Seeking a Day of Rest

Ministry Mama, when is your day of rest?

Haha! Hoo-hoo! What a joke, you’re probably thinking. DAY? Did you say DAY of rest?

The other day I read another missionary lady’s Facebook post sharing her great discouragement in the ministry and desire to quit. In typical Facebook mode, I quickly shot back a response something like this: “Take some time to rest and refresh yourself in the Lord. Everything will look better after you’ve rested from ___ ministry.”

Then I wondered at myself. I was giving advice that I rarely have applied personally.

I happen to be married to a turbo-charged Energizer Bunny. He loves to work and constantly introspects about laziness (this is a good thing! Laziness is a common sin of missionaries.) We have often had disagreements discussions in our married life about taking a “day off,” what a “day off” constitutes, etc., until we got to the point where he has a generally scheduled self-appointed “day off” which he may use for “work” around the home or just to read a book or write or whatever. But he can’t do “ministry” (if possible) on that day.

Our teammate is very similar to my husband (another good thing!) So after years of their wives asking them to slow down one day per week, our teammate asked me recently, “So when do you take a day off?”

That stumped me. How does a missionary housewife and mom take time off? Not even a day, but just a chunk of time?

We are busy with caring for our children, cooking, and housework.

We are doing that in foreign countries where everything takes more time.

On top of that, most of us homeschool our children. That deserves its own line. Homeschooling is a full-time job.

We are doing all of the above + interruptions of nationals (depending on the culture you are serving).

We can’t count shopping or running errands as time off. Often those days can be more stressful than staying home to homeschool the kids on a day with meltdowns (the kids’, that is) and a head cold.

And Sunday does not count as a day off. For many missionary women, Sunday can be the most draining work day of the week. You have to think and teach the most important Book in the world in another language. There is no nursery, so you still have to care for your children, (fish those pacifiers out of the dirt, take the toddlers to the outhouse–don’t TOUCH anything!, is my 7-year old climbing that fig tree??), and on top of that you are usually the children’s Sunday School teacher, “bus ministry” helper for all those kids whose parents don’t attend, choir director, cook, sweeper, whatever. After church, you may host church members or visitors for a meal at your house.

Compound all of the above with a personality that tends towards being introverted or spiritual gifting that may not be service or teaching.

Add on a slow spiritual drain because:

  • you don’t fully hear sermons for years on end because it’s in another language or you are busy keeping little ones quietly occupied
  • you are not having meaningful quiet time at home (because of distractions)
  • and you are constantly giving spiritually–you are sharpening, but no one is sharpening you; you are probably the strongest example of Christianity around.

Well…by now, anyone who is not a missionary mama of many (MMM) is officially categorizing this post as a complaining rant. That’s not my point. Up till now I’ve just been answering potential objections by other MMMs who may smirk at me for bringing up the “day off” topic. I know that there’s really no time for a day off. I myself haven’t figured out what exactly to do about it.

The Creation of the Sun by Michelangelo

The Creation of the Sun by Michelangelo

But God took a day off. Jesus went off by Himself to pray and be with His heavenly Father. Whatever your view of the “sabbath” or the Lord’s Day, we can still appeal to God’s example from the beginning of creation that we were made to rest once in a while. So we need to figure out how we can find time to rest and refresh ourselves in the Lord.

If you’ve ever been put on bedrest, especially with other small children already under foot, you know that when forced to, an amazing amount of important work or ministries can be put on hold. God does not need a frantic, frazzled Martha counting the half-hour slots in her day to see where she could possibly fit in that new ministry that needs to be done. God prizes the meek and quiet spirit that Mary showed, taking time to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn of Him who is meek and lowly in heart. His burden is light.

I have read several blog posts by homeschooling mothers who speak of scheduling breaks or rest times for mama so that she doesn’t get burned out. How much more should those thoughts apply to missionary mamas?

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

So missionary mama, please share your thoughts. How have you made time to rest? Do you take a chunk of time daily–maybe two hours each afternoon to nap, read a book, or read your Bible? My friend listens to sermons in her spare time, especially while working in the kitchen. When do you find time to hear another preacher’s thoughts in English? Do you take a day off or two afternoons per week, maybe Saturday and Sunday? I realize you still have to cook and maybe do a load of laundry or two, but when do you find time to re-energize personally?

I do think it’s important for our longevity in homeschooling and ministry. And if something is important, we prioritize it. So back to my question: how have YOU done this?

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Meet Missionary Me! (ahem)

A while ago, I shared a list of questions to ask missionaries; and in fact, I’ve even made up a questionnaire to ask other missionary women over at Baptist Missionary Women, but then I realized that I’ve never taken the time to answer them myself. So here are my answers to that questionnaire.

I try to blog on missions, whether generally or more specific to our field here in the rural villages of South Africa (like prayer letters or what a typical Sunday looks like for us) on Mondays, which I call Missional Monday. (I explain why I used the term “missional” here.)  I have a not-so-updated categorized list of my favorite posts on missions called Missions Musings.

  1. Children (how many? Ages?): We have four children, all born in April: Caleb (7), Colin (5), Callie (3), and Carson (2)
  2. Do you homeschool? Name your favorite curriculum that you use (whether just one subject, or an all-in-one): I use a mix of curriculum and lean classical in my philosophy of education, but probably my favorite curriculum specifically is The Story of the World (a 4-volume set on world history written in an engaging manner for grades 1-8), and more generally My Father’s World (more of an all-in-one scheduling history, science, Bible, art, and music), which utilizes Story of the World for some of its history assignments. I have researched quite a bit on homeschooling philosophies as well as reviewed several different curricula choices and am sharing that on my blog as well. Here is what we are using this year.
  3. Country of service: South Africa
  4. How long have you been there? My husband came single in June 2004, and I joined him after our marriage in 2005; I arrived in September.
  5. What do you do there? We are pioneering ministry amongst the Tsonga people, so after getting our feet wet and deciding where to live, we started a church called Elim Baptist Church. We also started a little Bible college called Limpopo Bible Institute and have graduated nine men, many of whom are pastoring in Zimbabwe currently. At this point, we have no students, however.
  6. Are you learning a language? How is it going? Are you discouraged? Yes, we minister in Xitsonga. We are not yet fluent, but other people consider us so. We can speak fairly well conversationally and translate lessons and sermons into Tsonga. Seth’s accent is much better than mine. In the beginning it was highly discouraging to learn Tsonga, but now we are encouraged. We actually began learning another tribal language at first, Xivenda, which I have lost quite a bit of, but Seth still uses at times.
  7. Success: Have you had any encouragement in ministry recently? Can you tell me two or three things that have encouraged you? Today, a young man in our church chose to follow Christ instead of living in immorality. This is a huge struggle for our young people, and therefore, a wonderful victory for his faith. Another encouragement is that our teammates (who do the same work as us in another village down the road) are having their opening service for their new church building this coming Sunday. We are also in a building project, and so it is encouraging to see their work come to completion!
  8. Challenges: What is your greatest challenge in ministry? What other difficulties wear you down? Probably the greatest challenge here is the African traditional worldview, which is so opposed to Christianity in general, and specifically to propositional thinking. It takes a long time to teach how to follow the logical steps of Biblical teachings, and further to integrate those truths into their lives and thoughts. Sometimes it seems that everything else (but specifically, their culture) trumps Christianity—and that that is how it will always be. The blindness and darkness of the culture is a drain that sucks our energy and will. The prosperity gospel and charismatic theology is also a huge challenge here.
  9. How is your life similar to life in America? South Africa is the richest African country, so there are several cities around the country that would look fairly American to an American visitor. In the cities you can go to grocery stores and buy products to cook almost all of the American recipes you desire (although you will have to cook more from scratch :)), and you can get technological items such as cameras or iPads (though they will be more expensive here). So we eat American foods most of the time, and although our data is limited, we now can even get wifi through cell phone technology. You might be really surprised to find not one, but two!, KFC’s in our own little village! (Since we moved here in 2006, they have built two strip malls in our village, which has become a hub for most of the villages around.)
  10. What are some special benefits you or your family experience from where you’re ministering? (or from being missionaries) We pay less for electricity because we live in the village, and until we had to purchase our well, our water was free from the municipality. (Of course, that’s also why we eventually had to buy the well, because the municipal water was highly undependable.) My point is that it’s cheaper to live in the village than to live in a city.  In general missionary children, in spite of the many difficulties they face, grow up with a broader view and knowledge of the world than if they’d stayed in America. We have all learned so much about the world and people, about the Gospel, and our own sinfulness, from being missionaries.
  11. What are some positives and negatives of your culture (that you’re ministering to)? Positives: freedom of religion, a general respect for whites (they view us as more educated and able in general), an enjoyment of children, generally friendly and hospitable; they know how to survive on little. Negatives: We have learned that culture is rooted in religion. African traditional religion has nothing to offer a culture. It is permeated with lying, fear and superstition, jealousy, immorality, drunkenness, greed, and laziness of body and mind. Christianity has had almost 2,000 years to change Western culture, but only 100-200 years or even fewer to affect sub-Saharan Africa. It will take much time and prayer to change their culture and worldviews to reflect Christianity instead of a stronghold of Satan.
  12. What sins might a missionary be especially tempted with that another Christian in the U.S. might not? This is actually a theme I’d like to cover in more depth soon, but here is a list of sins that missionaries are tempted with especially that my husband and I have come up with: laziness, bitterness, pride, discouragement, foolish planning, inconsideration, and being doctrinally superficial. And the longer I am here, I feel I must add cynicism to the list as well. Being here has brought to light so many personal secret sins that I didn’t fully realize before: anger and selfishness are two examples.
  13. What books have you been reading? Do you have any book recommendations? I would like to review more of my favorites on my blog, but haven’t found the time. I’ve got about 6 books reviews over there, including a couple of children’s books. This year I read a novel that was really a biography of John Calvin (Betrayal), which was interesting and spiritually helpful. (I did review that one.) My best book from this year is The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit by Matthew Henry. I’m blogging my way through that on Thursdays. For homeschooling, the most helpful books I’ve read thus far, which I recommend to all newbies, are The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy (which walks you through the different educational philosophies, and then helps you match up your personal philosophy with great curricula that share that philosophy.) My favorite missionary biography so far (so moving!) is The Apostle by John Pollock (on Paul). If you like Christian fantasy such as The Chronicles of Narnia (which is incredible, unbeatable, by the way), I’d recommend a kinda new series for you called The Binding of the Blade by L.B. Graham. There are 5 books in the series, and they are hard to put down once you hit book 3.
  14. How can we pray for your people or culture in a general way? Pray that they would be willing and enabled by Christ to stand alone against their culture when needed and to persevere in the faith.
  15. How can we pray for your family specifically? That we also would persevere in our love and service to the people here. That Seth and I would be encouraged in our work and in the Lord. That our children would be converted and would find joy and friendship in one another, since they have no close Christian possibilities for friendship here. That we would know how to help our missionary kids handle the pressures of their lives in another culture—when to push them to reach out of themselves more, and when to understand and be gentle with them.
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It Pays to Be Meek

Meekness

Meekness is respectable. Meekness is comfortable. But another lesser known benefit of meekness is that it is profitable.

Get all you can; can all you get; and sit on the lid. This is the maxim of every man. For this, man will lose sleep and and trouble himself. But meekness can achieve more than all this hurry and confusion.

They readily believe that “in all labor there is profit,” but let God Himself tell them, “In returning and rest shall ye be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” They will not take his word for it, but they say, as it follows there, “No, for we will flee upon horses, and we will ride upon the swift.” (Isa. 30:15-16) He that came from heaven to bless us has entailed a special blessing upon the grace of meekness, “Blessed are the meek”; and his saying they are blessed makes them so, for those whom he blesses are blessed indeed: “blessed, and they shall be blessed.”

Meekness is profitable, first of all, because it is the condition of a promise. The meek are blessed “for they shall inherit the earth.”

This quotation from Psalm 37:11 is almost the only express promise of temporal good things in all the New Testament.

Wycliffe’s translation of that verse says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall wield the earth.”

Good management contributes more to our contributes more to our comfort than great possessions. Whatever a meek man has of this earth he knows how to wield it, to make a right and good use of it; that is all in all. Quiet souls so far inherit the earth that they are sure to have as much of it as is good for them: as much as will serve to bear their charges through this world to a better; and who would covet more? Enough is as good as a feast. The promise of God without present possession is better than possession of the world without an interest in the promise.

So it seems in summary, that the meek man, because he is content, feels that whatever he has been given is the inheritance of the earth, and it is enough for him; and in that sense, he has inherited more than those with more than him who are still unhappy and seeking for more. And still, he is promised more, even if he doesn’t currently possess it. That promise is more precious, more of an inheritance, than to own the world currently, without an interest in the promise.

Meekness is profitable, secondly, because “it has in its own nature a direct tendency to our present benefit and advantage.”

Here are the good influences that meekness has on us. It has a good influence on our health, wealth, and safety.

Health: If jealousy is the “rottenness of the bones,” (Prov 14:30), meekness “is the preservation of them.” A meek and quiet spirit cools our anger and depressions and adds days to our life and peace. Notice how Job 5:2 ends: “health to the navel, and marrow to the bones; length of days, and long life, and peace shall they add unto thee: but wrath kills the foolish man.”

Wealth: “As in kingdoms, so in families and neighborhoods, war begets poverty….Contention will as soon cloth a man with rags as slothfulness; that, therefore, which keeps the peace befriends the plenty.” Revenge is costly, as we see when Haman paid 10,000 talents of silver for it. But when Jacob didn’t fight with his father-in-law, but instead broke with him as quietly as possible, he lost nothing. 

Seth and I have often talked about the causes of poverty, since we live amongst it and see so many friends touched by it. There are many causes of poverty, even many subpoints under the heading cause of “sin.” But one that seems way too underestimated for its strength is the poverty that broken families beget. So many of the Africans do not have a father at home supporting them, and many families were begun with no father ever promised to support them. If meekness were present, how many of these family break-ups would be prevented (and thus wealth would be preserved?) And we could talk in the same way of the statistics relating to divorce and finances in the States or other Western countries.

Safety: “In the day of the Lord’s anger the meek of the earth are most likely to be secured.” I just taught my Sunday School class of David’s meekness towards Saul, when he could have killed him twice, but did not: and Saul is melted by David’s meekness: “Is this thy voice, my son David? I have sinned, return, my son David.” And after that, Saul left him alone. David was safe.

Also notice Jacob’s meekness towards Esau when he returned, and we see an unusual Hebrew text about Esau’s kissing him. “There is a point over every letter, to put the reader in mind to take special notice of it.”

1 Peter 3:13 says, “Who is he that will harm you, if you be follower of him that is good?” Matthew Henry adds,

Who draws his sword, or cocks his pistol at the harmless silent lamb? But everyone is ready to do it at the furious barking dog. Thus does the meek man escape many of those perplexing troubles, those woes, and sorrows, and wounds without cause which he that is passionate, provoking, and revengeful pulls upon his own head.

I can vouch for that. The annoying village mutt that came in my yard the other day provoked my children and me until I chased it and sprained my ankle in an uneven hole in the yard. I’m not sure if my lack of safety was due to my lack of meekness or the pup’s. What do you say?

It was bigger than this, I promise. But cute picture, anyway, right?

It was bigger than this, I promise. But cute picture, anyway, right?


This is my attempt to rephrase Matthew Henry’s book The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit.


 

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Little House in the Bushveldt

The ladies over at the Baptist Missionary Women want to share pictures of what missionary homes look like around the world, so today’s Wordless Wednesday will include a lot of words as well. I’m afraid sometimes to share what our house looks like, because missionaries can be kinda judg-y towards one another sometimes, and so can supporters. Your house might look too nice, too not-nice, too dingy, too out-of-style, too in-style, too…too…too… Anyway, hopefully this will be a help to someone.

We built our house in a village in Africa in 2006. Our house is typical of a somewhat well-to-do rural South African: cement block house and “zinc” (corrugated iron) roof. We have many neighbors with houses not quite as nice as ours, and a few with houses nicer than ours.

Over the years we have made our home nicer. Originally we had no ceiling nor tile, only cement floors. Now you will notice tile in all of the rooms. We wanted to communicate to the Africans that a house could be bettered over the years through continual work and savings. Our garden as well has improved yearly. Our next project will be repainting. You may notice the dirty walls everywhere–ita vita African! (especially with lots of little kids!)

So I’ll start from the outside and work my way in:

View of our backyard: water tank; shaded sandbox for the kids, laundry lines, and some storage.

View of our backyard: water tank; shaded sandbox for the kids, laundry lines, and some storage.

From the arched driveway.

From the arched driveway.

The dirty, bad-grass area is where I plant a veggie garden on occasion.

The dirty, bad-grass area is where I plant a veggie garden on occasion.

My favorite "butterfly" tree. The entire garden is our (especially my husband's) labor. It was bush grass when we built.

My favorite “butterfly” tree. The entire garden is our (especially my husband’s) labor. It was bush grass when we built.

Bushes separate this side of the house. This side of the house never gets to fully dry during the rainy season, so you can see mildew on the wall.

Bushes separate this side of the house. This side of the house never gets to fully dry during the rainy season, so you can see mildew on the wall.

Other side of house looking out into the front yard.

Other side of house looking out into the front yard.

Burn pit and compost pit.

Burn pit and compost pit.

Side view of house from the back by the water tank. Shows window of homeschool room and side door from the store room.

Side view of house from the back by the water tank. Shows window of homeschool room and side door from the store room.

Another view of the side of the house with the side door. The box on the wall was for a telephone line. It no longer works; we use cell.

Another view of the side of the house with the side door. The box on the wall was for a telephone line. It no longer works; we use cell.

Living / Dining Room / Kitchen:

We built our house planning to start a church in it. So we built a large main living area to one side, holding a couch for a “living room,” our family table, the kitchen, and a bathroom. Seth’s study also comes off of it. We held several of our first church services in this room and can seat about 25 people fairly comfortably inside it. When you walk in the front door, you are in the middle of this large room.

To your right past the kitchen and dining area is a door that used to lead to a garage, which took up about a third of our house’s square footage. Just a few months ago we remodeled that garage into two rooms: a store room in the back and a school / guest room in the front. That’s why our driveway appears to drive right into the house–because it used to!

Then to your left is a hallway leading to three bedrooms.

So starting from the front door and our main living room area where we used to have church…

Turn slightly to your left and you see our "living room."

Turn slightly to your left and you see our “living room.”

View straight on when you walk in the front door: you see the door for the bathroom on the right and the study door to the left. This is the center of that large room.

View straight on when you walk in the front door: you see the door for the bathroom on the right and the study door to the left. This is the center of that large room.

Here is a view of the entire room from the homeschool room (old garage) door.

Here is a view of the entire room from the homeschool room (old garage) door.

Another side view from the kitchen of this large room.

Another side view from the kitchen of this large room.

The dining room area, taken from the kitchen.

The dining room area, taken from the kitchen.

DSCN0030I just want to share two decorative items that make me happy. First, a blanket my sister made for me when we saw pictures of the ugly couch my bachelor husband had bought before I married him. (My husband is quick to say that he bought the best one he could find. “If only you had seen the other choices, Amy…”) The blanket is a reproduction of a Renoir painting of two girls singing around the piano, which I love because I did quite a lot of that growing up and was a piano major in college.

DSCN0032Then the painting over the couch was an auction store find from our teammates here. The green frame and orange highlights go perfectly with our living room, and we needed a large picture for that wall. Best of all, however, it’s a picture of the Capitol Building. Love that touch of home in our living room! And it’s not too overt, since the Africans don’t know what that building is! (Most of the other pictures on the walls are garage sale finds from furlough.)

Next comes the kitchen, which a lady built for us. Going through her instead of a company saved some money. We learned a lot though about building in the village. One thing is to constantly check the work. There are errors all over in this house that some might not notice, but we certainly do. One example: they added 300 centimeters onto our bathroom, stealing it from the kitchen.

So our bathroom is quite large, and our kitchen is very nice for an African, but could be even larger, if they had measured correctly. When we first showed our house to some Afrikaner friends, I will never forget the husband taking his wife in his arms in the bathroom, looking back at us and laughing, “You could go ballroom dancing in here!” Well, it’s better to laugh than to cry, right?

Poor lighting: I took it at night.

Poor lighting: I took it at night.

The window looks crooked because of my blinds there, but it actually is crooked! Another building error. Seth had to put up the curtain rods crooked (to the window, but level to the ceiling) to make it look correct.

Don’t you find it interesting what someone’s kitchen communicates about them? On the counter is a container of tadpoles we’re raising, with a jug of extra river water and cooked lettuce for their food. Next to that is some melted beeswax for my lip balm projects to raise money for our church building, and the box on top of the cupboard contains the empty containers for the lip balm.

The fridge has five decorative items (Seth hates clutter, so it’s quite efficient): Daily checklist for homeschooling; picture study for the week; our monthly verse, character trait, and hymn; a recent art project by Callie; and the Brother Offended checklist. And on the floor a free carpet sample from my dad’s store where he works, shipped from America after furlough. :)

Closet in bathroom

Closet in bathroom

DSCN0058And here’s our rather large bathroom (notice the homemade window screens):DSCN0056

Next comes Seth’s study, where he kindly shares some bookshelves with me and space for my piano.

From the doorway. This is to the left of the bathroom, which is to the left of the kitchen, all of which open into the main room.

From the doorway. This is to the left of the bathroom, which is to the left of the kitchen, all of which open into the main room. Our one indoor plant, an orchid, is thriving there getting afternoon sun.

Please don't notice the messy piles everywhere. Still trying to clean up from our furlough shipment!

Please don’t notice the messy piles everywhere. Still trying to clean up from our furlough shipment! Notice our one concession to African art there over the piano. We wanted to help the poor artist.

Books, books, books. And guitar for church.

Books, books, books. And guitar for church.

IMG_2433My only other piece of African art is a clay pot that a national church gave us for a wedding party they threw us when Seth returned here with his new American bride. A lady in their village has a pottery business. For years I had a grass broom in it, but Seth burned it last month, saying it looked too dirty! (I did actually sweep with it, haha!) So I got some prettier twigs for it.

DSCN0024Okay, moving ON to the hallway to the left of the main room and study. The nice thing about owning your own home is that when you need more space, you can get creative with where to build some; or just add on. We made a hallway closet to put more shelving in for more BOOKS a couple of years ago. The hallway shows two doors to the left: first, the kids’ room; and second, the baby’s room. To the right is the master bedroom.

Kids’ Bedroom:

Bookshelf (used to have two in here!) and Thomas the Train (best. toy. ever!)

Bookshelf (used to have two in here!) and Thomas the Train (best. toy. ever!)

Closet

Closet

Usually there is a triple bunk in there, but right now the single bed for the top is removed and put in the homeschool room since Seth’s dad is coming to visit. Between the triple bunk, bookshelves, a closet, and a grocery corner cupboard (that we originally bought when first married for our rental home which had limited kitchen space, but it fits perfectly behind the kids’ door!), there isn’t a lot of space to move around in there. We custom-made rolling drawers to try to utilize more space under the beds. One holds shoes, socks, and underwear, and the other holds small toys like cars and blocks.

There's the ladder, stored for now, which leads to the upper bunk. You can see the dirty wall, where the kids' feet hit when the upper bunk is there. The curtain is ripped. :( I have the replacement, but Seth hasn't had time to hang it yet.

There’s the ladder, stored for now, which leads to the upper bunk. You can see the dirty wall, where the kids’ feet hit when the upper bunk is there. The curtain is ripped. :( I have the replacement, but Seth hasn’t had time to hang it yet.

Corner cupboard and fan behind the doorway.

Corner cupboard and fan behind the doorway.

We had this honkin' wardrobe custom-made to fit behind the door to save space. But it doesn't fit--barely too big. :(

We had this honkin’ wardrobe custom-made to fit behind the door to save space. But it doesn’t fit–barely too big. :(

Next, what we call the baby’s room. Obviously, that’s where we keep our babies until they’re old enough to sleep through the night and not roll off the bed and all that good stuff.

I'm going to put a bookshelf here instead.

I’m going to put a bookshelf here instead.

This is a small room, because the master bath cuts into it’s space.

The storage tub has Lincoln Logs. (second best toy ever!)

The storage tub has Lincoln Logs. (second best toy ever!)

DSCN0033Across the hall is our master bedroom and bathroom. The bathroom takes some space from our bedroom, the hallway, and the baby’s room, and is arguably the best decision we made in making the house. We debated heavily over not doing it, since we didn’t want to look rich to the Africans; but it is essentially hidden from them and has been SUCH a help to us with the other bathroom being more public and having several guests and a large family ourselves.

The bathroom is the wall jutting out there behind the drawers. That's a non-electric walking machine in the back.

The bathroom is the wall jutting out there behind the drawers. That’s a non-electric walking machine in the back.

My husband rigged a fold-up table to the side of the wardrobe for a desk for me.

My husband rigged a fold-up table to the side of the wardrobe for a desk for me.

IMG_2425 IMG_2428

 

 

 

 

School / guest room: the single bed usually goes on top of the kids' double bed to make a triple bunk.

School / guest room: the single bed usually goes on top of the kids’ double bed to make a triple bunk.

Moving back to the other side of the main room where the garage used to be is a store room in the back and a homeschool room in front (or guest room as needed, which has been the only case so far!) Because I really want to show off my homeschool room when it’s finally done, and we still currently don’t have all the furniture needed or pictures up or books organized, etc., I’m just giving one quick shot of that.

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Wow, this post took time! I hope you liked seeing our house. If I forgot to explain something important, please let me know. I’m getting impatient to finish this… Also, I apologize for the poor quality of pictures. Someday I’d like to get a fancy camera!

Posted in Missional Monday, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

September Goals

I know this is late,(a week late to be precise), but it really doesn’t matter that much, as my post will make clear. I don’t have huge goals for this month. But I am often happy when I do take stock of what got done the month before, and sometimes am surprised to see more progress than I had thought there was. Here’s my online accountability group for this year. Here are my goals for the year and my specific August goals.

My September goals are very basic. For the first part of the month, I am hoping to survive. My husband is gone, and the kids and I are all struggling with head colds. It’s all I can do to handle homeschooling and home-work without his emotional and physical help around here. I’m simply hoping to get schoolwork, housework, and spending-time-with-the-kids done. I think my rare and/or late blog posts this last week reflect that!

Then for the second part of the month, I am hoping to relax and enjoy–to thrive. Seth is coming back with his dad visiting us for the rest of the month, and while I plan to continue homeschooling in general, I may take some days off; and I am not filling my schedule with lots of goals or projects while he is here.

Ministry

Goals for August:

  • Start marketing lip balm.
  • Host one family for dinner.
  • Finish song book.
  • Text four (two) ladies in the church.

September: prepare for a big service on the 21st at our teammates’ church.

Marriage

This month (same as last month): write one note per week. Nope, only did two in August.

September: be really happy when husband comes home! haha, that won’t be a hard one. Have a nice meal ready for him, and have his dad’s room ready. :)

Children

Goals for August: I did better at the first than the second.

  • Prioritize character training more than academics.
  • Be more consistent in putting their chores up on their chore chart.

September: keep life as sane as possible for them when half of the month their dad is gone, and the other half we have a guest–this coming off of a month of another guest in July and August. It’s been a long haul, really. Be very consistent in discipline while Daddy is gone, and stay low-key and relaxed, not getting uptight or yelling about things. (The latter is the hard one!)

Homeschooling

Oh dear, I only finished one of many tasks I’d hoped to do in August. The good news is that none of them were vital to actually teaching my children!

September: Just do basic homeschooling this month. I have no special goals for projects or printables or painting the schoolroom or anything but just to teach. :)

Personal

I am not exercising this month, but plan to walk more maybe in October. I really do need to be diligent about bedtime by 10 or 10:30 PM, since my kids are up early, and sleep solves a world of ills for me. Literally! (Thinking of my current head cold!)

I did better at cooking muffins for breakfasts once or twice a week in August, and I even made two casseroles to freeze for a simple meal sometime on a difficult day.

We repainted two of our bathrooms in anticipation of Seth’s dad visiting, and I also painted the outside walls affected by our building project.

Self-Education

Here’s my tentative reading list for 2014I did not finish half of Don Quixote. I’m just so busy, but I did get through a third of it. I’m wondering at this point why it’s considered a classic…

I finished reading aloud several books with the children, and Seth and I finally finished a 1,200 page historical novel on South Africa called The Covenant. That was an accomplishment. Next we’re going to read The Pilgrim’s Progress together, and I’m looking forward to that. I also finished a fun Christian youth adult series called Dragons in Our Midst. It’s not as good as many other Christian fantasy series I’ve read, but a fun read, and I can see why early teens would really like it. I have a bunch of homeschooling e-books that I’ve accumulated through blogs, etc., so in my free time I may pick my way through some of them. I’m also working my way through The Core.

How are your 2014 goals going? Still going?

Creative K Kids

 

Posted in Goals Report, Weekly Report | 3 Comments

Aztec Hot Chocolate, Mayan Math, and Incan Corn

Aztec hot chocolate and Mayan math!

Aztec hot chocolate and Mayan math!

The last two weeks, we stuffed each week of school into only four days of school, because I took off Monday each week: last week, to go shopping (by myself!) in town–for the first time in two months! I don’t think I’ve ever stayed longer in the village without the slight break of at least getting out for grocery shopping in town. Now that our guest is no longer here, I took advantage of a day to myself without any homeschooling or hostessing responsibilities. This week we spent Monday with my husband, as he has gone away for several days (the longest we’ve ever been apart!), and we wanted to take advantage of our time with him.

We also adjusted Thursday (the day he left) so that we could be with him for some last-minute projects in the morning and an early lunch. Then we learned in the afternoon. The rest of the week we completed all of our schooling responsibilities though, and did manage to fit in our work for the week, except for one day of Colin’s lessons. Colin will finish both his ABeka phonics and math early this year, so I’m thinking ahead on whether to move right into 1st grade phonics or to review and work further in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.

Our ocean box is almost full! We added a squid and an octopus.

Our ocean box is almost full! We added a squid and an octopus.

Caleb began level 4 in All About Spelling, and we finished a lesson on “cephalopods” in science (octupus, squid, cuttlefish, and nautilus), including one failed science experiment. Actually, I’m surprised whenever a science experiment works correctly for me. If there’s such a thing as a “green thumb” for science experiments, I don’t have it!

Callie wanted to add a googly eye on top...

Callie wanted to add a googly eye on top…

In history, we learned about Columbus, Vespucci, Magellan, and the medieval American empires–the Mayans, Aztecs and Incans. I was tired last week, so our history activity was kind of lame: unscramble the explorers and fill in the answers worksheet. If any of you think that’s fun, you don’t know how hard it is for a 2nd grader to spell “Vespucci” or “Magellan,” especially when the letters are all IMG_2380scrambled! Caleb was a bit disappointed. So this week I made up for it by making homemade Aztec hot chocolate, which we drank while working on “Mayan math,” followed up by grinding our own maize meal. Now that was fun!

Colin got the best flour pile out of his popcorn.

Colin got the best flour pile out of his popcorn.

Caleb completed a major accomplishment: learning all of his multiplication facts! He enjoys math and is motivated to check off the facts on a grid as he learns them. He also wrote another friendly letter this week to his cousin. He drew a grasshopper and a snake skin for nature study this week.

Love this "Calvin and Hobbes" face. He told me he was trying to wink!

Love this “Calvin and Hobbes” face. He told me he was trying to wink!

Her rock was too dainty to grind the corn.

Her rock was too dainty to grind the corn.

Callie has learned her letters up through “K,” but she retains very little. At this rate, I’m thinking of backing her up a year to start with her little brother, rather than starting her a few months early in kindergarten as I did with Caleb and Colin. But I still have over a year before I need to decide that.

IMG_2401We were struck with the malaise yesterday. After Caleb read to me, we both just slid down on the couch and pretended to doze for several minutes. When I peeked, I noticed that everyone had made his own napping station. It’s rough getting along without daddy! (I’m sure our colds had something to do with sapping our strength as well.)IMG_2395

Seth has gone away to an annual minister’s conference. He wanted to go other years but has never been able to. This year it is in Johannesburg. He will preach at a friend’s church on Sunday (on missions!), and then will attend a week-long course on preaching at a church in Pretoria. The course has gotten great reviews by other friends who have attended, and it’s only $50. :) Ita vita African! When he comes back next week, he’ll be bringing his dad back with him, who will visit us until the end of September. My “homeschool” room should just be called a guest room, I think! We’re excited to introduce our home and life here to a family member.

I’d appreciate your prayers for my safety and sanity without Seth for all of that time! Safety: from thieves or other dangers (we found a snake skin coming out of a large hole right by our outside wall, and I’m nervous that one of the kids will get bitten by a large snake; Seth tried to plug the hole before he left, but there could be an exit hole.) And sanity: to homeschool and care for four young children with meekness without support for several days.

So can I eat this stuff?

So can I eat this stuff?

Posted in Weekly Report | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

If I Could Just Get Some Peace and Quiet Around Here!

I (through the thoughts of a 17th century Puritan, Matthew Henry) have been trying to convince you of the excellency of a meek spirit. First we considered how “creditable,” or respectable meekness is.  Next, think about the comfort of meekness. Meekness is comfortable!

Now comfort is a word that may have slightly different connotations today than it did four centuries ago. If the first image that comes to mind when you hear the word “comfort” is a thick, fuzzy blanket, that’s not exactly what I’m talking about here. I’m not talking about the endless search to be happy in which our materialistic, hedonistic culture engages. I’m talking about inward comfort. As Henry says, “What is true comfort and pleasure but a quietness in our own bosom?” There you go: when’s the last time you had a bosomful of comfort? ;)

Well, actually perhaps peace, or inward comfort, is really what our world is seeking. 1 Timothy 2:2 explains that if you want to lead a quiet life, you must lead a peaceable life. Matthew 11:29 instructs us to learn of Christ Who is meek and lowly, if we want to find rest for our souls. Philippians 4:5 and 7 connect the two thoughts that if our “moderation” is shown towards other people, God’s peace “which passeth all understanding will keep our hearts and minds.”

Matthew Henry makes some astute observations about the world’s quest for peace and quiet:

Those are most easy to themselves who are so to all about them; while they that are a burden and terror to others will not be much otherwise to themselves.

Quietness is the thing which even the busy, noisy part of the world pretend to desire and pursue….But verily they go a mad way to work, in pursuit of quietness; greatly to disquiet themselves inwardly, and put their souls into a continual hurry, only to prevent or remedy some small outward disquietude from others.

Henry even talks about the inevitable offences that may come from others and reminds of that wonderful verse Psalm 119:165, “Great peace have they that love this law of love, for nothing shall offend them.” He says, “Whatever offence is intended, it is not so interpreted, and by that means peace is preserved.”

Meekness is comfortable because a meek and quiet Christian

  • enjoys himself
  • enjoys his friends
  • enjoys his God
  • and he puts it out of the reach of his enemies to disturb him in these enjoyments.

He enjoys himself.

At first when I read that thought I wondered if I were still reading a 17th century Puritan, or if someone had taken over this part of the manuscript. But no, this is not the same know-yourself-believe-in-yourself-love-yourself rigmarole that modern thought spouts. Matthew Henry is saying that if your thoughts are calm and rational, your emotions are serene, and your soul is composed in Christ, then you will be free from anger’s effects:

How free from the pains and tortures of an angry man, who is disseized and dispossessed even of himself, and while he toils and vexes to make other things his own, makes his own soul not so: his reason is in a mist, confounded and bewildered, cannot argue, infer, or foresee with any certainty. His affections are on the full speed, hurried on with an impetus which is as uneasy as it is hazardous.

Those who are worried or passionate don’t sleep well, getting up early and staying up late, and they eat too much or too little, being unsatisfied. But the meek “delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Psalm 37:11 Again, meekness helps one to be inwardly comfortable, or to find inward peace, and in that sense, to enjoy oneself.

He enjoys his friends. “And that is a thing in which lies much of the comfort of human life.”

God created us to be social, especially Christians. We are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together so that we can provoke one another to good works and to encourage one another. “But the angry man is unfit to be so, that takes fire at every provocation.”

Meekness preserves unity amongst fellow Christians, so that distances and awkward feelings, fights and disputes, are happily prevented, and even the beginnings of quarrels are crushed with attention and care. “How necessary to true friendship it is to surrender our passions, and to subject them all to the laws of it, was intimated, perhaps, by Jonathan’s delivery to David his sword and his bow and his girdle, all his military habiliments, when he entered into a covenant of friendship with him.”

He enjoys his God.

And that is the most comfortable of all.

We enjoy God when we have the evidences and the assurances of His favor, the tastes and tokens of His love, when we experience in ourselves the communication of His grace, and the continued instances of His images stamped upon us, and those that are most meek and quiet have usually the greatest degree of this.

The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.” ~Isaiah 24:19

And it is not in the power of his enemies to disturb and interrupt him in these enjoyments.

Remember David as he’s running away from the civil war begun in Israel by his proud son Absalom. Shimei stands near the road to curse David and rain down insult upon injury, rubbing salt in the wounds. But David by his meekness kept his peace, and Shimei was unable to hurt him. “So let him curse,” David said.

So that, upon the whole matter, it appears that the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is as easy [comfortable] as it is comely.”

Meekness


This is my attempt to rephrase Matthew Henry’s book The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit.


 

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