Archive for January, 2010

Praying For One Another

If you have been a reader here for awhile, you’ll know that about every month or so we have a post to share prayer requests.  I hope and pray that this blog is not just a place to find information and be entertained, but a place to be encouraged, drawn closer to the Lord, and to be blessed through community. Though we live countries and oceans apart, prayer is one way that we can serve one another in a very real and powerful way as we seek the Lord’s blessing and hand upon one another’s lives.

How can we pray for you today? Please revisit this post and spend some time praying for your sisters and fellow laborers in Christ!

(Post by: Ashley)


Schooling Options: I need your help!

Hello Friends!

I am hoping to put together a series of posts on the topic of schooling options on the mission field, but I am going to need to borrow some of your wisdom! If you have school-aged kids and are serving overseas, would you be willing to participate in a brief survey to share about your experience? I am hoping to put together a series of posts on various schooling options, their pros and cons, and to share some of your experiences as encouragement for other moms.

Please email me (Ashley) at or leave a comment on this post to let me know if you would like to participate. I need moms to share on the topics of:

Home-school and Home-school Co-op

National School

International School

Missionary School

Internet School/ Correspondence

Boarding School

Other options?

Please get in touch with me and I’ll send you the survey! Thank you so much!

(Post by: Ashley)

Busyness is a Blessing!

“Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander.” 1 Timothy 5:13-14

I was just reading this passage today, and though it pertains to widows, it has a great and encouraging point to take away for all of us busy moms! Sometimes I waste so much of my energy trying to make my life less busy so I can have more time to relax. For some reason I often would like to believe that it would be both achievable and desirable to be a mom, wife, missionary, and still have an abundance of free time to spend however I would choose. This passage today was pleasantly freeing as I saw again that it is part of God’s plan for wives and moms to be busy and to not give the opportunity for sinful idleness and its accompanying sins to take hold. In our relative youth, with our energy and capacity, Satan would love to try to harness such things for his purposes. Thankfully part of God’s design for moms is to bless us with plenty of worthwhile things to keep us busy and thus help guard against the sins that come along with having too much time on our hands! Of course where there is a will for sin, there is a way, but praise God for building in a natural guard rail for us.

What are your thoughts? Do you often find yourself trying to escape busyness? Do you have an easy time embracing it as a blessing?

Helping Our Kids become Helpers

Have your kids ever surprised you with the things they are capable of doing? I feel like it happens all of the time! Part of it is because they grow and change so fast, and part of it is that I think we just plain underestimate them!

Thanks to some friends who are a bit more on-top-of-it in this area than I am, I’ve been realizing that I need to be more intentional to give my kids age-appropriate challenges. One of the main things that I’ve been working on is helping my kids take the next steps in being more self-sufficient and helpful around the home. The best part about this is that not only is it incredibly helpful to me, but more importantly, the kids LOVE the challenges and feel so fulfilled as they see themselves as true helpers, AND it is so great for their development! My kids are 2 and 4, so we’re talking about little guys being a big help!

I know we often have plans for teaching our kids various skills and topics. As Christian parents, most of us have plans to help our kids grow in their knowledge of God. Another area that is great to evaluate and plan for is helping our kids grow in taking care of themselves as well as in taking part in helping at home. It is a wonderful thing for our kids to learn how to serve and be a part of a family, and to take ownership for making home life run smoothly.

Here are some challenges for little ones that help them learn and feel a sense of accomplishment, teach them to be more self-sufficient, and that encourage them to help serve within the family:

-Getting dressed and un-dressed

-Buttons, snaps, zippers, laces

-Putting away toys, and sorting them by putting them in the right bins. This is a given of course, but I am so often tempted to do it myself since I am faster than they are. BUT, the point is that they learn how to do it themselves and that the responsibility is theirs and not mine.

-Putting dirty clothes in the laundry. Older kids can sort whites, lights, and darks and perhaps even start the washer.

-Putting away clean laundry. Even a 2 year old can learn where his shirts, pants, pajamas, and socks go, as long as he can reach them. Older kids can fold their own laundry as well.

-Clearing dishes from the table. This is my 4-year-old’s favorite chore. My 2-year old even likes to help with the plastic things.

-Dusting. They might not do a perfect job, but little guys can be a big help and have lots of fun if you just give them a damp rag and show them what to do.

-Putting away certain dishes. We have Tupperware and non-breakable items on lower shelves. It would probably be easier for me to put them away myself right now, but it is teaching a skill, and soon my daughter will be able to put the glass things away too.

-Setting the table. You might want to put glass things out yourself, but little guys can do a fine job at putting silverware and napkins out if they know what is need at the meal.

– Making their bed. Some bedding is easier than others, but of course the point is teaching them how to do it and giving them the chance to practice.

This list might just look like a list of things that kids will learn at some point regardless, but the point is that we often wait too long when our little guys are actually highly capable and eager to help at a young age. Sometimes we don’t give them opportunities to help with things that they are more than able and excited to do if just given a bit of instruction!

What skills are your kids capable of that totally surprise you? How have you seen them excited about being helpers? Are you like me in that you often fall into the trap of just doing things yourself to save time in the moment rather than investing to build upon a skill? Please share!

(Post by: Ashley)

How to Post Larger Pictures on Blogger

(Some more great help from Ana to make your blogs fabulous! Check out her blog and you’ll agree that she knows how to make things lovely! ~Ashley)

Blogger (in draft) has a new option to post XLarge images. They are about 550px wide (this is the easy way to go).

There’s another option which takes a bit more time but allows you to post bigger images, I’ll try to explain both in detail.

1. Log in to draft.blogger

2. Click on the image icon and a new menu will be displayed.

3. That menu will give you 2 options:
1) To browse your computer for the picture
2) To paste the image link
Basically #1 allows you to upload a picture from your computer and then resize it to blogger’s major capacity which is about 550-600px wide.
#2 Is more time consuming but allows you to post larger pictures, the only inconvenience is that after you add the link you need to resize your pictures to fit your post area.
(Upload through Blogger)
1. Browse your computer and add your image – to add more than one go to ADD ANOTHER IMAGE and it will open more browsing bars.
2. Blogger will upload a medium-size image  by default – in order to change the size hover your pointer over the picture and click just once. By doing that you will open a small menu that will show either under or over the photo with the sizes available, click on X-Large.
3. The picture will immediately change size 🙂
(Uploading through an image hosting site like: flickr, photo bucket, tinyurl…)
1. You need to upload the image to the site of your choice, most of them give you a menu that displays all the image codes, the one you will need is “direct link” or “photo url”copy that link.
2. Paste it on the blogger option that reads ” Or paste a web address here”
3. This will display a new option when you click over the picture “original size” –  click on that one.
4. Now, usually good quality images are bigger than 1000px which means that the photo will probably be too big for your post area – make sure you post big images and align them to the center which is another option that shows on the menu along with the image sizes.
5. Changing this is easy but time consuming – in order to change the size you need to double click on the picture until the selection lines appear around it – like it’s shown on the image above, place your pointer over one of the white squares in the corners and drag the picture until it’s the size you need.
While you drag the picture you will see a square with changing numbers in the corners, which could be on the top or bottom of the picture – it will tell you how many pixels your picture has, you need to match that to you post area size or less.

Now, I’d like to know how many of you play the photographer role at home?  – Do you embellish pictures with any specific program?

(Post by: Ana)

Haiti: An opportunity to help our children understand the blessing of sacrificial living

The widow in Luke 20:45-47 has always stood out to me. Here is a woman who gives not out of her abundance, or who decides to live a life less extravagant to give generously, here is a woman who gives all she has out of obedience. It is this woman that Jesus applauds for her sacrificial giving and it is through her that he highlights that the gift is secondary to the heart of the giver. In light of the crisis occurring in Haiti right now I found myself once again reflecting on the heart of the widow. I have to admit my initial response was far from what it should have been. Watching images of the crisis and hearing reports of the victims I found myself quickly trying to separate myself from the tragedy. This was the easiest thing to do, I would pray for the victims, but I could not give of my time with three young children at home, and certainly not of my financial resources at this time when medical bills are threatening to drown us and our income is not consistent month to month.

I am always looking for ways to give that don’t involve cash donations because finances for our family are so very tight. In the past we have been able to give out of our grocery savings by stockpiling items that are on sale and then donating them to local shelters. But when a tragedy such as the earthquake occurs often such medical stockpiling is not as helpful as cash donations. HOWEVER we are taught through the example of the widow to give generously and not always out of our excess but simply out of obedience to God). In the wake of this earthquake that has taken thousands of lives and that occurred in a country whose infrastructure was ill equipped to handle such tragedy the best way to give at this time is cash rather then resources. As a missionary not only in our town but to our children I found myself wondering how to involve our whole family in this process of giving, both to encourage in our children (and ourselves) global compassion and awareness but also increase our capacity to give sacrificially not out of abundance. Our family took inventory this week and tried to think of some ways that we could give generously together for the victims of Haiti. Here are some ideas we had to raise and “find” money to donate, some of them “hurt” our budget more then others, all are helping us grown in the spirit of sacrificial giving.

Give out of our “abundance”: I always thought that giving meant giving up things you do that aren’t necessary for survival, such as coffee or treats, or going out to eat, or perhaps television. Our family does not have anything in our budget right now that falls under such categories so cutting out the “unnecessary” was not an option (although this is a wonderful way to sacrificially give!) so we had to think a bit outside the box. Our girls have piggy banks in our room they have been saving, when we explained what happened and watched some edited video footage our 2 and 3 year old gave 3 of their quarters to the cause. This was about 1/2 their “savings” a generous gift indeed. Jon and I decided to eat more food out of our freezer this month and trim back some of our meals to vegetarian to trim our grocery costs for the month.

Give out of our talents: This was a fun area to brainstorm in. We are spending all day tomorrow baking sugar cookies and decorating them. We are then individually packaging them and selling them to co-workers, and taking them in to stores and places we frequent asking if they can “sell” them with a sign that says, “all proceeds to help the victims of Haiti”. I am doing similar things with some of the items the kids and I have made together such as homemade sidewalk chalk, and picture frames. I am also working on several sewing projects which I will sell and donate all the profits.

Give our “stuff”: We are in the process of going through the kids room (and entire house) to find items we can sell for some extra money. The girls went through their toys as well. These items we are hoping will not only bless another family but the cash earned from selling them will be able to provide some much needed medical relief to some of the victims.

Give our time: We thought of this idea and though it isn’t practical for our young family a family with children older then three may be able to donate their time to local relief organization. Often they need help processing funds, or packaging items for victims. Your donation of time enables more of the incoming funds to go to the victims and less to staffing needs.

Recycle: My husband went through his garage and was able to find some metals to recycle for some extra money to go toward our fund.

Using your blog / read a blog to help donate! Money Saving Mom has challenged blogger to use their blogs to spread awareness and challenge others to give, she and many others are offering to donate for every comment made on their posts to help Haiti. The best part is that you don’t have to own a blog just click on her post and you will see a whole list of blogs that are donating an amount for every blog link or comment saying how you will give. This blog post alone has raised over $40 to the cause!

Once we are done collecting the funds we are sending them in all at once to the organization we chose to help distribute them to people in need, World Vision. It is helpful for you to send in your items all at once to save on processing time for the organization. We chose World Vision for a wide variety of reasons, the main one is that they have been working in Haiti for quite some time and our a local organization we have worked with in the past within our own community.

Please join in the discussion! What are some ways you involve your children in globally and sacrificially giving? Is it important to you to reach out beyond your immediate place of service or do you feel that spreads you too thin? What are ways you give not out of your abundance but out of obedience and teach your children to do so as well?

Helping Haiti victims can be delicious!

(Post by: Amie)

Beautiful Art No Matter Where You Live

Photo: L’aviva Home

Part of making our homes a sanctuary for our families is providing an environment which is not only safe and nurturing, but also beautiful and inspiring.  One small aspect of providing that inspiration for life is through art.

Yet, if your experience has been anything like mine, finding art for your home can be challenging when you live abroad.  Many times, preprinted art is not readily available or the local aesthetic is quite different than your own.  Then when you do find something you like, it’s inevitably out of your price range.

Still I’m obviously not here to discourage anyone!  Remember living without Target can be an opportunity to reach out to the Ultimate Designer, an opportunity to trust Him to awaken the creativity He has planted in your heart.  If you allow it to, living without {insert the name of your favorite store here} can make you more creative, just as living cross culturally can give you a broader appreciation for beauty.

Here are a few ideas to spark your God given creativity and prove that you CAN enjoy beautiful art no matter where you live!

1.  Think Outside the Frame – It doesn’t have to come in a frame to be lovely!

Hang Plates – available everywhere and economical

Photo: Real Simple

Using varying sizes and designs, you can create a beautiful display at very little cost!

Photo: Mine

If you live in a house with concrete walls, your husband might not get too excited about drilling 14 holes in the wall (can you tell I speak from experience?).  Never fear.  You can always find a gorgeous turquoise shutter and attach your plates to it so your husband only has to drill one hole.

Use Fabric – again, affordable and readily available

Photo: Ohdeedoh

Arrange coordinating fabrics in embroidery hoops and create a winsome display.  You could also wrap an artist’s canvas.

Photo: Anthropologie

How about this framed fabric?  Notice they use solid black in one of the frames since the room already has abundant color and pattern?  Using a solid colored fabric might work well for you if you have some highly patterned wallpaper in your home!

Baskets – handmade, potentially even custom made

Photo: Pottery Barn

Hanging baskets is both unexpected and a great way to add texture to your room.  In many locations, they can be custom made to your specifications!

2. Make Big out of Little – If you have small items but nothing substantial enough to hang in a larger space.

Mirrors – make any space look bigger and brighter

Photo: Real Simple

Mirrors and glass can generally be cut to size for much less overseas.  I recently purchased a 16 x 20 mirror for $4 USD at my local carpenter shop in Paraguay.

Variety Show – Frames, plates and shelves used in combination to create a larger display

Photo: BH&G

I just adore this kind of collection!  It allows you to group smaller pieces or art, frame special greeting cards or your child’s painting, and display your grandmother’s blue glass pitcher in one stunning vignette.

Check out this site for free vintage printables or this site for a sweet new piece of free art every month.

3. Repurpose – Give an old door, shutters or even a wooden ladder a home inside.

Stand alone – So charming, it needs no further adornment.

Photo: Country Living

I instantly thought of the Chronicles of Narnia when I saw this photo!  Wouldn’t this be so fun for kids?

Together We Stand – Use as a backdrop to give weight and importance to a smaller item.

Photo: Nester

The Nester repainted this cast off door and used it to encourage her family to “Abide”.  Any piece of art that reminds us to walk with God is truly inspirational in my book!

Which of these ideas most appeals to you?  Does it seem doable in your location?  I pray that God will bless you today as you serve your families and seek to make your home a sanctuary that inspires authentic, passionate living!

P.S. Next month we will be talking about maintaining a balance between being culturally appropriate and having a beautiful home.  I’d love to hear your opinion on the matter!  Jot me an email at or comment below!  Thanks!

(Post by: Shilo)

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