Monday, February 28, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Numbers 6:1-5

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
When either men or women make
a special vow, the vow of a nazirite,
to separate themselves to the Lord, 
they shall separate themselves
from wine and strong drink ... [and]
All the days of their nazirite vow
no razor shall come upon the head ...
Numbers 6:1-5 
Question: What do Samson (Judg 13:5), Samuel (1 Sam 1:11), probably John the Baptist (Luke 1:13-15), and maybe even Jesus (Mark 14:22-25) have in common?
Answer: They were Nazirites.
Before we get into the possibility of the New Testament Characters -- Jesus and John -- being Nazirites, let's remember what these ascetic people were:
  • They were set apart "TO the Lord." A vow was taken which made them God's -- rather than belonging to themselves or to their families.
  • Parents could set them apart for this role and responsibility from their childhood. For example, part of Samuel's infertile mother's promise to God was to set apart her child if and when God opened her womb.
  • They didn't drink strong drink. In other words, they approached this vow soberly.
  • They didn't cut their hair. To the world, this was an outward sign of an inward vow. Part of Samson's strength, you may remember, was figuratively in his hair (though literally in his faithfulness), and when he allowed his hair to be cut it represented his infidelity to God and his vow.
Some wonder if hairy, wilderness prophet, John the Baptist, was a Nazirite. After all, the angel who proclaimed his birth said, "he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." John's very faithful Jewish parents would have undoubtedly understood this description in the light of being a Nazirite.
Others wonder if Jesus himself was a Nazirite. They site first the identification of the Christ as a Nazerene -- yes, he came from Nazareth, but could it also mean he'd taken this ascetic vow? They also site his upper room promise: "Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God" (Mark 14:25).
My job today is not to try and convince you of Jesus' or John's long-haired status. My job is to invite you to consider you vow to the Lord. A next step in your faithfulness and mine does not have to involve teetotaling or longer hair! But what kind of commitment might God be calling you and me to?
In Christ's Love,
a guy who could probably be convinced
to give up strong drink (Starbucks Coffee) for Lent
How can we [I] separate ourselves [myself] to the Lord? What kind of commitment is God calling me to? A couple of stories ...

1.  The evening of 2/5 I had a couple of strange dreams that have stuck with me. One was comforting, one was just plain weird! In that dream I was nominated for President of the USA. I was being told that I had to go give my acceptance speech. I kept saying, "But! I'm not qualified! I'm just a middle-class suburban mom. I'm not qualified to be President!"  The response was, "Yes you are. You run your home. You take care of your kids. You are qualified. You'll do a great job." I kept arguing that I was just a mom. I was in my jeans and birks. And I had to make an acceptance speech to run for President of the USA. Very strange!!! (and no - I have NO plans to run for president!)

2.  I told a friend about this dream and she is convinced that God has something BIG planned for me. Something that I do not believe I am qualified for. Something that I can not do without God's guidance and intervention. I laughed. But a different friend said the same thing when I told them about the dream.  A couple of weeks later I was visiting with a friend I hadn't seen in years. We were catching up in her kitchen and she told me that as we were talking about our lives she saw me talking in front of a large group of people, doing something big. Then I told her about the dream and what others have said. 

Thinking about it is so overwhelming. I have decided to not think about it, but try to rebuild my trust in God and learn to not let the darkness overtake me again. If I anticipate god doing something big in my life, I am scared I will just sit here waiting for it instead of trying to grow closer to him and share his love.  

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Convo with Pastor - 1 Peter 2:5

God is building you,
as living stones, into his spiritual temple.
What's more, you are God's holy priests,
who offer the spiritual sacrifices that
please him because of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:5
Under the Old Covenant -- see Numbers 3:10 -- the Lord said to Moses, "any unauthorized person who goes too near the sanctuary must be put to death."
Under the New Covenant -- see 1 Peter 2:5 -- YOU ARE the sanctuary. You are the spiritual temple. And you are "God's holy priests."
This is a HUGE contrast. Why the dramatic difference? Christ!
Jesus Christ is a very different kind of high priest. He confers priesthood and royalty not on the basis of birthright, but on the basis of faith. He invites -- Hebrews 4:16 -- to "approach the throne of grace with boldness" rather than with fear. And he promises that in this faith-inspired approach, we will "receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
In Christ's Love,
a priest
(and not because I went to seminary,
but because he invites us all to be one!)
'God is building us' - we are constantly being crafted into his temple. We will never be complete until we join him in heaven. However, as he is building us, we are allowed to go near him, to approach him. In OT times, you had to be special to go near the sanctuary. Because of God's gift to us we are all special.

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Sunday - China to Charlotte

What a LONG day!!! Nothing like traveling half way around the world for over 24 hours to wear a person out!   We left our hotel at 5am China time (4pm Sat. afternoon in NC).  We managed to get some shopping in both the Xiamen and Beijing airports!  

On the way to the airport we saw some fireworks - China's way of saying Zai Jian to us.  

It was snowing in Beijing ... another great send off since I love snow! (and it was snowing when we left NYC)  We did enjoy shopping at the airport.  I got several Christmas presents.  The flight was crowded and noisy, but that didn't stop me from sleeping for 6 hours.  Thankfully I was able to lean on the window. My poor ankles are so swollen!!  

We made it through customs and immigrations without problems and said our goodbyes to each other.  We met as strangers a week ago at JFK and go our separate ways as friends.  We are all connected by the little ones we saw and held and loved on for the past week and the teachers we helped train. 

I am looking forward to returning one day!


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Numbers 2:3, 10, 18, 25, 17

"The divisions of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun
are to camp toward the sunrise on the east side
of the Tabernacle, beneath their family banners ...
"The divisions of Reuben, Simeon, and Gad
are to camp on the south side of the Tabernacle,
beneath their family banners ...
"The divisions of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin
are to camp on the west side of the Tabernacle,
beneath their family banners ...
"The divisions of Dan, Asher, and Naphtali
are to camp on the north side of the Tabernacle,
beneath their family banners ...
"Then the Levites will set out from the middle
of the camp with the Tabernacle.
Numbers 2:3,10,18,25,17
Exodus began a long journey toward the Promised Land ... until they halted at Mt. Sinai.
Leviticus was a detailed list of instructions for living in that Promised Land.
Numbers resumes the journey.
And today's lesson tells them how.
Think about this: 3 tribes on the north, 3 on east, 3 on the west, and 3 to the south. What shape does that make? A cross!
We could talk about the logic and efficiency of clustering the tribes into smaller units for communication, administration and disciple ... but ... I think it's much more interesting to think that fifteen hundred years before Christ's crucifixion, God's people were moving about the desert in the sign of a cross!
In Christ's Love,
a guy who loves God's subtle winks 
'God's subtle winks' - I like that.

He planned for the tabernacle to be surrounded in the shape of a cross. There were 12 tribes surrounding and protecting the tabernacle ... Christ had 12 disciples surrounding him and helping care for him.  God is always planning and surrounding us with his love and care. He loves us even more than what was held in the tabernacle.

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Saturday in China

This morning we were up and ready to go ... but Yvonne and Susie were dragging a bit!  We loaded up in the van and headed off on an adventure to Susie's hometown (Chengde?).  We visited a very small orphanage with about 29 kids in it. To get there we took a very narrow street that did not fit two cars at a time. It was an experience seeing how people live so close. 

There were several kids there who had their palates repaired during the October trip and the surgeons did a beautiful job!  Some of the kids were scared by us and some came to us with open arms to be picked up.  The assistant director was wonderful and even served us tea. 

We ate lunch at a 'Western' restaurant and then went to a local museum that explained the relationship between Taiwan and Fujian Province. There is a very long history here. We did some shopping here as well. Yvonne and I cooled off in the water out front. The assistant director was our tour guide in the museum and elicited a lot of laughs despite the language barrier. 

We visited a tea shop and had more tea. Your cup is never empty! After making some purchases at the tea shop, a couple of us wandered down the sidewalk. I love the brooms in China and found a store selling them. I was able to purchase three for 4rmb (less than 20 cents each.)  

For dinner we had dumplings. YUM!! We are all tired and plan on sleeping on the plane tomorrow. 


Friday, February 25, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Leviticus 26:3

If you keep my ... commands
Leviticus 26:3
Today centers around one word: Consequences.
My kids always hated that word. But it's oh-so-true. There are consequences to our actions.
That's what God tells us. Under his Old Testament Covenant, he gave a wonder list of IF-THENs. Actually it was wonderful ... IF we followed. It was harrowing ... IF God's people did NOT.
The New Testament/New Covenant is surely different. But sit for a minute today with how seriously God takes obedience and sin ...
3 "If you keep my laws and are careful to obey my commands,
I will send the seasonal rains [and] the land will then yield its crops ...
3 "If you keep my laws and are careful to obey my commands,
4 I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep without fear.
3 "If you keep my laws and are careful to obey my commands,
9 "I will look favorably upon you and multiply your people
and fulfill my covenant with you.
3 "If you keep my laws and are careful to obey my commands,
12 I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people.
14 "However, if you do not listen to me ...
15 and ... break my covenant by rejecting my laws ...
16 I will punish you.
14 "However, if you do not listen to me ...
15 and ... break my covenant by rejecting my laws ...
16 You will suffer from sudden terrors [and] wasting diseases ...
14 "However, if you do not listen to me ...
15 and ... break my covenant by rejecting my laws ...
17 I will turn against you ...
14 "However, if you do not listen to me ...
15 and ... break my covenant by rejecting my laws ...
19 I will break down your arrogant spirit ... 20 [and] all your work will be for nothing ...
14 "However, if you do not listen to me ...
15 and ... break my covenant by rejecting my laws ...
24 I will be hostile toward you, and ... 25 will send armies against you ...
14 "However, if you do not listen to me ...
15 and ... break my covenant by rejecting my laws ...
27 And in spite of this, if you still refuse to listen and still remain hostile toward me,
28 then I will give full vent to my hostility.
14 "However, if you do not listen to me ...
15 and ... break my covenant by rejecting my laws ...
32 I myself will devastate your land [and] 33 I will scatter you among the nations ...Your land will become desolate ... 34 Then the land will finally rest and enjoy its Sabbaths.
14 "However, if you do not listen to me ...
15 and ... break my covenant by rejecting my laws ...
38 You will die among the foreign nations ...
41 Finally, when I have given full expression to my hostility ...
42 Then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, with Isaac, and with Abraham ...
44 I will not utterly reject or despise them while they are in exile ...
45 I will remember my ancient covenant with their ancestors ...
46 These are the laws, regulations, and instructions that the LORD gave to the Israelites through Moses on Mount Sinai.
in Christ's Love,
a guy who wants the green, not the red
(that's the way I liked my chili in New Mexico too)
Despite imposing rules and consequences ... both rewarding and punishing ... God ends with 'I will remember my covenent' which just shows that he loves us. He cares. And like a good parent figure - he establishes consequences for our behavior.

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Friday in China

Friday???? Already???? But there is still so much to learn!!!  

This morning we broke into our 4 groups and taught various lessons. I taught about non-verbal communication. The teachers were amazed at how easy it is to make picture cards to use to communicate. Earlier in the week I went around and took photos of various objects in the rooms and had them printed. One of the teachers helped make labels for them and then we laminated them with some self stick sheets I had with me. I showed them how to use velcro to make it easy to attach and remove the photos. Something so easy that they can all do in their schools. 

After lunch I taught the entire group about articulation skills, sound development and how to help the students make some sounds they are having trouble with. There was lots of laughter as they were saying /bbbbb/ and /kkkkk/.  Afterwards, most of the teachers went outside with Lisa and AJ to play with the kids and use the parachute and sidewalk chalk while Michele and I stayed in with the Jinjiang teachers to talk about individual students and answer questions they had. 

Play time was a blast! The kids loved the gliders Lisa had and the parachute. There were drawings all over the sidewalks. We even got in a circle and sang 'Ring Around the Rosie' and other songs. Despite the language barrier, most of the kids did the Hokey Pokey and discovered that that is what it's all about!

After dinner we had a party. The kids were treated to KFC and Coke. Oh the smiles!  Every group of teachers did a skit or song - even us! We sang 'The Itsy Bitsy Spider' and 'I'm a Little Teapot' for them. The director gave a speech and then I gave a short speech. We presented a plaque to the school. All of the teachers received certificates and bracelets from LWB. There were smiles, tears and tons of photos!!!

Finally we presented the school managers with two large bags of donations each. One was filled with teaching supplies and the other was stuffed full of donations for the various orphanages. 

I think we learned as much from the teachers this week as they did from us. From a Speech Therapist perspective, this is a drop in the bucket, but the ripple effects with touch many, many kids. I truly hope they use their new skills and are not overwhelmed with all the information they received.  I am so grateful to have the chance to help them learn how to be more effective teachers to their students. 


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Leviticus 25:9-10

on the tenth day of the seventh month
—on the day of atonement—
you shall have the trumpet sounded
throughout all your land. And you shall
hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim
liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.
It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return,
every one of you, to your property
and every one of you to your family.
Leviticus 25:9-10
God knows ...
He knows how living in this world causes us to be upside down.
We're blessed to live in a land that doesn't have this problem ... but throughout too much of human history, people have fallen so far behind financially that they sell their homes and their inheritance. They even sell their own children and their own lives into slavery. Too many of God's children are upside down to the extreme.
Therefore, God had knew he had to set up ongoing seasons of justice, proclaiming liberty to this broken world's captives. Therefore, every fiftieth year, he said it is time to start all over again and turn things right side up again.
What's upside down in your life? Finances? Family? Priorities?
You don't have to wait for your 50th birthday ... or 100th ... or 150th. Any day can be the time that you claim as "the year of the Lord's favor" (Lk 4:19).
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to first
thank God for all the things
that are right-side up in my life
(and then start praying for all the things
I've let turn upside down)
I wish there was still a policy to wipe the slate clean every 50 years or so, but I wonder if people would take unfair advantage of it.  My entire life has been upside down for too long ... I am working on getting it righted and regaining my equilibrium.  The others will come.

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Thursday in China

Time flies when you are busy. Today, Michele and I were talking. We're tired and it isn't the jet-lag kinda tired. It's the 'I'm just plain exhausted' kinda tired. Thankfully I got a short nap in during lunch and that helped tremendously! 

This morning Michele and I team taught and the other two team taught. We showed the teachers how to make home made play dough and magic snow to use for sensory activities.  We also discussed using these for enhancing language and incorporating into themes.  The teachers all had fun and really showed their creative sides by making flowers, dumplings, steamed buns, various animals and other objects with the play dough. There was a lot of laughter as well. We also have to admit that it was a first for us to make it in a wok. 

After lunch, I discussed oral motor exercises and using straws and whistles to help strengthen lips and tongues.  One little guy who is about 4 stayed in for all the rotations and helped me demonstrate the exercises. He would do anything for a few pieces of Kix cereal. He even shared his sugar cane with me! That was stringy, but yummy.  

We visited the babies again and even met a couple of little ones that were brought in last night. They were still in shock, but the other kids were so sweet. One refused to take the treat we offered, but one of the kids put it in her mouth and she started gobbling them up. Sometimes kids will get lost and the police take them to the orphanage until their parents find them.  She looks well cared for and healthy. When she talked about her mama and baba her little eyes filled with tears. Please pray they find her soon.  

After dinner we took all the teachers out for karaoke. It was a lot of fun! When you go karaoke in China, you get your own room so there is a bit of privacy. Many of the girls sang (including us!), some played games and we all laughed - a lot. It was a great time to relax and for the teachers to get to know each other a little bit better.  

Tomorrow is our final day of training. I can't believe how fast the time has gone. There is still so much more we can teach them and they are so willing and eager to learn. 


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Leviticus 23:3

Six days shall work be done;
but the seventh day is a sabbath
of complete rest, a holy convocation;
you shall do no work:
Leviticus 23:3
Don't you just love holidays?
It's a day to slow down ... find a new routine ... spend time with family ... and break bread with people you love.
The whole 23rd chapter of Leviticus is God's invitation to slow down ... find a new routine ... spend time with family ... and break bread with people you love.
But notice how he starts. He invites us to do that every week!
The Sabbath is a slow down. It is a regular, one-day-a-week, new routine. God crafted it to be spent with family. It was designed around breaking bread with people you love.
It was also designed to be a "holy convocation." God wants to be part of our routine, part of our life.
The question is: How do you use your Sabbath?
In Christ's Love,
a guy who feels both captivated
and guilty by the call to Sabbath
Although Sunday is our designated day of rest ... we don't use it as such. We rush in the mornings to get to church, rush somewhere to lunch, rush home for a couple of hours before rushing to evening activities. Always so busy! How do we turn it into a true Sabbath?

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I can't believe it is already Wednesday!!! Where is the time going? Although, none of us were sure exactly what day of the week it was, much less the date. Does it really matter? Lisa, one of the teachers on the team, reminds us that Amy, the founder of LWB, often says, "We can sleep when we get home!"  So we have been going full steam ahead constantly. 

We started the day with having the kids come in with the teachers and showing them how to use some of the skills we taught yesterday. Three 30 minute lesson with 3 different age groups while answering questions and trying to communicate in another language. It was definitely a challenge!  However, I managed to learn the Chinese for red, blue, green, yellow and circle. 

Lunch is always fun trying to determine what we are eating, trying to talk with language barriers, trying to eat with chopsticks. However, before lunch, we had a meeting with the Director of Civil Affairs for Jinjiang City (like the Mayor). He is a very nice man and super supportive of the orphanage and the work they are doing. We were able to talk to him about our different roles and what we are teaching. The director even told him about a couple of children that we saw and talked to her about that she is going to begin the process for their files to go to CCAA. He was pleased with that as well. The director is an amazing woman! There is no doubt that she loves the kids! 

We started the afternoon with a Q&A session with the teachers to see if they are understanding what we are teaching, if they have other questions and to talk about particular students. It started a little slowly, but picked up as more started talking. Then we broke out into our groups for more training without the kids. They are so eager to learn and help their students!  

After the sessions, we went to the rooms to check on a few kids and so I could take a peek inside some ears and mouths. Most of the ear drums were hard to see due to wax, but the ones I did see looked pretty good. A few had some fluid behind them, but these kids also had colds so it is expected.  Their mouths looked good - no unexpected clefts, no red throats, only one had large tonsils.  The ones with unrepaired clefts looked good as well. They were a bit reluctant to let me look - afraid I would do more than just look I think. 

Dinner was good. I did pass on the pig tongue. So far we've had pig feet, tongue, and skin/rind.  We feel like we are always eating and definitely are not hungry!  

After dinner we returned to the baby rooms. There I got to hold a little one with Albinism. He is a chunky monkey and has the BEST laugh!!! He smiled and laughed his deep belly laugh over and over. He can pull himself up and liked looking at the pictures on the back of the camera. Reminds me of my Tom when he was little. So full of personality!

This evening, we went to explore some shops and walk around some. We found an Apple store and a candy shop. (I stocked up on Kinder Eggs.  Although they are different from the ones I've had before. Still fun! Since Chinese New Year just ended, there are still decorations everywhere ... red lanterns, signs on the door posts, rabbits. We saw goats on carts, babies on motorcycles and every imaginable food sold by street vendors.  Sadly, my camera battery died and I didn't bring my charger. Thankfully Lisa brought 2 cameras and is letting me borrow one, but I can't upload the photos. And even better news ... Lisa's bag arrived today. All of our luggage is finally here!!!  

God is so evident here!!! 


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday in China

The morning started with being locked out of our safe ... and trying to communicate with the guy what we needed. I was also playing with an echo mic and we all cracked up. Laughter is a universal language!!!  

We did training with the teachers in the morning and that went really well. They are not used to actively participating in the training and some had to be coaxed a bit more than others to open up, but they did. I taught them how to play 'go fish' to help with reinforcement of concepts and skills to make learning more fun and how to adapt an activity for different levels.  One little boy hung around our rooms in the morning and helped all of us with our lessons. He has such personality!!

Lunch was another interesting affair. The easily identifiable animal this time was pigs feet - not pickled - just cooked. No. Wasn't brave enough to try that. The beef was yummy though! After lunch we went for a walk outside because it was such a beautiful day. There are cows in the field next to the orphanage. They 'moo' in the same language. We watched a farmer tilling her garden and marveled at the startling contrasts between the fields and the high rises. It was here that we decided to change our afternoon plans. 

We relaxed in the sunshine a bit more (my cheeks are pink) and talked with the director to get approval for our idea. She loved it! 

We took all the kids and teachers out to the field to see the cows up close, feel the grass, taste the grass for some and just get a new experience. There was so much laughter. Some let us take off their shoes so they could feel the grass on their toes - a first for many! Some timidly reached out to touch it and then were pulling it with wild abandon a few minutes later. One guy initially refused to walk on it, but then he was in the knee high stuff like he owned the place.  The cows were cooperative and ate the grass that was thrown to them and moo'd for the kids. We talked about incorporating new experiences into lessons and creating opportunities. We ended the outside time with circle time and songs like 'Old MacDonald,' 'If You're Happy and You Know It,' and others. 

After we walked back, we took the kids to their amazing playground where they jumped on the trampoline, played on the swings, ran around and had a blast doing what they do best - being kids. A couple carried tufts of grass around for the next 2 hours. We were able to show the teachers that you can incorporate learning into play time as well.  

Just before dinner, we went to the baby room. One baby had a cleft lip repair done in October and it look GREAT!! Most of the babies were about 3 months old and so healthy and clean. 

After dinner, we went for foot massages. For less than $10US we had a 60 minute massage that included a back massage, arm massage, leg massage and foot massage. They put the tv on an English speaking channel and we all relaxed. It was heavenly. (and at times a bit painful - those girls are tiny, but strong!)  

Please pray for emotional and physical strength. I am tired and drained. I hope to get some great sleep and a bit of time alone to recharge. There is constant chatter and people, but the lessons are going well and I hope the teachers are learning new techniques to use. They are a great bunch of gals!


Convo with Pastor - Leviticus 19:9-35

do not ... do not ... do not ... do not ... do not ... do not ...
do not ... do not ... do not ... do not ... do not ... do not ... do not ...
do not ... do not ... do not ... do not ... do not ... do not ... do not ...
do not ... do not ... do not ... do not ... do not ...
Leviticus 19:9-35
Today is one of the few places that match unbelievers stereotype about the Bible. Have you ever heard someone say, "The Bible is just a bunch of rules?" Well, if you read Leviticus, it might just seem like it is.
For the first half of this covenantal book, we were told about the sacrificial system for the forgiveness of sins. Now, "the people are instructed on how to live as a forgiven people." History calls this "the holiness code," and while, yes, it was a lot of do's and don't's, it was mostly a list of how to stay safe (holy) in a world of danger.
If anyone tells you that the Bible is a rule book, tell them, "In places it seems that way. But we'd do better to remember that Jesus simplified all of it to one four-letter word: Love." In fact, in Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus told us to "love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind ... and ... love our neighbors as ourselves."
By the way ... to point us away from rules and back to love, Jesus was quoting this very chapter with all the "do not's" (as well as Deut 6:5) ...
"Do not seek revenge.
Do not bear a grudge against anyone.
Rather, love your neighbor as yourself."
Leviticus 19:18
Isn't it cool how Jesus goes to the middle of a bunch of rules and reminds us that's it's all about love.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who loves finding a pearl
in the midst of passages about not eating swine
I have been known to say, "How do you love your neighbor as yourself when you don't love yourself?"  I am finding that when I reach out in love to others instead of being wrapped up in my own mind that I am able to be gentler on myself and see the positive in situations.  

Last night I was verbally attacked by someone during a bible study. While sitting there quietly listening to the verbal abuse with shaking hands and tears streaming down my cheeks, the thought in my head was, "You are loved. These are lies." Repeated over and over even after she finished until my own shaking and tears stopped

Instead of bearing a grudge against her, I have been at peace. I can't control what she does or says. Instead of internalizing what she said to me I have been listening to the truth. All HUGE changes that I hope are here to stay. Please keep praying. 

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Monday, February 21, 2011


Little sleep made for a slow start. Breakfast was the standard China variety ... fried rice, chinese cabbage (yum!!!), eggs, strawberry guava juice, chocolate cake, dim sum, bacon. Normal breakfast foods! :-)  

We made it to the orphanage and were greeted with a sign that (we were told) said Jinjiang SWI welcomes American Teachers. We walked into the meeting room to be greeted by a room full of young beautiful Chinese teachers all ready to learn. We made introductions and went off to visit a classroom. The first room was for 3-4 year olds and they were adorable!!!  They fully understand cameras and that they can see themselves on the back side. After listening to some songs and being licked by one little girl (she was so precocious!!!) we went to the next class where we were greeted by choruses of "Ni Hao" and watched them learn about sight, smell and taste. Then up to the under 3 room where we were able to play blocks with the kids. 

Lunch was at the orphanage and served family style. In China, this means that you grab your bite out of the common bowls and eat it with your rice. They serve a lot of soup in this province as well. Two of the dishes had faces. One was fish that was good and the other was duck that had the head on top of the platter. Despite watching us eat it, it was tasty. One of the ladies graciously removed the head! I have a feeling I will be eating a LOT of rice this week. 

In the afternoon we did some training with the teachers and got to visit the infants for a little bit. Pictures to follow eventually. After supper we went to WalMart to get some supplies. Take 4 extremely tired Americans and send them to WalMart ... we had an audience everywhere we went. We also managed to purchase items not on our list. And almost fall asleep standing up!

When we finally made it back to the hotel, my luggage arrived shortly afterward and the angels sang!!!! It's the little things in life ... jammies, your own toothbrush, clean underware ... 

God is good and present in this little ones lives. 


Convo with Pastor - Leviticus 16:8

[Aaron] is to cast sacred lots to determine
which goat will be sacrificed to the Lord and
which one will be the scapegoat.
Leviticus 16:8
Did you know that a "Scapegoat" was Biblical?!!
On the Day of Atonement, the priest was to take two goats. The first was to be sacrificed to cleanse the people for their sins (You've heard of that pattern repeatedly by now.) But the second goat, as another translation renders it, "will carry the sins of the people [in]to the wilderness." More simply put, the second goat will carry our guilt away!
Now, our natural tendency is to focus on the goat -- after all, we all like animals and we've all been somebody's scapegoat. But quit focusing on the goat! This lesson is an absolutely powerful symbol of how God hopes we'll deal with guilt!
I deal with people all the time who know in their mind that they've been forgiven -- that's the first goat -- but in their heart, they can't let go of the guilt. They feel dirty, stained, haunted, unworthy, and ashamed.
Therefore, God said, tie your guilt to a goat and watch it wander away from you. Step by step, know that when you have been forgiven, your guilt can disappear totally into the wilderness!
(And by the way, don't disappear into the wilderness again and again trying to hunt it back down!)
It's gone.
You're free.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to eSCAPE
rather be a scape
Do you ever feel like something being said to a large gathering or written for a large audience was actually written just for you, directed at you personally? That is how the last 3 lines of the devotional seemed to me.

When I read this passage last year this is what I wrote, " "whatever the sin may be." Such a vague many 'whatever' type sins do we do in a single day??? And we don't have to have someone offer 2 male goats for them. Jesus did that."

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

China - Travel day 2/19-20/11

Wow! I left Charlotte at 7am. The moon setting during the sunrise was beautiful - the ball of white on a pastel background. We flew over the Charlotte Motorspeedway and it is as big from the air as it is from the ground.  The flight offered us peanuts - something most airlines don't anymore and I chuckled to read that the bag warned that it was packaged in a plant that processes peanuts and other nuts. 

Once at JFK I had to walk outside to change terminals. That was different. I arrived 30 min. early so I was able to go to my friend's apt on the Upper West Side earlier than planned. Andy and I had an AMAZING visit. We chatted. We prayed. We walked through Central Park in the snow and she treated me to a yummy Indian lunch. We've known each other for 17 years!! 

I met up with the rest of the team back at JFK and we hopped on our flight to Beijing. After a 13 hour flight where I managed to sleep 6 solid hours and a few more scattered here and there we arrived in Beijing.  Immigration was a breeze. Checking into our next flight was easy also. One gal was missing one of her suitcases. Hope it shows up soon. 

Then we flew to our final destination and  marveled at all the New Year decorations in the airport.  We chatted and grabbed luggage as it went around and around and around. I was so busy talking that I didn't notice that my bags were not there ... until an agent came up to us and told us all the luggage had arrived. Both of my bags decided to take the scenic route from Beijing. I know they are in China ... somewhere!!!!  We completed paperwork. Our translator helped and was amazing. One of the gals is letting me borrow a shirt so I have something clean to wear.  

The hotel is absolutely beautiful!!  The beds are hard as a rock - typical of Chinese hotel beds. The sun is shining this morning as we get ready for our first day after 4 hours of sleep in a bed. 

God is good and is taking care of everything. Please pray that all of our bags arrive intact today and that we are able to have an excellent first day at the orphanage. 


Convo with Pastor - Psalm 51:7

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:7
I am a leper.
I don't have spots on my skin, but I do have black spots on my heart.
When King David in Psalm 51 confessed the black spot of his adulterous, murderous affair with Bathsheba, he chooses a metaphor from the cleansing of a leper. That old Jewish ritual -- Leviticus 14:5-7 -- went like this:
  • A person with a skin disease with present themselves to the priest.
  • Two wild birds were their offering.
  • The priest will sacrifice one of the birds and drain his blood into a pot of water.
  • While the second bird is being washed in the first bird's blood, the priest will use a hyssop branch to sprinkle the unclean person also with blood.
  • Then the priest sets the live bird free. As it flies away, it symbolizes that the unclean person is free too. 
A broken and contrite David wanted his spirit to soar again like a bird. Therefore, he cried, "Give me a branch. Sprinkle me with blood." That's the invitation of the Gospel too. The cleansing branch is the cross and from it we have been sprinkled with His blood. 
Christ chose to be the sparrow who died for us. But then, with the resurrection, he was also the sparrow that flew away free. We can fly too, for "just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might [fly] in newness of life" (Acts 2:24).
In Christ's Love,
a guy (who along with the cat and Mary Louise)
caught a bird in our house a few weeks ago.
We thought he was dead.
But as soon as we took him outside, he flew away free.
Let's not play dead any longer! 
I could not have said this a couple of weeks ago ... I truly believe that during a recent experience my soul was washed clean and set free into a new life.  It can still happen in our times.

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