Tuesday, September 30, 2008
We got in, and Chet started it up. He looked at the clock on the dash and realized that it was only 12:15 and politely asked what the rush was all about, obviously still not fully understanding what I was talking about but attempting to go along with me. As he was turning over his shoulder to make sure we weren't hitting anything when we pulled out, I was explaining that it was because Gabe had a dirty diaper and that we needed to get a few things ready before the party that started at 1:00 (I guess he didn't hear me the other two times I explained it, but that's fine).
Well, as I was explaining this, he was turning his face back toward the front, and I noticed a mosquito on his cheek. If you've spent any time with me outdoors in summer humidity, you know how much I hate mosquitos. I'll do just about anything to see them dead, and apparently that includes slapping my husband's face! Without even thinking about where the mosquito was, I just knew that it had to die, so my reflexes took over, I threw all caution to the wind, and let that mosquito have it... or so I thought until I saw it flying over the top of his head. Whoops! I missed! Then I suddenly realized that I hadn't missed Chet's face! I really let him have it!
He turned and looked at me with horror and asked, "Why did you just do that?!?" You should have seen his face. All I could do was start cracking up... pretty much just like I'm doing right now as I write this. I explained that there was a mosquito and that I just had to get it! He reminded me that it probably would have hurt less to have a mosquito bite than it did to have me slap his cheek! Right. I guess I should have thought of that. But like I said, there is only one thing I'm thinking about when I see a mosquito--IT MUST DIE!
We have laughed hysterically over and over again since Sunday about this. I told Chet that he needs to write a blog entry to tell his story, and then we played out all the ways he could exaggerate it. Talk about hilarious!
I'm praising the Lord for a husband who's so gracious and who's willing to laugh with me when I do crazy things! I do have to warn you that if you're standing near me and have a mosquito (or bee) on your face, I might not have any more sense to hold back than I did on Sunday. Let's just hope I get the mosquito and that the smack isn't without value!
Monday, September 29, 2008
Here are a few photos of our birthday fun... (You have to click on this first one and look at what he's doing.)
We (Chet, Ladan, and I) got him a doctor kit. The boys are pretty freaked out by the doctor, and since they have to go again in two days, we're hoping this type of toy will help ease their anxiety about things that happen at the doctor. I'm also going to make Gabe an ABC photo book, but there are still a few photos that I need to get before I can make the book. Basically, it's a 6x6 scrapbook, each page displaying a photo of Gabe doing something starting with each letter of the alphabet.
He also received two sets of trucks (thanks to Gigi and Grandma) and some money from several folks that will go into his account. It was a good day for our little guy!
Here are some fun things about Gabe:
- He's starting to learn his letters and probably knows about 5 or 6 of them.
- He LOVES to read books and is unbelievably cute when he sits on the floor with his little legs straight out with a book spread from his hips all the way to his feet.
- One of his favorite things to do is take out all of the kid movies one by one, looking at the front first, then the back, then lay them on the floor. (I'm thankful that he doesn't seem to enjoy this as much as he has for the last several weeks, because it's a pain to put them all back in their proper places.)
- He's using more and more sentences all the time, but you still have to know him pretty well to be able to pick out what he's saying.
- He's a magnet for pre-teen and teenage girls! Probably because he freely distributes lots of kisses to them and says their names with a super-cute voice.
- He can jump really high with both feet off the ground. They say this is a helpful sign that he has the muscle tone necessary for successful potty training. However, since he doesn't like to sit still for longer than 2.9 seconds, I haven't had a whole lot of success getting him to even pretend he's going potty. Good thing I'm not all worried about getting him potty trained and won't be for quite some time.
- He still seems to prefer his left hand while eating, throwing, drinking, or doing just about anything. We'll see if he turns out to be a lefty or if it's just a random thing for now.
- He is getting better and better at throwing, kicking, catching, and hitting any type of ball. He's had some recent success with his tennis racquet. It's a pretty funny sight since his racquet seems like it's almost as tall as he is!
- He sleeps with his ball blanket, his little bear blanket, his binky, his football, and sometimes a Mega Bloc Lightning McQueen and a London double-decker bus.
- He can never get enough milk.
- Every morning, I get his cup of milk for him, and then he promptly goes to the cabinet to get his little glass bowl out for his "pancakes"... which is really oatmeal. He loves both pancakes and oatmeal and would be happy with either. So, when he hands me the bowl, I ask him if he's ready for some oatmeal, and he shouts, "YEAH!" Then he happily announces that he's going to shut the cabinet and waits for me to confirm that I heard him before he actually closes it.
- He is still a great sleeper most of the time. He sleeps about 12 hours at night and 3 hours in the afternoon.
- I can still tell when he's got a dirty diaper... not because he smells, because many times he doesn't. It's because he's getting into trouble. Whenever Gabe is disobeying, when I hear screaming, or if there's some kind of scuffle between Ladan and Gabe, the first thing I generally check is Gabe's diaper... and it's almost always dirty. Crazy.
- He's starting to get a little bit more shy the older he gets.
- I've had to trim his curls a couple of times, but they seem to keep coming back. We'll see if that lasts forever, or if it's just a little boy stage like it was for my brother.
- He has such fun expressions, both facial and verbal!
We love this little boy and are so thankful to the Lord that He's given us two whole years with him. We are praying for many more. More importantly, we're praying that he is captivated by God's Word and that he develops an intense love for the Lord that brings him to his knees in repentance, obedience, and JOY!
This afternoon Ladan was asking Gabe if he wanted to pretend like he was Baby Jesus, and Ladan could be Joseph. Ladan told him they could pretend they were in Bethlehem, and it would be fun because he (Gabe... aka Baby Jesus) could rescue everyone! Wouldn't it be amazing if the Word came to life in Ladan's heart and he ended up teaching his brother in such fun and understandable ways that Gabe can't help but fall in love with the Lord?!?
Sunday, September 28, 2008
On our way home, we saw ridiculously large trees laying all over homes and cars across town. When we entered our neighborhood, we saw that there were several large trees down. The main entrance had already been mostly cleared of a large tree that fell and spanned the entire roadway. The power was definitely out. We learned that about a half million people were out of power in our area and that it would be 10-14 days before everyone got power back (apparently, they had sent a bunch of our local folks down to the coast to help with Gustav clean-up, so they had to wait for them to return).
Thank goodness I had recently purchased new flashlights and maintained a stock of things like batteries and non-perishable food! Of course, I thought I was keeping them for something like a tornado... definitely not a hurricane. We had also purchased a new cooler right before Ladan's birthday party this summer. Our old one leaked and wouldn't hold ice.
Our food supply was actually my main concern. I had planned our meals really well and had acquired most of everything we'd needed to prepare them for the rest of the month. I was hoping to only spend about $25-$50 more for the rest of the month. Realizing that I couldn't complain if having to spend additional money out of our very tight budget was the worst of it, I still prayed that the Lord would help us keep our food from going to waste. We determined not to open the fridge and freezer so that as much of the cool air in them could stay put.
On Monday morning, we found out that all classes on campus would be cancelled for the entire week. So Chet was home for breakfast! I made pancakes and eggs on the grill. We have a side burner, so it wasn't difficult. The worst part is that a strong wind came toward the end and knocked the remaining uncooked eggs on the ground, making a pretty disgusting mess to clean up.
Then we learned that the seminary was going to be serving dinner that night to the entire seminary community. They decided to serve three free meals a day to everyone for a couple of days (after which their power came back on, and people could purchase meals like normal if they wanted to). We were at dinner that Monday night and ran into Ryan Townsend, our church administrator. He told us that the power at the church had come back on that afternoon and that we could take our freezer stuff and put it in the church freezer! We went home to open our freezer for the first time. Since it was jammed full, everything was still totally frozen through! We transferred it to the church that night and didn't lose anything!
By Tuesday morning, our fridge wasn't very cool anymore, but since we had only opened it about twice, everything was still okay. We were able to find ice at a nearby gas station. It was not an easy thing to find for MANY people, but Chet happened to find it at the first place he stopped. AMAZING!!!!! I did decide to get rid of things like ranch dressing (which we don't often use anyway) and a few other containers that had just a tiny bit left. Otherwise, we didn't lose anything major from our refrigerator either.
Wednesday night our church provided dinner before church. I was at church late for a meeting, so the boys came home first. When they got here, OUR POWER WAS BACK ON!!!!!! Chet sent me a message right before I left the church letting me know it was back, so I was able to load up our freezer goods and bring them home.
I walked in the door, and Ladan shouted, "Mom! God gave us our light-tricity back!" He normally says electricity correctly, but he was so excited that it came out funny. Later that night I was putting him to bed. He walked down the hall to his room, turned, and looked up at his light switch. He slowly moved toward it and flipped the switch. It came on! He was once again SO EXCITED that he started jumping up and down with his hands in the air, screaming, "My light turned on!" He jumped up into my arms and gave me a massive hug and a kiss on my cheek! He prayed that night thanking God for everything that came back on and for taking care of us when our lights were off. Amen to that!
Some people were without power for quite a few days longer than we were. Most of the schools were out for at least a week. And many people are still cleaning up tree limbs and making repairs to their homes all over town.
Compared with many people, we really didn't have it bad at all.
- It was kind of like a camp experience, including the nightly visit to the "mess hall" for dinner... except we were staying in a really nice cabin with our own beds, running water (although cold), flushing toilets, and no bugs!
- We didn't lose any groceries other than a few items we don't use often anyway, and we really did make it through the rest of the month only spending $30 more!
- On top of that, we had meals provided for several days so that the groceries we had will end up going a lot farther than I thought they would.
- Our old antenna works now. Several weeks before the storm, we were having trouble getting even the most basic channels on our antenna, and it was very difficult to get anything to come through on the digital converter box. The problem with digital is that it's all or nothing, but the analog signals were terrible too. So we decided to try a new antenna from Radio Shack. We had 30 days to try it out. The power went out on day 26. By day 29, we decided to return it because the remote had never really worked, and it wasn't really great at getting a strong signal. When I took it back, they explained that these were extremely unusual problems for this model, but because of the power outage, they didn't have any others. I went home, and we figured we'd have to continue the hunt later. When the power came back on, we decided to just plug the old antenna in and see if we could pick up any news (we still hadn't heard anything about what kind of damage was done in Texas or anything). Well, something must have happened during the repairs, because our old antenna works FABULOUSLY now!!!!!!!! We don't have to spend that extra money at all, and if it weren't for that faulty Radio Shack antenna, we may have never known it! (Not that we would have "had" to spend the extra money, but I think you get my point.)
- We got to spend a lot of time with our friends and neighbors helping one another.
- We realized even more what the Body of Christ can do together when there is a need. We were so blessed by things as simple as our friends allowing us to shower in their homes, wash a couple loads of laundry, and store our frozen goods.
- Chet got to rest a little bit more since classes were cancelled for the entire week. Chet's schedule is especially challenging this semester (not the classes, but the times of them), so we were both getting really exhausted. The fact that he was able to catch up more on his sleep was a huge provision from the Lord.
- Our power returned literally hours before the heat returned to town. We didn't have a single sweaty day or night during the outage (although plenty of people across town did).
Friday, September 26, 2008
He replied, "Sure! I like nuts! They're good! I need protein." I wanted to just squeeze him at that moment! Isn't it amazingly exciting when a 4-year-old realizes that he has certain nutritional needs and that they can be supplied by a variety of food items?!?
We've completed the first 8 lessons in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and Ladan is really enjoying it! He breezes through most of it, but there are little spots where he needs a little extra help sometimes. I'm so excited that I'm getting to help him eliminate these small errors before they compound and cause him big problems! He's already able to sound out some short words, and we only have a few more lessons before we start reading short sentences and working through some picture comprehension exercises.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Dear Prayer Partner,
Thank you for your prayers over the past several days for Ani, Waid & Rabiul who were beaten in India this past Sunday. Below is what we have learned during the past few days.
They traveled to a village last Sunday because 25 Imams (Muslim spiritual leaders) were there and had invited them. The Imams said they wanted to ask questions about Matthew 9:12-13. If Jesus came for sinners then why did Mohammad come? Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, has started and they were asking questions about the need for sacrifices, etc. The Imams were also asking why the Koran 43 : 61-69, says that in the last days Jesus will be leading people.
The Imams were actually listening to our guys and sincerely interested. During their discussions, a mob (over 2000 people) came along and started shouting, "so you think you know more than our clerics" and started beating Ani, Waid & Rabiul. Thankfully, two of the Imams went into the mob, grabbed our guys, and took them out through the back gate of the mosque and warned them that they better not come back. All three guys have been treated by a doctor but are still in a lot of pain.
Ani told us that many members of the mob were people from other villages where jamats (which are what our Indian brothers and sisters call churches for former Muslims) are located. They have figured out the same ministry is behind the conversions in their villages and have all come together to combat what the Lord is doing through these jamats. Sadly, this means that the forces that are against us are trying to band together to defeat or slow the work down and will require that much more prayer as we move forward.
Please especially pray for Rabiul. His father was part of the mob and was telling the rest of the mob to kill his son, cut him into pieces and throw them into the river because he is so disgusted that his son came to the Lord and is now working for the ministry.
We should not be surprised that this persecution is happening. The Apostle Paul tells us in Timothy 3:12, "And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Jesus says in Matthew 10:17, "But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the courts, and scourge you in their synagogues." He goes on to say in verse 21, "And brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child..."
While we certainly grieve deeply for our brothers who have suffered this affliction, we also know that it is because of the obedience and faithful witness of these 3 men and many others that God is using our ministry in incredible ways to reach the lost. These men have a heavenly perspective, they understand what Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:11, "Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me."
What should we do? Our first responsibility is to pray. We can specifically pray for the following:
- Thank God for the faithful witness of these men
- Pray for the love and forgiveness of Christ to conquer hate and fear
- Ask strength for Ani, Waid & Rabiul. We believe Ani is attempting to re-enter this village to resume discussions with the Imams.
- Pray for the salvation of all those who are persecuting Christians
Prayer partner, we are fully engaged in a spiritual war for the souls of the nations and we can't back down. The stakes are too high! Hebrews 13:3 says, "Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body." We are so grateful to have you alongside us in this battle.
Dear Prayer Partner,
The violence in the state of Orissa [this is a state nearby where the guys were] has not slowed down. However, God is showing up in miraculous ways. Pastor B relayed two amazing accounts of how God protected His people. In one account, while a mob of radical Hindus was moving towards a group of Christians to assumably inflict harm on them, a tiger leapt out of the nearby woods and sat down between the mob and Christians for a few hours until the mob grew tired of waiting and dispersed.
In another report, a very bright light appeared and blinded a radical Hindu mob of people that were ready to inflict bodily harm on a separate group of Christians. What an amazing God we serve! We praise God for making His presence know to these Christians during their time of great need.
In the state of West Bengal, 6 jamats (churches for Muslim background believers) are being forced to either relocate or combine with other area jamats due to the persecution from Muslim extremists. This is occurring in the area where Ani, Waid & Rabiul were recently beaten. These three men are healing from their wounds and greatly appreciate your prayers. We don't have confirmation yet as to if or when Ani will go back to the village to continue conversations with the Imams. Please continue to collectively lift up our Christian brothers and sisters affiliated with our ministry and those who work with other Christian organizations. Your prayers are critical during this difficult time.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I've been working on this for a while, but I'm still enjoying it. It's something that only gets fit in a few nights a week for about 15 minutes before I hit my pillow, so I'm not exactly speeding through it.
Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart by John Ensor. This is the book we're going to start going through with the high school girls small group. Speaking of them, we've got our second sleepover scheduled for Saturday night, and I'm really excited! One girl refused to come if I didn't bring cookie dough from Papa Murphy's so I guess I'll have to comply... and eat plenty myself. FYI--Papa Murphy's cookie dough has no raw eggs in it just in case you're concerned. Raw eggs don't stop me from eating cookie dough at any point, but I've decided not to impose my reckless irresponsibility on other people.
We haven't decided what we're doing with our adult small group, but I'm kind of hoping it's not too intense on top of all these other things and my daily Bible reading. I'm really working hard to complete the Bible in 6 months. December 31 I'll have to let you know if I accomplished the goal!
Monday, September 8, 2008
Back to the story. The three men were invited to go and preach in an area that is largely Muslim and Hindu (not unusual to be invited here). They were told that it would be a crowd of about 2,000 people who were interested in hearing the Gospel and learning more about Christianity (exciting, but not strange either). Well, it was a set-up. When the three men arrived, the very large crowd closed in on them, and they were all severely beaten. Apparently, there were some Muslim imams who stepped into the crowd and ended up breaking it up; otherwise, they may have been killed. It is very unusual for Hindus and Muslims to cooperate with one another, so this gives you a picture of how greatly these particular people despise Christianity.
Chet e-mailed his friend as soon as he heard about it to confirm that it really was him. It was. He's in bed for 10 days healing. As soon as he can, he plans to return to the town to talk to the imams who stepped into the crowd. Please pray for his quick recovery, and PLEASE PRAY THAT HIS LOVE FOR CHRIST AND FOR THESE PEOPLE WILL BE APPARENT AND TRANSFORMING!!!! The other two men may be going back with him also, but I'm not sure about that. Chet's friend has a wife and two children. I'm not sure about the family structure of the other two men. Please pray for their families as well.
Chet was so glad that the Lord kept him awake so that he could receive the message and begin praying immediately. He had a really hard time concentrating in class. He was trying to write a book review and told me that it's really hard to do such crazy things like "writing book reviews for Jesus" when his friend is being beaten because of the Gospel. He had tears in his eyes as he told me that he so wants to be right there by his friend's side and really would like to go with him when he returns to the town in 10 days. We know that it's not possible, but it's definitely a challenge for Chet to be so far away.
Their testimony is a blessing to us, even if we can't be there by their sides. What a neat opportunity also to share this story with our friends (believers and unbelievers). We never know how this type of thing can help people see how valuable the Gospel is and how much passion these men have for the Truth if they're ready to return to this town OUT OF LOVE for the people there and share the reason for the hope they profess.
Chet does realize that his assignments are not pointless and that they are collectively providing preparation for all manner of ministry... but today his heart was in India.
It would be great to let these men know that people from all over the place are praying for them. If you are praying, please comment, and I'll have Chet pass that encouragement on to them.
(On a much less important note, I posted a couple other new entries earlier today, including a description of the system I've put in place to stay on task and another entry with some photos of Chet with the boys.)
I use a basic $5 planner from Staples. I like their version because it has both montly and weekly views, and the weekly pages have ample space for notes. I get really sick of rewriting the same things repeatedly, so I decided to print my priority/chore lists on 2"x4" shipping labels that can be slapped right in the notes section of my planner.
I haven't written much in for this week yet, which will make it a little clearer. First of all, I use pencil for notes I write in the daily section. I cannot stand to have a bunch of things crossed out when they change. I only want things crossed off when I've addressed and completed them. Not to mention that things change enough in my schedule that I'd run out of space if I used a pen all the time. I do use a colored pen to mark things off on the label just so it's easier to see.
You'll see that I write in what I'm planning to fix for dinner beside the date. I divide the notes section for each week day into two sides. On the left side of the day's notes, I write in scheduled things that start at a certain time. On the right side, I write in random things that just need to be done before the end of the day.
Here's a close-up of this week's label.
You can see that I have the daily tasks listed on the left (things that I want to do EVERY day). Beside each thing, I've listed the first initial of the day of the week, and when that item is completed, I mark an "x" over the top of the day's initial.
Daily Priorities (in order of importance)
- Time in the Word
- Update Quicken (budget stuff)--if I do this every two or three days realistically, that's GREAT!
Then there is the list of chores I need to complete throughout the week. I try to fit them all in Monday through Friday, and I try to make sure that there's at least one day that is a little bit easier so that I can be flexible and squish those things in on another day if something comes up. I have two different sets of weekly lists, but the only difference between the two is the chores listed for Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I draw a line through the item once it's completed. You can see above that I've already marked through "kitchen" on Tuesday, but Tuesday is tomorrow. I thoroughly cleaned the kitchen on Saturday, so I'm not going to do it again for another two weeks... so I crossed it off. Here are the weekly sets:
Weekly Chores (Set 1)
- Monday--Monthly ___, Iron
- Wednesday--Vacuum, Sweep, Mop
- Friday--Bathrooms, Wash Towels/Sheets
- Three Lessons with Ladan
Weekly Chores (Set 2)
- Monday--Monthly ___ (see rotation of chores listed below), Iron
- Tuesday--Kitchen, Sweep, (Mop if necessary)
- Wednesday--Meal Planning
- Friday--Bathrooms, Towels/Sheets
- Three Lessons with Ladan
And then there are the "monthly" chores. I have "monthly" in quotations because I have six sets of these, so they really are chores that end up getting done every six weeks. When I made this first set of labels, I had only really thought through four sets of monthly chores, but when I make the new set, there will be six sets that rotate through. I go ahead and write all the monthly chores on each label because then I know what's coming and what I've already accomplished. I set aside Monday to complete the monthly chores on a rotating basis. Here are the "monthly" chores:
- Monthly Set 1--Dust ceiling fans, clean light fixtures, dust air vents
- Monthly Set 2--Clean walls, clean windows (inside)
- Monthly Set 3--Clean window treatments, vacuum inside furniture
- Monthly Set 4--Check smoke alarms, change filters
- Monthly Set 5--Clean humidifiers, shred paper
- Monthly Set 6--Clean kitchen appliances
So, in the end, I come up with a set of six labels (one for each week) that include these sections:
- Label 1--Daily, Weekly Set 1, Monthly Set 1
- Label 2--Daily, Weekly Set 2, Monthly Set 2
- Label 3--Daily, Weekly Set 1, Monthly Set 3
- Label 4--Daily, Weekly Set 2, Monthly Set 4
- Label 5--Daily, Weekly Set 1, Monthly Set 5
- Label 6--Daily, Weekly Set 2, Monthly Set 6
I don't print more than one set of labels at a time, because there are inevitably improvements or changes I've thought of. Not to mention that life changes all the time. If I were nursing a baby every three hours, I am fairly certain that I would NOT be getting all these things done all the time. My main goal is to get the daily things done, and the weekly/monthly things can be adjusted if necessary.
It's a great form of accountability. Hopefully everything is marked off before I flip the page. By the end of the week, my entire page ends up full of additional notes and lines through things. If anything remains incomplete, I can then transfer it to the next week. Oh, and if I did something that I didn't have written down already, I tend to write it and then immediately cross it off. This helps me remember what it was that came up and filled my day.
Sometimes I really do get everything done in a week, and sometimes I don't. I'm definitely not using this as a tool to promote legalism in my life, and I'm encouraging you against that possibility as well. However, I do very much appreciate the opportunity this gives me to flip back through quickly and determine if I'm struggling to get a particular thing done.
This system will help me see whether or not I'm being realistic. I will also be able to see if I'm overcommitted and am signing up for so many outside things that it's impossible for me to focus on my first priorities (my relationships with and responsibilities to the Lord, Chet, and the boys). It becomes a good tool for evaluating what I really need to get done in a week so that I can determine if I'd rather throw out the dusting for that week and agree to fit something else in... or say "no" to the opportunity that's popped up and stick to the dusting. Sometimes the dusting is more important, and sometimes the other thing is more important. Balance in this way is crucial. For example, Chet is allergic to dust, so if I don't keep up on the dusting, it's not very good for him... and yet, if there's someone who has some important thing they need me to do, Chet won't die if I put the dusting off for a bit... as long as I'm only putting it off for a bit and have time to catch up in the near future.
I hope I've explained this well. Please let me know if it makes no sense at all.