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.