30 October 2007

Happy Birthday Elizabeth!

Today our youngest girl is 4.

She came into this world in quite a dramatic way. We were at the hospital, my water had broken and my doctor was just down the hall. He knew from the last delivery that towards the end everything comes fast and hard. I was definitely into the last part of labor. What we hadn't anticipated was the awful nurse that was attending me that night. She was rude and very sarcastic . . . assuming she knew more than me about when to call the doctor. She ended up delivering Elizabeth without even time for rubber gloves. My first glimpse of that sweet little newborn babe is ingrained in my memory for all time. She was so alert, and never cried a tear. Her blue eyes locked on my brown and in that instant we bonded in a mother/daughter relationship that has certainly blessed my life.

There are so many things to tell about Elizabeth. She loves to cook . . . anything from toasting bagels to fajitas. She is very adventurous . . . she's held a snake, gone down the steepest, scariest of slopes, traversed into the darkest of caves and jumped right off the diving board, all with not a hint of fear or caution. And with all of that, she remains the girliest of girls. She is genuinely sweet and quite sentimental. She is also very loving. She can sometimes be a little manipulative in her quest to have things her way!! She is full of zest for life. At 3 and 1/2 years old she was a beginning reader. This was her idea . . . I never would have even contemplated starting her in readers before the age of 4. She is quite independent!

But best of all, she loves Jesus. She's given Him her heart, although I can't say exactly when. At an early 3 she shared with us she had asked Jesus in her heart. And to tell you the truth, we were rather dismissive. How can a 3 year old understand enough about Jesus and sin and forgiveness? But here's what I do know . . . He lives in her heart and she loves Him. When exactly He became Lord of her life is a mystery to me, but certainly one I can live with (as the WHEN seems so insignificant to the WHAT!). And she prays . . . and prays . . . and prays for just about everyone who crosses her path, and seems to never forget a prayer request.

Yesterday we celebrated her birthday together as a family. We are all thankful for God sending us Elizabeth. May we be the stewards God wants us to be as we continue to raise her.

Here's some pictures!

22 October 2007

Raising Children To Know God's Word

What can be more paramount than this? It starts with perspective. These are God's kids . . . not ours. He has blessed us in allowing us to be stewards over them . . . but make no mistake, they are His creation and they belong to Him.

Here's some things I do with them:

I go through the entire Bible each year with the kids. Where we are now: Moses has just died on the mountain (Mount Nebo) alone with God, and God buried Him. And we have started the adventure of Joshua and the conquest of Canaan.

We use, as our main text, the book by Catherine F. Vos entitled The Child's Story Bible. It's not watered down like so many other so called Bibles for children. I highly recommend it. Alongside it I choose particular verses from whatever part of the Bible we are in and we discuss them. We get out maps and our globe and see exactly where the Israelites are. It works very well.

Other verses from the Bible I bring up as opportunity presents itself . . . for an example of this, see my blog entry entitled “The Lord Is Special”. We also talk about verses that relate to behavior problems or behavior praises.

Another idea I hope to implement soon is an idea of kids pulling verses out of a hat. I'm going to write down the book, chapter and verse of certain “jewels” in the Bible on card stock paper. Then I'll cut them up and put them in a paper top hot. We'll rotate who gets to draw the verse out of the hat. It will be our special verse for the week for conversation (what does this tell us about God, what does it tell us about us), memorization, links to other verses/stories in the Bible, etc.

I would very much love to hear any of your suggestions on teaching God's Word to to children. What works in your family?

19 October 2007

Throwing Up . . . .

the forcible (hopefully involuntary) emptying of stomach contents through the mouth. It goes by many names: vomit, throw up, upchuck, gut soup, ralphing, and barf. We prefer “throwing up”, but I wonder where that term originated.

Anyway, night before last was the the throwing-up-on-the-sheets night here at the Hamilton house. And yes, I'm actually blogging about it. We are just the kind to laugh about the situation even while we're in it. So enjoy with us a tale of puke!

My dear 17 month old Samuel threw up in his crib twice on Monday night. Considering incubation time, we figured he must have caught something from someone at the Saturday night or Sunday morning service of our church.

I became very diligent to make sure the others knew of the potential for virus germs . . . which meant only mom could tend to Samuel and there would be much hand washing.

We were not successful.

Wednesday came . . . a normal homeschooling day for us. Robert was gone all day and I fixed enchiladas for dinner with frozen blueberries that we had picked at the Berry Patch a few months ago for dessert. Bed time came and all was well. But then, at about 9:30 pm, our 6 year old, Katherine, threw up. We missed the whole thing, and upon observation of ground zero, it had been no small event. She came downstairs looking terribly. So came the bath and Robert went upstairs to survey the damage. Did I mention blueberries? The sheets, the light colored carpet and the pink princess rug were quite decorative. When I got Katherine squared away, Robert and I began scrubbing . . . lights on, 3 year old sister asleep in the top bunk, and the careful used of chemicals, wet wipes and rubber gloves. Katherine watched Rikki Tikki Tavi and then Pollyanna until she had finished all she needed to do with the bowl in front of her and was ready to return to a fresh, clean bed.

At 12:30 a.m., our 3 year old, Elizabeth, threw up. Blueberries and enchiladas in the top bunk sheets of the girls room. Robert had gone to bed and I really wanted to let him sleep. I bathed Elizabeth and set her up downstairs with a Little Mermaid movie and a bowl. As I was cleaning the top bunk I heard the sound of her throwing up downstairs. A sleepy 3 year old doesn't always ring the container intended for the collection of gut soup. Sweet, miserable little Elizabeth nailed the couch, her pajamas, and the quilt she was using for a cover. Did I mention blueberries? (This time, amazingly enough, there was not throw up in her hair. I've added this detail for the amusement of all mothers out there who might wonder, as I do, how every child who gets sick to their stomach, no matter the age, gets it in their hair.) Rousing Robert at this point was inevitable. Elizabeth could not be left alone. Of all our children throwing up that night, Elizabeth really had the worst of it . . . eight episodes of vomiting accompanied by painful stomach cramps. After getting the bed changed, Robert was able to attempt more sleep. Three hours from the time of her first throw up, our exhausted three year old was asleep. I carried her up to her bed and was able to go to bed myself a little after 3:00.

At 4:00 we were both awakened by the terrified shrills of our 5 year old Joseph. He had thrown up in his bed, and on the carpet of his room. Did I mention blueberries? I carried him downstairs and began bath downstairs while Robert tended the upstairs mess. Once all was good with him and his room, Robert attempted sleep once again. I sat up with Joseph the rest of the “night”.

On Thursday there was no school. We declared it a family sick day. Temperatures, vomiting and stomach cramps filled the day. Surprisingly, it was really a good day for our family. We did a lot of sitting around, resting, enjoying each others company and watching a lot of movies. Here's some pictures of kids not feeling too good:

As for the mystery of how the germ spread to the others, here's the culprit:

We have discovered that anytime anyone gets water out of the water dispenser, Samuel comes by and sucks the residual water from the dispensers, thus explaining how the other three all got sick at the same time.

16 October 2007

Blogging In Spurts

I've not had opportunity to sit and add to blog entries. So below are three new entries with more to follow shortly.

Are You Hearing What I'm Hearing?

All the things coming from the leadership of the SBC . . . at least what I've been able to hear, sounds really good. Is what's being talked at the top going to effectively trickle down? Are we at the brink of an SBC transformation? I hope so! Our lost culture needs it.

Here's a sample of something I recently heard. It is from the 2007 Annual Meeting of the SBC. The guy talking is Ed Stetzer who serves as research team director and missiologist at the North American Mission Board.

Ed Stetzer at 2007 SBC Meeting

More to links follow on this topic at another time!

15 October 2007

Blessings Abound

Here's some ways in which God continues to bless us on this journey of serving Him where we are now and journeying to where He wants us next:

  • The IMB has granted me 4 credit hours for the 60 hour requirement for long-term missionary service. (Robert must have a Master's degree from seminary (which he has), but I must have at least 60 hours of college. I had 50 hours from a Christian university that I attended, and an additional 6 that I got as continuing education while working at a Christian childcare as a director. The IMB granted me 4 hours for the work I did with Prison Fellowship Ministries. This is a huge blessing to me that I do not have to take a class or two while I'm homeschooling 3 of our 4 children! The 4 hours would have been at my cost since the 60 hour requirement is a prerequisite . . . another blessing!)

  • Robert has landed a second job to assist in our paying off debt and school loans. It's a full-time job, but only takes 3 days (Monday-Wednesday, 13 hour days). It is not a fun job by any means, but is a blessing . . . not a burden, and is only for a season. We're hoping that in addition to the income that will go toward eliminating our debt, Robert will have opportunities to share Christ with co-workers . . . outside of the church environment . . . engaging the culture in a way in which he encourages others to share their faith!

  • God blessed us yesterday through a dear friend at Pin Oaks. Her gift to us was a blessing that I could only describe as “God blessing our socks off” (one of my mothers favorite sayings).

  • In March Robert was told he most likely has degenerative disc disease and definitely had a herniated disc. He was in a lot of pain from it. He had to go to a pain management doctor who administered epidural injections to help manage the pain. Since our journeying into full-time missions, all shoulder and back trouble has vanished! (Missionaries have to meet certain BMI (Body Mass Index) standards, so Robert has shaped and toned up quite a bit.) I guess someone could assume that it is the building of muscle and the loss of extra pounds from tread mill exercise that has helped the problem, but we like to say God! Why would we ever assume otherwise?

The dentist who charged nothing, the Ford Escape selling after having it listed for one day, the ages of our children being so perfect and the timing of God's call coinciding with Robert's graduation from Trinity. . . all blessings. If someone had told me 3 years ago that we, as a family, would be right where we are, right now, I would have thought they were nuts! It's a good thing God leads us the way He does. He doesn't always do things the way we would like, but it's always what's best.

How is God blessing you? I'd love to hear it!

13 October 2007

A Day To Remember

Up until Friday, October the 12th, my children's knowledge of a county fair was just literary and second hand. We've read Charlotte's Web together and have seen the movie (both of them). We've driven through towns where they could see a towering ferris wheel in the distance. But this last Friday, treat of my parents, they experienced the Grayson County Fair firsthand. It was a day they will always remember . . . from the rides, the slides, the horses, the animals they touched, the cotton candy, the funnel cake, and the grandparents they know as Grandma and Pop. Here's some pictures:

04 October 2007

An update of where we are in this process

We have submitted medical information for our entire family, submitted a dental questionnaire that was completed by our dentist, completed and submitted extensive personality testing for Robert and myself and have completed development questionnaires on our children. As long as I'm not deemed "crazy", all looks good!!!!

Now Robert and I are spending more time looking at specific locations all across the globe in which we may go. We have entered a phase in which we get detailed information about areas of the world. At the same time, we're getting a look at the inner-workings of the IMB.

I am moved by the number of people groups who have yet to hear the gospel, and also at the number of people groups who are years out, at best, to getting even parts of the Bible in their language. I don't say this in a derogatory way at all. So much work has been done. However there are sizable people groups tucked away in pockets in so many countries who speak a language or dialect that is virtually unknown and has never been written. Our hearts are quickened by opportunities to take the saving news of Jesus Christ to groups such as this.

At the same time, Robert and I are so very impressed by the lengths to which the IMB goes to get the gospel everywhere. The ways in which they are organized allows them to reach the absolute uttermost parts of the earth. They know where the lost are. They know the cultural and political boundaries of where the lost are. They know how to work within these limitations to get the gospel out. The training for missionaries to any such group is phenomenal. The IMB also goes to great lengths for children of missionaries. We are thrilled by this, and see many opportunities that would be phenomenal for our kids.

God is going to lead us specifically to one location . . . one people group. We are thrilled by it. Keep us in your prayers!

It doesn't have to be freedom vs. legalism!

Robert taught on Romans 14 this last Sat./Sun. and I just wanted to address in my blog this issue of spiritual freedoms "vs." abstinence. My husband and I enjoy spiritual freedoms . . . which are glorifying to God in our relationship with Him. However, we have friends, some dear, that impose restrictions on themselves. They abstain from whatever it is . . . certain kinds of meat, wine, keeping certain days as holy, style of dress, styles of songs . . . all to glorify God. God is glorified by both behaviors. Romans chapter 14 addresses this. Paul is writing to believers . . . not to legalistic Pharisees, but to believers who love God and are seeking to honor Him with their lives. The motives in both the exercise of freedom and the abstaining of certain things can all be glorifying to God. The key is motive! (Side note, we do now abstain from the occasional glass of wine as exercising this freedom would disqualify us from mission work overseas.)

The problem is that both groups judge one another. We tend to be real quick to say that legalism should never be imposed on someone else. The freedoms I have in Christ are exactly that . . . freedoms that have been given by Christ. The exercising of them is glorifying to my God. I can speak for myself because I know the motives behind my actions. But according to Romans 14 I am to be careful to not stumble a brother or sister in Christ. That means not serving pork to the friends who abstain from pork. That means not serving wine with a nice dinner to friends who abstain from drinking wine. That means not making an issue out of Sunday morning or

Saturday night worship service to those who believe it should be different. That means even dressing sometimes in clothes that I would prefer to not wear! There are Christians who abstain from these things to glorify God. They may one day understand that all things are from God and are for our enjoyment (moderated responsibly, of course). But they may not ever get there. Is it my job to then throw my freedoms in their faces? No, it is not. On the contrary, I am to love and never to judge.

The Bible says that nothing is unclean in itself, but to the one who thinks something to be unclean, to him it is unclean. This means that if while someone thinks a certain act is wrong, if they do it, they have sinned. Flaunting spiritual freedoms to those who deem them wrong causes them to stumble. This is warned against in Romans 14 and explained to greater detail in I Corinthians 8. Verse 22 of Rom. 14 says that “The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God.”

Rom. 14:19 admonishes us to “pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.” Paul gladly placed restrictions on his conduct for the sake of his witness (Romans 15:1 & I Cor. 9:19-27)

So I ask, what is the greater wrong?: Those who understand the freedom they have in Christ and then flaunt it before those who do not have this understanding so that they are appalled and confused and then possibly tempted to do the things they see as wrong? OR Those who are weaker in this area of freedoms in Christ trying to impose what they abstain from onto all other believers?

I think the personal test for this is always a check of motives. Is love for others our motive? Or is there pride and arrogance on the side of spiritual freedoms? Is there pride and arrogance on the side of abstaining? I'm sad to say that oftentimes in the church, the latter is true.

The clincher . . . the great perspective statement in Romans 14 is in verses 7-8: “For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's." As the Lord's, we are called to live selfless lives.