Ang’s Jan ’19 Reads and QOTMs

81rzdofmxplThis was a phenomenal work of historical fiction! I learned about a part of WWII that I don’t ever remember focusing on. Very emotional to follow this displaced family who was forced to leave their precious Lithuania for cold and brutal Siberia. For me, its ending was abrupt, especially since I loved the characters so.

41+wlb5hwrl._sx331_bo1,204,203,200_I ran across this book while I was browsing Goodreads a few weeks ago and bought it on a whim. This issue of raising grateful children is one that’s been on my heart for the last few months. I want my three sweet kiddos to grow up really thankful for their many blessings – to exchange selfish attitudes for selfless mindsets and actions. Honestly, I feel like the writing was a bit haphazard. There weren’t any earth-shattering concepts in it. But I’m glad I read it, because it made me slow down and think more intentionally about what our family can do to combat this problem. One Amazon reviewer hit the nail on the head when he said, “The issue is real but the book needs polishing.”

A few of the quotes that impacted me this month:


“Twenty minutes,” the officer barked. He threw his burning cigarette onto our clean living room floor and ground it into the wood with his boot. We were about to become cigarettes. ¹

I pictured a rug being lifted and a huge Soviet broom sweeping us under it. ¹

I scanned the group. Faces spoke to their future. I saw courage, anger, fear, and confusion. Others were hopeless. They had already given up. Which was I? ¹

I felt as if I were riding a pendulum. Just as I would swing into the abyss of hopelessness, the pendulum would swing back with some small goodness. ¹

Anytime we step out of the mainstream and try to turn our lives (or homes) around and dare to go upstream, it’s hard. Some would say impossible. The journey is filled with obstacles, naysayers, and discouragers. And then there are the children…. Our kids are taught conformity–to be like everyone else, to follow rules and not misstep. It’s in our human makeup to want to fit in, to not stick out or be different, to blend in.²

As uncomfortable as it sounds, parents who want less-entitled kids have to be less entitled themselves, and parents who want to raise more grateful kids need to start by livnig more grateful lives. ²

Research proves there’s a direct link between low self-esteem and materialism. We give our kids more because we think it will make us all feel better, but it actually places a higher value on things than on relationships. And often our kids don’t need more stuff or more freedom; they just need more of us. ²

A child-centered home inhibits awareness of others. When we focus all our time and attention on our own needs, it’s really hard to see the needs of other people. ²

By Christian perfection,
I mean 1.) loving God with all our heart….
I mean 2.) a heart and life all devoted to God…
I mean 3.) regaining the whole image of God…
I mean 4.) having all the mind that was in Christ…
I mean 5.) walking uniformly as Christ walked. ³

Behold, what frailty we in man may see! His shadow is less given to change than he. ³


¹ Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys
² Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, Kristen Welch
³ The Journal of John Wesley

Angel’s Week

The Lord is so good. He continues to provide individuals to keep things moving forward here.

Some people volunteer their time from the States.
Others have joined our ground team for the long haul.
Some sacrifice by giving financially.
And others spend a short time with us here – usually just a week.

We’ve been asked before, “What good could someone possibly do in a week?”

“No offense,” they say, “but isn’t it a ‘waste’ of money, time, and resources?”

In July, a group from Illinois came to stay with us for seven days. A lady named Angel joined her church for their first trek to the Dominican. Angel admitted that the whole time leading up to the trip, she questioned why she was coming and what she had to offer. Even as she sat on the airplane, she was unsure of why she was on her way. But the Lord had been impressing on her to just “show up”. So she did.

She didn’t have to wait long for God to reveal Himself to her.

Monday morning, Angel and the rest of her team stood in the breezeway and listened as our principal, Toni, called out the names of the 3-year-olds they’d be working with that day. Suddenly, Toni paused.

“Guys,” she said, “I’ve got one little man here who needs some extra love and one-on-one attention.”

Without skipping a beat, Angel said, “I’ll take him!” As she looked down at the slip of paper that Toni had handed to her, she read the name of the little guy she’d be interacting with for four hours.

Angel.

His name was hers. And she knew that he was her “why.”

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Later, Angel poignantly shared with us that each moment in the classroom with Angel was such a blessing for her. She was able to interact with him in a special way. And he seemed to respond to her as well. When she was willing to let go and just show up, God provided a unique opportunity for her to see Him in a bigger way.

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Angel plans on being involved in little Angel’s life in the years to come. I like to think that their relationship will deepen as time goes by. I pray that as Angel grows up, he’ll come to know the love of His Savior. He doesn’t yet understand the impact of that week on his life. He doesn’t recognize how the Lord miraculously orchestrated circumstances so that the two of them would meet. But what an incredible way for Angel to start his first year at Freedom!

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So when people ask me if I think it’s worth it to come for a week, I say, “Absolutely.”

In our context, at least, a week can be worth eternity.

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Honestly?

I’ll be honest. These past few weeks back on the ground have been pretty tough. I can’t really pinpoint any one reason. I’ve just been physically exhausted, emotionally drained, and not ready to take on this summer. Some of our teachers have said that they’re already feeling beaten down – that it seems like they can’t go on. Is Satan doing his best to bring us down in the middle of the miraculous? Or is the Lord allowing these “light and momentary troubles” into our lives for a far greater purpose?

I don’t know.

Pray that our team would continue to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

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Packing Up and Moving Out

It’s official!  The plane tickets have been purchased.  Our belongings are slowly being sorted and packed away.  We are on our way to making the Dominican Republic our new home!  Thank God we have reached the point in our support raising where moving is a reality.  Come the afternoon of Monday, May 21, the four of us will be on Dominican soil for good.  While we’re not nearly 100% funded, we’ve never gone without our needs being met.  We trust that God will bring in the rest of our support over the next few months.

People are asking us how we are feeling.  There is no easy answer to that.  We’re excited about this “next chapter”.  We’re heartbroken to be leaving family and friends.  We’re relieved with each task we complete.  We’re nervous about adjusting to a new culture and way of living.  We’re eager to really build some relationships with people.  We’re dreading the exhaustion of the move with two little dudes.  We’re anxious about learning Spanish.  But we’re content in knowing that we are loved and cared for by One who is our source of strength and peace and joy.  Above all, we’re hopeful that Christ will use us as He wants.

With that said, we’re packing up and moving out!  Onward…