Wednesday, February 29, 2012

thought for today...

2 Corinthians 13:11
May I share something with you?

To be honest, this young man is not aiming for the type of perfection this verse calls for.  He is actually aiming at a boat full of people that is passing by.  But, he is focused, determined and his aim appears true. 

I don't want to be like this kid and look good in the small picture but not in the grand scheme of life.  

I desire a life of integrity where my actions and values line up with His.  There are days when I fall short of His perfection.  Time after time, I have to get back up, dust myself off, and take aim again.  Do you have days like that?  Or is it just me?

May we each hear the appeal He is laying on our hearts.  
May we learn to live with oneness of mind.
And may the God of love and peace truly dwell among us.

linking up with:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tasty Tuesday...

3 cups cooked rice
1 – 9 oz package fresh spinach
1 small bunch fresh cilantro
the juice of one lime
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced very fine (optional)

1. Take fresh spinach, in batches, and pulse in food processor until finely chopped. Add cilantro to food processor and pulse until finely chopped also.
2. Add cooked riced, chopped spinach and cilantro, lime juice, olive oil and diced onion to a large bowl. Add jalapeno if using. Toss to combine. Serve room temperature or chilled.

I have this recipe pinned on Pinterest and if I can find spinach and cilantro at the market today this will be part of the menu for tonight's dinner!

Monday, February 27, 2012

counting the gifts...

One of the best things about final exams is the feasting that we do when class is over.  We all pulled together for a pot luck of chicken, mashed potatoes, homemade rolls, veggies and dip, cookies, and cake.   It was a chance to make jokes and bond as a class.  And finally breathe a collective sigh of relief because we all made it through another semester together!

 After class was over I got a call from Spencer.  He was helping out with a fund raiser at the Expo for a student who wants to attend the upcoming Discipleship Training School at the YWAM.  

Flat Stanley even joined in to help with the fundraising!

526.  fellowship with the students in the counseling class.
527.  yummy feasts!
528.  being able to drive the kids from YWAM back to the base.

529.  our time at the Expo

530.  seeing familiar faces among the crowd at the Expo.

531.  beauty at the park where the Expo was held.

532.  a relaxing Sunday
533.  a great time of worship at church.
534.  enjoying the Oscars.
535.  finding the joy that comes from gratitude.

 joining in with the gratitude community:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Just another day in the office...

A 10 year old refugee hung out in the building today. 

He was thrilled to find the play therapy toys in our office and overjoyed to be allowed the chance to play.

He wrote good to go with the happy face he drew...

and bad to go with this face...

He even treated us to a puppet show!

and he packed it all up and put it away begrudgingly when his mother came for him.

We don't know if we will see him again...but he reminded us of the scope and magnitude of the problems in some of the countries that neighbor Belize.  We have heard stories of children being raped and killed and stories of mothers escaping countries like El Salvador and Guatemala with their only remaining child.  

We pray that they will hear God speak comfort to their hearts with words like these:
I will not abandon you as orphans-- I will come to you.
John 14:18

And we pray for all of the individuals and families here seeking refugee status due to violence in their home country.  We pray that all of the shelters here will be a haven of safety.  And that all of the refugee children in Belize get a chance to play with as much abandon and freedom as this child did today. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Flat Stanley in Belize...

Flat Stanley came to visit us from California a few weeks ago. 

 Flat Stanley checking out the plantains in our front yard.

Here he is helping Tom teach at Belize Bible Center.

And of course he wanted to post with the sign so you all would know he was really there!

We haven't had much of a chance to take him out to see more of the sites here in Belize.  He has had to hang out around the house or go to work with us.  This Saturday is our last class for this semester so we will get a chance to take a drive next weekend and take Stanley out to see some of the beauty of Belize before he heads back to school.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

thought for today...

Psalm 30:5

Patricia was stillborn on this day back in 1985.  Cameron's stillbirth followed in December of the same year.

Yesterday was a hard day and today is not much easier.   

I know that how I feel is not just about Patricia and Cameron.  It's also about having to leave Russia... and losing all of our belongings. So many mementos from the past 30 years of family life were lost.   Each time I remember something that was in one of those boxes it still causes me to weep a bit.  There are some days when we laugh about it all. And other days when it seems like it's all just a bad dream.

Today I am comforting myself with Psalm 30:5.  

I am trusting this night of grieving will not last forever...believing that joy will indeed the morning.

linking up with:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tasty Tuesday...chayote

Chayote (cho cho)
I found cho cho (chayote) at the market a few weeks back and asked the girl there what it was and how to prepare it.  She suggested using it in a soup.  But I chose to dice it up along with eggplant, zucchini, and.tomatoes.  Then I saute them together in olive oil, added some seasonings, and served it over spaghetti.  It was very tasty and I am sure I will try it again.  

We keep trying new things when we see them in the market and it is always exciting to find something that we really like.  We decided that the cho cho is a definitely a winner!

P.S. I have a guest post over at Adventures of Team Pancakes for a series she is doing on Living Our Vows.  If you want to check it out you can see it here: Living Our Vows

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, February 20, 2012

counting the gifts...


That is what is on my mind and in my heart right now.  Yesterday was a bittersweet day.  More sweet than bitter I should say.  You see on February 19, 1985 I went in for a routine pregnancy check up and the doctor could not find the heartbeat of the baby I was carrying.  I was sent for an ultrasound to check on the baby's well being.  The technician said not a word about the results... I was told to come back for the doctor to interpret them for me.  Tom and I went to the movies, ate some lunch, and went back to the doctor's office.  When we finally sat down with the doctor we were given the news that our baby was no longer alive.  

We were devastated. 

 It was truly one of the worst days of my life.  I thought I would never be happy again. Never.  The doctor went on to explain that he wanted me to go into labor on my own if possible.  And he also shared that not only had my baby died that day...but his best friend died as well.  He left to attend the funeral and be with his friend's family in a neighboring state for a few days.  I waited from the 19th to the 22nd to see if I would go into labor on my own.  When he returned, on the 22nd, I went back in to his office and he scheduled an appointment at the hospital to induce labor.

Our first child and only daughter was stillborn that night.

It amazes me that we have two sons.  I have been pregnant five times.  Two stillbirths just ten months apart in 1985...then Nathan was born in 1987.  Two years later I had a miscarriage...and nine months after that miscarriage Spencer was born in 1990.  So here we are twenty-seven years after Patricia Kaye was stillborn.  I am so grateful to be able to say that I am the mother of two living children.

Two incredible young men, Nathan, 24, and Spencer, 21, are alive and well.  
2006 Family photo in Krasnodar, Russia

2008 Spencer and Nathan in Dana Point, California,USA

2010 Spencer and I in Istanbul, Turkey

2011 Nathan's visit to Belize

Nathan and Spencer are two of the greatest gifts in my life.  I am so fortunate, so blessed, and so grateful to God for bringing them into being.  My heart is glad.  I am overwhelmed with joy as I realize how far we have come as a family.  Nathan's birth brought us hope and restored our faith.  Spencer's birth was cause for rejoicing and our family was now made complete.

So this week I may have times of sadness as I remember and reflect on the days spent waiting for Patricia's stillbirth to occur.  But, I also know that I will spend these next few days rejoicing and giving thanks for the sons that filled our hearts and our home with love and laughter.  

    521.  the gift of Nathan.
    522.  the gift of Spencer.  
    523.  the precious gift of life.
    524.  the beautiful gift of family. 
    525.  the restoration of joy.                                                                                                      
 joining in with the gratitude community:

Friday, February 17, 2012

I surrender what is convenient for me...

The most important thing that we surrender is our own self-- our desire to control our lives. Of course, we don't surrender and go into a vacuum. We surrender something in order to cling to God only. Surrender is the means to enjoying more fully the most beautiful thing in our lives--our joyous love relationship with God.
~Ajith Fernando from his book The Call to Joy & Pain

I would love to be able to say to the world that I am fully surrendered to His will and that I cling only to Him.  That sounds like the true heart attitude that a missionary should possess.  But, honestly, I don't fit that ideal.  I still nurse a childish desire to control my own life.  I cherish comfort. What I really want is a surrender that doesn't require sacrifice.  If I could just rest assured that all things will turn out according to what I think is best it would be easier to give Him control.  Do you ever feel that way?

I have a deep desire to be able to say (like Paul in Galatians 2:20) "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."   I love singing the words to the old hymn I Surrender All.  However, I know my head is saying "I surrender what is convenient for me".  

As each day of 2012 ticks by I understand more about why my word for the year is Surrender.  There is still so much more for me to relinquish.  There are still so many areas of my mind and heart that need to be transformed into His image.  Tom teaches that authentic forgiveness is not an event but a process.  I am convinced that true surrender is also a process and not an event. As I mature spiritually I realize how much more of my self there is to let go of before I can claim to have been crucified with Christ.  

God stays the same as we grow up spiritually...but we change.    

Stage one of my surrender began when I was ten years old.  I went forward to the altar a few weeks after Easter back in 1973 and gave my life to Him.  At 16, I renewed that childhood vow.  At 21, I learned about Christ being Lord of my life and not just my Savior.  By the age of 35, I came to realize just how much I don't know or understand about His mercy and grace.  Today, a few months shy of 49, I acknowledge that I still have far to go.  God is not finished teaching me and molding me into the person that He has called me to be.  

 What stage of surrender are you at in your walk with Him?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

thought for today...

Take a good look at God's wonders---they'll take your breath away.
Psalm 66:5
The Message

How often do you look at the ground?  
Are you so focused on the path ahead that you miss what is right at your feet?  

Each time we go for a hike in Guanacaste National Park  I have no idea where to look.  Whether I look up or down, side to side, or straight ahead, there is so much to see.  God's wonders are everywhere.  Each detail of His creation is worth taking note of...His handiwork is amazing.  Sometimes, I forget that I am also a wonder of His.  Having lost two children I know firsthand that each child born alive is a miracle.  

You are a wonder of His. 
You are His handiwork.  
You are amazing!

May you take the time to take a good look at God's wonders...
including yourself and those around you. 

May you surrender your gaze to Him. 
And may He truly take your breath away.
linking up with:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love Mapping...

Where has your love map taken you and your Valentine?

These maps show a snapshot of our journey over the past 30 years...

Wichita, Kansas
Where we met, married and began our family.

Costa Mesa, California
Where we bought our first home and raised our sons.

Krasnodar, Russia
Where we all learned to work as a team.

Belmopan, Belize
Where we are now...still serving but as a team of two.

I hope that wherever you are today.. that you will get to enjoy some time with your Valentine!  
And whether you have a special someone  or not always remember that:

Happy Valentine's Day!!

PS. Yesterday I had a guest post of mine featured over at The Watered Soul.  I wrote about some of the  lessons we have learned during our marriage.  Please head over to Wanda's blog and check it out.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

counting the gifts...

I am so tired from this weekend I feel as if I can barely put a sentence together.  
I have already re-started this post four times!

The conference was definitely a success and there are plans in the works to do it again next year. We are so grateful for the emotional and spiritual healing we saw take place, for the ah-ha moments some of the women experienced and for each woman who had the courage to come and speak the truth about her life.

Friday night Diana Shaw opened with the story of Gomer.  A different sort of love story.  Not one of a prince and princess but one of a harlot who became the wife of a prophet.  A story of redemption and of unconditional love.  One of the statements that seemed to resonate among the women was "if you don't address the issues of your past they will eventually lead you into sin".  There is a danger in living with unresolved issues.  It will affect not only you but those around you, especially your children and your walk with God.  Gomer could not handle her life as Hosea's wife.  She went back to her ways of adultery seeking gifts and care from lovers instead of from her husband.  But God instructed Hosea to take his wife back and to show her love once again.   What a blessing to know that there is always an opportunity for renewal with the Lord.  Hosea redeemed Gomer, gave her dignity, restored her position and gave her status.  And God can do each of those things for us as He lavishes His grace on us.

Saturday morning we had a talk from a woman who lived for 43 years with the secret of domestic violence in her home.  Her testimony of suffering at the hands of her husband truly hit a cord with some of the women.  And many were inspired by her honesty, courage and what God has done through her life.  

Tom's first talk was about how abuse and trauma in our lives affects our choices.  After Tom spoke we had lunch and then we separated into small groups for a time of discussion and of processing what we had been hearing.  There were 9 of us who were designated as small group leaders.  The small group time was truly eye opening.  Women were ready to talk about what they identified with, what they were learning and what they needed to change in their own lives to truly live the full life that God wants them to live.  

In the evening, following Tom's talk on forgiveness, those who were ready to begin the process of forgiving someone in their life were able to write that name down on a piece of paper and nail it to the cross.  

This was followed by communion.  And then we were dismissed for the night.  We heard stories the next day about women who went back to their dorm rooms and shared their testimonies with one another, and some of them stayed up until about 2am praying and singing together!

There were so many gifts from this weekend...
our hearts are truly filled to overflowing with joy over how God worked through this conference.

498.  Times of praise and worship with the ladies...

499.  gathering for meals together.
500.  whoopie pies for dessert
501.  homemade rolls
502.  fresh ice cream from Spanish Lookout
503.  times of prayer with a few of the women that were even sweeter than the ice cream we shared.

504.  different nationalities and ethnic groups coming together

505.  women from the Mennonite community joining us on Saturday. 

506. Tom being able to teach and use his gifts.

507. learning to accept interruptions no matter what form they take. 

508.  the sound of forgiveness being nailed to the cross

509.  hurts being transformed by Christ's work on the cross

510. being blessed by the serving team with great meals and hospitality

511. bonding in small groups

512. hearing testimonies 

513.  Powerful dramas showcasing how Christ intervenes in our lives.

514.  a beautiful love letter from God for each one of the ladies in attendance.
515.  unexpected gifts as thanks for being a small group leader.
516.  seeing women exchange numbers before leaving.
517.  churches who financially sponsored women from their congregations.
518.  a local woman who took in several children so their mothers could attend.
519.  the youth group clapping in support of each woman as her name was called to receive a gift for attending.  Their encouragement was spontaneous and so beautiful!
520.  knowing that we are in the right place and at just the right time.

joining in with the gratitude community: