Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My parents are visiting!

Mom and Dad arrived in Guatemala on Monday and will be with us for a little while. It is so good to see them again! With today's technology, we can talk to them from a thousand miles away or IM every day if we want, but there is just no substitute for a warm embrace or a smile in person.

My children are thoroughly enjoying their Grammy and Papa, (the younger two getting re-acquainted with them :o). We'll let them rest up from their trip and get acclimated to the altitude before we take them to do any crazy stuff!

I hope you are all seeing God's blessings today as well!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What are we really made of?

"Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad....

Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples....

[Just hours later...]

Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

And he went out, and wept bitterly."

Matthew 26:31,35,74,75

It is easy to say that I would never deny the Lord. But this passage is a sobering reminder that anybody can fall to the temptation, given the right circumstances.

It is getting more and more difficult to be true Christ-followers these days. The laws of the land are changing, and the direction they are taking is not Bible-friendly, to say the least.

Most likely great persecution is on its way to America, though most Christians think America is immune to persecution of the church. Preaching the truth will soon be "hate-speech", and giving out the gospel in public venues will be against city regulations. People have been and will be arrested for attempting to carry out Christ's commission to His disciples to GO and PREACH the Gospel.

In the book of John, chapter 17, is recorded a prayer Jesus prayed on behalf of His disciples, and several times He prayed for their (our) unity in the truth. We need that unity because we are rejected by the world as a whole. "I have given them Thy Word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."

Let true believers be unified by the Truth, that we may stand faithful as times get more difficult! And let us pray for one another.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

We interrupt this usually tranquil blog...

to address an earth-shattering issue which my friend Connie brought to my attention. Perhaps you have already heard about it? President Obama has heartlessly and needlessly murdered an innocent little fly!

I don't usually address political issues on this blog, but this spills over into moral issues. Connie emailed me a link to THIS ARTICLE, and if it weren't for the source, I would have thought it was a joke. I quote, with my notes in {brackets}:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals {that's PETTY, er, PETA} wants the flyswatter in chief to try taking a more humane attitude the next time he's bedeviled by a fly in the White House.

PETA is sending President Barack Obama a Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher, a device that allows users to trap a house fly and then release it outside.

{So it can fly back into your house, I presume.}

"We support compassion even for the most curious, smallest and least sympathetic animals," PETA spokesman Bruce Friedrich said Wednesday. "We believe that people, where they can be compassionate, should be, for all animals."

{Do flies also have the "right" to land on my food and contaminate it??}

During an interview for CNBC at the White House on Tuesday, a fly intruded on Obama's conversation with correspondent John Harwood.

"Get out of here," the president told the pesky insect. When it didn't, he waited for the fly to settle, put his hand up and then smacked it dead.

{WELL, it disobeyed an executive command.}

"Now, where were we?" Obama asked Harwood. Then he added: "That was pretty impressive, wasn't it? I got the sucker."

{You know, this is the first presidential act since he was elected that I have been able to identify with!}

Friedrich said that PETA was pleased with Obama's voting record in the Senate on behalf of animal rights and noted that he has been outspoken against animal abuses.

Still, "swatting a fly on TV indicates he's not perfect," Friedrich said, "and we're happy to say that we wish he hadn't."

{So PETA now judges who's perfect and who is lacking in their character? Help us!}

Deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said the White House has no comment on the matter.

{I don't blame him. I was speechless at first, too.}

So there you have it. Our president has REALLY blown it, now.

None of that crowd thinks anything of it when the president wants to remove all bars for partial birth abortion and deny parents the right to consent before their adolescent decides to murder her baby. No big deal when he sends funds to the U.N. population agency which in turn helps the Chinese government force abortions and sterilizations onto their people. What? No big headlines protesting his reversal of Bush's executive order to press for research for obtaining embryonic stem cells without harming human life?

The fly is NOTHING. America needs to get her priorities straight. We have more than fly guts on our hands. We have the innocent blood of millions of babies on our hands.

Lord, have mercy!

I was sick throughout the night, and so when six a.m. rolled around, I was rather reluctant to leave the comfort of my bed. Hubby had left around five a.m., so it was all up to me this morning, I thought. As children awoke and the house gradually filled with their noises, eager to get the day started, their less-eager mama just pulled the covers up over her head.

Before long, my nine-year-old came in and lay down with me for a few minutes. She asked about breakfast, and I told her she could look at the menu on the 'fridge to see what today's breakfast is (as I prayed it was something easy!). She went to check, and got the table set for cereal (Hallelujah!).

Soon after that, my ten-year-old came in just to check on me. I let her know I'd been sick in the night, and she kissed me and tucked me in. She left quietly and went to serve breakfast to all her siblings, and smiling to myself I could hear her hushing them to be quiet while Mommy rests.

A little after eight, I finally made myself throw the covers back and swing my feet out of the bed. I had read my Bible in the wee hours of the morning, and felt the conviction that I must get up and at least do what I can! After all, I am the Keeper of this home, and six children running free with nobody at the helm equals disaster!

But what I saw as I emerged from my bedroom took me totally by surprise. The livingroom was relatively neat. The table had been cleared of the breakfast dishes and wiped. The floor had been swept. The littlest ones were contentedly busy with looking at books or playing with toys.

No, I was not still in my bed dreaming! My oldest daughter brought out a bowl and cereal for my breakfast. My little one-and-a-half-year-old joined me at the table. (He's always up for a second breakfast :o) And I gave thanks for the food, for the new day, and for my wonderful children... SO much to be thankful for! Nothing have I done to deserve any of it.

Just wanted to share these blessings! I hope your day is blessed, too.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Johanna's a Joy

Our "baby" girl turned five years old! She was our first child born in Guatemala. She wanted to share her cake at church, so we waited until Sunday night for that. So on the morning of her actual day, we had birthday pancakes with homemade butter and cinnamon syrup.

Then on the Lord's Day we sang to her, thanking God for her life and praying His blessings upon her. Wish I had a photo of everybody who was there!

Her cake says, "Johanna is (five) years old."

Later at home, we all had some gifts to show her our love. This is a hand-stitched doll quilt her big sister made! Isn't that sweet?

These are five things I love about our Johanna Joy:

1) Her energy, spunk, and easy affection! (Oops, that's three, not one.)

2) Her funny little ways that make me laugh, such as "needing" three washcloths for her bath. One for her face, one for her bum, and one for her feet. Funny!

3) Her love for all things pretty and feminine. Such a girly-girl!

4) Her willingness to serve. She is always offering her help to others!

5) Her godly goals in life. She wants to be a good mommy more than anything!

I love you, Johanna Joy! You truly are a joy to us all. :o)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Shampoo-Free Experiment UPDATE

It has been a while since I updated about my shampoo-free experiment. Three months have passed since I stopped using shampoo, and some of you might have wondered how it's going. (If you are new to the blog, you can read my previous posts about it HERE, or click the words "shampoo-free" in the label cloud on the right.)

I'm still washing with baking soda and rinsing with vinegar every five, sometimes six, days. I really like how it treats my hair, and feel good about what I'm putting on my skin. (Not sure what the big deal is about the chemicals you put on your skin? Read this article!)

So, here is how I rate being shampoo-free:

**How my hair feels; manageability: A+
(My hair is soft and shiny, and easily managed. Granted, I put my hair up every day, but I'm talking about when it is loose at home.)

**Greasiness/"ick" factor between washings: A
(This has improved over time. I went through a stage when my hair got oilier than I cared for, but it has balanced out now.)

**General hair health: A+
(My hair has never been healthier. Very few split ends, no dandruff, less hair loss after washings. Perhaps it will even get thicker over time.)

**Time spent caring for hair: B
(It does take longer to wash with baking soda instead of shampoo. But then again, since I don't do it daily, I'm probably saving time in the long run.)

**Cost: A+
(I haven't even calculated the difference in cost. Baking soda and vinegar cost pennies per use, plus I no longer have to use leave-in conditioners, detanglers, or split-end menders. I know, I'm such a cheapskate! ;o)

When my hubby saw that my hair did not rot and fall out, he decided to try it for himself. He has been shampoo-free for a couple weeks now, and just rinses his hair out every day. He reports that his hair is much easier to brush into place, which surprised us both because it can be rather unruly!

As for me, folks, I no longer consider this an experiment. I am officially shampoo-free! I know you were wanting to know that. ;o)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Food on Fridays ~ A Rare Treat

When one moves to a foreign country to live, one often has to do without some things that one likes or is used to having around. Sometimes, this can make one more than a little homesick. After a while, one begins to crave things that one normally wouldn't crave, just because one (okay, I'm talking about myself) can't have it.


There is the occasional rare treat, and it becomes all the more delightful because of its rarity.

Just the other day my hubby came home from the grocery store with this little item:

Hmmm, "Great Value" knock-off brand Spaghetti-O's. "Great Value, isn't that a WAL-MART brand?" you might ask. And you would be right.

A Wal-mart brand item found in a store right here in the middle of Guatemala, Central America. Yes. That is right.

It turns out that Wal-mart has bought out our chain grocery store in Xela, which is only 25 minutes from my doorstep. I went to the store to see for myself, and even the employees have those little blue Wal-mart name tags on their shirts. I'm amazed!

Granted, the prices of the U.S. items are still high. This can of spaghetti rings cost about a dollar, which leaves a lot of room for rolling back prices, in my opinion...

But they sure were good!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Update on Dad

He is still in the hospital, but he is doing well. They did a stress test on him today, and the doc said he did well. There is no damage to his heart, they are just working on keeping it regulated, and they are putting him on a blood-thinner. He is in high spirits, and looks forward to going home in a couple of days once they get his meds worked out.

Praise the Lord! And to those who prayed, thank you! :o)

***I forgot to add that my parents had planned to come down to Guatemala for a visit in a couple of weeks. We are hoping that Dad's health will be good so that they can still come! ***

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Prayers for My Daddy

It's been a long, busy day today, and I am just weary. Classes at the Seminary resumed this morning, and they always have a special chapel service on opening day. Our whole family got to participate. Daniel directed all the music, I played piano, and the children sang beautifully with us, "O Worship The King" and "He Hideth My Soul".

How those songs minister to me! They are precious old hymns that I learned growing up, because my family went to a good church where they sang them. Our hymnbooks never got dusty (tattered, yes, but not dusty), and I tell you, the exquisite language and rich Bible Truths contained in those hymns were written on my heart early in life.

I will take a humble old hymnbook over all those rock-music, vain-repetition, flesh-feeding "praise and worship" songs in the world.

My Dad was always my music director until I reluctantly left the nest. My favorite songs were songs that he sang. He led the church in singing hymns that minister to the soul and not the flesh, and many of those I can sing today from memory, verse by verse. Thank you, Daddy!

I guess I should get to the title of my post! My brother called me today to let me know that my Dad was admitted into the hospital. He and Mom had gone in to their doctor for a check-up, and they detected an irregular heartbeat from Dad's heart. They wanted him admitted in order to observe him and try to get his heart regulated, and that is all I know at this point. I would appreciate it if Christians would pray for Bro. Graham, my dad. Thanks so much!

And now, a couple of verses for you, Dad, from what we sang this morning (but in English :o)...

"A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord, He taketh my burden away,
He holdeth me up, and I shall not be moved,
He giveth me strength as my day!

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand."

from He Hideth My Soul, by Fanny J. Crosby, 1918

And this one...

"O worship the King, all glorious above,
O gratefully sing His Power and His Love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with Praise.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In THEE do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender! how firm to the end!
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!"

from O Worship the King, by Robert Grant.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Battle in My House

The enemy crouches ready, each troop armed with every weapon they can manage. The first strike is imminent; a clash inevitable. They've awaited it for hours, plotting their tactics and sure that, this time, they will emerge from the fray victorious!

But the General is aware of their evil plan, and knows the location where they lie in wait. He also knows they are expecting him to come from the West. And he is ready.

The General is unarmed, and vastly outnumbered, and yet he charges courageously into the battle... From the North! A brilliant offensive move! The enemy is sufficiently surprised, and in the ensuing confusion, the General wrests weapons from one of the troops. They fall back to regroup!

The battle is on! I sit hunkered here before my computer, hoping to escape the din. Thunder sounds over my head, the missiles fly, and shrieks pierce the evening as they hit their target with precision.

This is no ordinary battle.

This is Saturday Night Pillow Fight With Daddy.

The General advances his attack. Oof! One of them blind-sides him with a sofa pillow! No fear, he quickly recovers. Children dive behind the beds as he takes aim, but this time the pillow just barely swipes a blonde head. He is unarmed again and, seeing his disadvantage, the troops advance once more... The littlest one latches onto his leg, wanting to be picked up. This puts The General at further disadvantage! Will he succumb to the barrage of pillows and fall to the ground, vulnerable to the enemy's notorious Deadly Dog Pile?

My ears strain to hear any signs that would tell the outcome. What's that? They are coming down the stairs! They are sure to discover me here, hiding out with the computer.

But they wouldn't attack a pregnant mama... Would they?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Food on Fridays ~ Fried Apples!

A certain group of Baptist ladies recently were discussing the yummy phenomenon of Fried Apples. I had never made them before, and one of them said (essentially), "Oh, you just melt some butter in a hot skillet, throw in some sliced and pared apples (preferably tart) with a little sugar, and fry them until they're soft."

That sounded easy enough. Someone else had mentioned how good they are on top of French toast. Hmm, crispy-tender, buttery French toast with warm cinnamony-gooey apples over the top... My pregger-brain latched on to that thought, so that's what we did for breakfast the next morning!

Here's how I made Fried Apples:

Peel, core and slice 7 or 8 tart apples (for a skillet-full, or you can half the recipe). Melt 3 to 4 Tbsp butter in a hot skillet, then add the apples, stirring to coat. Sprinkle brown sugar over the apples (to taste) with a dash of salt, and fry until they soften and start to brown and caramelize.

They should make a nice brown juice as they cook. Stir in some cinnamon, and serve warm.

...Your French toast will thank you! :o)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Thrifty finds

Yesterday the whole family went to town to do the weekly shopping and other errands. It's always fun to be in Xela, since we usually get to eat out somewhere and take all the children into the stores. (Boy, do we draw attention when all eight of us are together! :o)

Some of the children were needing some clothing, so we decided to stop in a few paca tiendas to see what they had. Pacas are huge bundles of used clothing that are brought down from the U.S., so what a paca tienda is, essentially, is a good ol', hometown THRIFT STORE!

I {heart} thrift stores.

The Lord allowed us to find some really nice clothes! I found two skirts, one for each of my big girls, and a long slip for my longest girl,two dressy pants for my growing boy, as well as a nice pair of black jeans. (The dark brown pants below are very nice corduroy. Always in season, here in the mountains!)

We also happened across that double-breasted sport coat (above), which fits Joseph perfectly, and is machine-washable. Also picked up some really nice Dockers for my hubby. (not pictured)

I paid about $15 for all of it. Thank you, Lord, for thrift stores!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday Musings

This will be short and sweet!

I've been thinking about the burning bush that Moses saw in the wilderness (Exodus chapter three). It was brought up in the book I was reading, "The Saving Life of Christ," by Major Ian Thomas. What about that bush? What was special about it? Why wasn't it consumed? Moses was wondering the same things when he turned aside to see about it. That's when God spoke to him, and turned his whole wilderness existence around.

All too early in Moses' career, he had blown it by jumping the gun. He was to be God's chosen leader to guide His people out of the bondage of Egypt. When he went out and saw an Egyptian mistreating a Hebrew man, he decided to do things his way, killed the Egyptian, and hid his body in the sand. God had another, better plan to redeem his people!

Then Moses drifted for forty years of uselessness in the dessert, far from his calling. He was all burned up, a heap of useless ashes. When he saw that burning bush that was not consumed... what a wonderful thing! So what was it about the bush that kept it burning, yet never consumed?

The answer is that GOD was in that bush! If the bush had sustained the flame with its own resources, it would have turned to ashes within a minute. But it was God who sustained the flame, not the bush. The bush was just available.

Do you see what I'm seeing here? Are you a Christian who wants to be used by God? Are you trying to do it in your own power? You will only burn yourself out. We are to be still, await our orders, and be ready and available for His use every day. What does God want me to do today?

...And by the way, God can use a short bush, a full bush, a scraggly bush, and even a dry bush. Any available bush will do!

Have a blessed day!

Photo is of the beautiful artwork of Arnold Friberg, prints of which are available HERE.