Advent 2014 v1.0 – Week 1

haha…I called it v1.0 b/c I KNOW that over the years, this year’s NEW Jesse Tree Advent study will morph into something our family will love and anticipate! At least that’s what I (Beth) hope! I made the ornaments over the Aug-Sept months and am pretty pleased with the way they turned out. I made a few extra ornaments, while I was at it, (partly b/c I couldn’t decide which to cut from certain websites and which to keep) that we will probably just wait and incorporate in later years…but we will start off w/ the traditional 25 ornaments this year.

Ideas from here and there. Even a way to incorporate the Jesus Storybook Bible, which my kids (and us!) love. So, here’s this week’s…b/c Advent starts today! (Sunday, Nov 30)…hope it blesses you all this year!

1st Sunday – Introduce the Jesse Stump ornament and read Isaiah 11:1 (but don’t hang just yet)IMG_8245

  • Explain about hanging the ornaments and reading the verses.
  • Creation (World ornament) – Gen 1:24-31 (full account Gen 1:1-31)
  • Can also read “The beginning: a perfect home” from Jesus Storybook Bible (JSB)

MondayAdam and Eve and the Fall (Apple w/ serpent) – Gen 3:1-24

  • Can read “The terrible lie” in JSB

Tuesday – Noah’s Ark (Ark w/ rainbow) – Gen 6:11-14, 7:17-18, 8:8-22, 9:9-17

  • Can read “A new beginning” in JSB

Wednesday – Abraham’s Faith (Camel w/ tent) – Gen 12:1-7

Thursday – Abraham’s Descendants (Green star) – Gen 15:1-6

  • Can read “Son of laughter” in JSB
  • In later years we will combine the star ornament w/ Isaac’s Birth (cradle) – Gen 21:1-7

Friday – Protection for Isaac (Ram w/ leaves on horns) – Gen 22:1-4

  • Can read “The present” in JSB

Saturday – Jacob’s Ladder (The ladder) – Gen 28:10-22

  • Can read “The girl no one wanted” in JSB

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Scavenger Hunt – FLL edition

One of our favorite things to do in Louisville every year was the Danger Run.  It was basically a scavenger hunt to do in your car by solving riddles and clues to determine your next destination.  For our wedding, Beth’s parents put together a Nashville scavenger hunt for some of our friends who were in town.  Actually, I think Carl and Diana have about 4 or 5 of these up their sleeves.  So if you are ever in Murfreesboro, hit them up and they will send you on your way!  As you can see, we like some scavenger hunts!

So to help out our volunteers who come every year, Beth and I decided to put together a little scavenger hunt for each person to enjoy while visiting/working with us here in the FLL.  Over the past 20 days, we have had 2 groups in with us: Beth’s family and a team from Cedar Creek in Louisville (more to come from these trips next week).

While we would love to share the Hunt with you, it wouldn’t be fair to these teams if future teams coming out had a head start.  So without further ado, here’s the results from our first FLL Scavenger Hunt (46 total items):

Will P – 86.9%
Dan R – 82.6%
Alyssa R – 80.4%
Dei C – 80.4%
Sarah P – 78.3%
Abbey C – 78.3%
Alan P – 39.1%

Well, as you can see, our 13 year-old (and very observant) nephew currently sits atop the leaderboard.  He just squeaked out a win over Dan the youth man, and his wifey Alyssa.  While most everything on the list was seen by at least 1 person, the mysterious “carpool” continues to baffle our guests.  As for Alan P, he and Will were too busy talking church, theology, and missions to notice all that was going around and actually mark his sheet.

One of the more surprising things on the hunt was something not found.  Somehow, Dei C managed 8 days in FLL and never smelled some intense body odor!  How does that happen!?!

Congrats to all who played.  We can’t wait to see how the next group fares!

The Stolen Seed

Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it… The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. (Mark 4:3-4,14-15 ESV)

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Yesterday, I experienced what I believe these verses mean.  Just a little background.  Earlier this year, *Peter and one of his disciples led a man to Christ, *Sam.  For those following our updates, you know a lot about Sam.  Ever since putting his faith in Jesus, he has been heavily persecuted by his family and community.  He has been kicked out of the village at least twice, is constantly verbally harassed by his family and in-laws, and has had to relocate his business shop.  Yet through all this, he has remained faithful to his new Savior.

So yesterday, Peter and I hosted a small training at the church where Sam attends.  The plan was to encourage the church to be faithful in sharing the Gospel with the empty villages and people groups around them.  I had heard that Sam was coming and bringing his wife with him!  This was very exciting since she is staying with him, but has not yet accepted Jesus.  Once we arrived, word came that Sam’s mother was furious about this training and refused to let them leave.  So we began our training, and about 5 minutes later Sam and his wife arrived!  “This is the day” both Peter and I thought.  This is the day that she will accept Christ and then we can baptize both of them!

I decided then that we should alter the training schedule just slightly to make sure that we have the opportunity to share the Gospel with Sam’s wife.  Just as we were approaching the time to share the Gospel, my phone starts to ring.  Earlier this month, I had ordered some Piper books translated in Hindi that were to be delivered this week.  Well, of course they show up while I am at this training, and the delivery guy cannot find our house.  I had Peter talk to him the first 3 times he called.  After the 4th call, I decided that it would be a good time to take a short break while I talk with this guy.  Also, I thought, let everyone get some air so they can be ready for the Gospel section.

Naturally, our 5 min break turned into 15 which is par for the course here.  When we started again, Sam and his wife were not there any more.  Turns out that she had gone back to their home and Sam’s mom was waiting there to let them have it.  Sam finally returned and joined us about 10 min later; his wife did not.  Later he told me that his mom was very mad and was yelling at both him and his wife for going against her wishes and attending this training.

After the training was over, I was thinking more about this “missed opportunity” when the above parable came to mind.  I was reminded that the Gospel is sown among every type of soil; we don’t always know the condition of the soil before we share.  In this case, we didn’t even get to share.  It’s like the seed was snatched out of the air before it even had time to land.  These are hard situations to understand.  How is it that we didn’t see the thief coming?  Why did I wait so long to share the Gospel?  Why didn’t I change my schedule more?  What if we hadn’t started 45 min late?  What if I hadn’t ordered these books?  What if the delivery guy had come at any other time?  I could go on and on.  But ultimately, I don’t get to chose the soil.  I don’t actually cause the seed to grow.  Later in chapter 4, Jesus tell the parable of the farmer where the harvest is growing, but he knows not how.  It’s the Spirit that causes the growth.  It’s the Spirit that prepares the soil and removes the obstacles, allowing the word of God to plant deeply and cause new life.  The enemy is always working to prevent the spread of the Good News.  He throws obstacles our way, even when we don’t even realize it.  Yet, our God is greater than this enemy.  He is working His plan according to His Holy Will.  He will accomplish His plans for Sam and his wife and, hopefully, their family and community.

Continue to pray for Sam and his wife.  Slow progress is happening.  He is faithful and energized to continue sharing the Gospel among all peoples and all places where God’s Name is not yet known!

Image Credit: http://cometoourtable.blogspot.in/2010/06/lessons-in-dirt-picture-parables.html

Jaymashi! We are Christians.

Maddie and Mahaney are in a play at school on Saturday, and these are their lines.  When we were first approached about the play, we were told that they would only have to say these lines and to “dress like Christians.”  When I asked what that meant, the teacher said, “You know, like the long black dress and cross around the neck?”  She then proceeded to tell me that the other students would be saying things like “we are Bengali”, “we are Nepali”, “we are Muslim”, etc.

That’s when it occurred to me what (I think) was happening.  Christianity is like a caste to them.  Or it is at least something that you are by birth, not by choice.  You are born into a family that is of both a caste (think people group) and a religion, and that is who you are and forever will be.  It is there assumption that both Maddie and Mahaney are Christians now because their parents are Christian!

But really, how much different is this culture from my own?  How many kids grow up with Christian parents who take them to church every week.  They “do good” because they are supposed to, sing because they are supposed to, pray a prayer because they are supposed to.  Then they reach a certain age, are released to college, and realize they never had any faith to begin with.  So while there are some deeper differences in the thought process of this teacher about the “religion” of our girls and how some in America think (or used to think), it’s not really all that far off.

377580269_74deeb11c4_oNeedless to say, we are not dressing the girls as nuns…even though here they dress more like Mother Teresa than say, Beth in this picture.  We are, though, enjoying the opportunity to talk to the girls about what is going on; and we have enjoyed explaining to the teachers more about the fact we are not Catholic, but followers of Jesus.

Celebrity vs. Freak

We just got back from our Kathmandu trip and it was really restful and encouraging!  As we were at our meetings, someone mentioned something about people who move across the ocean sometimes lose their identity…sounds crazy, right?  But it’s SO true.  I (Beth) think if you’re not real confident in the States, your home culture, you definitely won’t be confident overseas in a foreign culture.  I can speak from experience.

I have discovered a lot about myself while living in ‘ol South Asia.  For example, I am a germaphobe, I really like structure, I really like being with my husband & kids all day most days (who’da thought?), and I am pretty insecure…

Yup, I said it, I’m pretty insecure…not quite sure why b/c I have an awesome husband, parents, family and friends that encourage, inspire and support me…but maybe it’s because I feel like I’ve time warped back to middle school with an inferiority complex since moving to South Asia.  I feel like everyone is watching me and staring at everything I do (but that’s because they are) and I have to be really conscious about what I wear/how I act in public (as to not attract more attention).  In this culture, it’s not rude to stare.

So, I feel like I have 2 personalities – Celebrity vs. Freak.

Why Celebrity?  I think it’s because I feel like we’re being watched and sometimes even treated like royalty!  As I appreciate people’s hospitality, I am not so sure I value the attention.  Listen, I know I am no beautiful movie star, nor do I want to be treated like one!  I am a normal, God-fearing woman that would like respect and courtesy.

Why Freak?  I think it’s because we are some of the few white people that live here…so, people are curious, and they stare.  Not just stare.  They look until I feel like there’s a hole stared right through me.  For example, we walk down the street and people riding their bikes watch us until I almost think their heads will turn 180 degrees! You know you didn’t like getting stared at when you were trying to find a seat in the cafeteria in middle school, right?!

It creates some kind of defensive mechanism inside me.  Don’t get me wrong, I like living here.  It’s just created some feelings within me that I have had to deal with/am dealing with, and praying how to combat future meltdowns and anger.  Praying for the Lord to give me HIS love for these people and to give me confidence in HIM, so that I would not be prideful in myself.  B/c I know it’s not going to be my own flesh that loves them.  I know it would be easy to be confident in myself.  But I want to love and take pride in Jesus, not be dependent upon myself (or others) for strength and reassurance.  Whew!  It’s a daily combat that we live over here.

Anyways, that’s a little bit of what’s going on my head and about our journey…can you relate?

5 Things I Think I Think

It’s time again for another installment of what’s on Will J’s mind.  But this time, I’ll just keep it to 5 so as not to take too much time from your long Memorial Day weekend…

1. I think it’s awesome how just eating a Subway sandwich shows the difference in Maddie and Mahaney.  Mahaney opens up the bread, removes the ham to one side and cheese to the other and leaves the veggies on the bread.  She then proceeds to eat each part of the sandwich separately until everything is finished.  Maddie just eats the sandwich normally.

2. I think cricket is more fun than baseball.  No explanation needed…however, here’s 10 ways cricket is more manly than baseball:

cricket-211) No gloves.  You try catching the screaming line drive with bare hands.
2) 1 strike and you are out.  None of this 3 strikes and then you are out till you get to bat again.  One chance.
3) Batting until you get out takes endurance.
4) You ever try to hit an 85 mph ball off the bounce?
5) You try and make the ball twist and spin WITHOUT bending your elbow.
6) None of this foul territory business.
7) Short, exciting tournaments as opposed to a ridiculously long regular season.
8) It takes manly skill to throw the ball and hit the stick rather than a man with a glove.
9) You are allowed to skuff and doctor the ball.
10) Yurvay’s 6 “home-runs” in a row.  Nothing like a little trash talk from a Brit to spark a fire in an Indian. (Start from the 2 min mark).

3. I think I am excited to watch the World Cup next month.

4. I think I’ve been overseas too long when I am talking about cricket and soccer football in my posts.

5. I think it is amazing how much Maddie and Buggie can remember when it is put to song.  As Beth mentioned in the last post, she has been teaching them Bible verses, using the tunes from familiar songs.  At first, I was skeptical.  Yet now, I am a full believer.  It has even helped me!

6. One more…I think that my wife is amazing for caring so much about the future salvation of our children.

7. Two more…I am thankful for all of those who have served or are serving in our military.  It never was an interest of mine, but I am thankful for the freedom I have because of those who have protected it for us.  Happy Memorial Day!

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My pockets are sweating!

Well, it’s starting to get warm in the FLL!  Inside it is 83 degrees and we are doing our best to have “happy hearts” at all times 😉

20140519_201941Since I’m spending a little more time inside, I’ve been really trying to get creative w/ the time.  Some days are easier than others.  I have been learning a lot about myself lately.  I am in some sort of nesting phase.  Sorting through clothes (mine and the girls), toys, jewelry, food (ha!  I bet you don’t have that problem in the States, right?), etc.  Maybe my fear of collecting too many “things” comes  from the torment and psuedo-traumatizing move across the pond…maybe it’s the thought that “I might use this one day, and if I throw it out, I can’t use it then!”…who knows.

But I have put my foot down!  haha…I am carefully cleaning out and redecorating the house AND doing that in my walk w/ the Lord bt1frontcover copytoo.  In our newsletter, I have mentioned starting a Bible study w/ a friend and some national ladies called Be Transformed.  It has been amazing!  And while the meeting w/ a group of 6-10 national ladies has come to just 2-3 ladies, it still has been really beneficial.  You should check it out!  It’s like therapy, but A LOT cheaper 😉

In essence, I am not only cleaning out my house, I’m also cleaning out my heart from past lies I have believed (inevitably from Satan).  This will take time.  A lot of time.  But I really am seeing with new eyes.  About myself, how I interact w/ others or don’t interact w/ others, why I react the way I do to certain things, being humbly confident in my preferences, etc.  I don’t want to teach my girls to do things the way I have done and the Lord has been gracious enough to show me this before they aren’t moldable anymore.  Praise Him for that!

I am really trying to make God’s Word priority in their lives (and mine and Will’s too!) through these little Scripture songs.  They LOVE them and if I wasn’t totally self conscious, I would post them so you could hear. The idea came from Mrs. Tebow in this post.  It’s just sweet to hear them singing them whenever they come to their minds (instead of “Let it Go”…ha!). Maddie especially is always asking what the next Scripture song will be!

The Lord is also showing me that I need to simplify things.  You can really tell a lot about a person in the way the write on a blank piece of paper or the way they decorate their house.  Weird, right?  But it’s true!  I want to be a simple person who wants to prioritize things the way the Lord wants me to.  I feel like when I do this, He provides peace in my heart and less stress.

Thanks for reading and hearing my heart.  It might be jumbly to some of you, but it makes sense in my head 😉  How long do you wait before you weed out “stuff” from your life and home?  I say, if you haven’t used it in a year to year and a half, clean that junk out!

The Story of Matt: From CP Training to UUPG Engagement

IMG_7638This is Matt.  He’s a follower of Jesus, husband, father, deacon, servant, and owner/operator of a famous chain of chicken restaurants.  And this is his story.

In Oct 2012, Matt and 2 others from their church in the States came over to help me with a church planting training.  Over 3 days, we trained around 60 men and women in how to share the gospel, disciple new believers, and plant healthy churches.  From this larger group, 10 men said that they wanted to receive more training in how this all works.  Each of them had tried something they learned and had filtered themselves out.  For the next 3 months, I met with them as a group and talked more about how God could use them to see His glory spread throughout Bihar.

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With the help of others from Matt’s church, we were able to again filter this group down to 6 men who were ready to take the next step to see healthy churches multiply across their districts.  So beginning in August, I met with these 6 men each month for a few days, and we also visited each of them in their home to see where they live and visit some of their churches.  Each of these men learned more about how to go from doing the work themselves to becoming trainers of how to multiply new churches.

IMG_1899So Matt and another church member returned to the FLL in March of this year.  At this training, the 6 men were able to bring some of there new leaders from the new work.  Over these 3 days, 21 men and women gathered together to be refreshed in the big picture vision of seeing God’s glory spread among all places and all peoples in Bihar!  So why is this awesome?  Because Matt was able to begin with a group of 60 and then 18 months later see a group of 6+15 of faithful men and women who have a vision for church planting.  This is a real life example of how 2 Timothy 2:2 is supposed to happen.

But that’s not all…because from this group of 6, there is 1 who has really caught the vision for all peoples in all places.  Recently *Peter was at my house, and we were discussing what UUPG’s mean.  After explaining it to him and giving him an example, he replied, “There are some from that people group who live just a half mile from my house!”  The next weekend, Peter went through that village, using the Luke 10 method he had learned.  One house from this people group invited him in, and Peter was able to share the gospel with them.  Now, as of the writing of this email they have not yet put their faith in Jesus; but they have expressed interest in having Peter come back and continue sharing with them.

So, what began 18 months before with a large training and then filtered down to 6 who then have raised up another 15 new leaders has now seen the first (of hopefully many) UUPG engaged with the gospel for possibly the first time ever!

Thanks to Matt (and all the other volunteers) and his church for making this possible through the giving of their time and money to see God’s glory spread across this great country!

Also if you are in the Louisville area, stop by the Mall St. Matthews Food Court and talk to Matt while you “eat mor chikin”

Frozen bday party ideas!

Ok, this blog is not Pintrest in the least!  But I (Beth) did get some cute ideas for Maddie’s bday party (some I wanted to do, but didn’t have time or resources) and wanted to share my inspirations!

We played a “Whack an Olaf!” pinata game and the kids loved that!  Any excuse for them to hit something w/ permission is always fun, right?  I just used watered down glue to put at least 3 layers of newspaper strips and then, after it dried, popped the balloon.  Then, I used strips of white printer paper and cut it to make the “flaky” effect and taped them on strip by strip.  Then, just added details to make him look like Olaf!  Here’s some detailed instructions if you need!  The candy doubled as a prize and favor – winning!
IMG_6713Then, came the favors…what to do?  We went for the cute Elsa crowns and Sven Antlers!  Made for a really cute pic of the kids, even though, I think the boys immediately took them off after the picture!  haha….

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We had cute Elsa & Anna, Kristoff & Sven, and all lovable Olaf coloring pages for the kiddo’s according to gender and age 😉  I like to be age appropriate (sometimes)!

So, we decorated minimally b/c there’s not a lot of ready made Frozen paraphernalia laying around ‘ol FLL.  So, improvise we did!  There were a lot of cute ideas for how to decorate your food table, but not too many decor ideas about any other part of the party.  So, we made due!

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First off, the blue-green “Ice” hard candy…looks really cute on this website’s cake, but I boiled mine for an extra 17 seconds and it burned a little…it was still edible though!
Secondly, the fun Jello “Ice” was fun!  I made Elsa colored ice and Anna colored ice “cubes”…the kids loved it!  And so did I, muhahaha….I just followed the jiggler recipe on the box, but here’s the fancy-schmansy one!
Thirdly, I saw a lot of cute other themed foods, but we we just explored the “Sven Snacks” (carrots), snowflake cookies, “Kristoff Chips”, and “Melted Snow” (water!)…there are plenty of ideas here and here for different foods and decor!

As far as decorations, on the food table, I found some snowy-ish silver glitter plants to use in my spaghetti jar w/ glass beads, I also found some fun silver swirl napkins, and we used some of the cute Frozen dolls that have been sweetly sent to us by our sweet parents!  To greet guests, I made 5 or 6 3D snowflakes and used those throughout the house and at the front door…

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stringed up cotton wool balls and these snowflake circles from the ceiling in the “Ice Palace” room (living room), cotton balls delicately distorted to look like snow, the infamous Star Wars snowflakes from here (how did those sneak in?)…

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…and a snowy scene of the lovable characters with some printer paper and pipe cleaner snowflakes!

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When we were all done eating, we went into the “Ice Palace” where we had the AC on 21, ate popcorn and watched the movie from our upstairs friends’ iTunes version!  The kids had a blast and the adults may have chuckled a time here and there too 😉

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After the party, we printed off the said cute picture of the kids w/ their crowns/antlers, wrote a note and we I made some cute snowflake ornaments from the melty beads to give as a thank you…whew, those things look cuter than they are to put together and finagle w/ the ‘ol iron!  Fo Sho!  Here is a pattern you could use…for some reason the site is in Swedish, but you get the idea!

All in all, we had a blast…Maddie loved playing w/ her friends, this was probably the lowest key party we’ve ever thrown, and we actually got to enjoy time w/ our friends here while putting it on!  So, enjoy!  Go and make your own ideas – store bought stuff is overrated anyways 😉