December 30, 2011

Not your ordinary year end

I have been unusually quiet this month. Partly because when I write, I write from the heart... from my soul.  This month has taxed my heart deeply, and there simply are not many words right now.

Somehow, I think that's okay.

I don't have a grand year-end summation, nor do I offer you an inspiring or catchy cliche as you look forward to fresh beginnings in a new year. The only subject impressed on my heart is to live


Embrace the moments that make up each day. See God's goodness. Look for it, if you have to, but find it and enjoy it. Pass it on to someone else. Share His goodness, His life, His peace and His presence. Lose yourself in Him, and find Him with you as you go.


Yes, another year approaches. The mere marking of time -- as we know it -- time measured in increments we understand. Seconds. Minutes. Hours. Days. Weeks. Months. Years. They all start with a moment... tic ... tock.

Life happens in a moment.

ALL of life happens moment by moment. Yet if we are not careful, we miss so much by looking past the now... longing for some perceived grand experience down the road... somewhere... somehow... someday in the when and if only while the moments click by.

LIVE moment by moment. Now by now. Wherever you are, may you grasp the fullness of His grace and blessings.

"Happy Now-ness" to you, my friends.

Psalm 27:13

December 19, 2011

Violin Solo: O Come, O Come Emmanuel

I haven't had much time to blog this busy Christmas season, so when I opened my Google Reader this morning and began hitting headlines, I knew this was a must-share for all.

Click the link below to enjoy this absolutely beautiful instrumental piece by blogging friend and Compassion International advocate, Jill Foley, as she gives us the gift of her classical violin performance. It moved me to tears!

The voice of the violin, almost lamenting, yet so worshipful in this piece. The perfect instrument in the hands of a talented artist to convey the message and sentiment of this Christmas classic. Thank you, Jill.

Photo by: Kriss Szkurlatowski  /

Celebrate Christ this season,

"May you find time in the business of this week to rest and reflect on the birth of Christ."  
--- Jill Foley @ Compassion Family

December 12, 2011

SnakeAngel’s Reindeer Runned Over a Manger!

It started out the perfect Sunday morning class time. All of my 3-D visuals stood ready for little hands to help me tell the Christmas story and play out the events of the night when Jesus was born. I had one goal for this lesson:  Christmas = Jesus’ birthday!

The children began to arrive with excitement dancing in their eyes.They unbuttoned coats, deposited book bags and talked all over each other trying to tell me about the latest piece of very important news in their respective worlds. After several minutes of letting them unload their thoughts so we could focus, one little voice rambled on:

“Hey…. Hey! There was this snake… on a bicycle… and it tried to bite me… and I killed it... but it camed back to life… and crawled up my arm… and I killed it again… and then it was in my house… and….”

Wow. Really? – Okay. How about we make a sheep and a manger for baby Jesus this morning?

As we gathered around the review table, the children helped hold the story board pieces from last week’s lesson. We talked about the angel appearing to Mary to tell her she would have a very special baby boy. They listened and answered questions that helped them remember about Joseph, and the long trip to Bethlehem to be counted.

All the while, my little Snake Boy held the large angel figure, walking it about the table, lost in play except to occasionally interject a silly answer that invited snickers from the others. As the review time closed, I noticed the other children began to walk their figures about the table, too, and I waited – anxious to see how they would act out the bible story on their own.

Suddenly, SnakeAngel Boy whopped Mary Girl on the head, pulled an imaginary gun and began shooting at Joseph. Mary Girl protested loudly while rubbing her scalp, and Joseph Boy immediately engaged in imaginary battle against the Angel – punctuating the air with an explosion of rapid-fire shooting sounds and chipmunk-like giggles.

So much for free-scripting the bible story. Go to Plan B.

Hey guys, how about Song Time!

This is my fall back, my tried-and-true method to re-focus my four-to-six-year old students. They love music and their quick response told me they were ready.

I cued the song and led the children in what was supposed to be some rendition of Happy-Birthday-to-Jesus. I thought I had the song down pat, but with way too many verses, and a rather boring tempo and tune, I did what any enterprising Sunday School teacher would do… I faked my way to the end!

Leave it to SnakeAngel Boy to call my bluff when he decided to bust a move on the dance floor to impress his peers and liven the joint up a bit. Normally I encourage them to wiggle and move and have a lot of fun with the music, but something told me that today I’d better pull in the reins a bit or the last thing the kids would remember is that Christmas = Jesus birthday!

So… on to my next back-up plan.

As we settled around the crafts table, I still felt confident about instilling the lesson goal. The children began assembling their mangers, folding back the dotted-line tabs and holding them in place while I taped them together. I asked more review questions, and had them repeat their favorite parts of the bible story.

They folded the dotted lines on their paper sheep and stood them beside their completed manger and the baby Jesus punch-out figure. I gave each child a piece of oatmeal colored construction paper and showed them how to tear very thin strips to crinkle up for “hay” to put in their mangers -- because that’s where he slept the night he was born.

For the first time, they were totally in the groove. Focused. On task.

I was so proud of my little SnakeAngel Boy when he tore some of his paper into tiny shapes and scattered them on the table around his empty manger stating that there was probably hay on the floor of the barn. Why, of course! -- I praised his creative insight, and he smiled. Yeah! Progress.

The kids worked on in silence, and I invited them to join me and sing “Away in a Manger.”

Blank stares.

You know… ??  “Away-in-a-Manager-no-crib-for-a-bed…..???  The song trailed off as they each shook their head no. They had never heard it.

I sang through it as they continued on their crafts, and some of the children began to sing along. Two lines in on the second go-round, I overheard SnakeAngel Boy ask if anyone knew "Grandma Got Runned Over by a Reindeer.” And before I could stop him the class erupted in sheer delight, tipping back in their chairs, and laughing so hard their breath sent the paper sheep flying, the hay pieces toppling off the table, and every baby Jesus cut-out tumbling head over swaddled heels.

At this point, I don’t even remember how I regained control of the room…  but somehow we managed to finish class on time, deposit our nicely completed manger scene crafts in brown paper bags, deal with an out-of-nowhere-just-started-dripping bloody nose, distribute take-home papers and share laughter and love… all the while emphasizing over and over again the reason we celebrate Christmas.

GOOD NEWS! Jesus is born!


 Luke 2:1-20

What humorous experiences have you had when trying to teach young children about the real meaning of Christmas?

Photo Credit: Julia Freeman-Woolpert

December 5, 2011

From a happy heart

Mail Call Monday again! I’m so blessed to have letters from my Compassion International sponsored children to share this week. My kiddos in India are really on a roll.

Mail Day

Gayatri wrote:
“I get the chance to write you this letter and became very happy.”
I picture her sitting in her project – probably on the floor – diligently drafting her correspondence and smiling because she gets to take part in letter writing day. When I sponsored Gayatri, she had been without a sponsor for well over a year. From her very first letter she expressed such delight over writing to me – her sponsor. To her a special privilege, this precious gift -- to write.

My heart smiles at the thought.

In her last two letters Gayatri talked about the Dasahara celebrations. This must be a very important event to her. I did a little research on-line about it when Vinay mentioned it in his last letter, but Gayatri’s personal description in this letter made me realize the importance of sharing my faith with the kids in our letter conversations. Not to mention how important my prayers are for them.

Gayatri told me:
“Our school closed for Dasahara vacation… for 10 days. Dasahara is a great festival of Hindu people. They make a statue like a goddess and bow down before her. They believe that she will give them protection during their danger.”
She asked if we have this festival in our country, and I’m glad she invited me to continue the dialogue. This is a wonderful opportunity, and I’m anxious to see what God prompts me to pen in reply.

Vinay also wrote last week saying,
“I am very happy to receive your loving letter.”
He continued his conversation with me about his house drawing from an earlier letter. He described typical homes in India including how basements are built of stone walls with stone floors, and explained the various roofing materials used such as thatch, asbestos sheets or concrete slabs. Then without a paragraph break he throws in:
“I love egg curry. We have it every Tuesday in our project."
This makes me laugh! I love how his letters flow in a wonderfully awkward way.

Over and over we read about how important our letters are to our sponsored children. I know they enjoy the sheets of stickers, a photo now and then, or other “goodies” we may tuck in the envelope, but what the children want most of all is simply to hear from us -- their sponsor.

A letter says, “You’re important. You’re loved. You are worth someone’s time.” Even more important, it galvanizes the message that God cares about them. What an opportunity to sow His love!

Gayatri closed:
“I am praying for you and your family. Please also pray for me and my family and my study. With lots of love,”
Vinay closed:
“Thank you so much for your love and care. Your loving child,”

Letters from happy hearts -- from those loved by His heart – received by this blessed heart.


Mail Call Monday inspired by Michelle at Blogging From the Boonies!

December 3, 2011

Seven weeks to Guatemala!

In seven short weeks, my husband and I will travel with a work team from our church to the Petén Region in northern Guatemala to work on the second story expansion project currently underway at Hospital Shalom in San Benito.

San Benito sits in the cradle of the former Mayan civilization. Surrounded by jungle, mountains, lakes and volcanoes, the region explodes with the beauty of the landscape and the vibrant colors of a deeply rooted cultural heritage, coupled with the rich mixture of people groups, customs and languages.



If you've been on a missions trip, you know the excitement we are feeling right now. It’s hard to explain. We’re only half here and almost-already-there in spirit; ready to get to the work we feel we've been called to do, and yet reminding ourselves not to miss the opportunities of today.

So, what is our mission focus for this journey?

First, we go to support the work God is doing through missionaries, Tim and Doris Spurrier, founders of New Covenant World Missions and Hospital Shalom, and our in-country hosts -- missionaries David & Janice Ewing with Go To Nations.

Second, we go to lend our hearts and hands to serve the people of the Petén.

  • Project #1Construction work at Hospital Shalom
Our Priority: Complete two on-site efficiency apartments to house volunteer doctors, nurses and other future work teams. We plan to install the rough-in electrical wiring, plumbing, insulation and drywall during week #1.

  • Project #2Install water purification systems in one of the outlying villages during week #2.
Our team has been super charged about this project ever since hearing of the possibility. We just learned that this project is definitely on our work list.

  • Project #3Build a small “tienda” -- a store or market booth -- for the villagers in a second community.
No blueprints; no schematics; no building plans no problem!

The air was electric as our missionary hosts explained the project. To a group of self-employed construction types -- we're all over this challenge! Our material for the tienda project consists of hand-sawed, hand-planed mahogany felled by the villagers. We’ll pre-drill holes for assemblage, and pray we don’t burn out our drills or break bits.

Ministry and Outreach
While in the villages we also get to share God’s message of love and hope, and distribute gifts to the children – soccer balls, coloring books, crayons, candies, etc.

As the only female on the team, I get the privilege of working with Janice to help make some frozen treats for the children called "koo-koo's"  -- And, no, I don't know how to spell it, but that's how it sounds.

I can’t wait! Just look at these faces. Treasures of God's heart.


The Guatemala Team has raised $14,146, with just over $2000 to go. If you would like to invest in what God is doing through this team at Hospital Shalom, please contact me using the form below.

Please pray -- for us, for the people of Guatemala, and for the work God is doing there.



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