Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving

As I sit in my in law's house smelling the turkey cooking, listening to the kids playing, and feeling content it is easy to give thanks and to genuinely feel thankful. However, just a few minutes ago I was playing the piano and I came across "Blessed Be Your Name." The songs talks about choosing to praise God and be thankful for who he is regardless of circumstances. "Blessed be your name on the road marked with suffering, when there's pain in the offering, blessed be your name." It goes on to say, "You give and take away, my heart will choose to say blessed be your name." That is not me. Not naturally anyway. I can see how quickly I go from "Blessed be your name" to "woe is me!" There is no thanksgiving in the times that I am sick and in pain. No praising him when the car is not working again. No offering up thanks to God for his sovereignty and grace when the kids are struggling with their faith or feeling hurt and unloved. No easy blessings come from my mouth when I am facing uncertainty in the future and can't understand how things will play out. Instead I often offer questions, self pity, whining, and mistrust.
But I am thankful that God knows it is my desire to be a person of true thankfulness and praise. He loves me despite my falleness and selfishness. In fact, because I can see these things in me and still can be sure of God's love for me, I understand better how true thankfulness can be a part of my life! And the opportunity to run into his arms and bask in his love is reason enough to be thankful each and every moment. Now if I could just remember that...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving dinner around the world

Tonight we have our second annual Thanksgiving Dinner for international students at Compelled. Our team in South Sudan is also having their Thanksgiving extravaganza today! I am thinking of them and praying for them as I cook one of the four 20+ pound turkeys we will be serving up tonight! In S. Sudan they are eating chicken (no turkeys to be found this year) and playing games outside. In another year or so we will celebrate our first Thanksgiving in S. Sudan, and it will be as foreign to me as tonight will be for these international students. With that in mind I look forward to welcoming them tonight, sitting and talking to them, hearing what they think about their first American Thanksgiving dinner (Surprisingly many of them were not huge fans of turkey last year - but they LOVED the pies!) Pray for this amazing outreach if you have a chance - our percentages of people who do not know Jesus yet are high at this event! And pray for the S. Sudan team as they devour chicken, play games, and enjoy a little bit of America in Africa.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Highs and lows

Many of you have been asking about how things are going in our lives. With two churches, raising support for South Sudan, homeschooling 4 kids, and just plain life - I have to admit there are times when I wonder, "What are you thinking, Lord?" We have definitely had our emotional ups and downs recently. To keep it real, here are a few examples:

High - Compelled. Period. Each week I am blown away by what God is doing in this church. I LOVE the people and the honesty and the rawness of it all. I so desire to see this be a self supporting, strong beacon of light in this community. (By self supporting, I mean financially, certainly not without God!) This has been one of those areas in our lives where God proves that He really does know what is best for his kids and he is in control, even when things seem bleak. We are now stressing keeping our eyes on him and not forgetting that he brought us here, he built it, and he will sustain it if we are faithful to remember that always. It is not about us.

LOW - With all this traveling back and forth each week, and the extra paperwork that is needed to register kids to this school district, starting the support raising, and just normal school, I am feeling like I can't keep things in order. I bought new file folders, copied the mountains of paperwork required by this district, and then after I handed in the originals, I lost the whole stack. Yep - IHIP, report cards, registration lists, past grades and testing, CAT scores - you name it. Also, two test keys for Anna and John's guitar books. How??? these things do not even belong all together - but they have all been missing since the same day, and I fear they were put in the recyclables by two little people cleaning quickly. So I had to email the District (so embarrassing), re-order test keys, and look online for guitar stuff. (I am still not sure they are all together!)

High - The weather! I mean really, it is November, but we have had sunshine and amazing blue skies everyday! I am still wearing flip flops and a hoodie! Whoo hoo!

Low - Trying to get Children's stuff going in the one church. There are awesome people here, but a small amount of them! They can only do just so much. So we are scaling back. Focusing on what we have and what we can do - pray, share Jesus, love each other. This is not really a low, but it took a while for me to accept it and just allow God to work. I also realized that once I accepted it, it was an area I could back off from.

High - Talking with our support coach, Jennifer. She is so encouraging, and even is patient when our lack of computer skills show! She is helping us get things in order to start getting in contact with all of you guys! :) We also had a couple of good meetings with people about supporting us.

Low - Still seeing the "$0" when our weekly reports come in from World Harvest. I look forward to that first week of support coming in - then I will feel like this is really happening!

High - Talks with my sister. They have been real, deep, and wonderful. I love these girls. It has even been fun being able to play online with them each night! We have laughed together, cried together, and vented together in the last couple of weeks - I am thankful for those friendships that are unique to sisters!

Low - The laptop died. But then High it came back to life - again! I was so bummed because so many letters and important things were on it. We thought it was gone for good. Then our friend who is on the Geek Squad (for real) told us to try something and, Voila, it works again!

These are just a few of the things I can share publicly. Obviously there are relationships and circumstances (both good and bad) that I cannot write about. But God has been faithful. We have a small group of people that I know are praying for us everyday as we navigate these crazy times. We have a warm house, full bellies, each other, and tons of fun stuff coming up in the next month. I am grateful - even if at times I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fair Trade and yummy support

Well, yummy if you like coffee - which I don't really. But I appreciate this company that allows missionaries who are raising support and families wanting to adopt to use their website and resources to raise funds! At Just Love Coffee Roasters out of Tennessee, you can buy fair trade coffee from all over, apparel, mugs, and equipment. And if you go to our store front through them to do it, we receive a portion of the proceeds to our fund at World Harvest. The store is justlovecoffee.com/shawnheather96 - check it out!