Monthly Archives: April 2008

Shout for JOY!

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We have been doing a morning devotional called Our 24 Family Ways.  As the boys continue developing, we look for new and creative ways to build in Godly character and values that are based in scripture.  This is one of the best books I have found in an EASY-TO USE format!  (Thank you Sally and Clay!)

So last week our value was:

We chose to be joyful even when we feel like complaining.

Sounds like a good one huh?

A few nights ago at dinner, I was asking the boys about their day and how they were doing on the joy meter.  Did you chose to be joyful at school?

Tyler (very seriously):  I was only a little joyful.

Me: How come?

Austin: We don’t have that much time to be joyful, Mom.  Recess is really short.

Tyler: Yeah, it’s only 15 minutes!

Me (trying not to laugh too hard or spit out the food in my mouth): Well, you can be joyful in the classroom can’t you?

Austin: No, Mrs. Bryant doesn’t let us talk.

Tyler:  We have to raise our hand.

Ah, the joyless life of a child…

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Tears flow in the rivers of our hearts

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Today was one of the those days my heart nearly broke for the aching. Our house helper and friend Linda came today this morning as she normally does. We were anxious to see her since her father in law had died last Wednesday and she did not come on Thursday of last week. I have shared in some of our prayer updates that Linda lives in one room of her in-law’s home. She and her husband Gjergji have a rather broken relationship with his parents, mostly due to his father becoming more and more mentally ill over the last few years. We did not attend the funeral since we did not know Gjergi’s father and today she asked us not to come for coffee to pay our respects because Gjergji’s mother has not allowed her to come downstairs to the kitchen to greet guests and help with serving coffee as is Albanian tradition (read more about funeral traditions on our ministry blog from a few months ago).

After listening and talking (as much as I am able), I probed her some more and came to discover that Gjergji’s mother and sisters are pressing Gjergji to leave Linda and ask for a divorce. As she shared more, it became evident that his parents have blamed Linda for their daughter Angela’s death. (Linda and Gjergji’s daughter Angela was 7 when she was hit by a car and killed several years ago).

We wept together. Jesus wept with us. And later I wept for the sheer frustration of not having all the words to say what was in my heart; to offer comfort and hope, to breathe God’s words of forgiveness and peace over her life and heart. And I wept when Linda told me she love me like a sister. Tears flow in the rivers of our hearts, don’t they? And when they do, we can find a common place where all mothers can weep over the love they have for their children and know deeply that our hearts are the same, no matter our language, our country or our race.

Will you pray for Linda today? Pray for peace in her home and her heart, pray that God would reveal himself (and He doesn’t really need my help but I am willing), pray that the root of bitterness would be removed from her mother in law’s heart, pray that our God, who can do more that we can imagine, guess or request in our wildest dreams, would work deeply and gently in their hearts.

7 On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;

8 he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove the disgrace of his people
from all the earth.
The LORD has spoken.

9 In that day they will say,
“Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the LORD, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.

Issiah 2:7-9

Our families together on Christmas Eve

His Invisible Qualities

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“No matter who you are, where you’re from, or what perspective you have in life, all of us can recognize a common theme emerging in the world. We see it in the stories we love, we see it in history, we see it in our own lives. There is beauty and innocence, interrupted by tragedy and sadness, followed by longing for rescue, and hope for a better day. We love the stories best where a hero comes along to set the world right and bring a new day to pass where we return to that place of beauty and innocence again…changed of course…but back home again. That story is older than the middle ages, the Roman Empire, or even the Bible. It is the story written on the very heart of God…woven into our lives because we were made in His image.” ~Aaron Horton

20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

I read this quote today from Aaron, someone I don’t know, on Youversion.com (which by the way is one of the coolest developments in the Christian community these day… a Bible reader, journal, and a social network all in one). It made me reflect today about God’s invisible qualities. Since the beginning of time, God has been using his eternal and divine power to make himself known to us. His invisible qualities… His goodness, His transcendence, His compassion, His justice, His power… can be clearly seen in all of the world. It is truly undeniable when we look at how the earth is put together, the formation of all in the intricate parts of our beings, we can see God in all that has been made. We are without excuse.

This line especially, impacted my heart: “There is beauty and innocence, interrupted by tragedy and sadness, followed by longing for rescue, and hope for a better day.” This is true in almost ever facet of human life. Do you observe these on daily basis? I do … here is my list

Beauty and innocence– Insert the faces of your own children or some with whom you have a deep and loving relationship. Here are mine!

Tragedy and sadness– The school fire in Uganda that took the lives of 19 young girls. The doors were locked, it was a homicide.

Longing for rescue– My friend Bex’s story of her host mother where she is living and serving in North Africa. There is a deep longing in the account of the need for rescue!

Hope for a better dayLamentations 3

21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: ;

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. ;

23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ;

24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” ;

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; ;

26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

I think I could end every day with a list like this and some producer could make a movie out of it. There is a longing in our spirits for something more, something deeper, something meaningful.  But God’s invisible qualities are everywhere we look, there is evidence of Him in everything and this is where I am placing my HOPE!  I am committed to spending some time is this next month learning more about the attributes of God and seeing Him in ordinary and every day places.

Itching for a fight

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The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.                           
Exodus 14:14

I read these words on a blog several months ago.  Oooo, I so want to have a good fight with someone. Maybe I am the only one who does this, but when you have a conflict with someone do you ever imagine the conversation with yourself in the mirror?  I have gone over the conversation a hundred times, over and over in my mind.  Things I want to say, smart things, whitty things, things I would never think of in real time.  Then inevitably, I say mean things, hateful things, things I wish I could take back.  

Maybe it is good I have the dress rehearsal so that I get all that yuck out of the way before I really talk with the person.  

When I feel like I have been wronged, I so want to come out swinging.  But sometimes that just isn’t the way God wants it, is it?  WHY NOT?!!! (I frequently have this argument with God) Because, truly, someone will end up bloody.  And it won’t be pretty.  And there will be an even bigger mess in the end.

So, I am still waiting.  Waiting for someone to come to my rescue.  Waiting for someone to be my champion.  Waiting for Him to fight for me.

Waiting really sucks, ya know?  

Are we there yet?

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Nope… we are at home. We are out for the count. The damage to the car was more than we thought. That is what we get for buying a car for $500. But even if we have to put $1000 into it we come out ahead! We know so many people who have spent much more on a car only to pay $1000 in repairs in the first year. Albania is just hard on cars!

Can I tell you what great friends we have though? Two friends met us Monday at the car, helped us get it all fixed. Von transported the family home and Scott spent the rest of the day with Robert getting the car repairs started. Special thanks to their WIVES and FAMILIES for allowing those great guys to come out and help us (Von on his day off and Scott missing his work day). And what a God thing, that Klodi, a mechanic from our church just happened to drive by. He fixed the car enough that Robert could drive it to the repair shop, saving us the danger of towing on these Albanian roads!

Other friends called on Tuesday and offered us their car for at least a day or overnight trip. Isn’t that amazing? We took a trip to the “mall” and then to the Kolonat (our version of McD’s minus the good hamburgers…) so the kids could play in the ball pit. And Jennifer has been with us here at the house so it has sort of felt like a mini vacation… Praises that we were not far out of Tirana when the car died… could have been much worse! Today we are headed out to the park to walk some paths, not great weather or much else to do but it will be good to be out of the house!

I am still trying to hang on to what God wanted wants to teach us by keeping us home. It was a disappointment not to be able to go. Robert has not been out of country since October and that can just wear you down. Please pray that we will feel rested after this week and rest in the One who knows it all!

Our trip to Dubrovnik, April ’08

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We were headed back to Dubrovnik today with the whole fam… (I was there a few weeks ago). Here’s a quick recap:

6:45am Jen’s up, shower, dressed, finish packing

7:30 Getting the rest of the fam ( and Jennifer) up, showers for some, packing breakfast: general chaos

8:30 Final departure, drop keys off to Egli so he can watch the dog, buy break fluid

9:15 Stop at automobile office (I have no idea which one) to get the final piece of paperwork so we can travel out of country with the car.

9:20 Discover that the car is registered in Fier (another city 2 hours away) and we have to get the paper from there.

9:25 Decide WHY NOT?! and hit the road for Fier (opposite direction from Dubrovnik). Worst case scenario: it takes all day and we drive back home, leave tomorrow. (WRONG)

9:35 Jenny says, “Do you smell that? What’s burning?” Robert says, “There was a fire on the hillside.” Jen, “Okay… I thought it might be the car.”

9:38 Robert says “Oh look, the car is overheating.”

9:39 We pull off to a gas station, the car is indeed overheating, oil has spurted everywhere in the engine.

The rest can be told in pictures:

What in the world is wrong with my $500 car?!!

“What is wrong with my $500 car?”  Step 1:  Call for help!

The owner/proprietor of the gas station (the one in the suit) offers advice… along with his four friends.

Jadyn takes a look to see if she can help her dad.

Everyone starts to get hungry so Jen passes out snacks after about an hour.

We decide to make the boys pull it home.  Once we were finally all loaded up and ready to go another man from our church who is a mechanic pulled up.

The second group of 5 men trying to diagnosis the car.  This is the beginning of hour #3.  I was very glad I packed lunch for my very hungry family!

This was really a God appointment.. Klodi, from our church, just happened by and saw us and stopped to help.  He was able to get the car running so Robert could drive it to a repair place

5 hours later: Exhausted family returns home, without car and without dad. Maybe tomorrow, stay tuned!

Birthday Bash!

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Jadyn turned 2 on Monday, March 31st. Eeek… we have moved officially from “baby” to “toddler going on 30.” It was a fun day of celebration and SHOPPING for a little bicycle for her. She has been showing love for daddy’s “motori,” begging to sit on it for a few minutes each day. I think we found the perfect “mini-motori” after shopping for 3 hours (it is not always easy to find what you are looking for in Albania)! You be the judge of our selection:

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