Monday, June 27, 2005

Going to see the presidents...

A brief update of what is to come for me this week...

Monday: Work, prepare for trip to South Dakota, go to puppy school, pack and sleep.

Tuesday: Rise early, load car and drive seven hours. Arrive in South Dakota, swim, relax and settle in to our cabin.

Wedneasday: Visit Mount Rushmore and surounding areas.

Thursday: Same.

Friday: Same.

Saturday: Head home, stopping to visit grandparents on the way home.

Sunday: At grandparents house playing vicious games of croquette. Go home.

Monday: Relax, unpack from trip and vist with friends to celebrate Independance Day.

There you have it! I will be sure to say hello to the mountain and Crazy Horse for you. I am so excited to get away to relax and spend time with my family. I hope your week goes well!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

22 Tidbits of Truth

Following the example of Autumn, I have compiled a list of 22 things about me that you may or may not know! I picked the number 22 because that is how old I will be in a few short weeks!

Here it goes!

1. My birthday is August 11, 1983.
2. I was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
3. I am part Aztec Indian.
4. I try to read one book a week. (Besides the Bible!)
5. I am the oldest of five children.
6. The garbage disposal scares me.
7. One of my nicknames is Martha. (You figure out why!)
8. My parents have not yet signed my high school diploma.
9. I have been overseas 4 times in 4 years.
10. Pig brain was served to me in Romania and I ate it.
11. Boiled goat was served to me in Africa... and I ate it!
12. One of my favorite meals is Chicken Alfredo, salad, garlic bread (only mom's!) a giant glass of milk and chocolate chip cookies (with the milk) for dessert!
13. I would take a bagel over a doughnut.
14. I have worked at American Family Insurance for 6 years.
15. I own a camera that is almost 50 years old.
16. When discussing how we would want to die if we were martyred, I picked beheading (fast and a sharp knife or ax) or gunshot to the head. (Whatever would be fast! Slow torture death would be, well... torture. See, this is what my friends and I discuss when we are together!)
17. I will homeschool my children.
18. I got a sewing machine for my 16th birthday.
19. I get bored with games that move too slow.
20. My feet have visited 32 states in our country!
21. I call my mother "Momma"
22. I sleep on a twin sized bed.

So, which one surprised you?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Ten Terrific Territories To Travel To

Five I have experienced myself....

1- Romania, Eastern Europe
Romania is a beautiful country. Food is good, yet bland, people are friendly and the countryside is amazing! After the fall of communism there was a flood of acceptance towards Christianity. Missionaries rushed in to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Along with Christian missionaries came all other "missionaries" too, Jehovah Witnesses, Muslims, etc. The door is closing as fast as it opened as the Western world bombards the once innocent people of Romania. My heart loves Romania. I love the language. I love the people. I love what God is doing with His people there! Of all the places I have ministered, Romania is where my heart always longs to return.

2- Vienna, Austria
I was only in Austria for 17 hours. Oh, how I long to go back. We toured the city at midnight, seeing the 500 year-old churches, Austria night-life, the famous opera house and were drenched by a downpour. The city was amazing.

3- Amsterdam, Holland
I have been to Amsterdam several times to and from the other countries I have mentioned. It is a beautiful old city, but unique and strange. The houses are close together (or connected), the streets are crowded with little cars and bicycles are everywhere! There is a bicycle "garage" near the main train station that houses thousands of bikes! The motto of the city is "take a bike, leave a bike." You go out, pick up a bike, ride it to the place you need to go and leave it. If it is there when you come out, great, if not, go find another one. Hey, everyone always has transportation! Unlike any city I have ever visited, sin is visually all over. Every one smokes and many people are not smoking cigarettes. Inappropriate materials are everywhere. You can glance down a street and see in a couple of seconds if you want to walk down it! BUT as weird as the city is, when I returned to Amsterdam from Africa, it was familiar. I could get around. I knew I was not home, but because I have been there so many times, it was a comfort to place my feet on Holland soil. It was an odd feeling!

4- Tanzania, Africa
Africa is unbelievable! Everything you have pictured Africa being it is! From crowds of dark-skinned natives to grass huts, Africa is Africa! The days are hot and the evenings cool. Hot really is not the right word, the temperature is more like torture. I keep telling people that the moment I stepped out into the sun I felt like I was being cooked. The rays pierce through your skin! The dust, burning trash and humidity is enough to choke you. But the people... the people are wonderful. The believers are full of God-exalting faith. The children are adorable. The pastors are passionate. The widows are joyful. The orphans smiled. I cannot wait to return!

5- Banff, Canada
My first time to Banff I was a tourist. My second time to Banff I was a missionary on a tourist break! Stunning. Beautiful. I wish that we had been able to hike back into the woods farther. The water is the purest, bluest, greenest I have ever seen! The air is cool. The mountains are big! And the rangers are on horseback!

Five I Have Yet to Experience...
1- India
I have a burning desire to see India. I specifically want to visit with the Dalit people. There is a mystery surrounding India. Since I was a little girl I have wanted to go. I pray that God allows me to one day! The people of India are in bondage to pagan worship. Oh, how I want them to meet Jesus and be set free!

2- China
China is just China.

3- Australia
Australia is my dream vacation! I would love to do missions there, but this is where I would go to be 100% a tourist! I have heard it is beautiful! I want to see kangaroos too!

4- Bolivia
My Compassion International child is from Bolivia. I would love to go visit him one day.

5- Thailand
Several people I know have either been to Thailand or are currently serving as missionaries there. I would love to go visit and see the place I have heard so much about.

So, where is one place you have been? What did you see, hear, taste, touch and smell? Where would you like to go if you could go anywhere?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Big Sister Mommy

Friday dawned bright and beautiful. Mom, Dad and Ben left early for the Colorado Homeschool Conference. I was left with Timothy, Victoria and Samuel. What a day it was!!! I survived and we did it all over again on Saturday.

Lessons learned:

* Children listen to you more if you give them two popsicles.
* Anne of Green Gables (4 hours long) is a great tool for occupying time.
* Boys are sad when it rains at park time but are satisfied with Wendy's as an alternative.
* Trying to make children laugh by doing something silly makes a big mess.
* Windows rolled down on the car while hail and rain pass through will result in wet seats.
* Small children think moth balls look like candy.
* When the brake is on the stroller it is harder to push.

These were not new lessons, but simple reminders. Every time I watch my siblings for an extended time I stand in awe of my mother. I always view days like those mommy and wife training. She reminded me of that when she got home... I just felt like sleeping.

Home Education Part 2- Differences: Parents and Children

How do you meet the educational needs of every child? You cannot expect each child to do well homeschooling. I do not have time to homeschool. Some children need to be put in a public (government or private) school. I am not organized enough to home school. I would kill my child if I tried home schooling. How do you be parent and teacher at the same time?

I always find these questions and comments strange. They are not hard to answer because the answer is not suitable, but because the listener usually objects the response I would give. Here is where the rubber of model home education meets the road of personal application.

Most mothers have a million other things they could do with their time and energy besides homeschool their children. She could make sure the house was spotless. She could go make money. She could go shopping. She could curl up with a book. She could have the latest hobby. She could have outings with friends. All of which are not eternal.

Children last forever. So when I hear comments like, “I do not have time to homeschool.” Or “My children and I have too many differences we would not get along.” I can only think of one word: selfishness.

There are differences between parents and children. Since the beginning of time there have been differences, so I really do not see that as a valid excuse for not home schooling.

If a person thinks they would get so upset with their children that they cannot homeschool, I would all the more encourage them TO homeschool. Furthermore, this is NOT the child’s fault. If a child is disrespectful, undisciplined or rude, mom and dad are to blame. Besides, love must flow from the home, not an attitude of “my children drive me crazy”. When a mother has that attitude, I wonder if she was ready to become a mother in the first place.

I believe homeschooling is the best way to build the relationship between mother and children. When mom is committed to nurturing and loving her children, while giving them their education, beautiful things will flourish. Countless hours are spent together- laughing, crying, working, teasing, experimenting, reading, writing, drawing, sewing, cooking, building, etc.

Blessed is the child that can speak wonderfully about mom and dad. Blessed are the parents who find their children a joy. Blessed are the children who love one another. Blessed is the family who face differences between them and use the unique personalities as a strength.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Coal to My Lips

Sunday night I was at Shannon's house celebrating her birthday. (Happy Birthday, Shanny!) She lives out in the middle of nowhere and loves to play intense games of Hide-and-Seek at midnight.

And it was a beautiful night for just that. We feasted on fruits and sandwiches while answering Shannon's game questions. The chilly evening air descended as we gathered around the blazing fire pit. My brother lead the group in singing praises to the King. We finished with "We Fall Down" singing "Holy, Holy, Holy" over and over again.

As I stared into the flames I was overwhelmed with the reality of what Isaiah described in chapter 6 of his writings in the Bible. What a vision he saw...

The Light! My eyes burst open at the intensity of the illumination. I attempted to stand on my feet, but staggered under the force of the besieging energy. I grasped my chest trying to scream. Unbearable pain coursed through my entire being. It was not physical agony. The rays seemed to be dividing my very heart in two. They were searching the depths of my soul and spirit. I felt as if I were being consumed. I squinted against the radiance to see the Source of the magnificence.

Then I saw HIM. There He was. Beauty and majesty cannot begin to describe what I beheld with my eyes. Complete Righteousness. Pure Actuality. His actual characteristics filled the room, flowing from His presence. Unfailing Love. Relentless Grace. Gentle Mercy. Violent Justice. Agonizing Wrath.

The burden of being in the presence of Perfection started weighing heavily on my shoulders. I needed to escape. If I stayed I would die under the influence of Holiness. But I wanted to abide here forever. Never before had I experienced such Love. Then I realized I was surrounded by the richest, deepest scarlet robe. The room was full of the garment. I had never seen a color so alive, so vibrant and warm. The crimson origin was blood; warm blood flowing from the altar at the foot of the throne.

Circling the throne were several creatures. They had six wings. Two wings were covering their face. Two wings covered their feet and with the other two they were flying. Suddenly one began to yell to another with a single word, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY.” The second replied, “Is the LORD Almighty!” Joining together they proclaimed, “The whole earth is full of HIS glory.”

At the sound of their voices the structure trembled and shook. The holy place was filled with smoke. The power of their words drove me to my knees. Yes, this explained everything I had sensed. There was only one word that could express what I was witnessing. And I was terrified to remain in His presence.

What would happen to me? My mouth was heavy, unable to open and join in declaring His holiness. Guilt, shame, filth and the knowledge of my transgressions stared me in the face. I looked to the throne. I gazed upon the I AM. I beheld His power and glory. My heart thundered in my chest. My knees knocked together as I fell in a heap. Quivering, I raised my eyes one last time. Overwhelmed with the reality of my imperfections, I screamed,

"WOE IS ME! I will be destroyed! I am a man that speaks impurity, and I live among a people who speak filth, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

And I lay facedown shaking.

Above me I heard the sound of pulsating wings. I lifted my head slowly. One of the creatures had flown to me. With his hand he grasped massive tongs. In it he held a glowing, red, live coal. It had come from the altar. With it he touched my mouth. The torture! The pain. The creature was speaking, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."

Incredible cleansing washed through every fiber of my being. I felt peace. I finally knew joy. The burden was gone. I was free!

The atmosphere began to vibrate again as I heard the voice of the Lord inquiring, "Who will I set free? And who will live and speak for us?"

Gratitude and love poured from my soul. I cried, “Here I am. I will go! I will be set free! I will speak for You!”

And Isaiah did. It is no wonder that he lived the rest of his days declaring the LORD to people in bondage. He had seen the LORD. He heard the angels shouting, “HOLY!” and knew his lips were unclean. He realized his sin. He begged for deliverance. And he was set free. His sin was atoned for. From that day forward his lips were sanctified.

So as I sat staring at the smoldering coals, I was reminded of how unclean my lips are. When I am confronted with God and His holiness, I understand how sinful I truly am!

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” James 3:9-10

Isaiah saw God. The thought of man being made in God’s likeness should change how I speak to people. How would I speak to God? That is how I should speak to others. I would never dare think to speak to God as I have spoken to some people. But how hypocritical am I in my speech? It is no wonder that God does not use me as I long to be used. My mouths need sanctifying. My lips need a scorching from the altar of God.

God, purify my lips. Send me, I will speak for You!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Monday, June 06, 2005

My little brother graduated...

I cannot believe it. Ben has graduated from high school. He survived homeschooling, college classes and Algebra. Here are some fast facts on his accomplishments:

*He graduated top of his class
*He was the president of his class
*Honor Student
*Prom King (Well, if there had been a prom. Then again, there would be no girl to be Queen...)

(Ahh, the benefits of being homeschooled... there is never a doubt who is the most popular of your graduating class!)

Seriously, though:
*He graduated with 44 college credit hours

I am a VERY very proud sister. He is an amazing man of God. He loves to serve. He plays the guitar beautifully. He has a great sense of humor. He loves chick flicks. And I love being with him.

Congratulations Ben, I love you!

(And a lot of other people love him too... thus the reason we had 95 people at our house on Saturday. We were going to have a beautiful ceremony outside in the backyard... and then it rained. I'll leave the rest to your imagination... I get to clean the carpets today...)