November 4, 2014

Happy Birthday Andrew!!

Today is a special day because our sweet little boy, Andrew, is 1 today. We really enjoy having November birthdays because they seem to usher in the holiday season for our family. 

We put up our Thankful Tree on the first and then the holiday feeling begins. We have some friends over, make a homemade cake, decorate the house a little bit. We also have the perk of being able to take a day off for all our kid's birthdays bcause of our job. 

Then for lunch we have a traditional birthday food, yellow rice, which has become a family tradition of ours. 

So happy birthday little guy! We love you so much!


June 11, 2014

Our New Home

Though it has required much work over the past 2 months, the most exciting thing about getting back overseas has been our new home. We have truly been blessed throughout our time overseas to have just the right place to fulfill our needs.

When we first got here 8 years ago, our first home was a 12' by 12' room with a small bathroom attached to the back. It was very small and warm, but it did the job - we were forced to get out and make acquaintances and learn the language. With each passing move, and with each additional child, the homes have become larger.

Our new home has 4 rooms. A bedroom for us, for the kids, and for the baby. We also have a beautiful kitchen complete with cabinets (what a novelty!). In the small backyard the previous renter (also a Westerner) built a two story play area with a slide and three swings! We can look out the kitchen window and see them happily running around. We've also been blessed with a small office off the back of our bedroom. When the door is shut you cannot hear the kids playing - of course, they can still come in the room, but it's a good start. :)

We are looking forward to this next season of life overseas because of the wonderful provision of this home.

The front of our house

Side of the backyard with Mama's great helper

The dining area with one of the bedroom doors behind us

Living room with the door to the backyard behind that cute guitarist

Backyard during our Easter egg hunt

Abi in the play set looking for eggs

The kids sitting on the play set's steps

Mama's new dishwasher!

The front yard after an intense rain

Dining/ living area with our bedroom door in the back

Tea party in the backyard

Some cute kids welcoming you to the front porch

January 21, 2014

Finding My Significance

As many of you know, I (B) began suffering from panic attacks over 1 1/2 years ago. We still don't know how they started, but we've been able to understand more of why they came and how to keep them away.

As with most people, there are many factors that contribute to panic and/or anxiety, but mostly they have to do with change in ones life - new city, new job, new hours, new responsibilities, having children, etc. But for me, I found that the very root of my anxiety came from some old thoughts patterns of how I viewed myself and how I viewed others.

The best resource that I came across was a book recommended to me by my counselor during the fall of last year which is entitled The Search for Significance. This book suggests that all humans tend to believe 4 basic lies:

  1. I have to meet certain standards in order to feel good about myself.
  2. I have to meet the approval of certain others to feel good about myself.
  3. People who fail are unworthy of love and deserve to be punished.
  4. I am what I am. I cannot change. There is no hope for me.
At first I thought these statements were too simple to incapsulate all my "issues." But as the author took me through each one, I began to see that these statements, or lies, often times ruled me and forced me into some inappropriate behaviors, thoughts, and actions.

The best part of the book was how simply he answered these lies by stating the core truths of the gospel (these correspond to the false beliefs above).

  1. Because of justification, we are completely forgiven and fully pleasing to God. We no longer have to fear failure.
  2. Because of reconciliation, we are totally accepted by God.
  3. We no longer have to fear rejection. Because of propitiation, we are deeply loved by God. We no longer have to fear punishment or punish others.
  4. Because of regeneration, we have been made brand new, complete in Christ. We no longer need to experience the pain of shame.
As I read through many passages from Scripture, I was reminded of how powerful the gospel is. I was reminded that I am deeply loved, completely forgiven, fully pleasing to God, totally acceptable and accepted, and that I am absolutely complete in Christ.

The hard work of the book was the last half in which the reader is taught how to replace these long standing false beliefs with the powerful truths of the gospel. It didn't come naturally, but I am much better off now that I can ask myself "What false belief am I believing? Why am I believing this? What is the truth about myself and this other person?"

I found that much of my anxiety came from believing these false beliefs and letting them go unchecked. 

If you ever find yourself overreacting to certain experiences or getting easily flustered by other's comments or actions, I highly recommend going through this book AND it's corresponding workbook.

January 9, 2014

4 Becomes 5

It's been such a joy having Andrew with us. He is now 2 months old. He sleeps great, eats great, and smiles a lot. He is totally spoiling us! Here are some of our favorite pics from the past 2 months.

A beaming mama!

Holding Andrew just after birth (still connected to the placenta in the blue wrapping)

I think she likes him!

Happy Grandparents (minus Caleb who couldn't sit still)

Sweet sleeper

B's Mom and Abi kissing his head :)

Caleb was very happy about his new hat and Ernie shirt

Well, I'm happy to see you too, Andrew!

Nothing like a nap with a newborn


Our three (!!!) sweet kids

August 3, 2013

Leaving Home and Going Home

Getting ready to leave your family home for 7 months can be an arduous process. What to do with your car and motor bike? How do you pay the taxes? Electricity, water, phone still need to be paid? Then there is thinking through ministry obligations. What do my teammates need that I normally provide? How can I set them up to be self-sufficient? Do they need a book or two? Do they have an email address? Do they know who to call if something goes wrong? All in all it took a full 2 months to really feel ready to leave.


In addition to that there were things that needed to be set up for our time in the States. Getting a place to live, a car. Making doctor appointments, mid-wife appointments, and setting up a few speaking engagements. Oh, and then packing of course. It proved a little stressful to have a foot in Southeast Asia and a foot in America. 

Then came the preparations for the 4 flights (1.5 hr / 1.5 hr / 9.5 hr / 11.5 hr) with a 2 year old and a 4 year old. Thinking through what they needed took quite a bit of time. Then came the goodbyes. We had to say goodbye to our neighbors, our dear friends and co-workers (praying for a co-worker, below), and Abigail had a little party to say goodbye to her classmates (above). After 2 months of preparations, and 2 solid weeks of errands, packing, and meeting with people to get things settled, we were MORE than ready to get on that plane and come home.

So, thank you to all of you who prayed for our preparations and our travel. We have felt very grateful to the Lord who tied everything up by the time it was ready to go (and not a moment earlier - which is often the case). Now that we are Stateside we are excited to see many of you who pray for us all the time.

March 16, 2013

Good Reads

A year or so ago we felt like we needed to start making reading a higher priority in our lives. With a 2 year old and 4 year old that takes some work, but thankfully we have been able to stop some less restful activities so that we can get some reading in. So, I'd just like to tell you a little bit about some thoughtful and helpful books in no particular order. 3, 2, 1...GO!

I already blogged about this earlier, but I can't speak highly enough about this book. Have you ever heard someone say that prayer is two-way communication? Have you ever thought that concept sounds nice but don't know how to do it? Well, this book will give you a clear picture of what listening can look like. Rustenbach starts with his own story: healing prayer sounds a little weird, God's healing in his life, how God has used him to help others find healing through prayer. That's the first third. The next third of the book helps you start putting it into practice. The last third is how God can use you to guide others through healing prayer. I love how personal and practical it is. By the way, it changed the way I pray and the way I experience God and hear Him in prayer.

I think parenting books are really boring. I feel like I'm mining the long boring stories and the "3 steps to..." in order to find 1-2 things that I can practically implement with my kids. Most books tell me what to do when my kid is disobeying (discipline). I love how Campbell makes parenting all about unconditional love. How am I showing my kids that they are loved unconditionally? Am I really giving them quality time and lots of touch? Campbell basically reminds us that it's all about unconditional love. That is what kids need most from us. It was refreshing to be reminded that it is pretty easy to really love your kids if you just take the time to stop thinking only about yourself and what you think your kids should be doing. This is a good companion your boring parenting books.

I thought I basically understood humility before I read this book a few years back. Turns out, I didn't. Not even close. Though we consider humility to be one of multiple fruits of the Spirit, it really is the foundation for a fruitful, God honoring life. This book doesn't have many pages, but you just can't afford to breeze through it.

I think this book was written to mothers, but I still found it insightful, humorous, and encouraging. This book is basically just a bunch of stories from a mom with a bunch of kids and the lessons she has learned about herself through all the challenges. She is vulnerable, honest, and clearly letting the Spirit work in her life. It is a joyful read, yet convicting as well.

Do you want to be challenged about how God is working in the world? Trousdale's book is based on his travels throughout the Middle East and Africa where multitudes of unreached peoples are coming to faith. You may not feel so pessimistic about the world if you take the time to get through this quick read.

Hands down the most honest and thoughtful book I've ever read on prayer. This guy is real about his struggles in life, especially his difficult family life, and prayer. This is not a book on how to pray. You won't feel guilty reading this. You will be encouraged, however, to start taking your prayer life seriously. Miller does give some practical ways to do it, but mostly he reminds us that deep down we really do want to speak to God and hear from Him and that we desperately need to hear from Him.

These are two thoughtful devotionals for Lent and Advent. Each day Wanterin gives you 4-5 pages to help you meditate on Scriptures appropriate for the season. Sometimes it's devotional and other times he uses his creativity to re-tell the story in his own words. Both are powerful, inspirational, and worshipful.

This biography tells the story of a current missionary and the lengths to which God went to get his attention and call him to faith. Simple, well-written, and raw. You will find yourself thankful that God calls sinful ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

Though this is written for those ministering cross-culturally, you will be greatly challenged and inspired. Cross-cultural workers are in a battle that this author understands from his own experience. Thus, there is great need to prioritize time with God. I love how this book is written. It is only 90 pages, but it is PACKED. I've read this book 4 times and each time it puts a magnifying glass on those areas of my life that need work, yet without the feeling of guilty. I'm fairly certain that anyone needs these reminders no matter what their official vocation is.

Ok. So by the title you know what this book is about. I've read lots of books about sexual struggles. Many of them tell you to just try harder. Many make you feel not very spiritual. Others tell there own struggles so graphically that the best way to curb sexual struggle is by not reading it any more! Cusick does none of the above. He tells you his story. It's sobering and scary. Then he tells you what things were helpful in getting clean from sexual sin. Since it is written by a guy, I think it's safe to say that this book is primarily for men. But wives, I think you'd gain a lot by reading this as well. Cusick has done a great service to the Christian community by telling us his story. I'm sure it wasn't easy, but it is really, really valuable.

If you are a man and have a daughter, you will be blessed (and a little horrified) by this book. You will be reminded about the HUGE role you have in that precious little life, and you will be stirred up to take the first steps of engaging with your daughter. Johnson did a great job writing this book. It is very readable, motivational, and yet not depressing.

Again, I don't really like parenting books. However, this isn't so much a parenting book as a "family-ing" book. By telling us their stories and letting us in on their traditions, the Hughes have motivated me to think about the legacy that I can leave for my family. Again, it isn't difficult, but it just takes doing something. I was a little bothered by how conservative they were, but it seems like they are of an older generation. The message was still quite clear and very admirable. But, you have got to read this with your spouse. Whether you go through their questions at the end of each chapter, or you just talk about what stuck out to you, you won't really implement anything if you haven't both been exposed to their example and ideas.

Alright, that takes care of the last few years. I'll get back to you in another two years!