July 14, 2017

On My Side Table

I found this title through podcast notes from the Modern Mrs Darcy. This lady reads up a storm and isn't lacking for book titles if you're on the look out.

I was pleased to find it on our digital library as an ebook----how can I pass up a free read?
(Amazon.ca) "Paula McLain, author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller The Paris Wife, takes readers to Kenya in the 1920s, where the beautiful young horse trainer, adventurer and aviator Beryl Markham tells the story of her life among the glamorous and decadent circle of British expats living in colonial East Africa--and the complicated love triangle she shared with the white hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa.    Brought to Kenya as a small child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised both by her father--a racehorse trainer--and the native Kipsigis tribe on her father's land. Her unconventional upbringing transforms her into a daring young woman, with a love of all things wild, but everything she knows and trusts dissolves when her father's farm goes bankrupt. Reeling from the scandal and heartbreak, Beryl is catapulted into a disastrous marriage at the age of 16. Finally she makes the courageous decision to break free, forging her own path as a horse trainer and shocking high society in the process. The British colony has never seen a woman as determined and fiery as Beryl. Before long, she catches the eye of the fascinating and bohemian Happy Valley set, including writer Karen Blixen and her lover Denys Finch Hatton, who will later be immortalized in Blixen's memoir, Out of Africa. The three become embroiled in a complex triangle that changes the course of Beryl's life, setting tragedy in motion while awakening her to her truest self and her fate: to fly."
So far, I've enjoyed this trip to colonial Kenya.

I'm still making my way through this fantastic, practical, book on a praying life. It has shown me how prayer can be part of our everyday thoughts. And I've been challenged to watch for God's gospel story being weaved through my life and others'.

Since being in Canada, my mom has bought herself a copy and had the chance to encourage others to pick it up. I hope to get my hands on a copy of his other book Love Walked Among Us someday as well.

July 7, 2017

Thinking School

Getting the chance to be in Canada during the summer every other year means that I get to do a lot more research and source materials from many different places, tucking items away in our luggage ready to take back with us in the Fall.

With faster internet, it's amazing at how many sites I can browse with ease! The information flying at me about anything-homeschool is pretty much overwhelming.

Time away from my homeschool also gives me a chance to reflect, brainstorm, and think about changes I think we could make for the upcoming year. What subject needs changing for who? What do we need to do away with? Or what might we add?

This year is kind of unique for me as I'm stretching a lot of curriculum out over the next two school years. Our history/social studies will stretch us out for the next two or even three years, and three of the kids' language arts will see them through two grades.

Some of my new finds for the upcoming year:

This will be my fourth grader's language arts this year. He will take a break from Sonlight LA until next year. I was attracted to this because of the DVD-led instruction, with a male teacher even, which I think my son will enjoy.

I'm hoping that having one child on a DVD lesson will free me up for the others for that part of our day. And then I can help him on more lengthy assignments as he needs.

This program covers parts of speech, narrative writing, persuasive paragraph, and a research project at the end.

I think it will be a great change for him.

My kids will continue their French studies in the fall. And I have sourced this Christian French curriculum for that. The kids will advance in their french skills while learning about missionary families in French speaking countries. In this way they will learn geography, foods, sports, and Bible verses all pertaining to the missionary family.

I really like this program as it lays out each lesson plan to allow the teacher to cover the content for that day in a 30 minute lesson.

Perfect! I'm getting excited.  :)

June 30, 2017

Even though relationships overseas tend to remain as one of the difficulties a missionary faces... God has remained faithful in providing those special families and individuals at just the right time.

This one family in particular has been a huge source of encouragement to our family. In 2010 when our journey with MAF was just beginning, and we were raising support in the lower mainland, we had the chance to meet this lovely Swiss family on their way to the field with Helimission. From a mutual contact through church, we found out they were also bound for Madagascar! They were living in Canada temporarily to build flight hours and develop technology before heading off to Bible school and back to Switzerland to finish preparations to move to Madagascar.

So we had a chance to meet up a couple of times before moving abroad in 2012. They moved to Tana in 2013 and now live just a few minutes away from our house.

We have walked the path of transition to overseas life together, walked through home assignments together, and been able to be a "sounding-board" of sorts for one another. Sybille has been a huge source of encouragement to me. A beautiful Christian sister, indeed.  :)

Because of their stay in Canada from 2009-2011, they have dear friends to reconnect with here as well as in Switzerland, making a very full furlough.

We were so excited to get the chance to make some real "Canadian" memories together on the ice this time!


As we look to continue serving together in Madagascar with Helimission and this great family, we are also sobered by the fact that God can move families in other directions, to other countries.

While that isn't the case for either of us yet, I trust that God's timing is perfect, and His plans for each of us are good and only for the purpose of glorifying Himself.

June 24, 2017

My oldest son trying his best at road hockey while my youngest brother tends the net

My husband and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary this past weekend.

While my mom and dad watched our kiddos, we went out for an overnight together. Besides being Father's Day weekend and really busy at every restaurant we tried, we landed up at a nice place eating great food. We got a bit of shopping done, sans enfants, the next day.

Our wedding wasn't that long ago when I compare with my grandparents who will celebrate their 62 years this weekend. However, it still feels like we've lived a whole pile of special and unforgettable moments in our short life already. And in many ways, living in Canada, renovating our first house, and having four babies, seems like another life ago itself. Everybody says it goes by so fast. I feel like we've jumped on the fast-track of life now. The kids are growing up so quickly. If the last 13 years went by this quickly, I can only imagine how the next will past. Yikes....

Thinking about how quickly time passes makes me want to make the most of the moments we have all the more. Being content, and resting in God's plan for our life today, as it is right now. A common question we've been asked over the past several weeks is, "How long are you going to be in Madagascar?" This question is difficult to answer. There is a determined amount of time, sort of. There are a few factors to consider when thinking about this. Would it be advantageous for our children to have their teenage years in Canada? or some of them? Are we called to live our entire lives on the field and say good-bye one by one to our children as they fly the nest overseas or wherever God takes them? Does God want us to serve in another place one day? If so, when? I can't answer any of these questions right now. So when the question comes up, I remind myself as I relay to the individual that this is a matter we keep putting back into God's hands. We don't know our futures. But for now, we are living each day as they come.

 Downtown Vancouver on Granville Island looking down False Creek

 We road the Aquabus from Granville Island back over toward Science World

On the Aquabus looking toward Science World. Vancouver is so beautiful in the summer!

June 16, 2017

The Journey Continues

This week was another great reminder that I'm on a journey. I had a lovely opportunity to share at a ladies' retreat this past weekend, just for an hour in the morning. First of all, I hadn't been expecting to have the chance to hear the main speaker (a long-time missionary) give her session.

She spoke on us as believers being stretched, ready to go, and obey. At the end of her session she left the ladies with a challenging question,

"How deep are you willing to go with God?" 

In other words, when He calls me out to do something or go somewhere or walk through something, am I willing? There are still little pockets of hesitancy to trust in His big plan. This question struck me fresh because I had kind of pridefully found myself resting in this thought that I had already decided to go "deep with God" when we decided to leave everything that was familiar to us and go on the mission field. I'm discovering this is only the beginning of the journey, and God still asks me the question "Are you going to let me lead you?"

Secondly, when it was lunchtime at the retreat, one woman at our table in particular was listening to me chat with the speaker who was farther along in mothering and on the mission field than me. And I expressed my uncertainties about our future timeline: How long do we expect to live overseas? Where should the kids be teenagers? This lady, listening, expressed how encouraged she was to see people she saw on the outside as being "mature in their faith" or "had it all together" still wrestling with surrendering their future plans to the Lord.

We are all still on a journey figuring things out.

We need to encourage each other more and more in the fact that the only thing certain in our future (as believers) is our life with the Father in Heaven. Why can't we rest in this? And none of us have "arrived," or have everything figured out. We shouldn't put anyone up on a spiritual pedestal. God has us on a journey to heaven. We will "arrive" on the day we enter those gates into eternal glory.

We sing this song at our church in Madagascar and it came to mind as I was thinking over the verses in Ezekiel 47 that the speaker shared with us this morning. How deep will we go?

Whenever we sing this song, I feel haunted somehow, challenged, and realize how much more I need to place my trust in Him.

Not to shift my hope onto anything else.

June 9, 2017

This week we headed back to beautiful Vancouver Island. It was a beautiful ferry sailing over here from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay near Victoria.

In between preparing photos, speaking, sharing about MAF, and shopping..... we're taking walks down to the ocean, minutes away from my parents' house. The weather is still intermittently sunny, I can't say summer has arrived just yet though. This week, Rob and I found ourselves getting our teeth checked out, and I landed up with two large fillings. The children will see dentists in Canada later on.

June 2, 2017

Little Routines Can Make a Big Difference

We've been finished official "school" since mid-April already, so once we were over the jetlag and adjusted more to a Canadian routine, we broke out the school books once again.

I'm not a round-the-year-homeschool-mom by any means. I think we all need an extended break once a year. However, I find it helpful if there's some structure in our day, even if it's part-time.

We are spending much of our time indoors, despite a summer-tease last weekend! The rain has returned, and the temperatures have dipped down once again. So we've instituted a Mon, Wed, Fri school morning, to keep the wheels in our brains turning, and the free-for-all playtime not entirely free. Total free-time for anybody can be overwhelming, and for children especially when they aren't living in their own home, has the potential to be taxing.

Yes they're whining about school. No, they're not completely thrilled with having to do some school 3 mornings a week. But I believe they'll be better off for it. And they seem quite motivated to spend 30 or 40 minutes on homework before having free-time on electronics. In fact sometimes, I'm finding that after the homework is done, they are so happy to be finished that they go off and find toys or ride bikes, leaving the tablets and tv shows in their distant memories. (Only sometimes.)

Electronics, or screen-time, hasn't yet become a free-for-all commodity in our house. No one owns their own device yet, and we don't feel that we've reached a stage where time can be managed well without some guidance or boundaries. (Especially my 6-year old, who would probably live on the tablet if we allowed it.) So when the tablets go on, or when the tv is turned on, there are limits in place that everyone abides by, or else the privileges are lost. At this age, it's pretty simple, and it's worked in our house so far.

Our morning of homework looks like this:
Grade 6: Saxon 7/6, SpellingYouSee, free reading
Grade 4: Singapore 4A, SpellingYouSee, free reading
Grade 3: Singapore 2B, SpellingYouSee, free reading
Grade 1: Singapore 1A, SpellingYouSee, free reading or read outloud to one of the parents

As our furlough schedule allows, we are trying to continue reading our read-aloud as the kids go to bed. Furlough tends to ebb and flow with busy evenings out, and quieter ones in.