Hurricane Harvey

On the first three days of the hurricane I felt silly every time someone called to check on me.  We followed the colorful spiral on the weather map but all it meant out our windows was a grey sky and constant wet.  The weather wasn’t even as scary as a summer thunderstorm.  Events were cancelled and churches closed, but in our neighborhood it felt a little like the quiet at Christmas, with everyone huddled in their houses, focussed on their family and friends.  We visited our neighbors and they visited us.  We cooked for each other, played games and even held church service as families together.  Our phones beeped constant flash flood and tornado alerts, there were pictures of tornadoes on facebook, and we texted our local friends back and forth, but our surroundings were so safe it felt little melodramatic to even talk about it.

This morning Kenny woke me up to tell me that he was leaving.  There had been an all-call for boats and he was teaming up with two other neighbors to go “rescue people trapped in their houses.”  I told him to bring granola bars.  Honestly, I thought he’d be back in an hour after nothing more exciting than an trip to Lowes, so my primary prayer, fueled by selfish vanity as much as anything else, was “make him useful.”  By lunch time reports of evacuees were filling my phone.  I cooked every perishable food in the house and looked for places to give it away.  Outside my windows there was still just a trickle of water in our gutters and a few branches blown onto the lawn.  Inside my house my kids were showing the nature of man with a clarity defined by four days sequestered.  At one point, when dealing with a kid’s struggle that were way beyond my pay grade I found my self really and truly jealous of Kenny.  Here he was outside, in the fresh air and misting rain running about playing at hero while I remained stuck at home in the kitchen where I spend 80% of my life.  I looked at my kids, who at 3:00 pm were still resisting my nagging that they brush their teeth and put on clothes and I decided we all needed to stop living for ourselves so much.  I reigned them in and we spent the rest of the day working together to have clean rooms in case of evacuee guests and clean bodies in case the water goes out.  We talked a lot about the self discipline it takes to live for God instead of ourselves.  We were still going strong at about 5:00 when Kenny called out from the entryway.  He was not just wet, but uncomfortably drenched in the way boots and jeans can only be when they’ve been underwater.  When I kissed him he tasted like hard work.  His phone was dead- drowned in chest high water.  He had come home to change and go back out.  When he returned around dusk he told us about his day.

Kenny had joined up with two other men from our neighborhood.  Between the three of them they had a big truck, a john boat on a trailer, and contact with the dispatcher coordinating volunteers.  Apparently there really had been a call for community assistance and when the men called in they were sent to a local hospital.  They drove back roads where the water was only a few inches deep between flooded horse stables.  They pulled off the highway and were able to launch the boat on an exit ramp.  At the hospital flooding was putting power and backup power at risk and patients needed to be transported across the water to a site accessible by ambulances.  Assisting the patients into boats and ferrying them across the flood were ordinary citizens, like my husband, who had towed their boats to the waters edge, left their trucks behind and asked how they could help.  They were from the surround towns with floods of their own but also from places hours away and unaffected.  There were so many people waiting with their boats to help that the patients couldn’t be brought out fast enough to use them all.  In the neighborhoods around the hospital families were trying to evacuate so Kenny and the men pulled the boat right up to the front door and then all three guys climbed out of the boat to let a family with a baby get in.  Then Kenny and the men walked through the water alongside the boat.   In other areas the water was too strong for them to help.  Currents pulled the boat along dangerously and they had to grab bushes and pull alongside people’s fences to fight the current.  In one house Kenny watched a couch floating across the living room and listened as the rescued family, teenaged children included, eagerly introduced themselves and spoke gratefully of how much worse things could have been.  That family got where they were going a little faster when Kenny and the men tied the john boat to a passing jet ski.  Jet skis, kayaks, big boats, small boats, even those swamp boats with the big fans on back, all the way to pool floats- they were all turning out asking who they could help and the authorities directed them, allowing only boats of a certain grade into certain currents and directing shallow boats to where they were needed most.

At home now my newsfeed is full of lists compiled by others in my neighborhood- numbers to call for rescue, which shelters need what, even a list of homes in dry neighborhoods willing to take in strangers.  That last list is dozens long.  Out my window it is still not scary.  I have power and internet and running water.  My family is peacefully asleep.  Less than a mile away houses are feet deep in water and tomorrow is supposed to be worse as creeks and lakes continue to rise. Kenny is supposed to try to get drive into work,  down where the flooding is so bad parts of the highway have fallen off- but I still feel melodramatic saying that.  Why? Because my little neighborhood is still an island of safety.  I’ve got a pantry full of food and I’m ready to help whoever I can.  The kids and I are all fully focused on who we can help, but I have no visible fear to remind me to worry.  My house is peaceful.

As Christians we live in a world that is hostile to us.  We have temptation within and trials without.  When we begin to love the God who is so much more important than this world we become foreigners whose real life and home is waiting with Him in Heaven and we are suddenly at odds with this world that used to feel so comfortable.  We now know the danger waiting at the end of a life which doesn’t worship God.  We should see that we are living in a storm which is costing lives!  And when we know our fellow humans are in danger humanity has one instinct shown by the army of soaking wet men and women who showed up on our streets today- a passion to help.  If we know there is a storm threatening lives we will give up almost anything to help.  We are excited, jealous even, to get our feet wet helping others and as Christians we do it from a spiritual place of perfect safety.  For we have the promise that no matter what awful happens in this life when our real life begins it will overwhelm this one, making this life just the title page, easily forgotten next to the adventure and glory of our real, eternal life.  This hurricane has reminded me to see the spiritual storm more so I stop trying to rest while I have the chance to offer rescue.

 

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“Depressed”, by Elliana

IMG_5007Kenny and I had a brief disagreement this afternoon, one of those times when we were saying the same thing in different genders.  Elliana appeared afterwards, dressed in all black saying our conflict made her depressed and she had written a poem about it.  Here is that ode to parental strife.

 

“Diprest (Depressed)” By Elliana, Age 8

I sat in my room,

The mourning clothes on,

 

(In all black.)

Sitting in my room is

 

A little bit fun and scary.

 

So I put on a tape

And it was missing a

Disk in the middle.

 

Why do I bother?

Or why do I bother bothering?

Ruined by sin,

Little mistakes,

Dad and Mom arguing.

 

Did you get that its an acrostic?  Go back and read the first letter of each line.

Half an hour later she was back in teal gym shorts and full of enthusiasm as she fished off the dock with her brothers.  I hope God will use her melodramatic tendencies to her sanctification in the same way He has used mine.

Little Things

It’s funny that a butterfly looks like a ponderous weight when it’s hanging off a bobbing clover bloom.

At 5:00 it is best to close the sunroom curtains.  I untie the knots and drop the thin white panel over the uncomfortably hot light of the sun setting over the neighbor’s house across the street and even though they are just cheap polyester curtains thumb-tacked up over the windows, to me they are as romantic as satin billowing in on Arabian breezes and that is where my mind goes for just a second each time I cover those windows.  It’s less romantic at night where the curtains are just covering us from the eyes of passersby.  I love closing them in the afternoon, when the setting sun is bright enough to still fill the room with diffused, peaceful light.  Out the northern windows I watch the dramatic shadows in the clover and that’s when I see a butterfly.  It’s orange and black and probably a normal butterfly size, but in the surreal quiet of my room behind the curtains, watching it fly a few feet from the long windows, watching it land on a sweet white clover blossom and seeing the whole assemblage bob over on an impossibly thin vegetable stem, that butterfly seems weighty, ponderous, of note.

The fan above me, high above me for my little square room extends straight up to a folded roof exactly like being inside a half gallon milk carton, rattles intermittently as it creates an artificial breeze to stimulate the curtains.  The drawings of our family as super heroes which my 12 years old and still loving son has given me blow like Buddhist prayers pinned all in row on the wall high above the map of the world, and I love my life where little things can weigh so much.

Things we love about PTC

The 2015 move landed us in Ft Campbell, KY. There we fell in love with the Tennessee hills.  We threw open every door and window and let summer thunderstorms blow through the house.  We had adventures during which I may or may not have driven our minivan through a creek in an active tank training exercise, and more then anything we were overwhelmed by the love of God through His people.

After nine months it was time for move 2016.  Kenny completed his 20th year of military service and we returned to Oompa and Grammy in our home base of Peachtree city, GA while we wait for God to show us what’s next.  Waiting is always a challenge but our days here are full and fun! 

We rediscovered our family love for beating each other up as the kids returned to their old bjj class to make some new friends and skills and, according to our pre-teen, to sweat to death.

Girl child has gotten to practice gymnastics at the same studio as her best bud.

We went on our most physically uncomfortable and expensive camping trip yet when we visited Jekyll Island.

We have gotten to bond with totally awesome Cousin James!

We had the best seats for the US women’s gymnastics Olympic trials…

while hanging out with world’s sweetest Great-grandmother. 

We have gotten to participate in an awesome ministry by picking blueberries each week at a local church’s orchard. 

We have celebrated local holidays. (Please notice Big D’s face!)

We have had some really sweet times with our family in Christ since we returned to our Home church.

We are excited to see what God’s got next, based on all He’s done for us so far we know it’s going to be awesome!

A Blessing to Us: stuff too good not to share 

Developing a Quiet Time: a biblical study for kids, by Kim Sorgius

ePurchase this book here
I want to teach my kids to have a quiet time because it is the most essential part of my day but how do you teach “time alone with God.” I found it either became something I was leading or something my kids were flying through mindlessly and although I love leading my kids in bible study, I want to give them the skills to seek God on their own. This book provides the scaffolding for kids to develope the habit of daily time with God. 

This is a four week bible study.  Each day has a scripture based workbook style lesson, similar to the format of many adult studies.   It includes scripture memory, worship, bible reading and response, and prayed.  

Week 1 teaches students the basics including an acronym to help remember what to do (more than just glancing at a randomn bible verse and saying “Thank you God for this day, help it to be good.”). 

Week 2 guides them through reasons or benefits for daily time with God. 

Week 3 goes into deeper detail of the why/how- detail that is deep enough to be helpful to adults. 

Week four gives structured pages for them to begin studying the bible on their own.  

I recommend buying the electric copy of this book. It cost the same as the soft cover book, about $15, but you can print as many copies as you want for your family and it includes blank bible study format pages which I intend to use after the study to help my kids structure their quiet times. 


Each of my kids picked out a binder to be their “Bible Study Binder.”  They use their own Bibles and have their quiet times on their own. I have found 3rd grade and up can do this no problem but younger than that occasionally needs reading help.  The book is designed for elementary schoolers but the content is good for any age.  My two middle schoolers both did the study without any complaints that it was too baby-ish. Around breakfast time, once we have all gone our own personal quiet times, we go over it together for the accountability and fellowship.

No parent can be the Holy Spirit.  I am utterly incapable of building communication between my kids and God. No matter how sweetly I taught them to fold their hands and lisp “I love you Jesus” from their high chairs each of these precious hearts is cut off from God by a chasm so deep and wide that no communication can cross until the Holy Spirit comes and turns my children to look across, to call across and to cross the cross.  Then they will be with God and then their daily quiet times will be “time alone with God” and they will grow to value them as I have.  It is possible that, if God hasn’t opened their eyes yet, the “quiet time” I am training them to have right now could be simple going through the motion- an empty act, but, like the sacrifices of the Old Testament that pointed forward to the true saving sacrifice, this habit is preparing them for the time when the Holy Spirit will assert God’s claim on their hearts and my joy will be complete!  Also, this daily habit is washing my kids with scripture, making them active learners of it rather than passive listeners at mom’s feet. God promises His word will not return void, and I know, as a covenant kid who did not come quietly, God’s word once hidden in your heart is inescapable! 

In all, this study has been a blessing to our family- enough so that I was willing to pen all this free advertising!  I would love to hear if it helps you or if you have found other ways to train children in daily time with God.

Lesson 2

I had a lot of worries about this move.  I had nightmares about everything from accidentally packing children in our household goods and shipping them across the sea by freight,  to ISIS kidnappings at the Seoul airport, and siblings throwing each other out emergency exits mid-flight.  I did not see how our family which can barely make it the two miles to church without familial violence was going to survive thousands of miles and a month of travel.

I was worried that in all the stress I wouldn’t be able to  hold the family together.

Our movers came on  a Monday.

The army ships in three stages: some goes by air to get there faster, some goes by boat, and some goes back to the Army because you just borrowed it from them to begin with.  Kenny scheduled all three moving teams to come at the exact same time.  He hoped we could get the moving and cleaning done in time to check into a hotel Monday night.  It would be a challenge, but we could handle it. We organized, arranged, put all the kids to work cleaning, even worked out a system involving multiple colors of masking tape to really highlight the efficiency of our moving skills. By 4 pm, when Kenny got home from work, there were only three rooms left to clean.  The mission was successful, so Kenny called the realtor to arrange our inspection while the kids began to discuss the hotel pool.

“Yes,” says our Korean realtor, “Yes, I come check your apartment.   I check on March 5. OK bye!”

Kenny: “Wait, March 5? You mean the fifth of March?  Wait a minute!  It’s February 23rd today.  Our stuff is already gone.  Our plane flies out on March 2nd.  We can’t do March 5!”

Unfortunately, our realtor had read our paperwork wrong and the building owner who needed to do the inspection would be out of the country for another week or so.  In the end they figured they could arrange a representative to come check the apartment, but not until the next day.  It was a crisis but just a minor one, we could still handle it.  We had dinner out then put the kids in sleeping bags on the floor (thankfully our travel plans had necessitated packing four sleeping bags,) and let them watch a movie on the portable DVD player while Kenny and I finished the cleaning.  When we were done we slept on the floor with the kids using our coats as pillows.  It wasn’t the best night’s sleep, but we’re a military family- we can handle this!

The next day I took the kids to our regular homeschool group activities so they could say their goodbyes and so I could sit down and imbibe a cup of strong coffee to help shake off the night before.  Unfortunately, David reached for a dodgeball at the same time that his good buddy kicked it.  If you have to break a bone I guess your fingers are some of the smallest and David broke it cleanly with no dislocation, but our hospital only had one orthopedic surgeon and he had just started repairing a torn ACL when I pulled into the ER.  If I had known I would have asked Kenny, who had our only car, to take everyone for lunch before hand, but as it was I was locked in a room with overtired, starving and injured children for four hours!  By hour one we had played “name that piece of medical equipment” on every item on the room.  By hour two we had read and dramatized the room’s 3 ring copy of “A Guide for Splinting and Casting,” and by hour 3 the kids were starting to eye the canister of cotton balls with the same look as Will Ferrel’s character in Elf.  In the fourth hour I considered making straight jackets out of casting medium.  It was definitely a crisis but when evening came, my knight in shining camouflage arrived, riding up in his gallant white dodge caravan, brandishing a box of KFC, and somehow, we even managed to make it in time for Elliana’s girl scout meeting. Sure it was a crisis, but we had held it together!

It was a peaceful Saturday afternoon when Kenny and I looked up across the well organized suitcases in our comfortable hotel room and asked each other “Do you have the passports?”  To blanch means “to make pale, as with sickness or fear.”  It’s exactly the look of a parent who has just realized that they have packed and shipped five dependent family member’s passports  and vital records.  Kenny dove for the hotel phone like a drowning man for a life preserver.  It took him about 20 minutes of calls and internet research, to verify that, yes, we were sunk.  We were in a foreign country without a single identifying record, without proof we were allowed to be there, or proof that we were allowed to go back to the US.  Replacement passports required proof of identification, permission from far off people and two weeks of process time.  Our flight was two days away.  What would happen? Would Kenny have to leave us in Korea?  Would we sit here watching our savings drain away while the army forgot all about us?  At least if I had packed and shipped the kids by mistake they would still be on their way back to the states!  This was a crisis- and at last we had to admit: there was no way we could fix this.  

If you’ve ever had a crisis you know that awful sick feeling of waiting.  Somewhere in that very long two days I stopped trying to hold things together.  I quietly killed my idea of writing a blog on how to organize for an army move.  I stopped trying to make sure I had every suitcase organized and every minute under control.  I fell back and submitted to the lesson God has been teaching me during my entire time in Korea.  “OK God, you’re the only one whose supposed to be in charge.  I will just sit back and try to respond in a way that I think will please You, because I trust your plan for me is good.”  I prayed and trusted and by Monday morning I woke up feeling like it was Christmas morning because I knew God was going to do something.

Of course first Kenny had to go to work.  On the day after Armageddon soldiers will still be expected to report to formation.  When he got home we took the earliest appointment at the US Embassy.  It was two weeks away.  We piled into two taxis and went to the embassy anyways.  They let us in.  We went up to the window and sheepishly whispered our problem “Um, we, uh, shipped our, uh… passports.”  Please understand we were asking the impossible.  We had no vital records, at all.  We had one child who wasn’t even on our orders and had a totally different sort of passport originally signed by his primary guardian, his biological mother, who was thousands of miles and a world of time zones away.  And yet… Kenny did have one document from his lap top, a scan of our old passports, and that was just enough ID.  Also, Cody had turned 16 while we were in Korea, and guess what?  That was the minimum age to swear for and sign your own passport without a primary guardian. So, impossible or not, at 2 pm on the day before we were supposed to fly, we left the US Embassy with 5 new passports!

Five AM Tuesday morning our trip began with a march to the bus stop.  Like one of those annoying math word problems, 2 adults, 1 teen and 3 kids had to carry 6 suitcases, 6 backpacks, an army duffle bad, a laptop, and a mandolin case through predawn Korean (there was also a fox, a chicken and a boat involved.)   The hotel concierge raised her eyebrows as our children marched, smiling, past her and through the revolving door.  “Wow, they’re so efficient.”

We reached the airport dragging and 50 lb bag with a broken wheel.  The travel agent, holding our shiny new passports, says “I’m sorry, I can’t give you these tickets.  Your passports aren’t stamped.”  The stamp we needed required a memorandum from Kenny’s commander, processed through the garrison, then stamped at the embassy.  Now our plane left in two hours.  Yup, another crisis we couldn’t fix, but this time, I knew God’s got it.  So I stood at the immigration window, praying, smiling, and repeatedly handing my passport to the Korean immigration agent.  The airport emptied as our fellow passengers went through security and disappeared on their way to our plane.  We were the only ones left in the entire terminal.  I wasn’t sure the plane was still there, and then, 5 passports get stamped right there in the airport, and the immigration agent hands me our boarding passes.  We didn’t even go through security as we were rushed up to the gate and then to the plane. As our family crossed the tarmac to the waiting plane, a quartet of A-10s, my dad’s plane and the best plane in the world, taxied along side us.  God doesn’t just send us on our way.  He sends us with an escort.

Our trip took 3 flights: Korea to Japan, Japan to Seattle and Seattle to Dallas.  The kids travelled 30 hours.  No one got sick, no one cried.  When they were tired they quietly hugged their pillow pal and slept.  I got to watch the Hunger Games.  Dallas sat up with a smile all night so David and Ana could have room to sleep.  Cody never once asked if the airplane was going to crash.  In Seattle, when I was suddenly overcome by sleep I woke up 2 hours later and all the kids were still reading quietly around me.  On the flight to Dallas Elliana’s favorite show was on TV, and the flight attendance gave us all free gifts of fruit and cheese trays.  We arrived in the states and no one, not even for one night, experienced jet leg.  I came off of 30 hours traveling with our family feeling more rested than I had in months.  I couldn’t have made all that happen no matter how perfectly I handled it.

I had a lot of worries about this move, but it turns out God’s got it, and it’s so much better that way!

Move 2015

Well, it’s that time of year again!  The time each year when the Payne family packs up all their earthly possessions and migrates.  This year we are crossing continents again as life takes us back the United States.  So far we have a perfect record, we moved once in 2012, once in 2013, once in 2014, and this is our move for 2015.  It’s a great housekeeping method- about the time things start getting cluttered, broken, or really dirty- we move!

You would think that since we have such a moving habit we would have  a pretty good system by now, but instead, every move teaches me afresh that God is the only One who’s supposed to be in control and our real job is just to choose to trust Him.  Along the way, He rewards us with new treasures of truth lived and learned.

This first thing I’ve learned this move has to do with people.  Very often during our time in Korea I have used the word “isolating.”  Living in a foreign country, being unable to speak Korean, homeschooling, living off post, it’s all been very “isolating.”  But now, as people say their goodbyes and send us off with so many sweet words and displays I’m convicted that it’s my own insecurity that has been the biggest force in isolating me.  There are so many relationships that could have been a blessing to me but I held back from them and justified my actions with judgements.  Why do I feel I must be restrained toward someone until I have bumped into them a certain number of times  or met a certain quota of social pleasantries?  Why do I have to wait for something to break the ice?  It might just seem like the social norm, but as a christian I have Christ in my heart and if I close my heart off until people earn the privilege, then I am being selective about who gets to see Christ in me as well as missing out on whatever God could have taught me through an encounter!

As I walk around town this week each familiar face I see first reminds me of the sadness of moving and starting over, but second inspires me to live openhearted wherever I go.  I don’t need to trust every encounter- the Bible commands me to be wise- but I do need to seek connection for the sake of the kingdom of God and for my own good.  Moving is a great time to practice this: making eye contact, seeking to know about people, looking out for ways to care for the people I meet as if they are my brothers and sisters, (which the Bible says they are,) inviting people into my life, and being willing to share in theirs.

1 AM

It’s 1:00 am and I am mad at my husband. Here’s how it happened. Every Saturday night he sits down to watch a movie with our special needs teenager- it’s a special man-to-man time that really means a lot to our son. However, most nights my husband only stays awake for about half the movie, leaving me- the mom who is with our son seven days a week- to stay up until the movie is over, answer our son’s inevitable questions about the conclusion and direct him to bed. Most weeks I really don’t mind. This week, though, the men watched “The Hobbit,” which is three hours long. They started around 10 pm.

Honestly, while the movie was playing I still didn’t really mind. I wrote my weekly emails to family, took a hot bath, watched “19 Kids and Counting” and did some cooking to get ahead of tomorrow. With the right attitude this time alone can really be a gift for this introverted mom. At 1 am I bent over the couch to wake my husband and send him to bed. Eyes still closed he started telling me how he was going to have to run into work tomorrow and I was going to have to get the kids ready for church all by myself, and suddenly, I was so mad! I was furious!

Blame it on being over-tired, blame it on peppermint-chocolate ice cream eaten at midnight, whatever, but all I could think about was all the time I spend alone with the kids all week, and how in a whole week he is only around our kids 24 hours while I am working with them 14 hours a day 7 days a week! I’m remembering all the nights this week I just kept taking care of the kids past dinner and through bed time and he didn’t even bother to tell me what time he was going to be home. I suddenly forget how he bought me coffee today, and fed me chocolate caramels until my head stopped hurting. I forgot how he has thanked me so many times this week for supporting him during this busy season at work. I ignored that he always wants to spend time with me and will even just sit on the kitchen floor and talk with me, and even how he always kisses me and holds me like I am his treasure. I just felt selfish and mad and I suddenly didn’t want to have to get up in the morning and spend more time alone with the kids. I wanted to go work out, or paint something, or write something, or go on a glamorous date. Internally I am having a hissy fit! So I muttered and hunched my shoulders away from him and crossly headed to bed, but soon the truth pulled me out of bed and I sat down to the computer to think.

The truth is that my husband didn’t give me this job. God did, and He allowed each frustration in it for a specific reason. If I respond by seeking God instead of focusing on myself then this life God has given me could be transforming and wonderful!

Yesterday I took my kids to help pass out veteran’s day poppies and one child got upset because people said no to poppies or pamphlets, or because other volunteers were reaching people first. I told my child “You can’t serve people when you are making what you want most important. You have to let go of what you want and just spread love in whatever happens.” That’s what I want to do in life. I want to soak up God’s love until it flows out of me like an artesian fountain, until I am willing to respond in wise love to whatever God chooses to put in my day- to serve without being in control. That sounds so much more beautiful than the petty anger I am living through right now.

So, it is 1:49 am and I’m starting by talking to God about the anger I appear to be storing in my heart, and asking Him to help me talk to him every time I feel frustrated. Tomorrow I am going to practice keeping my heart alert by focusing on Him and His word and limiting distractions that make me feel better without pointing me to Him. But right now I’m going to go to bed next to the precious man God has given me- and if I’m still just a little bit mad I’ll just wake him up and take revenge for all my lost sleep. I don’t think he’ll blog about it though.

October

I love fall!  October is my favorite month- but this year I think it got swallowed by September’s busyness!

So, what did we do with the month of October?

First, my parent’s visited.  We sat on the very wall where my mother once camped out with a five year old me and my siblings when we couldn’t find our way home on our first day in Korea.  We also got to see our old church, some shops, and even the salon where mom used to get her hair cut 20 years ago.

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Second, we watched the International Fireworks Festival from the top of Namsan with some of our favorite people.  Having these two girls around has been such a gift for our family.  It’s especially been enriching  for letting little Ana practice compassion.

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Our precious David turned eight!  He was so into his new camel pack and waterproof notebook (for writing things while camping,) that we had a hard time getting his attension for his mad scientist cake.

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Also, we have started linking up with some other homeschoolers to do things like science club and field trips. Here is Cody demonstrating what happens when you create more pressure than your water bottle can handle.

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We had a dozen cavities filled at a korean dentist.  They give cool prizes, but they do not give novacaine.  It was different.

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We went to an international festival and Elliana and I got henna tatoos that itched soooo much!

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Cody got his first job!  He’s a bagger at our commissary and it is a great job for him!

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On top of this we attended weekly meetings for our four different scout troops, took jujitsu classes, camped out with the cubscouts, got plugged into various church activities and met a lot of new people.

The breeze blowing off the river is getting cold, but it’s so beautiful blowing around the curtains that we are all just pulling on sweaters and hoodies while we curl up in front of the open windows. The park below us is very slowly changing colors.  Deep reds and yellowish oranges are starting to overthrow summer’s green and while the ginko trees are starting to turn yellow, peace is starting to creep back into our very busy schedule.  I’m happy to have so much going on because the more that happens the more I am seeing God’s compassion worked into everything.  Like the patience He showed Gideon despite Gideon’s questions and only obeying in the dark of night, and the incomparable compassion God showed by absorbing our curse on the cross- I feel so much the grace He has shown to me and I’m trying to walk in faith to let that grace be the feeling of our family no matter how busy the season.

 

 

Do Not Be Anxious

I was sitting in my first volunteer meeting. I had arrived early, with my insulated coffee cup, brightly colored notebook for taking conscientious notes, and my years of experience with kids. I am embarrassed to admit it, but I was feeling confident that I would be able to make a contribution to the children’s ministry. Then the organizer opened his presentation. His first words: “We’ve got two new kids in the k-2 class who are really requiring a lot of attention.” To him it was just a passing remark- to me it was the wind going out of my sails. There was no doubt in my mind that the two kids he mentioned had to be two of mine. My kids were relatively new to the class and had already brought me reports of wrestling in class and telling the teacher their entire life story during lesson time. I just knew that my kids were the problem.

Please don’t judge me for being quick to accuse my children. I have often felt that my kids are always the problem. For many years it seemed every pick up from Sunday school involved a report of “He had a fit,” “She bit so and so,” or “He’s just too rough.” I’ve had the teachers ambiguously suggest I may want to consider some sort of testing. I am sick to admit that I have been embarrassed by my children’s behavior, and I have been hurt by people’s judgment. Even well-meaning people describe my children as “passionate” and “wild.” I have often felt that despite my best efforts I am completely failing in the biblical mandate to train up my children.

For once, though, when the organizer replied to my email, it was not my children who were “requiring a lot of attention.” In fact, I volunteered in their class today and they didn’t interrupt the lesson once. Furthermore, their passion made them some of the most delightfully engaged worshipers. They were the ones singing along just like the teacher wanted. At other times this week I was so encouraged to see my children showing confidence, or thoughtfulness, or self-control beyond what I expected. In short, I noticed my kids have grown up a bit. They aren’t perfect, (I still noticed one of my children trying to throw a shoe at girl he felt was being rude,) but they have grown.

Philippians 4:8 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, present your requests to the Lord and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.”

Colossians 4:2 says “Devote yourself to prayer keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.”

Someone once told me “Your kids will grow up- very few high schoolers still wear diapers.” God made our kids the way He did for a reason and sometimes they don’t need an instant fix to change them. I think God will help us wisely train our kids, but meanwhile I think He is pleased when we trust His plan for our kid’s lives, and when we try to find reasons for thanksgiving in the very uniqueness of how He made them.

David, what are you doing? Cleaning the top of the fridge, of course. Oh, OK, of course.

Um, what are you doing?
Cleaning the top of the fridge, of course.
Oh, OK, of course.