Monday, December 17, 2012

Giveaway Winner For What's On My Bookshelf - Parenting Books

WE HAVE A WINNER for this month's book giveaway!

I posted a few weeks ago about what's on my parenting can read that post by clicking here...and I asked my readers to comment with the titles they wanted to read and any other books that I didn't mention.  The response was encouraging!  Thank you, all of you who read and all that entered the giveaway!  I hope to have more like it in the keep coming back to check for them! 

I counted up all the entries and entered my number in the random number generator and discovered that Katie was our winner for this giveaway!  Read her winning comment below:


Katie Friesen
I've read 'Raising Godly Tomatoes' by Elizabeth Krueger (it's cheapest on her website... http://www.raisinggodlytomatoe... ) and appreciate her approach to discipline, especially when it comes to the littlest ones and their new-found independence. Her advice in the book has helped make transitions through the "terrible two's" not so terrible and she's given Godly advice in other areas of training children (how to sit quietly in church, etc).
You mentioned Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp. He also does a audio series along with Todd Friel ( called Drive By Parenting. It's fabulous. They are 31 lectures, each lecture being around 15 mins, giving a good overview of various topics, answered Biblically. Our family has really benefited from them. I go back to these audio clips over and over again.
'Creative Family Times: Practical Activities for Building Character' by Allen Hadidian and Will Wilson. Some things they suggest borderline "cheesy" :) but 90% of what's in there has been very useful! One thing I really like is how they instill a verse of scripture to go along with every life choice "Wisdom" has a verse, "Obeying your parents" has a verse, etc, so children are taught to think of Scripture when they encounter daily choices.
And while this isn't a parenting book (as in helping train your child) I have really appreciated "Shopping for Time" by Carolyn Mahaney, Nicole Whitacre, Kristin Chesemore, and Janelle Bradshaw. Instead of it being a book about child-training, it's more about mom-training...and I've seen what I've learned and are now modeling to be influencing my boys too.


Congratulations, Katie!  Email me your mailing address or email address (if you choose your book to be in e-book form) so I can send your book right away!  Oh yeah, what book did you mention you wanted to read?  In your other comment, you listed A Love That Multiplies by Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar.

Happy reading!

And, thanks again to all of you who stop by here to read and connect a bit with our sometimes wild, sometimes ordinary life here in the wild of Thailand!

Love, Alina

Monday, December 3, 2012

Giveaway!: What's On My Bookshelf - Parenting Books


This is a giveaway post!  Details are listed at the bottom!  Happy reading!
My new friend, K, asked me a few weeks ago about the parenting books that I have read and would recommend.  I started to list out a few when another friend, Wendy, who was sitting nearby, said that I should just post it here at the blog.  Genius.  As a mom with three kids (who hasn't run away to live in the wilderness by herself and refer to herself in the third person like a madwoman...oops...just did that), I have had this question asked of me more than a few times.  I love to read, and although I don't do everything that I have read about, parenting books really help to guide my methods and attitude about being a mom who doesn't just survive, but thrive.  Not sure yet if I am quite in the "thriving" stage, but we can always hope for that.  I have been influenced by all the books I'm about to list out, and writing a thorough book review about each one would take hours I don't if you have any more questions about a particular title, comment below or email me at and perhaps I can remember why I liked it so much! 

On the bookshelf in the picture above (left to right):

The Holy Bible - I can't go on without listing this first.  I simply would be sunk as a mom without the Bible.  If you have no spare change and no friends who can lend you their own parenting books, at least please pour over the Scriptures and see what God Himself has to say about how to be a great parent and how to raise your kids in the ways He sees as best.  I guarantee you will not be led astray.  Seems to be without saying, but for some of us, we can skip over the Bible and get onto the books with lists like: "10 Ways To Not Screw Up Your Child" and such.  Those don't hold a candle to the Bible.  Grab a good concordance and search for words like "mother, father, child, train, discipline, raise, love."  That's a good place to start.  And, if you hate the concordance, then just read through Proverbs (one chapter a day for a month is a great plan) and write down/highlight everything that has to do with parenting.  There's a LOT!

The American Academy of Pediatrics: Caring for your baby and young child, Birth to age 5 - This is a great resource that I have poured over three times now and that I refer to especially in the first two years of my kids' lives.  I disagree with a lot of their later year parenting theories/techniques (IE: their issues with discipline), but this is a great book to have when the Internet isn't working and you need some answers fast! 

Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas - I love his Sacred Marriage book, too!

No Greater Joy (Volumes 1-3) by Michael and Debi Pearl - Some people love 'em, some people don't, but the Pearls have led their five children well by my observations!  Of course, we're not BFF's, but I base my opinion off of their children's own testimonies!  I love how these three books get practical and real in their letter/answer format.  There's an article for just about every situation.  Give the Pearls a chance and read these books!

A Survivor's Guide to Homeschooling by Luanne Shackelford & Susan White - I realize this isn't simply about parenting, but it is a great mix of that and how to balance homeschooling in the midst of parenting!  I got this book for free this summer and would have paid double the retail price for it.  I loved it!  (It was printed over twenty years ago, so the sections on curriculum are quite outdated, FYI).

Created for Work: Practical Insights for Young Men by Bob Shultz - I actually haven't read this one yet!  But, I ordered it a few months ago because the title intrigued me so much.  With two boys who struggle sometimes with a motivation to work, I am excited to learn from this book!

Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic - This is a hilarious, Christian parenting book written by a mom with 5 kids 5 yrs. and under.  Enough said.

The Joy of Training DVD by Michael and Debi Pearl - OK, this isn't a book, but I think it is incredibly helpful resource from the Pearls.  It brings their other book, To Train Up A Child, to life in a way that's easier to understand and adds a warmth to their message.  I highly recommend it!

E-books on my Kindle:

A Love That Multiplies: An Up-Close View of How They Make It Work by Michelle Duggar and Jim Bob Duggar - I love this book so much!  Whether or not you approve of how (wonderfully!) large the Duggar family is, if you have ever seen their show on TLC or read their books, you can observe that they really know how to parent well.  Their kids not only behave well, but seem to sincerely love Jesus as they grow up.  It is beautiful to see and read about their journey. 

The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child's Heart For Eternity by Sally Clarkson - I am currently reading this book and am excited to read more, as this book comes highly recommended from several different friends and sources. 

Training Children to Be Strong In Spirit by Michael Pearl - This is the newest parenting book from No Greater Joy and I loved it.  The foundation is very biblical and he pulls from tons of real-life stories from training his own kids to not only be self-controlled (which is not our chief aim!), but to be strong in their spiritual relationship with the Lord.

Books are currently being lent out:

Don't Make Me Count to Three! by Ginger Plowman - This one isn't on my bookshelf because it is currently being lent out, but it is one of my TOP favorite parenting books!  It has been called the practical (unofficial) sequel to Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp.  If you liked that book, then this one is a great and necessary next-read.  Also, right now it is only $1.99 on Amazon (the Kindle version - which also can be read on a mobile-device, tablet, or even just your computer!).  Skip your next to-go coffee and buy this book instead! 

To Train Up A Child by Michael and Debi Pearl - This one is a little controversial because some of the issues they discuss is very polarizing; spanking, discipline, homeschooling vs. public school, television, etc. But, I still love this book and I think it has been very foundational in the way we train our kids...and I just tend to pass over the things I personally disagree with or aren't quite sure of.  This could be a great approach to every parenting book you read...except the Bible, of course!

Books I have borrowed:

Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp - This one should be on your must-buy/borrow/check out from the library book list.  It also, ironically, is only $1.99 on Amazon for the Kindle edition.  I laughed out loud when I saw that!  Two of my fave books for less than $2 each!  Seriously!  Skip your to-go coffee next week, too!  Buy this instead.

The Duggars: 20 and Counting!: Raising One of America's Largest Families - How They Do It by Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar - This is the Duggar's first book and it covers all the normal questions..."How and why do you train?" "How do keep on top of laundry?" and "Why in the world do you have so many kids?"  It is a great, eye-opening read for those of us who feel overwhelmed because it feels like we have 19 kids, but we actually just have one, or two or five!

Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson - This is a probably already a mainstay for any household with boys.  Dr. Dobson uses some great anecdotes from his experience of raising his own son, and from stories that countless others have shared with him.  He uses several eye-opening stats about boys today that even though they are from 2005, they are still very helpful.

God, The Rod, And Your Child's Bod: The Art of Loving Correction for Christian Parents by Larry Tomczak - (One of the cheesiest titles around, but a great book, nonetheless!  And out of print!) But, you can find it on Amazon for as little as one cent or another used book store if you want to search some more.  I really should try and get some royalties from Amazon or something!  I link to them a lot!  To stay on topic, though, this is one of the very first books that I read on child training and it was very fun and very straightforward and practical.  A great read and a great help!

That's it for my list (or, at least, all the ones my brain could manage to remember!)...but, now, I want to hear about some titles I didn't mention that YOU really have enjoyed.  I wrote this post to be a sort of referencing point for anyone wanting to get a good list of resources to learn from in the journey of parenting.  I have come nowhere close to reading all there is to read, so that's where you come in!  Help me fill in the gaps!

Giveaway Details: Please comment below about one title that you have never read and are interested in reading next, and to qualify for a second entry, please list out some of your favorite parenting books that I didn't mention in my list above.  For a third possible entry, you can subscribe to my blog and then comment after you did it!   On December 16th, I will randomly select a winner from the entries in the comments and will post the results here by the end of that day.

  The winner will receive the book title that you listed in the comments - hopefully just in time for Christmas! 

Make sure to check back to see if you've won, and email me your mailing address (or email address for a Kindle edition of the book) if you are that blessed person!  And, feel free to share this with your friends!  Don't you just love giveaways?  I know your friends will too!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Observations While Running: The Good, The Bad and The Smelly.

The rice fields at the edge of our neighborhood.  I smile every time I pass them...except for that one time when I was being chased by a dog!  True story...

Condemnation warning: I realize that I am writing this post involving exercise just a few days after Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving: i.e...the day we all ceremoniously stuff ourselves silly in the name of all-things-American.  The temptation might be to groan while you read this and look at your growing belly and wonder why you aren't out there walking/playing football/playing dodge ball/running marathons/fill-in-the-blank with something somewhat athletic.  Well, believe me, I would love to pull up a chair and sit with you while you down your third piece of leftover pecan pie (which, BTW...aren't Thanksgiving leftovers the best?  my son ate sweet potato casserole for breakfast this morning - he's so hardcore).  Anyway...I am certainly not in this whole running phase to serve out condemnation or comparison to anyone who reads about my journey.  So, pass the condemnation and bring on the pie, people!  Oh, and...keep reading.

As I run around the neighborhood throughout the week, I am beginning to notice several things that I didn't before.  I am convinced that my senses are being awakened as my body threatens to give out on me as I run.  I think my sense of sight and smell are just trying to hijack my sense of "I'm so tired I could take a nap right here on the asphalt." are a few things I have observe as of late.  I love my neighborhood:

The Good:
* The morning sun peeking through the clouds is simply gorgeous.  I am glad, though, that it has been hiding, because the Thai sun can be quite unforgiving and horribly hot. 
*  I have seen more types of flowers and landscaping ideas as I make my rounds.  I am inspired to make my home and yard more visually inviting to people come pass by or stop for a visit.  Now, if I just had time to do it all...
*  The aroma of all those flowers literally gives me an extra boost of energy.  Magnolia and jasmine blooms are my faves.
*  There is the cutest little 2-year old girl that takes a walk with Grandma every morning.  Thai caregivers sometimes follow their little ones around with a bowl of food because the kid just doesn't want to sit that long for a meal.  Bite.  Run.  Bite.  Play.  Bite.  You get the idea.  I love to always turn the corner and see her trying to evade her Grandma's attempt at feeding her breakfast.  It makes me giggle.
*  Passing the rice fields still makes me feel like I am in another world. 
*  At the very back of our neighborhood, a man always has his roosters out in the street in these portable cages as he cleans out their coop.  This, at first, seemed so funny and foreign to me...but then I remembered the suburban roosters of downtown Waco (where we used to live) and then I remember the ghetto.  Funny how that connection works.  Roosters = ghetto.  You get it, right? 

The Bad:
*  I have been chased by dogs and scared silly numerous times by ones that sneak up on my behind their fence and let out a huge howl or bark.  I am sure my neighbors have laughed at my antics after being startled.  I am pretty easy prey.
*  A few weeks ago, as I was approaching a tree that normally has these huge, long seed pods scattered over the ground, I almost ran over a snake.  As in, with my feet, not my car wheels.  I felt like an expert hurdler as I screamed bloody murder and leaped over the approaching snake that I had thought was just a seed pod in the road.  Last I checked, seed pods don't wriggle on the ground and bite.  Yikes.  I wish I had that on video.   Maybe not.

The Smelly:
*  I know where all the smelly dogs live.  Their poop smell is evident.  If I don't hold my breath in time to miss the smell, at least I have motivation to run past those houses as fast as I can.  Yuk.
*  Since many Thais don't eat the traditionally-sweet food that Americans eat in the mornings, they eat just about the same thing in the mornings that they would all day.  I smell curry, other spicy dishes, meat and rice steaming while on my runs.  Yum.  But, I would take a cinnamon roll over curry any day.  Thus, one of my reasons for exercising!
*  Thai housekeepers, moms and grandmas wake up earrrrly to hand wash or machine wash their clothes in order to hang-dry them in the midday sun.  I can run by and smell who's been diligent to wash clothes that day and who hasn' house would be included in the "hasn't" category.  I'm simply not thinking of laundry yet at 7 o'clock in the morning!

Monday, November 19, 2012


Periodically, I will post on something in the same genre or in a series of posts.  Click on the links below to send you to all the posts related to that series.  Happy Reading!  And, keep checking back just in case I add some more!:


10 Things I Like Today

Jeshurun at about 9 months old
Jeshurun - July 2012
(Tiffany Bonow Photography)

1. My "baby" Jeshurun turned 7 yesterday.  I like him more and more each day.  Of course, I love him, but I really really like him, too.  He is strong, confident, well-spoken, adventurous, inquisitive, loves Jesus, loves his friends, a bug-enthusiast, a tree climber, a wanna-be outdoors man, a new Tae Kwon Do student, an almost 2nd-grader, fun, funny, and he's all mine.  I am thankful for him today!

2. Rain is falling outside right now, and the smell is absolutely wonderful.  I miss the rainy season (it has been quite dry here lately).

3. Leftover rotisserie chicken can be turned into almost anything for a second meal. Well, maybe not apple pie, but you get it!  We just enjoyed it in chicken melts.  Melted cheese is my comforting friend today.  Convince yourselves again; leftovers are cool and hip and earth-friendly and anything else you need it to be. 

4. The hawk moth caterpillar we found this week has started to transform. We noticed him slowing down and turning odd colors a day after we captured it. His chrysalis is exciting and full of promise. About a week from now, we hope to have pictures of the moth that he turns into!  (See some mid-transformation pictures below):

Kyla loves to check out the chrysalis every day!

Before the caterpillar started forming his chrysalis, he created a "net" of leaves over his body to protect him from prying little fingers or predators.

The first day of transformation...if you remember his bright green color before, then you know that this is quite a change!

5. These people (picture below) are still very fresh on my mind.  We had four friends (some old friends, some brand new) come to visit us, encourage us, and steer us on in our work life here.  They gave up a week of their life to breathe life into us - and don't we need it?!  I am thanking God for them today.

I would tell you everyone's names...but then I'd have to kill you.  ;)

6. Just so you know, taking away half of the chocolate chips and replacing them with peanut butter chips in your next batch of cookies will make you smile and ooh and aah.  I know this firsthand.  I have already eaten two cookies today and plan to eat lots more! 

7. Today, I like the fact that I am still in my pajamas and it is 2pm.  Sabbaths are the best.

8. Skyping with family.  Thanks, Meemaw and Mr. Andy for calling us this morning!  We miss you!

9. Thanksgiving is near.  That means feasting is near.  That means I need to keep running so that I can still wear all the clothes in my closet without having to buy a size up!  That will motivate me to keep at it like nothing else. 

10. Although I have said it before, and will probably say it several more times in the future, I like you today!  Yes, you!  Thank YOU for reading and for being more a part of our world here as I share about all the ups and downs and in-betweens. 

What do you like today?  Share in the comments below:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Beautiful Pest: The Hawk Moth Caterpillar

Today, Mrs. P noticed a pest eating the living daylights out of my brand. new. flowers. that hang on my front porch.  I had noticed odd little droppings under my new hanging plant, but thought it was some special fertilizer that was falling (anyone can tell you that I'm no gardening specialist).  Well, I was right that it was fertilizer, but wrong to the sort that it was; it was the evidence that my friend, Mrs. P, noticed to realize there was something amiss.  This beautiful, and fat, caterpillar was taking up residence in my pot and ate about half of it in just a few days.  Talk about The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle coming to life!:

Behold our beautiful new pest - the Oleander Hawk Moth Caterpillar

It almost looks like a happy little puppy playing with a chew toy.  Only, the chew toy happens to be my flowers!

Yes, he really was that fat!

These fake "eyes" scare off predators who are wanting a tasty caterpillar meal.  It makes him look like an alien, don't ya think?

The unaffected plant that mirrors my other hanging basket.  Note how it looks full and healthy.
The basket where we discovered the culprit.  Argh.  I have only had this one for five days.  Seems like it will pull through, though!

After I got over my irritation over how much of my plants he had eaten, we got to observe him and thank God for just how beautiful he is.  I told Jeshurun to let him go in one of my Jasmine bushes (where he would do less obvious damage), but he insisted on keeping him to show to the S-clan when we head over there later tonight.  Why not? 


As long as he doesn't actually try to eat him, we might just keep him around to see if turns into a beautiful Hawk Moth.  Here's a link to see what would be his final transformation: Click here.

Finding this caterpillar has made my son a happy boy.  He won't stop talking about it.  Good thing Thailand will never run out of bugs!

Run and his newest bug pet.  Smiles all around.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Every Sunday...

Meeting together today in our new place...

Every Sunday...
...the S-clan, our clan, and several Thais meet together for teaching, worship, prayer and fellowship. 
...we come dressed a little spiffier than normal. 
...lots of people come early.
...and I almost always come a little late.

Every Sunday...
...someone is needing breakthrough. 
...some kid is crying and another is bouncing off the walls (sometimes literally). new friend, Meg, is giving up an hour of her morning to serve our children through teaching them the Bible and leading them in prayer and scripture memory. 
...someone is looking a bit down, and someone else is lifting them up in prayer and encouragement.

Every Sunday...
...the technology and sound elements aren't exactly perfect.
...and the people aren't perfect either.

But, every Sunday...
...God is still with us.  He is leading us.  We are attempting our best to follow Him.  He will be glorified and lifted up...

...every Sunday! And, every DAY!

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Moments In School That Make Me Smile

I think some day...on a particularly whiny day...I need to take some photos to document the chaos.  I never think of that while it is happening.  The only thing I can think of is how great a personal retreat would be right about then.  I want to get far, far away and be in utter silence.  But, simply wishing the chaos away never does the trick, so I initiate damage-control and try to get on with my day.  Maybe I should even take some video to prove the rising volume of our school room throughout our studies.  Maybe not.  I think I'll spare you. 

But, some days (or at least, moments!) are relatively calm.  When those moments come, they make me smile and remember again why homeschooling is for me in this season of our lives.  I get to witness my kids starting to teach each other, my babies mastering new ideas and problems, and at the end of it all, we still like each other. 

Jeshurun has started reading to Huy and taking over a few things for me.  I am so proud of him!

Kyla doing her "maths!" I am using a second-hand math workbook that Huy grew out of.  So cute to see her concentrate so much!  (Well, at least to get a few quiet minutes out of her!)

The other day, we were talking about the pros and cons of homeschool, public school and the like.  I told him that maybe one day (because who really knows what next year will hold?) he might not homeschool - but be in a different classroom setting with a teacher he would have to get to know.  He told me, confidently, that he would much prefer to stay here with the younger kids and me.  He said, "Who would I talk to?  If I am having a bad day, I wouldn't be able to share with my teacher about how I am doing and about the things that make me frustrated or sad.  I like being able to see you all day and get to share with you all day long.  I would miss you too much."  For me, that is fuel enough for me to keep going when we hit bumps in the road. 

Sure, I remember when I grew in friendship with my teachers at public school...and I am thankful for their investment in my life.  But, for this season, my kids are some of my best friends...and it is a huge privilege to keep them close!  I am thanking God for this opportunity today!

Monday, November 5, 2012

When Cancer Invades

Robert, my daddy!

This is probably the hardest post I have ever written.  I have deliberated over it for weeks now.  My writing promises not to be award-winning, but the content is what is making it so difficult for me to articulate father has cancer.

I have heard the stories; the stories of overcomers, the stories of quick, painful battles that end in defeat, the stories of long, drawn-out journeys and even stories of complete, miraculous healing.  But, all those stories seem to fade away a little bit when cancer invades your own family.  It is when it gets a little too close, a little too personal, that it can feel like a surprise and very unwelcome visitor.

A few months ago, my dad emailed to say that he wanted to talk over Skype.  It wasn't a "hey, let me see those three crazy kids" or "I want catch up on each other's lives" kind of request.  Even over emails, tones are unwittingly conveyed.  I knew something was wrong. 

We were planning to take our friends swimming that morning, so between getting out of the door, driving to their house, and trying to load up the van we were borrowing, I remembered that I promised to call.  I asked to use our friends' Internet, and I set up the Skype to confirm my growing concern...that something really was wrong; but, I had to hear his voice to confirm it. 

I tried to call, but couldn't get through.  Plan B: call my sister, Shannon. I got through to her and she felt so bad to be breaking the news to me rather than Dad being able to tell me himself.  But, why let one more day go by without knowing this was going on?

She broke the news: cancer of the throat.  A tumor starting to grow and at a rapid speed.  My Dad in was in a tough spot, too, because of a lack of health insurance.  All his life, he's been fit as a fiddle.  Except for an emergency appendicitis during my grade school years and the occasional cold virus, my dad never really needed to have constant checkups.  But, boy, when something like this happens, all of that seems to disappear.  I can imagine that it feels like falling without a safety net.  That must feel terrifying.

So, after I said goodbye to her and promised to pray, I broke the news to Treavor.  Tears.  Oh, the tears!  We went ahead with our trip, but as we made the long drive to the swimming hole, our van full of friends and family started to intercede.  We prayed for him and for our extended family as we absorb the shock and beginnings of preparations for the healing/fighting process.  What else can you do in a situation like this, but pray to the Healer for help?  After all, He made us.  He knows how to fix us, and He wants to! 

And since that first day of knowing, I feel like all can do is ask.  I am not a talented surgeon, a skilled radiologist, a wealthy person who could pay for all the bills, or even a present person who even lives in the same country as my daddy.  But, I can ask.  I must ask.  Surely, He hears me and wants His Kingdom of healing and wholeness to come onto earth as it is in Heaven!  It is all I can do; stand and fight in the spirit.

Would you stand with me?  Would you intercede for my father's healing as well as for a nearness to the Heavenly Father through this battle with cancer?  Thank you for believing with us for a miracle!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Profiles: Mrs. P and Her Beautiful Feet

Mrs. P's beautiful feet, bringing the best news of all...

"How will they hear, Alina?"

"How will they hear if I do not go and tell them myself?"

"I have to share!"

Mrs. P and I share this one-sided conversation in the kitchen of my home.  It is one-sided because I am in awe and have no need to add to her words.

I am in awe at how my dear friend, a new believer of only about 6 months, has the Truth and the love of God burning within her at a degree that makes even me uncomfortable, but still excited all at the same time.  I am in full agreement, and also in full conviction.  She is quoting Romans 10:14 almost unintentionally:

"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?"

I listen, and all I can think of is how beautiful her feet are.  Sure, they have the same tell-tale flip flop tan line that most Thais have.  They are darkened by the sun, bear a scar here and there and they are, generally, seemingly-ordinary feet.

But, they are beautiful feet.  I know.  And, it comes on good authority:

"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
Romans 10:15

I tell her that she has beautiful feet.  She laughs and brushes me off!


"My feet are nothing special, and definitely not beautiful!"

But, God's word is true

Today, she shared about how the love of God is so full within her that it propels her to do everything.  People around her question her and, sometimes, make fun of and malign her life that has changed for good...but she still proclaims the love of God over the love of a "free" life without Him.  She told me today of how she shares because how can she not?  How can she not let others know of the same Love she possesses? 

God has called our family here to love Him wildly and to pass it around.  Some days, we feel like we are just spinning our wheels, and that the Gospel is not advancing...but then I remember Mrs. P and her beautiful feet.  I remember about how, years ago, we were sent out with beautiful feet.  We were sent to share with those who had never heard, like Paul spoke about in Romans, and now we are training our new friends to beautify their own feet. 

Will you pray for us, for Mrs. P and for others here to keep walking, and not to stumble from fatigue or bumps in the road?  Thank you!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Confessions of a Running-Hater

My new running shoes laden with magnolia blooms I find on my runs around my neighborhood.  Maybe if I actually stuff them with flowers, they might smell better than sweaty socks?

Alarm beeps...

Snooze button hit...

Alarm beeps again, this time, in a more annoying tone...

Ugh...I roll out of bed...stumble downstairs...

The coffee pot that leaks starts up while I do my morning stretches (aka: the things I do simply not to fall over because I have yet to ingest caffeine)...

After fixing my cup, I meet with Jesus...and hey, to be honest, I check my Facebook feed for the first of many times each day...

Then...I run.

*Cough, sputter*  What?

Yes, the pigs have flown, and the bullet has been bitten...I started running.  I am currently in denial that it is actually happening.  I don't like running!

But...I have a friend, Wendy, who is a self-proclaimed running-hater that is currently training to run a marathon this December.  She brought up running last year during a time of fellowship at the S-clan's house and I was like, "What?  Whatever!  No thank you!..."  So mature, I know.

She claimed that her walk-to-run program made her into a running convert and I was skeptical.  I hate running, after all, but not walking.  Hey, I can walk the neighborhood with my kids like any other mom.  Walk up hill?  Sure!  But, I'll fake that I am not actually huffing and puffing the whole way up. 

After actually starting a push-up regimen that hasn't left me feeling like a complete exercise loser, I started opening up to doing some kind of regular aerobic exercise.  As long as it did not involve me trying to emulate Jillian Michaels in front of my living room TV, I was up for it.  Hey, she's got great abs and everything else, but I think I might have a serious heart attack if I try to move at her speed. 

So, a few weeks ago, I actually started it.  The 8-week program starts off slow, and the end goal is to be able to run for 30 minutes straight with no walking (or falling on the ground in sheer exhaustion) breaks.  So far, I am in week two and I feel like I am going to die every day...but it is getting better. 

For more seasoned runners, it may seem like a piece of fat-free angel food cake, but for me, I am getting my rear-end kicked around the block.  This is all proving one thing that I have been seriously dreading owning up to: being in shape doesn't just "happen" actually have to do something about it.  I may seem like I can do my day-to-day tasks with no problem physically, but in twenty years, will I be able to keep up this same endurance? 

And, most importantly, if I ever do actually get to be on the Amazing Race (a fake dream I only have between me, myself and I, and - will I be that girl who is huffing and puffing on the side of the road while her husband tells her "This is for a million dollars, baby!  Why are you resting NOW?" 

Yes, these are the thoughts that run through my head.

I may never be a marathon-runner or an Amazing Race contestant (I'll skip the drama, thank you!), but I want to run around with my grand kids and also having a fighting chance at raising this metabolic-rate that is slowing with. every. stinkin'. year.  I am not 15 anymore.  When did I miss that memo?

Want to join the program with me? (Click here to read more)  Want to cheer me on?  Or, want to tell me how I am going to ruin my knees and you're gonna send me Bengay in the mail and a note telling me I am a crazy loon?  Leave a comment below:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Building Men


Every moment of every day is a chance for me to build my little boys into little men.  I don't aspire for them to be passable...just fine...ordinary...self-aware (but selfish)...positively affirmed but not internally confident...male adults but 

I aspire for them to be bridge-builders...mountain climbers...inventors of new technology...bold...confident...reaching for goals and not-being-content-with-just-O.K. kind of men.  They can be this kind of man whether they are mopping a floor, leading a field expedition through uncharted jungle territory or being just an extraordinary, present father to their someday-kids.

Right now, I am on a journey of trying to raise two little men the way I feel like God is leading me to.  One of mine doesn't have a considerate bone in his natural body...but we're working on it.  We've started talking about what it means to be a gentleman.  He can stand by while another child is bawling his or her eyes out and he is completely unaware.  It takes us alerting him to the situation and leading him to hug, talk to, pray for and encourage his hurt friends or siblings.  He would rather climb a tree than worry about how he's going to get hurt if he falls.  He is loud, confident (ahem...very confident) and thinks David the Goliath killer is his long-lost brother.

The other little man is more soft-spoken, loves playing his kitchen set and always looks before he leaps.  He listens well but is constantly telling me that he can't do things because he is too small to succeed.  On some days, that looks like humility and other days it looks like insecurity.  They aren't exactly on opposite ends of the extreme-spectrum, but they're close to it.  God is stretching them each in ways that the other is lacking in or needing encouragement in.  I love how He built that kind of "opportunity for refinement" right into our family by pairing these two together.  But, hey, I don't love it so much when they clash or disagree to the point of declaring that "I'll never play with you again if you don't do what I want to do!"  I could do without that drama.

Along with their interactions with each other every day, Treavor and I have a great opportunity to encourage them in the areas they are strong in, while bring up the weaker points of their character or bad habits in order to pour into their future selves as men.

Like a building's physical foundation, we are inspecting the "foundations" of their actions and heart attitudes now so that we can prevent cracks and distortions in them later.  If you have ever had a bad or faulty foundation in your house, you can feel the regret of "why didn't I or someone else get this inspected more carefully before the house was built?"  Praise God for His help with faulty foundations...he is a great Adjuster!  I have had to have complete adjustments made in my own life's foundational thoughts and habits.  Actually, I need an adjustment just about every day!

Obviously, people are not house foundations.  There is no perfect method for how to make sure that major problems won't pop up later...or that the earth won't just quake from underneath them.  But, God's word says this about a man who sets himself up on solid ground:

"As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”  Luke 6:47-49

I am not the perfect builder of men, but I know a Man who is!  If my boys will let Jesus and His Word be their life's foundation, then I know that they won't fall!  That makes me motivated to pray like nothing else.

Do you have any suggestions on how to build my little men?  In your own life, where have you seen cracks in the foundation that could have been attended to before?  I would love to hear your thoughts!  Feel free to comment below: 

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