Monday, September 29, 2008

On the Brighter Side

Thought I would post something a little bit lighter, and brighter. Yesterday we made these beautiful butterflies in Sunday School class. It was so much fun, first we painted the coffee filters, and then twisted them up with chenille pipe cleaners. Each one was different, and the kids were very pleased with their creations. Thanks to the Bob Jones Distance Learning program for giving so many creative ideas.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Beverly Hillbillies and the Other World Banking System

This morning before we started school I quickly checked my email, and couldn't help but notice the latest headlines about another big bank failure-- WaMu being purchased by JP Morgan. I was commenting about it to my husband, as we were discussing how it will affect those of us living overseas who must deal with the falling dollar. The government is scrambling to rescue the banks and economy, and we are seeing a domino effect as one by one banks are being bought out by even bigger banks. You have to wonder when it is going to stop. WaMu assured the investors that on Friday, "everything will be business as usual."

It reminded me of the television show I used to watch as a young girl, "The Beverly Hillbillies." Jed Clampett became a millionaire after discovering oil on his property back in the hills, then moved to Beverly Hills, California, and put it all in Mr. Drysdale's bank--as he was assured it was the safest place to keep his millions. Every once in a while Jed would get the notion to go withdraw his money, and Mr. Drysdale would panic--and would do everything he could to convince Mr. Clampett not to withdraw his money--little did Jed know that "his" money was not really sitting in Mr. Drysdale's bank--it had been invested somewhere else, hopefully wisely and the bank could be trusted to do this for him. One time Mr. Clampett even went to the bank just to "check" on his money and asked Mr. Drysdale if he could see it.

Ever since we got married, my husband and I have been investing in this really great bank that we both committed ourselves to. (It really helps when both the husband and wife are in agreement when it comes to finances.) We decided that we would try our best to live debt free, and put as much as we can into this bank. It pays great dividends, and all the investments are backed in solid gold and precious stones, and only prime real estate. Some investments pay hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.

At the current time, we have far reaching interests at home and abroad, in the U.S. and countries such as Papua New Guinea, Italy, China, Ukraine, Poland, India, the Canary Islands, and a few in Africa. We know our future is secure with our resources and assets going there, and fully trust the Sovereign Governor of our trust fund, because of his government there shall be no end.

Where are you putting your investments? I know I will someday regret not laying up more where thieves can not steal, and where moth and rust doth not corrupt.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Being Fruitful and Multiplying

I got a call from my daughter Amy last Tuesday evening, and normally she doesn't call during the week because they don't have "free" minutes except on the weekend, so I knew something was up. Her voice sounded cheerful so I knew it was good news.

"Hi Mom, she said. looks like you are going to be a grandma again."

Somehow I knew that was the reason for the call. My mom says that her mother always could guess when she was breaking that news to her as well. It must have something to do with the tone of voice.

We only have two married children, and I would say that between the two of them we are doing pretty well. This makes number 5, and we are very happy for them. I wish we could see them all, but hopefully one day, if the Lord permits, we can schedule our furlough together with Nathan, and have a nice family reunion.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Facing Uncertain Times

Is it just me, or is anyone else out there getting depressed reading the news? I say "reading" because most of the news I get from the U.S. is from reading on the Internet. Thousands are homeless and devastated by hurricane Ike, Wall Street is plunging, taxpayers are bailing out financial institutions, and they say there is more bad news to come.

People are looking to the upcoming elections for solutions. Guess what?.... No matter who gets elected to office, they will not be able to solve our nation's problems.

Here in the Canary Islands, people are complaining about how difficult it is for them too. Many are struggling to make ends meet. People are scared--not sure what the future will bring. There is a multitude of immigrants who come to the Canary Islands from Western Africa, fleeing in small, crowded boats--risking their lives--in hopes of finding a better place to live and work, only to get here and find it difficult to obtain employment. There are also large numbers from Romania, South America, and Cuba. Our Wednesday night prayer meeting is filled with requests for people to find jobs.

Our church is across the street from a government operated city mission for homeless people. We have had opportunity to minister to many of them. I tend to be rather critical and judgemental, (unlike my husband, so fortunately we balance each other out) having preconceived ideas and stereo-types of what these people are like, that they don't really want to work, and that their self destructive behaviors of drug and alcohol abuse, and character issues have put them in this situation. I am sure there is an element of truth to my observations in some of the cases.

Then I watched video clips of the destruction caused by hurricane Ike. Many lost everything they owned, and can not return to the community where they lived. Many will have no way to work, and will start the painful process of rebuilding their lives. That is when it struck me that but by the grace of God, I could be in any of their shoes. It really made me rethink this homeless issue in a new light. I need to quit being so full of pride, (thinking it could never happen to me) and be more thankful for the provision that God has made for me, and not take it for granted. God is also showing me that I need more compassion. It is so easy to get hard and cold when you see so many in need. After all, we that know the Lord need to show others how we can trust Him in these uncertain times.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mozambique Missions

Update from Mozambique

Many of you know that our son Nathan and his family are missionaries to the country of Mozambique, Africa. Last week they had the privilege of hosting a mission group from our home church in Rochester, NY for a week. They had a great time together, and held a one day seminar for the church with several messages, teaching, and fellowship. I am posting a few pictures so you can see a little glimpse into the work they are doing there.

Nathan, Emily, and the kids are doing well, and the paperwork for their visas was accepted by the Mozambique government which is an answer to prayer. Lord willing, they will be going to neighboring South Africa around the first of November for the birth of their third child, which is a boy. They have decided to have a home birth (well, not really at their home, but at the quarters where they will be living temporarily), attended by an experienced doctor and midwife. The doctor actually advised a home birth over a hospital birth, stating in their country it is actually better/safer than the hospitals. Please keep them in your prayers that everything will go smoothly.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Question of Why, and What

Today our nation is remembering one of the most tragic events in our nation's history, one day that changed our country forever. I remember watching the second airplane as it flew directly into the World Trade Center, and both of the towers collapsing on live TV. It looked like something right out of a movie, but this was for real. I recall feeling shock and depression for several weeks.

Following the events of 9/11, there seemed to be a real unity of the American people. We put aside some of our differences, and pulled together to do anything we could to help; many gave financially of their resources, and also of their time to the relief effort. Christians all around the nation were calling for prayer for our leaders, the victims and their families. We vowed that we would never forget and some of us drew nearer to God to help us find answers to the many questions that were being asked.

One of the most frequently asked questions though, is why? I have heard some TV reporters mock God, and say that if God would allow tragedies and such human suffering, then "He isn't very nice."

I always wonder, why is God the first one to get blamed for everything that goes wrong, but when we need help in time of deep trouble, it seems embedded in our conscience to cry out to God. They say there is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole, and I tend to agree.

I don't have all the answers, but the Bible does (even if I don't always understand it as I should). God allows people to suffer for different reasons, but most of all to draw a world that desperately needs redemption closer to the Saviour that can deliver them in the time of need. If you study the character of God, you will learn that He is good, merciful, loving, and takes no pleasure in death and human tragedy. He gave his only begotten Son to suffer, die, and rise again from the grave, and has conquered it. The Bible tells us that He has taken the sting out of death.

"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." I Corinthians 15: 55-57

I am in no way minimizing the pain that others feel, and many people have suffered things far worse than I can even begin to imagine. But there have been times of suffering in my own life when I have asked God why, but that is when my faith draws me back to realize that it isn't God's fault. Sometimes the suffering, trial, or temptation has been a result of my own rebellion, failures, or perhaps decisions made, etc.

Other times it is the goodness of God, a gentle or sometimes harsh chastening (because we need it) from a loving Heavenly Father, that is drawing us into a closer relationship with Him. We can not trust our own human reasoning to figure it all out. I just try to believe and put faith in the promises that I do know for sure, and pray and ask God for wisdom to understand the rest that I don't.

The Word of God is a treasure chest of promises, wisdom, and comfort to those who seek it. Maybe we are asking God the wrong question--instead of why--we should ask what, as in "What would you have me to do Lord Jesus?"

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Righteousness Exalteth a Nation

With the start of school this week, I am looking back on my own schooling experience, and thinking how different it is now than what it was when I attended public school in the 1970's. One of my fondest memories is when every morning, my third grade teacher, Mrs. Dillon, had us say the pledge of allegiance, and then proceeded to open the Bible that sat on her desk and we recited Psalm 100. She didn't expound on it--or talk about her religion, we just read it, and proceeded with our studies.

I enjoyed that part of my school day--it was a comforting passage, and even though I really didn't know much about the Bible, it had planted a seed in my heart that we were God's people, and the sheep of His pasture, hence, we were created by God and had a duty toward Him. It was unlike any other book. I also recall my second grade teacher, Mrs. Hawkins, reading the story of Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors. I can still remember it clearly, and to this day, Joseph is one of my favorite Bible characters. Our math rulers had the phrase "Remember the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." In fifth grade, the Gideon's were allowed to come into the school and give us all a pocket New Testament, which I treasured, and kept in my desk.

My parents didn't have to worry when I got on the school bus that there might be a shooting in the classroom. We were allowed to walk up to town by ourselves, and no one ever thought about child molesters or kidnappers lurking--although my mom told me to never go up to a car that pulled over and engage in conversation with a stranger--but she wasn't afraid to let us go because things like that were rare. Now a parent can't let their kids play in their own backyard without keeping a watchful eye.

To my knowledge, parents never complained about the teacher's violating their child's rights when they read the Bible, or said the pledge of allegiance, with the phrase, "One Nation Under God." It was part of our American heritage. We had Christmas parties and Thanksgiving celebrations where the pilgrims' story was taught. We also had Halloween parties (which glorifies witches and evil spirits), Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, etc. I am sure that somewhere down the line some one's religion was offended, but the school board didn't have to worry about being so politically correct, and making everything so generic so as to never mention God, religion, or the Bible.

It is a very different world today. Heaven forbid we teach a child about the ten commandments, but be sure to let them know about how to have safe sex and what the school's emergency plan is in case of a lock down because someone is in the school with a loaded gun.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Leanna and Rebekah's First Day of School

Today we started school, yes, on Labor Day--but over here it isn't a holiday. Rebekah is in the fifth grade, and Leanna is starting first grade. This is her first year to use the Bob Jones DVD distance learning program, and she was excited.

First thing this morning Leanna came down for breakfast, ready to start school. I told her to go back upstairs, comb her hair and put on a pair of socks and shoes . I know this is "home school" but somehow it goes against my grain to do school in bare feet and messy hair. Rebekah enjoys dressing up everyday, carefully selecting a "school" outfit--and when she finishes school she will change into something else. Leanna, on the other hand, pulls the first thing she can find out of her drawer, where she stuffs everything in together, clean or dirty. It can make for some very unusual outfits.

She came back downstairs, marching like the VonTrapp children in the Sound of Music when their father blows his whistle. We started Bible class, and 10 minutes into the teaching she informs me that she is hungry. No, she will have to wait til break time. About 3 subjects into the school day, she impatiently asks me how much more school til we are through. I am getting a little agitated as I watch her chew her pencil, lift her desk up off the floor, look out the window---while her teacher is explaining her phonics lesson. Will this girl ever learn anything? Would she be doing this if she was in a traditional classroom setting, with a teacher that wasn't her mom?

Then I think to myself how I would keep from going crazy if I was an elementary teacher with 25 six-year olds in one room, trying to make sure they hold their pencil correctly, form their letters just like the textbook tells you too, etc. Fortunately I get a little taste of it trying to teach my Sunday school class, which has two boys who never want to sit down--so I can imagine the frustration they must feel. It also helps me realize Leanna isn't that much different than other children her age.
Leanna surprised me, as I listened to her telling her daddy all the things she learned today, and proudly showing him all her worktext papers. Sometimes kids learn more than you think. Patience is the key!