Wednesday, February 26, 2014

how the internet works for me

Linking up with Works-for-Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family again.

Why I'm thankful we moved overseas during the internet age:

Maisha Kamili's Facebook Page
I know a lot of people waste too much time playing on Facebook. And it's no substitute for real, face-to-face relationships, but for expats, it's such a great tool to keep us in touch with our family and friends! There's a sort of out of sight, out of mind thing that happens when you move overseas. Being away from home, you send update emails, pictures, and videos to keep in touch with people, but very few people send anything back. With FB, it's so much easier for people to respond to our updates, and we can sort of eavesdrop on their lives and keep up with them. I appeal to all of my FB friends: be disciplined in your FB usage so that you don't have to decide to disable your account, and thus disappear from my life for years at a time. Also, post lots of pictures and updates so that I can keep up with you.

Add to that: Instagram. I'm on Twitter, too, but I don't keep up with people as much on Twitter as FB and IG.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

how I ended up here

When you have no water running for weeks and months, you have to go get your own water.
I recently sketched a timeline of events in my life and before my life through which God has brought me where I am today. It definitely started before I was born.

Before I was born, my dad gave up his career at IBM to finish his bachelor's degree, go through seminary, and become a pastor. Before that, his grandmother had been praying for years (decades?) that one of her children or grandchildren would become a pastor.

Because of that, I decided I would not go into vocational ministry nor would I marry someone who was. It's not a comfortable life! I knew that as a PK (pastor's kid).

handwashing our clothes post-housekeeper, pre-washing machine
So how did I end up here anyway? I could have written this blog post about PKs and why they either "go awry" or not. Just substitute a few details here and there and you have my experience. As I read that post, I thought of a few reasons, and they are the same as the ones Dale gives for himself:
  • My parents practiced what they preached. (My sidenote: In conversations with fellow PKs, parents not practicing what they preach is the #1 reason PKs give for deciding Jesus is not for them, though my survey is limited to the handful of atheist and agnostic PKs I have known.
  • My dad and mom spent time with me.
  • I was able to see past the negative side of ministry.
  • I made a personal choice to follow Christ and my faith became my own.
Seeing past the negative side of ministry took time, and I tested it out by starting with a 2 year commitment to Wycliffe and OM before I got married. I knew I could survive 2 years, and if it was too hard or too much, I could go back to trying to start a career. But I found my place beyond the negatives (though I complained about a lot of things along the way).

In addition to my trial experience, I remember one particular sermon/lecture from my dad that stayed on my mind as I was deciding. (Actually, I still think about it when I find myself longing for the comfort of, say, reliable utilities or the convenience of online shopping. I can still hear his voice, "They find a way to be comfortable...") I don't even remember whether my siblings were present or if it was a private sermon. Dad was talking about the human tendency to crave comfort, but that pursuing comfort comes with sacrifice, too. Many have sacrificed what they felt God calling them to do because what God was calling them to would have required sacrificing comfort. Following God requires sacrifice: true. But not following God is a sacrifice. And a big one.

One of many verses from the Bible that confirmed Rodgers' and my dream was from God.

Not that a good job and house in the suburbs are bad or wrong. Not that everyone is supposed to take a vow of poverty. The point was that sometimes God calls us to give up some things in order to "seek first the Kingdom...and all these things will be added to you." (see Matthew 6:19-34)
"But when God have to make a choice. You can say "yes" or you can walk away from His will for your life. After struggling for months, I made the choice to say "yes" to God's plan for my life.
"I said that to say this. At the end of the day, each person must decide for themselves if they will follow Christ or not. Yes, godly parents do make a difference and help cultivate the soil, but they cannot make the decision for their child." (also from that blog post)

It's easy for people to see that we have sacrificed comfort to live this life. (How many weeks did we live without running water in our house?) What they don't see is that, had we chosen comfort, we would be sacrificing so much more.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

3 ways to abide

[Today I'm linking up with We Are THAT Family's Works for Me Wednesday bloghop.]

Anytime I see a blog post or a pin on Pinterest about spending time with God while being a mom of small children, I have to read it. It is a constant struggle! There are not many minutes in a day that pass without someone calling for mom. (Took me all morning to write this...) I am always looking for tips from other moms to try out myself. What works for them? Can that fit into my days with my boys?

One of the recurring "this is the most important thing" tips is to get up an hour before your kids do. I don't know how this is actually possible. When I'm up early, the boys just know, and they are up, too. They can sleep through a train wreck overnight, but the sound of my feet on the floor anytime after 4 am wakes them up. Then chaos ensues because they are just so energetic in the mornings. It's not time for breakfast yet. There's nothing for them to do but run from one side of the house to the other and back. If I sleep in and let them wake me up, we all get up about 6:15. It's difficult for this not-a-morning-person to deal with all that energy at 6:15, but it's definitely more bearable then than it is at 5:15. Plus, it's late enough that we can start breakfast, and giving them something to do helps focus their energy on something other than running. I'm hoping that as they get older this will change. For now, me getting up before them for quiet time doesn't work. Here are 3 things that do work for me:

Family devotions. Just before bed every night, we have devotions together as a family. This is the easiest to keep up with because it actively involves the boys - so they aren't interrupting! Though we experience God through these times, it is not enough Bible study for Rodgers and me to end here. We have The Beginner's Bible, which is not a translation of the Bible. It is about 90 Bible stories, based only on the Bible, without artistic license (though they do skip over some heavier subjects, like adultery), hitting the main points from Genesis to Revelation. Reading one a day, we get through the Bible every 3 months. Because it's written for preschoolers, there are lots of pictures and each story is short enough for their attention spans. As they get older, we'll move on to reading passages directly from the Bible. Then we read the day's reading from Jesus Wants All of Me, which is My Utmost for His Highest paraphrased for small children. It is great! We talk about what our reading teaches us about God. We also work on memorizing Scripture, we sing worship songs, and we pray together.

Audio Bible. I love reading. I used to read through the Bible every year. Since I would inevitably miss days, and I hated getting behind in my reading plan, I put together my own plan that leaves a little wiggle room. I think it's 327 days of reading. I could do each day's reading in about 15 minutes. Now, with interruptions from my kids at least every 45 seconds, I would sit down for a 15 minute Bible reading and realize an hour later that I wasn't even halfway through it. (This is where being able to get up before them in the morning would be handy.) Now I use You Version on my phone and play the audio for the day's reading as I'm cooking breakfast or getting Nate dressed for school or doing my morning chores. I'm less likely to be interrupted when I'm visibly doing something, and I can bring it with me and keep listening while helping the boys with whatever they interrupted me for.

Making the most of nap time. One great thing about early risers is that they still have to take naps. Ben is not even close to giving up naps. During the school term, Nate is so exhausted that he still takes long naps on the weekends. During break, he didn't take a nap every day, but he would at least lay down and look at books for a long enough time that I could do my Bible study. It's the only uninterrupted time I get during the day. When I'm very ambitious, I do Bible study, exercise, and start dinner. But if all I get done is Bible study, that's enough.

One more I'm working on. I spend time in prayer during my Bible study, but I also want to pray continually, as I go about my day. I have a reminder pop up on my phone. I have lists posted where I will see them, but it is still hard to keep it in the front of my mind. I am still working on this one.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

the forest

We live fairly close to Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. Our house is on a hill high enough that we can actually see the hills of the forest from our windows. We drive through the forest on our way to Malindi and have been to the coast side, at Mida Creek and Gede Ruins. However, we had never been to the Kenya Forest Service park, which covers most of the inland side of the forest.

There were several things that we wanted to do, but we had a limited time, so we only got to do the nature walk. We will have to go back for the rest!

We started off walking around the reception building and the neighborhood of people living there. We saw the famous, but rare, golden rumped elephant shrew. We saw yellow baboons and Sykes/blue monkeys, both of which we have seen before on our other trips to and through the forest.

taking pictures of the elephant shrew
monkeys - always exciting for Nate and Ben
The nature walk was about 2 km, but Nate and Ben did way better than I anticipated! They both took little breaks, riding on backs or shoulders when they got too tired, and Ben was super grumpy for the last bit. We stopped frequently to experience interesting things.

Our guide showed us useful trees and plants. Some have practical uses, like storing water, and some are just fun!

drumming on mushrooms that grow on a tree
swinging from a vine

Rodgers had to help me get my feet up...
I scraped my leg coming down from there. I hardly noticed it until flies started trying to eat me. I had a big bandaid in the backpack, which covered the scrape well enough, but the flies still kept trying to get to it. How ridiculous and disgusting!

Little B, hanging in there

There are "tree houses," which let you see over the tops of the trees. That is one thing I'd like to go back and do. They also have an elephant preserve and other large game, which we always love to see!