Thursday, September 29, 2011

10 Things I Like Today

That's Treav in the middle!  Thanks to Facebook, I have this picture.

1. A dry home.  Treav and Nick are out right now, with a group mixed with foreigners and Thais, to bring food aid and prayer to flood victims in our city.  The rain has inundated the North of Thailand and the river flooded over, bringing some areas to be waist-deep in water.  We are living a little outside of the city, and haven't had flooding here.  But, the next week is forcasted to have heavy rain, including a Typhoon that should land here on Saturday.  I was brought to tears tonight talking and praying with my children as we discussed that many of the poor here have lost everything.  The flooding is not over.  The work has just begun.

2. Treavor!  He and Nick are out in cold, waist-deep the middle of the night, handing out food and prayers.  I have said it before and will say it again - he is my hero!

3.  The Internet.  News updates, YouTube videos and reading our friends' Facebook messages about the flood while waiting for Treavor to come home tonight is very comforting.  Since I haven't talked with him since before he went out this afternoon - any news is good right now.

4.  My children.  They're safe, tucked in bed, and healthy.  Can't beat that.

Flowers from Grandma Cool's tree in jar of Skippy she gave me.  Who knew Thai Grandmas liked peanut butter?

5.  My neighbors.  We had some prayers answered this week - FRIENDS!  We've been praying for new relationships in our neighborhood and city, and we're beginning to see some breakthrough.  Today, as I looked at the bouquet of flowers on my table from our new friend, Grandma Cool (that's what her name translates as!)...I was thankful for sweet new friends.

6.  Hidden Treasures.  Can you figure out what's hidden in my fruit basket?  Feel free to leave your guesses in the Comment section below.  The winner gets my second child.  I think he put it there.  What a goof-ball.

7.  Very Welcome Phone Calls.  In the middle of writing this post, I got a call from a friend whose husband was out with Treav and Nick.  They're done!  The men are cold and wet, and still have to trek back to their truck, but they're coming home for the night.  Happy.

8.  Jesus.  He is worth both living and dying for.  Funny how those two things often go together.  His is a wild, upside-down Kingdom and I love it!

9.  Coffee in the morning.  I'm already looking forward to it.  Hazelnut syrup calling my name.

10.  You.  I like YOU today!  Thanks for stopping by to read and wanting to, even in a small way, be a part of what we're doing over here.  "You're the beeest"... (Name that movie!)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Girls' Night, Gas and The Gospel

"You free tonight?"

I got a call from Stephanie, aka: Best Friend, last night.  Her hubbie offered to watch their kids if my hubbie was free to watch my kids so that Steph, who has four kids and I, who have three kids, could go somewhere fun without...our kids.  Get it?

"Of course I'm free!"

So, dinner time rolls around and I roll over to pick up Steph.  We finally decide on Mexican Food, which, by the way, is a very new option since we moved to our very New City.  I know Jesus is probably for us stuffing our faces with enchiladas and re-fried beans, all for the Gospel.  We suffer.  I know this.

After cleaning our plates of any traces of taco sauce and r.e.a.l. cheese, our plan was to head over to a walking market that is open only on Sundays.  And, oh my, what a walking market it was!  I am glad my pockets were lighter that evening, or I would have taken the whole place home with me!  I'll take you there if you ever come to visit us.  ;)

As we approached the market area, we scanned around for places to park close.  To no avail.  I, the Genius, decided to turn down a side street in order to find an empty spot for our twenty-year old Toyota.  Still not finding one and getting quite turned around, we attempt to make it back to the main road to try again.  

Suddenly, sputtering...noises...and a loss of motion.

No big deal!  Sometimes our LPG runs out and I have to switch to gasoline.  I pressed the magic button and was met with more sputtering.  Uh-oh.  Maybe the wires to the battery had build-up again?  Nothing a little Coke can't fix!

"Well, praise God!"

The little one-lane lane we turned into was starting to get backed up with cars coming from the opposite direction, so some wonderfully gracious Thai men got out of their cars or off of their motorbikes to push my car into a vacant lot.  It was dark.  Where were we, anyway?  

After our helpers sped away, we were left in the vacant lot and both brainstorming as to what to do, what the matter was with the car, and how two little wives were going to remedy this problem on our own without our husbands to swoop in.  Yikes.

Good thing we have a Husband who never leaves us and who always knows what to do!  He's is the best!

"For your Maker is your husband--the LORD Almighty is his name--the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth."  Isaiah 54:5

Stephanie noticed that there were two people sitting outside on the porch of their shack dwelling on the vacant lot.  She apologized for the intrusion on their land and explained what was going on.  They came over to investigate and the man lifted the hood to check out the situation.  Bless his heart, it seemed like he wasn't handy with cars, but before we knew it, he and his girlfriend were on their motorbike, leaving with the promise of coming back with gasoline.  

We thought that since we were in the middle of the city that the gas was running a' plenty.  20 minutes later, no sign of them.  They were so sweet and sincere about helping us, that we knew they weren't bailing - but we started to feel so bad for barging in on their quiet night.  We called our mechanically-inclined friends to ask for advice on the car situation.  I was certain it was the battery.  The Genius (me), again,  makes the wrong call!  

I try to start the engine again, with my cell phone close by, and my friend's Dad who was on the other end of the phone, wisely and graciously diagnoses the problem, "It sounds like a fuel problem!"  

"It sounds like a fuel problem!"  =  "You sweet little, naive woman...fill up 'yer gas tank before you go out for a night on the town!"  

So, the two Thais come back almost a half an hour later with a can of gas (not a proper one with a nozzle, mind you).  The man starts to look around for a way to get it into the car, and Steph hands him a water bottle.  Maybe that will work?  He grabs a machete from his house and comes back to lop off the end with it and we stick it into the gas tank.  Classic.  Well, the safety closure inside wouldn't open properly, so he and his girlfriend spend the next 10-15 minutes rigging up a makeshift spout for the gas.  A rubber garden hose about 10 inches long gets connected to a broken PVC pipe, which gets pushed into the mouth of our plastic bottle.  And, all of it was sealed up with good 'ole Scotch tape.  I am cracking up at this point, and in awe at the lengths they are going to help us out of our predicament.  

Eventually, with much spilling and gasoline drenched-hands, the gas gets into the car.  We start it up.  There is rejoicing!

Because the thankfulness and humility over our situation, and because of how they gave up their night to help out two clue-less white could we NOT share with them about Jesus?

After reimbursing them for all of their trouble, Steph and I insisted that we pray a blessing over them and acknowledge how God used our trial to create a divine appointment with these two.  God is after people! 

Steph clearly shared the story of Jesus and I prayed for God to bless them wildly and to reveal his plan for their lives.  We gave them some tracts and noted to them that in them was the Story that changed our lives forever - so that they should read it carefully and take it to heart.  At this point, I am bursting with joy!  There is nothing better than passing along an invitation to encounter the Living God!

Steph and my plans' for fellowship and fun was grand, but God's plans were grander.  

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9

Though, next time we go out, I am swinging by the gas station first. 

Just sayin'.

No cap and gown...just a pizza party!

Run, 1 year old

Not so long ago, my firstborn was my little baby.  He was my sidekick, my comedian, my crazy munchkin who I delighted in. 

Run, climbing with his buddy, Sam
Now, he is most definately not a baby anymore.  All of his cuteness factor has dissappeared with the baby fat.  He is 100% boy and 110% pure energy who is trying to keep up with his growing, lanky body that is never lacking in bruises, scrapes and scars.  The only thing that runs harder than his body is his mouth.  Oh boy, that kid can talk.  I wonder where he gets it from? 

Last Sunday, he finished his last homeschooling assignment for Kindergarten, and celebrated with the S-clan on Tuesday night with, what else?  A pizza party!

With the Sing the Word CD in the background and all his pictures of the past year of school playing on the computer slideshow, the kids hung out, played, and read from the stacks and stacks of books Run completed this year.
My ultra-geeky display of all the books we studied this year, his world map, and timeline of historical figures.  Steph joked that it looked like a book fair!  Ha!  It was fun to lay it all out and see all that he accomplished this past year.
We made our own timeline, but used some cool stickers that Sonlight produces.
Check out all those modern-day missionaries we studied!

After pizza and playing, we all sat down and encouraged Jeshurun on the things we have seen him improve on this year.  He heard things like, "You can read now!," "You have more self control," and "You have taught me about bugs this year - and now I like bugs!"  

Then, we listened as he recited a poem and a scripture verse he memorized this year.  I was a proud Momma!

Lastly, we prayed for him to be blessed in the coming year.  When we were finished, we gave him his certificate of completion!  I "framed" it with green construction paper and left it blank for him to decorate with some of his stickers. 

Run and Moi
Run's certificate!  (And yes, I blocked our last name on purpose.  Wouldn't want our biggest fans to track us down! ) ;)

There's nothing like Optimus Prime and Lightning McQueen.  They both seem to say, "You're awesome!"

Way to go, Run!  Kindergarten was fun and I'm sure 1st grade is gonna be a blast!  

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fun Floor Fridays

Friday is here, and it seemed like the last one was just yesterday!  Typically, Fridays are a day to leave work early and go have ice cream or something.  Friday is normally Date Night or The Start of Vacation or something wonderful like that.  And because I am, in my flesh, quite slothful inattentive when it comes to housework...Fridays equals Floor Day for me. 

While I would love to be the "faithful in little" sort of gal...having the massive job of cleaning the floors in my house in one afternoon sounds do-able.  And, because housework is something I would never, EVER describe as "fun," I have deemed it such in an attempt to apply reverse psychology.  Almost two months into our new home, it has not failed far!

When the kids go down for their naps, I set to the task of sweeping and moving furniture, throwing away tissues that have slipped under beds and putting up dirty clothes and toys that never seem to have a home!  With the kids all tucked away in their beds, I almost feel like I'm getting "me time" - even while I'm working!  It's the little things...

After the dirt is swept and the rugs beaten outside (why, oh why did we have to buy those floor rugs for our bedroom?), I fill up the mop bucket and get to work.  Thais love a squeaky clean floor, so I have to be diligent.  Oh, and my husband likes it, too!  I have to take that into account. 

Two hours later, and as the kids are waking and/or tired of the books they've been pouring over during "rest" time, the house smells like lavender (even if it is a chemical lavender scent!) and I finally feel like we can enjoy the weekend. 

Fridays are Fun Floor Days here.  One day they may turn into Forget-The-Fun-Floor-Friday-Idea day...but for now, it is my "eat your veggies first" approach to being a good homemaker. 

Goodbye for now...I'm off to make the floors shine!

How do you make housework "fun"?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Last Weekend In Pictures

Kyla learned to crawl out of her walker - my life is over.  It was my safety net and sanity at times.  Help me, Jesus.  I now have a full-fledged toddler.

Treavor brought these home to me one day for no particular reason.  Hero.

We went on a photo scavenger hunt at the S-clan's casa.  Steph started teaching the kids about basic shapes in drawing.  So much cooler than a worksheet!  Go Steph! (btw: that's her's in the background, kiddo #2)

Lines, lines, lines.

We even got Sammy's cool Ben 10 bike in the hunt - curved lines, anyone?

Getting home from "Fun School Saturday" - we show up and Treavor has surprised the kids with pets!  Not furry ones, thank the good Lord.  :)

Two Japanese red-eared turtles.

Three "sucker" fish.  They do the trick when we're too lazy to clean the pond.

And 10 of these googly-eyed fish.  2 have died since Saturday.  They were mysteriously laying in the grass.   Did they jump?  Who knows.  May these rest in peace.

Milo...or, is it Shiloh...swimming lazily.

Let's hope these guys make it through the month.  We are notorious for killing our  pets.  God speed, fish!

And...this little nugget started walking!  She has taken steps before, but hadn't caught on to walking till  two days ago during a Skype call with Meemaw.  Way to go, Kyla!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thailand Fun Facts: Rice!

the fields in our neighborhood.  that ain't corn, by the way.

I was thinking yesterday about starting a new series of posts with fun facts about Thailand.  It will be a learning experience for all of us, as I do not know everything there is to know about Thailand, right?!  I will do one once per week, but not on any particular day.  I am, one would say, busy.  Enough said.

This week, as I passed the rice fields in our area of the New City, I began to wonder about the farmers, their labor, the food I eat everyday and the affect this crop has on the country.  Thus, a post was birthed!  Enjoy learning a little more about the country we, for now, call "home."

Fun Facts About: Rice!

- Thailand is one of the world's biggest rice producers, with paddy output of more than 25 million tons.

- Thailand is also the world's biggest rice exporter.  It is called the "rice bowl of the world!" Its main export markets are Indonesia, Nigeria, Iran, the United States and Singapore.

Rice has the following nutritional benefits: Low fat, low salt, no cholesterol, low sugar, and no gluten.  Not as seductive as a cinnamon roll, but much better for you.

- 50% of the country's cultivated land is devoted to planting rice

- Rice fields comprise about 35,210 square miles of Thailand, which amounts to almost 18% of the total land area.  That's a lot of fields!

- Rice is the staple food for over HALF of the world's population.

The most produced strain of rice in Thailand is jasmine rice, a long-grain variety of rice that has a nutty aroma and a subtle pandan-like flavor.  

 - Rice is good, you should try some.  Like, today.  Here's a recipe for Thai Coconut Rice if you're hungry!


Bored?  Want to test your vocab skills and donate free rice when you get right answers?  Click here.

How do you enjoy rice in your area of the world?  Feel free to share in the comments below.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Beginning Math, With Reluctance

Math is not my strongest subject.  God paired me with a math-smart husband, though, so I guess there is hope for my home-schooled children!  

Jeshurun is finishing up Kindergarten this Friday, and I am ecstatic!  Ecstatic, and in denial at the same time.  Our third year of teaching him at home is coming to an end, but because it is the kindergarten year, it feels more official and...coming!  

As we wrap up geography, Bible, history, reading, social studies and our underwater basket-weaving course (what?), I mean, Sling-Shots 101 (that's more like it)...I am finally coming to peace with the fact that I have to actually start teaching math.  Help me, Jesus.  

We've been doing "easy" math on our own - learning to count to 100, count downs (mainly in these forms, "Let's see if you can make your bed in 20 seconds!" or "Can you flush the toilet, turn off the light and race me to the door in 15 seconds?"  I'm sneaky).  We've been writing our numbers, separating colors and groups of things, blah, blah, blah.  But, as first grade rolls around here soon, we'll be doing workbooks and manipulatives and more formal (ie: loathe-worthy) math study.  Pray for me.

My awesome friend, Steph, just lent me these books/CDs:

I popped them in the CD player on the way home, opened up the workbook and handed it to Jeshurun.  He was glued.  For 20 minutes.  He even wanted me to play the rest when we got home!  The next day, I let him listen to the other CD while I procrastinated worked on the internet.  He was glued again and was asking for more!  Thank you, Steph.  

But, I do have to say, these songs (which are really just math facts sung over and over again - put to music) are slightly...annoying.  But, what is a mother's sanity worth these days?  Especially when a CD is luring my son into the world of math facts, and I don't have to!  I even found myself humming the tunes yesterday and today, and quickly tried to rid my brain of the repetitive songs!  

You know what they say...

And they were right!  Click here to check 'em out!

But, thanks to a little auditory torture, Run and Huy actually had FUN reviewing what they learned.  And, that's really all that matters.  I want them to have a running chance at this whole math thing.  Check out these smiles!

Huy is such an Asian.  Check out those hands!

And then, of course...being boys, they had to end their study session with some good ole fort building!  What good are flashcards if you can't use them for stuff like this?

Happy last week of Kindergarten!  

How do/did you make math fun (or, at least, tolerable)?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Influence of Boys

Yesterday morning, before school, this was the scene that I walked in on after coming out of the kitchen: my two boys, making a disciple of their sister in the fine art of remote control race car driving.

Huy gave Kyla the remote control to his toddler-friendly race car and let her go!  This controller only has two huge buttons to push down, not levers.  And, it is apparently indestructible!  

Way to go, Kyla!  You've figured it out!

I don't know, Mom, aren't these for boys?

When it didn't work right, she tries to fix it, just like somebody else I know...these two almost could be in the same family.  

I think I've fixed it now...let's race again!

Come on...come right to me...

We're so proud of you, Kyla!  (Except for maybe Jeshurun, who looks a little concerned that maybe his special toys might get a little more attention from her than he'd like.)

No tea parties at our house, yet.  Just Kung Fu, bugs, and race cars. 

And for now, that's just the way we like it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Quiet Moments/Listen to Shaun Groves' new album

I am thankful for today.

I am thankful when I am sick.  I am so quickly turned back to reliance on Jesus!  When you are weary and needing extra grace, it is no longer easy to try and do it on your own anymore.  Thank you, God, for not expecting me to do it all myself!

Last night, I was awake off and on, feeling really sick.  Extra tired and feeling so ill, I didn't even bother to try and wake before the kids today.  Normally, when I am just lazy and don't wake up...the rest of the day is chaotic.  For me, and so many others, I have found that if I do not begin each day with time alone with Jesus, my day is almost permanently off-kilter.  God is full of grace and doesn't condemn me when I choose other things over Him, but the fruit of that kind of day reveals my upside-down priorities.  He is a good teacher!

Today, I felt His grace.  Even while feeling under the weather, my day wasn't doomed to be chaotic.  God extended grace today for me through quiet moments: our home school was finished before anyone was hungry enough for lunch - so the kids busied themselves with play while I sat and watched them.  Later on, stirring pots and cleaning up the kitchen gave me a precious few minutes to be alone to ask God for healing and stamina.  (I didn't need a prayer closet today to connect with the Father, just a desperate heart!)  Then, this afternoon, I had the *privilege* of being able to walk outside during a cool thunderstorm, to hang up my laundry under the carport.

Six years ago, these moments would have been slightly bothersome and felt like work.  Instead, I have begun to realize that they are God-given "breaks."  Not breaks from doing things, and definitely not like a break to watch a movie or sit at a Starbucks.  But, even though I am still running through the motions of being a housewife, on the inside, I am singing, or praying, or pleading, or laughing, or persevering in conversation with the God of the Universe.  These are seemingly ordinary times, but if I fix my eyes just right, are actually holy moments.  I cannot let them pass me by without praising God for them.

Thank you, God, for grace today!  You are so good!

Speaking of Grace...check out this new music by Shaun Groves.  The first song can be found for free download at Third World Symphony .

Third World Symphony by shaungroves

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Funny kids

I was looking through pics of our kiddos with their best friends from the S-clan.  Our group's policy is, smile pretty and then you get to do a silly picture.  These guys are so cute and funny that they just make me smile.  It is fun to live life overseas with buddies who love you to pieces!  We thank God everyday for these guys.

"God sets the lonely in families..." Psalm 68:6

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