Sunday, July 30, 2006

Back after July Break

You may have noticed, we took a break for the month of July. Actually, we took a "pretend vacation." Since we've been on the field a year, we decided it was a good time to refresh and regroup. It was great. We cut out a lot of our superfluous activity. Blake was out of school, so I didn't volunteer at school. Our weekly team prayer meetings were cancelled. Bible studies and house church worship continued as usual, except for our annual mission meeting in São Paulo. We slept later, I cooked less, I let the house get dirtier, we read more. We didn't blog hardly at all, or spend much time on the computer. It has been very refreshing and now we're ready to go at it another year.
Jeff has returned to blogging. You'll be interested to see his updates.
Blake has also posted some, as has Parker.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Sesame Street Personality Quiz

I took The Sesame Street Personality Quiz and this is what it told me:
You Are Bert

Extremely serious and a little eccentric, people find you loveable - even if you don't love them!

You are usually feeling: Logical - you rarely let your emotions rule you

You are famous for: Being smart, a total neat freak, and maybe just a little evil

How you life your life: With passion, even if your odd passions (like bottle caps and pigeons) are baffling to others

So, who are you?

HT: Dorcas Hawker

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Mother’s Heart

The Bible says, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45).


You see, we have a small family. A compact family. I have my two small children who are always well-groomed and frequently we dress alike as a family. We don’t confuse our children’s names. We don’t even have a dog (too much spittle), we have a cat (a ragdoll, named Montana’s Café com Leite na Praia). That’s who we are.

We know those families with 4+ children who always have someone ill, who at any given moment have someone bleeding, who are known by name in the emergency room. But we are not them. We know those families who when you talk with them you have to guess to which child they are referring because they generically insert names because they never can remember the specific name of any one child. We aren’t them. (They all live in the Amazon, where there's no cable TV).

THOSE are the families who are always sick, not us. We only have two. We’re the compact family. Until this week.

We were startled late Thursday night with the sound of Blake throwing up. It took me awhile to figure out what the noise was because this has never happened before. The problem with a 6-year-old who’s never thrown up is that he doesn’t know how. I have never thought of vomiting as a learned skill before. Concepts like: “Lean over the toilet, dear”, “Don’t put your hands in your mouth, honey”, and (most importantly), “Precious, don’t turn around to talk to Mommy right now” have to be taught.

About 20 minutes into Blake’s episode, the Cat decided to show some solidarity and she began throwing up. So, we had vomit at each end of the house.

They both got better until Saturday night, when, after rationing him crackers and water for two solid days, I decided Blake was ready for meatloaf. NOT!

Parker got in on the action last night and after three hours, two baths, more chunks of Kitty empathy, more Pinesol, and MANY more wipe up rags, we got to bed.

I called the doctor this morning. He says we’re almost over it. Two more days of eating carefully and we’re home free. I’m so thankful.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to go make some applesauce and Jello.

*I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Southern Baptists who have provided, through generous gifts to the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, such floors, walls, and bathroom fixtures as can easily be cleaned. God bless you.**

**Really. I mean it.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Everything I Know About Fasting--A Really Short Post

Fasting can add another dimension to our spiritual lives. We can be more aware of God’s presence with us, we can have more insights into His workings, we can have more power in our prayer lives. I don’t know how it works, but here are a few tips that I have if you’re interesting in adding this discipline to your prayer life.
Fasting is mentioned in scripture, but we aren’t told a lot about how to fast. Most of our modern day teaching on fasting comes from Matthew 6:16-18 when Jesus said,

“Moreover when you fast, don't be like the hypocrites, with sad faces. For they disfigure their faces, that they may be seen by men to be fasting. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face; so that you are not seen by men to be fasting, but by your Father who is in secret, and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.”

We can see two things from this: 1. Jesus expected that we would fast (His use of the word when) and 2. that we shouldn’t brag about our fasting. I think it’s this number 2 that makes teaching on fasting so rare. We’re so afraid of bragging that no one even admits to fasting, much less gives others hints on how to do it. So, teaching on fasting becomes almost taboo.
I feel the need to say here that I am not a frequent faster. I was when I was single, but I’ve found it more difficult as a married woman who needs to get 3 meals daily on the table for the family. I’m making it a priority to learn how to fast and be Mommy at the same time. So, these tips are some I learned “on the job” in my earlier years.
Tip #1: Determine the length and conditions of the fast at the beginning of the fast, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You won’t be able to maintain a fast that isn’t Spirit-led—and who wants to fast in the flesh anyway? I find it best to write these down, to help myself remember and not rationalize. It’s very easy to feel led to break a fast when you’re hungry, but if you’ve written down a specific day and time to break it, you’re less likely to give in to hunger pangs.
Tip #2: Start small. If you aren’t accustomed to fasting, don’t begin with a forty day water-only fast. Skip a meal. Spend that time in prayer. Gradually work your way up to longer periods of time.
Tip #3: Not all fasts involved the elimination of all foods. God may lead you to drink only liquids, including juice, or He may lead you to give up TV for a time. One of my most common methods of fasting has been to avoid solid foods for a period—anything I had to chew I didn’t eat. Juices, yogurt, puddings, were okay. Once, I ate only white foods. This tip is particularly suited for those who can’t follow a complete fast for physical reasons (nursing mothers, diabetics, etc).
Tip #4: Don’t be “religious” about your fasting, be Spirit-led. I’ve tried many times to have a regular fasting schedule, and never with good results. It may be that God leads you to have a schedule, it’s just never worked for me.
Tip #5: Remember, you’re fasting to spend more time in the presence of God. Don’t get so distracted trying to take your mind off of food that you forget the MAIN THING.
Tip #6: You probably won’t get your “answer” until after you end the fast. I have, personally, never gotten an answer for whatever I was seeking until sometime after the time of fasting had ended, usually a couple of days later. This may be because fasting can make you a little “loopy” and you’re more clear-headed after things get back to normal.
And that, literally, is Everything I Know About Fasting. Please remember that these posts are just my experiences, not taken from scripture and are neither infallible nor universal.
Next post, an awesome and easy chicken soup recipe and back to more missions-type stuff.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Everything I Know about Prayer, continued

Discretion in Prayer
As you begin to pray under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, God will begin to show you how to pray and things to pray about. When people realize you are an intercessor (someone who prays for other people), they’ll begin to share their prayer requests with you. These things you need to keep to yourself, for several reasons.
First of all, you want to spend your energy praying, not talking with others. I think we’ve all been to “prayer” meetings when the entire time was taken sharing requests and no time was left in the end for the actual prayer. We can exhaust ourselves talking to others, and feel like we’ve accomplished something; but actually the only thing we’ve done is exhaust ourselves.
Another reason is that, whether it is from God or another person, you’ve been entrusted with that information and you’ll want to show yourself worthy of that trust.
I’ve found that the best way to keep a confidence is to never let others know there is a confidence being kept. If you have a prayer partner, don’t go around telling folks who it is. If you have gotten a prayer request, don’t tell anyone there’s a request to be investigated. This will save you a lot of evasive, or not so evasive, answers and eliminate the temptation to say more that you should.
Several years ago, I got an email by accident. It was a communication sent from one of our top mission leaders telling a friend of his upcoming resignation. By the time I figured out it was not intended for me, I knew the content. I knew that God had caused that to happen so that I could pray for that family during that transition. I also knew I could never tell anyone I had gotten that email. Fortunately, I was deep in backwoods Brazil at the time and so the temptation to blab was not as great as if I’d had colleagues around me.
A final reason to keep things to yourself applies to those things you’ve heard from God—you may have heard wrong. We never know if we’ve heard accurately from God until things do, or don’t, happen as we heard. Sometimes we never know for sure.
If you feel like God has shown you something, you’ll never go wrong by talking to Him about it. You may go very wrong if you talk to others. Just think of the trouble Joseph would’ve saved himself if he’d kept his mouth shut about his dreams (Genesis 37:5).
So, these are my “stream of consciousness” ramblings about prayer. I apologize if I’ve been too elementary for those of you who are seasoned intercessors.
I’ll make one more “Everything I know” post on Fasting and then head back to more missions specific topics.