Monday, June 27, 2011

music and nature

Our family is finding a couple of hobbies this summer that we can do together and all enjoy - music and nature!  It has been a fun summer for me because all of our kids are finally old enough to go on real hikes and not complain (too much) or need to be carried!  We have done a lot of exploring this new area we live in and are finding a ton of cool, beautiful, fun places.  We haven't done anything too extreme, but getting in a couple of hours in the woods, playing in the streams on the way, finding crayfish, watching animals, and looking at different things in nature has been a wonderful time for us.  And we are all getting good exercise without thinking too much about it.  That is one of my goals for this family - good habits to keep our minds and hearts healthy and active! 
This summer has also been a time of discovering a love for musical things!  I play the keyboard and love it. But I have to admit - now that I am planning and playing at two worship services a week, much of the joy that I used to find in it has been replaced by the stress of getting new songs (but not too new that no one knows them!), finding songs that everyone can play with minimal practice time together, and songs that have words that touch the heart.  And let's face it - there is never a time when everyone is going to be pleased!  ;)  So I have been playing recently because I have to, not really because I enjoy it or want to.  That was sad for me, because music is something that I can get lost in easily - playing or listening.  It's a way I can meet God and worship him and prepare my heart.  But recently it has just been plain duty.  So when John and Shawn decided to start learning guitar, I was glad to hear that someone else in the family wanted to play music.  They are both doing a great job - learning mostly off youtube, but some from friends.  Shawn is playing my mom's old acoustic guitar and John has borrowed a friend's electric one.  (He loves our electric guitar player in our compelled band and has been learning a lot of the intros and stuff he does!)  Anna is also taking violin lessons now, and JP fixed the strings and tuned RJ's little guitar!  So now we are all attempting to jam together!  It is probably not a sound yet that would be pleasing to everyone's ears all the time - but God loves it!  And I love having this in common with my family! 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

fragrant

I am sitting here smelling the delicious scent of Cornell BBQ chicken wafting through the sliding glass doors as my hubby is slaving away over the grill! ;)  It reminds of our theme this year for Alliance Women which is "Simply Fragrant!"  I was thinking about smells I like and why I like them.  Some of them are just simply enjoyable smells - the chicken (or anything on the grill!) for example!  I love the smell of Dove soap because it takes me back to my great-grandmother's house where I always felt loved and safe.  The smell of chocolate is a happy smell...I think living near the Hershey Chocolate World would be a fantastic thing!  I love the smell of the body mist I get from Bath and Body- and Shawn loves that smell on me!  The smell of freshly cut grass alludes to beautiful summer days.  And sometimes I will even put sunblock on in the middle of the winter just to close my eyes and pretend it is nice out! 
Other smells are not necessarily "good" smells, but they make me remember or think of good things!  This weekend our DS (there's another acronym - for District Superintendent) told us that he liked the smell of cow manure because he grew up in farm country!  I also like the feeling that is evoked from driving through the country and passing farms and fields!  The smell may not be something I would seek after, but the feeling that comes from that smell is one of "home!"  The smell of diesel makes me think of our time in other countries and the crazy traffic.  Though I didn't enjoy the pollution from the fumes, I did love life there!  The smell of Aussie shampoo or Aqua Net hairspray make me think of some really fun times in high school with some crazy big hair!
We played a game this week at the training and one of the questions that was asked was "If you had to lose one sense, what would it be?"  Smell was the common one, and I certainly would have answered it at the time.  But when I realized how much scent is connected with good memories and mood for me I thought that maybe my answer would have to change! I don't think I would want to lose that "instant flashback" ability!
I think that God is going to use the theme verse for AWM in my own life this year as I work through what it means to be a fragrance to this world.  And how often am I a good, pleasing, unique aroma as opposed to a rotting stench?  2 Corinthians 2:14b and 15 says, "God uses us to spread His knowledge everywhere like a sweet-smelling perfume.  Our offering to God is this:  We are the sweet smell of Christ among those who are being saved and among those we are being lost."  (NCV)  My prayer is that I will exude the aroma and beautiful fragrance of Christ.  So what about you?  I am interested to know:  what are some aromas that you love?  And how are you spreading the fragrance of Christ to those around you?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

NED AWM of CMA love our IW's TCKs! ;)

This weekend I spent time with some wonderful women in the Northeastern District (NED) learning how to be a better leader in women's ministry.  The denomination that we are in is the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA for short) and the women's ministry is called Alliance Women Ministry (AWM to make things easier).  I am the new district chair for Third Culture Kids (TCKs-well, you know) which means I help match up the kids of our international workers (IWs -we like acronyms, what can I say?) with churches here in this district to be "adopted" and cared and loved on while they are part of a ministry family overseas.  As the new chair of the TCK ministry, I get to be a part of something that I understand from both sides.  When we were overseas it was such a blessing when people remembered my kids in special ways.  Whether it was stickers in a card, a picture or a big package at the holiday time or just to say "I love you" it was always an occasion to get something in the mail!  As a pastor's wife at a church that has adopted it's own TCK I get to see this side of things - the fun of picking out gifts that are meant especially for her, the prayers that happen for "our" kid, and the getting to know a family that is raising their kids in another culture.  I understand (to some degree) what some of those difficulties can be, and also can be excited because of the wonderful benefits that these families will experience from choosing this lifestyle!  I am excited about my new "job" can you tell?  :) 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Five Rivers

This afternoon, in the heat of the day, we went hiking again at Five Rivers Park.  We also went to the visitors center and learned that the name is somewhat deceiving - it comes from the five major rivers in the AREA, not the park!  (I won't try to name them!)   The park itself only has two streams running through it, and several little ponds.  But it is still a wonderful place! Last night we went in the evening and walked around the Beaver Tree Trail.  We went back today with a couple of backpacks full of sunblock, bug spray, waster bottles, and snacks.  (The important things in life!) 
It was such a fun day.  We hiked the trails, saw many animals, waded in the stream, and had a lot of fun just sitting and watching as the kids played.  It was nice not to feel rushed or to feel like I needed to "keep moving!"  I often have a hard time letting the kids explore because I want to get to the next thing - whatever that may be.  Kinda like life for me, I guess.  I am learning to savor the moment in all aspects of life. 
As John, Shawn and I were sitting and watching the younger ones play, we noticed a hole in the ground.  After wondering what it was, we decided it belonged to a chipmunk.  Not 5 minutes later the little guy started spying on us!  He had his cheeks packed FULL of leaves, and we decided he must be trying to build a nest in the hole or something.  He would scoot on one side and watch us, then run to the other side and get close and sit and watch.  He just couldn't get brave enough to actually come to the hole.  We finally gave in and moved - but not before getting this picture:

Yes, that is a real picture, even though I know it looks photoshopped!  So funny!
Thanks God, for a good day of rest and laughter! 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

how's it going?

It's been a while, so I feel like I should write something - but honestly I am not sure what!  :)  Things are going well in this new life that we are living.  It has been wonderful to get to know our new church family.  Today Shawn baptized a young woman who has started attending the church with her kids.  RJ and Andrew have taken a special liking to her son, who is about RJ's age - and it is wonderful to see RJ wanting to hang out with his new friend!  (He is just getting to that age where he is even interested in that!) This week I took Anna over to someone's house and we played Chinese Checkers and went for a walk to break up the monotony of living in an assisted living place for her.  Next week Anna is going to help another older woman weed her rock garden.  John and Anna have both been helping out in Children's Church and they are doing an amazing job!  It is so much fun to see them involved in people's lives and enjoying doing ministry.  Tonight they headed off to youth group with a few of the teens from that they are getting to know, and it made my heart happy.  They have (as usual) adjusted well to this move.  On Wednesdays we spend the entire day (from 8:30 am to 10pm) at Troy, so that day can be pretty long.  But since the weather has gotten nicer, and Rosina's pool is up and running, things have been a little more fun! ;)  Overall I would say things are going rather smoothly, so than you all for praying!  (Keep it up!)
Shawn and I have had a few things in our lives recently in ministry that have made us feel a little overwhelmed.  God is teaching us a lot about our strengths and weaknesses, and the fact that even our strengths are not good enough when not used in him - and our our weaknesses are made strong in him!  (That was kind of a confusing statement!  I hope you got it!)  I can't really get into details, but we are learning that we are not meant to save the world -not in and of ourselves.  Our battle against pride, wanting to look good and feel needed and praised, and realizing that we have no clue what we are doing in it all is constant!  But God is good, and he us reminding me that I need to remain in relationship with him, bask in his love and grace, guard my own heart (something that I have not been great about in this first month of the new schedule!), and proclaim him and him alone.  He takes care of all the ins and outs and I can rest in that.  I am so thankful for that!