Monday, November 15, 2010

I have a great family

One of the main things that has hit me over the last few weeks, while going through this sudden health issue, has been my love for my family, and their obvious love for me. So often, we get caught up in the everyday-ness of life, and forgot to purposefully show our love to the ones we love the most. Then, scary things happen, things that upset your whole routine, and you see the depth of the relationship you have with people. Proverbs speak of this, a rich man whose friends all disappear when he loses his money. This can happen sometimes with relationships that are seemingly strong, but when tragedy or crises strike, the relationship seems to fall apart. Like a building that looks strong from the outside but crumbles in an earthquake because the foundation lacks depth.

Well, I'm glad to say, that's not true in my case. I just realized I might be scaring you--not my intention. Just pondering...

Todd has taken on a lot because of my semi-bed-rest situation. I can sit for a little while, then I need to lie down. But I'm not much help! So not only is he trying to keep up with his work, but he's also cooking the meals, trying to keep up with the house, taking care of the kids, and doing all the running around (groceries, milk, errands) that I normally do. He even did a few days of home school with the kids while I was in the hospital!

And he's such a trooper. Every night he falls into bed exhausted, but he never complains. And he's always smiling. That's something special about Todd. I don't have to worry about him falling apart or turning on me, because I know his foundation is in the Lord. I know his habits of personal Bible study and prayer--the most consistent person I've ever met. And, I also think he was scared through the situation. Because he has been so tender and caring--trying to meet my needs before I think of them.

Then there's my kids. My biggest fear, when I was discovering the problem and fainting in Guaraciaba, was for my kids. It was not only safety and well-being (i.e. who was going to take care of them), but also their emotional trauma through seeing mommy so sick and not knowing what was wrong. When we realized that I had to go to Fortaleza right away, the ambulance drove me back to Molly's house and she went upstairs to frantically pack hers and our things to go to Fortaleza. Someone brought the kids down to see me, and they got into the ambulance to talk with me. Sammy just held on to my hand and asked me why I wasn't getting up. But Michaela got this tremble to her lip and I held onto her hand and told her that God was going to take care of me and that she should pray for God to help us. But she was almost crying (which was okay but she didn't want to cry), and so I asked what she was thinking about and she said, "But whose going to take care of Biscuit?" I just cracked up. Right there, in all that pain, and I laughed! Not at Michaela, but because it was unexpected. And that relieved the situation for all of us and I was able to tell her that our neighbors would continue to feed him until they hear from us.

My point is that my kids feel the stress of the unknown as well, maybe even more because a lot of their security is bound up in their parents. I've always noticed that as long as the kids are with us they seem happy and secure--even in the middle of the boonies in a foreign country. But God really calmed my heart and helped me realize that God uses these difficult times in the lives of children to mature them and help them grow in their trust and relationship with the Lord. And my job is to point them in that direction. It's my job to share Scripture that is comforting to me, to pray with my kids and encourage them to read and pray on their own, and to talk and hug and kiss a lot. The first time the kids visited me in the hospital they both climbed in bed with me and just cuddled and didn't want to move. I didn't either.

Since then, Michaela has never failed in praying for me multiple times a day when we pray together (meals, devotions, bedtime). And Sammy always says things about it being too bad that mommy's sick, but God's going to make her better. I know the road to healing isn't nearly over, the pain is diminishing but still present and I still face surgery. But I have seen God's hand through all of it, not only the circumstances but also the life lessons that He is gently teaching us through this difficult time. As the Bible says so tenderly, "He gently leads those who are with young." I praise Him for His gentleness in leading us, even through the valleys.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Here's the Scoop

Hi guys,
I've had a whole bunch of people asking what's going on/how am I doing?

First of all, I'm doing quite a bit better today than last week. The Lord has been so good and really taken care of us. This was not a total emergency, but was very serious. If you're not interested in hearing about women's health issues, do not read anymore. Here's what happened.

Two Sundays ago, we went to Guaraciaba so the kids and I could spend Monday and Tuesday with Molly Goossen while the men (her husband James, her son Nathaniel and my Todd) went 5 hours away for a men's leadership conference. I was feeling a little uncomfortable on that Saturday before, but really thought I just had the cramps. Then Sunday, I was pretty uncomfortable sitting down. I thought, "this isn't normal for me", but if you know anything about me, my womanly health is anything but normal.

By Monday, my stomach was really upset and it hurt to bend over. On Monday afternoon, we all went for a walk. I got about 4 blocks away and suddenly turned completely pale and shaky. What in the world! Molly noticed and sent me straight home. By the time I made it home, I could hardly walk and it hurt to touch my stomach. I fell asleep and when she arrived (she had to go downtown) I felt a little better. I was really uncomfortable that night and still couldn't hardly touch my stomach. I woke at 3:30 in the morning with extremely sharp pains, and knew instantly that something was seriously wrong. I got up and took my temperature and I had a fever. Molly woke up then, and we prayed together for wisdom. We were in trouble.

This is what we were facing: The men were away (5 hours away), they had left both trucks (pickups), but Molly's truck had bad tires, and Todd had accidentally taken our keys with him (out of habit). So we were alone, 5 hours away from the city, with two little ones to take care of, and to top it all off, Tuesday was a national holliday--nothing would be open.

This is how the Lord takes care of us, though. We tried to sleep until about 7 a.m., then Molly woke up with an IDEA. The next door neighbor was a doctor! So she went to his house and he came over to look at me. He suspected a tubal pregnancy or appendicitis. He left to try to call someone to open a clinic to do an ultrasound, and when he came back I had fainted and was throwing up. I had tried to get up and get the kids ready to go, and just the act of standing was too much. My blood pressure went completely down. He got an ambulance to come (more on ambulances in Brazil another time) and took me to a clinic.

Instead of his two theories, what he found was a large mass where my left ovary should have been. Behind that mass was an amazing amount of infectious fluid, which was causing the pain. The mass is larger than my uterus. I'll spare you the details of the decision making. The doctor wanted to rush me to surgery in a small hospital in a town nearby, and Todd and the other missionaries put their foot down and arranged for me to come to Fortaleza. They contacted my gynecologist in Fortaleza who opened his clinic and met me there. We had two trucks and no way to get to Fortaleza, the ambulance couldn't take me (not that I'd want it to). So, the Lord provided a neighbor of James and Molly's who not only offered his car, but also drove us here. The 5 hours trip took less than 4 hours ! The doc interior gave me tylenol with codeine and it hardly touched the pain.

When we arrived in Fortaleza, Todd had just arrived in town 5 minutes earlier. We went to the doctor's office and he did another ultrasound, confirming what we saw. I started fainting again and wanting to throw up, so they rushed me to a hospital nearby. It was actually a very good hospital, clean, confortable, room for Todd to sleep comfortably, and the staff was very professional and kind. I was in the hospital for 4 days and on complete bed rest and constant IV antibiotics.

I got out last Friday night, and saw the doctor on Monday. On Tuesday we came back home. I'm on bedrest still and really need it. The pain is diminishing daily, though it is still obviously there. The reason it's not so bad is because the infectious fluid is gone, but I do still have some infection. I'm to go back to the doctor on the 22nd after I finish this round of antibiotics. He will probably schedule laparoscopic surgery to remove the ovary Thanksgiving week, but I don't know that for sure. I'll keep you posted.

Thanks to all of you for your prayers. It's been amazing to see how God has taken care of us and cleared the way for us. His grace is sufficient! And He is the amazing provider!

I'm all tuckered out! So I'll sign off. I've been thinking of other things to write but it will have to wait!

Love you all.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Exciting Day

After the hard night last night and time before the Lord this morning (see previous post), there was such a peace. Perfect rest in the good and powerful God who is in control of our lives. And it was a good day.

First of all, while we were doing our morning devotions with the kids we were talking about how important our work here in Croata is, so that we can tell others about Jesus, so they may learn to live like Christians and go to heaven to. And Sammy said without any promptin by us, "I want to be a Christian." Wow, we've been praying for awhile for him to understand. We'd ask him what it means and he would say, "Being good" or something like that.

Over the last several weeks we've been reading "The Lamb" for our Sunday School time. (By the way, I would highly recommend it for giving a clear presentation of the Gospel that any child can understand. And it's beautifully illustrated.) The last couple lessons have explained about the Old Testament system of placing the man's hands on the head of the perfect lamb, thereby a picture of transfering your sin on something else, and then killing the lamb, the one paying for the sin of the man.

We've talked quite extensively over the last few weeks that Jesus is the Lamb of God who took the sins of the world and died in our place. He paid for our sin so that we can be forgiven and live with Him. Only perfect people can live with a perfect God in His perfect home. So we have to accept Jesus sacrifice and He will make us clean, so we can go to heaven.

Well, Sammy was able to explain that today, and He asked Jesus to come take his sins away, and forgive Him, so He can go to heaven if he died today. He told Jesus thank you for dying on the cross for his sins. It was beautiful! And he asked God to help him be good and serve God always.

Just this morning, I surrendered to the Lord and released control of my children's lives, and He brings my son to saving faith that same day. What an awesome Lord! My children are in His hands, for certain! Not that I doubted it, but the Lord really confirmed it in my heart!

Here's the link for "The Lamb". Look under resources, ages 4 and up. This is the same Bible study we went through with Michaela when she was 4 and she clearly understood the Gospel while going through it. We're also using the Portuguese version with our Bible clubs right now.

Giving it all to the Lord

Last night I had a nightmare, the kind where you wake up crying. I don't remember exactly what it was, but it was awful and I woke up with this horrible fear of losing my children. I don't know where it came from, but I couldn't sleep and I was sobbing. Todd didn't know how to help me. I just prayed and prayed and God helped me get back to sleep. But then I woke up really early crying again, with this horrible fear.

I prayed on my knees, crying, and the Lord led me to confess so many things to Him, personal thing, weaknesses and sins, fears and worries, all which led me to realize that I needed to give it all the things I was trying to hold onto, to control, to the Lord. I needed to give him my children and husband, their lives, my abilities to serve them, to serve here in Croata, and my fears and inadequacies. I need to surrender to the Lord, remembering who He is, the GREAT and MIGHTY GOD, Creator of the Universe, and that He is sovereign. But not just that, but that He loves me, and He loves my children more than I do. That if He decided to take them, I would have to be reminded not only that they would be so much happier in heaven, but also that God would only allow it if it were for my good, for a purpose greater than me. I'm still grappling with it.

Ever since they were little, we've always talked about heaven with wonder and anticipation of going there. Excited to be with God. And the kids have always said, "Oh, I wish I could be in heaven right now." Or, "Why can't we go to heaven today, Mommy?" Those are wonderful things to hear, their desire to be with God and experience His joys, but also heart wrenching because of the fear of loss. I've always had this paralyzing fear of losing them and Todd. And I begged for mercy for God to spare me. I'm not strong enough. I couldn't handle it.

But I've been reading Job. God had a plan for his suffering. I realize that God doesn't always spare the very righteous like Job who suffered not because of his sinfulness. He didn't need to be punished. But me, a sinner, struggling and not resisting sin so often, I deserve anything as punishment and how dare I beg for mercy. But the Bible does say that God is our God, who is compassionate and gracious, full of lovingkindness and compassion, ready to forgive and show mercy. So I cling to Him, for forgiveness, for mercy and compassion and for help to overcome sin and trust him in all things. And that leads me to say, "I trust you Lord. You are my Sovereign. My life and the lives of those I love are in Your hands. Please protect us all from Satan's schemes. Place a hedge of protection around us. Use us, as you choose; do with us, as you please. For you are my good, gracious and loving God."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fun with Strawberries

Wow! We found strawberries! When I grew up here, that was absolutely impossible! And now, we found a whole box of them (about 4 pints) for R$10 , which is about $7.50. When we came home, I wanted so much to keep them from spoiling that I washed and processed them immediately.

Here, we have to wash all our fruits and vegetables and let them soak before we eat them. There's no limit to the yucky stuff you can find in/on your veggies and fruits. So, I soaked them in bleach water for 15 minutes after rinsing them under running water. Then I processed them, while saving the prettiest ones for something special.

I had attempted homemade yogurt (like I remember my mom making) at the end of last week and had a little of that left over (by the way it worked great!), so I mixed some strawberries with that. We had strawberries on pancakes with homemade whipped cream (from the cream from our milk). And tonight was the big treat. I melted some chocolate and used those perfect strawberries and made chocolate covered strawberries for all of us! What a treat! The kids were jumping up and down and it was a real joy to see them enjoying a treat, "just like the States", Mickey said. Todd really enjoyed it too! :)

I've saved two little tupperwares full of the strawberries cut up with sugar to use on some other special occasion. I don't know how often we can find them or afford them, but it has sure been special!

By the way, if you've noticed, I'm trying to find uses for homemade dairy products, how to make yogurt, whipped cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, etc. The yogurt worked and was super easy! The whipped cream as well. If I can get enough cream, I'll try to make butter. I tried cottage cheese and it didn't work, I think I must have missed a step. And the cream cheese recipes I've found are made from the yogurt, so I'll try to get that recipe down first before I try the cream cheese. It's lots of fun trying stuff I never thought about making in the States!

Just thinking

I've had so many people write me over the last several weeks in response to my blog and it has been an incredible encouragement to me. I've really need you, my friends! Thank you! I do feel though, that I have been too "down" but through your encouraging words the Lord has reminded me of several things.
This first thing is so cool and so easy to miss and several of you mentioned it to me. The first thing is that if I weren't struggling with my walk, then it would show that I wasn't really a child of God. When we are believers we realize we are sinning; we should be disgusted with our sin, attempting to have victory over our sin, and in the end wanting to grow in grace, grow as children of God who want to be just like Him. What a reminder, my friends. So often I think I must be a terrible Christian because I'm struggling with this or that, or I just can't seem to find victory over this sin or that, particulary complaining or self-control! But the Lord has comforted my heart through your reminders that because I hate my sin and am not satisfied with my sinfulness, that He is working in me and will help me through! What hope and peace that provides!
The second thing that God has helped me see is how easy it is to fall or trip when we lack fellowship and teaching. There is very little accountability here and I was appalled to realize that I hadn't spent dedicated time with the Lord in several days. I hate to admit it, even, but it's true. The days flew by, on homeschooling, working the with kid's program, researching homeschooling curriculum for next year, etc., and I've been staying up late on the computer and waking up late just in time to make breakfast and start school. I didn't even realize I was doing it, until the Lord brought me to the conviction of it. Wow! How awful. There is nothing that weakens our walk, like not walking at all--not spending time abiding in Christ, walking beside my Savior having sweet conversations and holding hands with Him. If I'm not in His Word and not bringing it into my life, not spending time in deep conversation with Him, than how in the World can I overcome sin, anyway! Like the kid's song--Don't read your Bible, don't pray every day and you'll shrink, shrink, shrink!
So we're going to church more often (even though it's so far, we need to do it! and we miss it!), and I'm returning to fellowship with my Savior. Isn't that what conviction is all about, I wish I didn't have to slip up to realize it, but it's just true, whether I had put it on this blog or not. I know some may not know me this well, but it's who I am, and perhaps through my stumbling and the Lord picking me up, you will be encouraged somehow. There's a verse somewhere about being honest with yourself, not having pretensions, and that's, I think, something I have done for far too long.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


During our Spiritual Retreat last week, we had our Pastor-to-Missionaries and his wife come to share and fellowship with us. It was so wonderful to see them. We were able to know them through a few visits with them before we came to Brazil, and really appreciate them. Both of them have gone through very difficult trials with the crisis in their daughter's health. You can see more of her testimony through this link. Charity and her husband were preparing to become missionaries with Avant, when she started feeling very sick. Within a week (more or less) she had lost most of her ability to walk, speak, eat. This was three years ago and the journey has been very difficult. We've prayed with them along this excruciating journey from the beginning and have followed their pain and progress. But this time, they were able to share with us about their way of dealing with the pain, of their understanding of God through this trial.

It was a blessing and a challenge to me. They spoke of many things that touched my heart, including their purposefulness in holding onto God and remembering His promises and His character in the face of trials. But one of the biggest things that stuck out to me was their definition of joy--contentment not happiness. I've always known about it not being happiness, but had never been able to figure out what it really was.

I've been writing about how I believe the Lord wants me to grow in joy and not really knowing how. When we came back from Fortaleza on Thursday night, we found the house taken over by birds. There was bird-poop, nest makings and feathers on every surface, besides a dust-storm load of dirt and debris. They'd even broken through the concrete Todd put up on top of the walls to block their access to the inside of the house. Here are some pictures of what we came home to.
Our living room floor and couch
The bird-nest fixings that fell out
This was what I swept up from inside the house!
It was down-right infuriating and discouraging. I've already struggled with living with the dirt in a house that has no ceiling, but this was too much. If I could have moved that very minute, I would have. But we can't. We're committed, at least for several more months to live here--no contract, just financially and with the constraints of circumstances.
So, I come back to the fact that God wants me to learn to live with this trial, to learn to be content even in a very difficult living situation. I keep thinking that all the women around us live like this their whole lives, what's wrong with me that I can't seem to deal with it at all. Even the other missionaries on our field have done it before and seem to think it's something you just get used to. But I've cried more in the last 2 months, than the whole rest of the time we've been in Brazil. It's not just the dirt, but also a feeling of isolation, feeling stuck or locked into my home, not having the freedom I'm used to because I can't drive and there's really very few places to go.

So, I've asked the Lord to supernaturally give me contentment and joy in these circumstances. I'm empty of it, but I know it is a fruit of the Spirit, He is the One that puts that fruit in us, but I must learn to exercise it and use it. So that's what I'm asking the Lord to do. Fill me with His Spirit, help me to grow in Him, and give me the joy and contentment that He wants for me. And in the process, I need to stop complaining and look around me. I need to find ways of dealing with the dirt, with the feeling of being closed in and locked up, and reach out to the people He's called us to and not focus on myself. Most importantly, I need to focus on my relationships-- with the Lord,my daily walk with devotions and prayer; with my husband, conversation and partnership; and with my children, loving and teaching them, spending lots of quantity time with them.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Joy and Pollyanna

Consider it all joy, my brothers--James 1:2--a decision must be made
The Joy of the Lord is my Strength--Nehemiah 8:10--this is a fact
Yet I rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior (Hab. 3:18)--I choose despite the circumstance "Yet, I will!"

So God is working on Joy in my life. It all started with the memory verse the kids are studying this week. Every Sunday morning we've been doing a little Sunday School with our own kids because we don't have a church close by to go to every week. This week's verse is the Fruit of the Spirit passage, Galatians 5:22-23. Then the next morning, our morning family devotions was on the same passage. In the application part, it asked the question, "Which fruit are you needing to work on?" Each one of us identified the ones we needed to work on most, and mine was "Joy".

Another event that helped me identify this area I need to work on is the book Pollyanna. Have any of you read that? I know you have, Mom. It's about a little girl who has gone through way too much for her young years, I think she was 11. She's lost both parents, moved in with an Aunt who doesn't want her, etc. But she plays this game. And the harder it is the more fun it is.

Her father was a poor missionary pastor, so anything they ever recieved came in the missionary barrels. If they needed a pair of boots and got slippers, they had to make do. Well, Pollyanna had been praying for a doll and instead she got crutches. That's when her Dad taught her this little game he plays. Whenever you face something disappointing or hard, you play the "Glad" Game. You find a reason to be glad about it. So the reason she was glad she got the crutches was because she never needed them.

Her father learned to play this game because he was struggling then came across a Praise the Lord for everything passage. Well, he reasoned, it's a command. So he counted all the times we are told in Scripture to praise the Lord. It was over 800 times. If God bothered to tell us to praise Him, even in difficulties, then He knows it will help us. So he obeyed by inventing this game.

Now, why am I telling you this? Well, #1, I need prayer to develop this habit of having a positive, faith-filled outlook on the struggles of life. #2, God is really convicting me of this and others may give me some "perspective" on this as well. I welcome your comments.

How do you deal with struggles? How do you "mind over matter" "considering it all joy", or choose to have joy instead of anger or a complaining spirit when facing the struggles that come into your life?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Birds, Scorpions and Mosquito Nets

Even though I'm a MK (Missionary Kid), I am facing a lot of cultural adjustments in returning to Brazil. It was a transition to go back to Fortaleza, even though I grew up there because most of my adult life was spent in the U.S. But I have never lived interior Brazil, and it is much more 3rd World and backward than the capital city.
For example, we don't have a ceiling in this house. It's just the clay tile roof that keeps the sun and rain out. But it is dusty and it allows other things in. Like Birds! Today we had a bird in the house when we woke up. Most mornings we wake up with the sunrise when the early birds land on our roof and sing in the morning. I always loved birds and their songs, but this is hard to get used to! Todd hasn't slept much past 5:30 since we moved into this house. The birds are trying to build nests in our roof as well, so we are constantly cleaning up feathers and nest parts.
Another new problem for us is scorpions. I've never, in all my years of living in Brazil, had to think about scorpions. But this place is just dry enough that they thrive here. Well, that means that we have to wear shoes all the time. We're all getting used to it and we're getting used to spotting the little creatures at night fall usually trying to walk right in our front door. Poor kids are terrified of getting a scorpion bite after overhearing us talk with some other missionaries and hearing their stories.
For the first time in all my MK life I am sleeping in a mosquito net. The kids have been using them since we came to Brazil, but I've never been able to deal with the idea of sleeping all closed in and not having a fan blowing directly on me. But it has become a necessity, especially for Todd's sanity. There are tons here, and I think it is one more result of not having a ceiling to add that extra barrier between us and the outside world. It's not just the mosquitos that we are trying to keep out, it's the flies as well. Todd is going to put up screens to try to diminish the numbers. And he is cementing the biggest spaces between the walls and the roof, too.
We're getting adjusted. I'm learning that it is just a part of the move, and I can't pretend they aren't real culture shocks. But I can't allow it discourage or make me angry. I have to lean on God's grace through this, too. Just simple things like having to wear shoes all the time, sleeping a different way than before, and having to watch out for bugs that could hurt us. You get used to it, but it takes time!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Our Boys

The boys came by again this afternoon. This is a group of 5-10 boys that have been coming every afternoon for a week to play basketball with Todd and drink all our water and use all our bandaids. They start coming at 12:45 after their lunch and we tell them not to come back until 3:30. Around 2:30 their climbing up the gate looking in and calling us.
They are such sweet kids. The oldest is 12, the youngest is about 7, I guess. They are so rowdy and rambunctious. So cute. So dirty and their Portuguese is horrendous. Todd's learning all the wrong words. We are getting to know them and learning to love them. It's not hard. Sometimes, when they won't listen to anything Todd says, because he's a man and most aren't used to father figures, it gets hard and you want to turn them over your knee. But since we can't do that, we pray and ask God to give us wisdom how to show His love and His patience and that there is something called respect and obedience that is good and right.
Michaela has a really hard time with them coming. And frankly, Todd and I don't quite know how to handle their constant presence. We do enjoy it, and we hope to share Christ with these boys, but they are controlling our lives! And they want us to give them everything! And they're destroying things! It's such a different cultural part of things. Todd's so sore and doesn't have time to recover. He's got a busted toe nail and maybe a torn ligament in his shoulder now. Maybe it will get better if he rests.
We've decided we need to tell them they can only come twice a week to play from 3:30 to 5:00. They'll test us, coming other days and begging, pestering for us to let them in, but we'll have to hold to our guns. We're not getting any work done and Mickey's super stressed out! Today she was really upset because they were playing with Biscuit and she wanted to. But when we told her that we were going to set a limit to their coming and that we want them to come because we want to show them Jesus, she calmed down. She's such a good kid. Sammy just doesn't like it because they're rowdy and he's such a calm little guy. I think they'll get used to it, and our boys will get used to it too as they get to know us. Please pray for us!

Milk problems

We have a milk issue. The guy we were buying milk only has one cow and she's drying up. (Like everything else, the ground, the river, the plants). She only gives enough milk for his little girl now so he can't bring it by any more. We've been dealing with this for three weeks now. We've tried every kind of boxed milk they sell here in town and they taste horrible. The bagged milk would mean Todd would need to go every morning to the store before breakfast. He doesn't like that. That left powdered milk. It's expensive. But that's what we were going to do. Until this afternoon when I went out and talked with our landlord's wife and she asked if I would like to buy milk from a new guy. She's already got it arranged to start on Saturday. That's just like God. The minute we realize there's a problem, He already knew and had it all worked it. It's so cool.
Now this milk isn't pastuerized. It comes in a re-used two-liter coke bottle. We have no idea the conditions or cleanliness of either the cows or the hands that milk the cow. So what do we do? We boil the milk for 10 minutes, then let it cool, then put it in the fridge to be used the next morning. We get lots of good fresh cream off the top! And it tastes wonderful! The best milk we've had since we left the States.

A Day In the Life

Today, let's see. We woke up late because we stayed up late last night watching Tim Hawkins music videos. Todd discovered him yesterday and it took most of the evening to download them and so we were up late. That threw my whole day off. We're supposed to start school at the latest 8:30, and it was 8:45.
Sammy's been doing well in school. Today he reiterated, "I love school!" He is doing well, but I can tell he gets worn out with trying to make his letters right. I don't want to dampen his enthusiasm, but he just couldn't seem to figure out the Capital B. They all looked top heavy. So I gave him a big hug and told him he was working hard and let him play for the rest of the morning. We'll face it again tomorrow.
Michaela's school is taking until 1:30 to 2:00 every afternoon. I know I give her recess and we read aloud, but she's got so much to do still. I haven't even added piano lessons (Todd finally installed the electrical outlet to plug in the keyboard today) or all the history I would like to read. I can see she's getting faster and better with her spelling and writing already and it's only the fourth week of school. I'm going to wait and see how it goes.
We figured out our milk issue, I lost a bid on e-bay for homeschool books because of our slow internet connection, I found someone to make some curtains for us for super inexpensive, we had our usual group of boys come by to play basketball, besides normal every day life things. It's fun and it's busy. Normally I go walking with my two neighbors, the two Marias, but neither was available and I didn't make it back before dark anyway.
We don't have TV connection, and so we've been enjoying quiet evenings with the kids before bedtime. It's amazing that they don't even ask to watch movies much anymore. It could be because they're tired of the same ones, but I do see them playing more together and enjoying reading and looking at books together. Tonight we found hidden pictures in one of Sammy's books. It was fun. The kids are in bed and I'm going to bed soon. It's already 10 pm. I need to make up for yesterday.

My New Blog

For quite awhile now I've been thinking about starting my own little blog. Some friends have suggested it; I often think of little things I'd like to share but not something I would put in our news updates. Just personal, daily things, or new ideas, or cultural shock things, recipes that I have found or different experiences because of living in rural Brazil. It may not be new to some and it may be totally different from the lives of others, but this is my life.

So if I've been thinking about doing this, what has stopped me from doing it? Mainly, I couldn't think of anything creative to call my blog. I've thought of all sorts of things and finally decided today that I wouldn't put it off any longer. I'd just call it Julie's Blog, generic and boring, and leave it at that. I'm not an overly creative person anyway, so it fit. One's already taken. Well, I was about to give up then I really believe the Lord put this idea in my head, Grace Leaning or Leaning on Grace.

That seems to best describe where I am today. I am a sinner, saved by grace, who struggles with every day living much less the task God has given us to do here in Croata, Brazil, otherwise known as the "End of the Road". I have to depend on Christ every day to put food on the table, to take care of my kids and keep them healthy, to homeschool, to work along side my husband trying to help people that don't know they need a Savior, that don't trust the strangers that have moved in among them, see that they do need a Savior and should turn to Him.

I'm not perfect, I have a lot of areas that I struggle with, and yet the Lord has chosen us to be involved in this ministry. I figure, if God has brought us this far, then He'll give us the grace to do it. Therefore I must lean on Him. Lean on His Grace, His Strength, Depend Completely on Him. And He is Able! Praise God!

So welcome to anyone who is interested in reading whatever I think to write. Maybe no one will, but it will be somewhere for me to think out loud, too! :) And I often enjoy thinking out loud with my friends. I do pray though, that this will be an encouragement to someone who knows they aren't perfect put wants to find victory over sin and be able to serve the Lord completely, with their whole heart and mind. May this encourage you to see that God wants you, maybe not serving in the mission field overseas, but He does want you. May God be glorified and His name be praised!

May the Words of My Mouth and the Meditations of My Heart
be Pleasing to You, O Lord, My Rock, My Savior.