Complaining is a Slippery Slope

Lately I’ve been reading through the book of Numbers. For some reason, this book is always particularly challenging to me. So in the turmoil of moving, I started spending time in the book of Numbers again. When I began studying chapters 11-13, God began to truly convict me.

The chapters start with the people complaining about their misfortunes.  They started with a simple complaint about their life. This led to discontentment with what God had given them. Once they were discontent, they became possessive and jealous over positions of authority. Once they became possessive and jealous, they quickly became judgemental of those in authority. The end result was a complete lack of trust toward what God had done and was doing among the Israelites. So much so, they couldn’t even step into the promised land. The land that was perfect for them. The land God promised He would give them.

And it all started with complaints.

The complaints even seem small at first. I mean they were living in tents, in the dessert, with very little water, and no variety in food.

But still we see their slippery slope of demise begin with these simple complaints.

And simple complaints were what seemed to fill my mind as we began the moving process.

If only the kids would settle down. If only they would adjust quicker. If only we had the money to enroll them in activities. If only we could afford our own house so we wouldn’t have to move twice. If only….

When I focus on the “if only”, my focus immediately shifts from who God is, and I begin to crave what I don’t have. The cravings lead to jealousy of what others have which in turn leads to an absolute lack of trust in God.

The cycle is quick and happens before you even noticed it began.

And then I sat down with the kids to go through our Bible verse for the week, and God speaks through them to stop my complaining.

“A peaceful heart brings healing to the body but envy rots the bones.” Prov. 14:30

As we talk through what envy means, the girls say,

“I’m envious that we can’t do gymnastics. ” “I’m envious I don’t get to do ice skating lessons.” “I’m envious…. “ and the examples kept coming from them. So we started to talk about the things they wanted to do.

I heard myself asking them if God always gives us EXACTLY what we need. They responded yes and started giving examples of how God has provided for us. Then we talked about how all things come through the hand of God. We finally came around to discussing how God has a plan for each girls’ life and how He will always accomplish it.

By the end of the conversation, one of the girls laughed and said, “its silly to be envious then because God gives us everything we need even if we think we need more.”

The other girl responded, “yeah, and plus envy rots your insides and the only way to heal your insides is to trust God is taking care of you.”

Talk about summarizing the Israelites (and me at times, if I’m honest) in a nutshell. Envy rotted their insides so that they were never satisfied and could never trust what God was doing.

When we trust the Bible as God’s Word, when we truly believe what it says is truth, when we agree the best way to live life is in obedience to God, we are able to finally understand the destructive nature of simple complaints.

Lord give me the grace to see daily life as a gift from you, lacking in nothing, and full of exactly what you desire.

Saying Goodbye

When we first told our kids we were moving, they cried for an hour.

Yes,  I will always remember January 7th as a pretty emotionally exhausting day…Brent resigned from NorthWood and our kids literally melted down about the idea of moving.

By the time we got the kids calm enough to go to bed, Brent and I were completely worn out, and I’ll be honest, I was more than a little bit depressed. I didn’t know how to support Brent, comfort my kids, get the house ready to put on the market, move across the country, and not have a breakdown myself.  So that night as I prayed for the kids and for the move, the Lord really impressed on my heart the need for them, and me, to be able to say goodbye well. The need for us all to feel like everything we treasured was said goodbye to so we would feel the freedom to embrace what God had for us in the future.

And so the whirlwind began. In 2.5 weeks, we packed up the house, sold the house, went to every favorite location, had a million play dates, and said good bye as well as we possibly could. It was exhausting and perfect all at the same time.

When January 27th finally arrived, the kids were ready, I was ready, and Brent was ready. We had mourned all we would miss and now had an excitement for the adventure that laid before us. Although I won’t lie, that last morning at NorthWood was HARD!! I cried for 4 hours (as you’ll see in the pictures). My eyes were swollen but my heart was so full. Our time spent in Keller was fulfilling and life changing, and the people and experiences there have forever shaped us and made us better people.

But by the time we said good bye that last Sunday morning, I was ready. I was ready for what God was calling us to do. I was ready to move my family across the country. I was ready for an adventure. I was ready for change.

And not only was I ready, I was excited. The type of excitement that only comes from our gracious Father who lead me down the much needed path of mourning what would be missed so I would be excited for what laid ahead.

So here is a short slideshow of our last couple weeks as we said good bye.

 

The Adventure is Beginning

The first contact came just days after we had our first conversation about what God was doing in our hearts. We both felt stirrings from God, but what they were for or what God was desiring what still unclear. Then a call came.

The call happened during a stressful week, a busy season, and an overwhelming schedule. Usually during big moments, we have time to sit in silence, listen to God, talk to each other, and just think. Not this time.

This time God brought an incredible request to us and then separated us and forced us to process the request individually with God alone.

It was hard. I was anxious. I was stressed. Then I would pretend like there was nothing to think about and life was just like it had always been. But through it all, God kept whispering into my heart, “be still and be silent. Don’t badger Brent with questions or comments. Be silent and just listen.”

So I kept silent. For nearly a month and watched and listened to Brent process.

He discussed his emotions, his desires, his dreams, his ambitions, his fears, and even lack of clarity from God concerning what our next step should be. I simply listened and prayed like crazy. Calls like this have come in the past and what God wanted us to do was always very clear. This time I knew it was different. I also knew that God was doing something incredible and so both Brent and I were going to be under attack.

So for a month, I listened to God, listened to Brent, rarely spoke about the issue, and prayed for protection for us as we followed in obedience to God. It was difficult.

But then this moment came when God simply opened my mouth and said “speak”. I looked across at Brent, spoke the truth of God’s Word, and it was as if an incredible burden lifted from both of us. It was at that moment we decided God was leading us forward, and we needed to fully investigate if God was calling us to a new church.

The more we stepped forward, the more God confirmed we were to keep moving forward. I honestly kept having this thought in the back of my head that said, “don’t worry. Any moment God is going to say stop.” But God never said stop. He just kept opening doors.

So the day after Christmas, we called the pastor of WestWind church in Waukee, Iowa and told them we would accept their job offer. I will always and forever remember the excitement of that moment…the moment we agreed to follow God on this next great adventure. And quite the adventure it will be! Moving our family of 5 across the country in the MIDDLE of winter can only be an adventure from God!

To be continued……

The Minter Christmas Card

This is one of my favorite family traditions.  Hope you enjoy!

 

Merry Christmas!!

Summing It All Up

I’m addicted.  My roommate liked to say “called”.  She says that sounds better.  But “called” or “addicted” or whatever you want to say, I’m in love with Northern Vietnam.

Seeing familiar faces, remembering some names, sharing His love with such special people, having opportunities that only come by going back to the same people over and over again, all of this and so much more are overflowing from my heart.  I wish I could share publicly some of the greatest stories that occured, but of course, those are the ones I need to share over a cup of coffee.  Just know that the Lord heard your prayers and answered them, and I truly appreciate all of you supporting and encouraging me as I obeyed Christ, said good bye to my family again, and went to an amazing country to teach some incredible teachers.  I’m beyond thankful to have gone, and Lord willing, I will return soon.

Until then, I hope you enjoy seeing a taste of what my two weeks, two different cities, and two educational conferences looked like.

 

Our Last Day in Bac Ha

I got a little teary eyed saying good-bye to some of the teachers at the end of the conference today.  Each time I come, I fall more and more in love with these people and this place.

Overall, I think this conference was extremely successful.  The teachers are so fun and willing to do anything I ask them to…even if it means feeding each other applesauce while blindfolded =)

And this city…I won’t even try to put into words how incredible this city is.  Simply incredible.

Tomorrow morning, we begin our journey home.  We will leave the hotel at 7:30am and spend the day in Sapa hiking and sightseeing. Then we will get back on the night train tomorrow evening to head back to Hanoi.  We should arrive in Hanoi about 5:30am and then hang out there until our plane leaves at 11:00pm.  We will then be flying home for the next 24 hours.

All that to say, keep lifting us up as we begin the long trek home!   Starting tomorrow night, the countdown begins until I get to kiss my hubby and kids again =)

 

(I wrote this 2 days again during a storm and the internet went down before I could post it.  We have already made it to Hanoi and are just waiting until its time to go to the airport to start the flight home!)

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Yesterday proved to be an incredible ending to an incredible conference.

The participants seemed to have a great time and the evaluations of the conference seemed extremely positive.  YAY!

After the closing ceremony and a quick dinner, half of us drove to the train station in the POURING rain.  This picture is the best I got and it doesn’t even come close to showing how heavy the rain was.  My luggage was soaked and all my clothes are currently laid out all over the room trying to dry.  Luckily I have an awesome roommate that doesn’t mind the mess =)

Once we got all cuddled up in the train, we attempted to sleep. Here four of us are in our close quarters for the evening.  We had a good time, and I think we all slept a little bit.  I’ll be honest, I’m thankful I took some Tylenol PM or else that water dripping all over my bed probably would have kept me up more =)

Do you think we have enough luggage?!

I woke up this morning and looked out the window on the train and just took a deep breath of relief.  Its hard to explain how beautiful this place is.  Its like the stress just melts away the minute I see the mountains of Bac Ha.

We spent this morning going over our curriculum for the conference and then after lunch we attempted to go to the school to set up our rooms for tomorrow.  Did I mention its still raining?!  And the van got stuck….

So we just walked.  And now my room is all set up and my translator and I are all ready to start teaching tomorrow!

The conference will begin at 8am our time, 8pm your time.  Please think of us and lift us up tonight before you go to sleep.  We need the rain to stop so the teachers will be able to drive their scooters to the conference and for energy and health as we engage, teach, and love on these teachers!  Thanks =)

The Last Two Days…

Life is a bit of a blur these last two days.  A fun blur though!  Yesterday I finally got my favorite meal in this country on our way to the conference! Its the little things that make me happy =)

The Special Education conference, and one of the main reasons we are here, started and lasted until 9pm last night.  Here we are getting our nails all colorful as we get ready to begin to “Color our World with Hope”, the theme of the conference this year.

Every conference always starts with an opening ceremony full of introductions, acknowledgments, and setting the scene/explaining the theme of the conference.  Yesterday’s opening ceremony got a bit of a special treat,and Minh Son was there to paint a picture of the story Niki shared to set the theme of the conference.

After the opening ceremony, the sessions started.  The sessions last 3 hours which seems like a long time when you say it, but it really flys by when you are in the session.

At this conference, I’m assisting John in the session about Revive, a respite program for children with special needs. So far, the participants have asked a ton of questions and have really shown an interest in trying to start similar programs here!

And if you know Niki, you know her session always involves fun stuff.  This year, there’s face painting and tie dying going on in her room.   Who doesn’t love that?!

The other sessions involve topics about how to do centers in the early childhood classroom, Defining ADHD, Asperger’s, and Autism, and how to help these kids, Sensory Approaches to dealing with difficult behaviors, Normal Language Development, and Special Education.  Good stuff right?

We have one more day, but so far the response has been great, and the teachers here are wonderful.

But I’ll be honest, I’m secretly counting down until we get on the night train to go to Bac Ha. =)  I just love that place!  As soon as the conference is done tomorrow, half of us rush straight to the train station.  We will arrive in Bac Ha at 5:30am on Monday morning and begin preparing for our conference up there.  I will be leading a session about Life Skills at that conference.  Can’t wait!

The First Few…

The long 2 days of travel is definitely not the best part of this trip!   The first leg of the trip involves a 14 hours flight on which I was situated behind a 2 year old, beside a 4 month old, and in front of a 3 year old. I was definitely thanking Jesus for headphones and Brent’s Kindle! And actually, now that I think about it, I think all the crying and fit throwing that kept me awake on the plane allowed me to complete almost all my reading for the classes I’m teaching in the fall. So yes, I’ll go ahead and say my seat was a weird blessing=)  The layover is always brutal simply because I’m so exhausted, but the second flight wasn’t too bad and I was able to sleep a bit.

But after 2 days of travel, we finally made it to Hanoi. Stood in line for an hour for our luggage, and rejoiced that every single piece of luggage made it, and then we drove an hour to the hotel.

At which point, Sara and I crashed. Literally. I think I asked which bed she wanted and she replied, “whichever one you fall on is yours”. In fact, we crashed so hard we didn’t think about changing PM to AM on the clock and so didn’t wake up this morning! I woke up at 8:37am, screamed a bit, and both of us proceeded to very quickly get ready. And when I say ‘very quickly”, I mean we were downstairs and ready for our meeting 13 minutes later. Can you tell? =)

We spent the morning at the University with the interpretors getting to know them, reviewing some conference materials, and tie dying shirts for the conference. The conference starts tomorrow, and I think its going to be fantastic!

We had the afternoon to get conference stuff together and try to recover from the jetleg. I choose to recover at a little place with this sign in front. It was heavenly.

And now, I’m taking my exhausted behind back to bed.  Before you go to bed tonight, lift us up while we speak and engage with the teachers.    You are 12 hours behind us, so at our noon, your midnight, we will be leaving the hotel to start the conference.  From here on out its long days and late nights.  We need sleep and health and for His strength to be shown in our weakness.  Thanks!

Pine Cove…Year 4

You may hear “Family Camp” and East Texas and think we must be crazy to keep going back to Pine Cove, but it seriously is the best vacation ever! I think this picture sums up our opinion of family camp pretty well =)

Every year, as our kids get older and older, camp just gets more and more fun!

Things I noticed about my children during the week:

  • Avery is the most responsible kid I know.  She is also incredibly tender hearted and will help anyone who needs helps.  And, as she gets older, she gets a little fearful of things like the zip line, the climbing wall, and the water rocket; HOWEVER, she never lets her fear stop her.  She pushes through that fear, overcomes it, and walks away smiling.  Love watching that determination and stubbornness be used for good!

  • Elliana is fearless.  She will climb any wall, jump off any building, ride on any water ride, and do anything as long as people may laugh at her or it looks like it may make her laugh.  She is also a great friend.  She makes friends with everyone she meets, and if she can stop giggling long enough, she can make everyone around her smile.   And although she is now 5, she still needs a nap every once in a while….desperately.

  • This was the first year Justus got to do things like the water rocket and zip line with us.  Unfortunately, I forgot he’s only 3 and still takes everything literally.  For example, he wouldn’t go out onto the actual water rocket. He just wanted to sit in the boat.  I later learned he didn’t think he was big enough to go into space yet without mommy…(forgot to tell him the “rocket” wasn’t actually a space ship rocket. He literally thought he would shoot up into the sky if he sat on the water rocket!).  He also really likes to run.  Pine Cove has lots of land with a lot of counselors who love to chase after your children.  Justus ran until he fell over to sleep and then woke up to run some more.  He was in heaven!

  • And Brent and I…well we just get to relax.  There are so many people taking care of your children that you don’t have to parent a whole lot at camp; you just get to have fun as a family.  The counselors remind the kids to eat with manners, they take the kids to the bathroom, the remind them to follow the rules, they basically parent your children for you.  And they are so fun about it that the kids just listen and follow the rules.  This frees the parents up to just have fun with the kids!  Its truly a week of vacation where the family gets to just be.
  • Brent and I also got to go on 3 dates….Did you hear that?  THREE dates in one week!  A week of fun with my kids and a week of fun with just my hubby and I.  It is just about a perfect week.

click here to view the rest of our pics from the week =)

And here is our video from our week.  At least the main highlights.  I rarely took the camera with me this year, so its just the important stuff =)

 

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