Archive for November, 2011

Tuesday Topic: God and Culture

God declares in His word that mankind is created in His very own image, each of us reflecting various characteristics of God himself. It is incredible when we take time to see how this truth is reflected in countries and people groups throughout the world, each with different cultures full of people reflecting various aspects of God’s very own nature. What are some aspects of the culture where you live where you see the image of God shining through? Are the people hospitable? Are they generous? Do they work hard to do quality work? Are they sacrificial?… We have friends here from Indonesia, Niger, Kenya, Hungary, Paraguay, Brazil, the U.S., Pakistan, Ukraine, India, Australia, Latvia, Kiribati….and all over the globe! It would be so encouraging to hear some of the certainly diverse ways that God’s character is being revealed throughout the earth!

(If you would like to pose a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to formissionarymoms@gmail.com . Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, and specify also if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

And the winner is…..

…..Sam who blogs over at Samantha Today! Congratulations Sam! We hope this book is a blessing to you! (You’ll be receiving an email soon!)

And we hope and pray that each of you have experienced profound joy in your relationship with God during this season of giving thanks!

Last chance for the giveaway!

If you haven’t yet entered the giveaway for Ann Voskamp’s book, “One Thousand Gifts,” be sure to leave a comment on Shilo’s post, “Thankful for Yellow and Brown Swirl Carpet!” We’ll be drawing a winner by the end of the 28th in the western hemisphere!

Preparing for Advent

I hope you have all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I love this time of year and how we move right from a season of thanksgiving into a time of reflection on the Lord’s coming to this earth to dwell with us. What better than a celebration of gratitude to prepare us for celebrating Jesus’ birth?!

In these few days before December arrives we’re spending a little bit of time getting ready for the advent seasons. Decorations will soon go up and we’ve just gotten our advent book and ornaments ready. More important than aesthetics and activity, of course, is setting aside time this season to truly anticipate the coming of Jesus. I thought I’d share just a few links that might get your mind’s and hearts thinking about this important season, if you haven’t started already.

This free book by Ann Voskamp is the one that we are using as a family this year to prepare our hearts throughout the Advent season. It is scripture focused and beautifully written. You can print the book, as well as the ornaments for each day. I made a very simple thanksgiving tree that I saw here and am using it for our advent ornaments as well.

I’ve mentioned this book  before while sharing about the significance of tradition. I absolutely love how Noel Piper encourages families to create traditions that place the focus on truly celebrating God in our festivities. Follow the link to download the book for free.

My dear friend, Vicky, an amazingly talented and  creative sister in Christ, made this simple modern version of the advent wreath last year. She has lots of other amazing holiday celebration/decoration ideas that might also inspire you.

Here was another great advent calendar idea from Jami last year on Missionary Moms. Also, in the comments a number of you left other great ideas and links!

Lastly, I just came across this advent wreath and thought it was a fun, lovely, and simple idea.

What are your plans to help your family focus on Christ this advent season? Do you have any ideas that you’d be able to share with us?

(Post by: Ashley)

Tuesday Topic: Thanksgiving!

I am so grateful, even in this very moment, for Shilo’s beautiful post yesterday as I have the chance now to give thanks for my computer, despite the fact that it is dying and refusing to upload our Tuesday Topic icon!

Thanksgiving is coming up in just a couple of days and I would love it if we could take a moment to share a couple of things that we are especially thankful for. Let’s encourage one another in thanksgiving as we publicly proclaim God’s amazing grace in our lives!

Also, I would love to hear how you are celebrating Thanksgiving if you have another moment to spare! Who are you celebrating with? What are you cooking? For those of you overseas, do you have any cooking adventures to share as you try to prepare authentic American dishes with the ingredients available to you?

And if you haven’t already, I hope you’ll check out yesterday’s post and enter the giveaway! The winner will be drawn on Monday!

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends! I am thankful for you!

If you would like to pose a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to formissionarymoms@gmail.com . Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, and specify also if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Thankful for Yellow and Brown Swirl Carpet (and a special giveaway)

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I’ve been pondering the difference that a heart full of gratitude makes in how we view our homes.  Read on to find out why I see our current home differently than all those before it. 

We’d never weathered such a storm. I’d been sick before but this was different.  Three weeks bedridden confirmed what before we had only suspected.  Multiple sclerosis was now in the ship with us and it wasn’t smooth sailing.

In the midst of the tumult, we were convinced of one thing.  We needed to return to the US for medical attention and we needed to do it quickly.  MS was hardly known in our country of service and we needed the God given wisdom of experienced physicians.

We booked our tickets and made our appointments and packed up our house and parked our car and shipped off our dog and cried our goodbyes and tried to leave well and clung with all our strength to the God who is good and only does good (And doesn’t leaving always feel like one long run on sentence?  It absolutely takes your breath away).

We had very little idea of what life would look like when we landed, but we had confidence that God was leading us.  And wow, what a spectacular experience to walk in the way that He had prepared for us.  From the hugs and concern of our friends, to the comfortable, dependable car, to the earlier doctor’s appointments, to the food shower, to the rent free housing in the exact place we love to land, His grace was everywhere, abounding. We didn’t deserve any of it.  It was all too much.  It was only His grace.

I could write a post on each of those things, but it was my response to our house that surprised me most.  It’s a great house despite the fact that the front door doesn’t open unless you kick it, the curtains have all shrunk and are no longer floor length, the windows are drafty, the paint on the walls is scuffed and there’s brown and yellow swirl carpet in the kitchen.

At other times in my life that would have been a list of complaints, but this time it’s just a list.  I truly can’t bring myself to utter one complaint about this house in spite of the stylistic and cosmetic quirks.

There’s only one explanation for this complete shift in my perspective:  When my heart is continually overwhelmed with thankfulness for God’s abounding grace to me, I see things differently.  Thankfulness changes my perspective.  How else can you explain the fact that I actually laughed out loud when I saw the psychedelic kitchen carpet for the first time?  J  Thankfulness allows me to lighten up, minimizing the material, so I can focus on what’s truly important, the fact that God has been so exceedingly kind to my family.

I’m not saying that I have stopped caring about making my home beautiful or that I’ll be putting down brown and yellow swirl carpet in my dream house.  Thankfulness doesn’t ask us to forsake our God given desire to create beautyThankfulness ushers us toward a greater perception of God’s goodness, inviting us to see to the beauty BEYOND the material, to search for the grace of our precious Lord Jesus in every imperfection who alone can redeem all things. 

Modern day poet and passionate proclaimer of grace, Ann Voskamp sums it up this way in her book One Thousand Gifts: “When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt but I who am in His great debt, then doesn’t all become gift?”

How else could brown and yellow carpet or multiple sclerosis be a gift, except that I’m filled with gratitude for His overwhelming grace towards me.

Are you missing His grace to you simply because it’s wrapped in an imperfect or even undesirable package?  Will you join me on the path of thankfulness to a greater awakening to His abundant grace?  

 A heart of thanksgiving is something we all desire.  One blessed reader will receive a  copy of Ann’s powerful, life changing book, One Thousand Gifts to encourage them along that path!   To enter, just answer the question above or leave any comment on this post.  Pass the word on to your fellow missionary moms for an extra entry (If you do this, please leave a separate comment letting us know!).  There are no geographical restrictions.  The winner will be drawn on Monday, November 28th!

(Post by: Shilo)

Learning First, Before Teaching

Awhile back I went to a homeschooling meeting with some people from my church. We were there to hear from a local homeschooling veteran, advocate, and education counselor. I’m so glad I attended because this wise woman spoke truth, as if God were speaking to me right there in the basement apartment on a Tuesday night.She went around to each attendee and spoke to each of us regarding our children, and each piece of advice was different because each family is different. To the parents of a high schooler she counseled them in this way and that, and to the new homeschooling family she told them to take an extended summer. Regarding my three children ages 6, 3.5 and 12 months at the time, she told me, with tears in her eyes, “Enjoy your children, take them to the park at least twice a week, play with them, because before you know it they will be all grown up and you’ll be walking them down the aisle toward their husband.”By the end I was tearing up too.It was exactly what God needed to tell me. I can get very caught up in teaching the “right” thing and “doing school” enough times per week that I sometimes forget to let my kids run around outside or to play a game with them! I didn’t think I would be “that” kind of a mom, but when I have so many things to do inside my house (school, cleaning, naptime) I sometimes forget to venture out for the sake of my kids.The whole thing, speaking with this woman, was something I’d been realizing that I had needed for a few months. I had recently been shown (convicted is too strong a word) that, much to my dismay and surprise, I don’t know everything. Yet I had been spouting off advice left and right about what to do, blah, blah, blah, when really I should be learning more and experiencing more before I go and say what someone *should* do. This includes my kids. I need to be focusing on making my walk with Jesus straight while I’m trying to train my children.

The woman at the meeting quoted Luke 6:40 “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Jesus is giving the Sermon on the Mount in this passage. If we as parents desire for our children to be lovers of God and doers of his Word, we first have to love God and do his Word. This had a profound effect on me regarding my roles in life and specifically my role as a homeschooler.

Practically it means I need to make time to meet with God and read the Bible and other supplemental books on godly living. I need to address issues and repair them. I need to meet with Godly women mentors and be discipled, not just disciple people.  If I want to make sure my kids have a strong relationship with God, I first need to have a strong relationship with Him. I feel the weight more heavily when I realize that my own study of the word and relationship with Christ affects not just me, but extends to my children as well. Yet it is not a burden. It gives freedom!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” –Matthew 11:28-30

As you seek to teach your children, whether or not you are homeschooling, in what ways are you seeking to continue to be a learner yourself? Are there any ways that you feel you need to seek growth in order to better lead your children?
(Post by: Addie)

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