our work

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Simpler Walk

I'm finding myself in a strange and precarious place spiritually as of late.
The more I read God's word and spend time with Him in prayer, the less I find I can tolerate some of the mandates of other Believers.

This notion has been dogging me for more than a year but has intensified in the last three or four months.
Those of you who are immersed in the Christian culture know it is just that - a culture. There is often a set of rules, a dress code, a vocabulary list and a standard of behavior NOT COMMANDED IN SCRIPTURE that prevails. This culture is most obvious in the homeschooling community for me.

I must state, for the record, my church family does not seem saturated in the culture to which I am referring. It is much more open, accepting and eclectic than one would expect. And we are conservative. There is something special going on at my church. For that, I am grateful.

But the culture that SOME of my fellow homeschoolers embrace has become repugnant to me. I can not abide one more conversation about the evils of Twilight, The Hunger Games, the fashions on the racks at Khol's or the suggestive dance moves of Justin Bieber! Pokemon, Harry Potter, Facebook, secular music, skinny jeans, guns in video games, tattoos, piercings . . . these are the plumb lines many of us are using to measure one another and it is suffocating me!

Work these things out in your own families, folks! Prayerfully decide where the lines should fall and walk in them. Offer your opinions when other Believers ASK FOR THEM. Do not waste precious time making the fight against Spongebob Squarepants your life's work, I beg of you.

You make a caricature of yourself before those who don't know our Savior.
Fodder for mockery among the lost, but not persecuted for righteousness' sake. Let us not confuse the two.

I am not suggesting that Christian families should throw open their doors and embrace every aspect of our current American culture. Lots of it is garbage, counterproductive, injurious to the spirit and wasteful of time. Plenty of what I have mentioned above is not allowed in my own home. But that is OUR home and yours may look very different from ours. And guess what? God's word allows for that! We should all work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).

I Corinthians 8 talks about Believers eating food sacrificed to idols. Paul is clear that Believers are welcomed to eat it but he admonishes the early Christians in verses 9 and 10 with:
"Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol's temple, won't that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols?"

Shouldn't that be our main concern as we fellowship, Believer to Believer? Paul is not talking about a Christian causing a non-Christian to stumble but a more knowledgeable Believer making a weaker Believer revert to idolatry and damaging his relationship with the One, True, God.

So we don't flaunt our family boundaries before other Believers but neither do we set before them a form of righteousness that is not of God and expect them to partake simply because we have more knowledge.

We live our lives under the convictions that God has placed on our hearts, trying to please Him both in our freedom and our choices . . . and we keep Him and HIS word the focus.

Everything else is dross . . . chaff . . . shavings on the wind . . . a ploy of the Enemy to divert us from the Cross and the height from which we have fallen.

And when we remember that HE picked us up from the pit of miry clay and set our feet upon the rock when we were but filthy, helpless, rotten, rebellious, unfaithful people, suddenly it doesn't much matter whether you have cable TV or make your own bread from wheat berries.

It just doesn't matter. In eternity. For the big picture.

It's just between Him and You...and He lavishes grace upon grace, lovingly guides and forgives without limit.

Rest in that, my friends.

Just rest.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Touches

It's been almost a month since I posted "Fit for Service" and I want to be faithfully accountable so, here it goes . . .

I have exercised three to five days a week WITHOUT FAIL since that post! I have a way to go before I can officially say I feel "fit" but some wonderful side effects have surfaced from just a month of consistent, challenging exercise.
The most notable are:
1. I have a TON more energy
2. I am sleeping so much better - all night every night
3. I am firmer everywhere (and I mean . . . everywhere . . . hee hee)
4. I am much more relaxed, even keeled, slower to feel annoyed, etc.
5. This could just be over analysis on my part but it does seem I have a broader
vocabulary and less trouble retrieving information than before I started exercising!

I can't say that in one month's time I've conquered my issues with staying consistent but I can say I really DO enjoy the after effects of exercise and I want to continue . . . Faithful God has given me some drive in answer to prayer!

Thank you to my sweet neighbor and friend for meeting me at the crack of daylight to exercise! Just knowing you will be waiting nudges me out of my warm, comfy bed!

I began by doing the "Couch To 5 K" app five days a week but at the end of week two, I broke my baby toe on the side of my bed . . . it was sticking out from the pack, swollen and purple. It still hurts. I continued to exercise but have had to tone the running parts of the app down to walking. I do three days a week of the 30 minute walk/run and two days a week of pilates with a DVD. This is a relatively small time commitment but so very worth it! On a side note, I really don't love pilates. By "don't love", I mean "hate" . . . but the sore muscles the next day tell me my abs need me to keep doing it. I do NOT have the fluid movements of the ladies on the video. I know I look like a turtle on my back and not the graceful swan that the other ladies portray!



Now, on to the Mission Field update . . . there isn't much going on in that arena. Our sending organization is still getting the administrative/logistical aspects of our project in order and since we aren't on the board or involved in the correspondence, it appears to us that little is happening in terms of forward motion. I'm sure that isn't the case but we are simply out of the loop. We step back and let the board members do what God has called them to do and we wait. There is a large scale fund raiser planned for September in Pennsylvania and I will share more details there as they solidify. We do firmly believe the Lord will do this work. We have no doubt He will place us in The Philippines in HIS time and in HIS way. . . our task right now is to watch and pray.

We are registered to take a volunteer training class at Governor Morehead's School for the Blind in September. That class will allow us (Anthony, Aaron and I) to work in the classrooms directly with visually impaired children and their teachers! This is priceless, hands-on, first-line training and I am eager for it to begin.

All continues to go well with our children, our church, our preparations to begin another year of homeschooling, etc.

Just wanted to update my precious readers and thank you so much for the prayerful support. It is of such value that I have no adequate words - even with my bolstered intellect and vocabulary (ha ha) . . .

FOR HIS GREAT FAME,
Nikki

Saturday, July 7, 2012

ONE YEAR

Today, July 7th, 2012 marks one year since I waited nervously on the jetway.
One year since 30 of our friends and family members gathered in anticipation.
One year since I had to learn to answer "six" when asked how many children I have.

Our precious Francis has been home ONE YEAR today!



When I remember the early weeks of his homecoming, it is with fondness and maybe a little shudder of gratefulness that we are HERE instead of THERE.

I recall those early weeks where I was his complete link to the USA. Every task I set out to do, no matter how mundane, he wanted to be a part of. From making a bank deposit to getting groceries, Francis was always by my side asking questions. He wanted to know how everything worked here. He was absorbing life in the US at warp speed.

He wanted to know how much everything cost and then would quickly produce his calculator to convert that number to Philippine Pesos . . . and then he would gasp at the sheer expense of everything from a value meal to a pair of shoes.

He took perfect care of all of his belongings and was quick to help around the house with any chore anyone was doing.

And then he started to work for his dad and earn his own money . . . and NEVER spent a dime! He hid it in his room (although I always knew just where) and counted it again and again, converting it to pesos and remarking how shocked his friends back home would be at his "stash". We stayed up late watching action movies together after everyone else went to bed. I watched a lot of shooting and explosions...I was happy to.

He facebooked The Philippines for hours each day. He ached for those friends and caregivers in a way that was so hard to watch and, although a necessary part of starting a new life, something I wanted to ease and could not.

But time went on.

He began to say "no thanks" when I offered to take him with me to the store or the post office. He began to spend a little money on going to the movies with siblings. He joined his basketball team and found confidence in his English speaking and social skills. He started to get invited over to friend's houses.

He made a lot of baskets at his games and won the respect of the other players.

His comfort level in every situation multiplied and you could visibly see him being grafted into this life and this family.



And it's been a pleasure to watch and a gift.

He is ours and we are his. A little more each day. Just when I think we've reached total immersion, we get closer. The good and the bad experiences are the glue. We welcome both. But the good outnumber the bad at least 100 to 1.

God has done us a great kindness in making Francis our son.
Right on time.

Happy ONE YEAR HOME, precious boy . . . you are a jewel in our crown.