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10628724_10152757513490289_70572802724577915_oSeven and a half years ago, she walked into the Bible study class I was leading. We were working on Priscilla Shirer’s study, Discerning the Voice of God. That fall there were many broken hearts in the class: a marriage ended, a baby died, dreams ended too soon, ministries changed shape, cancer knocked on the door and made an unwelcome yet grand entrance … and God spoke.

“Love like Jesus, and walk her Home.”

When Jesus intercepts your life, and you become one of His children, you have an opportunity to join the family business of loving like He loves and walking alongside others on their life journeys. Hebrews 13:16 reminds us, “And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.”

This blog post could be another beautiful tribute to Emma. Many have eloquently posted these, and she is worthy of countless more. Emma and I talked every night on Messenger for the last couple of years, and I think I knew her heart. I’m confident she’d be blessed and touched by the precious words shared by those who loved her. I’m equally confident that she’d be saying, “Enough about me already, what about you? What about Jesus?” So many times, as I sat curled up on her cozy couch or the end of her hospital bed, she’d say, “We know I’m dying, but how are YOU doing? How’s YOUR heart?” That was our Emma. And if you knew her at all, you know that she loved Jesus, above all else, and just wanted us to love and obey Him too.

This post could be about the last few weeks of caring for Emma and specifically the call that came last Saturday saying, “You need to come now.” That’s too fresh and perhaps too intimate an experience to share. I’m certain God will speak clearly about whether or not that story will ever be told.

No, if I were running this post past Emma, she’d agree that it should be about Jesus and what He asks of each of us.

I can’t count the number of times Em would say, “There are not enough words to thank you for …” I always answered, “Em, I’m just loving you like Jesus and walking you Home.” We agreed that it was the most beautiful way to spend one’s lifetime, regardless of its length.

I saw a huge community of believers love like Jesus and walk with Emma’s family. For some, it meant making meals (oh-so-many meals!) or dropping off homemade bread or groceries. For others, it meant laundry and cleaning help, or giving rides to the kids. Still others sat with Emma in the last few weeks, keeping her company and doing tasks around the house. And while those who loved tangibly are great in number, those who PRAYED are innumerable. Some were only able to help once, and others helped countless times—yet no tally was ever kept—certainly not by the One whose opinion matters most. I pray that those who shared the journey will treasure knowing that they obediently did what Jesus asked by walking a stretch of the road with Emma. For that privilege, we can all be thankful.

A few months ago, I wrote about concentric circles that delineated how to avoid saying the wrong things when someone you love is suffering. The person who’s suffering is at the center. Children, parents, siblings, and intimate friends are in smaller rings than less-familiar friends and acquaintances. Though many may believe the “journey” is over and we can all “get back to normal” now, we know that Emma’s homegoing only marks a new leg of the journey for those of us who were the closest to her. It will take some figuring out. It will take some time, but we’re going to keep walking—one-step-at-a-time. And we’re going to keep loving people like Jesus.

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1000439308BRDLEFO_f2fef56I recently shared with homeschool friends that four of my homeschool students just finished reading A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. We were all captivated by the plight of the Lost Boys of Sudan. Two things happened as a result of finishing this book.

1. It prompted us to seek more information about the Lost Boys of Sudan.

We were super excited to learn that a fantastic new movie called The Good Lie starring Reese Witherspoon is releasing December 23! I marked my calendar to order it. Then one week later I learned that I had the opportunity to review this very film. What’s more I’m getting a FREE copy to give away to one lucky winner!

Here is the synopsis of this story:

They were known simply as “The Lost Boys.”

Orphaned by the brutal civil war in Sudan, which began in 1983, these young victims traveled as many as a thousand miles on foot in search of safety. Fifteen years later, a humanitarian effort would bring 3,600 lost boys, as well as girls, to America.

Mamere and Theo are sons of the Chief in their village in Southern Sudan. When an attack by the Northern militia destroys their home and kills their parents, eldest son Theo is forced to assume the role of Chief and lead a group of young survivors, including his sister Abital, away from harm. But the hostile, treacherous terrain has other dangers in store for them.

As the tattered group makes the difficult trek to Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, they meet other fleeing children, forging a bond with Jeremiah, who, at 13, is already a man of faith, and Paul, whose skills become essential to their survival.

Thirteen years later, the now young adults are given the opportunity to leave the camp and resettle in America. Upon arriving in Kansas, they are met by Carrie Davis (Witherspoon), an employment agency counselor who has been enlisted to help find them jobs—no easy task, when things like light switches and telephones are brand new to them.

THE GOOD LIE

Although Carrie has successfully kept herself from any emotional entanglements, these refugees, who desperately require help navigating the 21st century and rebuilding their shattered lives, need just that. So Carrie embarks on her own unchartered territory, enlisting the help of her boss, Jack (Corey Stoll).

THE GOOD LIE

  


2. It stirred us to action.

solehope_thumbWe are hosting a Sole Hope party with a purpose in January. We’re inviting 20 other homeschoolers to join us as we cut out supplies for shoes. Sole Hope provides handmade shoes to children in Uganda to help prevent foot-borne diseases. Our job was to cut the material for the shoes based on templates they give in a kit.  They send the assembled materials to Uganda and pay local shoemakers a fair wage to make the shoes. [We were struck by the need for shoes as we read about the Lost Boys of Sudan.]

Participants at our party will hear more about Water for Sudan, Inc. This organization was started by one of the former Lost Boys of Sudan – who just happened to be the main character of A Long Walk to Water.

 

 

 

If you want to enter to win the DVD of The Good Lie, enter here:

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

 

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Hi Ladies,

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tumblr_n2y9d64ocR1qjfoqfo2_1280You may or may not be aware that our family attempted a week-long dal bhat experiment a couple of weeks ago.

First, some history:

When Kadi and I were in Nepal with Tiny Hands International, we learned that most Nepali people eat dal bhat—and only dal bhat—twice a day. Dal is soup made out of lentils and bhat is rice. When we were visiting one of Tiny Hands’ children’s homes, we were treated to some yummy dal bhat. Upon our return, we’ve told others about the practice of eating this staple twice a day—every day. The discussion has ensued multiple times that it’s hard to imagine eating anything twice a day, every day.

Somehow this resulted in me spontaneously asking my family if they would consider a dal bhat “fast” or experiment for a week. Could we eat dal bhat twice daily for a week without grumbling? Truly? I don’t know what I was thinking other than that it would be an incredible opportunity for us to set aside our fixation with food and focus on prayer for Tiny Hands and those doing God’s work in Nepal. The whole family agreed. 

Seriously … all 3 kids (18, 14, 12 y.o.) ALL said they wanted to do this. There was no trickery and no money exchanged hands. 

I promised you blog posts, recipes, and many updates. Yeah, about that …

Here’s the thumbnail version of how that went down …

We planned to do our experiment from Sunday through the following Saturday. Then all of my kids made plans to be away from home that Sunday night. (Welcome to life with teenagers!) Later that evening we lost a dear friend to a heart aneurysm and the rest of the week was insane, but that didn’t stop us!

IMG_4867Monday morning I woke up early to make my first dal bhat for the kids to enjoy for breakfast. Note: I did not get up early ENOUGH! I did not put nearly enough water in my pressure cooker for the rice and lentils that I attempted to cook together. (The Indian guy at Rice N Spice told me I could do it that way, but it was the only time I made that mistake. If you’re a pressure cooker guru – knock yerself out!) Let’s just say we had something akin to a softball and nothing that anyone could eat more than 1 or 2 bites of. Kadi’s comment … “I see some weightloss coming my way this week.” (Indeed!)

That said, we had a football player starting practice that day and I knew he and the rest of the crew had to eat something. The dal bhat hit the garbage can, so the boys ate frozen pizza for lunch. #fastfail I didn’t join them.

By supper time, I had invested 90 minutes in our dal bhat supper and it was worth every minute of it! I tweaked the recipe over the course of the week, but here’s the recipe I ended up with. Mind you, I was feeding 3 teens, including 1 football player and 1 who we can almost watch growing (it’s freaky)! We also wanted enough left over for people to have a small dal bhat lunch at noon the next day if they chose to do that. 

Dal
Soak 2 cups dal
(lentils) – (Nepali is black, red, or yellow. Get what you can find) in several cups of water for 20-30 minutes. You will dump that water and anything that floats. Add 6 cups water and bring to a boil. (I actually used 3-4 cups chicken broth with 2-3 cups water)

Meanwhile, in a small pan melt 6 T. butter (ghee), 1 onion (diced), 3 cloves garlic (crushed/pressed)(This is my favorite part of making the meal. There’s something very satisfying about squishing that clove through my press. #easilyamused), 2 cm piece of fresh ginger (chopped), 2-3 red chilies. Cook these up until translucent. 

When the lentils come to a boil, add the cooked spices to the lentils. Turn the lentils down and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add 1 tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. salt, 8-10 curry leaves (we got this at the Indian store), 1 tsp. mustard seeds (crushed) (I bought a mortar and pestle … something I’ve always wanted because crushing fresh spices … well, YES! Second favorite part of making this.)

While ALL of this is going on … Make your rice.

Bhat

I used Basmati rice— “Nourished by the snow fed rivers of the Himalayas” that I picked up at the Indian food store. 
2 cups Basmati rice – soak in water for 30 minutes. Discard water. Add 3 cups fresh water (again, I used 3 cups of chicken broth) and 2 T. melted butter (optional). Bring to a boil. Cover pot with a tight lid, turn the heat to low and cook for about 20 minutes.

Once you have your Bhat on low and your dal simmering … I would take the meat off a rotisserie chicken that I picked up at Sam’s Club. (I bought 2 chickens every other day). In Nepal, this would only happen once a week or less. Truly, the lentils are loaded with protein and other great nutrients, so the chicken isn’t necessary, but we were eating this for a week and I needed to keep my family on board or I’d be eating a LOT of dal bhat by myself!

Each day I’d also cook up/steam other vegetables that I’d add to the dal. Each day was different, but I used: Broccoli, cauliflower, garden green beans, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, zucchini …

I also made Alu dum (curried potatoes) twice.

Alu dum

2 pounds of potatoes

1 cup chopped onion

1 tsp garlic (pressed/minced)

1 tsp fresh ginger (minced)

1 tsp red chili pepper

1 ts. coriander powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp. Garam Masala (available at Indian food stores)(Mentioned in my new favorite movie: “100 Foot Journey.”)

Boil potatoes until 1/2 cooked. Drain. Slice and brown in butter. 
Cook onions in butter until light brown.
Add ginger, garlic, red chili powder, garam masala, coriander powder, and turmeric. 
Add salt.

(The real recipe says to add 1.5 – 2 cups of water at this point, boil it, and add blanched beans or spinach. We didn’t do that.)

Time Out for a Trailer!
 

When the lentils are soft (not mushy) and the rice is finished, remove the big red chili’s and the curry leaves. Then it is time to eat. This was the best part. The house smelled yummy. We put bhat (rice) on our plates, followed by a hearty helping of dal to which the veggies and chicken had been added. When we had potatoes, we just piled them in there too. Then we mixed it all together with the fingers of our right hand! (In Nepal, you eat with your hand and only your right hand! The left hand is considered unclean and is used for personal hygiene in the bathroom. Ah-hem.)

IMG_4875

In Nepal, our friends taught us to form our 4 fingers into a scoop shape. Scoop up the dal bhat, then scrape it off your hand and into your mouth with your thumb. All of us ate this way for the entire week, with the exception of Ben, who refused to use his fingers after the first day. (Who knew?) Caleb, on the other hand …

IMG_4878 IMG_4877 IMG_4876

In case you’ve heard our oldest  imply that our dal bhat experiment was an epic failure, let me explain. SHE had photo shoots and out of town commitments several nights that week, so SOMEONE (all fingers pointing at Kadi) was only able to actually be at the dinner table 2 nights. One of those nights we were at the visitation for our friend until 8 p.m. and the idea of STARTING a 90 minute prep. meal was inconceivable. #Dominostotherescue 
The rest of us did eat dal bhat Monday through Sunday (we shifted the days back from our original plan). The boys added a lunch in there as they have those football and growth issues, but Mike and I stuck to dal bhat for breakfast and supper for the 7 days (minus one supper).

OUTCOME …
So what? We ate the same thing for 7 days. What was the point? What came of this little “experiment”?

1. For 7 days I never heard, “What’s for dinner?” I also never heard one kid … not ONE … complain about eating the same meal again, and again, and again.

2. We talked about Tiny Hands ALL WEEK LONG! They were forefront in all of our thoughts and prayers. 

3. Speaking of prayers … We decided that first night that we were going to pray “Nepali style” all week at dinner. In Nepal, people pray out loud all together. When Kadi and I were there we were captivated by this noisy, passionate, God-focused prayer that eliminated any “speech making.” No one worried about whether they were praying well, using the right words, remembering everything that might offend someone if it’s forgotten. We loved it. The first night we prayed this way at dinner, it was honestly awkward. The boys finished in 30 seconds flat, and I interrupted my own prayer to sternly instruct, “You are NOT done praying! Keeping going!”  … So, it wasn’t a very spiritual moment, but you have to parent in the moment.

Nights 2 – 7 were a totally different story! Our prayer time at the table will always be some of my fondest memories. Even as I carried my own pleas to the Lord —for Tiny Hands, those who would be intercepted from sex trafficking, the children in our children’s homes and those waiting to be in a safe home, the house parents, the president and his wife, the rest of the Tiny Hands partners both in Nepal and the U.S.—I could hear my husband and children doing the same. They were sold out prayers, filled with emotion and longing. They were hope-filled and grateful requests for more of HIM in a world filled with injustice. We added prayers for friends who are suffering and hurting – who have lost and are losing loved ones. We prayed for our church and this world whose pains cry out, “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!”

Tonight my boys came home from youth group and Ben (14) shared that he asked his small group to pray Nepali style. Bless.
There’s more to tell about our week-long dal bhat experiment, but this has already crossed the line of how much I’d expect you to read. If you’re still with me – God bless! I’ll tell you the rest of the story soon. 

Until then … Jai Mashi (Christ is Victorious)

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Victory LambYou can hardly turn on the news or open the paper without seeing signs of the world in unrest –floods and drought, earthquakes and extreme natural disasters. Along with these headlines are Christians martyred for their faith–Iraq, Syria, Indonesia, China–the list goes on and on. When you consider all that is going on in the world, it’s not a far stretch to consider the Revelation and its prophecy of Christ’s second coming. Many have considered this book to be difficult to understand and less approachable than other books of the Bible. Scholar and author, Mark Wilson has penned a new book, Victory Through the Lamb with a unique perspective. He lives in present day Smyrna,  (Izmir) Turkey, one of the seven churches John addresses in Revelation. Wilson’s goal is to introduce his readers to Revelation by pointing them to Christ’s ultimate victory detailed in Revelation. Each chapter begins with a vignette of victory that martyrs of Christianity experienced in earlier centuries. The final chapter also includes the deaths of recent martyrs that impacted Wilson in Turkey.  He also penned his own translation of Revelation for his reader to accompany his teaching.

 The Bottom Line

Wilson’s choices of biographical accounts of the martyrs is outstanding. Their witnessing through their death was often sad but inspiring all the same. I found myself captivated by their lives and left seeing martyrdom as less tragic and truly a witness to believers and non-believers alike.  Wilson would next present a section of Revelation followed by exposition of the Scripture. These sections were insightful and written in a more scholarly format, which was quite different from the personal accounts in the martyr stories. While both were good there was not a transition linking them together so the format of the book didn’t really work well for me as the reader. I believe there is very good content in his book, but I was bogged down by the lack of transitions between each section. As a result, I missed the overarching point of his book.  I admire Dr. Wilson’s intent and his heart, but unfortunately the book as a whole fell flat for me. I give it 3 of 5 stars. Book Description

The book introduces Christians to the book of Revelation through a study of one of its key themes: victory. Running counter to Revelation’s prevailing interpretation, it proposes that Christians, represented by the audience in the Seven Churches, have been in tribulation since the first century and that Revelation was written to help Christians be victorious over the challenges of life. Each chapter opens with an aVictory through the Lambccount of martyrdom. The final account tells the story of the three believers in Malatya, Turkey, who were brutally killed in 2007. The book is dedicated to the three. The volume also features a new translation of Revelation by the author, a scholar who has worked on Revelation for over two decades and who lives in the land of the Seven Churches—Turkey.
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Weaver Book Company (September 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1941337015
  • ISBN-13: 978-1941337011
  • Retail Price: $17.99

Available at these retailers for less: Amazon Weaver Book Company

About the Author

Mark WilsonMark Wilson (D.Litt. et Phil., South Africa) is the founder and director of the Asia Minor Research Center in Antalya, Turkey, a country in which he and his wife Dindy have lived since 2004. He serves as Visiting Professor of Early Christianity at Regent University, Associate Professor Extraordinary of New Testament at Stellenbosch University, and Research Fellow in Biblical Archaeology at the University of South Africa. He is the English editor of the Turkish archaeological journals Adalya and Anmed. He also blogs for the online Bible History Daily. He is the author and editor of numerous books, articles, and reviews including a commentary on Revelation (Zondervan), Charts of the Book of Revelation (Kregel), The Victor Sayings in the Book of Revelation (Wipf & Stock), and Biblical Turkey: A Guide to the Jewish and Christian Sites of Asia Minor (Ege Yayıları). Wilson is a member of twelve academic societies, including the Society of Biblical Literature, the Evangelical Theological Association, the Institute of Biblical Research, and the New Testament Society of South Africa. His particular research interests are the ancient Jewish communities, Roman roads, and biblical history in Turkey. He has been married to Dindy for forty years. They have four adult children, four granddaughters, and four grandsons. Notice: I received a complimentary e-book for an honest review of this title through Shaun Tabatt at  Cross-Focused Reviews and Weaver Book Company      

photo credit: /\ \/\/ /\ via photopin cc  

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