Monday, December 31, 2007

Balloons and Soap Boxes

This is the title of the message Thomas gave at my parents' church today. The church warmly welcomed us to share about our time in the Philippines and our plans to return. They have been announcing our visit for the last several weeks, put a large display with our picture in the foyer, and even put our name on the sign in front. The church is in my hometown and, besides my parents, includes many who have known me since I was little. In each of the services, the congregation gathered around and prayed for us. Even though my mother just got in late last night from Zurich where she accompanied my uncle on his last flight as an American Airlines pilot she stayed for all three services. She even had us over for dinner. Yes, we are so blessed by the love and support shown by so many! We are very thankful for each of you.

Lisa

Sunday, December 30, 2007

There's No Place Like Home

Our family has really enjoyed the opportunity to gather with so much of our family the last few weeks. But we are still in need of a home in the Philippines. The couple of places our friends were checking out for us are not available. Please continue to pray...
Lisa

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas at Grammie and Papa's

Annalise shares some fashion tips with those not so fancy family members...
Katelin and Alayna share a hug...
Annalise and Samantha share a couch...
Papa and Alexie share a tickle...
Adriana shares a smile...
Matthew shares some silliness...
Samantha and Alayna share a hug, too...
Grammie and Alayna share Papa's chair...
Katelin and Adriana share a viewpoint...
Sharing the time with family making memories...
Lisa

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

To our family and friends near by and far away,
May your heart be filled with the Love that was sent to a little stable so it overflows and you must share the good news not only of a little baby but the rest of the story too.

Merry Christmas
To our Korean friends: Sung Tan Chuk Ha
To our Tagalog speaking Filippino friends: Maligayang Pasko
To our Ilokano speaking Filippino friends: Naragsak a Paskua
To our Nepali friends: Krit Yesu Ko Shuva Janma Ustav Ko Upalxhma Kardik Shuva
To our Brazilian friends: Feliz Natal
To our Mexican friends: Feliz Navidad

No Room at the Inn

We are still in need of housing in the Philippines. No, it's not that the place is too crowded but although the rent price did lower some we feel the need to find a more economical option. Please continue to pray with us that God will provide just the right place for our family. Our friends are currently looking into a couple other options for us. One we did see and another we only saw from the outside. Both have beautiful views of rice fields.

The Answer is YES

Yesterday, our girls portrayed angels in our church's Christmas program. We hope after many years of playing this role garbed in white they will become more angelic. Annalise kept the crowd entertained being the littlest angel on stage. The joy of ringing a blue bell and waving a ribbon as she danced about...there is just a way a 5-year-old can do it unlike those that are older and more experienced. More exuberance, let's say.

As I've shared with some of you before, God frequently speaks to me through His youngest cherubs. One of their songs asked what answer would you give should God ask...the chorus involves the enthusiastic refrain "the answer is YES!" Mary said "yes" even though she had to be overwhelmed at the thought of what lay ahead and certainly not all her questions were answered. There are moments that we feel that way about our "yes". But what else can you say?
After the program we enjoyed visiting family and friends. We are trying to spend time with as many as we can while we have the opportunity. The internet is a great connector but it is difficult to hug with an ocean between you.
Today our family celebrated our Christmas together. The girls were certainly dressed more for Christmas in the Philippines than the cold part of the world we currently call home but Christmas dinner was All-American pizza with plenty of cheese.
Lisa

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Grandma's House

Even though the girls thought it would never come, it was finally time to go to Grandma's house. We had a great time with my family enjoying good food and company as we celebrated Christmas.

A robe for Alayna's doll...

Horse wrapping paper for Adriana...
A tickle for Josiah...
Polka dots for Annalise...

A hug for Grandpa...
A pose from Alexie and Jordan...

A video of memories for Grandma...

And the joy of God's salvation for everyone...


Grace,

Tom

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Playing in the Snow







video

Today after we got done with school, we made our way out into the snow. We had a great time. There is a park in our neighborhood with a great hill for sledding. Annalise once again showed her bravery, after a wipeout at the bottom, she made her way back up and did it again. I think Adriana is the only one who didn't have a good wipeout at some point.

Adriana, Alexie, and Alayna all pushed and pulled me on a sled back home. It took a while (and a little help on my part) but they finally delivered me to the door of my shop. I was glad to see them work through it and figure out how to pull together - literally. (We have actually been giving them more cooperative assignments so they will learn to work together better.)

Not all of the pictures are from today, some are from the last time out in the snow.

Grace,

Tom

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sleep-over

Today we have a guest writer, Lisa's Mom.

Let the entertainment begin.....we love our 4-A's and the fun of an overnight stay. Thursday night our home was filled with girlie giggles once again. We enjoyed a nice dinner together (thank goodness for crockpots for working Grandma). The evening was fairly quiet with baths and Christmas movie and books to read. The girls were cautioned that it couldn't be too loud once Papa had to go to sleep because he had to work on our play day, to which Annalise quickly quipped, "he won't be able to tickle us".

Friday morning we started with a Christmas movie, hot chocolate and cuddle time....mixed in between a crocheting lesson for Nana. This was followed by a late morning breakfast of french toast and a surprise announcement from Annalise "deer" as we sat at the dining room table. We all zoomed to the windows to watch 6 deer in our yard. We had to call Papa at work to let him know what he had missed.Then they each made special Christmas cards for Lisa's Godmother and we boxed up some of our fudge and were off to her assisted living facility. There we enjoyed a musical program with her and then a walk to her chapel to see the lovely Christmas decorations and visit with the elderly folks who were so excited to see our beautiful girls and Grandma was so proud to tell everyone they were "hers". Grandma also assured our girls, with tears in her eyes, that she now possessed the most beautiful Christmas cards anywhere.

On our trip to our next surprise destination we just happened to come close to my office, so I had to stop in and show off my special girls to some dear friends who hear about them all the time. Understandably we had a long conversation about their experiences in the Phillipines and the girls shared their excitement about returning to start their ministry back there.

On to our "surprise" lunch at a Japanese restaurant where you get to experience them cooking at your table. Our chef was very entertaining but our girls exceeded this by their entertainment of our three other dinner companions seated at our table. Needless to say, they knew all about the girls and their ministry before we finished our delicious meal (all with chopsticks) and since the girls will miss their traditional one-on-one birthday celebrations while they are gone in the future, we enjoyed a special Japanese lighted candle fruit desert and Happy Birthday song from the staff in Japanese.Now for the game part of our day, a black light indoor mini golf.....of much delight to the girls, was that Grandma and Annalise each had the "little" golf clubs. Amazing how tall these girls grew eating rice every day. We had a fun time teaching how to line up the ball and at one point when Grandma hit a slammer onto the next court, the girls quickly reminded me this was "miniature golf, not big golf".

We finished off our big day back at Grandma & Papa's after some of the girls insisted on donning their "dress-up" clothes so they could go to the theatre like ladies...watching our favorite traditional Christmas movie, Prancer, while waiting for Mom & Dad to come. Our house is much too quiet now. My prayer is that today will be a lasting memory for them when they are so far away.

This note is to fill Mom & Dad in on our special time together. Hugs, Grandma (Mom) Nancy

Pounding

While it might not seem like much to anyone else, a major milestone has been reached for me - I finally finished the trim in the kitchen and hallway that was removed when we remodeled the kitchen (let's just say a couple Christmas trees didn't know trim was ever part of the kitchen). So now it's done. Why do we (I) allow such projects to drag on so long?

On another note, as I went back and forth between my shop and the kitchen, I had the radio going and they were playing Christmas music. I was able to hear several versions of my favorite Christmas song, The Little Drummer Boy. I love that song! While there are certainly some versions I appreciate more than others, I enjoy each one I have heard - even when sung by out-of-key carolers.

The message of the song is so powerful to me. No matter how little (or much) you have, no matter how you are dressed, no matter your social position, no matter..., no matter..., no matter... God expects the same, and delights in the same, offering and gift from each of us - everything we are poured out before Him in humility. That is the whole point of the song. My gift is not less because it is of little value. My gift is not less because it is of great value. My gift to our Lord matters only when it is everything I am given to Him in humility.

I hope when all is said, and all is done, I will be able to say, "I played my best for Him..."

Grace,
Tom

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tragedy

We have been following the details regarding the shooting in Colorado and praying for all involved. All reports of such violence fill our hearts with compassion and remind us to pray. Certainly this event, after living at the YWAM base in Salem this year, has especially touched our hearts.

YWAM has a couple of press releases posted on their site: YWAM.org.

Grace,
Tom and Lisa

Monday, December 10, 2007

Heritage

Today our family was invited to share what God is doing in our lives at a church that is significant to Lisa and I in many ways. Though neither of us has ever attended here regularly, it is part of our Christian heritage. Both of our fathers attended here during their childhood and our grandparents attended for a number of years. My grandmother served on various committees and boards over the years. It was a blessing to meet a man that had grown up with my dad. I believe that Lisa and I are truly blessed to have a heritage of Christian faith in our background. We hope to pass that heritage along to our family.

This is also where we met. Because of our families' history at the church we were both there as teenagers for the 100th anniversary of the church and were introduced by a mutual friend (thanks, Jen). While we did not get together at that time it wasn't too long before we were high school sweethearts.
We spent the afternoon playing Skip-Bo. The girls enjoyed teaching their new friends how to play. My cousin and her young helpers spent some time at Build-a-Bear with our girls in mind.

Grace,
Tom

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Filipino Food

Today we prepared our first Filipino meal. We enjoyed adobo chicken, pancit, and of course no Filipino meal would be complete without rice. We did have an American dessert, good ol' ice cream sundaes. No ube or mango flavor, just your standard vanilla covered with toppings galore.

Friday, December 7, 2007

A Mother's Heart

As Thomas has been rereading Fresh Wind Fresh Fire, I have been rereading A Mother's Heart. In it is the following quote by S. D. Gordon:

The great people of earth are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; nor those who say they believe in prayer; nor yet those who explain about prayer; but I mean those people who take time and pray. They have not time. It must be taken from from something else. This something else is important - very important, and pressing, but still less important and pressing than prayer.
Sure there's much to do, but kindly excuse me, I need to go pray...I'm sure He would love to have a chat with you too.
Lisa

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Fresh Wind

Satan's main strategy with God's people has always been to whisper, "Don't call, don't ask, don't depend on God to do great things. You'll get along fine if you just rely on your own cleverness and energy." The truth of the matter is that the devil is not terribly frightened of our human efforts and credentials. But he knows his kingdom will be damaged when we lift up our hearts to God.
Jim Cymbala
Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

I have been reading, again, the book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. The other night as I went to bed with a number of heavy thoughts on my mind, I read the passage above. I was moved to set aside the book - right at the end of the paragraph, without even finishing the page! The Holy Spirit prompted me to pray. I have often been able to pull things off in my own "cleverness and energy". But there are some things before us right now that are beyond the scope of my ability. We need Him to intervene. More and more, He is calling me to trust in Him rather than the people and resources around me. He seems to be providing opportunities for me to choose to trust in Him and to call out to Him or try to resolve things on my own.

God is able to resolve any situation. But for some reason, He chooses to place before us the option of inviting Him to be the solution. I think there is some good insight into His reasoning below:

Any genuine relationship requires that both parties are to some extent empowered over and against the other. This is as true in our relationship with God as it is in our relationships with other people. Monopoly by one person - even if that "person" is God - always squashes the personhood of others. So God ordains things so that we are to some degree empowered in our relationship with Him. He ordains things so that we can actually influence the Creator, not because He needs us, but because He wants us.
Gregory A. Boyd
Letters from a Skeptic

We don't often use this blog for theological or academic discussion, but these seem to be pointing to a theme which the Holy Spirit is pressing in my life. My desire is to trust in Him. But I know that often I say I trust in Him while I strive to overcome obstacles without even seeking His guidance, let alone His assistance.

Grace,
Tom

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

How lovely are your branches

Today we decorated our tree. Our tree is packed with ornaments that bring a flood of memories. Above Annalise is holding the ornament we made her first Christmas so we would always have her four-month-old handprint. Could she really be 5? Is it possible our oldest is about to become a teenager? We are so thankful for all the memories we have and have great anticipation for the many more just around the corner.


Monday, December 3, 2007

Prayer request

Earlier we mentioned our need of housing in the Philippines. Please continue to pray about this. The YWAM directors will again be speaking with the owner of the hotel in which we desire to stay. We are praying that the rent would be dramatically reduced from the initial price we were offered.

The location of this housing is ideally located. It is very near the YWAM base and shares the building with the Student Sponsorship Ministry. It would also provide a comfortable place for our family to live with ample space for homeschooling.

We know that God's hand will guide and a provide, but we also know that He asks us to pray.

If you haven't taken the opportunity yet, please check out the YWAM Mountain Province blog: http://ywammountainprovince.blogspot.com/

Grace,
Tom

Christmas Tree

We made it out to find our Christmas tree Saturday afternoon.

There was no snow on the ground when we left for the Christmas tree farm. But we were glad that it started snowing as we climbed into the van. It continued to lightly snow as we picked out our tree.

Of course it is important to make sure you catch a few snowflakes on your tongue. (It makes the hot chocolate taste that much better.)
The girls love the horses - and the golden retrievers were there too.
Time to warm up with a little hot chocolate. (If you wear a little, it warms your lips up too.)
We still need to decorate it, but today was too busy. Hopefully tomorrow; but even naked, it is a cute little tree.
I love my family!!!!
Tom