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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Catching Up...

I am so sorry for my lack of posting.  We're just coming to the end of our mid semester break, but with the kids going back to school and kindergarten this week, I am hoping to catch you up on everything that's been going on over here at the ZOE Children's Home and within our family.

In the meantime, we had a wonderful time celebrating Spencer's 3rd birthday yesterday with a Frog and Turtle party.

I've posted some photos on my other blog, just click here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Goldilocks ...

and the Three Bears {I mean} Turtles
and her two brothers.


There were so many discussions, so many considerations and so many options involved in this BIG decision BUT... 

Eventually we just did it... we got some!!!

Pets, that is!!

Three in fact.  They're cute, green, baby turtles!! 
And as you can see, we're all pretty excited and smitten by our new little family members.




Welcome to 'Love', 'Princess Snow White' and 'Aussie'!!    
We hope they like their new home.


What do you think?  Aren't they just the cutest little guys?



Thursday, October 13, 2011

JUST a DROP


"No individual raindrop ever considers itself 
responsible for the flood" (author unknown)

How often do we go through life not taking responsibility for our own actions because {well let’s face it} we’re only one person. 

Imagine for a minute… someone saying,
“Yeah, I stole something from that shop without paying for it, but hey, it wasn’t my fault that they went broke”.
If everyone had that same attitude, just think about the outcome.

But the same can also be said about volunteering and helping others.
Often we may wonder if what we are doing to help really makes a difference.
We may question, how effective could one person actually be?
Well when we ponder the words of this quote, we see that a flood is made up of individual raindrops… lots of them!
That’s definitely something that residents of Chiangmai understand at the moment.
In light of the recent Chiangmai floods and seeing teams of rescue crews in action, my initial response as a foreigner {with limited Thai} was,
‘But what can I do to help?’ 

It took a couple of days but eventually I noticed some big wire baskets set up outside our grocery store collecting clothes for the flood victims and at another store, a clear box was filling up with loose change donations.
My bag of clothes… my loose change… might not do that much by themselves, but if lots of people contributed even just the smallest amount, just imagine the difference that could be made.
And so I challenge us:
There’s always need surrounding us; there’s always something that we can give and always something small (even rain drop sized) that we can do to help. 
My little contribution might not seem like much on its own but put together with yours… and theirs… and hers… and his… we suddenly have a flood!

I’m also blogging over at the ZOE Children’s Home site this week.

Click here to read about how our ZOE youth are getting out and about and helping others through the recent tragedy of the Chiangmai floods.

Got a comment on ‘JUST a DROP’?  I’d love to hear what you have to say!

That Wasn't Meant To Happen!

Have you ever had anyone tell you that everything will be okay?
Perhaps that God has a plan for your life?

It’s easy to agree with this when we actually like the plan, right? 
But what happens when the plan isn’t going quite how we expected it to?


I have just finished reading the book, 'Raising a Soul Surfer' written by Cheri Hamilton whose surfing daughter Bethany Hamiliton lost her arm in a shark attack.


I am also reflecting on the life of a graduate student and previous employee of ZOE named Mimi, who with his young wife had his whole life before him and then suddenly became ill and passed away right before our eyes last week.


Maybe your plan involved having children and it never came to be.
Maybe a certain job just never quite worked out.
Or a friendship, a family relationship or marriage ended up in tatters, broken and seemingly non-repairable.  
We are led to face a difficult but undeniable reality. Sometimes God’s plan is different from what we expected.  So what happens then?


What do we do when God doesn’t answer our prayer in the way we wanted him to? How do we keep hope alive when life itself seems to be heading in the wrong direction? What if all we own is suddenly snatched away, if everything that's familiar to us is removed, if our friends desert us, if our job is gone, if we no longer have our health or if death takes away those whom we love the most.   And these things do happen ... to people ... everyday

Well, as a Christian one thing that I know about God is that he is a trans-generational God whose purposes span the centuries.
He does not work on the same 'time' that we do or limit himself to our tiny minds trying to understand what he intends to do.  We may not be able to see through our current troubles or fully understand why He has allowed something to happen and sometimes we may not even fully understand in ten or even twenty years from now. Because God is God, he doesn’t work on our timetable, and he doesn’t obligate himself to explain his purposes in advance.



No matter how long I wrestle with these tough questions, I think there is some truth in these three things:



(1) Life is like a tapestry by Michael Hyatt
Life is like a tapestry.  As it unfolds in real time, it’s like viewing the backside of a tapestry. It appears to be nothing more than a jumble of thread—tangled, frayed, occasionally knotted, and seemingly random. Nothing really makes sense. It’s no wonder people lose heart, give up, and abandon their commitments.

But things are not always what they seem. It’s only when you turn a tapestry over that you see the art: the rich colors, the texture, and the patterns that can make a tapestry a thing of astonishing beauty.
Likewise, occasionally God gives us a glimpse at what He is weaving into the fabric of our lives. That momentary peek at glory gives us the courage to soldier on, knowing that nothing happens by accident. No thread of experience—good or bad—is wasted. When it appears to be that way, we just have to remind ourselves that we are simply looking at the backside of a tapestry. And the One weaving it together, knows precisely what He is doing.

(2)  With or without hope by Ray Pritchard (paraphrased)
If we focus on our current troubles, we are likely to be discouraged, disheartened, confused, angry, frustrated and depressed. Many people have done exactly that. They have pondered their own suffering and the pain of the world around them, and that has caused them to give up their faith.

We all hurt every day. No one is immune from the sufferings of humanity. 
 There is no respite from the pain and suffering of this world. But on a daily basis, either you live with hope or you don’t.  

When we hurt, we have two choices:
We can hurt with God,
Or we can hurt without God.

There will be times when we can’t read the Bible. Sometimes we won’t be able to focus our thoughts on God at all. Often we will not even be able to pray. But in those moments when we can’t do anything else, we can still trust in the loving purposes of our heavenly Father.


(3) My hopes and dreams were too small for God by Cheri Hamilton
Before the [shark] attack, I had so many plans for my future and dreams of how my daughter's amazing talents could affect the surfing community.  But my hopes and dreams were too small for God.  He always had much grander plans.  Now I am sitting in a movie theatre knowing that our story would go out and reach people who maybe have never even seen an ocean.  My plans were way too small.  It took a tragedy to shatter them and recast them into God's plans.  Bethany's story of faith will be seen in faraway places where she may never get to visit herself... it will go to people and places that would never have heard of Bethany if she had merely become the world champion of women's surfing.
When our plans unravel, when the fear and the tears of tragedy collapse our safe and petty world, we can only turn to God who works all things for good to those who love Him.   The frayed fabric of our pain becomes a work of beauty in His hands.


(Back to me now)
And finally I am reminded of the story of Job that despite his immense loss he says, 
The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away;
Blessed be the name of the LORD.
And so I choose to see life as the tapestry... not yet fully revealed, to understand that even through painful experiences that I can accept God's comfort and not have to 'do it' alone and thirdly, I can live knowing that God's plan for my life is so much better than what I could try to plan on my own.



My hope is that if you are going through a struggle at the moment, that you can find some comfort in the words in this post.



If you have a story that has helped you move through pain or difficulty, I would love for you to share it. Leave a comment below!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!

The final arrival in the 'wave' of new missionaries to join ZOE Children's Homes lately- the Yu Family.
Welcome to David, Ester and their two boys Ian and Eli (fast asleep).
They've been busy getting phones, driver's licenses, bank accounts, finding housing, car shopping and purchasing lots of bits and pieces to set-up home here.  
Seeing each of the newcomers and hearing all their questions and funny stories reminds me of how much I must have acclimatized. 
It's a pleasure to spend time with the 'newbies' and hear their unique stories about how they ended up here.
I am looking forward to getting to know them all better as time goes on and seeing the impact that their sacrifices (leaving family, friends, paying job and the comfort of home) has as they help to fight and combat human trafficking.
Please keep these new families in your prayers and in particular, the missionary kids (we have nine new children and Ester is also expecting her third) who have a big adjustment with new foods, new environment, the language, weather conditions and schooling... on top of the upheaval of leaving their extended families and close friends.
You can read more about the missionary families that we work alongside here.
Have a great weekend, Andie:)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What Is It With ME and Geckos?

I just met the newest member of the gecko family that shares our home.  It's a baby of the 'kitchen gecko' who lives in the cupboard above our sink.  
I'm hoping Mama Gecko has outlined the rules of conduct to her new baby otherwise there's no telling what might happen. 

Rules:
1. Stay out of sight at all times and no one gets hurt.
2. When you get caught cooling down in the sink late at night or early morning, don't play dead- instead just scurry away and we'll forget it ever happened (don't linger, okay?).
3. Never get caught out under my foot in darkened rooms (please learn from the baby gecko killed in the bathroom and the (now) stumpy tailed one who really is very lucky to still be alive).
4. No playing in the drawers... see picture below. RIP
5. Eat as many mosquitoes as physically possible.

Obey these guidelines and everyone is happy! 


I was hanging out the wet clothes one day and felt ants
crawling up my leg only to notice I was standing on a
dead gecko skeleton.  


This little guy was squished between our plastic lid drawer
and garbage bags drawer :( 

The mother of the newest kitchen gecko.
Give me your best gecko (or any other mini-beast) story.  
C'mon, I really want to hear them!!!


Saturday, October 1, 2011

This recipe is SOW good!


Have you ever received a chain letter?  I did many times as a teenager.  Then several years later, I started to receive chain 'emails'.   One such chain email I got back in 2007 was a recipe exchange where you had to send a recipe to the person whose name was first on a list and then forward something else on to twenty friends and then in the end (if everyone participated) you should receive 36 new recipes in your inbox.+
Well usually I don't get involved in these sorts of things but for some reason, for this one, I did send an email with a recipe and then forwarded the other part on etc etc.
Wanna know how many recipes I got back? Two!  One was a recipe for a steak and mushroom casserole and the other one was entitled 'Recipe Fit For A King' which intrigued me a bit.
The email began... "You reap whatsoever you sow..."
And then these instructions followed:

First plant 5 rows of peas: 
Presence, Purity, Preparation, Prayer and Perseverance.
Next to these, plant 3 rows of Squash: 
Squash Gossip, Squash Criticism, Squash Indifference.
Then plant 5 rows of Lettuce: 
Let us be faithful . Let us be thoughtful and unselfish. Let us be true to our obligations. Let us have minds ready to learn. Let us love one another.
Sow in some peace . 
Take all the above ingredients and carefully fold them together allowing them to permeate into your life.

Well that wasn't what I was expecting to get but you know what, I think it was actually more useful than the casserole recipe and so I saved it... and I've thought about it many times over the past four years.
Now, as I reflect upon it again it reminds me of the amazing house parents that we have at ZOE.  
I often wonder how they work as a team to keep the likes of 60 children of various ages developing characteristics such as contentment, gratefulness, self control, obedience, trustworthiness, honesty... (and so on).
 
And as I thought about it... and googled it... I came across this.  A recipe for a happy home.

In a large bowl of love mix: 
2 cups of faith 
2 cups of patience 
1 cup sympathy (more if needed) 
Blend in: 
1 cup of forgiveness 
2 tsp. of kindness 
1/2 cup of courage


Pour into a heart of joy, sprinkle with harmony.  Top with a spread  of understanding, sweeten with respect and bake in an oven of trust.  Serve with a tender smile.



If you have some more food for thought...
Leave a comment!