Friday, September 23, 2016

Madeline Joy

So here is our sweet newest arrival! Madeline Joy was born on Sunday, July 31, 2016 at 12:52pm. She weighed 7 lbs. 14 oz. and was 20.5 inches long. She had a head full of dark hair.

It has been a bit crazy since we've had her home, as I guess it is with most families when they add a newborn to the mix. Madeline, being the fourth in our clan, was supposed to just go with the fl
ow but she's had her own ideas about how things should go. She is a very finicky eater! She likes to eat a little and pause a little and fuss a little, then sleep a little. Then repeat. It can take up to an hour or even more to feed the little chick! All the while, my two year old is pouring water all over the house (she loves to play with water) while my boys, four and six, are fighting and screaming and throwing things at each other. All my others have eaten steadily and without fussing. If they fell asleep I could usually coax them to eat more. Not so with Madeline. She tightly closes her lips and makes faces if you try to keep giving her milk when she wants to pause.  Or she just gets mad. Or she just keeps sleeping, limp as a rag.

And, she did not latch well and so eventually I just gave up on breastfeeding. But, getting her to take a bottle has also been frustrating. She wouldn't just take the bottles we had for her which were given to us, no matter how hard I tried. We went through several bottles before we landed on one she liked and would happily drink from. But, even then, you have to be careful how you put it in. If you just stick it in, she won't latch on it, she just licks her tongue on it like a cat or fusses. She is getting better with that but at first it was quite frustrating! And, even still, she might go several days and just decide she doesn't like that bottle anymore and so we have to go through them all again to find the one she's satisfied with. Good grief! She's also had reflux enough that she's on medicine now though we are already weaning her off of it some. And, because of that we had to prop up her bassinet. But even with that, she got to where she wouldn't sleep in that well either without fussing. The bouncy seat didn't work either, as it did for Wesley who was a happy spitter, spitting up across the room, dousing all our clothes, without a fuss from him. So we resorted to borrowing a rock n' play and it was worked wonders! I am not a fan of having lots of baby paraphernalia but when the fourth baby won't sleep you do whatever is necessary!!! I was even tempted to buy a swing! We had one with Wes but got rid of it because we hardly used it after him.

All that to say, we love her very much and are terribly grateful for her! Despite all the problems she's had and her pickiness, she seems really sweet. When I write of her fussing, it's usually a sweet soft fuss that makes you just want to cry with her. She doesn't cry with a "wah!" It's with a "La, La, La" Although if she gets upset enough she can really get hysterical. She loves to snuggle and will bury her head in your neck. She's just starting to try to smile and coo. I love it! And, once we got the rock n play, she does sleep better than my others at this point, already sleeping long stretches at night. I am very thankful for the sleep! While I was still trying to breastfeed and she was waking up more at night, I was a total basket case from lack of sleep and stress. Glad that is done.

I still feel quite overwhelmed at times but I've learned to let go of some of the expectations I have had for myself and my house and my kids. But I've also learned to use child labor! We had the kids doing chores before but now we've really implemented their help, even with Catherine. In some ways she's a better helper than the boys! At least she almost always has a willing heart if not perfect execution of said chores.

I think Madeline might turn out to be a little redhead which I would love. She has the skin tone for it and her eye brows look reddish as does her hair in the right light.

With all the craziness, we are so thankful for our little bundle of Joy. :) Can't wait to see more of her personality! God has been so good to us! This time 7 years ago, we despaired that we might not ever have kids. That's kind of funny to think about now. I think God might be giving us a big wink. He is sovereign, His timing is perfect though we might know why. He is in control of all things and through all these seven wild, crazy years of adopting and giving birth, I've learned more to trust Him. He is faithful and He is a good, good Father. Thank you Father for these beautiful blessings!

"Ahhh! Will somebody do something about my hair!" Poor baby has some major hair issues. I get a good laugh at least daily from all her untamable hair! 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Long Time, No Write!

The last day at our house in Kansas.
Hi Friends and family!

Many of you may be wondering what we are doing. We've kind of been off the grid for a while, not literally, but we usually send out a Christmas letter. Obviously, this year we did not, but we have a good reason. We've moved!!!! Not just a move to another house but completely across the country! We are now living in Fairfax, Va!

"What?" you say. Well, in July of last year, Eric completed a leadership development training through his company and a week later was offered a promotion and a job transfer to the Arlington, Va office to do design management and team building. We prayed about it and decided to go for it! Boy has it been a crazy ride! After some minor repairs and sprucing up of our house we put it on the market on December 4, had a contract on it in 11 days and closed on January 28. In between times, we traveled to the DC area twice to look for houses, to Arkansas and Georgia and packed up our house. This may explain why we did not get a Christmas letter out. I actually wrote one but, alas, it is sitting snugly in my computer still,
a bit out of date. We closed on our house in Fairfax on February 12 and between the end of January and closing on the new house we spent two weeks in Georgia, celebrated all the kids birthdays and had a bit of r&r. Eric spent his first week at work in Arlington during that time too.

Saying goodbye to a dear friend. He says he's going to marry her!
Birthday Celebration!
Our new house - 10900 Milburn St. Fairfax, Va 22030
The first day in we ripped out the carpet and found some maple flooring! Just needed some TLC!

Enjoying the beach in March!

Meanwhile, in the midst of all the preparation to move, we found out we were expecting another baby! This was a lovely surprise, as they all have been. It was a surprise this time because I had given all of maternity clothes away and a lot of baby things thinking we were ready to move on out of the baby phase. But God had other plans! His sovereignty in this is not lost on us at all! For six years we thought we just weren't able to have biological children, that God was just saying no to us for that, that we'd build our family through adoption and He brought us dear Wesley. But then as we pursued adoption again, God gave us David and Catherine biologically! Then when we decided we were finished biologically, God said, "no you're not!" We've learned much through these years that God has a plan, He is in control. We are not. BUT... He is GOOD!

So, I'm now 32 weeks along, due in early August. The great thing about the pregnancy is that I haven't had to go on weeks of bedrest like with the others. With David I started bedrest at 24 weeks and with Catherine at 26. Since 26 weeks in this current pregnancy, I've painted several rooms, taken many walks, gone grocery shopping with the kids, taken my kids to the park, etc, etc, etc! And, I can clean my house and cook dinner! These things were not possible with the other pregnancies and I am so grateful.

Another crazy event occurred shortly after we moved into our house, at the end of February - I broke one of my toes!!! It took substantially longer to heal than I would have ever guessed and really put a damper on me getting things done around the house. In many ways, I am much more able to do things now being 32 weeks along than I was with that broken, purple swollen toe! It was terribly discouraging and with that on top of the mess of a house we were in for a while, things were pretty tough and tearful.

So, that is where we are at now. We are beginning to enjoy our neighborhood and have found a great church very similar to the one we attended in Kansas. The people around here are very friendly (except when driving) and we've quickly gotten to know people at church. We've attended two different small groups from church and are praying through which one is the best for us - one has college students and young married couples with no children, the other has a few families and some post-college young adults.

The kids seem to be adjusting well. Wesley has missed his friends but he's so extroverted that he's had no trouble making new friends. In fact, our new pastor and his family live just down the street and their oldest child is a 6 year old boy! Perfect! David's greatest excitement has been getting to ride the "sub trains" into DC. He thinks, dreams, draws, builds, and reads trains all day, everyday! Catherine just goes along for the ride and has developed interests in anything outdoors and changing clothes frequently!

Speaking of going into DC, this has been one of the highlights of our time here so far. On three different trips, we've been to one corner of the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs and went through about half of the Air and Space Museum which was a big hit! We've also walked the National Mall from the Smithsonian to the Lincoln Memorial, passing by the Washington Monument and the World War II monument and climbing a few trees along the way. Then we trekked further on to the White house, passing by the Vietnam Wall and eating a huge pretzel.

We've loved Fairfax. It is an old historical area. The courthouse was completed in 1800. Plus there are  many nearby civil war battlefields and historical markers on every corner. We love the lush, tall trees and woods all around. We have a trail very near to our house and are looking forward to spending a lot of time in the wilderness there and in other others within easy driving distance.

I've continued to homeschool Wesley for kindergarten during all this although we definitely had some breaks here and there. We had some ups and downs with it but we've kind of hit a groove and are enjoying it - once we settled in a bit more and figured out a good daily routine.

And, as for the whole reason why we came, Eric is enjoying is job, learning a lot of new things. It's fun being in the city though the commute is not so fun. In Kansas, he could get to work in 6 minutes. Here it takes 25 minutes in the morning, if he leaves at 5:30am! This means he gets up at 4:30! It takes him 40 minutes to get home, if he leaves no later than 3pm. Since we've left Kansas, he's traveled every month, twice to Ga, once to Oregon and once to Virginia Beach. Hopefully, he won't be traveling again until after the baby is born. :)

Right now our house is a total wreck because our kitchen is being renovated! We've been living with it down to the studs with make shifts cabinets, counters and sink. Finally, just this week we got the drywall finished, the cabinets and the countertops installed. The backsplash is being put up this weekend and it should all be ready to go by Monday! So excited!

That's our life in a nutshell for now. I had more pictures to post but had trouble uploading them. Hope you are doing well!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Printable Packs for Young Children

Hi friends,

Here are some links to printable packs for tots, preschoolers and kindergartners. I've used these from time to time for some fun around holidays and just to liven things up a bit, when I need to give the kids something to do while I get a project done, and for extra skill practice.

Enjoy! - a ridiculous amount of printables!!! (How do these people have time to come up with all of this???) - these are printable per say but are  "lap books" mostly that go along with picture books. Just something to add variety. - this is a site that has lots of themes and letter stuff. I’ve used it a lot! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

My Menu Planning

A few friends of mine have asked over the last weeks and months or even years if I do a menu plan or how I do grocery shopping and menu planning. I just made up my grocery list and menu plan for the week and thought I’d just write it down here just to give you an idea of what our meals look like and what my weekly menu plans look like. I try to go to the grocery store on Saturday afternoons when Eric is home and the kids are taking a nap. Today we are all going to go together though. Sometimes it’s a fun outing to all go together. 
So where do I get my recipes from to do my meal planning? I have 2 recipe boxes of collected recipes from various resources such as family, friends, cookbooks, library books, websites. I keep new recipe ideas in a folder on my desk. Usually, if I make a new recipe and we really like it, I transfer it to one of  my boxes - although I’m really behind on this at the moment! One box is mainly for dinner type items, appetizers, holiday, etc. The other is breakfast, breads, muffins, cookies, dessert, beverages and the like. I also have about 10 cookbooks and I use pinterest. I did not come by this quasi organization naturally and it is still a work in progress. It has taken me years to get to this point and I’ve tried lots of organizational methods. Mostly, I remember how my mom did/does it. My mom went shopping every Tuesday for as long as I can remember (and still did up until she turned 65 last year and has now switched to Wednesday because she can get a senior discount on Wed at her grocery store). She always makes a list and arranges it by aisles (I haven’t gotten that organized yet!) and does a kind of menu plan before hand, although she’s gotten more lax with it lately. I think she generally tries to have enough meat and veggies for the week and basic staples on hand so she can make whatever she wants. I do that a lot too! Also, lately, I’m all about the easiest and simplest recipes I can find that don’t require much prep or time.

So here's how I do it.  I plan for 4 or 5 meals and I try to have one each of chicken, fish, and beef each week plus an extra, usually chicken or sausage. And with all our meals I try to have some raw veggies on the table.  I usually have a super easy, quick meal for Monday and Wednesday because I’m doing all our laundry on Monday and prepping the house for our small group on Wednesdays. I usually cook my new or more involved recipes on Thursday - but they are still fairly quick and easy. On Friday’s we usually have pizza and Saturdays we either cook out burgers or something else. Sundays we have leftovers or something simple I can whip up with what we have like omelets or a quiche or soup or sandwiches or pancakes or we eat out with folks from church. Lately, I’ve tried to have either a freezer meal or a healthy frozen meal from the store on hand, or ingredients for spaghetti, etc  that I can throw together fast if I don’t feel like making what I have on the menu or our plans change and we are crunched for time, etc. Right now I have two bags of chicken stir fry from Trader Joe’s in the freezer and some jars of homemade soup for such an occasion. 

I usually just do a written out plan for dinner. We eat oatmeal and sausage 3-4 times a week for breakfast, with eggs and toast or yogurt and muffins thrown in between, pancakes or waffles or french toast on the weekends. For lunch, I try to do left overs, pulling out whatever is in the fridge, trying to use it all up or sandwiches with veggies and fruit.

So here’s my menu plan I made for this week.

Roasted Chicken - Easy!!! (probably Monday) - make broth with the chicken carcass and we’ll use the left over meat for a meal later in the week - I have several recipes for this in various places
 - left over sweet potatoes, mashed
 - Brussels sprouts
 - pears

Balsamic Glaze Salmon (probably Tuesday) - a recipe on pinterest I just found
 - roasted cauliflower
 - squash (we have a lot that we bought at the pumpkin farm!)
 - grapes

Crockpot Beef Stew with potatoes and carrots (probably Wednesday)- from my box - from
- green beans (I’ll either roast, saute or boil them)
- salad
- apples

Crunchy Baked Chimichangas (chicken left over from roasted chicken) (probably Thursday) - from my box from Family Feast for $75 a Week (Ha! In my dreams!!!)
- southwest pumpkin soup
- salad
- oranges

Friday, October 9, 2015

Preschool Curriculum and Resources

Last year I "homeschooled" Wesley for Preschool. He called it "tivity" time - his version of "activity time" - which is what I called "school." I put it in quotation marks because it didn't seem like school at all. Just part of helping him learn and grow as a child with a little direction and organization.  He loved it and I had a lot of fun. Our activity time was very laid back. Sometimes we spent only a few minutes and sometimes over an hour and we didn't do it everyday. Many people have asked me what we did and the books we used so I thought I would just compile it all in a blog entry. I've done countless hours of reading and research (and I really love it!). I hope this takes the load off of you so you don't have to do it (unless you really love it too!)

First of all, to really understand why I chose the books and resources I did, you should check out my Preschool Education philosophy. It really did/does guide how I think about what to include in my curriculum.

God’s Little Explorers ( was our PK4 base. It is a simple 28 week curriculum that centers on chronological Bible stories matched with a letter and topic that begins with that word (for Q we read about the manna and the quail in the dessert with Moses and learned about quails and other birds). It also included simple math concepts and other subjects thrown in here and there. as well as a memory verse, songs, and lots of extras for each week. And best of all, it’s free! Or you can get even more and pay $15. We did the free version and loved it. I didn't focus on writing very much, just familiarity with the name of the capital letters and a bit with the sounds. There were many activities you could do each day but I only picked two or three at most.

In addition to this curriculum I added some other resources. Here's a short summary. At the beginning of each week, I read from The A-Z Picture Book on the page that represented the letter for the week. On other days of the week, I read stories that represented that letter,  and read the Bible story suggested from the curriculum and the activities that went along with it.  We also did a coloring page for the bible story. I tried to find science concepts that matched the letters, like animals that started with the letter, etc.  Also, I read from A Year at Maple Hill Farm at the start of each new month and we read poems that were about things that started with the letter of the week. We did holiday themes and lap books occasionally too. Sometimes we did Before Five in a Row books and activities. I threw in simple art projects here and there too. We also talked about the calendar and the seasons - but not consistently. We played card games often to encourage number recognition and some other math concepts - like War (a very slow version!), Crazy 8s, Go Fish, Uno and matching games. I made up a few other card games and little dice games too. Of course, Pinterest has a ridiculous amount of anything you want to find! I learned quickly though that much of the activities on Pinterest take too much time and resources to put together and that simple is always better, and honestly most of those kinds of things can be taught just through natural living and learning like colors, shapes, numbers, counting, etc. We also went on nature walks and watched youtube videos that went along with whatever peaked their interests or went along with what we were "studying."

I know this sounds like a lot, especially when you look at the other lists of books below but again, as I said before, I didn't spend more than an average of 30 minutes of concentrated time a day on this! I was able to do all of this by reading poems and rhymes and watching at snack times. I read to them before nap/rest time every day and before bed every night and sometimes at other times of the day here and there. Also, my boys love to listen to stories on cd. They listen to one each night when we turn out their light.

Other Teacher Resources/Student Workbooks
The Three Rs - Ruth Beechick - excellent resource for teaching in a natural way

Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready (for birth through age 4, I liked it especially for 2’s and 3’s)

Before Five in a Row - Jane Claire Lambert

Alphabet Art - Judy Press

Rod and Staff workbooks set 1 ( for 3-4), set (for 4-6) A-L (

Explode the Code Books A,B,C (if ready for it - 4’s or 5’s) We didn’t start this until Kindergarten this year with Wes, but David might be ready for it next year in PreK4. It is excellent!

Count on Math (4’s and up) or Math Play (3-6)

5-10 Minute Science Activities for Young Learners (I didn't have this book at the time but I would have used it if I had known about it).

Read Aloud Books We Used Often
Animals, Animals by Eric Carle (Poems about animals with Carle's beautiful illustrations)

Tomie DePaola’s Favorite Nursery Tales - Tomie DePaola (I've looked at a TON of nursery tale books - most of them have very dark tales that I don't think 3-6 year olds are ready for or should even be exposed to - strong words, I know! This book does a good job of including only stories that don't have that dark element to them, or at least retells them in a way that takes most of the darkness out.)

Read Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young

A Year at Maple Hill Farm - Provensen (I love their books - beautiful illustrations!)

What Do People Do All Day? and other Richard Scarry books

The A-Z Picture Book - Gyo Fugikawa (there are a couple of kind of scary pictures in this book but they didn’t seem to bother my boys)

Let’s Read and Find Out About Science Series Level 1 - I love this science series, many titles!

Henry Pluckrose books for math concepts - shapes, lines, length, etc.

Other Books We Love
Friends at Maple Hill Farm  - Provensen
Oh, What a Busy Day! - Gyo Fugikawa (her books are beautiful! I now own 7 of her books!)
Bear Snores On - Karma Wilson (and many others)
Madeline - Ludwig Bemelmens
Haircuts for Woolseys - Tomie DePaola (and many more)
Make Way for Ducklings - Robert Mccloskey
Blueberries for Sal - Robert McCloskey
A House is a House for Me - Mary Ann Hoberman
Rosie’s Walk; The Wind Blew; Good Night Owl - Pat Hutchins
Ferdinand - Munroe Leaf
Over in the Meadow -  John Longstaff
Snowy Day and others - Ezra Jack Keats
The Tale of Peter Rabbit - Beatrice Potter (and many others)
The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit - Emma Thompson
Owl Moon - Jane Yolen
Jobs Around Town - Jan Berenstain
My First Little House books series
The Story of Ping; Angus Lost - Marjorie Flack
Corduroy - Don Freeman
A House for Hermit Crab; Walter the Baker; The Mixed Up Chamelion; The Grouchy Ladybug; The Very Busy Spider; The Very Hungry Caterpillar; The Very Quiet Cricket; 123 to the Zoo; Head to Toe: Pancakes, Pancakes - Eric Carle
Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak
Caps for Sale - Esphyr Slobodkina
Lyle the Crocodile - Bernard Weber
Harry the Dirty Dog - Gene Zion
Feathers For Lunch - Lois Ehlers
Little Bear - Else Holmelund Minarik
Frog and Toad (all); Grasshopper on the Road; Owl at Home - Arnold Lobel
The Little Engine that Could - Watty Piper
Katy No-Pocket - Emmy Payne
Tikki Tikki Tembo - Arlene Mosel
The Little House; Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel; Choo-Choo - Virginia Lee Burton
The Giant Jam Sandwich - John Vernon Lord
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt - Michael Rosen
Go Dogs Go - P.D. Eastman
Ten Apples Up on Top - Theo LeSieg
Green Eggs and Ham; One Fish, Two Fish; Hop on Pop - Dr. Seuss
Amos and Boris - William Steig
The Fox Went out on a Chilly Night - Peter Spier
The Quilt Story - Tony Johnston
Wait Till the Moon is Full - Margaret Wise Brown (and many others we love)
Goodnight Little Bear - Richard Scarry
Scuffy the Tugboat - Gertrude Crampton
The Jolly Barnyard - Annie North Bedford
Apple Farmer Annie - Monica Wellington
Ox Cart Man - Donald Hall
Angus Lost; The Story About Ping; Ask Mr. Bear - Marjorie Flack
Harry the Dirty Dog - Gene Zion
Trainstop - Barbara Lehman
Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
Danny Meadow Mouse - Thornton Burgess (and many others!)
Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder

Other Resources (Some we have, some we don’t)
Elizabeth Mitchell Music (the Woodie Guthrie remake is great!)
Songs for Saplings (and others) Dana Dirkson
Wee Sing Children’s Songs and Fingerplays - a big hit!
Wee Sing ABC
100 Bible Stories and Songs
Birds, Beasts, Bugs and Fishes Little and Big Animal Folk Songs - Pete Seager
Classical Baby HBO DVD Series
Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD
I Spy Shapes in Art; I Spy Colors in Art, etc.
Smithsonian Backyard Series
Preschool Busy Book (didn’t have this one but checked it out from the library)

Other Good Authors for 3’s and 4’s (and there are many more!)
Cynthia Rylant
Kevin Henkes
Lois Lenski
Leo Lionni
Tony Mitton
Patricia Machlachlan
Bill Martin
Patricia Polocco
Marjorie Priceman
Eloise Wilkins
Vera Williams
Denise Fleming
Lucy Cousins
Eve Bunting
Jan Bret
Donald Crews
Ruth Krauss
Bill Barton
Audrey Wood
Jim Arnosky

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Help the Syrian Refugees!

I’ve really been burdened by the plight of the Syrian refugees.God has put Syria in my path many times - I visited there 10 times while I lived in Lebanon - for visa trips combined with either visiting a couple of other missionary friends who were living there or for sightseeing. It was a tough, dark place with hardly any western influence. But I'd like to share a little so you can get an idea for the people and the country.

At first I really did not enjoy going there - it honestly creeped me out. We (my friends and I) couldn’t openly share the gospel. We had to meet in secret to have bible study. We knew people were watching us and the people we visited. People were very different from the jovial, fun-loving, boisterous people of Lebanon I had come to love. The Syrians were still hospitable but guarded and more stoic- for good reason. People would just disappear! The darkness and evil and oppression were tangible. 

But then God changed my heart and gave me compassion for the people and when I visited I began to pray as I walked along. I came to really love the people and even the place so shrouded in darkness and intrigue. I went from requesting of God that He never send me to live there to dreaming up plans with my missionary friends on how we could reach unreached people there! 

It was there that I had my first real taste of unadulterated Arab/Muslim culture with all its sights and sounds - the desert, the spices, the street vendors, the houses - all had a flavor of what most of us think of when we think of the Arab world. I ate camel meat! I ate on the floor with my hands with a group of women and with other families. It was there that I befriended a little girl who greeted me every time in her village with great enthusiasm. On New Year's Eve she took me around to rooftops and people’s homes. I had no idea where she would take me next since my Arabic wasn't very good (it was a little scary but turned out the be the most memorable New Year’s Eve of my life). 

On a bouncy, zippy, dusty drive to Damascus one afternoon I first learned more about Eric from his team leaders. And that night we had our first quasi date at Starbucks! My love for history was greatly satisfied in Syria - it still had many ancient and medieval buildings and homes. I walked along the road to Ananias' house, and along Straight Street (from Acts). Would you believe it is still called Straight Street ???!!!! I also had the great pleasure going on a bonafide, very memorable (for many reasons) adventure to one of the most well preserved medieval/crusader castles in the world - Krak des Chevaliers. What a dream come true! I can think of many more great moments connected to Syria. 

But also, it was there that I first walked into a mosque - the Umayyad Mosque, where many Muslims believe Jesus will return to judge the world and is supposedly where John the Baptist's head is kept. One particular dark corner of it made the hair on my arms stand on end.  And I couldn’t get out fast enough! It was also there that I saw missiles/rockets on the back of flatbeds. It was there that my Christian Lebanese driver flew like the wind to get me out as fast as he could because he hated it there so much - the two countries have a long, terrible history of war and unrest. 

After Eric and I were married we “adopted” a Syrian OU student for a year. She was from Aleppo. Her family was quite wealthy I think. She told us all about life in Syria and the political situation. She said she could never speak of such things in her country; she would have been arrested. We visited with her a lot and were able to share the gospel with her many times. She came to Eric’s parents' house for Thanksgiving with us. She could understand Jesus and even accepted His death on the cross but she couldn’t wrap her head around grace and the fact that we can’t earn God’s approval. We learned a lot about how Muslims think and their strongholds through her as well as more about the hardship of living in such a dark place. 

Then in London in 2006 we met a Christian couple from Syria who helped us with Bible distribution on the streets in London to vacationing Arabs. They were precious. We learned a lot from them about the work that God is doing among Syrians to bring them to Christ and the work of the church there. They did really hard, dangerous work and life was not easy for them because of the political situation. They had to be really careful. We still have their prayer sheet. 

So, God has put Syria on my heart time and time again. After reading and watching the plight of these refugees I have wept and prayed and wept more. It really breaks my heart. So, I’ve wanted to do something and thought others in our church might want to do something too. Or maybe they don’t even know much about it. I think they should. It’s a big, global, history-making, deal! I’ve done some researching and found these sights to be good. - I worked with baptist relief at ground zero in  2001. They do awesome work and have a great reputation. - one of my missionary friends in Lebanon who started a refugee ministry in 2006 in Tucson, AZ suggested this sight. It is just getting going but it looks like it will be a great resource for connecting with churches in Europe and mobilizing the church here and there to rise up to meet this challenge. Please join me in helping these people whom have been made in the image of God and simply want to get away from the ravages of war. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July!

Lately I've been pondering the importance of studying history. I took a break from reading history for a while, not intentionally, but it just happened that way for lots of reasons I think, that I might expound on later in another post. Anyway, as I've read other books by Christian authors and have really loved reading the Bible over the last year, I've wondered if it is really worth while at all to read history and want to study again. I LOVE history, so much so that I got a Master's degree in it. Lately, I've sunk my nose deep into a David McCullough book about Teddy Roosevelt, Mornings on Horseback, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. But sometimes I wonder what's the point in the grand scheme of things of God's glory and the advancement of His Kingdom? Is it just for simple pleasure or interest or is there purpose in looking back? I don't want to waste the precious time on earth just pursuing something only for interest and pleasure.

Eric and I have talked about it and it seems studying and reading history does have merit. In the Bible, there is an ever-present looking back at what God has done, for His glory. It points to His love for His people and His rescue of them, for His name sake. What God has done throughout the Old Testament gives context for what is in the New Testament. Though we don't look back on history quite the same way as the Israelites would have there is a definite need to look back and see the hand of God on history, on the rise and fall of kingdoms and rulers. It gives context to the world we live in now and the forces of change we experience. It should be a guide to keep us from going down the same wrong roads individually and as a nation and world.

Here's a quote I came across just today in a very odd place - quoted in a Christian homeschooling book. It is in a chapter about how to teach history and it's importance! I thought it was very fitting for what I've been pondering.

If we look familiarly into the daily life of our fellow-men thousands of years ago, it is to find them toiling at the same problems which perplex us; suffering the same conflict of passion and principle; failing, it may be, for our warning, or winning for our encouragement; in any case, reaching results which ought to prevent our repeating their mistakes. The national questions which fill our newspapers were discussed long ago in the Grove, the Agora, and the Forum... and no man whose vote...may sway in ever so small a degree the destinies of our Republic, can  afford to be ignorant of what has already been so wisely and fully accomplished. Present tasks can only be clearly seen and worthily performed in light of long experience; and that liberal acquaintance with history which, under a monarchical government, might safely be left as an ornament and privilege of the few, is here (in the US) the duty of the many. Preface to Thalmeier's Ancient History

We are citizens of the nations in which we were born or reside, by God's design. We should be good citizens and good stewards of the responsibility we are given to be good citizens, especially in our own country (the US) where its existence stands on the informed vote of its citizens. And much of that hinges on knowing the history, the "long experience" of our nation and of the thousands of years past. "No man... can afford to be ignorant of what has already been so wisely and fully accomplished."

And when the government in which we participate fails morally on an issue, we can be used of God as a light to bring about change, by being well-informed of the past which sheds light on the present wrong. For instance, William Wilberforce, a man who passionately loved the Lord, fought a hard battle to eventually end the long history of the slave trade in the British Empire.

Most importantly,  history points directly at our very definite need for a Savior. Man has tried through the ages, through all kinds of changing philosophies to make his own way and always it is a failure. Even in the US, though our nation has been a great one, and it's founding causes and virtues are noble and good and somewhat founded on the basis of God's law, it was/is still an effort by man to make life better through man's invention. Our satisfaction and hope does not lie in our national freedom and individual political liberty. It comes from freedom in Christ. As followers of Christ, we are free from the burden, not of an empirical monarch, but from our own heavy, tyrannical sin. He has fought the hard battle for us and won, once and for all. Our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, with Christ and His bride the church.