Tuesday, November 17, 2015

When Church is Discouraging

Have you ever been to church, waiting, preparing, and hoping for an uplifting and encouraging time among believers, only to be completely discouraged and wondering why you even went? I know this happens to many believers, but I had never experienced it- until this week. We have a small group of foreign believers that meet together. (It's not a church, but rather a gathering of believers, because we don't have a set pastor, don't do communion or baptisms, and many other reasons.) I am usually "filled-up" by going each week, because I am fed by God's word, I am encouraged by other believers, and I am with foreigners who understand what it's like to live as an expat. However, this week, that was not the case. Details aren't necessary, but let's just say, I went home and told my husband (who was out of town for work) that it probably would have been better had I not even gone it was so disheartening.
I write this, not as a rant, but as a warning to believers- LOVE YOUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS! There are a million verses in the Bible about how to do this, and how it is our responsibility and our privilege to do so.
 How will the world know God's love (and want that love) if they don't see it amongst us?
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
Why should we care? Because Jesus cared about us. He loved us.
We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19
Love the outcast. Pray for the discouraged. Encourage the one in need. Be the love of Christ to others, glorifying God, and therefore fulfilling the purpose for which He made us. Be the church!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

My Week "Off"

Recently, I had the chance to go to our country's capital for 4 days to attend some meetings and trainings. I had a wonderful time, met many new people, caught up with a handful of old friends (which was SO good for my soul!) and ate lots of great food! While I was gone, Kyle held down the fort at home. He had some of our friends over (Kyle's friend, his wife, and their two boys) and they thought it was very interesting that I left my family all week. We had them over again this week, and they brought it up again.

Kyle's friend: So, you had a good time away? Weren't you worried the whole time you were gone about your children? I talked with (my wife) about this, and she also found it very interesting.
Me: It was fine! I really enjoyed it! I didn't have to worry, and I had a good time with my other girl friends! What did (your wife) say when you talked with her?
Friend's wife: I would never leave him alone with the kids! What if they wanted milk and he didn't give them milk?! (Laughing, as though the thought of her husband taking care of their children was implausible.)
Kyle's friend: This is just not our culture to leave our children for so long. This is American culture, but not our culture.
Me: It's not our culture either, but it was great. And I have a great husband who did a great job while I was gone!

Oh, the things people think about us. :-) To Kyle, good job taking care of the kids. I know that if they need milk, you'll get it for them. I love you!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Our Day of Worship

In the midst of a town that celebrates every holiday and festival from nearly every religion, including Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, and Christianity, we have A LOT of "religious holidays." Amazingly, on most of these days, the schools are also closed. So, Corinth has A LOT of days off of school, especially now, during "festival season." Last week, she only had school one day, and was off for 4 days. On the day of a major holiday, I decided that we were going to dedicate our school time to worshiping the One True God, and we got a little creative with it! Kyle and Corinth worshiped God through art and poetry, and then Corinth, Noah and I worshiped God through music and dance. We danced to some great Christian music, which was very good for my soul (and hopefully theirs too!) Here are Corinth's poem (truly her creation with a little help from her Daddy) and their Daddy/daughter art! 

You are really good
You take away our fears.
And when I cry, 
You take away my tears.
You made our ears.
You know all our years.
You are really good.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Wash Your Diseases Away! (And get a baby!)

Firstly, I want to say that in the beginning of July, I made a goal to write a blog post at least once per month. Then, I wrote a July blog post and forgot about it for 2 1/2 months. :-) Forgive me! I really do want to be more consistent, so if you're interested in something about our lives here, let me know and I'll try to do a blog about it! I think all the time, "I should write about that..." but then forget by the time I get home!

So, here in the land of super-"holy" Hinduism, we see festivals and partakers of festivals A LOT. And, during festival season (August-December), every week we have at least 1 festival of some kind. Because we live in the "holiest" place in Hinduism, we see people celebrate festivals from all over the country. Meaning, different parts of the country have different holy days/festivals, but most of them involve pilgrims coming to our city for it's holiness. One that I want to write about happened last week.

I was on my way to do a women's training, focused on abortion, as well as other good news topics, when I came upon a HUGE traffic jam. I realized that the thousands of people walking on the streets were walking to a large temple close to our house. After reaching my destination, I asked my local friend what everyone was doing going to that temple. She told me that there are 2 places in our city that you can go for this holiday, and one of them was the large temple we live close to.

Here's the kicker: the holiday/festival is for people who have sicknesses, diseases, or medical issues (including infertility or lack of having a boy baby). People go to the pond that is inside of the temple grounds and "bathe their sickness" off of them. They then shed their old, diseased clothing, put new clothing on, and believe they are made well. This also goes for those who can't get pregnant, or haven't been successful having a "prized" baby boy. They bathe their inability away, put on new clothing, and believe that the gods are going to give them what they prayed for in the water.

As I sat, about to teach about how girl babies are just as special as boy babies, about abortion, and about how there are many families that would love a child through adoption if the birth parents can't/don't want to care for the baby, my heart was so sad. Why is the general thought of this country so... I don't even know the right word for it. Broken? Sexist? Selfish? I know there are lots of people here that love their daughters, and I proudly applaud that. I have a boy and a girl and I love them both more than I could have ever imagined. But most people don't even celebrate the birth of their daughters, because they are seen as a burden from the moment they are born. WHY!!!!!!!!!!! (<--frustration)

Please pray for these people- that they would love their children, daughters and sons alike, that they would be healed from their diseases in HIS name, that they would know truth, and that they would be free!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Takeaways from Thailand

Our family recently took a wonderful vacation to Thailand. Summary- it was great! Here are a few snippets of our time there that I wanted to share!

-The first 10 days we were there, we spent time at a resort with Kyle's mom and dad, who met us there. It was AMAZING to be with them, and I wish it weren't only 10 days every year or year and a half. Anyway, after that, they went back to the good ole USA and we traveled to another city for some meetings. At those meetings, we caught up with lots of friends we've met since living here! I was talking with one of those friends, whom I greatly admire, about how the hardest thing about me living here is being away from family. People ask us a lot if we are coming back for another term, and our answer is "we'll see!" It's so hard for me to live away from our extended families, and some days I dream of what it would be like if we weren't on the exact opposite side of the world from them. People also ask us if we might move to another city. (Our city is known by many as being one of the hardest cities in the world to live in, and everyone likes to tell us how terrible our city is- even the ones who have never visited!) Anyway, I was telling my friend that if we live overseas, it will be in v-town. The main reason for not liking living here is that my family isn't here. Nor is my family in Delhi, Mumbai, Paris, London, or even Sacramento. My heart would still have that longing. Then, my friend (who actually lived in my city for 5 years!), in her great wisdom told me this: she longs for family while she's living in South Asia, and she longs for her South Asian family when she's back in the States. But she likes that 'tension' because it helps her always remember that this world is not her home, and we're never going to be settled until we're in heaven! I'm not quite there in "liking the tension," but I really appreciated her attitude and heart toward her calling here. Thanks, friend!

-While we were at the resort with my in-laws, the breakfasts were served buffet style. My 3 year old darling girl decided she wanted to carry her plate back to the table by herself and then promptly dropped it, contents spilling everywhere. We must not have been there long enough for me to relax yet, because that pushed my angry-mom button. I didn't say anything to my sweet girl, but I'm sure my face said enough. Another mom (of older children) whom I had yet to meet, came over with a broom and dustpan and cleaned up my daughter's mess for me while I was searching for napkins. I was so moved by that. It wasn't anything outstandingly abnormal- she just swept up a mess, which I'm sure she does quite often at home herself. But to this mom of 2 littles, it was huge. She loved a stranger and became a blessing the instant she saw the opportunity. As simple an act as that was, I think I will remember her lovingkindness for many years, and I hope I can love on others, especially moms, the way she loved on me that day! 

-While on vacation, we were on a country that worships Buddha. Despite the extreme beauty of Thailand, it's impossible to not still see the lostness of the people there. And that made my heart sad. Thailand is know as "the land of smiles," but the people there are still without hope. While we were at the resort, we went almost daily to a fresh fruit smoothie stand right next to our resort. Each day, I felt God leading me to share with the woman who runs the stand. Each day, I cowardly declined. Until the last day. I got up the nerve, and started the conversation. Turns out, others have shared with her, and she has a Bible, but wasn't very interested in talking about it. And that was okay. I know she has the opportunity to know, I know she's been told, and I know that I was (finally) faithful to what God wanted me to do. I say this to encourage you- you're never "on vacation" from God's commands for your life! As Lecrae says, go hard or go home! 

-Many of my female American friends who live overseas have organizations and activities that they are involved in to help women and to share the good news. I, also, train women monthly, using a Sanctity of Life curriculum. But, during our meetings one friend brought up (in a large group meeting) that not every woman's calling is to be involved in an organization or activity. Some women are called to stay at home- to run their household well, to love and support their husbands, and to love and train their kids. And for some women that is enough! Not that they don't want to do more (though that's sometimes true), but that God hasn't planned for them to do more. I also find so many women comparing themselves to other women when they live in totally different worlds! Different cities, different jobs, different numbers of kids, different ages of kids, different giftings- I could go on and on! The point is this- beseech God! Ask Him what HIS will for your life is, and do it with all your heart. And, then, have peace about it and joy throughout it. That's my goal, and I'd love prayer from you that I would be able to do that well during this season of my life!

-Thailand is amazing! It was my 2nd time to go, this time to the beachy south/east, and previously to the jungly north, and it's pretty much amazing everywhere! You should totally go! (And I'd love to go with you!) Here's our family photo from paradise!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Corinth's First Day of School!

Corinth has been doing homeschool for right over a year, and has LOVED it! However, she doesn't have very many opportunities to spend time with other kids her age. For some time, my heart has wanted her to have more local friends who she can spend time with, learn from, and show love towards. Well, then, my good friend, who happens to live on my street, decided to open up a preschool! We weren't planning on putting Corinth in at first, because I really do love doing homeschool with her, and she loves doing it with me. However, I saw the opportunity for new friendships, so she is now doing preschool 3 days a week and homeschool 2 days a week. We've only had 1 day of each so far since we started, but it is going great! Both days she did really well, and is excited to go back! :-) This year, you can pray that Corinth will grow in her knowledge, but also in her love for one another as she learns how to love so many new friends. In our house, we say what makes you beautiful is how you show God's love to one another. You can also pray for me and for Corinth's teacher, that we will guide her well in knowledge and love! :-)

She was so excited! 

On our 2 minute walk to school!

So happy! She had a great first day!


There is a woman in my city whom I lovingly refer to as "Bhabi. "'Bhabi' (pronounced 'bobby') means sister-in-law. I call her that firstly because she is my good friend/language helper's bhabi (my language helper's brother's wife.) But I also just really love her and enjoy spending time with her when we can. Bhabi has been married for 5 years, 4 of which she and her husband have been trying to get pregnant. They have both had all of the tests, which all have come back normal, but still nothing happened. They, especially Bhabi, have been so discouraged for so long. Then, Bhabi came to a Sanctity of Life training that I and my language helper did at my language helper's home. She invited her neighbors and family, and 15ish people came (which is a fairly close-to-perfect number for a training!) We shared the knowledge we had with these women, knowing there were women in the room that were struggling with many different things. Some had recently had abortions. Some had grow to old age without ever having children. And some, including Bhabi, were of child-bearing age, but could not conceive. Well, Bhabi must have been paying close attention, because 2 months after the training, she was pregnant!!! She didn't believe the doctors, and asked me to come over to her house. I read the paperwork and told her, yes, she was pregnant. After my confirmation, her eyes lit up- now she believed! I got to tell her all about the first weeks of pregnancy (as she was only 3 weeks along when she found out and told me!) She told me she wanted me to come to all of her doctors' appointments with her, to which I gladly obliged! (I guess I'm now her unofficial doula!) I am so thrilled! :-) We went to her first ultrasound a few weeks ago (when she was 8 weeks pregnant), and she got to hear the heartbeat and see the baby in an ultrasound for the first time. I wish I would have videoed her response, because it would bring tears to your eyes. I snapped a picture of the moment, so I'll let you imagine the rest. Pray for Bhabi- she is not a follower of Jesus. I pray that she will know Him personally one day, and that she will also know that this baby is a blessing from God (as all are!).

Friday, April 3, 2015

Women's Trainings/Abortion

**This post is written... uh, fluidly. Basically, this was for me to get out, so it's kind of all over the place! Sorry! Hopefully it's at least clear enough to barely follow!**

1 year ago (April 2014), I had the privilege of attending a training for trainers on the content of pregnancy and abortion in India. I was VERY pregnant, so the topics that we covered hit home even more than they usually do. This is a topic that God has given me a passion for even before we lived here. In America, I was part of a cooperation that prays over abortion clinics. In a 40-day period of prayer, people are outside of the main clinics of cities all across America. During these 40 days, people are continually sitting outside- 24 hours a day for 40 days. I went every Thursday from 10-11, and I took baby Corinth with me when I went. I remember praying through so many verses from the Bible that talk about how precious, important, and intentional life is to God (and so should be to us.)

I had NO CLUE then that I would soon live in a country where abortion is not seen as wrong in any way by a majority of the population, and is seen as a simple procedure- no big deal. I have even met and talked with church leaders and pastors' wives who have said to me, "but if we don't want the child, then it's not wrong to abort it." Several times over this matter my heart has split in half. Half of my heart boils up and is extremely angry, raging against the (in my opinion) stupidity of others to think that it's 'no big deal.' The other half laments, full of sadness for the people who don't know, the people who don't understand, the people who don't care, and mostly the babies who aren't given a chance. I love my boy baby, but I love my girl baby too. Why would I not? How is she any less of a blessing to me than he is? She's not! She's a HUGE blessing to me, and my life would be completely incomplete without her. I just wish the culture here could see that girls and women are blessings! No one truly sits and thinks, "I wish I had never had a mom. She's been such a burden to me." Then why do so many people think this way about baby girls? (Hate to break this to you, but your mom was once a baby girl. So was your grandma, sister, wife, aunty.)

After the training I attended in April, I was so excited to go out and start training. I didn't get to do anything with it over hot season (April-October) because it's just too hot, plus I had a baby and wasn't going to bring a newborn out in 120+ degree weather. (Our high last summer was 124, in case you were wondering. And we only have power about 1/3 of the day, in case you were wondering that too!) Anyway, I did my first training with my friend and our language helper in December and it was great! Since December, I have done a training every month in a different location with a different group of women. It has been great! I love doing it, and have loved the feedback they give afterward.

The last training I did was last week, while we were in a small town doing our 5-day long language immersion. I mentioned to them that I'd love to do a women's training if it was possible. They said that a group of 50ish lactating moms come every Thursday for a child development program and that they'd love for me to teach them. Well, okay! That was easy! I was so excited to teach them! I did an abbreviated hour version of my 4 hour training, with Noah on my hip the entire time. :-) Anyway, afterward, a woman, named Ooma, came up to me and told me her story. She has 3 children and is currently 15 weeks pregnant with her 4th child. She said, "I don't want anymore kids, but now I know that abortion is sin, so I guess I have to keep the baby." I smiled, encouraged her, reiterated to her that God creates every life for a specific, special reason, and prayed for her. Please pray with me that she keeps this baby and that she sees the great blessing that her child is to her.

Please pray also for the millions of women who have abortions- India and China have the highest rates, but America isn't too far behind. Please pray for everyone to understand that life in the womb is LIFE. Please help women stand up for their babies when they are being forced to have abortions. Please pray for the value of human life and female life to increase. Please also pray for me- that my heart would have compassion as I live in this culture, and that I would lovingly share truth with those all around me who don't know. Thanks.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Mommy Moment

After watching the movie Mom's Night Out at the end of a long week of single parenthood (because my hubs has been out of town all week), I was inspired to write a blog. :-)

I talked with a good friend this morning. She and I have been friends since 8th grade, she was a bridesmaid in my wedding, yet we haven't talked in about a year (which I hate!) Well, anyway, as many people say when I talk with them after a long time, she said, "I don't have anything interesting going on in my life. You're the one who lives on the other side of the world!" TRUE. I do live pretty much on the exact opposite side of the world from America. It is also true that the culture I live in here is COMPLETELY different than the culture that I grew up in and most of my family and friends still live in. But, my life really isn't that much different.

I'm God's child. I'm Kyle's wife. I'm Corinth and Noah's Mommy. And I like to tell people about Jesus. If you are a faithful follower of God, that shouldn't sound too far off from your life. My days consist of learning language (which I know isn't normal), but also of making meals, feeding little people, changing diapers, cleaning, teaching my preschooler, reading books with my kids, and playing. It is really easy to live here and think, "What am I doing here? What's the point? I'm doing the same thing here that I would be doing in America." But then sometimes I realize, "that's okay." That's OKAY. What did God purpose me for? To be His child, desiring an intimate relationship with Him, striving to glorify Him with my life. In that comes sharing His love with others, which I do. To be Kyle's wife. He made no accident when He sent us both to Panera bread on February 28, 2010. To be Corinth and Noah's Mommy. When it is super hard because you can't put your clingy mama's boy down for 5 seconds to discipline your toddler in all of her terrible-two-ness, and when I get emotional at the end of the day because I think about how much of the day was discipline and correction and how much of it was laughter. (And now I'm crying again.) When I feel like I can't give my kids what they need. When I feel like they are lacking because I am lacking.

But God does not make mistakes. He made me His child. He made me Kyle's wife. And He made me the Mommy of the two greatest blessings in my life apart from Christ. The Duggars (yes, I watch them!) say to each other, especially on difficult days, "these are the best days of our lives, and we don't even know it." Pray for me (and for yourself)- that I would be His child, desiring Him, and that He would give me joy in all of the things that He has blessed me with and entrusted to me. Pray that my heart would be content in all circumstances. And pray that the love of the Lord would run deep, in my heart, in our family, and in the body of Christ all over the world, whether we are in America, or all the way "on the other side."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Another Guest Blogger- My Mommy!

(This blog is written by my mom, Debbie, after their visit over Christmas!)

Our visit was such a blessing.

We knew it was a hard place to live. We had heard stories from our kids and parents of other kids who had lived there. But it was important to us that we see it. We needed to experience it to understand our kids' lives there. And it was very overwhelming at first. We became more at ease with the chaos as time went by, but I don't think I could ever live there.

We wanted to see what they dealt with daily, and did, but I was BLESSED to see how equipped they are to live there. God knew their future and developed in them personality traits that would make them useful to him in this place.

Kathy has a strong will and boldness. She has always been able to stand up and speak her mind. Sometimes, as a teenager, that didn't seem like a good thing!  But I saw her strongly stand up to people who think they can take advantage of her because she is a foreigner. God made her the way he needed her to be. He gave her an ability to learn language well. He gave her a heart for children to teach and to love. He gave her a passion to help women. I can SEE God using her as he designed.

Kyle has such an easy going personality.  I see that at work as he calmly drives through the chaotic streets. I promise you that this was God's design, most of us could not do that!  When we first met Kyle, it was jokingly said that he never met a stranger. His ability to just start chats with people benefits him so much.  I can SEE God using him as he designed.

So all of who they are now and how they are used was begun long ago as God equipped them. I am comforted by realizing this and seeing them serve. I am grateful for God's plan.

I am a BLESSED mom!


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Kelli's Visit- A Special Guest Blogger!

This is a post, written by my sister, Kelli, after she and my parents visited us in our city for Christmas 2014! (But first, an amendment to a previous post- the beautiful, flowering plant against the hideous concrete wall was ripped out shortly after my post was written... and as the saying goes, "This is India!")

It had been a very long year and 3 months since I had seen them and felt their hugs.

When I saw the faces of Kathy and Kyle, I felt like things were finally right.

When Corinth’s sweet smile greeted me with the words “I love you Auntie Kel”, my heart melted.

And when I got to hold my baby nephew Noah for the very first time, I was overwhelmed with joy.

8,400 miles away… and I was at home. Because my family is my home.

 India is a completely different world. So many people crowded everywhere. Bicycles, motor bikes, autos, rickshaws. With no lanes, or any rules on the road at all for that matter, car horns are constantly sounding. Animals roam freely. Cows, birds, pigs, water buffalo, dogs, chipmunks, goats, donkeys. Oh and those monkeys!

 The rhythmic up and down inflections of the Hindi language call out from market workers and shop owners. Bangles and head scarfs adorn the women whose small frames conceal the strength that they possess. Every so often, a bright smile overcomes the face of a hardworking man. Often when he sees the blonde pigtails of my sweet niece, the heaviness of his day is lifted just a little.

 Walking inside someone’s home, shoes are left outside by the door, bringing an immediate sense of comfort and familiarity with the other sock-footed strangers. Sitting on the floor, personal bubbles are completely burst, but it does not phase anyone. They are all at home. Because their church family is their home.

 Sweet voices fill the room. Worshipping the Lord. I do not know the language, but I can see the meaning in their passionate faces. I do not recognize the words, but the familiar melodies of hymns bring me into communion with my fellow believers. When heads are bowed and eyes are closed, we are speaking to the same Heavenly Father. No language is foreign to His ears. We are all His creation. We are all His children.

 With hot chai in our bellies, and sweet songs in our hearts, it is time to go. The common greeting and salutation of Namaste is as normal as a handshake, but amongst fellow believers a different phrase is exchanged. Jai masih ki. There is victory in the Messiah. That victory is what brings hope in such a broken world.

 To have so few possessions, to sleep six or seven in a room, to be surrounded by poverty; these are some of the richest people. Christ is our victory. He is greater than any earthly riches.

 Since being home, I have definitely enjoyed having heat, and having quiet orderly streets, and being able to get back into my routine. But one thing that carried over from my trip was the realization that having so many possessions is not necessary. Excess does not equal success; it equals supply that we can give to others. I have cleaned out my closet and gathered three large bags to donate to those who have a need. It is not much, but is a start to a simpler lifestyle.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

 I have so much respect for my sister Kathy and my brother-in-law Kyle. Day after day, they confront hardships with faith, and they are teaching Corinth and Noah how to be strong followers of the Lord.

 Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Jai Masih Ki!