Saturday, May 31, 2008

Unspeakable

Losing a child...it's unspeakable isn't it? It's a horrible, horrible, tragic thing. I can't even imagine...and don't want to.

I told you about how this time around (after having a baby) my fears seemed to be a little more heightened than usual. I think it always happens and I think it's a bit normal even. From your comments when I posted that, my opinion about it being normal must be true. This time it was just a little more intense.

And, this time around there's been something very specific that I've been a little freaky about. Nothing has changed in my actions necessarily. Joel had no idea until I told him...so, you know...not like I'm walking around in a freaky state at all times.

Anyway, what have my heightened fears entailed? 4 little letters: SIDS. I've thought about it with each baby...what mother doesn't think about it at times when she lays her baby down to sleep? This time it went a little further than thoughts though...it went into fearland. Not immobilizing fear...and thankfully I was aware to get a grip on it and not let it get out of hand. Who knows...maybe it was necessary and we took steps because of it that were needed (for instance, we never place her on her belly and we did the other babies...maybe that's a God thing for her safety where with the others we felt totally at peace with belly-sleeping). Anyway, it has been interesting and thank God for His peace and comfort.

But, I did email a friend of mine. They were missionaries in China for several years...just came back about a year ago for the time being. I met her when she was pregnant with her 4th child...her 4th boy. She had the baby during a furlough and returned to China. We were informed in church one Sunday morning that we needed to pray for that family. That 4th child had been found lifeless in his crib. He was 3 months old.

Anyway, I emailed her and just asked her experience. There has been one time when fears got the best of me and satan really won out. It was when I was really, really isolated in a new place and separated from friends. Yikes. Seems like my life now fits that bill, right? Thank God I came through that and am better for it...I recognize satan's attacks and attempts to thwart God's plans in my life and am able to battle. In fact, I loved how my friend worded it in her return email to me. She simply said "You are in a war!" So very true. Every single second of our lives we are...we are in a war. Some days, years, seasons of our lives it may be more tangible than others. But, that's what we are involved in...a war.

There are a couple of families that I know of who are very tangibly feeling that wartime status these days. I don't know these families personally at all, but each has touched my life in ways unspeakable. Be praying for them.

This is old news, but Steven Curtis Chapman and family lost their youngest daughter in an extremely tragic accident last week. They were all at their home in the Nashville area celebrating the engagement of their oldest daughter which had happened just hours before. They had the graduation of one of their sons to attend in a few days. They were having a great time I'm sure when unspeakable tragedy happened...one of their sons accidentally ran over little Maria in the driveway. The song Cinderella really plays strong now. And I can't imagine the thoughts satan is planting in that son's head. Talk about a battle. You can read more about their family and get updates on this blog if you are interested.

Secondly, Angie (the wife of Todd who sings in the group Selah) is quite the writer. She VERY eloquently and touchingly has written about her journey in losing a baby in this blog. Lest you think it is a depressing or morbid blog...no...quite the contrary. You will be challenged and encouraged if you choose to read even some of these posts. If not, she will most likely have a book out in the near future. But, this week Todd's sister (also used to sing with Selah) lost her baby as well. Her little boy, Luke, born March 18th (just a week before Cass), was found lifeless in his crib...yes, SIDS.

Please be praying for these families in their loss. So horrible. They are so strong in their faith and trust in God. Their lives are blowing me away these days.

Losing a child is a horrible thought. I was visited by these thoughts even before I had children. When my little brother was very small sometimes the thought would run through my head, "what if something happens to him." It was a paralyzing thought in that moment. But, we all have to just do continually what I did then, over and over. Be close to Jesus. Leave these thoughts and concerns at His feet. He holds us, comforts us, lifts us up...even when the unspeakable happens. Pray that these families continue to experience Jesus' presence and comfort and even peace amidst all the chaos of these days. He does know...all there is to know. In that we can find confidence and strength and that anchor to keep us still when all around us is tossing in the waves.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Blog Redirection

So, I have 2 blogs that I want you to check out today.

Holly has a great post today about the inexpensiveness (is that a word?) of cloth diapering. So, if you are interested in doing that and want to see just how easy and cheap it can be, check it out here. She's even got nifty pictures to help describe the things she is talking about. Love that...I'm so visual.

And Stephanie, who just recently moved here to join her new husband at Asas, gave a little tour of her part of the city here. It will prove to be very interesting to you even though it isn't all our part of the city. The Asas headquarters at the end of her post is where I go 3 times a week to help out and practice my Portuguese. The seminary about midways through her post you will probably recognize...it is where we live. Anyway, it is a very nice virtual tour of some of the things we see on a daily basis here and is very interesting, so check her out here.

And don't forget to go check out Gillian's blog. She put up some really cute pictures of the kiddos yesterday playing at the park.

I have a TON of pictures to catch up on here. So, they will be coming soon. Maybe this weekend. Just wanted to share these blogs with you really quickly today.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Gillian's Here

My cousin from Louisiana is here. We are so stinkin' excited to have her. She will be here for the next 9 weeks. WOOHOO!! We've already had so much fun.

Gillian has been really involved in missions since she was very young. Her original plan was to come and help us move this summer as her missions project for this year. But, now that we aren't moving this summer, she's just here to serve in any way she is needed. Super cool. Her church back home (which is also my mom's and brother's church...and the church my mom grew up in) held fundraisers and everything so she would be able to come. What a blessing! Thanks Magnolia and Saline community!!

I probably won't be blogging as much these days. There is just too much going on and I will still blog, but not every day probably. Such a bummer...I already have too many things to say and too many pictures to post. But, maybe eventually it will all get done in blog form. Hard...I have SO MANY blogs already in my head and pictures to go along with them. But...yeah...too many other things happening in the here and now as of right now. Maybe I can stay up really late and get some posts done though...we'll see.

The kids are loving Gillian being around. So am I. We have a busy weekend coming up. It should be fun. I will definitely keep you posted. Also, Gillian has a blog and you will probably want to check it out. She will be updating and keeping everyone informed on her stay here. Should be interesting to see life in Brasil from her perspective. Check her out here.

And now for some pictures. There have been much more taken since the day she arrived (Tuesday), but here are some taken then. By the way, it was a crazy day. I had an appt. in Goiania (an hour away) that afternoon, so me, Joel, Eissa, and Cass headed out right after lunch. We went to my appt. and then just hung out until around 5. Gillian was supposed to arrive a little after 5pm. Nope...her flight was over 2 hours late. Our babysitter who was with the older 2 kiddos had somewhere to be at 8pm. So, talk about some phone calls to do some rearranging. The babysitter had to drop off the kids at the neighbors' house. We were also hosting the couples' Bible Study that night at our house. So, some of our friends from that group went to our house early to move all our laundry off the couches the group would be sitting on and greet everyone that arrived. :) Funny huh? But, it all worked out great and we had a great time all night long.

Alright...enough jabbering...here are the pictures.

On our way to the airport. We were going to leave Eissa with the babysitter but at the last minute decided to take her with us. Poor little chickie...don't know if she's EVER gone on an extended afternoon trip with just her and her parents (and Cass of course, but the point is without the older 2 kiddos). So, it was SO GREAT to just spend some great parents-Eissa time together. It did us all good. She is such a great little girl! SO much fun.


How beautiful are those 2!?!?!







And she's here. Poor girl...wrestling with her bags. It's understandable but completely annoying that Joel couldn't go in and help her with those huge things. Oh well...the times we live in.




These were taken yesterday morning. Enjoying some of the American goodies Gillian brought to us. In this case...OREOS!! Mmmm.

If you click on this to make it larger, it looks like Hadley is missing a tooth...ahh, Oreos. :) Also, yes...Grady was rocking out with the IPOD yesterday morning.

Monday, May 26, 2008

She's 2 Months Old


This is her 6 week picture (taken in a little antique gown I bought when I was pregnant with Grady; all the girls have had their 6 week picture taken in it). But, she's long passed that. :) Cass was 2 months old yesterday. It's been a wonderful 2 months. It's crazy though...seems she's always been with us. :)

She can truly only be described as the perfect baby. She is so much fun and we are all thoroughly enjoying her. She had a bit of a traumatic end to her 2 month birthday. At church last night she was sleeping in her carseat so I went a few feet away and was visiting with a friend. I am constantly looking around the church watching my kids, making sure that I can see them all at all times. Well, I was doing this glance over and saw that Hadley was at Cass's carseat. I then saw a little boy with them and this little boy was slapping the fire out of Cass. He was seriously repeatedly hitting Cass as hard as he could in her face. WOW!! I was mortified, raced over and pushed this little 2 year old, and grabbed Cass who was FREAKING OUT!!

The poor mother of this little boy. They are trying to get pregnant again and I guess he knows it and is really acting out. He is already jealous of any baby that he sees, hence his lashing out at poor innocent Cass. She was also mortified. He got a spanking in the parking lot and she was in tears about what he had done.

Although jealousy is a normal thing (although it can be lovingly trained away), obviously that behavior is not O.K., but we reassured her that all was well and there were no hard feelings or anything. Poor friend. She seemed alright by the time we left. We prayed over Cass. She seemed a bit traumatized, but all is well with her this morning after a good night's sleep.

I think it's totally unrelated...she does have a bit of a little cold, so maybe that's why...but, she slept her longest last night. I fed her around 10pm and we didn't hear a peep out of her until 7:30 this morning. Nice. ANYWAY...

Happy 2 months, Cass! So glad you are here with us. We love you!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Back Online

First of all I want to say thank you. There has already been interest shown in helping out with the EvangeCubes that I blogged about last time. What a blessing and answer to prayer! We still have all of the Proclaimers that aren't answered for, so if you are interested at all in a way you could do something truly amazing...a huge impact with the Word of God at a super cheap price (I'm still in awe that only $100 will get the whole New Testament in talking form to these isolated people groups), please continue to let me know. Thanks so very much for your giving.

We are back from our computer fast. Unfortunately in the end, it turned out to truly only be a fast from blogging. Why? Well, my cousin is coming to spend the summer with us and she leaves the states this Monday. There were many things to get in order for her to come and things to ready for her to bring to us. We tried to do all of that before Monday when the fast started for us. We got it all done except on Monday afternoon I remembered one other thing that I had promised to order for someone here and have brought down. I got the computer down to do it really quickly. After I was done Joel was putting the laptop back up where we put it...on top of the entertainment center. Although he's done this countless times before, for some reason this time the silly laptop decided to jump off the back of the entertainment center and attempt suicide. ;) We assessed the damage and turns out the screen shattered, but everything else is in working order. So, we will now be getting a monitor for the laptop and will basically have a desktop computer now. But, needless to say, we spent time on the computer this week in order to get that ordered for Gillian (my cousin) to bring it down.

We were actually looking at getting a 2nd laptop soon (our only real time for any computer work is after the kiddos go to bed at night, really only allowing about an hour and a half to 2 hours, and we BOTH need it at that time), so hopefully by the time my other cousin comes down for a visit in July, we will be able to get another one. So funny...I remember just a few years ago when a computer was a very frivolous thing to own. It was completely unnecessary. I never even owned one until after me and Joel got married. But, now they are a must. We do all of our business that way...online. Not to mention all the communication needs.

Anyhoo, lots going on these days. I have TONS of pictures to post in the near future. But, in the meantime I want to direct your attention to this blog of some friends of ours. They are both missionaries with Asas. Jeyson is a Brazilian who grew up in Ecuador but went to an American school there...talk about versatile. He therefore speaks Portuguese, Spanish, and English all perfectly with no accent. Nice. He went to Moody in Chicago and met Stephanie there (she's from New Jersey). They were married this past December and are now full force with Asas. Asas held a mission project on the 17th at the dump in Brasilia (you may remember our post about that same place last Sept....Joel went on the project that time). Neither of us were able to go this time, but Stephanie just wrote a great post on her blog about their experience and just the project in general, complete with great pictures and details...great post. Go here to check it out (hope she doesn't mind)...a wonderful look into the kinds of things our mission organization is busy with all the time.

Like I said, tons and tons of pictures and things to catch up on here on the good ole blog. But, for today, just a few pictures (O.K., still a lot) taken the other night and this morning. Enjoy...

Just out of the shower and...
her hair is so long.





He is obviously REALLY...
into making faces...
and being UTTERLY and COMPLETELY silly. He's fun.

Joel and some of his classmates had to fly a plane around for 3 straight hours as part of maintenance on the plane the other day. So, they got some shots. You have to click on this one to actually be able to see what I'm talking about, but in the green circle (on the left) is our house. In the yellow circle is the pool the kids swim in occasionally, in the orange circle is the little park here at the seminary where the kids play constantly, and in the aqua circle is the kids' school. The pink circle at the top is the track where I run (too bad I can't just cut across...I have to go all the way around the kids' school to get to it...just more good exercise though, huh). The whole area there in the big red circle is the seminary where we live.
A look at part of our city...it's big.
This morning Hadley wanted to put her Indian costume on that she got at school. I told her I'd fix her hair Indian style. She loved it.


Looking up at Daddy.



A good look at those braids.




She was leaning in playing with me in this one.

Monday, May 19, 2008

EvangeCube and Proclaimer

At Asas I work in the AMDE (Medical/Dental Evangelistic Association) group. Along with its flight work in the Amazon basin, Asas does tons of outreaches all over Brazil using Medical/Dental help and incorporating children's programs and door-to-door evangelism as well. The Jesus film and other things are also used. Throughout the year Asas holds several mini missions projects (1-5 days or so) and does one huge project during the year mobilizing hundreds of people from all over Brazil. The big project is done in July and everyone travels to northeast Brazil for 10 days to work in 5 different impoverished communities.

I was talking with the head of the AMDE group at the office the other day. Ester is her name and she's pretty dadgum awesome. I'm telling you...I am more and more impressed with Asas all the time. And, it's just so exciting what they/we are doing. Anyway, she was showing me something called the Proclaimer. Amazing. As she was showing me this instrument I was thinking to myself, Why are these not readily available to all people in need of one? This is so simple! And, then I thought of you all.

I want to show you this amazing product. Basically it is a talking box. It tells the whole New Testament (they also have one that tells the whole Bible). It has a power cord, but if there is no electricity available, it has batteries. If the batteries are dead, it has a solar panel (pictured below) and can run on that. If the sun isn't out...yep, it has a crank (pictured to the left). A-mazing.

Why are these needed? In so many impoverished places or remote/isolated areas, illiteracy is very common. Sometimes they have no access to Bibles at all, but even if they did, either they are illiterate altogether or they don't read well enough to read and understand the Bible. This tool is incredibly practical. Ester said that her father (was a missionary also) had a "talking box" (what the indigenous people called it) and the people would come and ask to listen to it. They would sit and listen for hours.

There are many remote communities in the Amazon region. Some have a church but most don't. Some have ways of hearing the Bible but most don't. These talking boxes would be an incredible gift to these people. In-credible!!

I told Ester I wanted a picture of it. I did take a picture to put on this blog, but then I looked it up online when I got home. Go here and you can see a 360 degree view of it and look at all the specs. I'm telling you...it's amazing. I am just blown away at how easy and inexpensive it can be to get the Gospel to people who are dying without it.

Each New Testament Proclaimer is $100. A measly hundred dollars, can you believe it? That's nothing to most Americans. Some of you would easily spend that on one birthday or Christmas gift for your child. I asked Ester how many were needed. She said that 100 would be a good start to reaching the people groups that are in need of one.

Will you please consider making a huge difference in the life of an entire people group with this little simple yet profound box? If so, please email me (scroll down on the page to find the email information). Seriously, can you think of an easier way to spread the Gospel from right there in your very own house? The last video on this post is done by the people who make the Proclaimer.

Another opportunity that I wanted to present to you is concerning something called the EvangeCube. Another amazing Gospel-spreading tool. Ester said they use it constantly in their evangelism efforts. It is so simple, but yet so effective (video below demonstrates an EvangeCube presentation). Again I asked how many they could use and she said 100 of these also. They are only 8 dollars each. If you buy them in bulk of 96 or more, the price is reduced to $4 each.

There is also a bigger version (16 inch) of these EvangeCubes. Ester said they use these when doing a children's assembly for instance. They only need 5 or 6 of these.

Again, if you are interested in helping out with any of these things, please let us know (I won't be receiving any emails or comments until Saturday, but I will get them then; also, if you want to call us, you can use either Skype or call our U.S. number that can be found on our website...link on the sidebar). Consider these opportunities for giving. It would be such a blessing...for you and the recipients!