"The Christian needs another Christian who speaks God's Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation." --Deitrich Bonhoeffer quoted by Ann Voskamp in today's post on "How to Live, Blog, Write." Ann, I love your quotes. And I love you--the real you--that farmer's wife from Canada with six kids and a real faith in God that she's willing to expose.
This quote says it. It is why I write. To speak truth to myself and to you. Because we all need it.
It has been a crazy-busy September-October. But, I have good things to report from what feels like a whirlwind tour to a land with restricted internet access. (I literally do not know when I could've blogged for most of this past month plus ten days.)
What have I been up to? Some of the highlights all hit in rapid succession.
- I took my Praxis exam to renew my teaching certification here in SC. A dear friend at church was taking a comparable exam (but for elementary), so we were able to quiz one another. The night before the test, we met at Panera and finished reviewing. Then, the morning of, after dropping off the boys at a brave fellow-mother-of-boys' home, I stopped off at Coffee & Crema for a Pumpkin Spice Latte. But instead of studying, spent some precious quiet moments with God in the latter portion of Isaiah. I was so encouraged by this portion in chapter 56: "And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to Him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be His servants ... these I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer ... For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples." And the pithy "to love His name & be His servant" sang in my soul. Over and over again, He's been teaching me how beautiful it is to be His servant! I spent some sweet time in prayer, thanking Him for grafting me--a foreigner--into His household. And, BTW, scores were reported just today, and I am thrilled to tell you that my friend & I both passed! Praise His name!
- The very next week, my husband took his comprehensive exams for his PhD in New Testament Interpretation. We survived! :) And excepting a tw0-page report on the life & ministry of Paul, he is ready to move into the dissertation phase.
- Then, I had the privilege of serving on this year's planning team for our church's Ladies Conference, "Always in His Presence."
Mrs. Diane Olson from Northland International University, a personal friend of our pastor's wife, came to speak truth to us. The conference was a blessing! You can listen to the audio recordings at sermonaudio. The second session was my favorite: Diane listed a hugely long list regarding how the Spirit works in our lives.
While crafting the conference decor, I remember very specifically having this conversation with the Lord, "It sure is expensive to serve You, Lord. I hope you're keeping track." But the joy is, He is. "Your work and labor of love will not go unnoticed."
- In the meantime, I started Graston Therapy on my back and heel. Can you say BRUISE!? Well, I went through some very difficult weeks where I meditated a lot on the concept of "It pleased Him to bruise His Son." But I am so thankful to say that the hope is already beginning to be realized through the pain, and I am seeing significant improvement!
- Substitute teaching has been fun this season. I've done everything from 2nd grade PE (slipping rubber bands on the wrists of little runners for each lap they made), to MS Pre-Algebra, to HS English (throw in a Powerpoint), Bible, even Chorale. I love these kids. Many of them are my readers, my kids' friends, and even my friends. And Mark loves his days at "school.
- One other highlight has been embracing the joy of being a mother of boys. Recently, several of their friends and they got together and built mini-catapults then launched marshmellows at one another ... and me. :) These are the things we will look back at with the greatest joy! The crazy pauses to enjoy one another in the midst of daily life and ministry demands. We got the idea from this book:
There are some dangerous things in this book and its companion books, but with proper supervision, it is so much FUN!!
- Women for Missions is in full-swing, and though we deferred our October meeting to the Ladies' Conference, we still had a fabulous outpouring of love for our MKs studying in local colleges. Our next meeting will get us back on track, first Tuesday of November. We're planning on having an area pastor's wife who ministers to those in the Inner City share with us, and then we'll take some concentrated time praying for our nation. It'll be the night of elections after all. ;)
I enjoyed trying out Giada's Chocolate Chip Biscotti recipe as well as Taste of Home's White Chocolate Cranberry Biscotti recipe. Tucked together with some hot cocoa packets, this was our family's love gift to these MKs studying away from their missionary homes. A splurge none of us complained about taste-testing. Yes, I did make a vegan version for Micah.
- Along the way I've been ticking off the chapters of my WIP as I do my final revision before sending out the query letter to a selected agent. Down to just one more chapter of Voice of a Servant, my middle-grade historical novel based on 2 Kings 2-8, told from the three servant perspectives of Cassia (the little maid), Marcus (Naaman's attendant), and Gehazi (Elisha's servant). As my sister-in-law exclaims, "Eee!" :) I can hardly wait to share it with you!
And now you're caught up, at least with the major events. And I'm slowing down and "simplifying." Regrouping and reflecting. I do plan to post more of the things God's been working in my heart, the nitty-gritty, the real. Soon.
But first, what have you been doing? Please leave a comment below or email me at vineandshoots [AT] gmail [DOT] com. I'd love to hear from you.