Faith Grows Through Fire: The Gift of Faith

December 17th, 2014


People ask me all the time how I came to have the faith that I have. They see that I have a faith that can move mountains. I pray mightily in the Spirit because I’m certain of being heard. God has done so many miracles in my life that I’ve come to expect it. This is why people are befuddled and dumbfounded when they see my faith. It’s not actually my faith, by the way.

It’s God’s gift of faith, and He can take it away at the beginning of a tribulation in your life, only to give it back more strongly than ever.

Don’t be scared when you think your faith is gone. It’s at that moment that God is preparing you to receive more faith. Just wait calmly and put your trust in the Lord, even though you feel abandoned. Yield to God and continue to commit yourself to Him.

God stands outside space and time and knows all things. He is a good God. Even when it feels like He has withdrawn His tangible presence during the moment when you most need it, please wait…

You see, God won’t fill you if you’re not empty.

Over and over again in my life, the Lord has stripped me of every ounce of strength in my body, where if you were to look at me, you would think that my faith was gone. A raging fire was passing over me in my life, and suddenly somewhere in the midst of the fire, I was strengthened in the Lord and received a higher measure of faith.

How do you get faith? You have to be open to get it. You have to be yielded to God, to have an attitude of receiving. That’s how salvation is. You get it because it’s being given, and you’re willing to receive it. Having a greater faith in God is no different. Be open to receiving it. Ask for it.

As I was talking about faith with my husband one night, he said that he knew how to get faith. This is the progression:

  1. Believe God.
  2. Then you have to go through a trial that challenges that belief.
  3. In the end, you have to see that God delivers.

I am experiencing this in my life right now in several areas. I was working so hard to book a venue for the local homeschool conference that I’m in charge of, and nothing was working. I was under a lot of pressure, and it seemed like the harder I worked, the more nothing was happening. Vendors were asking me why the conference wasn’t booked yet. The keynote had agreed to work with us, but we left him dangling for weeks on end without giving him a reason why. The no-pay high-stress work that I was doing for the homeschool group drained me of every drop of strength I had until I literally collapsed.

At that moment, I went in to see the surgeon to discuss the procedure for removing the lump from my daughter’s spine. I saw that it was more serious that I had anticipated, that she would be unconscious for 48 hours and might slink into a coma, that bone from her spinal column would be removed in two places and never put back again, and that the lump couldn’t actually be removed completely because it was fused to the spinal cord itself. You know, the bundle of nerves that runs up your spine to your brain.

And then it hit me.

But my daughter was sitting there, and I wasn’t allowed to cry. I wasn’t allowed to scream in hysteria as a mother. No. I remained calm and wiped the sweat off my palms onto my jeans. I felt dizzy.

Later my husband took the kids to Costco for dinner, and I sat in the empty house. I sat in the dark, feeling abandoned by the Lord. Why did He not answer when I begged Him for a venue for the only Christian homeschool conference in this area? And now I could do nothing about it because I had no strength left, and why wasn’t I allowed to think about my daughter?

I screamed.

I wept.

I sat in silence before the Lord.

The next day I went to a prayer meeting with the Hispanic women I worked with at the women’s prayer retreat where I spoke in August. I plopped down on the couch and announced that the Lord had abandoned me.

After the initial shock of the statement wore off, the women’s eyes sparkled because God had given them Scripture for me. One woman told me that I was Peter, that I had jumped out of the boat and walked on water. And now I realize that it’s impossible to walk on water (what was I thinking?) and the waves are overwhelming me and I’m drowning. What happens next? she asked me.

God delivers.

Yes, but how would He deliver? How can He deliver without me doing anything? Because another woman quoted that God would fight my battles if I would only stand still. (Exodus 14:14)

The women laid hands on me and prayed for me. The fog lifted, and I had a supernatural peace and could it be… Joy! Yes, I felt incredible joy that was impossible because my daughter might be dead soon, and if the conference wasn’t booked, our group would never be able to have a conference again because of lack of funds. I felt responsible for the demise of the largest homeschool group in the area.

Nothing was resolved.

But I felt peace.

And I waited….

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.   Isaiah 40:31 KJV

The waiting was long.

I felt like a rubber band that had been stretched out of all proportion and would never be able to be snapped back to its original position.

And then it happened: a venue opened up, and would I come put down a deposit? As I walked around the venue, I had a lump in my throat because it was perfect. The price was also perfect. I wasn’t going to bankrupt our group and crash it to smithereens after all. The Lord delivered!

I cried tears of joy because this shows that God is still with me.

And now more waiting is required…

My daughter is going into spine surgery on January 8th, 2015. Will you pray for me, that God will continue to sustain me, no matter what the outcome?

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. I Peter 1:6-7 ESV

Deluxe Gingerbread Houses

December 15th, 2014

deluxe-gingerbread-housesLook at these deluxe gingerbread houses! It’s incredible what people can build out of gingerbread, frosting, pretzels, and candy. Every year there is a gingerbread house competition at the Davenport Hotel in downtown Spokane, WA, and every year I’m impressed.

If you look at the first picture, there is a treehouse structure with a pretzel rope ladder. There must be some form of candy that looks like rocks, because it was used to build a lot of this scene. The sign says “Jellystone Park,” and Yogi Bear is included in the scene. A pretzel cabin and a camping area with tents rounds out the scene.

deluxe-gingerbread-houses-2This one is obviously about famous landmarks. They used mainly plain gingerbread, with frosting and candy embellishments. The sand at the bottom of the pyramids is undoubtedly crushed graham crackers.

gingerbread-houseThis is a nice gingerbread house. The roof is covered with mini-marshmallows, as well as the snowy ground. Chocolate garage doors, pretzel embellishments, and a shoelace licorice candy fence surrounds the scene.

gingerbread-waterfallThis waterfall scene is so extravagant that its ingredients are out of my league. I think fondant was used, and I hear it is difficult to work with. Nevertheless, it is a gorgeous scene!

gingerbread-snow-sceneOkay, this one is more manageable by real humans. The snowy scene incudes two dog sleds with dogs, a regular gingerbread house with pretzels for logs, and white frosting covering the ground and Oreo cookies for a hill in the background.

gingerbread-pickup-truckThis scene is fun. It has a pick-up truck driving up a ramp to the cabin. Even though there is snow on the ground, there is greenery around the house, probably shaped out of fondant. It looks like the basic structure of the pick-up truck is made out of graham crackers, covered by fondant.

gingerbread-carHere is another scene that is ridiculously complicated and impossible for mere humans like us to attempt. I’m sure the creator of this one is an expert with fondant because the car that is in the air is a masterpiece of perfection!

If you want some humorous tips on building gingerbread houses:

If you want to see how I failed at building a simple gingerbread house:


How to Make Homeschool Science Come Alive

December 12th, 2014

how-to-make-homeschool-science-come-aliveAre you wondering how to make homeschool science come alive? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Today you will hear a panel of homeschool parents discussing how to make science one of the most exciting subjects for your homeschool!

The reason hands-on activities are more important for science than for any other topic is that you can’t truly understand the science concepts without seeing them in action. This is why experiments are so important and why you really ought to touch what you are studying.

Why You Shouldn’t Feel Intimidated by Science

You don’t have to know anything scientific before teaching science. Since the material you are teaching is meant for a child, you can easily learn it along with your kids. If you have a delight in your eyes while you are teaching it, that delight will spark interest in your children.

Everyone makes mistakes while doing science, so don’t be afraid to fail. When making the Edible Sedimentary Rock, you will notice in the video that I poured the liquid into the pan quickly instead of slowly, and the layer was lumpy instead of smooth. My daughter screamed from being splashed accidentally with the hot liquid, which I had no idea would pop out of the pan at all. So you see, even my polished experiments contain mistakes and failures, and you can just laugh and move on.

It helps to see a video demonstration of the concepts being taught. If you are studying Earth and Space or Chemistry, feel free to watch these video demonstrations:

What Materials Do You Need for Homeschool Science?

For elementary science, you don’t need to buy very much that isn’t already in your house–vinegar, a drinking glass, a funnel, those kinds of things. Once you get to high school science, you will want to get some equipment like a microscope, a scale, beakers, etc, depending on what you are studying. You really need to do the high school experiments in the lab sciences to fully understand those concepts, so you don’t want to scrimp at that point.

Science Field Trips

When you are studying outer space, you can do star gazing, go to an observatory, or visit a space center. When studying birds, you can go bird watching, visit a bird sanctuary, or go to a chicken farm. A weather station is a perfect field trip if you are studying the weather. Just go to a place that brings your science topic to life, and you can experience that topic in a fresh way.

What About Preschool Science?

Preschool science is all about delight and exploration. We have done nature collections, put together various terrariums, played with bubbles, and explored many other science topics. Here is a fun article about preschool science: Science in Early Childhood.


Fill Your Own Ornament

December 10th, 2014


Fill your own ornament, and make your Christmas tree unique! Here are some creative ideas to get you started:

#1 Confetti


First of all, you can simply fill a clear ornament with confetti. Easy and beautiful.

(Actually, the first thing my husband and I thought of to put into a clear ornament is water and a live fish swimming around. But the ornament would be too heavy and not have enough air for the fish to breathe…)

#2 Sand Scene


Put sand and a lizard in it. You could also have sand and seashells that fit through the hole on the top.

#3 Patriotic Theme


This is my patriotic one. It has gold star confetti on the bottom, and a spray of red and blue. It’s one of those fancy toothpick thingies, with the toothpick clipped off with a pair of big shears.

#4 Pom Poms


My daughter decided to fill hers with small pom poms.

#5 Rock Salt Snow Scene


If you put rock salt into it, it looks like snow. Then add a sprig of evergreen, and it would look lovely. Or throw in random objects like my son did, almost like an I Spy scene.

How to Fill Your Own Ornaments

Here we are, throwing the confetti into the clear ornament, just free hand. That’s because my other son was using the funnel to put dirt into his ornament. Yes, dirt.


Here is the son with the dirt. Then he threw a plastic centipede into the dirt, and it looked disgusting. We decided to grab the tweezers, pull the centipede out, and dump the dirt out. We washed it with warm water and let it dry before starting over.


This is what the clear ornaments look like in the store.


Here are the filled-up ornaments. They were easy and fun. Avert your eyes away from the one filled with dirt; it was nasty and disgusting. Oh, and of course, we cracked one. I thought they were plastic, but no. They were made of glass.


Missionary Kids and the Holidays

December 8th, 2014


The holidays are a bittersweet time for missionary kids. Growing up, we didn’t see our loved ones on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Instead, we would invite another missionary family over so that there would be lots of people to eat the turkey, giving the illusion that we were surrounded by family. After all, we called all the missionaries “aunt” and “uncle.” They were our only extended family unless we were on furlough.

Christmases on furlough were completely different because you might actually see some extended family members. But you were so busy going from church to church and singing the same songs in front of everybody that furlough was just a spectacle after all. A spectacle punctuated by friendly faces of people who you were supposed to know but didn’t because you never saw them, even though you were blood related.


And of course, if we had Christmas in the States, we wouldn’t have tamales and fireworks at midnight, and what kind of Christmas is it without those childhood traditions? At least both places had candlelight services, and both had Christmas trees with presents under them.

So Christmas was odd in the States, but in some ways it was way better because we could see Grandma and Grandpa.

To complicate matters, being an international person caused me to move to England my senior year of college. And then I didn’t have enough money to fly home for Christmas, so I spent Christmas in England. I was 21, so the family I spent Christmas with served us white wine with Christmas dinner. It was so bitter that I excused myself from the table to spit it out in the sink. And while I was over the sink, I thought of how Christmas crackers in England reminded me of fireworks in Guatemala, and I felt homesick for a land where I never belonged.


When I moved back to the States from England, I had happy memories of my year in England, and I wanted to move back. After getting my teaching degree, back I went to teach at an American school in London. And I was happy to pull Christmas crackers and wear paper crowns.

Now that I’m married and have made my own little family in the States, I insist on tamales, fireworks, Christmas crackers, and paper crowns, and I have folded in any traditions my husband wanted. A complicated and strange set of traditions, but it’s the only way I feel home for Christmas.

home-for-ChristmasKeep up with missionary kid posts: like my Missionary Kid Page on Facebook.

Buy the book: Growing Up as a Missionary Kid (all profit goes to missions)

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