"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." ~ Matthew 5:8

Monday, April 29, 2013

Sweet Dreams

Perhaps I'm far too old for Winnie-the-Pooh (though I have heard that's impossible!), but I can't resist this quote:

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”
―   A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh   

I do dream about you, Eric! God is so good to give us this love.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I wish I could tell you "Happy Birthday"

My dear little brother,

Today is your birthday! I can't believe how quickly you're growing up. I'm sure you're taller than the last time I saw you! Soon you'll shoot past me (it's not hard to be taller than your big sister!).

How I wish I could give you a big squeeze and tell you "Happy Birthday!" myself. I was wishing today that I could make your favorite dinner and maybe even bake your birthday cake with you. I wish I could see your face light up as your family gathered around, lit candles, and sang "happy birthday to you." I would love to see you tear into wrapping paper and enjoy presents from your siblings and parents.

Coloring with your dad-you are a true artist.

I have all these wishes, but this year none of them will be coming true. Maybe your brothers and some of your friends remembered it was your birthday? Maybe a teacher? I don't know. I don't even know what your favorite kind of cake is or what you want most of all for a present. For two precious days I got to see your face light up as people came to visit you, to love on you, to give gifts to you. For two days, you knew you mattered. For two days the word "family" seemed like a possibility. I will never, ever forget when we said goodbye. You hugged me tight, then looked up at me with tears and your eyes and asked, "When are you coming back?" Oh dear boy, I wish I could.

A self-portrait. You're a goof!

There are people who would say "Never" is the answer to your question. But I'm praying you don't give up hope. I'm praying that somehow you will know that your family didn't give up on you; that we love you and miss you. I'm praying that someday "never" will become "now" and I can look you in the eyes and call you brother.

Love always,

Your big sister.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Things I Say

 “The most important single aid to my ability to use my tongue for the glory of Jesus is allowing the word of God to dwell in me so richly that I cannot speak with any other accent.”

~Sinclair Ferguson

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Up the Mountainside

At the end of March, we-the Pittmans, the family I lived with last fall, and myself- went out of town for a mountainside picnic and a day of relaxing. It was wonderful! I've come to love the dear people I spent the day with; the spring weather was glorious; the scenery breathtaking; and the break from routine was refreshing.
We picnicked in an apricot orchard-so beautiful!
It really was this green. Glorious.
Two of my dear friends and host sisters. I've spent so many happy hours with them! I count my host family one of the greatest blessings of my time here (and to think I was terrified at the thought of moving in with them! God is good.).
Wendy. I so appreciate her friendship; her patience and grace towards me, her readiness to laugh and chat, her listening ear. I'll miss her!
Anna and Michael: I couldn't catch my other student (Katie) long enough to get a good picture of her!
Scott and Wendy with their youngest, Will.
After lunch my host sister Maryam (15) and I began to climb, following goat paths or just making our own trail.
Maryam is gentle, eager to learn, and affectionate. I'm so thankful she offered me her friendship!
Every time we turned around, I gasped: partly from being out of shape, and partly from the view. I'm not trying to be corny, but it's out here that I realize more than ever how great God is.
And His handiwork is in the small as well as the large.

A little tired but exhilarated by the climb!
Spry 11 year old Anna caught up to us along the way, and we were glad to have her cheerful determination to join us. I'm so glad I got those hours with these girls; I won't soon forget that day.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sunday Surprises

Sunday was full of surprises...
a trip out of the city,
breathtaking views,
Farm equipment high on a mountain and far from any field,
a mountaintop mansion,
an unexpected opportunity to explore the inside!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Just a Stranger

It's obvious to people here that I'm a foreigner. Culturally and physically, I stand out from the beautiful people of this country. Sometimes this can get tiring: the comments, the stares, the communication struggles, the feeling of vulnerability, the inability to blend in.

Nevertheless, it's a good daily reminder that I don't belong, not here or in America nor anywhere else.

"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ..."                           ~Philippians 3:20

"They... acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city."                                 ~Hebrews 11:13b-16

I can't wait to get Home, can you?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Train Ticket

Sometimes I'm reminded of how gracious God's timing is. I was recently re-reading a wonderful book: The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. It is, by the way, a book worth reading and re-reading!

Corrie, author of The Hiding Place

Anyway, one night I was heart-heavy as I missed my beloved Aunt Jean, who went to be with Jesus in January. I ached and wept and mourned-and felt alone. Nothing could be further from the truth. "Please help me, Jesus," I prayed. "Comfort me and remind me of how good it is that she is with you"

At last I took up The Hiding Place in an effort to distract myself. Soon, I was weeping afresh; this time with joy! I was blown away by the tender love of my Heavenly Father. I knew it was no coincidence that I read this story from Corrie's childhood as she discussed her fear of death with her father:

"That night as he [father] stepped through the door, I burst into tears. "I need you! I sobbed. "You can't die! You can't!" Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. "Corrie," he began gently, "when you and I go to Amsterdam-when do I give you your ticket?"
I sniffed a few times, considering this."Why just before we get on the train."
"Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we're going to need things too. Don't run out ahead of Him Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need-just in time."
And He has given the strength I need; though I may mourn, He is there. The hope of heaven is strong in my heart, and I know Aunt Jean is there. Though I miss her, I will see her again-in the presence of our Savior. Hallelujah!

Thursday, April 4, 2013