2.26.2015

Going Back to China!

It's that time again! Plans for another Superkids trip are well underway. The last two years the trips have been in June but, as we move toward going twice a year, we have moved the spring trip to April this year! So, six weeks from now, on April 11, I'll be getting on a plane again, China-bound!




Things are going to be a little different this time since Superkids has seen some changes in the last few months. Only two of last year's team of five ladies are returning. One thing I'm super excited about is that April, the caseworker we worked with when we adopted Eliana, is going. We love her so much and I am thrilled that I get to travel with her as she experiences China for the first time!



I can't wait to be there again! The sounds, the sights, the smells, the glorious hotel breakfasts...





But mostly I think about the children. I can't wait to see the children I've seen before! I can't wait to deliver care packages. I can't wait to send photos and updates to families who are anxiously waiting at home. I can't wait to meet new children! That is what I look forward to the most. That is why I go back. I love those kiddos!

And this year I have the added blessing of staying an extra day so that I can go to Beijing and meet the Stuart Weaver family! I'm very excited about this and can't wait to see them and to get a little taste of China from their perspective.


2.24.2015

Why We Do What We Do {Homeschooling}

We have not always homeschooled our children. Our boys went to a small church school until 3 years ago. They did well there and we were pleased with the education they received. But we had a growing realization that it might not be the best fit for our family.


Our boys have always learned pretty quickly and easily. They would end up spending hours of every week sitting at their desks reading books from the school library. They all read all of the books available to them in the course of each school year. This is great in a way, but they really were just putting in time at school. We realized more and more that each of them could pursue their own interests more if their free time was spent doing something they enjoyed doing or wanted to learn about.



So, we pulled them out and started homeschooling. This was a huge step for us because the church we were part of at the time required families to send their children to the church school. So this meant a church change as well as an educational change for us.


It hasn't been easy, this homeschooling thing. And it hasn't always worked exactly like I thought it might. But... the children are learning and so am I. And, for the most part, we are enjoying doing it.

Douglas is set to graduate from high school about 1 1/2 years early. He has been able to spend a lot of time learning to play the violin and piano. So it has been good for him.



We talk of possibly joining a Classical Conversations homeschool group next year. We think that it might help to provide some challenge,  competition, and interest to our school year. I think we are always trying to find a way to allow our children to learn and to become well adjusted adults. But I guess that is just called parenting, right?



I would have to say that homeschooling has been good for our family. I love to think about, talk about, and read about different learning styles and how to tailor each child's curriculum to meet his/her needs and abilities. I love to theorize about brain development and how to facilitate optimal learning for each child.



But in the everyday stuff, it pretty much means doing lessons, helping them over the rough patches, and adding a little this or that to make it interesting. It is more glorious in the planning than in the executing! :) 



So we love homeschooling. But we are not die hard homeschoolers. We know it is working well for our family right now. But some time we might decide another option would be a better fit for one reason or another.



Until then, most weekdays between 9 and 1, I'll probably be trying to help someone diagram a sentence or sound out a word.
 

2.22.2015

Surviving the Freeze

It's been cold. The kind of frigid, unrelenting cold that has mothers and children everywhere looking for innovative ways to survive yet another house-bound day.



Homeschoolers have the advantage in this in some ways. Every day can just follow the normal routine. School can move forward with schedules being interrupted. Let it snow and ice and blow... and bring on the math!

On the other hand, homeschooling means everyone is always at home. Mother and five children. All day. Every day. Nothing else going. Unless I force myself to actually walk out the door and drive somewhere.

So, what do we do to survive? Well, we add projects to some school subjects. We do more science experiments. We paint, and build blanket forts. We color and play games and string beads. And please tell me I'm not the only mom who has used Google to try to find out how many minutes children can safely play outside in frigid temperatures.





Yesterday we decided to brave the snow and cold and get out for a while. I asked everyone if they would rather go ice skating or swimming. Their answer was BOTH!! So we did. We made sure there was enough time between that their hair was dry from swimming before they went out on the ice, but they certainly got plenty of good exercise! And they were very tired last night, so I call that success!




Today church was cancelled due to snow. So we are enjoying the novelty of having Keith here for the day. And it is warmer today. So no googling required, this tribe is getting some time outside! Especially since, according to the weather predictions, the temperatures are going to be dropping again tomorrow...

2.19.2015

新年快樂 - Gong Xi Fa Cai - Happy Chinese New Year

May the year ahead be blessed, whether you follow the Gregorian or the Lunar calendar! 




2.17.2015

Why We Do What We Do {Head Covering}

Let me start with the Bible verses that this belief is based on.  In 1 Corinthians 11 it states that a woman is to cover her head when she prays or prophesies. It also states that a man is to have his head uncovered when praying or prophesying. Now an interesting thing about the book of 1 Corinthians is that Paul (the writer of the book) specifically mentions various times that he is speaking his own opinions.  He also says at another place that a certain command is from God and not from him. It can make this book a little difficult to read and understand.

1 Corinthians 11: 3-16 is about submission to the God-given chain of command. The order is this: God the Father, God the Son, the man or husband, and the woman or wife. The head covering on a Christian woman symbolizes her acceptance of this order. The verse that outlines this order is verse 3: "But I want you to realize  that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God".

God's order is that the husband is the head of the wife, but this does not mean that there is any inequality or inferiority implied in this passage. A husband and wife are united and equal, just as God and Christ are. This is not teaching that women are inferior and must submit in everything to man.  It is teaching God's order and spiritual headship.

Personally, covering my head makes me think about gender, authority, and submission. This can conjure up an image of the servile woman serving a harsh, controlling taskmaster. But that idea of authority certainly does not come from Jesus! He taught us that He was willing to wash his disciples’ dirty feet. He teaches that men are supposed to love their wives as Christ loves the church. In other words, in God's kingdom, the leader is to be the servant. That is an easy kind of authority to submit to!

I believe this passage teaches that a husband and wife are mutually submissive. And that I need to be careful not to use the strong tools of manipulation and control that many women use on men. So my covering is a symbol that I commit to not being bossy, manipulative, or controlling.

But what about legalism? Wearing a head covering can be legalism free.  As a matter of fact, it can be quite freeing. By choosing to obey this Bible passage out of a heart full of love for God and His ways, I free myself from the pressure of Western culture. Where the practice of the head covering becomes abused is when men pressure women to wear it out of a sense of guilt or through manipulation. Saying that only certain patterns, colors, or types of coverings are acceptable does not fit with the spirit of this scripture.

Jesus doesn't impose a list of rules. His law is of love. This passage is better understood when it is understood in this light.

So this begs the question... What about the Christian women who do not view this scripture as literally as I do? Well, this is not (in my opinion) a "thus sayeth the Lord" command (such as stealing, lying, adultery, etc.). I choose to view it in a literal sense while realizing that it really is a heart matter.  No amount of putting something on my head gives me a submissive heart. So I certainly do not think that this is an issue on which you can judge or base your impression of anyone's spiritual experience. On the other hand, as I said, I truly find it to be freeing and a sign that I am secure enough in my identity as a women of God that I am happy to show my submission in a constant, physical way. To quote another woman who decided to cover her head:

‘I wanted to reveal my warmth and my love and be connected to people; instead of them looking at something external…I wanted to be an attractive person for who I am on the inside. I cover in order to be who I truly am.’  

And obviously, a head covering is only one way to accomplish this, but it is a powerful way. As yet another woman says,

"Somehow, this seemingly arbitrary bit of cloth on my head helped me to navigate my own path through the warzones of feminism versus subjugation, egalitarian versus complementarian, and sexual object versus sexless nun, to a place where I feel comfortable. So, while that continues, the scarf stays on."

This is my personal experience as a Christian woman. What are your experiences? Why do you choose to wear or not wear a head covering?

2.12.2015

INFJ

A couple of years ago I took the Briggs/Myers personality test. I read the results and laughed quietly to myself about how accurately it described me. (Well, except that the "J" should mean that I'm all organized and very careful about how everything is done! I assume the young lady who helps me doesn't read this blog, but if she did, the tales she could tell...) I sent a text to Keith because I was amused by it. And that is where it stopped.

That is, until a few months ago, when this test resurfaced in an email group that Keith is part of and he took the test. Needless to say, his personality is quite different from mine. He is an ENFP. He was also amazed at how accurately the test described him. But where I laughed quietly to myself and told one person, he shared it with family, friends, and co-workers. He learned lessons from it and shared it with others. He mentioned it in Sunday School and generally used it as an opportunity to learn something about himself and other people.

And I think my favorite part was just our different ways of handling it which fit our personalities exactly.

Anyway, my other favorite part is that now I'm throwing it out there. I'm INFJ according to this test. And, as I like to tell all of my friends (Okay, okay, BOTH of my friends...) I share a personality with Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela and a few other people I won't bother mentioning because well, Mother Teresa...

Oh, and one more favorite thing, the website gives recommendations for which personality type each type should marry. You guessed it, it suggests that INFJ's and ENFP's make good partners. But we didn't need some silly website to tell us that we are perfectly suited for one another...

So tell me, what about you? What personality are you? Is it accurate?


2.05.2015

Introducing A New Blog Series

For a little while I have thinking about a blog series. Most of you know we are conservative Christians who attend a Mennonite church. I thought some of you might enjoy reading some posts on why we do what we do. Not that I pretend to have all of the answers, not that I think our way is the only right way, but I still think I'll put it out there. For better or for worse.

Here are a few of the topics I plan to write about in the coming weeks. Please comment if you wonder about something we do and would like to know why we do it that way!

The head covering
Homeschooling
Modesty
Use of modern technology
Movies/television
Orphan care
Simplicity

And anything else I think of as we go along. :)

I will be writing the articles then asking Keith to preview them prior to posting them since I want to be certain that I clearly outline how we, as a family, view each topic.

Anyway, stay tuned, and comment with questions. Now is your chance!

 
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