Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

The packages have been ripped into and opened.  The kids are contently playing with all their new treasures upstairs.  It has been a wonderful Christmas morning in the Ellis house.  The kids were up early eagerly waiting to come downstairs to see what treasures awaited them.  I quietly went to Bekah's room this morning and overheard them talking.  Andrew was telling Bekah what to expect and how to react.  He told her "Now, don't say 'I was wondering if I would get this' because they might think we snuck down there to peek."  When he realized I was standing there, he quickly assured me that they had not come downstairs for an early preview.  

"What God Wants for Christmas" Nativity
Tim and I received the best Christmas present of all from our kids.  This was the first year that they did most of their own "shopping" (at the Awana store) and decided on their presents for us.  They had a present for Mommy & Daddy from Andrew and Rebekah.  I was quite curious.  It was a round shaped, wrapped, and it rattled.  Sounded like lego pieces to me.  We opened it up, and it was cool whip container with a lid from a butter container.  We opened it up and found money- dollar bills, change- and several gems.  It was a total of $4.41 and 4 gems.  He quickly explained that it was money from them for Papua New Guinea.  Yeah, there were tears in this Mama's eyes.  The kids are as excited about our mission and adventure with Wycliffe as we are.  
It was what I needed this morning as I began to wonder what our Christmas will be like over the next five years.  This is probably our last Christmas at our house in Snellville.  This time next year we will be preparing to leave for Papua New Guinea.  I'm not sure what our Christmas will be like from this point forward.  This has been a wonderful Christmas, though.  It is one to remember.  We are even expecting a white Christmas.  The first (and could be only) white Christmas we have ever experienced.  Definitely a memorable Christmas in the Ellis family.  
Enjoy your Christmas this year with your family.  May you remember the true reason for the season.  We don't just celebrate the birth of Jesus.  We celebrate the reason Jesus was born.  He was born to die for our sins and conquer death, so we may spend eternity with Him in heaven.  This is the greatest gift any of us can get on Christmas.  
Merry Christmas to all of our friends and family!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What do you want for Christmas?

Last night we took the kids to visit Santa at Bass Pro Shop.  It is one of the few places where the parents do not have to shell out tons of money to buy a photo package they don't really want just to allow their child to speak to Santa for a brief moment.  Yeah, the Ellis family is cheap.  The added bonus, we get to take our own pictures in addition to the one they take and give us for free!  WooHoo! 

Before we went, I had asked the kids what they wanted for Christmas.  This is where the two distinct personalities of my kids come out.  Andrew has a list a mile long and has very expensive taste.  Bekah is sweet and simple- baby dolls.  On the way home, I asked them what they told Santa.  Andrew- a DS and a stuffed dog.  Bekah- the same thing.  Do I think this is what they want more than anything?  No.  I think it is just what came to their minds at that moment. 

I enjoy buying presents for my kids.  What parent doesn't?  I don't wait for their list of the latest "wants", though.  I buy based on what it is I find that I know they will enjoy- and enjoy more than just Christmas Day.  I've noticed as time goes on that the kids tend to want whatever it is they see.  It doesn't matter what it is or if they already have one very similar.  I love to find them things that I know they will like and enjoy and even better than that toy they saw earlier.  If Andrew had his way, their would be a Beagle puppy under our tree.  He knows (at least we have told him over and over) that there will be no puppy under the tree- at least not a real one.  Why?  Mommy & Bekah are both allergic to dogs AND we are moving overseas in a year.  He'll get so teary eyed and pitiful over the fact that he can't have a dog right now.  It is heartbreaking, but I know it is not what is best for him or for us at this time.  That is probably the one thing he really does want, but, now is not the time.

As I think about Christmas and all the gifts, I'm reminded of the verse "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:11).  I think about my own motivations for giving gifts to my children.  I want to give them good gifts, but not everything they want is good.  So often, though, I think that God should give me what I want.  But I must remember that God wants to give me good gifts.  He knows what is good for me.  So, instead of getting mad, upset, or down about not getting what I think I need or want, I'm going to trust.  I'm going to trust that God will keep His promise just a couple verses earlier.  "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7,8)  

One day Andrew may get that beagle puppy.  It won't be this Christmas, though.  He is a very persistent boy and will continue to ask, seek, and knock.  Am I that persistent with God with what I really want?  Do I really know what it is that God wants for me?  After all, His gifts are so much better than we could ever imagine.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Time is Here

It is that crazy, busy time of the year.  The time of the year where we tend to blow everything we've worked toward the rest of the year.  Diets- out the window.  Staying on a budget and spending within our means- maybe in January.  Taking time for our family to have time together- does going to and from countless parties, rehearsals, plays, performances, etc count?  Being disciplined and diligent in school (at least for us homeschoolers)- ok for math today we are going to calculate how much we spend on buying stuff.  Why is it that when we get to the fourth week of November, we turn into crazy people?  So many of us actually dread this "most wonderful time of the year." 

OK before you start calling me Mrs. Scrooge, let me explain where I'm going with all of this.  Maybe some of you are totally relating to that first paragraph.  I know there are many times that is me.  This year I'm really trying to focus on the why of Christmas.  Most of you reading this blog can tell me in a heartbeat that the "reason for the season" is Jesus' birth.  I'm sure you'll also confess that you tend to forget that part of it at times.  Every year I try to focus on Jesus' birth by re-reading the account of His birth and the events leading up to it.  This year I've also started reading some additional Christmas books to accompany my focus.  Thanks to the Kindle my brother gave me as an early Christmas/birthday present and the free books on amazon I can download, I've gotten more insight.  It has been very challenging and inspiring.  

I was reading in Luke 1 about when Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth after Mary found out she was to become pregnant through Holy intervention and give birth to the Christ child.  I remember reading that passage 8 years ago with a new passion and wonderment.  I was 7 months pregnant with our first child.  I thought about Elizabeth who was 6 months pregnant with her first child when Mary came to visit.  When Mary first spoke, the baby within Elizabeth leaped at the sound of Mary's voice.  Usually at that point in a pregnancy, the baby tends to be moving around more and more and causing more and more discomfort to mom.  When I was pregnant with Andrew, he got the hiccups quite often.  My stomach looked like it was leaping as it "jumped" with every hiccup.  Without fail we would sit down on Sunday morning to listen to Dr. Merritt preach.  The hiccups began.  I'm sure that is NOT what Elizabeth felt when John the Baptist leaped at the sound of the Savior's mother's voice.  I imagine more of a dramatic leap than that of a hiccup.  It was an undeniable movement that Elizabeth felt.  She was pretty used to the movement of the developing baby by this time in her pregnancy.  Well, as used to the movement as any mom who has a living child inside her moving around at his/her whim! 

That wasn't what meant the most to me as I am preparing for this Christmas season.  In Luke 1:45 Elizabeth tells Mary "Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”  (NIV)  The New Living Translation says "You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said".  That really hit me.  Mary was blessed not because she was carrying the Christ.  No Mary was blessed because she BELIEVED that the Lord would do what He said.  She believed.  Am I like Mary?  Do I believe that the Lord will do what He says?  I have to admit this year that question has a whole new meaning.  Do I believe that God will provide for us as we follow Him?  Do I believe that He can provide the renters or buyers for our two houses that have declined in value so dramatically in this real estate market?  Do I believe that He has already lined up our financial partners and prayer partners?  Do I believe He will provide comfort and peace to my mom (and the rest of our family) as we prepare to leave?  And the biggie- Do I believe that He will get me through our 15 weeks of Pacific Orientation Course (POC) where I will be pushed to limits I've never experienced? 

As I think about believing that God will do what He says, I think about what Mary knew when the angel came to see her.  She probably had no idea what the next 34 years of her life would be like and how tragically the life of this sweet baby she was to carry would end.  During Christmas, we don't want to look at the cross.  We just like the sweet baby.  But that baby came for a purpose- a singular purpose- to be our Savior- to reconcile us with God.  He came for the cross.  He came to die and then to be resurrected.  It was through His death and resurrection that we have Christmas.  We don't celebrate the birth of anyone else like we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Why?  It is because of the "why" of Jesus' birth. "He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross"  (Philippians 2:7-8, NLT) 

As you go through the next two weeks, reflect on why we do this craziness of Christmas.  Take time to reflect on the true reason for Christmas.  Remember not just the sweet baby but also the cross and the most victorious conquering of death through His resurrection. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

God's Hand in All Things

Psalm 135:6-8

 The LORD does whatever pleases him,
   in the heavens and on the earth,
   in the seas and all their depths.
 He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth;
   he sends lightning with the rain
   and brings out the wind from his storehouses.

 Winter is here.  Well, it may not be technically winter, but it sure feels like winter outside!  This Florida girl considers it winter when the high temperature doesn't get out of the 60's.  Lately, we haven't been anywhere near 60.  We've had some wild weather around here this past week.  Monday started out cold and yucky.  Tuesday it was really warm with storms, including a tornado only about 20 miles north of us.  Wednesday brought more cold weather.  Last night another cold front came through with the wind.  I've seen the damage the wind can do.  This amazing force that can bring a cool breeze on a hot day can also break a tree like a toothpick or move a house completely off of its foundation. 

One of the things I was looking for when we bought our house was trees.  I was tired of living in a clear cut subdivision with these tiny baby trees and no shade.  Well, we got trees.  In fact when we first bought the house, we had to take out several trees, including a large one right in front of the house that was dead and had already caused damage to the roof.  Tim has taken down several trees in the back already.  A few weeks ago we had one snap at the top. Tim took it down Thanksgiving day.  Last night we had another tree snap.  This was a huge pine that snapped near the bottom.  We heard the snap and pops last night as we laid in bed.  I had no idea at the time what it was.  This morning I looked out expecting to see at least a section of our fence on the ground.  Looked like we escaped any sort of damage as I looked out the window in the early morning darkness.  As daylight broke through, I was able to see the tree down.  I went out to take a look.  I noticed that the tree was being supported by a much smaller tree.  That small tree is what held the large pine from crashing down our fence and putting the tree in the street.  I peered between the slats on the fence and saw some small branches on the other side, but nothing in the road.  No sign of anything that landed in the road behind our house.

I immediately began thanking God for His protection.  The tree fell away from the house.  The smaller tree "caught" the large tree.   We have even more firewood, which means lots of school days in front of the fireplace!  I did a little bit of searching of "wind" in the Bible.  I wanted to see how it was used.  God used the wind to help the waters recede after the flood of Noah (Genesis 8:1).  When God brought the plagues upon Egypt.  He sent in an east wind that brought in the locusts. (Exodus 10:13) He used a west wind to blow them away. (Exodus 10:19)  Again He used an east wind to bring the dry land for the Israelites to cross the Red Sea.  (Exodus 14:21).  The Psalmist tells us that God does as He pleases and brings out the winds from His storehouses.  This is a reminder that all is within the Hand of God. Ecclesiastes 11:5 tells us "As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things."  When we don't understand what is going on in our lives, we can always rest assured that God is the Maker of ALL things and He DOES know.

I look back on our lives.  I am beginning to understand how God has used some things in my life and the life of our family to bring us to this point in our lives.  We are ready to follow Him because He alone is worthy.  He has proven Himself faithful time and time again.  Even if the small tree that is holding up our large tree had not been there, we would trust in God to continue His work in our lives.  The safest place to be in right in the Center of God's Will.  We are doing as he directs, so no matter what, we are in the safest place possible.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Why Be Thankful?

Happy Thanksgiving!  

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (The Message) 

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

It's that time of year again- the crazy, unbelievably hectic holiday season.  Why is it that we think the whole world has to go into crazy mode because of Thanksgiving and Christmas?  I'm as guilty as the next person on forgetting the real reason we celebrate this time of year as I get caught up in the hub-bub and celebrations.  I like to entertain and host people.  I also have a slight perfectionist tendency.  That doesn't always go well together with reflecting and enjoying this time of the year. Unfortunately, I get caught up in having everything just right and forget to relax, enjoy, and reflect.  

This will probably be our last Thanksgiving and Christmas at our house in Snellville.  I have very mixed emotions about it.  When we bought this house 3 years ago, I knew this was the place I wanted to raise my kids, and stay until they were at least in college.  It was ideal- big fenced in backyard with tons of trees, cul-de-sac where the kids could ride their bikes, neighborhood kids, and a not so great school district (ok, so that just keeps me focused on continuing to homeschool).  It was so different from our old house- small and cramped, no yard, no safe place to ride bikes, but it did have a similar not so great school district.  I continue to be thankful for this wonderful place God has given us to live these last 3+ years.  Knowing all of this, I want this year to be special.  

Practicing sharing their faith
In the midst of all the normal craziness, I'm adding the extra stress of knowing that this time next year will be full of packing and preparing to move overseas.  (God willing)  I have no idea where we'll be living or what the holidays will hold for us next year.  I look back over this last year and am continually amazed at what God has done for us in less than one year.  I start to get overwhelmed when I think about the future.  Who wouldn't?  Then I reflect on what God has done in the last year in our lives.  I have nothing to be concerned over.  We are following His leading, and He will take care of all the details.  Of course, I need to let them go, which is really hard.  

So, here are some things I'm thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day and everday:
  • First and foremost- my Lord Jesus Christ who left all He had in heaven to come to earth to be tempted, rejected, beaten, wrongly accused, and ultimately put to death in one of the most humiliating fashions we know.  He did this for me and for you, so we could be with Him and His Father in heaven one day.  He did this because of His love for us.  The story does NOT end at His death.  He rose three days later to claim victory over death.  Thankful that we serve a LIVING Savior.  
  • A husband that loves His Savior first and me second.  I cannot thank him or God enough for having Tim in my life.  He is an example of a Godly husband and father.
  • My kids- the picture in this post was taken when we were down in Orlando at the Wycliffe Headquarters.  They were practicing sharing their faith with the tribal man.  I'm blessed as I watch them share with others and get so excited about our great adventure as we follow God.
  • The salvation of both of my kids.  The only things I can take to heaven with me when I die is people who have believed in God.  They will now be with us in heaven.  What a joy it is!
  • The privilege of being able to be part of sharing God's Word with people that do not yet know His transforming power and have never read or heard His Word in their own language.  
This is just a beginning list.  These are not based upon what may be gone tomorrow.  We could find out tomorrow that we are not going to Papua New Guinea.  We would still be grateful for the awesome opportunity we have to share God's Word.  We don't have to be missionaries to share His Word.   As I sign off, so I can begin the preparation (and finalize the menu) of today's big dinner, please take time to reflect on what you are truly thankful for.  Don't focus on the things that are based purely on circumstances and can be gone tomorrow.  Yes, I'm thankful for this wonderful house we have right now.  It is a different perspective knowing that it is temporary.  I'm thankful that God already knows our housing situation not just for next year but for the rest of our lives- here on earth and for all of eternity.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Our Family is Complete!

Bekah on "Rock Mountain" at Wycliffe USA
Yesterday was the greatest day in the life of our family.  It was the day that our family became a complete.  No, we didn't have another baby.  Our baby, Bekah, prayed to receive Jesus as her Savior.  We now have the assurance that the two most precious gifts God has given us will be with us heaven one day.  A parent cannot ask for anything more.  

As I look at this picture of Bekah taken last month while we were in Orlando at the Wycliffe USA headquarters, I think about she is now building her life on the true Rock- Jesus.  

One of my prayers as we began this adventure with Wycliffe was that Rebekah would give her life to Jesus before we left for Papua New Guinea.  Andrew gave his life to Jesus on July 25, 2009.  Now Rebekah has joined on November 17, 2010.  

My prayer for anyone reading this blog is that they, too, will know the wonderful saving power of our Lord Jesus Christ.  If you would like to know more, please contact us.  It would be such a privilege to share with you how God can transform your life.  

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved."  Acts 16:31

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

God uses everything

It's been tough getting back into the school routine after coming back from Orlando.  We've been doing review and finishing up our last unit the last two weeks.  This week we had to start our new unit.  This was no getting around it.  I was not excited about starting a unit on Pilgrims.  I know, it's Thanksgiving time and the appropriate time to do Pilgrims.  We did a large unit on Pilgrims last year.  I wasn't ready to repeat it.  Grudgingly I drug out the teacher's guide to look over the unit.  Each week's lesson has 2-3 points for us to focus on while we are doing our study.  It is the very first thing we read.  I read through it as I was preparing.  This is what I read:

"It takes strong motivation to cause someone to leave the place he considers his home.  When someone does leave his home, it gives you insight into the strength of his conviction or the difficulty of his situation." 

OK, God.  I understand why it is important that I cover this lesson with the kids at this time.  Or so I thought.  I was looking over the writing assignments.  I have decided that someone came in and replaced our normal assignments with assignments that I need to talk about with the kids.  Topics like moving, what makes home a home, etc.  The writing assignment for yesterday- "Make a list of at least three things you love about your home...Tell one reason why you think it would be hard to move to another place."  Today's art assignment- create a collage of pictures or drawings to show what you love about your home.

I never knew when I decided on this curriculum that it was just what we needed.  We are studying Explorers as we study American History.  My only thoughts for this year was that I wanted to cover American History.  Everything so far as applied to our lives as we are on this Great Adventure following God's leading and direction.  I know this should not surprise me.  I've seen God work in some mighty ways, but I'm continually amazed at how He works even through the little things in our lives.  This is why everything must be continually committed to Him in prayer. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

It takes a team

Yesterday the kids and I went to return some books to the library.  While we were there, I decided to go ahead and vote early since the early voting was taking place in the community center adjacent to the library.  As we were going through the hall to the room, they had all of these displays of cultures from around the world.  We were looking at the different maps of the different regions.  The kids were pointing out the different countries they have learned about in the last couple of weeks.  Countries that your average child does not learn about.  Of course the first one was Papua New Guinea.  They were extremely disappointed with all the different cultures and countries, PNG seemed to be completely removed.  I guess that is because no one knows whether it should be part of Asia or part of Australia.  Of course, we consider it part of the Pacific Region, but that goes against the norm.  As we were looking at Africa, they were pointing out Tanzania, Togo, Ghana, Senegal, and some other countries that I never knew where they were located.  Then the started "Yeah, Eli is going there.  Jennalie is going there.  No, no, she's going somewhere else.  (Mexico, which was on the Americas and not the Africa map).  Lily is going there.  Isabel is going there.  That's where Mr. Bill went."  And so it continued.  I would have loved to have known the thoughts of people as they walked by and heard my kids talk.  It was just as natural as saying "my friend is going to the beach."

As I reflected upon the situation, I thought about just how awesome God is.  He has instilled in our kids a heart for people of all of these different lands.  He has given us the opportunity to follow Him and do His work in a country located on the other side of the world.  The kids made some great new friends while we were in Orlando for our training with Wycliffe.  They have asked just about every day when we'll see them, again.  Honestly, I don't know if we will see all of them this side of heaven.  I praise God that we will see each and every one of these families, again, in heaven as we are all gathered around the throne worshiping our God in our differing languages.  We each, including each and every child, will be instrumental in bringing the Word to people who have never heard.  Wow, that is amazing and very humbling.

Before we left for Orlando, our pastor concluded a series on grace giving.  The one thing that has stuck with me is that we can ALL have a part in going into all the world to preach the Gospel.  Let me explain.  Matthew 28:19 commands us to make disciples of ALL nations.  All includes everywhere from right where you are to the far reaching countries and peoples.  The nations represent the thousands and thousands of people groups that are all created in God's image.  No one can do it all by themselves.  That is why God gave each one of us different talents and gifts.  We are all to work together as one body to bring Him glory.  Many of you reading this blog will not be called to leave home and move to a foreign land.  But, you can still be part of the team in reaching those that are waiting to hear God's Word.  You can be a part through prayer, encouraging, and financial gifts.  If you feel God is leading you, take a look here to learn more about being part of our team.  You, too, will receive a reward in heaven for the lives that are changed because of your part of the team.

Here is a great video from YouTube that shows how we are all a team in working together in Bible Translation.  Neil Anderson is a missionary with Wycliffe and helped translate the New Testament into the Folopa language in Papua New Guinea.  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Ups and Downs of Parenting

Anyone that has been a parent for any length of time knows that there are good times and bad times.  There are times that you are so proud of your kids, and you get a small glimpse of the person they are becoming.  Well today we experienced both the good and bad with the kids.  I know everyone is completely shocked that we have bad days with our kids.  Missionaries all have perfect kids and know how to deal with each situation in the perfect way.  Newsflash- So NOT true!

Anyway, about our day.  You'll notice the picture.  This was taken with Tim's phone when we went to get the kids after classes today.  They were dressed in authentic African garb.  Andrew was dressed as a man from Ghana and Bekah as a girl from Zimbabwe.  I was so impressed with all that they had learned and so proud of their heart for the people of the countries they've been learning about.  Well, that was earlier this afternoon. 

A couple hours later we headed for dinner.  The kids are becoming a little too confident and ran ahead of us.  WAY ahead of us.  Bekah was scared silly when she realized she couldn't find us.  Andrew was a little too confident and knew we'd show up.  Well, on the way back after dinner, Andrew took off.  We couldn't find him.  Knowing we were in a fairly safe environment, we headed back to our apartment. Bekah was crying hysterically the entire walk back to the apartment because she was so concerned about her brother.  Of course this Mama & Daddy's hearts were just breaking trying to console her.  It was so hard because she hadn't done anything wrong, and she was suffering from her brother's disobedience.  Andrew made it back safely.

As I reflected upon this incident tonight with Andrew, I've begun to think that is the way we are with God.  How many times do I get a Word from God- just some partial instructions maybe- but I just run ahead with my plans?  I know I'm not the only one who does this.  You get a Word that God wants you to be in a certain ministry or serve or talk with someone.  You don't bother waiting on God to provide the timing or the further instruction.  Instead, you bulldoze on and take it as your project- not God's.  You get to the end and realize you didn't get the results you expected.  You are lost, all alone, and in some trouble.  Hopefully, you now realize you left God and didn't wait on His instruction.  You have people that know that you are not following His Will and are crying and weeping over you.  We get so excited that we don't wait.  We don't pray and seek His direction.  Praise God that He gives us second, third, etc chances.  He loves us and welcomes us back.  That doesn't mean there aren't consequences to the actions.  There usually are. 

Tomorrow Andrew will be learning a lesson on waiting on his mom and dad.  Everywhere we walk, he will be holding our hand.  It's not going to be fun for him, or for us, but we pray he learns this lesson on waiting at a young age.  When he is older, we want him to know how to wait on God.  Our goal as parents is to teach our kids how to love and obey our Father. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday doesn't mean the same as it used to

Over my life Fridays have meant different things to me.  Of course it has always meant the beginning of the weekend.  When I was working in the corporate world, it meant looking forward to a break from getting up early and going to work.  When I first began staying home when Andrew was born, it meant extra help was coming from Tim being home.  Then Tim got shifted to work in the warehouse at Costco for a period of about 9 months.  Fridays then meant a long Saturday was coming with no extra help.  As the kids have gotten older, it has meant that we have a weekend full of activities.  This year in our homeschool, Fridays are a day to catch up on missed work, enjoy some fun educational activities before what is usually a crazy weekend filled with soccer games, chores, and church activities.

As I begin today, though, it is different.  We've been in Orlando since last Saturday.  This is not a vacation trip, nor is it our usual Florida trip to visit family.  No, we are in what I'm calling Wycliffe Boot Camp.  They are preparing us as we go forward with our ministry to help with Bible Translation in Papua New Guinea.  I've had to make some serious adjustments this week.  We all have.  Although our family is a bunch of early birds, normally, we tend to take our time in the morning.  This week we are at breakfast every morning at 7am- dressed and ready to go for the day.  After breakfast we drop the kids off at "school" and begin our day.  Tim & I are in classes every day until 4:00pm.  We pick the kids up to eat lunch.  This has been an adjustment.  I'm used to having the kids with me most of the day- being heavily involved with their school (hey, I am their teacher) and lives.  I'm not used to being the student and letting someone else be the teacher for my kids.  Still not sure how I feel about all of this.  Usually we have a break at 4pm until dinner at 6:00pm.  The first few days included activities after dinner.  Those were some long days.  Now we are able to come home to work on our homework.  Yes, homework.  The last time I did homework was over 11 years ago when I was living down the road attending UCF.  (OK, math geeks, quit doing the math, I'm still 25 and always will be...) 

So, what does this Friday mean to me?  Well, another day of classes and then some free time with the family this weekend.  It still doesn't mean sleeping in on Saturday morning.  We have speeches to give tomorrow morning before we get our free time.  I know from this point on many Fridays will mean preparing to visit different churches and families as we begin sharing with people the ministry God has laid upon our hearts and inviting them to be part of the mission.  As I reflect upon this, I'm reminded that God's own Son was crucified and died on a Friday to redeem me, Tim, my family, and you from the curse sin had on us.  It was the preparation for the greatest miracle ever- the Resurrection that came on Sunday!  Jesus didn't stay dead.  If so, then I have no reason for hope or excitement to share.  Jesus is ALIVE and He is our only hope.  I pray as we begin to see our Fridays transform (at least for a little while) from days of leisure and looking forward to rest and time together over the weekend, that we will continue to have our eyes on the One who made the ultimate sacrifice of His Friday for each and every one of us.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The excitment is building!

There is a LOT of excitement in the Ellis house.  We are packing and getting ready to head to Orlando for our two week training with Wycliffe.  If you came by our house, you'd think we were going to spend two weeks at Disney the kids are so excited.  I love it!  Bags are packed and ready to be loaded.  Now if I can just force myself to sit down and write out the kids' lesson plans for the next two weeks. 

According to the world's view, we should be dreading two weeks away.  I mean it is training, giving up two weeks of Tim's precious vacation time, lots of prep work, and homework.  The excitement is because we know that this is the first big step we are taking as we follow where God is directing us.  Everything is becoming "more real" you can say.  It is exciting.  It is exciting to know that you are following the One who is all powerful, all knowing, and completely sovereign.  How can you not be excited to see where He is going to lead you?  We know the next 14 months will have lots of ups and downs as we prepare to leave for Papua New Guinea.  Right now, we are enjoying the mountaintop experience.

I have to laugh as I look at what has been thrown at us this past week as we prepared.  Of course there is the "hole in the ceiling" incident, but we also heard chipmunks or squirrels in the attic that same night.  Then last night as I was preparing dinner, we had no water because of a water main break. And the printer isn't working right and my resident computer man can't even figure it out.  All minor frustrations that can lead to bigger frustrations and stress.  I can't say it has been a laugh a minute around the house because there have been times when we just want to scream and just say forget it.  But, we don't.  I am reminded of the verse Bekah was working on memorizing this week- "Do all things heartily as to the Lord and not to man."  I'm sure it was just a coincidence that was the verse we've been working on.  HAHA! 

As you think about us over the next two weeks, please lift us up to the Father.  Please pray for us.  Some of the specific prayer requests are:
  • Pray for safe travel to, around, and back home from Orlando.  Pray the car works as it is designed.
  • Pray as we make new friendships.  Many of the people in our group will be heading to PNG with us.We have been told several times that our "Equip Family" will become a large part of our support group as we continue with Wycliffe. 
  • Pray for health for our family.  I don't want to take for granted how healthy we have been this year.
  • Pray for God to work in the life of our family and draw us closer to each other.  
I'll try to keep the blog and/or facebook updated while we are gone.  No promises, though.  

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Just call me "Grace"

So, you may be wondering what is that picture?  Well that is what happens when a Momma decides to stay home and bring out the warmer clothes from the attic.  Although the attic has boards on some of the floor, it isn't completely covered.  I managed to sink my foot and half my leg through the blown insulation, subfloor, and drywall.  I'm sure if anyone had been passing by and looked into our window above the foyer, they would have thought we had some crazy Halloween gag with a foot hanging from the ceiling.  Yeah, it took lots of talent.  I have the huge bruise on my leg as proof along with this hole in the ceiling outside of Bekah's bedroom door.  Hey, I managed to not only shower insulation and pieces of ceiling in the hallway immediately below the hole, but also in Bekah's room, downstairs in the foyer and the "dining room".  I think the funny thing is my first thoughts as I was looking through the hole was "Uh-oh, that was the piece we had to replace in the living room."  We live in a two story house and the living room is downstairs under Bekah's room.  Yeah, pure genius!

We have the chance to choose how we react to different situations that come our way.  After I realized what I did and realized I was still alive and not seriously hurt, I started laughing.  OK, you know every last one of you reading this blog will probably be laughing, too.  How many of you can say you've busted through the ceiling?  Yeah, that's what I thought.  And although I may not be as skinny as I used to be, I'm not that big!

Anyway, back to the point of this entry.  I realize that when you are following God's plan and allowing Him to use you, you will face trials.  Yes, the devil is real and there is a real spiritual warfare going on out there.  In the past, I would have gotten mad at this situation and blamed everybody but myself.  I certainly wouldn't have laughed about it, especially when I have so many things going on right now.  I thank God that He has grown me.  Now, that isn't too say, I will always react this way.  I still have that fleshly desire pulling at me.  I'm thankful that God allowed me to see the humor in the situation.  Now I'm praying Tim will see the humor when he gets home and sees the hole.  I'm not so sure about that. 

I believe that we will continue to face attacks along the way.  Please pray that we will take them with our full armor of God on and persevere.  And as always "thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. (I Thessalonians 5:18, The Message)"


Monday, October 4, 2010

T-6 days

Next Saturday morning, we leave for our on site training in Orlando for Wycliffe.  There are quite a few emotions (and even more mind boggling thoughts) running through my mind this weekend.  Things are becoming more real.  October seemed so far off when we first started discussing our Equip training with Wycliffe at the beginning of the summer.  Even when we began our online portion six weeks ago, it seemed that October would never get here.  Well, it is here and this time next week, we'll be back in our shorts and t-shirts and getting to know the others in our Equip group.  Seems like half of them are going to Papua New Guinea with us.  That is exciting!  

I have a new hobby that many of my friends and family don't know about.  I love to put together jigsaw puzzles.  Apparently Tim thought I was getting a bit too good at it, so he bought me this 1,000 piece puzzle that has been my nemesis for the last 3 months.  I've been drawing a lot correlations between this puzzle and life.  I find myself trying to put a piece of puzzle where I think it belongs.  It usually is wrong and goes in a totally different spot.  How often is life like that?  We think how the different pieces of our lives should fit together.  Well, they don't fit together like we think they should.  I'm so glad that the Master Creator is putting my life together and not me.  I make a big mess when I try to do it.  I also tend to quit or at least give up for a little while.  There are times when this puzzle gets put to the side for days or weeks at a time.  Fortunately, my Savior never puts me to the side, and He continues to work until the work He began in me is complete.  

So, as God continues to put the pieces of our puzzle together, please pray for us.  We are excited about meeting some new "puzzle pieces" next week and continuing the trail God has given us.  Pray for us to not to "force" pieces where they don't belong.  I'm known for being a bit impatient at times. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Our introduction

So, I never thought I'd actually do a blog, but here we go.  I'll give some background for everyone and promise to update at least once a year.  OK, that might be a bit ambitious, but I'll make it a priority!  =)  With very few exceptions, it will probably be Tara doing the writing.  I'm usually the one with the most to say!

Our story begins about four years ago.  With each mission trip Tim took, I waited for him to return with a heart ready to serve in missions full time.  His first trip was in 2006 to China and then he went to Haiti in 2008 and Romania in 2009.  He loved the trips, loved watching God work, but at that time, he thought it would be something we would do later in life.  He had a family to support.  After the 2006 trip to China, he met Mr. Bill, who first told him IT people were needed in the mission field, specifically at Wycliffe.  God continued to work in Tim's heart and his passion for missions continued to grow with each trip.  About a year ago, after returning from Romania, he said "I think this is something we could do full time."  We began fervently praying and looking at what the needs were with different mission organizations.  We shared with just a very few people at that time.  We spoke with different people and continued to pray.  We knew Wycliffe had an IT conference at their JAARS headquarters in Waxhaw, NC (South of Charlotte)  at the end of February.  We began making arrangements to attend.  It was an incredible weekend.  We met some great people and got a better idea of how God is using the IT field in the work of spreading His Word.  The impatient one, that would be Tara, expected clear direction and confirmation upon leaving.  That didn't happen.  Tim is definitely the one that takes more time to process things.  We continued looking at two other organizations, but we were continually "pulled" back to Wycliffe.  About a month later, we officially began contact with Wycliffe to pursue becoming members. 

After the conference at JAARS, we kept feeling a tug toward Papua New Guinea (PNG).  Honestly, before that time, we really had no clue as to where PNG was or the needs they had.  You can call it coincidence, but  God began to put PNG in almost every situation in our daily lives. He confirmed to us very clearly that He wanted us to serve Him in PNG.  The irony was that we were thinking (and hoping), we would stay stateside and either work at JAARS in NC or at Wycliffe USA headquarters in Orlando.  You know a big part of us was really hoping to head back home to Orlando!  Well, when God speaks clearly, you obey.  We knew that was where God was leading us even before we began the "official" process with Wycliffe. 

Well today, we are official members of Wycliffe Bible Translators.  We complete the six week online portion of our training this week.  In two weeks we head to Orlando for two weeks of training.  As I look on the past year, I'm amazed at all that God has done in our family.  It is safe to say that a year ago, we would never have dreamed we would be preparing our family to move overseas.  As God says "His ways are not our ways.  His thoughts are not our thoughts." 

I will do as much as I can to keep the blog updated.  Please feel free to post comments and to send us an email.  We appreciate any encouragement and all the prayers!