Thursday, November 28, 2013

gathered to give thanks

Wishing you hearts full of thankfulness this Thanksgiving!

 I'm thankful today for helping hands in the kitchen; for the joy of cooking with my daughters!

For the beauty of cherry pie...isn't it fun?
Thank you, Elise!

 And for water-color painted name tags.
Thank you, Amy!

 Thankful that though we live in another country where Thanksgiving is not a holiday,
and where our kids still had classes at school, Mark still had work, and Amy and Elise still needed a glass of Gatorade after a basketball practice that lasted til 5, yet we can still celebrate.

Thankful that even here, without the usual trimmings,
we feasted on this amazingly special treat of a moist and delicious turkey!
Thanks so very much, C family...and especially to Abigail(above), and to her sister who combined skill to prepare it.  
That turkey was fabulous!
Thankful for the full bounty of the feast; 
just about every dish traditional to our memories of Thanksgiving...
(and even a few new ones, like the root beer float, Yuri!)

And thankful for a very international group of thankful friends to celebrate with us.
Americans, Japanese and Filipinos...
together with hearts of thanks,
unified in the One Who deserves all our thanks!

...gather us from among the nations, 
that we may give thanks to Your holy name 
and glory in Your praise.
Psalm 106:47

Sunday, November 24, 2013

a heart replete with thankfulness

Aren't you glad that America has continued the
tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving?
If it encourages even only some of us to pause and to give thanks,
then it ought to be a keeper!

Because a thankful heart is a healthy heart.
It's one that trusts that God is doing the very best,
and it's one that finds it hard to complain.
photo by Elise
When we take time to consider the incredible grace that God
has poured out on us, in not sparing His own Son,
and in Christ's gift of His own life in payment for ours,
how can we not be FULL of thanks?!?

I know so little of a true heart of thankfulness, but I'm learning.
I long for greater contentment,
and I'm convinced that choosing to be thankful is a good start.
We would worry less if we praised more.
Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.
– Harry Ironside

Here are some of my very favorite quotes on giving thanks
by people who have said it much better than I ever could...

Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep. 
-Robert Louis Stevenson

A joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful. – Book of Common Prayer

When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs? - GK Chesterton
Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy. –Dietrich Bonhoeffer
For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. -Apostle Paul

O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness. –William Shakespeare

You say, ‘if I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. 
 If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled. 
 – Charles Spurgeon
Happy Thanksgiving week
to each and every one of you...
May we all be known by our thankful hearts!

*edited from the archives

Saturday, November 23, 2013

the spit's maiden voyage

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward,
 for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” ― Leonardo da Vinci 
 Mark and Michael went this morning to Davao's
Crocodile Park,
where there's a small airstrip for R/C planes.

 There Michael launched his hand-made Spitfire

 and savored the taste of success as it soared to the clouds.

“Flying might not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price.”
― Amelia Earhart

Monday, November 18, 2013

contagious creativity

"What outlets are you finding to exercise your creativity to balance your work overseas?"  
My friend Sue, who is an artist, asked me this unexpected, 
unusual question while we were home in 2012.
(I loved this question. Did I ever tell you that, Sue?) 
It made me stop and ponder, and evaluate.  
I realized that I really hadn't done much creating during our first term, 
and that it would be really healthy to build time into my life for that purpose.

Here's a glimpse into some of the creative juices that have been flowing around our home lately:

Elise (top left with camera) loves to use her photography 
(all the rest of the pics below are ones Elise shot) 
to bless others in our community.
See more of her photography at her blog.
She's also been using some of her graphic design skills to help various ministries.  
I can't show you examples of those, since they are private property (!)

Every child is an artist.  
The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.  
~Pablo Picasso

Michael, thanks to free on-line plans and input from his really smart aeronautic engineer of a dad,
 has been building an R/C Spitfire from scratch.
It looks cool, Michael - but will it fly?
And Mark (lower right) is building a flying wing.  
I think these might both be launched soon...

Amy's been working on some Christmas gifts, 
(sorry, I can't show those, at least not until after Christmas!)
as well as a new scherenschnitte cutting. (below center)
She also recently completed her first attempt at oil painting...

And me?
For the past several months I've been having way too much fun
teaching some craft projects and techniques to the beautiful ladies of our church.

We get together often on Saturday afternoons, and we turn up the fans, break out some cookies and water, and a bunch of crafting supplies.  And then we create!  We've made everything from cards, to upcycling bottle caps into Christmas ornaments, to learning to sew on the machine.

I've loved the research, as I find new crafts to try,
and even more the sweet time of fellowship as we sit side by side, 
learning, crafting, laughing and planning together.

Creativity is contagious. Pass it on. 
— Albert Einstein

And it's been so much fun to see the joy as our friends have learned new skills...
upcycling paper into rolled beads,
learning to doodle from a book passed around from hand to hand,
("May I have the doodling book next week, after you?")
and the magic of turning a piece of sewing right side out and seeing the finished product.

Made in the image of our Creator God,
it's no wonder we too find pleasure in creating!

And God saw everything that He had made, 
and behold, it was very good.  
Genesis 1:31

What creative outlets have you found this fall?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

never ever alone

As the world watches, the Visayan Islands reel in the wake of an unprecedented typhoon, life forever changed, loved ones killed, homes demolished, no food, no water, no insurance or safety nets, little hope.  We see the images of violently destructive waves and wind, the depictions of grief, the staggering destruction. But you cannot photograph broken hearts. We grieve for them as we hear the stories of their great loss, and look for ways to come alongside and help.  

photo courtesy of
But the sorrow of the rest of the world will quickly pass, as we grow tired of news of this trouble, or distracted by other problems, long before the anguish of these islanders begins to fade.  Isn’t that the way we are?  Perhaps this second blow, the abandonment of the rest of the world, will be almost as great as the storm itself, as those in sorrow are left feeling utterly deserted in their trouble.

Are you feeling all alone in trouble of your own?  Surrounded by a world that doesn’t understand or seem to care?  When the remembrance of others is gone, God’s thoughts toward those who grieve do not fade.  Whatever trouble we face, He promises we'll never be forsaken.  

“…fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; 
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” 
 Isaiah 41:10

God knows that the trouble in our lives causes hurt and fear and pain.  So why would He not offer to miraculously clear up every problem when we look to Him?  He’s got a better idea in mind.  His purposes are higher, based on a blueprint that’s preparing us not just for a good life, but for eternal life. 

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will 
entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.  
 1 Peter 4:19

We suffer by God’s will.  Can it be? According to the verse above, it’s true.  Yet though He willed the suffering, He is still faithful, still worth trusting, still worth obeying.  This same God planned the suffering of His only Son even before the earth was formed. (“…the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” Revelation 13:8)   On the cross, Jesus was abandoned by God, and as a result, we never ever have to be alone in our trouble.

“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; 
He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
 Deuteronomy 31:8

There’s a solace despite the trouble in our world today, 
because He is forever Emmanuel,   
God with us.