chapter.  Such a wonderful glimpse of who Christ is.  "He is  before all things and in Him, all things hold together." vs. 17  So if this is true, then it seems to follow that He should be first in my heart.  My challenge is that everything I do will bring Him honor and glory.

We've been memorizing Colossians 3:12-17 and the last verse is what has been driving me to consider where my priorities lie. "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father."  What a challenge! 

So I continue to study my day and find ways to honor Him with my life.  The problem can come when I'm so busy analyzing what I'm supposed to do that in the process nothing is done.  There is a balance.  At Dare2Share we learned that General Patton once said something to the extent of: "A good plan violently executed today is far better than the perfect plan waiting to be executed next week."  Not sure I like the use of the word violently, but you get the idea.  We must not wait for perfection before we start moving.

Just wanted to share practically some ways that I've been moving.  I found once again a website talking about home-planning notebooks.  Essentially these are three-ring binders that contain all the information that we need for daily living.  I've done this before and when I keep up with it, it really helps me.  I call it "The Brain". So as I've been evaluating what activities I should be involved in and what I should not, I've also been making a new binder.  I found that for my life, a 2-inch binder is not big enough. 

Last week, I found it overwhelming to think of all the things that I wanted to put in there.  So I asked the Lord for direction so that it could be managable chunks, bite-sized if we return to the elephant analogy.  

So I simply started with my kids' schooling.  Not all of them have tests, but I wanted a calendar for each where I could see where tests were coming and not have them creep up on me.  So there is a tab for each child with 3 calendar pages behind each one.  I have only done the older three, but the others are there for when I get the chance.  Remember it does not have to be perfect before I start using it.

Then I started on finances.  It being the beginning of a new month, I wanted to do that next as I need to keep track of spending.  We have had to tighten our belt, as it were, lately, and so I found a way to tighten further so that we can pay bills in a timely manner.  There is an end in sight, so it makes it a bit more bearable.  Oh, and food is not the way we are tightening.  With three boys heading into their teens, food is essential and lots of it. :)

I also planned my week on Saturday. I took daily pages and wrote what I planned to do for exercise and for achieving my goal of getting the kids' lessons planned ahead of time.  Also any cleaning that I knew would come up. 

Why do I do this?  Because I believe that I can do better in my finances, if I'm tracking my spending, therefore honoring my Lord, (and we'll get to the husband part of it soon).  If I'm paying attention to tests and quizzes that are coming up for my kids, then maybe we can be studying ahead of time and not cramming the day of or the day before.  And if I plan my week, I know that I will have areas where I'm pleasing the Lord.  Planning ahead helps me go into it with a good attitude and not frazzled. 

One last comment is that these are plans.  They are to give way to interruptions that the Lord may bring into my life.  They are not set in stone and can be set aside if sick children and trips to the doctor are necessary or if a friend has a chance to stop by.  The caution there is that we need to make sure we don't always find excuses not to finish our tasks. 

I ended up with more on my plate than I thought I would have today.  The Awana Grand Prix is Wednesday and hubby reminded me that we can't be frantically putting on wheels the last night.  Knowing that I had set aside the wheels so that they wouldn't be lost, I was confident that this would not be a problem and assured him that I would have the cars ready for their wheels when he came home tonight.  Little did I know, someone found the wheels, though no one knows where they are.  Have you ever read the poem, about everybody, anybody, somebody and nobody?  Well, you must find a copy if you haven't.  It's pretty much what happens in my house. 

So consequently I pulled out the TV and now the dryer vent needs fixing before I put it back.  Don't ask, it's much too long a story.  Maybe you can pray that I can find those wheels, and Waterman's car as no one knows where they might be. 

So I've had my fill of interruptions for today, but they are necessary and good ones. 

Psalm 16:6 "The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me."
Have a great day,
Steph