Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Blow the Lid Off the Box


 “Faithful, abundant and True,” has been a timely study in Misawa.  


I read as Priscilla shared we file our knowledge and experiences with God into a box. The box is filled based on study, church traditions, history with God - it is o.k. to have a God box.  It is arrogant to put a lid on the box and assume God cannot and will not ever act in a way not contained in our box. I’ve watched God move in unexpected ways in Asia region.  The following quote echoes what I hear God speak to me in our trysts through the word, meditation, and the sweet confirmation of the Holy Spirit revealing His word and character.

“Our God is predictable in His character, but He is unpredictable in His activity. You cannot box God in. When you put your lid on a box, it doesn’t limit God; it limits your awareness of God. He’s still moving and speaking, yet you can be unaware of His transcendence, His greatness, and His ability because it’s outside your little box.” Page 94, Faithful, Abundant, True.

When God chooses to act in an unexpected and unpredictable way, I am forced to make a choice. Will I retreat to my comfort zone? Will I become disillusioned with God? Will I doubt His existence because He is not meeting my expectations?  Will I see His activity as an invitation to move out of the box?  Will I accept His loving invitation to know Him deeper? Will I allow myself to discover new aspects of His character? Will I confidently dance with him in a vulnerable place where my knowledge of His character is the only thing of which I’m sure? Will I allow Jesus, rather than my box, to be my fixed point of reference (Heb 12:1-2)?

I’ve watched God move.  Local conferences were interrupted with tsunamis. Local boards suddenly scattered. Many groups saw over 70% of their women depart, many haven’t returned as of yet. Leadership selection teams were disrupted. PCS schedules were changed. Regional Conference location changed.  Struggling leadership teams report full selected boards!  Petty conflicts have died in the face of true crisis. Bridges for the gospel of Jesus are being laid! The body of Christ is pulling together on behalf of an unchurched nation. I see our prayer for intimacy with God and each other being answered. I see small cultural shifts as we pray for revival in the nation of Japan.

Let’s allow God to blow the lid off our boxes. I want to be fully aware of God’s activity. Don’t you? You can trust His character. I see a new desire to dance with God outside of the box.  Will you join the dance?


*First shared at pwoc.org on Asia Region's page


Choosing Joy!
©2011 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

I REFUSE!

Yes, we get new songs late around here...but having heard this one it's one of my new favorites...beware - if you're in my circle of ministry - .it's sure to show up.... 



I Refuse lyrics
Songwriters: Benjamin Glover;Joshua David Wilson


Sometimes I
I just want to close my eyes
And act like everyone's alright
When I know they're not

This world needs God
But it's easier to stand and watch
I could say a prayer and just move on
Like nothing's wrong

But I refuse
'Cause I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse

To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose
Not to move but I refuse

I can hear the least of these
Crying out so desperately
And I know we are the hands and feet
Of You, oh God

So, if You say move
It's time for me to follow through
And do what I was made to do
Show them who You are

'Cause I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse

To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose
Not to move but I refuse

To stand and watch the weary and lost
Cry out for help
I refuse to turn my back
And try and act like all is well

I refuse to stay unchanged
To wait another day, to die to myself
I refuse to make one more excuse

'Cause I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse

To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose
Not to move but I refuse

I refuse
I refuse

Lyrics from elyrics.
Choosing Joy!
©2011 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Concluding a Full Day

After lunch and the infamous m/m experiment, we worked on a school a few more hours. The youngers and I worked on more booklets for their science Learn N Folders, phonics, math and language arts. 


After school (4 p.m.) we headed to Swan Park.....I wanted to stay home and get an hour of "PWOC Work" done....but I knew I needed to stick with the plan to get out and about a few times a week. The rest of the week will be busy with planning for a Local PWOC Planning and Training retreat, as well as meeting with our new Spiritual Life and the rest of the Exec Board with our chaplain....so this was the day to spend time playing with the kids. 


We explored a new trail....they've been doing a lot of work in these woods. We especially loved finding another elderly man blatantly ignoring the "Don't Fish" signs written in Japanese and English. He told us it was o.k. to fish.... they were too small for even breakfast. ::snort:: 




We glimpsed this pond from above. We tried to get closer as I wanted to see if it was a hot spring...

Lilacs starting to bloom reminded me of Grams. I fondly remembered those "simpler" days in Hardin with Grams and Uncle Bill up the street. 

The tower is still closed....

Not sure why she insisted on a rain coat today, but it looked cute with the flowers. LOL 

Jared rode his bike and so Stacia didn't realize he was in the park until she saw him across the field and took off running to give him a "love hug". 

This may be easier if she weren't wearing crocs? 

WAR





Note the missing bottom front teeth....and no blood at all despite her worrying for weeks about it. 


Jared rode home. The others and I stopped at the Farmer's Market on the way home for farm fresh asparagus, potatoes, green beans, onion and eggs.  Yum. I made Popcorn chicken, ranch potato wedges, steamed green beans and SALAD for dinner. 

Stacia read her first "I See Sam" book today...and we are all very proud of her. I'm not sure I'm using the program right - seems something is missing - but Zander and now Stacia are reading....so I'm assuming eventually they'll learn all the sounds - just not in the order I'm used to teaching them. LOL  I doubt anything is missing....I'm just used to teaching phonics in a certain progression....but that progression was NOT working for Zander....this does...and Stacia has been working through another program but picked up a book and read today...think she likes this  approach better too. LOL 

Choosing Joy!
©2011 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Restructuring School

Recharge, Reflect, Restructure. 


This week we continue to restructure. I've been doing couch school with the three younger ones. We've been combining Lower and Upper Grammar. I thought this was a good plan, but it actually ends up taking all students more time as they listen to the other level.....so today....Nolan (6th grade) took all the upper grammar books, a list of what is expected and branched out on his own. 


This will allow the younger two to read books which appeal to them, speed up couch school, allow me more time for phonics and math, and allow us to begin to double up through the next month.  We read Velveteen Rabbit today instead of Hakim's history and  The Railway Children. ::snort::   I was in my "combine mode" - combine as many students as possible for couch school.....and forgot it really doesn't MATTER with Tapestry of Grace. The older ones can go at their own pace and we'll all still be on the same topics! I simply didn't want to admit that couch school is shrinking and Nolan is more than ready to be an independent learner.  I'm going to need a smaller couch soon....remembering fondly the days when we needed TWO COUCHES for couch school. ::snort:: 


We even had time for a science experiment.....


M/M's equal animals.....sort by colors.....and then make sure all groups have the same number....


Choose 3 colors and cut and crumple up 7 sheets of each color. Put in the laundry basket. We're making  a habitat for our animals. 

Guess how many of each color animal you will find in the habitat. 

I had 1/2 the paper I needed - so I gave them 1/2 the time to find the animals camouflaged in the habitat. 

Our found animals....our theories on camouflage didn't work - could have been two working at once or 1/2 the paper jungle.....but it was a bit deflating....though we're VERY use to our science experiments not working and had a blast playing predator and eating the animals.... ::snort:: 

We did have a great impromptu lesson on Natural Selection....this is the moment the kids figured out what would happen in year 3 - predators have been picking off animals...that poor red one is vulnerable and doesn't have a mate.....

We made a little booklet for our notebook. 

Thanking God for two little ones to enjoy as my independent learners become more independent. LOL  


It should be noted that an upper grammar and dialectic student somehow knew JUST WHEN to join us to play predator roles.....and they mentioned this was a better experiment than theirs requiring a bacteria growing kit.....but hey what are you going to do that would be this much fun when you're studying bowels. ::snort::


Lunch is over....the m'ms have become elephants and "flying creatures" and my living room is now full of cages and habitats.....yep, this was a good restructuring move. LOL


Choosing Joy!
©2011 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

DATE!

We didn't see the message.....



02:25 PM May 30, 2011
Aomori Local Meteorological Observatory
Weather WarningsMisawa City

[Issued Warnings]
High waves warning

It was another rainy, blustery day...the typhoon had passed last night....seemed like a great time to go watch waves. Michael wanted to see some waves - real waves - we headed out. The kids opted to stay home - SCORE - a date with my favorite man. 

 It makes me sad that the regular beaches were all blocked off.....we kept driving and looking and discovered there are still quite a few you can get too - it would appear the ones they know Americans go to are blocked off. ::snort:: Could have something to do with the way we keep needing rescued. 

We found waves. I found one piece of sea glass. We found a great deserted road which  will be fabulous for family bike rides.  I'm still sad the swim beach 5 min from our home won't be open any time soon....but the ocean is still there to watch. 



45* on May 30th.....

This boat is far from it's proper place

See all the concrete blocks - that's the sea wall...but the red boards show they are starting to frame it up again to rebuild...YES. There is a band of pine trees planted near the coast....runs up and down the Eastern seaboard. They did this to stop the erosion of the island.....it's sad to see so many of the trees dying...too much salt water....

We were exploring this bit of the sea wall at a new to us spot...when Mike noted it didn't appear very safe and we should probably move back. 




Choosing Joy!
©2011 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rainy Afternoon Fun

A rainy Sunday. A day with margin. A lovely day.  The kids played wii. Michael worked on puzzles. Jared prepared for another week of school. I played in the kitchen.

One of the things I really like about my ipad.....

I've been wanting to experiment with my granola recipe. Kim had mentioned she uses flour in hers (yes, Kim, I've been meaning to try since you were HERE for your visit ::snort::). I checked her recipe and added some flour to mine....she uses water in her granola. I wasn't sure about that and so I didn't use it.....Mine is better but still not that clumpy, crispy, crunchy granola I wanted. I'll keep working on it and then edit my recipe on the recipe page. LOL 


I also made Crispy Cheese Crackers. I've been wanting to try those for a long time too. I didn't have cheddar so used fresh Parmesan cheese....I think I'll do these again and use various cheese, garlic, seasonings.....have you READ the back of a cracker box lately? The kids didn't break down the door to get to these...but then I'm the one that likes to munch on crackers. ::snort:: 

Mr. Incredible is on the screen. 

Choosing Joy!
©2011 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Crispy Cheese Crackers


1/4 C butter, softened

1/4 t. sea salt

1 C shredded cheddar cheese, room temp

1 C whole wheat flour

1/4 t. baking powder

1 T cold water

Use beaters or food processor to mix butter and salt until creamy.  Add cheese.  Mix well.  Gradually add flour, baking powder and water, mixing until dough begins to form a ball.  Form dough into a ball with hands.

Roll the dough into 1/8 inch thickness onto a cookie sheet.  (I find that placing the dough between two pieces of parchment paper helps me to roll them out more easily.)  Cut the rolled out dough into 1 ½ inch squares.  Bake 15 minutes at 350° or until lightly browned.  

Turn off the oven and leave the crackers inside to crisp up.  Store tightly covered.

I used Parmesan cheese.  I like these....and they are much better for you than the list of ingredients on the back of a box of crackers. I
think I'll add garlic next time.....I found this recipe at Heavenly Homemaker's.



Choosing Joy!
©2011 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Shhh....it's a secret


Jared was stealthily stringing a line and getting ready for an early Sunday morning fishing excursion.  

Stacia found him in the garage, looked up with sweet eyes and said, "Hmmm....did you know NO ONE has ever taken me fishing?" 

They made plans to go this a.m. before anyone else was up. I was up and caught a photo. They just returned. 

Evidently, Stacia called an end to the fun. "We're catching sticks not fish, lets go home!" 

Choosing Joy!
©2011 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

REAL SATURDAY

Since Michael did sermon prep on Friday we had a REAL SATURDAY to enjoy. 


We spent the earlier parts of it touching base with as many family as we could via skype. 


I wrote a blog entry for the PWOCI blog and did more planning for our local Board planning/training retreat. 




We then headed for Shimoda Park aka Swan Park. We watched swans and ducks play and   BIG- 5 lb- trouts jump, while we listened to the Misawa Yankees trash talk the opposing team in Japanese. It was surreal. I think I picked up some new phrases though I'm not 100% sure what they mean or when they might be appropriate to use. ::snort::

Foot in the old and new world of farming - burning and weed eating

After watching, Zander said, "Why MOW the lawn when you can BURN it?" 



This photo with no make up serves one purpose only - I'm rather proud of the way my new highlights have finally grown in....and for all who have wondered through they past 6 years - THIS is my natural color these days! LOL 


As the youngest, this one is destined to be chasing behind the big ones for a few more years....Krista - note "Dumply" the Raggedy Ann Doll you made her. 


We love how easy it is to get out in nature here in Northern Japan. It feeds our souls.  Later this evening Michael and I ducked out to go to the beach. We encountered the sign below and debated various meanings...finally deciding to go walk on the beach. LOL

Choosing Joy!
©2011 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Pick a Caption


Do you think this sign says, "No men allowed,"  "Do not enter, you'll never swim on your favorite beach again" or "Do not park here - park up the road and walk in to look for sea glass"? 


Choosing Joy!
©2011 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Restructuring My Life....Again.

{Please note I've made a conscious choice to live my life authentically before you. If it bothers you to read this from a Pastor's wife, I suggest you not read.  Please know my struggles result from MY choices and no pressure at all from chapel leadership or my husband. I simply think I can be all and do all....I like challenges and accept far too many. ::snort:: We have an amazingly supportive chapel family and they hold no blame for my tendencies to over-commit. My continual quest to embrace excellence and denounce perfectionism is not the fault of my church, my parents, my husband, my upbringing, I think it's my personality.}

I read a book on our plane ride to the states and back, Leading On Empty, by Wayne Cordeiro. I had been given two copies of this book. It was time to take note. My first impression was the book was about depression and I've never really struggled with depression - or at least wasn't at this time. I did, however, see alarming symptoms of burnout in my life. For those who have followed this spring with our family you will not be surprised.

I was surprised how much I loved the solitude of the last week in April. I had lots of time to think and pray and I didn't have to make any decisions.  Renee asked us to consider what we are to arise to or arise from at one of our PWOC retreat sessions. God gave me specific directions. I knew I was to release the expectations of perfection that I continually struggle with and realize He was calling me to arise to faithfulness and fruitfulness.

It became apparent to me that I was in or fast approaching a crash and  I needed to heed Wayne's advice to recharge, reflect and restructure the way I was living my life.


Here is ONE  takeaway (and there are too many to share) and quote from this book -  the 5% principle. "If you and I are going to enjoy healing and rest at our very core, we must discover and discern the top 5 percent of life." P 77.  Wayne shares that 85% of what we do, anyone can do. Many of these tasks can be delegated.  10% of what we do someone with training should be able to do.  But 5% of what I do, only I can do!  I've lived this principle over the years. In fact, Cindy shares that I told her years ago, "I don't do what someone else in my house can do," and that has been a key of household chores in our home for decades..... When I read these words on the page they JUMPED into my heart. This was it.

For very good reasons, my 5% had gotten tangled up with a hundred other urgent tasks until I'd lost sight of it. I can't accomplish all that needs to be done. I won't be held accountable for all the needs around me. I will be held accountable for this 5% - for what I've accomplished of what HE has asked me to accomplish.

I've been evaluating my five percent.  What are my 5% activities? What  would a life focused on 5% look like?  Do I truly elevate this 5% above the other 95% of my activities? The higher I elevate the importance of this 5 percent the easier it is for me to make choices that honor these God-given priorities.  Another quote, "I can't hire someone else to take my place in any of these activities because they require that I be there! This 5 percent will determine the validity of the other 95 percent. This is what I had to discover and make the epicenter of my life." p 78.


Yep, recharge (began during my week of solitude), reflect (all vacation and continues), restructure (began in earnest the day after my last blog post).

Many of my 5% activities mirror Wayne's - and so I shamelessly borrow - but I'm tweaking and still reflecting.

  1. A whole-hearted, extravagant, lavish, passionate, intimate relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
  2. A vibrant, vital  relationship with Michael
  3. An authentic family that is close to God and close to one another 
    • mentoring my children
    • educating my children
    • caring for my family
    • as older children move on I must FIGHT for this connection to remain strong, not fatalistically assume we'll grow apart
  4. A physically healthy body and creative soul
  5. Taking time to enjoy family and friends
  6. A God-pleasing ministry (and within that what is my 5%)
    • teaching and mentoring women 
    • inviting women to a deeper relationship with Jesus
    • someday this may well include more missions/outreach/relief efforts 
I discovered I was out of balance. I had quit investing the time needed for intimacy with Jesus,  family, spouse, friends, women -  due to the incredible ministry pace I was attempting. There are great needs in Japan. I love Japan. I want to meet the needs. I can't meet ALL the needs in Japan. I can only be faithful to what He directs me to do....

I don't believe there was anything wrong with me spending an exorbitant amount of time on relief efforts after the tsunami. I believe it was short term and  understandable. I also know that one of my strengths is to initiate plans. I stood in the gap. At the time *I* needed to do it - now others can easily be trained to take over. I can't possibly keep the pace up long term. I was spending  40 - 60 hours a week on relief efforts...while still keeping up with my other outside the home ministry obligations. This time had to come from somewhere else...and it came from family, time to soak in His presence, and time to enjoy friends etc. 


It was time to restructure when we got home to Japan. I apologized to the kids for the past couple of months. We affirmed the need and value in what we've done, but realized others can be trained to do what I am doing. No one else will mentor, educate and care for my children and husband as I'm called to do.  I began to move into the spot only I can fill in the puzzle. 

I met with two men I greatly respect. My spiritual authorities at the chapel. Ch. S, our wing chaplain and Ch G, my husband and deputy Wing Chaplain. I confessed  I'm not the wonder woman I desire to be. I  acknowledged my limitations. I shared  I HAD to focus on family, and I had time to head up/lead women or relief  - but couldn't do both. All agreed my 5%, at this time, includes mentoring women. Others can step into the mission/outreach/relief role I was in. We discussed what I've done and how things could be restructured. The chapel is looking for someone to take on that role.  I have enjoyed it all....the kids and I will volunteer  TOGETHER a sane number of hours...a number which will allow us to continue to make the character and educational  progress we seek....as well as  fulfill our other ministry obligations.  

What does this mean? I made one last trip with kits down to Miyako in the role of organizer. We've delivered 212 kits.  I'm still answering questions while the chapel looks for someone to step into the role.  I am focusing on making up the lost school time from the past few months. We will school through the summer. I'm saying no to the condemnation which attempts to leap on my back....The door of opportunity for the gospel in Japan will NOT be lost if De'Etta G is not devoting 60 hours a week to Misawa's relief efforts. There ARE other parts of the body in Japan who can meet some of these needs. There ARE others in the Misawa Chapel community that can step into a role to organize efforts. No one else will step into MY God-ordained mommy wife role. 

I've had time to relax, work on puzzles, read, mentor my children and encourage my husband in a variety of ways - rather than simply burning out as his helper at the chapel. 


Choosing Joy!
©2011 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

FRIDAY -

Are we the ONLY family who is constantly surprised by four day weekends? How do they sneak up on us?

Today we continued on with our routine. The kids and I did school. Mike went in to work and prepped for Sunday. He's been sick this week, fighting the crud we all have, driving to Miyako while sick, missed one day of work, but for the most part carried on while feeling crummy.  Today he worked.

These kids cracked me up with their Wii Active workout....

Nolan is sure to get fit this way. ::snort:: 

I DID drive in to an onsen with a friend. It was a nice break. I am trying to hit all the onsens in Misawa and so tried a new one today. I don't think I'll go back. The tubs were HOT and there were no outside tubs.

I worked on some things for a local PWOC planning/training retreat.

We had pizza and watched a movie. A typical Friday.

Ah, big news - Jared has been offered a summer hire job as a historian on base.

Choosing Joy!
©2011 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

She's Turned into a Blamed Hippie

I took Arielle to the orthodontist where she shed various stops, wires and brackets. She still has a mouth full of metal, but much less.

I also took Stacia to the doctor. She has pneumonia. I'm hoping the Z pack will help her sleep much better and breathe easier - soon.

Meanwhile, Arielle decided to try her hand at tie dying again. She continues to decorate my old white napkins. I really need to get a t-shirt for her to do - these are pretty.




Choosing Joy!
©2011 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Twist - Twist

SICK kids.....we've been in various states of illness since before our vacation. Arielle finally succumbed. It's fairly normal to hear hacking, see Air Borne and Green Smothies and Kleenex everywhere. 


Michael is now sick.  Everyone but me is really sick. I'm about 4 weeks out so now have an occasional cough. 


In an effort to keep the kids entertained INSIDE, out of the wind, we brought out the Twister board that Krista made us. 

My friend, Carol, says, "Good life lessons from twister! Greatest how to hold your bladder while laughing as you imitate a pretzel. Comes in handy in leadership :-)". 





Choosing Joy!
©2011 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...