Monday, January 30, 2012

Cold hands, Warm heart

This week we are concentrating on staying warm.  Our temperatures this week are in the teens and below.... Yes, even below zero at times.

I'm an Oklahoma girl.  Hubby is from Mexico.  We've lived here nearly 10 years and still have not "warmed up" to these freezing temperatures.  So, please excuse me as I step away from my normal duties to wrap a blanky around my baby and hold him a little closer.  And when I'm not doing that, you just might find me at the kitchen sink, enjoying washing dishes with my hands under the hot water.  And those layers of clothes you see?  In my home, it is quite the modern fashion to wear layers these days... lots and lots of them.  

If you could be near us, you just might smell smoke on us.... that woodsy, fireplace smell that emanates from our wood-burning stove.  

If you could look in my mug, you just might see and smell coffee or tea with honey.  

And, when I go to bed tonight, if you could see me, you would see that I have moved my baby's bed out of his room and into mine, right next to my bed.  Gotta be sure he is covered well all night.

Yes, it is cold.  

But, I am not worried about us.  When I wanna shiver, I think about our church people and wonder if they are warm.  Most of them do not have cars, so they trudge through the snow and feel the fierce wind in their faces as they walk to catch a city bus.  We lived through that our first year here, and it is not a life of ease.

When your thoughts turn towards your missionaries this month, pray for those in cold countries.  And pray for their people that they love so dearly, especially those who do not have all of the modern conveniences.... like vehicles and "warm enough" homes.

Now, time for me to go add some honey to that cup of tea that has been brewing...

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Year Already?!

Though I can hardly remember what life was like before he came into our lives, it also seems hard to believe that a year has passed since I held him in my arms for the first time.  
We started our birthday celebration the evening before the big day, with a meal at McDonald's after church. Our McDonald's here (our only "link" to America in this city) was recently remodeled.  It was a 2.5 million dollar project that boasts its splendid luxury.  This two-story fast food restaurant looks like it dropped out of the sky and landed next to our city train station.  It is quite a treat to eat here, and it is family tradition that we go to McDonald's for each child's birthday.

{Below}  First french fry from Daddy.  I can promise you we do not normally feed our babies this type of food.  He probably will not get another french fry until his 2nd birthday!  But, a birthday is a birthday, and we all need to splurge a little...

{Below}  And, just to prove his transition into "toddler-hood," he made us a pretty little mess to clean up when we got home.
{Below} Micah's gift from his Mimi, who faithfully sends a little shopping money for each of her grandbabies on their birthdays.
{Below} The "binky cutting ceremony."  When our Brianna turned one, we cut the rubber off of her binkies and this has now turned into a tradition for the babies in our home.  Before you think we are too terribly mean, remember that Micah does not even know it is his birthday!
{Below}  Binkies all ready to be thrown away.  Micah did have a super fun time playing with them before they were tossed!
{Below} Always the center of our attention and love, this child never lacks for a playmate!

{Below}  Who knew that carrot cake could make such a good track for a toy motorcycle?!
{Below}  Then, off to the bathroom to meet Daddy and the hair clippers

{Below} Those sweet, sweet curls that I twirled round and round my fingers countless days and nights will be missed....  Oh, so missed....  

My big boy is growing and joining the ranks of being a kid, right along with his brothers and sister.

Happy Birthday, my sweet baby boy!  No matter how old you get, you'll always be my baby.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Giveaway at cotton+wood

Do you like to sew?  I do... but mostly in my dreams since most of my time is spent {joyfully} being a Mommy!  Maybe if I had more time to sew, I would have curtains in my living room by now.

My friend Rebecca from cotton+wood has a fabric giveaway that you will not want to miss if you are a seamstress!  

I know Christmas is long over, but sweet Rebecca interviewed me on her blog last month about our Christmas traditions and memories.  You can read that interview by clicking here.  I love being considered Rebecca's friend!  And, I love her beautiful blog design.  Isn't it just pretty?!

Head on over to cotton-wood to enter this fun giveaway.  Hope you win!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Grab my button!

I have been blogging for nearly three years and have just now added a button to my blog! {blush}  The only reason I was able to get around to it was that hubby is gone... again.  Yep, he has headed back to our capitol city on the train to pick up my passport, so the kiddos and I are home alone for two nights.  Yes, this is definitely one of the downsides to the mission field.... separation due to paperwork.  Sigh.

So, now that I have just made you aware that my blog has been missing something, would it surprise you to know that I still do not have curtains in my living room either?  Hmmm... must be a connection somewhere...

So, back to this handy dandy button of mine.  I sure would be tickled pink if you (my blogging buddies) would add it to your sidebar and then leave me a comment to let me know did.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snow Fun!

One thing about living in Ukraine is... we're always guaranteed beautiful, white snow!  The last couple of years (with building our home), we have SURVIVED it.  This year, now that our house is sufficiently sealed off and heated, we are ENJOYING it!
 {Below} Snowflakes in Micah's hair and on his eyelashes.  Pure sweetness.

{Below}  Our kids built a snowman at church with their friends, and Davey sacrificed his scarf and hat for his "new friend"
{Below} At home in our backyard
{Below} Micah watching from the window, in the warmth of his home and jammies

{Below}  Beautiful, pudgy fingers
{Below}  Ever been clobbered by snowballs and laughed through the whole process?  Micah has!

{Below}  No winter is complete without homemade snow ice cream!  You can find the recipe we use by clicking here.


Look outside the window here, the snow fell deep last night

Let's get our coats and mittens on, and have a snowball fight

We'll build a fat and jolly friend, who'll watch us as we play

We'll even dare to take a ride, on grandpaw's wooden sleigh

We'll make some angels in the snow, and sing the carols sweet

We'll make ourselves some sugar ice, it's grandmaw's favorite treat

We'll end the day inside again, around that glowing fire

We'll sip the eggnog Sister makes, and then we'll all retire

But while we're all so fast asleep, the dreams will start to flow

With memories of the day that we, went playing in the snow

Author Unknown

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Popsy's Last Prayer Letter

"Popsy," as he was lovingly called by his family and friends, surrendered his life to the Lord and went to the mission field at the age of 44.  The year was 1960.  He had pastored the Bible Baptist Church in Waxahachie, Texas, for eight years and then surrendered to give his life to missions.  He went to Monterrey, Mexico, with four children.  No mission board would accept him because he was, in their words, "too old."  This determined man, knowing God had called him, went anyway.

Popsy was the first of three generations now serving in missions.  Three of his children followed his leading and returned to Mexico as missionaries with their own families.  (His fourth child has bravely served our country in the Air Force and is one of hubby's heroes.... and he should be since hubby is named after him!)  

Now, twelve of their grandchildren, along with their families, are also serving as missionaries throughout the world.  (My hubby is one of those twelve.)  Makes me wonder if Popsy really was "too old" to become a missionary?!  

{Below} Mt. Hebron Baptist Church (choir pictured), started by Popsy and continued by his son Tommy.
{Below} Mt. Hebron Bible Baptist Institute, which Popsy started in 1963.
2010-2011 Student Body - M. H. B. B. I.

A missionary friend recently sent us a copy of Popsy's last prayer letter, which was written just a few months before his death.  I have retyped the letter (below it's picture), and I hope that it blesses you as much at it has blessed us.  What a privilege to be a part of this amazing heritage!

February 19, 1990

Dear Friends,

I feel impressed to dictate this letter to you this morning, to be mailed after the Lord takes me home.  By the time this reaches you I will have seen the Glory of the Lord, walked on streets of gold, with not a tumor in nor on my body, no swollen leg, no hemorrhaging, no pain and no crippled arm!

I want to let you know that only through God and His impressing you (then your submission to Him) to support the work of Mount Hebron, there have been thousands of souls saved and hundreds of preachers sent to all parts of Mexico to fulfill the Great Commission.

I feel the responsibility to let you know how much I appreciate the faith and trust you put in me to so graciously and sacrificially support the work through almost 30 years in Mexico.  All work at Mount Hebron will continue, your work will continue.  God has given me children and a wife who have a heart for the work equally as I.

Through the years, God has blessed the work, I believe, because of the confidence and unity of our friends and Mount Hebron.  I do appreciate everything so much.  Only God knows the true results of your and our labours together.  There have been many valleys but we always seemed to be higher after we came through.  I have no doubt but you who have sacrificed will have a great reward in heaven.

I am asking that you please continue your support to Mount Hebron.  The obligations and responsibilities for my boys and wife will not decrease at my passing.

The support will be handled by my wife with help and counsel of pastor friends and, of course, our sons.

With this request I must say, "I'll meet you in the morning."  Philipians 4:17 and Romans 8:28.  May God richly bless you is my prayer.  Please keep up the good work.  "It has been worth it all."

Your former missionary to Mexico,
Dr. L.H. Ashcraft
Popsy met his Creator, his Saviour, his Father on March 11, 1990.  His beautiful wife, lovingly called "Mimi," joined him March 14, 1996.

Oh, how I pray that the Lord would find us faithful too!  That we could serve Him 30+ years and say, like Popsy said it so well, "It has been worth it all!"

{Below} This video (narrated by Jonathan Ashcraft, Popsy's grandson) gives a much better description of Popsy and the work that has continued years after his Home-going.  I hope it will encourage you as much as it has encouraged me!

(For those reading this post through a reader, click here to see this video on YouTube.)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

To Sheila Campbell's prayer team:

Many have asked for an update, and I'm thrilled!  It means you are praying with me for a missionary mom in need!

Here is an update from yesterday from Sheila's sister Angie:

Update on Sheila Campbell:  So far so good, Sheila had the bone marrow transplant today.  The next month or so will be critical to find out if the transplant takes and for Sheila to not get sick!  Her immune system is non existent at this point.  Thank you so much Christina for undergoing the pain to be a donor for our Sister!!!  Please pray for Christina as she recovers from the procedure today!  Sheila will be taking approx. 27 different meds. and going to Johns Hopkins every day for the next month or two for many different procedures including 2 more very strong chemos and hopefully that will be it for the Chemotherapy.  Thanks everyone for your prayers on our families behalf!

27 different medications?!  Going to the hospital every day for up to two months?!  And, wow... makes me wonder if I am the kind of friend that would do something like Christina has done for Sheila.  Like you, I would certainly hope that about myself.

Some have asked how I know Sheila.  We graduated from the same college, Oklahoma Baptist College, though she finished a few years before I did.  When I was still in high school she worked as a secretary in our school office and always had a sweet smile for everyone.  

I'm still praying for Sheila and will pray until I'm told Sheila is fully healthy again.  And even then, we'll keep praying for this missionary family and their work in the Philippines.  Will you do the same, friends?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Uncertain times {update}

I have been humbled by the many of you that have written to ask about our visa situation and what the future holds for us here in Ukraine.  I posted one time about it, and countless of you took me very seriously.  I am just so grateful for that, too!

The short answer is, there is no answer yet.

Hubby left on an overnight train last night to begin the first step of our process, that of renewing my passport.    My passport does not expire until June or July (sorry, I forgot which), but to renew a visa, the passport has to have at least 6 months of "life" on it for the new visa.  After spending the day at the American Embassy, hubby is on the train again tonight, returning home.  In 10 days or so, he will make the 12-hour trip back to the capital city of Kiev to pick up my passport.  [Have I ever confessed on here that I really don't like it when hubby is gone?  I just really love being around that man!]

The next step in this paperwork process is being invited by an established organization (which, for us, will be our church here, Simferopol Baptist Church).  Then, that invitation will have to be approved.  It seems the problem that we might be facing right now is that this region of our country is seemingly not wanting to accept any invitations.  No invitation = No visa.

It is really too early to know our fate yet.  We have until March on our current visas and are redeeming our time here.  We are already gearing up for our annual married couples' Valentine's Day banquet!  I always love celebrating with my Love and the sweet couples in our church.

The positive side to this entire issue is that, after leaving Ukraine in March (we'll just be visiting a neighboring country long enough to officially leave the country.... we're thinking Italy {sounds exotic, doesn't it?!}) we can come back in for three months just as tourists, no matter what the outcome on our visas is.

And, maybe by then, the laws will have changed (in our favor) again.

Please know, that for each pray that is offered on our behalf, I am sincerely grateful.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Update on Sheila Campbell...

Remember my prayer request for Sheila Campbell three months ago?  Sheila, a missionary's wife, had to leave her beloved mission field of the Philippines with her family because she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lymphoma cancer.  Tomorrow is an important day for this dear family.
Here is a Facebook message Sheila wrote to her friends last week:

My dearest friends, I know it has been so long since I have written on here but I want you all to know that each and every post has been deeply appreciated by me.  I could never even begin to express how much of a blessing and encouragement your love and prayers have been to me this past year.  It has not been an easy journey and I know the road ahead will not be easy either but I believe that God is in control and I also believe that your prayers have carried me through so far.  I had another catheter placed in my chest on Wednesday and I began pre-transplant chemo that day - I will have chemo until Monday and then have total body radiation.  The transplant is scheduled for Tuesday.  The doctors have told me that the next few months will be tough so I am asking for your continued prayers.  Please also pray for my boys the next few months as I will be in Baltimore and not able to be around them for some time.  I love you all and I pray God will bless each of you who have reached out to me through your posts, notes and most especially your prayers on my behalf.

Makes our own problems seem so small, doesn't it?

Sheila's transplant (that she mentions above) is tomorrow.  Will you join me in praying for a missionary mom in need?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Beautiful Brianna

My one and only daughter.  

My very best girlfriend in all the world.

I prayed she would be beautiful.

And God answered my prayers.