Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It Starts with You

I am hoping to share ten ways to encourage a global perspective with your kids over the next few weeks. Some will get a post of their own, some will be shared together, at the end of each post I would LOVE for you to share your own ideas. The more you share, the more helpful for all of us. Otherwise, you've just got me.

On to #1:  In order to encourage a global perspective in your kids, it has to start with You!

Susie Larson writes in her book Growing Grateful Kids that we cannot teach what we do not impart. This is true in growing grateful kids and this is true in growing a global perspective. The needs of our world need to be important to us, if we want our kids to care. We have to expose ourselves to those needs. To allow ourselves to hurt for those who are hurting.

This is not an easy thing. I would much rather keep my head inside my own comfortable house and forget that the majority of the world does not live so comfortably. I know God calls us to be Jesus to those who are hurting, but sometimes it feels to hard to go where He has called.

The Israelites struggled with this too. During Haggai's time (one of the minor prophets), they were called by God to rebuild the temple. They started the job, but then stopped because of outside pressures. Instead they started building comfortable houses for themselves and abandoned their mission.

In her book, The Missional Mom, Helen Lee writes about this time and this people. She said:

During the sixteen years after they abandoned work on the temple, the Israelites demonstrated that God's mission was not as important to them as focusing on their own lives. They were fearful of their surrounding enemies and culture, but instead of engaging in a battle against those pressures, they chose to escape into their paneled houses and ignore the clear calling God had given them to rebuild His temple. The consequence for this abandonment of their calling, in addition to earning God's displeasure, is that their labors produced very little fruit. 

Ignorance may be bliss, but God calls us to more. He calls us to care for the poor and defenseless. He calls us to "administer true justice and show compassion and mercy to one another." (Zechariah 7:9) And to do that, we need to expose ourselves to our world and learn about the needs.

So how do we do that in a country where affluence appears to be the norm? Here are a few ideas:

1.  Take a Perspective Class. I have many friends who have taken this class and raved. It is a class that "shares how God has been moving, how the global Church has responded, and what the greatest needs in world evangelization are." There are classes all over the country, and on-line classes as well. Visit their website at to find out more.

2.  Read books and magazines that revolve around this topic. Compassion International and Voice of the Martyrs both produce magazines with articles centered on the needs of people groups around the world. There are a myriad of books that will expand on those needs and our response to them. Two that have been impactful in my life are The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns and The Missional Mom by Helen Lee.

3.  If you are presented with an opportunity to travel on a mission trip, take it. It may mean sacrifice financially and emotionally, but nothing enlarges your perspective like seeing firsthand how others around the world actually live.

In order to change the world, we need to know what needs changed. But once we start to expose ourselves to the hurts of the world, it is extremely overwhelming. 

But God. 

He knows every need intimately and He knows how we are best equipped to make a difference. He WANTS to use us to change the world. He WANTS us to be His hands and feet. Are you willing to step out? Seek His wisdom, follow His leading and step by step He will guide your feet. 

Now it is YOUR turn! What resources (books, movies, etc.) have had the biggest impact in enlarging your global perspective?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Blessed to Bless

This phrase has apparently been stalking me over the last few weeks. I’ve been hearing it as others speak, and reading it where others have written. All the while those words, “blessed to bless” tumble around inside my head as I move about my every days.

It’s true you know. We have not been given much to hoard and keep for ourselves. Contrary to the “American dream” type of living, that surrounds us.

We have been blessed to bless. And miraculously through the handing out of the blessing, it somehow finds its way back into our pockets. Conversely, when we hoard the blessings they oftentimes slip away leaving us feeling cheated.

We have been blessed to bless.

So how do I teach my kids this lesson? In a me-centered materialistic society, how do I help them learn and live this in their every days. I won’t pretend to be an expert because I’m not. But I have a thought, one focus that might help.

Several years ago, after watching the movie Slumdog Millionaire, I kinda lost it for a day or two. The movie had a profound effect on me. It made me want to do more. In the aftermath, I wrote this:

I want to be intentional about teaching my kids about the world and the orphans and the kids who are hurting. Maybe if they grow up with that awareness they can do something to change it. Maybe that is one way I can do something. So here are the goals I have for my children: To give them an awareness of the needs of the world around them; to grow compassion for those needs, and a desire/will to act on those needs and make a difference.
Honestly, I kind of forgot I had even made that goal until I was reading back through my moleskin notebook and rediscovered it. But I think there is a kind of magic in writing goals like that down. Even if you don’t revisit the actual written goal, pen to paper somehow indents them a little firmer in your heart. Looking back, I can see evidence of that goal's indention in how we've lived our lives.

Not that we are doing it perfectly, or even consistently. We struggle with materialism and wanting a comfortable life every day. Often our choices reflect the "American Dream,"way more than a "Blessed to Bless" attitude.  But, it is something we are aware of and trying to teach our kids. We are trying to teach them a global perspective with the hope that they will live lives of compassion and make a difference in the lives of those who are hurting and vulnerable. We hope that they will live out the phrase, “blessed to bless” as they grow.

With all that in mind, I am planning a series of posts over the next few weeks on ways we have intentionally tried to encourage a global perspective in our kids. I know for a fact that many of you who actually read my ramblings have the same goal for your families and I hope that you will add your thoughts and ideas along the way so we can all learn from each other.

One last thought, I recently read the following post on the Lifesong Blog, written by a high school student in Illinois. She writes on why we have been blessed to bless. It is well worth the read.

We have been blessed to bless. May we all live this out, in practical ways, to the glory of our God!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Knit One, Purl One

Three years ago I picked up knitting. I had several friends who had taught themselves and were creating adorable projects. It looked like fun. So, I watched You Tube videos, looked up simple patterns on-line, picked the absolute easiest one I could find and dove in. It was a scarf. All knit stitch, no purl.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

I made it about 4/5 of the way through the project and then three years ago, I put down knitting.

And never picked it up again.

Until last week.

I figured it was time to finish the scarf. So I tried, without taking a refresher course.

It is pretty obvious I needed a refresher course.

But hey, sloppy stitches and widening scarf aside, I finished.

Moral of the story, if you want one... finish what you start seems appropriate. Don't procrastinate, might be better. Persevere? Or something else.

The kids were very interested in my knitting this time around. They want their own scarves. So I'm giving it another go around. This time I've added the purl stitch to my arsenal  which ended up being a lot harder that I think it should have been.

Let's see if I can take my own advice and persevere to finish what I've started, without procrastination??

I'll let you know... hopefully sometime in the next three years.

Happy Weekend Friends.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Cover and Title Page

Our minister on Sunday reminded us that we were created for another world. This one is just the "cover and the title page;" the preview to the movie.

I heard Chip Ingram ask a question on the radio today, "Are we spending our lives or investing them?"

It is a question I need to ask myself every day: Am I spending my life on this world, that lasts but a moment, or am I investing my life in the world to come? 

Lord, help my live my every days with an eternal perspective, remembering how short life is and what's coming after. Help me to live for the world to come.

Then Aslan turned to them and said: 
"You do not look so happy as I mean you to be." 
Lucy said, "We're so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have sent us back into our own world so often." 
"No fear of that," said Aslan. "Have you not guessed?" 
Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them. 
"There was a real railway accident," said Aslan softly. "Your father and mother and all of you are--as you used to call it in the Shadowlands--dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended:  this is the morning." 
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were  so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. 
All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page:  now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read:  which goes on forever:  in which every chapter is better than the one before.
excerpt take from The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

Monday, October 22, 2012

God or The Man?

A kind of game has evolved between me and the 4-year olds, one in particular. He came up with it, I just play along.

He asks a question. I ask a question. He gives the answer.

The question is always the same, changed only by what we happen to be driving by in the moment. My response NEVER changes, if I try, I get in trouble.

There are only two answers: God or The Man

Hey Mom, Who made the sky?
Who do you think?
Um, God.
Mom, Who made the cars?
Who do you think?
The Man

It is So. Much. Fun.

He could play for hours. I typically end it after the fifth question.

Every once in a while he questions me about this "man" of whom we speak. Where is he? How old is he? Can I meet him?

Periodically I remind him who created "the man" and how he was created to be creative.

The other day he threw a curve ball into our little game, a small, but fun, deviation.

Hey Mom, Who made the spiderweb?
A new answer, the spider.
Oh, So who made the spider?
Who do you think?
Good times, with a 4 year old. Can't wait for the next round. :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Stepping Out

Can I just say I HATE getting out of my comfort zone. HATE. IT.

Until I do.

Then I'm always glad I did.

Wish I could remember that every time I approached the step out. It would make my life a lot less tearful.

Kory tries to remind me. Heck, I try to remind me. And still, my emotions take over and tell me that if I dare leave my comfortable place, I may look the fool or get hurt, or even worse lose any semblance of control all together.

With my natural tendency toward the known, I am so thankful for a Heavenly Father (and a supportive husband) who constantly push me towards the unknown.

My life is a lot fuller because of it. And maybe, just maybe one of these days, I will kick those emotions that try to tie me down to the curb and embrace the unknown... at least in a somewhat controlled kind of way.


"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."
-Neale Donald Walsh

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

An Update on our Ming Ming

Ming, Ming. The update says that is what his nannies call him. It means "little bright one" in English. I like it. It fits.

The update also gave us a page's worth of glimpses into his personality, likes, abilities, dislikes.

I wasn't expecting it. We didn't get any updates in the wait for Suhn except her height and weight. This update came with pictures and words, lots of words (and not near enough).

They told us he is quick to share, that music comes naturally for him and he likes to sing.

They also shared a snippet of every day life with our "little bright one."

"Ming Ming, where are you going?"
"I am going to school."
This is what our Ming Ming often says.  Ming Ming is a child who loves to study and in the morning after breakfast, he will put on his backpack and go to school.  After dinner, he will put on his backpack wanting to go to school.  The nannies will heartily laugh and say, 
“Ming Ming is so diligent, every day he wants to go to night school too!”

Ah, be still my beating heart. I CANNOT WAIT to bring my little boy home!

But for now, in the waiting, I am SO THANKFUL, that he is happy and well taken care of. That he is with nannies who laugh with him and help him go to sleep at night.

That he is loved.

Under the circumstances, I could not ask for more!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Past 12 Days

Over the summer, my man started a new job.

With the new job, came the opportunity for travel, something he did not have to do with his old job.

Yes, I've been spoiled.

And as a spoiled wife who is used to having her husband home, I was hoping for a gradual easing into the travel portion of his work, maybe a one-nighter for starters?

HaHaHa, they said (they being the "powers that be" who decide these type of things).

And off he was sent on a 12-DAY TRIP.

I'm not going to lie, it was daunting. But we geared up, made plans and plunged in head first.

And now, 12 days later, he's home. (YAY!!) We survived, and surprisingly, the days went by fast.

(It helps that the traveling he was doing was for the benefit of orphans and other vulnerable children. I am so thankful he had the opportunity to go and see how Lifesong is making a difference for kids in Zambia and Ukraine and that he is now a part of the difference they are making.)

I noticed a few things while he was gone...

  • I am a compulsive door-locker/checker. When he is home, I typically check them once before bed. When he was gone, I found myself "making the rounds" several times a night. Just in case one decided to unlock itself or something.
  • Bedtime (for the kids) seemed to come earlier and earlier the longer he was gone.
  • I LOVE Downton Abbey. Thanks to a friend who was willing to loan me season 2 my evenings were filled with English accents.
  • I used to be able to sleep without a sound machine, not so much anymore. 
  • My imagination can over-react (just a little), at night, when I'm trying to sleep, without a sound machine.
  • Going out with five kids and one adult, while doable for a short period of time, is EXHAUSTING. But then, if you remember this post, you know I should already know this.
  • And while we are on the topic of EXHAUSTING... I don't know who is more jet-lagged, him or me.
  • I have amazing friends who lift me up in prayer. I am convinced that is THE reason why the 12 days went so quickly (and smoothly, if you don't count the "fire alarm being pulled at the restaurant by one of my kids" incident).
All in all, it was a good 12 days. BUT, I am SO glad he is home safe and sound.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Glimpse of the Forest

I was looking through an old moleskine notebook this week. I love my moleskine notebooks because they are thin, lightweight and I can carry one around in my purse. Or leave one on my nightstand, or on the coffee table. Wherever I find them, they make me feel like a writer. The writings that fill their pages are typically a hodge podge of thoughts I don't want to forget, or conference notes, or blog post ideas, or book quotes, or vacation murmurings, or names of people whose names I am trying to remember.

The hodge podge creates a treasure-seeking kind of experience when you look back. You never know what you might find.

Proverbs 16:9 says, "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps." Three years ago I wrote of an experience that led to some soul-searching that led to a goal. Today, three years later, I see more clearly how the person I am becoming was being shaped by those experiences. I read my plans and reviewed my steps and feel the truth of that verse.

It is exciting to see the past intersect with the present. It is exciting to dream how those experiences may continue to mature and impact the future. Because most of the time, I don't see it. I think it's called the "can't see the forest through the tress" phenomenon. This week offered a chance to climb one of those trees and glimpse a little bit of the forest.

Which reinforces one more reason why I love my moleskine notebooks.

"We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!" 
1 Corinthians 13:12 The Message

Monday, October 01, 2012

The Moon Festival

We celebrated the Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival for the first time this year.

The moon was full and we were ready for our night-time picnic. Close friends had traveled hours to spend the weekend with us. The air was crisp; the sky was clear. Lanterns glowed in the trees.

Traditional moon cakes were served along with pumpkin ginger cupcakes, blending Chinese traditions with American. 

The kids danced in the yard until beds beckoned.

It was a beautiful night.

Beautiful and chaotic.

Because while the kids did, in fact, dance... they also cried. 

Parents were tired. Kids were tired. 

Complaints were made about the food. 

Several "talks" were had before kids were sent to bed and parents collapsed on the sofa.

We never even looked at the moon.

Life in all it's glorious chaotic messiness.

 It was not perfect, BUT memories with friends were made 
AND lanterns lit up our tree.