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Grandma is a Writer



Writing from this Grandma's perspective. Designed to share thoughts about writing, about life and to promote our book, Aloha is Forever. Click on the image to purchase.



Updated: 2018-02-21T23:54:17.244-06:00

 



Remembering...

2015-06-24T07:30:10.135-05:00

I woke up early today just like I did 38 years ago on the day John Cameron Reece was born. Today would have been his 38th birthday so I suppose if birthdays are counted in heaven, he is now 38. But I doubt that time matters there.

I can't let this day go by without dedicating a post to him. And wondering what life would have been like, had he not disappeared almost 16 years ago. Would he be married? Most likely. Would he have children? Yes, he probably would. Would he have contributed extraordinary discoveries to our world? I believe so. But instead, what he left behind was a legacy I hope to be able to pass on to my grandchildren. A legacy of love for God and His Word, of dedication to whatever task was set before him and a remarkably sweet temperament that endeared him to all who knew him.

I'll keep this short today since I know that he would understand all the tasks that await me for the day. He would be saying, "Bravo, Mom. You can do it!"

And I say, "Bravo, Son. You did it! You ran the race that was set before you. As Paul wrote to Timothy in II Timothy 4:7, 'I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.'" That was you, John. My prayer is that I can live up to that high calling just as you did.



5 Biblical Principles That Can Help You Be A Better Parent

2014-08-14T00:20:59.816-05:00

If you ever have the thought, “Am I a good parent?”, you are not alone. It is hard to determine what defines a “good” parent when there is no rubric for success. There are no simple tests to determine how your child will turn out in their later years when they start having an effect on society.As a parent it is your job to constantly evaluate yourself, learn from your mistakes, and raise your children to the best of your ability. To improve upon your parenting, you can turn to the Bible for some overarching Biblical principles to follow.1. Set a Good ExampleFirst and foremost, it is important to set a good example for your children. Not all learning will come from the classroom, textbooks, or Wikipedia. Even from the earliest of ages, children pick up on the habits of their parents. They hear what we say and do what we do. Ask yourself if the person you are portraying is how you want your child to act. You truly are a mirror that will reflect upon your child.Every principle following this one can be factored into setting a good example. If you are following these Biblical principles, chances are your children will too.2. GiveMatthew 6:2 says “So when you give to the needy…”. The key word in that portion of the verse is “when”. If the verse said “if” it would have much different implications. However, the word “when” tells us that we are expected to give to those in need. Giving teaches values to your children on a humanitarian level. It shows that living with excess is unnecessary and often times selfish. Giving does not imply a monetary value either. Simple providing a helping hand to those in need through volunteering opportunities can create excellent values within your children. The other aspect of giving, is giving for the right reason. Matthew 6:2 continues, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do to be honored by men”. You should give without the expectation of anything in return. There is not a reward for every good deed to be done. Instilling this view within your child will allow them to learn to give unconditionally.3. Do the Right ThingAs a parent it is important to do the right thing in every situation, not just when it is convenient. You are only as good as your latest action. Telling the grocer they forgot to ring up one of your items does not excuse you from lying the next day. There is no balance or tally of number of wrongs to rights. James 4:17 says “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin”. 4. DisciplineThe Bible has quite a lot to say about discipline. You’ll find many verse discussing the “rod” and its use in discipline. It is important to not take this in literal terms. Often discipline comes in the form of lectures and lessons. Stern but fair.Punishment and discipline can often be uncomfortable and hard on a parent. However it is necessary in order to raise a child with good values. The lessons and discretions a child learns early in life will often stay with them forever.  “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” - Hebrews 12:11. 5. ForgivenessThere may be no stronger principle in the Bible than forgiveness. It is also an incredibly powerful principle live by as a parent. Your child will make mistakes regardless of how great of an example you set or how often you give. Mistakes are part of the learning process for a child and how you handle it as a parent can often supercede the lesson they learn from the mistake. While forgiveness may seem like a contradictory principle to disciple; they often go hand in hand.Your  child needs to know right from wrong, but they also need compassion. Forgiveness will show them the unconditional love you have for them. Resolving conflicts with your children will show them they are not neglected and will bring them closer to you. Showing forgiveness to others will help set an example[...]



Final Expenses: Saving Money on Funeral Costs

2014-03-07T21:47:23.255-06:00

Few things in life are more traumatic than the death of a loved one, particularly if it is unexpected and the survivors are abruptly faced with the sad task of planning a memorial service and burial or cremation. There are dozens of details to handle, at a time when the bereaved are in deep shock, overcome with grief, and often not capable of making the most rational decisions. Add to this the understandable desire to see their loved one off in a suitable way that reflects well on everyone – and it’s easy to see how people can be manipulated into spending much more on final expenses than they need to spend or can truly afford. A payday loan could help in these situations to make it possible to give your loved one the service you would like, even when savings are low and this may not have seemed possible initially.Even people who pre-plan funerals for themselves or a loved one can be vulnerable to the subtle and dignified  –but nevertheless very manipulative – marketing for which the funeral business is notorious. Granted, funeral directors have to make a living like everyone else, but some are truly exploitative and are masters of the unnecessary up-sell.Whether you are pre-planning arrangements or have been hit with an unexpected need, there are some things you can do to ease the monetary strain if not your heartache. You do not have to simply accept the default or traditional way of doing things. Here are a few points to keep in mind.1. There is nothing shameful or undignified about wanting to economize. This may be the most important point of all, and the most difficult for some people to accept. A simple, basic funeral or memorial service is just as dignified and respectful as the most lavish, expensive event. There is absolutely nothing shameful about needing or desiring to save money on final expenses, and economizing certainly does not indicate a lack of love and respect for the departed. If you really feel that you must splurge, do so with an after-party that is a true celebration of the person’s life. That’s a more fitting tribute than a solid gold, silk-lined casket or a limo parade.2. The government may be able to help you with costs. If you or your partner are on a low income and receiving any of a number of specific government benefits, you may be eligible for a Funeral Payment and/or Bereavement Payment from the Social Fund. Check this page to find out more about these benefits: https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/bereavement3. There’s no law that says you have to use a funeral home. Certainly there are laws in place regarding the handling of remains, but there is absolutely no law that says you have to use a funeral home, with all of the expense that involves. More people these days are opting for “do it yourself” arrangements, handling most or all of the details without going through a traditional funeral home. And increasing numbers of funeral directors are adopting more flexible policies where they offer “a la carte” services. For a cost that is much less than an entire package, they will assist the bereaved with certain details, such as keeping the body cool whilst the family is tending to the other arrangements. The Natural Death Centre (www.naturaldeath.org) is a wonderful resource for exploring your options and planning a “do it yourself” (or a partially or mostly “do it yourself”) memorial service.4. You can still save money even if you don’t “do it yourself.” You can economise on virtually every aspect of the funeral: the casket; the handling of the body (embalming is not required by law); vehicles; flowers; memorial marker; the service itself… and the list goes on. Do not let that earnest, soft-spoken sales director talk you into spending more than you can afford – remember, there is nothing shameful or undignified about wanting to economize. The aforementioned Natural Death Centre has a page of suggestions and links for economizing on funeral costs.As is the case with many choices in life, it’s a[...]



Forced to Kill at 5 Years Old – The Former Child Soldier Now Campaigning for Free the Children

2014-03-03T13:57:50.352-06:00

Hardly a day goes by that we are not exposed to the horrors of war as news reports from around the world bring the carnage into our living rooms. But you can’t get the whole story from pictures – you can’t experience the smells of death, decay and cordite; you can’t feel the pain of the wounded; and, you can get no real sense of the horror and fear pervading the lives of those caught up in conflict. Only by being there can you truly understand the meaning of war.

Soldiers understand; they see war first hand, up close and personal.  Michel Chikwanine was a soldier, so he knows. Nothing unusual in that you might think, until you learn that he was just five years old when he was “conscripted” into an army.

Growing up in Beni, a town in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo not far from the Uganda border, Michel was playing football after school with friends when they were grabbed by rebels. Hauled away into the jungle to train as soldiers, they were drugged and blindfolded. Young Michel was handed an AK-47 and told to shoot it. When the blindfold was removed he found that he had killed his best friend.

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In a way, Michel was one of the lucky ones. Two weeks later, he managed to escape, surviving in the jungle for three days before finding a storekeeper who took him home. Sadly, however, tragedy was to return to Michel’s family.

When civil war broke out in 1998, Michel’s father criticised the actions of the soldiers of the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo and was subsequently kidnapped, remaining in captivity for seven months before making his escape to Uganda. While he was away, soldiers broke into the family home and forced Michel to watch at gunpoint as his mother and two older sisters (aged 16 and 18) were raped in front of him. He was just 10.

Michel managed to locate his father and arranged for his mother, younger sister and himself to move to Uganda too, the older sisters having run away due to the shame of being raped. In 2001, his father died in a Ugandan refugee camp after being poisoned.

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Three years later, Michel found refuge in Canada with his mother and younger sister. It was to be another seven years before one of his older sisters, the other having been killed, could join them in Canada with their children.

Michel was inspired to talk of his experiences and become a motivational speaker by Free the Children and worked as an O Ambassador with Oprah Winfrey’s roots of Action tour. His hope, he says, is that his story will help other people overcome their own struggles.

And, in all he does, he tries to aspire to the last words spoken by his father before he died: “Always know that great men and great women are not described by their money or their success but rather what they do for other people.”


Free The Children is an international charity and educational partner that believes in a world where all children are free to achieve their fullest potential as agents of change.   Follow them on Twitter @freethechildren.



Warm or Cold for the Holidays?

2013-12-10T10:57:40.796-06:00

Seems like we're never really satisfied. If we live where it's warm, we dream of going somewhere cold (preferably with snow) for the holidays. If we live where it's cold all winter, we dream of a trip to Florida or the Caribbean for the holidays.

Having grown up in Wisconsin and being from a relatively poor family, I never dreamed of going anywhere for the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas were synonymous with snow and cold. In fact, we always longed for a blizzard so we'd have an extra day off from school. So I grew up equating Christmas with snow, sledding, ice skating, etc. Imagine my despair when my husband and I moved to Brazil and lived quite close to the equator for almost 30 years.

My first Christmas in the heat was a shock. Subsequent Christmases weren't much better. How I longed for cold weather and snow for the holidays! Homesickness washed over me like waves on a sandy beach. I cried, moped and sweated my way through those first Christmases. After all, it was 85 degrees and 85% humidity year round where I was. I prohibited songs like, "White Christmas," "Jingle Bells," etc. If I happened to hear one, I would go into a tailspin.

But I raised my children in the tropics. Our Christmas tree was improvised bamboo or tree branches covered in tinsel. Now my children long for the warm tropical sunshine when the cold comes to us in North America. They long for the opportunity to go swimming and kayaking on Christmas Day (one of our tropical traditions). Homesickness attacks them, much like it did me in those first years of living in Brazil.

As for me, I'm content enjoying Christmas wherever I am because Christmas means hope. It's about the birth of a Savior who gave up what He was accustomed to (glory and honor with the Father) to be born in a manger and eventually to offer up His life in order to buy mine - and yours.

But just in case you're looking for a place to go this year during the holidays, check out this post. It is filled with ideas for a lovely holiday vacation, whether you prefer warm or cold.

Thanks,
Sharon Reece

P.S. There are many people who suffer or have a hard time during the holidays because they have recently lost a loved one. If you know someone like that, you can encourage them with a gift of our book that tells of God's healing and comfort after our son disappeared in Hawaii during the holidays of 1999. Get it here!



Being a Finisher

2013-11-07T18:03:09.200-06:00

Do you know what it means to be a finisher? My husband and I were just part of the support team for a conference and it was a lot of hard work. Most things that are worth it, are. So what does it mean to be a finisher? Not giving up when the going gets tough? Being willing to give up personal time, energy and comfort in order to accomplish the task at hand? Having the wisdom to know when a task is worth finishing? Probably all of those are key components to being a finisher.
Maybe you remember this incident from the 1992 Olympic games but it’s a good reminder of what being a good finisher is all about. You will always win if you are a finisher. This man won the respect of the world. What is your goal? Maybe it’s not winning the respect of the world, but the respect of your friends and family and of yourself. No matter what…never quit!
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If you liked this post please comment, like and share. You never know who you might bless!
Sharon Reece
214 701-8298

P.S. Are you interested in hydroponics? Learn all about it here.



ASL - 22 Basic Signs You Should Know

2013-07-05T16:51:45.045-05:00

Vonda Hamilton is a passionate missionary with the Deaf and hard-of-hearing through Expressions of Emmanuel.  She just recently started her own blog, which has two purposes.  First, to publish articles educating the hearing about communicating with and sharing the Gospel with the Deaf; the Deaf are an unreached people group – there are over 250 million Deaf and only 1-2% are Christians.  Second, to publish videos and Bible devotionals for the Deaf to “see,” since they cannot hear.  She asked if she could share an article on my blog and I was delighted to have her as a guest blogger.  For more articles on learning sign language, visit her blog at www.expressionsofemmanuel.blogspot.com.  More information on her ministry is available through the YouTube channel “expressionsemmanuel” and by “liking” their ministry page "expressionsofemmanuel" on Facebook. Sharon Reece#1) “Sign Language”To make this sign, make the thumb and index finger on both your hands in an “L” shape and point them, like guns, at each other, almost touching.  Twist them around each other and pull apart.If you want to love and become involved in deaf ministry, you need to learn the precious language of the people.  Make it your goal to excel with the language!  How can you improve your sign language skills?  Be with deaf people!  When a hearing person learns sign language, they need to always sign to the best of their ability in the presence of a deaf person.  If you know sign language and don’t sign when a deaf person is nearby, you are being rude. Hearing people need to include deaf people. #2) “Love”To sign “love,” make two fists and cross them over your chest.God’s commands are all summed up in one word – love!  So your purpose in being involved should be to love deaf people.  “Love one another.” 1 Corinthians 13:2#3) “Jesus”This sign is made by putting your middle fingers into the palms of each hand.  This sign reminds of the nail prints in His HANDS!  We need to learn that sign because we need to bring people to know the love of JESUS, or we have missed God’s point to help people see that Jesus want to be their Savior and their Lord!#4) “Saves/Salvation”This sign is made by two arms with clamped fists that are pulled outwards, crossing past each other.  This sign of salvation is important because it originates from the idea of two fists tied down together in bondage.  You need to know that sign so you can show people what Jesus’ work on the cross came to do – to save all who call on the name of the Lord!#5) “What is your name?"Two hands, palms up, in a slightly clawed shape, moving back and forth mean “what.”  “Your” is a flat palm directed toward a person.  “Name” is two fingers (index and middle) on top of the same fingers on the other hand.  Use sign language to get to really know deaf people!  Become friends with deaf people!  Know and love the deaf!  Let the deaf know and love you!  Remember, knowing someone’s name shows love and interest!#6) “Welcome”Take your dominant hand (the one you write with) and with it flat and palm extending upwards (out in front and to the side of you), bring your hand and arm nestled to your side.  This is an important sign because you want to extend a warm welcome of love, kindness and belonging to deaf people!#7) “With/Together”“With” is your two thumbs up, clenched together.  The sign “together” is the same shapes moved around in a circular motion. If you are to minister to any specific people group, including the deaf, it is imperative that you work with – not above or over – but with the deaf!  Since the deaf know fir[...]



John Reece's Birthday Tribute

2013-06-24T09:34:02.084-05:00

Today, June 24th, John would have been 36 years old. Every once in awhile I let my mind wander and imagine what he might be doing today if he were still alive.

Would he have a wife and children? No doubt he would have a very good and prestigious job. Perhaps he would be on the mission field fulfilling his dream of being a "tentmaker" missionary.

But whatever he might have been doing, it all pales in comparison to being in the presence of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I have no doubt that he would echo the Apostle Paul's sentiments that he expressed in Philippinas 1:21-23.
"For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better."
From our limited perspective here on earth, we can barely comprehend what Paul was talking about. We place so much value on earthly things and most of us value them highly! But the Bible continually exhorts and encourages us to set our minds on things above, not on things here on this earth. All of them are subject to corruption and the only things that really last are the incorruptible where Christ is preparing a place for all who love Him and are looking forward to His return!

As you can imagine, I write this to remind myself as much as to remind you who are reading this that our priorities need to be on what is above. That is certainly what John would want me to be doing. It is my birthday gift to him today.

Want to read more about John? Check it out at Aloha is Forever.



If There Were No Christmas...

2013-11-07T14:42:12.080-06:00

It's a couple of days after Christmas. The magic is over...the secrets revealed. It's back to the everyday tasks of life.

Without going into any of the history of Christmas or of Christmas traditions, since I'm not familiar with them anyway, I'd like to stop and invite you to think with me about what it would be like if there was no Christmas.

Superficially, if there was no Christmas, the most important source of income for retail stores, at least here in the USA, would not exist. The buying frenzy that fuels many businesses because of gift-giving at Christmas time would be gone. Perhaps there would be something else that would rise up to take its place, but without having statistics at my disposal, I suspect that all the other holidays we celebrate in our American culture put together wouldn't produce as much revenue as Christmas does.

Also superficially, we wouldn't have all the music, the movies such as "It's a Wonderful Life," the special Christmas pageants, concerts, plays, parties, etc that fill up our December calendars. In short, December would be pretty drab and dreary. We would also miss out on those special family get-togethers that Christmas affords. Oh, and don't forget - there would be no candy canes, no Christmas stockings, no Santa Claus, no divinity fudge, no Christmas goodies in the form of candies, cookies, fruitcakes, fruit filled breads, etc.

On a slightly less superficial level, would we take the time sometime during the year to extend wishes for peace, prosperity and happiness to our friends and neighbors if we didn't have Christmas traditions that encouraged us to do so?

On yet another level, if there was no Christmas, then Christ the "newborn king" would not have come. The implications of this would be astronomical. The apostle Paul described it best in his first letter to the Corinthian church. Although he was talking specifically about the resurrection from the dead, if Christ had never been born, He would not have lived, taught and walked on earth. Nor would He have gone to the cross and been raised from the dead. I Corinthians 15:3-4 says:
"For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures."
I don't want to venture a guess on how many prophecies there are in the Old Testament regarding the birth of Jesus, but there are many, some well known, others obscure! None of them specify a date, but all of them together make a very strong case for the FACT of his birth. No other fact in history has such overwhelming evidence to back it up. Some of those prophetic scriptures talk about his death and sacrifice for our sin. If He had not come, we would still be waiting for the fulfillment of those scriptures.

One of my favorite Christmas songs this year is one that the group "GO FISH" sings. It sums up what Christmas is all about. Here it is:

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If you enjoyed this post or have thoughts to share, please comment. I love getting comments!

Sharon
214 701-8298

P.S. Do you need to lose extra pounds after the holidays? Find out how you can do it without boring meal replacement shakes. Go here to find out how to readjust your metabolism and shed that fat.



Endurance - Should You Endure?

2013-11-07T14:36:20.594-06:00

Endurance is one of the most important qualities that will contribute toward success over the long haul. Endurance is the epitome of that famous saying, "Never give up."I must, however, qualify the quality of endurance because there are some things in life that are not important enough to pursue without ever giving up. For instance, playing a game...there comes a point when giving up is a wiser choice than continuing.But once you have identified that activity, business, calling, vocation that is your passion and to which you are well suited, endurance is the key to realizing your goals and your full potential in that activity. My middle son while studying at Wheaton College, was determined to master Organic Chemistry. It was crucial to his goal of going to Med School. But after persistent, diligent, enduring effort he finally acknowledged that Organic Chemistry was a beast he was not gifted or qualified to conquer. It was difficult for him to give up that goal and to realize that he was not gifted enough in that area. Endurance had been so deeply etched into his soul that giving up was extremely painful. But in any pursuit we must acknowledge if and when it can never be reached. So he went on to be successful in Biology instead - so much so that he spent some time teaching his teachers a new technique he had learned.So how do you know when something is worth enduring in the effort to achieve it?First you measure the reward. Is the reward worth the endurance it takes to get to the prize? If the answer is yes, then you need to find ways to help you endure to the very end. Perhaps that means getting help with the things you yourself don't understand or aren't talented enough to do. Perhaps that means learning new skills, perfecting ones you haven't mastered completely, being innovative and finding creative ways you might be able to accomplish the same end through different means.Second, you need to gauge whether endurance will really get you to the goal. Or, like my son, is it simply an exercise in futility. Wisdom is sometimes more important than endurance! And perhaps the goal wasn't the right one for you in the first place. Sometimes we need to know when it is wise to abandon a "sinking ship."I hope these thoughts are helpful as you pursue your goals and dreams with excellence and endurance.If you liked this post, please comment, like and share. You never know who you might bless!Sharon Reece214 701-8298Click here to find out how you can work with me using the ultimate in auto recruiting tools.P.S. Are you interested in hydroponics? Check out my website here.Our book, Aloha is Forever can be found at http://www.AlohaIsForever.com/[...]



Forgiveness

2013-10-10T23:17:02.893-05:00

Forgiveness may seem like a strange topic to write about but it is so crucial to success in life, in relationships, in business that I decided to tackle it. In fact, it may be one of the most important success and wisdom keys that exist.We all hear about loving others and living in peace with them but the picture that word “love” conjures up is a very emotional, romantic concept that most of us don’t really understand, much less know how to implement! If we add the word “unconditional” to love, it begins to take on some meaning. Unconditional implies that forgiveness is being granted to the object of your love on a continual basis.Why am I thinking so much about forgiveness and its importance?Last week we got the movie, Despereaux and I was amazed that the most important lesson taught in that movie is, guess what…forgiveness! When we returned that movie to the video store, I picked up another one called, By Jesus’ Side. It’s a cute animated film about a dog who hates humans, but meets Jesus, becomes his friend and learns from him that forgiveness is the key to peace and happiness. So he demonstrates forgiveness by rescuing the mean dog catcher who had tried to kill him.Coincidentally I had just finished reading the gospel of John last week and was reminded again that Jesus’ words on the cross were, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”And to add one more log to the fire of forgiveness, my reading this morning was in the book of Acts, chapter 7. That recounts the story of the stoning of Stephen. His last words echoed those of his Master: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”So what does forgiveness really have to do with success in business? Or success in anything, for that matter?Let me tell you a personal story that may help connect the dots somewhat. Many years ago we were living in a remote village in the Amazon jungle, learning the language of a group of Indians in order to eventually give them at least portions of the Bible in their own language. My husband who is always ahead of his time in terms of technology and innovation, had decided to take a solar panel into the village to provide us with lights and electricity for our tape recorder, etc. The leadership of our mission, however, was of the opinion that solar panels were too high tech and shouldn’t be used in that setting. So there was an enormous misunderstanding and the bottom line was that we became bitter toward the leadership. We felt we were unjustly accused, etc, etc.Soon after, we were back in the USA, on furlough. We were so bitter toward the leadership of the mission that we had no desire to go back and work under them. We were actively seeking another place to serve. And finances were desperately tight. It was time to go back to the mission field and we had no way to do that. Not only did we need money for airfare, but our monthly support had to be increased to a level that seemed impossible to us. And the bitterness and lack of forgiveness continued.So one fine Sunday morning we were on our way to share our testimonies of our work at one of our supporting churches. As we drove we popped a cassette tape into our player and the message was on forgiveness. Hmm… We got to the church and the sermon that morning was on…you guessed it – forgiveness! So we made a decision that day to forgive and ask forgiveness and to make an international phone call to do that!That released the floodgates! That afternoon the missions committee had met and decided to pay our airfare back to the mission field and to increase their monthly support by 10 times. By the following Wednesday we had received enough support pledges to bring our income to the level that was required. We were blown away by the power of [...]



The Sovereign God

2012-04-15T12:48:38.325-05:00

This Easter morning, in spite of a busy schedule with getting ready for a potluck for our church at our place, I took time to sit down with a cup of coffee and my Bible. I wanted to meditate on Easter and its meaning. Not that this was new to me, but I felt that God wanted to say something special this morning.

So I opened up to the book of Revelation to where I was reading in chapters 18 and 19. That may seem like a strange passage to read on Easter morning, but as I read, I began to realize anew how amazing God's plan was.

The enemy entered into Judas and caused him to betray Jesus. We know this because the Bible tells us so. Basically, the enemy (Satan) thought he was once and for all destroying the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Enter: God's sovereignty.

In reality, Satan was simply cooperating with God's plan from the depths of eternity. Instead of having his life taken from him, Jesus gave it and the Bible says that He became sin who knew no sin...so that we could become the righteousness of God - (Paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 5:21). A substitution or "redemption" took place at the cross that frustrated Satan's plans forever. So Satan who had had the legal authority of death over each and every human being, lost it the day Jesus died. Hebrews 2:14 & 15 explains it this way:
"...that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."

The very thing Satan thought would give him the upper hand, played right into God's plan. But even though he was defeated at the cross and his doom was sealed, the book of Revelation shows us his continued attempts to frustrate God's plans to the very end.

Enter: God's sovereignty.

As we prepare for the 2nd coming of Christ we can be sure that Satan is inadvertently conforming to God's plans and that as a result, we can be assured of total and complete victory. Even so, Satan puts up a furiously intense fight and we are continually encouraged to hold fast to our faith and to be overcomers.

Could it be that the book of Revelation holds the keys to many of the things we need to know in order to cooperate fully with God's plan? I'll be the first to admit that there are many things I don't understand in this book, but one thing I know...God is sovereign and His plan will reign for all eternity.



Loss of a Loved One

2012-01-23T10:03:15.323-06:00

I realize this is a delicate subject. And I want to say that I would like to offer perspective that may be helpful and that I hope it doesn't sound critical or judgmental in any way. I offer it in hopes that you might prayerfully receive some insight that may make a difference in your life.Generally when we lose a loved one, that person becomes the entire focus of our thoughts and actions, sometimes to the exclusion of many much more important things. The reason I'm even thinking about this is a result of reading Stephen R. Covey's book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People." In his chapter on "Begin with the End in Mind," he talks about discovering the center of our focus, from which we find balance and harmony in our lives. Covey cites several examples of the kinds of centers we may focus on. I believe these are all dynamic rather than static and that we can be focusing on one or more at one time and when we least expect it, we discover that our center of focus has changed completely.So let's explore what might happen when we lose a loved one. If there were unresolved issues with that person, we will probably find ourselves watching mental "reruns." Those "reruns" can sap us of a great deal of emotional energy. And that usually also results in our having less physical energy. Even the most mundane chores may seem like insurmountable obstacles. And we find it difficult to escape those "reruns" because there is no more time to resolve that unresolved issue or issues.Sometimes a husband and wife have not been close - one may have offended the other and there is a lack of forgiveness on the part of the offended one. I have met people who have been so upset with their spouse that they wished them dead. Then if the spouse dies, they experience an enormous burden of guilt. Since there is no way of resolving the conflict now that the other person is gone, that person begins to occupy the "center" of focus of the spouse who is still living.The same thing can happen between a parent and a child. Perhaps there were harsh words and then one dies before resolution and restitution can happen.Perhaps the relationship was one of co-dependence and the living party in that relationship is completely overwhelmed by responsibilities they had depended upon the other for. The living person may be angry at the other for dying.Maybe the circumstances of death were particularly tragic. The loss may be magnified by this. The person left to live his or her life without the other may play "scripts" over and over in anger at God or at whoever they perceive may have been responsible for the tragic death. Often they blame themselves.There are many other possible circumstances that could cause a person who has suffered the loss of a loved one to place that person in the center of focus of their lives, usually without realizing it or intending to do so.I believe there is power in understanding the dynamic of what may be happening to you. If you are in such a situation, it would be helpful to read books or listen to recordings of others telling their experiences and how they got past the pain and the overwhelming feeling of loss that never seems to go away.When we lost our son without even knowing what might have happened to him, I experienced that pain and loss and could not imagine ever getting past it and living a normal life again. Our book tells the miraculous story of how God healed my heart with a healing so deep, it amazed even me. Perhaps reading, Aloha is Forever would help you.In any case, to get back to the center of focus that brings your life into balance and harmony is a goal worth fighting for - unless, of course, you love being at the center of a pity party for the rest of your life.This same principle applies[...]



Focus

2012-01-17T12:27:17.609-06:00

I've been reading Stephen R. Covey's book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People(image) " and it has been giving me plenty of food for thought. In fact, after reading a few pages the other day about identifying your "center" in the chapter titled, "Begin with the End in Mind," it really got me thinking! What is my center? And even more importantly, how does focusing on the wrong thing or things impact my life and the lives of those around me?

I think I can honestly say that for the greater part of my life, Christ has been my center of focus. But there have been times when I have allowed other things to creep into that central position. I'm sure there have been times when I've allowed a particular person (usually a perceived enemy), money, possessions, physical location, the opinions of others, jealousy, my family, work, etc to occupy that center of focus. It's a subtle thing! And when it happens decisions are made that are later regretted, time is lost that could have been used in much more productive and helpful pursuits and life even at times seems to fall into general disarray.

So I'm thankful when God allows something to come into my life that jerks my focus back onto Jesus Christ, the living Word of God. Life just seems to make a whole lot more sense that way!

How about you? Have you ever read Stephen Covey's book? Did it help you determine who or what is the center of your world?



Quotable Quotes

2012-01-07T11:56:17.689-06:00

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
                                                                                    Oliver Wendell Holmes



Let it Snow!

2011-12-20T00:42:49.109-06:00

OK, I'm going to be brutally honest! I grew up in Wisconsin and Christmas and snow always went together kind of like salt and pepper. We spent our December days dreaming of a white Christmas and most years we were not disappointed. The magic of snowfall and the quiet crispness of an evening under freshly fallen snow was something I treasured. It never seemed quite as cold when the earth was blanketed with snow.

Fast forward to my first Christmas away from home. I was in southern Mexico, at a jungle training camp. Even though jungle sounds hot, it was quite chilly - no heat, thatch roof hut, etc. That first year wasn't so bad, nor was the second one. That second year I was newly married and the novelty of being a honeymooner hadn't worn off yet. So the fact that Christmas came and went without snow didn't bother me too much.

Fast forward again to our first Christmas in Brazil. This was really far from home and absolutely far from anything remotely resembling snow. Now for my confession...I don't know whether I missed my immediate family more, the snow more or whether it was that all the traditions that were part of Christmas had been ripped away, but my first several Christmases in Brazil were marked by profound homesickness and times of tears and sadness. If I heard "White Christmas" or "Jingle Bells" or "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" I would go into a tailspin of homesickness. If I had the option, I would turn those tunes off! Perhaps it had something to do with being the second oldest of 8 children which meant that I had a significant part to play in making Christmas a fun time of the year for the rest of my siblings. In any case, I hate to admit that it took me many, many years to separate Christmas and snow and to begin to enjoy Christmas in the tropics with improvised Christmas trees made of "palm branch" and 85 degree weather.

We (our little family) began to make our own traditions. Over time, one of our favorites was to go swimming and boating on Christmas Day! Being all together on Christmas was a high priority. The last Christmas we spent together with John, we were in Dallas, TX and it snowed. I can see in my mind's eye, the delight of all three kids plus their dad, romping in the snow as it fell, building a snowman, throwing snowballs - it was all such a novelty for my "jungle" kiddos.

I still have a soft spot in my heart for snow at Christmas time, but not enough to make the trek to Wisconsin or even Iowa and risk having to drive in a snowstorm. But Christmas is far more about treasuring special times with those who are closest and dearest to me - and even making new memories and traditions. And it's all about celebrating the baby, Emmanuel - God with us - who makes it possible for us to be with God for all eternity.

What are your memories of Christmas and snow? I'd love to have you share them.



Who Are You Mentoring?

2011-12-04T15:44:30.402-06:00

Are you passing on your values to the next generation? And are they passing them on to their offspring?

There is much to be said for having mentors and being a mentor. One of the greatest joys we can experience is summed up in the 3rd epistle of John in the Bible. Verse 4 says, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." The apostle John is talking about spiritual children in this case, but it applies to physical children as well.

Nothing encourages us more than to watch our children walking in integrity, wholeness, uprightness, dignity, loving God and His laws and ways, etc.

As we searched for our middle son, John, after he disappeared in the Kohala on the Big Island of Hawaii, one of his colleagues told us about a conversation she had had with John not too long before his hike. During that conversation she had asked him whether he was happy about his upbringing or whether he wished he had not been raised as a "missionary kid.". She told us that his answer was an unequivocal, "I loved my upbringing and I would like to be just like my parents and do just what they are doing." From the way she told us, I think his response must have surprised her although it certainly didn't surprise us.

Some people, looking at the fact that we took our children into Indian villages, exposed them to danger and disease, not to mention hardships of every kind, taught them God's Word, expected them to obey us, instilled both a love and fear of God in them - yes, some might criticize us for being too controlling or too heavy-handed with them. In the midst of the circumstances of life we tried to pass on through our mentoring, a sense of purpose and calling that transcends difficulties and develops faith that produces character.

And each of our 3 children came out of that "mentoring" and "discipling" experience both thankful and grateful for it. And it gives us great joy to see them impacting others around them, praying with others, giving them godly counsel, speaking the truth in love to those who will hear it.

Our spiritual children have even greater and more far-reaching impact. In fact, we have no idea of the impact they are having all around the world! We have a vast number of spiritual offspring scattered throughout the world, most of whom we will only meet when we all gather for the wedding banquet our bridegroom, Jesus, is preparing for us. I say that, not to our glory or praise, but to His. He is able to take common ordinary folks, full of flaws and shortcomings and use us anyway to accomplish His purposes. And for that we are deeply humbled and profoundly grateful.

Who are you mentoring and how are you doing it? What kind of heritage are you passing on?



Anyone Can be Thankful - Or Can They?

2011-11-23T15:25:11.194-06:00

Thanksgiving is always a bittersweet time for us. It was on Thanksgiving Day 12 years ago that our son, John left to hike across the Kohala mountains on the northeastern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii. It was just another Thanksgiving Day and we of course, joined with our extended family in giving thanks. Ho-hum....

John even expressed in his own words all of the things he was thankful for. This is what he wrote in his journal 6 days before Thanksgiving:
"Well, since Thanksgiving is coming up, I'm going to work on counting my blessings, which, says Mom, are many. First off, I'm living in Hawaii right near HI Volcanoes National Park. It would be hard to imagine a more unique spot on the planet. I have a job with the U.S. Geological Survey, an important organization that will be spicy on my resume. I'm working in field biology, gaining valuable experience that will help me in my decision of whether to pursue graduate studies, and if so, in what. I'm in better physical condition than I have been since I was 15 (with the possible exception of times near field day at PQQ). I have an awesome mountain bike for the first time in my life, and so far I haven't entirely killed myself on it yet. I have two wonderful, supportive parents, and an amazing sister and a cool brother. I have a set of extremely varied experiences that is broader culturally, geographically, and educationally than most people gain in a lifetime, and there is no sign that I will cease or slow down in gaining further experience. Most importantly, I'm a child of God and I know where I'm going - I just need help finding out what to do in the meanwhile."
But Thanksgiving of 1999 was the day life threw us a curve ball. And we didn't even see it coming!

So what do you do? How can you be thankful? How is it possible to fulfill the scriptural mandate to "give thanks in everything" when one of the relationships you treasured most on this earth has suddenly and ruthlessly been ripped away from you.

I must confess that it isn't easy. But it is possible!

This week I had the privilege of presenting the "counsel time" to a group of children at our church who attend AWANA club. And I posed this same question to them (ages 3 to 16) - how can you be thankful for something you aren't thankful for? As we worked through this exercise together, I asked each of them to think of something they were NOT thankful for and then to think of a way to turn that into thankfulness.

What I was trying to illustrate was that our words and attitudes have the power to change our perspective like it did in this video.

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For me, Thanksgiving Day of 1999 changed my world. But on December 17, 1999 God transformed my heart by giving me His perspective. All I can say is that it was even more radical than the transformation in the video above. God turned my deep sorrow into real joy and yes, even thankfulness for the 22 years I had had with my son. Read our book, Aloha is Forever, for the rest of the story!



Urgency of Purpose

2011-11-20T08:15:35.050-06:00

During my devotions this morning I was reading an entry called, "I bless you with the peace of Jesus" out of a little booklet titled, Daily Spirit Blessings by Arthur Burk and Sylvia Gunter. It made me think about the "tyranny of the urgent" vs "the urgency of purpose."No one walked this earth with an urgency of purpose like Jesus. He was pressed on every side by demands of the crowds yet He filled each day with those things that were priorities in the fulfillment of His ultimate purpose. John 5:19 says that Jesus told the Jewish leaders this: "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself but what He sees the Father do, for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner." Or to put it in laymen terms, "I get my direction for everything I do from my Father. I only follow His lead." As He walked this earth, He accomplished more in the three years of His ministry than most people do in a lifetime and ultimately achieved His purpose in going to the cross. As I pondered this, I believe He was giving us a key to what it means to "walk in the Spirit" when He said He only did what He saw His Father doing.So how do we accomplish that without being sucked in by the tyranny of the urgent that is around us and pressing in on us from all sides? For one thing, we need to develop that habit of constant communion with the Father, paying attention to the still small voice of guidance that He gives. In order to do that, we often have to quiet the clamor of our flesh and its desires that speak so loudly they try to drown out the Spirit's voice. And we have to discern whether we are listening to God's voice or satan's voice - anyone who has repented of their sin and trusted in Christ's sacrifice on their behalf, has become a child of God. Every child learns to know the sound of his father's voice and it's no different in the spiritual realm - but that's a topic for a different blog entry. Suffice it to say that the key to knowing His voice is spending time with Him, reading His Word and talking to Him on a daily basis.Another thing we need to do is pay attention to peace. I have learned that peace, or rather, the lack thereof, is like a warning light on the dashboard of your car. When peace is gone, so is God's spirit. Jesus spoke these words in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you..." You can count on it; if peace isn't ruling in your heart, He isn't ruling either.This line from the little devotional I read this morning stood out to me, "I bless you with being peaceful because you know ahead of time that your Father God will partner with you to provide adequacy for each day, whether a day with pain or pleasure." Peace comes from walking in that assurance that He is there, just as He said He would be, no matter what your circumstances.All of what I've already said presumes that we know what our purpose and calling is here on this earth. Without a sense of purpose that gives us the urgency to accomplish that purpose, we will inevitably be driven by the urgencies of life; the tyranny of the urgent. Obviously there are things that are legitimate urgencies in our lives such as getting meals on the table, getting the laundry done, earning a living, etc. However, God also has a destiny He would like each of us to fulfill and until that sense of destiny becomes more urgent than the common ordinary urgencies of life, we will have great difficulty accomplishing our calling.So today I bless you with the knowledge of your calling and the ability to walk hand in hand with Him to accom[...]



Part 2 of Rotten Egg in the Omelet

2011-11-11T00:58:22.261-06:00

I've left you hanging and hopefully pondering long enough. Let's get back to our rotten egg in the omelet illustration. And please remember that it's only an illustration. Real truth, in my opinion, is only obtained by a careful study of the Scriptures, God's Word. (II Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness...")So what did you think? Does God weigh the good we have done against the bad and judge whether we are worthy to be allowed into His presence? You probably already guessed that I am going to say, "No." Let me explain why.The Scriptures are full of references to the fact that we have all sinned; no one is righteous, not even one of us. The most well known reference is in Romans 3:23. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." And in I John 1:8 it says, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."In the beginning, Adam and Eve lived in a perfect world but given free choice to walk in fellowship and communion with their creator, they chose disobedience (sin) and walked away from that perfect fellowship. You may say, "Wait a minute! Adam and Eve? Give me a break!" OK, would you have made the choice not to disobey, especially when tempted into believing that you would become like God and have the knowledge of good and evil just by eating the forbidden fruit? I submit to you that if it hadn't been Eve, it would have been someone else and sin would have entered the world sooner or later.BUT God is merciful and loving. The only way to exercise perfect justice was to condemn sin - in other words, all came under condemnation. Romans 6:23a says, "...the wages of sin is death." Because we all sin, we all deserve the just wage of sin; death. Without going into great detail, let me just submit to you that the death God refers to here is spiritual death, not actual physical death, and the best way to sum that up is to equate spiritual death with separation from God - as though a chasm separates man from God. (I'm being very simplistic - whole books have been written to explain this, yet it is simple enough for even a young child to understand.)So if the wages of sin is death or to get back to the omelet illustration, throwing out the eggs with the rotten one that contaminates the whole bunch, then someone has to die; someone has to pay that death penalty. That's where God's love shines - "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8). Most of us have heard that often enough that it doesn't really sink in. What God did on the cross was this: "...He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us," (II Corinthians 5:21a). The penalty we deserved, God placed upon His Son, Jesus, calling Him unrighteous who was completely and totally righteous. Why? "That we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (II Corinthians 5:21b).There is a lengthy passage of Scripture in Ephesians 2 starting with verse 4 that explains why God did this. It also explains how the good we do is a result of God's mercy and grace toward us. It is the effect and not the cause. Religious systems would want us to believe that we can do enough good to please God, but God says He is the one who took the first step to reconcile us to himself in Christ, resulting in a total inner transformation of the heart (like throwing out the rotten egg mixture). He gives us a completely new beginning and  even still is gracious an[...]



Rotten Egg in the Omelet

2011-11-06T09:15:25.591-06:00

Have you ever had the misfortune of cracking open a rotten egg? I have! My daughter has been a backyard farmer girl ever since I can remember. She always collected the eggs from her chickens and we had wonderful fresh eggs to eat on a continual basis.One day I went to break an egg into a frying pan to have my usual breakfast of a fried egg and toast. I heard some peeping noises and wondered where they might be coming from but didn't give it a second thought. The oil in the frying pan was just right and I could almost hear the sizzling of the egg as it fried. But to my shock and utter dismay, when I cracked the shell open there was a blood covered little chick just about ready to peck its way out of its shell! In case you're wondering, it didn't land in the hot oil, but it also didn't survive. One more day inside the shell might have been sufficient.It was a long time before I could persuade myself to eat another fried egg and what had been a regular combo on my breakfast menu became a rarity.As I was praying the other day for my AWANA class (AWANA = Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed from II Timothy 2:15) the Lord reminded me of an illustration of the gospel message.Imagine making an omelet. First you throw in one egg, then another, then another. After 5 eggs are cracked into your bowl, you crack the 6th one and it is rotten. It falls into your bowl of eggs before you can stop it. Can you proceed and make an edible omelet out of your bowl full of eggs? No! And no matter how many good eggs you add to your bowl, it will continue to be inedible because of the one rotten egg. (If you've never smelled a rotten egg, I recommend that you let one sit out on your counter for about 6 to 8 weeks and then crack it open. This illustration will make a lot more sense to you.)So in order to make a good tasting omelet, you must throw out the whole bowl full of eggs, wash everything and start all over. If you're smart, you'll crack each egg into a saucer or small cup first and then add it to your bowlful. Yummm...nothing better than a freshly made omelet.What is the point? If you were God, would you accept a little sin (bad) along with all the good someone has done and let them into heaven? What do you think? What do you say? Does the good in you outweigh the bad?To be continued...Our book, Aloha is Forever can be found at http://www.AlohaIsForever.com/[...]



Cause for Celebration

2011-10-31T09:56:10.701-05:00

39 years of marriage. That is cause for celebration! When I met him 39 plus years ago on a tiny airstrip in southern Mexico, I could not have imagined that he would become my husband. At first glance we had nothing in common. But when he offered to help me do up the dishes and we began to talk, I discovered how wrong I was about that.

Our backgrounds of being trained and discipled by The Navigators, a para church organization that worked on college campuses, gave us a great deal to talk about. We compared notes about Navigator training programs, conferences, etc. Who were mutual friends and/or acquaintances? What verses had we each memorized? We discovered we had been at a big conference together a few years before we met. That spiritual common ground gave us a good foundation for building a solid and deeply satisfying relationship. I highly recommend that if you are a believer, you pray for and allow God to lead you to another strong believer who has the same set of values, principles and spiritual background. That has been invaluable in enabling us to build a strong, healthy, lasting relationship.

We were also headed in the same direction in our life purpose and goals. God had called each of us separately into the mission organization, Wycliffe Bible Translators. And although we hadn't met during our initial linguistics training, God orchestrated our meeting on that Tzeltal Indian village airstrip; one from Wisconsin, one from Texas. That common life purpose and goal has joined us and knit us together in a powerful way. Even as God redirected that goal over the years, He continued to give us unity in our calling and purpose.

Lest I lead you to believe that everything was a bed of roses, it wasn't. But the rosy times have far outweighed the not so rosy ones. We've discovered that our differences have made us more dependent upon each other. My weaknesses are complemented by his strengths and his by mine. I've often told friends that in many ways I have become who I am today because of the positive influence of my dear husband who has a heart of gold.

He is one in a million and even though he continues to walk about 2 paces ahead of me when we are going anywhere, I wouldn't trade him for anything. (I guess he learned that in the Tzeltal Indian village where the husband always walks at least 100 feet ahead of his wife.)

As long as we are walking in sync with the Lord and with each other, it really doesn't matter that much whether he walks physically beside me or ahead of me. One habit we developed from the very beginning of our marriage was that of praying together daily. There are days when that isn't possible, but for the most part that continues to be a habit that has drawn us closer both to the Lord and to each other over the years.

39 great years! Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, "A threefold cord is not quickly broken." The 3rd cord in our relationship is Jesus. He is the glue; the love potion that holds everything together! We look forward to many, many more years of glorifying God together through our marriage as chapter 5 of Ephesians describes.



More on Being Bilingual

2011-10-11T23:46:35.126-05:00

We had a pleasant banter going on over dinner recently. I had made absolutely delicious homemade hamburger buns! And we had the music going in the background. Even my grandson was eating more and talking less than usual.

As the meal was drawing to a close my husband said, "How about some sorvete for dessert?" So of course we started talking about sorvete and trying to get my grandson to speak some Portuguese. His task was to figure out what "sorvete" was in English. Eventually my son said, "Grandpa even gave you a clue. He said what it was in English back in the beginning of this conversation."

We all looked at him and said, "No, he didn't." He insisted he had said it in English and we three insisted he hadn't. Finally, (since the majority rules) he admitted he was in error, with much embarrassment and turning a deep rosy red.

My son had passed the acid test of being a true bilingual; when you understand everything that was said, but have no idea which language was spoken.

I've heard people say that you are bilingual when you dream in your second language, but I believe that's only the beginning of becoming bilingual. The true test is the one my son passed. I've even taken that a step further and am often not even aware of which language I'm using when I speak to someone. This, incidentally, can result in strange and confused reactions from my listeners.

Wouldn't you like to be bilingual? What other language would you like to speak and why?



Blessing Your Child

2011-10-04T11:37:46.402-05:00

How do you bless your child? I know, that sounds like a strange question, especially since blessing is what all of us want for our children. We all dream of the best for our children. But did you know there is a proactive way of making sure that your children are blessed?

We began a couple of years ago to celebrate a Sabbath meal together on Friday evenings. No, we're not Jewish but we have observed that one of the reasons so many Jewish people are prosperous is because receiving a verbal "blessing" on a regular basis is part of their culture.

During our Sabbath meal we celebrate communion together, thanking the Father for sending his Son, Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice to pay for our sin. From the very beginning the Bible tells of one who would come and through whom all the peoples of the earth would be blessed. The one who fulfilled all of the prophesies and through whom we are blessed is Jesus. He suffered the ultimate curse and humiliation of death on a cross and separation from His Father so that through Him we could have life and an eternal relationship with God the Father. So knowing that blessing comes through Jesus, we celebrate that at the beginning of our meal.

Then at the end of the meal, my husband speaks a blessing over each of our children and our grandchild, blessing them with wisdom, knowledge, direction, prosperity, and in short, declaring God's promises over their lives.

In order to do this, we have to see past what is actually happening and agree by faith with what God the Father says in His word about us and about our future. Those are the things we are to speak over ourselves and over each other.

To bless means "to enable to prosper." Who have you enabled to prosper through  your words and/or actions lately?



Being Bilingual

2011-09-21T10:19:16.098-05:00

Being bilingual is such an awesome privilege! But it's one that most Americans don't really understand. The vast majority of Americans are monolingual, speaking and understanding only one language; English. I was among them, even though I studied German in high school and college. If I had had the opportunity, I would have been able to get by in Germany with my limited knowledge of the language. But it wouldn't have made me comfortable!After college, I began to study linguistics and a whole new world opened up to me. My next step was to learn a little bit of a language that was very different from any I had ever encountered. I did OK, and I seemed to have a knack for understanding the meaning the other speaker was trying to communicate even though I didn't really understand the words. But I digress...My husband and I started on our journey to becoming bilingual when we arrived in Brazil in 1974. After two weeks in the country, we moved in with a Brazilian family who spoke only Portuguese. Believe me, that was NOT comfortable. But we knew that the only way to really learn the language was to immerse ourselves in it. It was incredibly taxing and tiring to struggle to understand  and communicate in a language we were just barely learning. But it was one of the best decisions we could ever have made and it put us way ahead in our understanding not only of the language, but also the culture of the people of Brazil.Fast forward to our children - they had the "misfortune" of living in an American/British missionary community where English was the language of choice. So we had to be proactive in exposing them to Portuguese. We sent them to Portuguese speaking preschool. Our son learned how to mix all of his food into one homogeneous mixture on his plate before he ate but not much Portuguese and he beseeched me daily with his big, round eyes to come back and get him soon. Our daughter who was a little older, went to school kicking and screaming every day, but in spite of that, developed a passionate love for Portuguese, Brazil and everything Brazilian. She also managed to become truly bilingual.Fast forward again to our third son - he was almost 7 years younger than our middle son and even though by this time we were living in a place that allowed him to have much more interaction and exposure to Portuguese, he was not learning it well. So we debated about putting him into a Brazilian school for 4th grade. I sought John's counsel. He was the one who had pleaded with me not to leave him very long at the preschool. He said, "Mom, I would give an arm and a leg to be able to speak Portuguese well." That sealed it. Off to a Brazilian school for our 4th grader. He learned Portuguese well enough to have pretty flawless pronunciation and took it upon himself to correct ours at every opportunity.Fast forward yet again to our grandson - our expectation was that he would grow up learning both languages at the same time; English from his mother and Portuguese from his Brazilian father. That expectation was dashed when his father left when our grandson was just beginning to talk. So we now have a 5 year old who needs to learn Portuguese and who isn't the least bit interested in doing so. Now what? We are looking for a way to endow him with the incredible gift of being a bilingual. We're starting to speak Portuguese for at least part of the time during every meal. Since our grandson loves to tal[...]