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Showing posts from 2013

Perspective on Praise [Guest Post]

Today I wanted to share with you some thoughts from a friend, Jesse Johnson who, together with his wife, lives and serves in Burundi, Africa.  Thank you, Jesse, for letting me share this with my readers!



My thought for the new year: thanking God for his composite blessings for our integrated life
"You died for my sins, Praise Jesus,
Cleansed me within, Praise Jesus."
"I got a new car, Praise Jesus,
Now I'm riding in style, Praise Jesus."
My initial thought was: "What a shallow view of spirituality!" I heard this in a gospel song televised at a black church service from the united states. The problem with this kind of language of course is that it seems to represent a materialistic view or outlook of Christianity, and it seems to be saying that spiritual life exists to benefit the physical. Or that spiritual life is here for the sake of the acquisition of material things. The next thing that bothered me was the fact that true spirituality, in my upbringing, …

On Birthdays and Christmas - which is better?

One of my children recently asked me, "Which do you think is better: your birthday or Christmas?"

I hadn't thought about it that much - really.  I didn't have an answer right off-hand, but on further thought, I do.

In her mind with my birthday being exactly one week before Christmas, I had a lot of fun experiences to compare.  I had never spent much time comparing.  The farthest I'd gotten in my ponderings was to realize how self-centered I tend to be and that God, in His great wisdom, allowing for my me-centeredness, placed my birthday one week before His incarnation so as to make sure I didn't dwell on my own importance for too long.

To a child, birthdays and Christmas can be extremely similar.  Both have gifts, both have treats and goodies.  Both are celebrated and anticipated.  Both are delightful and possibly stressful at the same time.  But there the similarities end.

Because Christmas is something the vast majority of the world participates in - in …

Fighting Discontent: Complaining, Be GONE!

I write off and on about contentment because the lack of it irritates me in others so frequently and there's no better fuel for a writer's fire than negative traits in others!  (Dear friends of mine, please know, I don't judge you or see discontent in your life...)

I just had to field a comment that went like this, "Well, it does seem that you could use more space in your kitchen."  This, after I didn't have a good answer for "Where do I put this?"  These types of comments drive me nuts.  They require composure and a tight lip.  We went through a long process of looking for a house that would meet our needs - NEEDS - mind you - not wants.  And yet I know full well that our needs would be met in a house half this size or with a miniscule kitchen - because what we need and what we think we need are really two different things.  But I digress.  My response (cool, calm and collected, by the way - congratulations welcome in the comment section), went li…

Apologies for Being Obnoxious

Dear Readers of my Blog,

It has come to my attention that I have let my thoughts leak out in a potentially offensive manner.  So I want to issue a formal apology to my audience.

You need to know that I only write a smidgen of what goes on in my brain because I really do want to steer clear of controversy and not be a thorn in people's side with my ramblings.  I really don't want to hurt people's feelings with the things I write.  I don't intend to be judgemental, harsh, rude or nasty.  I hope you know me well enough to know that.

I also want to say I didn't write my 50 Reasons to Leave a Church to point at anyone in particular.  I myself have said some of those very things.  Some of them are ridiculous.  Some of them are valid.  And some are in between - neither ridiculous nor valid or invalid - they just are.

I have been a part of seven churches in my life of 36 years.  Three of them are in Hong Kong.  Two of them in college.  Two of them since then.  No matter …

50 Reasons to Leave a Church

Disclaimer: I'm not saying these are the reasons you should leave a Church.  Just throwing out a bunch of reasons why people DO leave churches.  I'll let you guess as to what the legitimate ones are.

Here we go: 50 Reasons to Leave a Church

1.  You changed your religion
2.  They wouldn't let you paint, "Smile! God Loves You!" for the gym floor mural
3.  It's no longer a democracy, and we all know democracy was the heavenly prescribed best method for how to govern a church
4.  They removed that stained glass window you so liked
5.  The music is rock-band style
6.  The music is not rock-band style
7.  You are allergic to people
8.  They're not spending money the way you want them to (and we all know that how a church divvies up funds is the crux of everything so you will vote with your feet and dollars and go elsewhere).
9.  The preaching is dry and boring
10.  They don't have a program for everyone in the family
11.  It's too big
12.  It's too…

Sun Shine Down: Q and A with Author Gillian Marchenko

I recently had the privilege of reading a powerful memoir. It so powerfully moved me that I felt it was important to expose all my readers to her heart - her life.  I loved how she drew me in and made me feel I was walking with her on her journey through hope, depression, acceptance and joy.  Her honesty is refreshing - and so often I felt myself nodding along with her experiences - both positive and negative.

Here Gillian shares with us some responses to questions she's received - let it whet your appetite for this book and look for an upcoming giveaway on this blog!

Gillian Marchenko is an author and national speaker who lives in Chicago with her husband
Sergei and four daughters. Her book, Sun Shine Down, a memoir, published with T. S. Poetry
Press in the fall of 2013.

She writes and speaks about parenting kids with Down syndrome, faith, depression,
imperfection, and adoption. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Chicago
Parent, Thriving Family, Gifted for…

Transparency

The old-school thinking was along these lines: My private life is private.  I keep it to myself.  I don't share much of my struggles or burdens.  No-one really wants to hear about that.  People want to hear what's positive.  So I'll share what's positive of myself, of my life.  That way, everyone can get along and enjoy life.  Blah blah blah.

New-school thinking is more along these lines:  Everyone is interested in me.  The good, the bad, the ugly.  So what if there's more of the bad and ugly?  I'll just share it all - hellooooo world!  Here I am - warts and all!  Like what you see?  If you tell all like me then you can join me in my misery, self-absorbed, how-open-I-am kind of life!

Now let's talk about transparency.  Let's make that TRANSPARENCY.  With CAPITALS.

I wanted to title this 'integrity' but thought 'transparency' fit better.


Transparency means allowing people to see us as we are - even if that includes some of the struggles…

Yes, Jesus Loves Me

Image
Hannah has been slow to talk.  This is no surprise as all but one of our kids was behind.  But she seems to have perfect pitch.  Before she could say a word we knew what song she was singing.  It was unmistakable.

When we went to the airport when she was about 10 months old, to pick up Grandpa from Hong Kong, she would not settle.  She didn't like staying in her seat.  She squirmed and began to cry.  Her cries escalated.  At some point Grandpa decided to sing her his favourite song.  She quieted immediately.  Every time he stopped she'd start crying again.  So he sang and he sang and he sang.  Somehow that song has bored its way into her memory and we continue to have to sing it to her, over and over.

She now can talk some and has some of the words - which are barely recognizable.  She will sing when she's bored, when she's doing something, when she's sick and weary.  She will sing the same lines over and over.  And she will be singing truth to ears that need to …

The Discipline of Children

Whenever we hear the two words 'discipline' and 'children' in the same sentence we immediately think about all the ways in which children are under or over-disciplined.  We think of the debates raging on forms of punishment, punishment at all, training, nurturing and the like.  We get tied up in knots over the best and right way to discipline.

Recently I was reflecting to myself on all the things having children has done for and to me.  All that it has taught me - how it is shaping my life.  And the phrase that summed it up for me was 'The Discipline of Children.'  Having a child, or many children has instilled in my life certain disciplines that were near next to impossible for me to learn in any other way.  Many people learn these disciplines without the aid of heel-nippers.  But for me, these were a necessary part of my on-going education in the art of living.

The presence of children in my life has introduced many aspects of discipline into how I function…

My Pet Kid Penguin

So lately Timothy has taken to wearing a penguin outfit.  You know - the plush, zip up costume generally sold in the month of October.  He discovered it during our unpacking recently and put it on and has barely taken it off for the last few days (except when I've made him).  I wonder if it has some kind of sensory effect - the tightness of it - the thickness - the warmth and the novelty.  Either way it has made for some entertaining moments over here at the Logan residence.

He also loves mowing the lawn.  Even if it doesn't need to be mowed, I will start it up for him and send him off.  In the fall it is raking leaves he loves and in the winter, shovelling snow.  (Neighbours: keep this in mind - when we run out of snow to shovel come by and see if he'll jump at the chance to shovel your driveway!)

This past week he was in his penguin outfit and wanted to mow the lawn.  Why not?  Who else in our neighbourhood has a giant penguin mowing their lawn?  We could even start a t…

Are Short-term Mission trips a waste?

Lately I've seen a bit of hubbub discussing the value of short-term mission trips.  Seeing as Intercultural Ministries was my major in college, I feel qualified to speak on this subject (as well as many exposures to missionary work - long-term, short-term and everything in between).

Talk to lifetime missionaries and they will give you mixed reviews.  Yes, they can be a waste.  If they're done sloppily and the people travelling from the U.S. think they're on some kind of glorified vacation.  Yes, that would be taxing on the hosts to put up with them.  That would be draining on the resources being spent of travel and lodging.  So, if you want to stop there and answer the question simplistically - then, yes.  Fine.  End of discussion.  Right?

No.

Sorry, we don't get to stop there.

Let's look at it at a purely financial standpoint - you know, the bottom-line.  Ooh.  This is where it gets good.  Great, preach it Sarah, and I won't have to give one more penny to sho…

The Crazy Life I Live

It's been a stressful week for me.

Let me just say to all single parents out there: I take my hat off to you - in the most powerful, non-literal sense I can muster.  It is such a challenge to parent single-handed.  To think there are parents out there who do this all the time is mind-boggling to me.  You have my utmost respect.

Sam and Caleb are on a trip to the Philippines with a team from our Church.  And I encouraged this.

What was I thinking?!?!

Well, I was thinking it would be good for Caleb.  It would be good for our family.  It would be good all 'round.  And it is.  In ways I never imagined.

It is good for me to experience these almost two weeks without the help of dear husband.

It is good for me to see what I take for granted.

It is good for Sam and Caleb to experience and serve in a far-off place.

It is good for my children to grow in grace with me.

It is good for me to see my shortcomings even more than I already did.

It is good for me to struggle, to question an…

Worry: An Expression of Doubt

Sometimes I worry.
Sometimes I fear.
Sometimes I fix my eyes on what is seen rather than what is unseen.

 Some people say,
"I worry all the time...if it's not my kids, it's my spouse,
 if it's not my spouse, it's the house,
 if it's not the house, it's my job,
if it's not my job it's my health,
 if it's not my health, it's the government,
if it's not the government it's chemicals in our food..."

You get the picture.

Recently we've been hit with expenses - some expected, some not.  A new transmission in the car.  A new well pump and all that goes with it.  School fees - even though we get super great financial aid.  Sam and Caleb's mission trip expenses (they head to the Philippines next week).
We know we will face more in the near future - and seek to plan as best we can for both expected and unexpected expenses.

Aside from expenses, we have time management.  Priscilla was saying, 'How am I going to get everythi…

Sarah's Fairy Tales

Two nights ago Priscilla and Timo asked for a bedtime 'Johnny and Suzie story'.  These are the names my Dad used in telling stories so I carried on the tradition.  Here was my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-imagination story.  (I didn't think it was great, but they laughed and laughed and told me to post it here for future reference):

Once upon a time there was a boy named Johnny - sometimes known as 'naughty little Johnny' - and he had a sister named Suzie.  Suzie was Johnny's older sister.  ("Hey!" they chimed in - "that's wrong - Johnny was always older!" "But this time it's different.  In this story Suzie is older."  Little did they know I tailor made their ages to fit the audience).

One day Suzie and Johnny were out in the backyard in their little play house.  They were playing house and Suzie was being the Mommy and Johnny was the Daddy.  Before too long they started to fight.
"Quit telling me what to do!" said John…

Thoughts on a Walk

Today Hannah begged me to take her on a walk.  So we took a leisurely stroll to a cemetery nearby, and I saw the lovely Oak Trees and couldn't help but to jot down my thoughts:


The stately Oak Tree stands towering,
Tall, unmoved -
Arms outstretched
Strong and firm.

Full clusters of leaves
Spread
To catch the faintest summer breeze,

Amidst the graveyard of souls long gone
Whose mark on earth
Mysteriously begets
Curiosity.

Beneath the Mighty Oak
A lone stone sits.
One year engraved on the weather-worn canvas -
Solitary on that sad monument
Recalls a child whose name unknown
To us
But known above
Yet now lives to glorify
The Maker of Oak Trees,
Stones and
Life.

Is Being Chronically Late Selfish?

I was pondering lateness recently - since someone used the term 'unfashionably late'.  I ended up with a thought conversation with myself, which I am apt to have going on in my head at any given time.  Here is what it looked like:

Hmmm... UNfashionably late implies there is fashionable lateness.  Well, I guess I qualify for both categories since I'm usually late to things.  Oh well.

What do you mean 'oh well,'?!  Many people consider lateness to be rude, selfish, thoughtless, and disrespectful.

Well, they're just on the Western end of the cultural spectrum.  I just happen to be at the other end.

Hey, don't excuse yourself so easily!  Cultural or not cultural, do you want people judging you by your lateness?

No, I don't.  But it's their problem for being so snooty - and might I add, just a wee bit self-centered too since they imply the late person is so selfish for making them wait?  Because no time is wasted if you have an engaging mind and somethi…

Purity and Prayer - a Link

I don't normally post links on my blog, but sometimes I come across something worthwhile and think my readers would appreciate.  So here is a link of a beautiful wedding photo as well as the story behind it.  Maybe you'll be blessed by it as I was:

The Power of Prayer


When Words Do Damage - 7 Tips for Communicating during Conflict

Today I'm linking you over to A Biblical Marriage Blog where I wrote very honestly about my struggles in communicating in marriage.  Maybe you will relate to my tendency to fury and passion - and the lack of self-control!

As always, I enjoy hearing from you in the comments!  Thanks!

Loving and Communicating Hand in Hand - Part 1

And here is the link for Part 2 where I give 7 tips for communicating in marriage:

Loving and Communicating Hand in Hand - Part 2

Prayer of a Modern Pharisee

Oh Lord,

I thank You for the redemption I now have which, though a gift from You, came by my choosing.  I am so glad I was able to see the light and have chosen well.

Others aren't as blessed as I am.  I thank You that I can live at peace knowing I have crossed every 't' and dotted every 'i' in the realm of spiritual living.

Thank you for my freedom which I use so wisely and that I don't live as a slave to my job or to money or to my hobbies but that I give myself to much worthier pursuits...unlike SO many others.

Thank you for helping me to see the better way and please help me to instruct others accordingly, because I know they will be so blessed by my superior knowledge.


For these things I thank you,
Amen...


Do I need to comment on the above?  I hope not.  I hope it is apparent what I mean by putting this out there.  Don't our prayers smack of this sentiment sometimes?  Instead, let our prayers reflect the sentiment of the tax-collector who knew the…

Cuando estás en el final de la cuerda Parenting

Ayer fue difícil para nosotros. Uno de nuestros hijos tenían percepciones por fusión bajadas continuas y el mal y nos hizo nuestra cena en tiempo casi insoportable. Otro niño enchufado orejas y dejó la mesa en un momento sólo para escapar del caos.   Sorprendentemente , no perdió los estribos. (Inserte aquí aplausos). 

Admitir esto al público es algo atrevido, y si yo era el tipo sensible que no podía hacerlo . Todo el mundo piensa que saben cómo manejar a un niño con necesidades especiales ... hasta que lo tiene. Yo confiaba en mi crianza hasta que la vida nos lanzó una curva.  podría haber aconsejado a todos los padres por ahí exactamente cómo manejar cada acción disciplinaria posible imaginable.Yo era creativa, valiente, inquebrantable, obstinado incluso.   era una mamá a tener en cuenta.

Y luego tuvimos un niño que no encaja en el molde. No rodar con los golpes.  Él no 'get' nuestro método.  Él no conforme, presentar, responde o parece incluso entender la causa y el efecto d…

When You're At the End of Your Parenting Rope

Yesterday was hard for us.  One of our children had continual melt-downs and wrong perceptions and made our dinner-time almost unbearable.  Another kid plugged his ears and left the table at one point just to get away from the mayhem.  Amazingly, I didn't lose my temper.  (Insert applause here).

Admitting this to the public is somewhat bold, and if I was the sensitive type I couldn't do it.  Everyone thinks they know how to handle a special-needs kid...until they have one.  I was confident in my parenting until life threw us a curveball.  I could have advised every parent out there exactly how to handle every possible disciplinary action imaginable.  I was creative, courageous, unyielding, stiff-necked even.  I was a Mom to be reckoned with.

And then we had a child who didn't fit the mold.  He didn't roll with the punches.  He didn't 'get' our method.  He didn't conform, submit, respond or seem to even understand the cause and effect of discipline!  If an…

2nd Biggest Frugal Tip EVER!!!

Just over a year ago I did a post called Biggest Frugal Tip Ever and so far it has been my most popular one yet.  Which got me to thinking...what would be my 2nd Biggest Frugal Tip?

Being frugal usually means I'm looking to spend less, save more, re-create and re-purpose things... I'm trying to stretch the dollar and other resources and make do with less - that sort of thing.  And I thought of certain recipes I do and how I go meatless often and extend ground beef with this and that and use cloth diapers and such.  And how I budget for groceries and make it work somehow and stick to it and sometimes have enough to splurge on things like juice on occasion.

And suddenly it dawned on me.  My SECOND biggest frugal tip ever.  We learned that the first biggest frugal tip is really summed up in one word: contentment.  With a foundation of contentment and rejoicing in the providence of God for all that I need I am then able to go on to implement the next step of frugality.

Scroll do…

How I told Sam about #5

I was just reading someone else's blog about how they found out they were pregnant.  And since I've had five experiences of this sort I thought I should make a record of them.

So it was January of 2011.  Andrew was just shy of 2 years old and we were feeling the exhaustion of being parents of 4.  Sam and I were just beginning to discuss if we were a) believers in birth control b) willing to act on that belief c) ready to act immediately and declare ourselves through with childbearing.  We were unsettled on all three.  But we prayed...and discussed.

Did we want another baby?

Well, I secretly did.  But I couldn't say that directly.  I really wanted another girl.  I'd look at other families and if there were just two kids - two girls, I'd think, 'She has something I don't have!'  Is that coveting?  I didn't feel it was.  It was a matter of laying my heart bare before God and letting Him know my longing and trusting Him with that.

I do know that you c…

Steel Cut Oats for Breakfast [recipe]

This morning as part of our discussion on nutrition I showed Priscilla 4 forms of oats: a whole oat grain (represented by a barley grain since I didn't have a whole oat laying around), steel cut oats, old fashioned rolled oats and quick oats.  I demonstrated how the body breaks these down and the larger the particle the slower the process and the less impact it will have on energy surges and crashes (sugar highs and lows).  I showed how the fat grain of a whole oat takes longer to reach the middle and completely break down into sugar/starch than the quick oat - or even if it were ground to a pulp as oat flour.  We talked about fiber, fat and protein as beneficial to maintaining steady blood sugar levels.  Neither of us is diabetic, but it runs in the family so I figured an introduction to the subject matter was warranted.  In order to steady blood sugar levels I said, 'Add some fat, fiber and protein.'  So we made steel cut oats for breakfast.  With butter-sauteed pecans …