Archive for November, 2009

An Urgent Prayer Request

I wanted to ask all of you to please be praying for Shilo, our dear friend who has been posting here on the topic of praising God as we create beauty in our homes. I just visited Shilo’s blog and read that she in the midst of a medical emergency and could greatly use our prayers. She has lost sight in one of her eyes and the doctors are still trying to determine the exact cause. Please read her faith-filled post here and pray that God would heal her completely, and that in whatever circumstance He would receive much glory. Please also pray for her family, both near and far, and for God’s peace and comfort for all.

Giving Thanks

“And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!” Psalm 107:22

I hope you are all enjoying making preparations for Thanksgiving! I am praying today that God would prepare each of our hearts to be filled with gratitude and that we would truly use this day to give thanks to God. I am praying against the pressures and stresses that would like to detract from the essence of this holiday and hope all of you have a joyful and worshipful time as you prepare food, get your homes ready, and celebrate with family and friends.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, please take a moment here to give thanks to God and encourage your sisters in Christ by sharing one or two things that you are grateful for this year!

Also, as a little side note, Missionary Moms will be taking a brief break for the next week as we savor the holiday and enjoy some restful time just being together as family. Be sure to come back next week though as we start preparing for Christmas and begin some discussion on the significance of tradition!

(Post by: Ashley)

Teaching Your Preschooler Through Activities

The beauty of teaching your preschooler is how simple it can be, even if you have taken on the task of formally teaching preschool at home . Unfortunately though, having to do all the normal house stuff and do school every day can feel very overwhelming. I know that’s been my impression. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Especially for young children, school is life and for many of us moms, life is laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, vacuuming…well you know, you ladies are living it!

Everyday activities provide a venue for teaching many concepts to your preschoolers. It also helps them learn that all the work that goes into running a home isn’t just magically done by someone while they’re sleeping (which will be helpful when they’re teenagers!). It also is helpful for Mom because, I don’t know about you, but squeezing all of my chores into nap-time just doesn’t work sometimes, and I can’t realistically let them watch hours of TV just so I can get my work done.

Here are some everyday activities that are a good opportunity for teaching and some of the things that can be learned through them:

-Sorting and folding laundry: teaches classification and matching skills (preschool math), plus motor skills with folding

-Grocery shopping: teaches healthy food choices, identifying types of food such as fruit, vegetables, and meats

-Clean up time: teaches classification (sorting where toys go by type and function), encourages cooperation

-Cooking: teaches healthy food choices, responsibility for serving the family, fine motor skills such as stirring or cutting (depending on your child’s age)

-Chores around the house: various chores such as emptying the dishwasher, making the beds and cleaning or dusting, or putting away laundry help teach sorting, fine and gross motor skills, and offer a time to point out colors, shapes, and what certain objects do (forks, spoons, etc)

-Bathtime: a good time to discuss water and what lives in the water, why people can’t live in the water, and science experiments with water such as how much water certain containers hold (more/less/heavy/light), etc

-Getting dressed: an awesome opportunity to teach about seasons and dressing for the correct season, also naming clothes, and identifying colors; also good for teaching your child to follow directions

-Special events: doctor appointments, errands like going to the bank or post office can teach your child how the world works, science and math (when dealing with money), dealing with strangers, politeness in public, just to name a few

If nothing else everyday activities and chores can be an opportunity to teach your child comprehension by giving him multiple steps to follow. Example: “Caley, please go in the bathroom and get a Kleenex and bring it back to me.” This is an important skill for him to learn, both to obey Mommy and to follow a set of directions. You could also throw in a step that is unrelated to the chain of events. Example: “Caley, please go in the bathroom, touch your toes, spin in a circle, and get a Kleenex and bring it back to me.” This helps expand his comprehension, and it’s fun!

What are some ideas you’ve used to teach your child through everyday activities? How do you involve your child in the running of your household?

(Post by: Addie)

Victory Even from Inside the Tomb

LNBG

A dear friend that I was blessed to serve with for two years here in Russia just sent me this incredibly encouraging excerpt from the book “Let The Nation’s Be Glad.” If you haven’t read it already, this is an excellent book on the theological basis for missions.

” It will often look as though Christ is defeated.  That’s the way it looked on Good Friday.  He let Himself be libeled and harassed and scorned and shoved around and killed.  But in it all he was in control.  “No one takes (my life) from me” (John 10:18).  So it will always be.  If China were closed for forty years to the Western missionaries, it was not as though Jesus accidentally slipped and fell into the tomb.  He stepped in.  And when it was sealed over, he saved fifty million Chinese from inside – without Western missionaries.  And when it was time, he pushed the stone away so we could see what he had done.

When it looks as though he is buried for good, Jesus is doing something awesome in the dark.  “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground.  He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how” (Mark 4:26-27).  The world thinks Jesus is done for – out of the way.  They think his Word is buried and his plans have failed.

But Jesus is at work in the dark places:  “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).  He lets himself be buried, and he comes out in power when and where he pleases.  And his hands are full of fruit made in the dark.  “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it” (Acts 2:24).  Jesus goes about his invincible missionary plan “by the power of an indestructible life” (Heb. 7:16).

For twenty centuries, the world has given it their best shot to hold him in.  They can’t bury him.  They can’t hold him in.  They can’t silence him or limit him.  Jesus is alive and utterly free to go and come where ever he pleases.  All authority in heaven is his.  All things were made through him and for him, and he is absolutely supreme over all other powers (Col 1:16-17).  “He upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3).  And the preaching of his Word is the work of missions that cannot fail.”

Excerpt from John Piper’s “Let the Nations Be Glad”  (chapter 2)

How does this quote encourage you? Do you ever feel despairing as you look at the hard soil in front of you? Do you ever wonder if the work that you’re doing is actually bearing eternal fruit?  Praise God for these words that remind us that Christ is always at work and is always victorious!

Dressing Your Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving is a busy day for any hostess, but especially one that is fitting in her preparations around the demands of cross cultural ministry!  While I can’t help you locate a turkey or a can of cranberry sauce, I did want to share a few simple and doable ideas for beautifying your Thanksgiving Table.

No autumn leaves to gather where you are?  Use felt to create monogrammed napkin rings and leaf decorations.  A rectangle of felt in a coordinating color could be used as a place mat.  Felt is very easy to work with and requires no sewing since the edges don’t fray, just make sure you have sharp scissors!   Older children would be able to help by cutting out leaves and letters.  Don’t have felt where you live?  Colored cardstock or paper would work beautifully as well.

Place cards are the easiest way to make your guests feel special!  I love this simple combination of herbs and ribbon.  Don’t miss that white candle either.  Candles are a great low cost way to add ambience and elegance!

Hard to find pretty ribbon?  This project uses just a little, but packs a punch.  Find two coordinating ribbons and thread them through some cardstock trimmed with scrapbooking scissors.  It doesn’t get much easier than this!

Heather Chadduck used antique ledger paper for place cards and tied her silverware together with a ribbon.  Don’t you love how the fork becomes the place card holder?  You can see more of her great design here.

Have you ever thought of a better way to incorporate your favorite verses and quotes about thankfulness?  I’m definitely doing this!

And lastly, my FAVORITE idea is one your children will go crazy over!  Wouldn’t your little pilgrims LOVE sailing their Mayflower across the ocean?  An inexpensive map becomes an instant tablecloth.  Not a chance you’ll find one where you live?  Check here or here for some printable maps which could be used as placemats.  Or if you want to get your kids more involved, sketch a rough map on butcher paper then have them color it in, or have your older children do the “tablecloth” all themselves!  You’ll find the instructions for the ship place cards here.

However you decide to dress your table, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and that your family is blessed by all your efforts to make it a special day!

Photos: Country Living, My Home Ideas and Martha Stewart Living

(Post by: Shilo)

My Mother’s Eyes

flower

Several years ago, not long after we moved back to the US, my parents lived with us for a few weeks. The children were in elementary, middle and high school – and life was pretty crazy.

One dinnertime, after rushing around getting dinner for 8 on the table and everyone sitting down at the same moment (no small feat!) …  one of my children (we’ll call him Eyore, if that tells you anything …) looked at the meal and gave a little disappointed sigh.

I looked up and met my mother’s eye. She was looking at me, and in her eyes I saw that she knew what it had cost me to get that dinner on the table and to hear that little sigh.  She saw me.

I want you to know, you dear, hard-working, devoted mothers – that God sees you. He sees what it costs you to be where you are, to serve the way you do. He sees your work and your love and all your little secret sorrows and disappointments that no one else does. Look at Him, and see Him looking back at you, with that look of love and understanding that I saw in my mother’s eyes.

You are doing so well!

-Carolyn


Glorifying God with our Talents

From my album

“Lord, are you really in me?… why can’t I feel you?… am I bringing any Glory to you?.. am I making you smile?”
I remember praying those words as if it were yesterday; in my early Christian days I struggled with my Catholic upbringing, I recall feeling too informal before God and wondering if He would hear my prayers even if I was not following the “traditional patterns.”
I acknowledged that I indeed had a Wonderful and Mighty Father but I was not feeling like other newly-converted friends did; they looked so… FREE. I, instead, seemed to have taken a step backwards, I was not open or joyful, I was actually pushing myself to be all these wonderful things and to do the right thing but I was missing the opportunity to be lead by God.
To give you a clearer insight into that time in my life, I was still in school, class prefect, leader of the events committee, I danced, I painted, I was part of a poetry club, I enjoyed writing, drawing, I was learning photography and languages and I had just started falling in love with Digital art.
A few days down the road and all those things I had a passion for were gone. I felt bad whenever I danced, wrote, sang or worked on something that I normally enjoyed. I felt more ungrateful and shallow and I was struggling with a roller-coaster of feelings.
One evening while I was feeling sad and basically lost, I found this verse :
“Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! …”
Psalm 150

I was overwhelmed with love, joy, acceptance… I started talking to God. I prayed that He’d take my hands so that everything I built with them would Glorify His name… I prayed that He would take my feet so that they would dance for Him and no one else… I prayed that in everything I saw, in everything I wrote, in everything I was, I could honor Him.
I have never spoken about this with anyone, except my husband… From that moment onwards, from that simple prayer I felt free. I was then in love with my Maker and I wanted to express it the only way I knew how.
I was soon setting appointments with God to meet at my favorite Coffee Shop and sat alone, writing poems and love letters to Him, I was waking up before dawn and taking pictures of sunrises so that I could remember that the best Artist I had ever known was MY Father. I danced for Him… He had filled me with Joy.
The following months and years have been sweet, even during the times where I don’t feel like making something special, He has kept inspiring me, encouraging me to serve others and honor Him by being hospitable, by making my best effort to be a good mother, by standing at my husbands side, by making a simple meal for my family, by speaking to other of what He has done in my life.
I don’t know your personal story but I want to encourage you to use your talents or to discover them and to use them to give glory to your Father… to Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Whether it is homeschooling, mothering, serving at your church, being a missionary, taking pictures to show the beauty of His creation, giving advice to someone who needs it, making your house look beautiful  – or whatever you are passionate about, remember that in everything you do for others, in everything you use to Praise Him, you bring glory to Him.

“Lord I pray that in everything we do,  as little as it may seem, that we might always bring Glory to you, that we’d make you smile… May you be the force that moves us to love, to create, to see the world the way you’ve made it, beautifully and wonderfully and to be inspired…May we always remember to serve others with those talents that you have blessed us with and to share the good things in our hearts that come from you God, for everything that is good in our lives is a reflection of you, and you are reflected in the same. Amen.”

Would you like to share how you use your talents?… Is there something that you have a passion for that you think could be used to honor God?… Would you like to read more about how to use your talents to praise God?

(Post by: Ana)

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