Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Few quick quotes

I know, I know, it is late and I should be in bed or at least studying.  But, Art Appreciation is just not floating my boat right now.  My entire house is beige and I don't give a rip about textures or rhythms in paintings.  My Professional Nursing class is great, but I'm on schedule in that class.  So, I'll waste some time typing up a post and eating graham crackers slathered in Nutella--wash it down with milk, of course!  Plus, my body is all screwed up lately and who knows when I'll sleep?  Last night the hangy-down thing in my throat(I am aware of the name, but I much prefer Hangy-down thing!) swelled up.  I could hardly swallow and it hurt so badly.  When lying on my back it felt like my airway was being closed off.  I made so much noise that Mike slept on the couch because I sounded like a growling dog in bed all night!  So, I helped myself to a bolus dose of steroids that a sweet doctor friend of ours gave us a while back.  My throat feels much better, but I feel a bit psycho.
Anyway, to the good stuff:

My new book Shame off You by Alan Wright is really good.  Here are a few great quotes to get you thinking until your copy can come after you order it on Amazon :)
     "All people who try hard at life do so for one of two reasons-they're fearful and looking for acceptance, or they're fulfilled and looking to make a difference."

     "God never uses shame to motivate us toward right living or excellence.  He never motivates us by withholding His love from us."

     "Conviction always moves us back to the Father."

     "Shame always causes us to feel more distant from God.  Conviction  always makes us feel closer to God."

     "God's love is not a reward for the righteous, it is a gift to the repentant.  God's love is not acquired by living right and serving well.  God's love is received only through the sweet surrender of a thirsty soul."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

kids sing at Nana's church

If you want to watch the kids singing at Nana's church, scroll way down to the far right and and pause my Music Player.  Carter played his guitar (that boy is the next Chris Tomlin!!).  My nieces, Abby, and Dillon did such a precious and wondeful job.  Oh my heart was bursting!  I think Nana, PaPa, and Grandma will be beaming with pride for a while ;)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My favorite holiday

Go to fullsize image   Easter is my favorite holiday.  Know why?  Cause without Easter, there'd be no Christmas.  Yep, that sounds backwards doesn't it?  Without the resurrection--who cares if Jesus was born in the first place.  His victory over death, his resurrection is where we get  our salvation, our meaning, our life, our power, our all in all.  Jesus' crucifixion, burial, and resurrection separate him from historical prophets and whomever people glorify as a deity.  Jesus stepped down and made a way.  David Platt has a great description.  He says all other religions of the world are men trying to climb to god.  Christianity is God, making a way to come down to men and draw them to Himself.  The simple gospel is just that:  Jesus paid it all and made a way for us.  Beautiful.  In my head I'm hearing the wonderful song by Hillsongs "At the Cross." 

We will be visiting with family this weekend.  I don't mind working on Christmas and Thanksgiving, for I get paid time and a half!  But, don't jack with my Easter weekend--sacred.  Appropriately, the hospital called at 3am last night needing help.  Sorry!

This afternoon we go to the country.  The kids hunt treats(Nana has gotten creative and instead of candy, she hides Gatorade bottles, eggs with quarters, fruit rollups and such).  Aunt Beverly's Easter gift to us bought the little boys matching pastel Polo shirts.  Carter has a nice new shirt and Abby a cute legging outfit.  We are sad that we will miss Easter at our church, but Carter is playing his guitar with the kids singing at Nana's church Sunday.  They will be doing  "He Loves Us" and "Mighty to Save."  Don't worry, I will video it and proudly post here in a few days.  Then we will feast with my parents, my sisters, their children, my 95yr old grandparents, and a few others(there are always extras--generally not related, just someone who needed a place for Easter Sunday) at my parent's home.  Sweet times.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

not wimpy

I'm sure many of you chuckled at me referring to our A/C going out as an emergency.  Well, we are not wimps.  This is Texas, after all.  Tuesday afternoon it was 96 degrees, in April, for Pete's Sake!!  Thankfully, our neighborhood has a small pool.  Here are the little boys having fun. 

The rather hefty bill just came--not fun,in fact, I may vomit!
Ah well, how can I be too angry and upset over money?  My sister Melody just picked up my neice Aspen.  I kept her all morning while Melody visited with a mom who is stuck in the hospital for 6 to 9 months with her 7months old baby.  The baby has an extremely rare form of infant leukemia.  They need a miracle BADLY!  If her bone marrow biopsy next week shows cancer cells, there isn't much else that can be done for the baby.  Please pray for baby Avery to be healed.  Kinda puts things into a new perspective doesn't it?

Be on the look out for postings about my new book.  I'm super duper pumped about it.  Two of my sisters can't stop talking about it.  Shame Off You by Alan Wright.  If it weren't for my silly mumbo-jumbo Art Appreciation homework I would have devoured the book by now.

Monday, April 18, 2011

parenting faux pas and a few random thoughts

We won't be winning a parenting of the year award any time soon.  May I just say that having a child with some special needs that include social awkwardness is always entertaining.  A sweet young couple at church asked Mike and I to mentor them(we've never mentored before and Lord knows we have no clue what we are doing--nobody mentored us, we just have stumbled along).  They have been married 8 months. Saturday night was our first get together.  We had them over to our home for dinner.  Dillon was in rare form.  During dinner he called out "Someone toot."  Basically, nobody was paying attention to him and this was how he got attention.  When we ignored him, he said it again.  Mike happened to be the one sitting next to him at the table.  Mike wasn't exactly thrilled with this behavior.

Then, yesterday, Dillon and Hudson were arguing(they vacillate between best buddies to enemies in a span of 30 seconds).  Mike heard Dillon call Hudson a whiney-butt.  Uh Oh, busted!  Where did he hear that?  You got it, ME!  I cannot tolerate whiney children and it would seem that I have occasionally let that term slip.  Sorry.  If you held us up as a model example of good Christian parenting, you had better find a new example.

Now, to a new subject.  I never posted a pic of the 4th grade Austin/San Antonio trip that Abby and I went on.  Below is a precious picture of Abby, her long time friend Catherine, and their sweet teacher.  They adore her.  Abby wants to be a teacher! 

Random stuff:
Yesterday at church we sang With Everything by Hillsongs.  Holy COW, it was so incredible I thought I was in Heaven, standing before Jesus.  Totally goose bumpy!!  It is so awesome to walk out of church and Mike says "What do we say everyweek?  I love our church!"

Today I start a new class:  Art Appreciation :(  Not sure what that has to do with furthering my Nursing education, but hey, I get to visit an art museum as part of it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Do short term mission trips help or hurt? Part 2

Been pondering the past few days about this subject.  I sure appreciate the words of Julie and Sunny.  Basically, I think we can learn very useful tips from this book and line of thought.  Tips to make our endeavors more meaningful to the people we are attempting to reach, and, to help us too. 
1.  The authors make a very good point about the differences in cultures.  Americans tend to think in chunks of time--time must be spent wisely doing tasks.  The majority of empoverished people groups have a more community mindset.  Time spent with people is more important than accomplishing a task.  So, we must be careful to show the people we enjoy them as people--not as a check off task to accomplish as many tasks during 1 or 2 weeks as possible.  My brother-in-law heard of a church in Mexico that tore down their building each year and would have churches come in to build and paint.  The Americans wanted to build, not BE with the people.  It was a good pat on the back to fly home and tell people they'd spent a week sweating and building for this poor church.
2.  Make a long-term investment instead of blowing through like a 3-ring circus and never showing up again.
3.  Call your trips a "learning  or vision trip" instead of Mission trip.  We often have the mindset of "let's go rescue and save".  This is insulting to the people.
4.  Come alongside organizations that are already established and doing an effective, long-term ministry.
5.  Make the person traveling overseas work hard to pay for a part, if not all, of his/her trip.  Handing someone a trip that costs him/her little will not be as meaningful.
6.  From my own personal experiences, the best part is seeing how big the world is and how big God is!  There is nothing like being in a different land and hearing people sing hymns in their language.  God is active and working, doing amazing miracles, all over the world.

So, WHY go?
I have one little response to share.  I follow the blog of a mom who is the most passionate lover of the fatherless that I've ever seen.  Linny is in Uganda right now.  She posted yesterday about falling in love with a skeletal, sick 7months old baby girl in the orphanage they were working in.  Linny spent hours praying and holding that baby who should have been a treasured member of a family. The baby mommy or daddy to rock and love her.....
you can read about her here  BABY   It is known that 26,000 children die daily from effects of poverty:  malnutrition and diarrhea from unclean water.  While I type this post, 270 children died in the world.
Isaiah 58: 6-9 says
     Is not this the kind of fasting(speaking of the Isrealites empty religious rituals) I have chosen:  to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 
     Is it  not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-
     when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Psalm 82:3-4 says
     Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless;  maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed,
     Rescue the weak and the needy;  deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

I don't see any qualifier in those verses that exempt us from doing something.  Sure, we need  to be smart and evaluate what will be a worthy trip--not wasteful or insulting, but we must care and go.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Do short term mission trips help or hurt? Part 1

It seems that is a big question being debated right now.  I just finished reading When Helping Hurts:  How to eliminate poverty without hurting the poor...and yourself.  It was a very thought provoking book.  I'd highly recommend it for anyone involved in serving the poor, in ministry, or active in short term missions.  The book addresses how often times the people going to work with the poor in the world leave more damage than good.  A great example was given by an African pastor after an American missions team had just left.  He likened hosting American mission teams to a fun dance between an elephant and a mouse.  The mouse ends up squashed to death by the big elephant, but the elephant doesn't even realize he squashed the mouse.  He didn't mean to, he was just large and exuberant.  I can see several personal experiences of mine that illustrate this.  In Haiti, the ladies at the orphanage cooked nice meals for us, while the children ate gruel.  Of course, we paid for it, but I felt like they were servants--when it was WE who were there to serve them, supposedly.
When I was in Nicarauga with a missions pastor whom I greatly respect, he talked to us about how much damage some teams do when they come.  The fly in, shower the street children with candy, make crafts, leave clothes and food, and then in a week are gone.  The local ministries, who are often quite poor themselves, have no arsenal like candy, crafts, sports equipment, clothes and food.  Pretty soon, the locals are depending upon other teams to come bring gifts. 

Or, consider economic travesties.  My first international mission trip was to a very poor city in Mexico.  I was a 19yr old college student.  About 40 or so students traveled to paint and roof a tiny church that was under construction.  Would it not have made more logical sense to take the money each student spent on travelling, and then hire unemployed local men to do the construction.  A job would do those men and their families wonders.  Instead, we all flew in, worked in mass for 4 days, flew out.  If the average mission trip member spends 2000.00 on a 1 or 2 week trip, and the average team has 10 people--that is 20,000!  How much more beneficial to give 20,000 to an established, committed ministry that is already working long-term in the poverty-stricken area?

The pros?  I honestly think the pros are for us.  I'm very very pro international mission trip experience.  I'm convinced that stupid things like newer cars, huge savings, huge piles of clothing, expensive vacations every year, and such would not hold the tight grip on many people's hearts and dollars if they experienced true poverty first-hand.  How enriching and eye-opening to serve orphaned children with no shoes and no clean water.  What an enormous blessing to see how God can use ME to meet someone's needs.  Rick Warren says "Being unable to help thousands of hurting people never excuses me from helping the one next to me."

Of course, Jesus clearly said GO.  He didn't say to serve and love the poor only if it will really benefit the economic situation.  Like me dear e-friend Sunny, after her trip to Nicarauga said "I get it now."  Profound isn't Sunny?

Pastor Rick Warren tweeted:  God commands us to "Go to every nation and make disciples". What part of GO do you not understand?

I'm truly interested in hearing what you guys think?  Leave a comment or email me.  This is Part 1 and next I'd like to hit on positive suggestions the book offers.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

First test as debt free

We made it one week--ONE--week after paying off all debt(except mortgage).  Our air conditioner is out.   Can't be fixed til Monday.  It is currently 84 degrees in my house at 9pm.

 My attempt to keep positive and grateful to God for blessing my life is growing thinner by the hot minute.  Yes, we have the money in emergency savings(and I'd say living in Texas without A/C constitutes an emergency!), but dang, this flat out stinks.  Grateful?  Hmm, I'm not being dramatic or exaggerating, but with my family, I'm grateful it isn't a new ER bill :)

Anybody have a similar experience to make me chuckle and commiserate??

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The "Undrama" Queen

People keep asking me "So, is Abby having fun on the trip?"  My answer--I think so.  This is Abby:  even, steady, predictable, calm, logical, quiet.  She isn't the girl that jumps and squeals when happy and dissolves into tears when sad.  Abby is no drama queen, thank you Jesus!!! 

We are having fun.  We've seen a lot of Texas history and looked in many gift shops ;)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A little trip with the girlie tomorrow

Abby and I leave early in the morning for our school's 4th grade Austin/San Antonio trip.  They've been studying Texas history for several months and this is the big 3 day trip to see all the sights.  Oh, sure, we've seen it before, but this is a really fun and special trip.  I went with Carter and now he is a freshman in highschool--sniff sniff!!  Sweet memories.  After all my travels in the past 17yrs, I pack really light.  I'm only taking essentials:  2 changes of clothes, iPod, laptop, iPhone, Kindle(my Bible and books are on it), camera, and chargers for all necessities!!  Ridiculous huh?  I can't survive without them for 3 days!  UGH.

School you ask???  Ahhhh,  I totally ramped it up to pull a 90 in Technical Writing(the bane of my existence for 5 weeks).  Yes sirree, my online team project made the most beautiful and detailed brochure on how to make jello you've ever seen.

And now, this is a blog for family, orphan care and adoption advocation and education, and ministry focus.  I know you are going to think I'm a bit nutty here, but below is a link to a sermon by Pastor Morris of Gateway Church, where 2 of my sisters go, taught a few weeks ago about Joseph and his overcoming sexual temptation, called The Purity Test.  Really, I think this is the best teaching on a Biblical view of sex I've ever heard. Everyone ages 12 and up, even old married couples need this teaching. I made Carter watch it yesterday and he agreed, it is very important and informative--makes it all clear and shows how the Bible really really does know what it is talking about ;)  Click on The Purity Test from March 26th.
Sermon Center Gateway Church

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I like boys too!

I copied this from  I'd like to think my sweet boys helped bridge the disparity between girls finding homes much faster than boys.

gender"An interesting fact to share today. In 2005, boys made up only 34% of all international adoptions. As of 2010, their numbers had increased to 44% of all international adoptions. Adoption advocates believe this shift is directly related to families sharing their adoption stories on the internet and in their daily lives."   
Above quote and table taken from