Perspective, Plans, y Prospero Año Nuevo.

A word on Perspective:

Yesterday, we were in a poorer area outside of Lima doing some shopping for Brian’s maintenance projects. We needed to pick up some groceries, so we stopped in at a new one of these:

We were almost done shopping when Brian leaned over and said, “I don’t want to shop here anymore.” I couldn’t figure out why until he explained: we were the only ones in the entire store with a shopping cart full of items. Everyone else had one or two essentials. We had… a cartful. And we’re white. Ah shoot. We were almost done, so we thought we’d just hurry up and get out of there and never return when, naturally, we saw someone we know. Not just someone we know. Someone we work with. And all of a sudden, our full cart stood out like a sore thumb next to their shopping cart that had maybe four items in it. I wanted to crawl into a corner and hide. We knew the items in our cart would cost more than they probably earn in a month. We hadn’t shopped for anything unusual or unneeded, either. And then I looked at their cart… and I looked at mine… and I thought… “What is really needed?” We checked out and were given little gifts from the store because we’d purchased so much stuff. The sad part? We hadn’t even spent our grocery budget. Oy vey. Humbling. And you know what? Our monthly salary is not something we could even live on in the States it’s so low. And yet… we’re RICH here. You want perspective? Go overseas to a third world country just once. It’ll change how you view every single thing you do – down to your weekly grocery shopping. 

A word on Plans

I’m not on Pinterest (nor do I desire to be!), but I saw this posted on someone’s blog and I love it. Love it! Love this idea. [have I mentioned I love this?]

Postcard Calendar Journal

I’m going to invest in 3×5 cards and other cute little papers and have Brian help me make a box and I’m going to do this starting in January (or…thereabouts). The idea: write down one thing that happened each day of the year, but keep the cards for the following years, so you can have a fun, little, simple family journal at your fingertips. I found this the day after I found myself thinking, “I need to journal more!” Cha-ching. I can so do this.

Thoughts on el Prospero Año Nuevo:

Christmas has come and gone… far too quickly, as usual. We had a lovely Christmas – we dragged it out all day long and ended really celebrating Monday evening. I found myself thinking, “Oh, Christmas in the future with a house full of children is going to be a blast!”

This weekend, we’re going to celebrate the New Year Biegert style. This is the one tradition that has remained steadfast for 7 full years and we’re not about to break it this year. We love (love, love, love) spending New Year’s Eve at home. I know, it’s a party night, but in the States (where this tradition originated – in Brian’s family), there are lots of drunk drivers out and it’s freezing (note: *freeeeezing*) cold. So, Brian’s family came up with the idea of each member of the family picking out a movie they’d like to see and getting junk food they don’t normally eat and staying up as late as possible. I think it’s a great tradition so we have kept it in our family, too. This year, Brian has found 5 new movies. I am making homemade salsa (my version) and eggplant pizzas. We bought chips and I’m going to make a pumpkin roll (Brian’s new favorite dessert). Should be fun! What are your plans for the new year?

¡Feliz Navidad (atrasado) y Prospero Año Nuevo!

For those interested, here’s my version of quick salsa:

5 small tomatoes (chopped – keep the juice). 1 aji (hot) pepper (ribbed and diced very small). 1/4 red onion (diced very small). Mix together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Either grate in a fresh clove of garlic or use a splash of garlic powder. Dash of oregano. Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour, covered. The longer it sits, the more juice you get and the more the flavors blend together. Enjoy!

Forever a New Insight.

I make it no secret that my favorite authors are Brock and Bodie Thoene. I love their World War 2 series (what’s the plural of “series” anyway? Serai? Serieses?), but I almost love more their A.D. Chronicles. I’ve mentioned them here before – they’re so worth your time to read. They put a whole new spin on the time surrounding Jesus’ life here on earth. They are Jewish history savants – I have learned so much about the Jews and have such a deep, deep respect for them from reading these “simple” (I use that word ever so lightly) novels.

To celebrate Christmas, I dug out the 4th, 5th, and 6th books in this series.

They are all focused on the births of John and Jesus, from the angel coming to Zachariah in the temple to Joseph and Mary’s flight to Egypt and the murder of all the baby boys in Bethlehem. I tell you, you will never read the verses about “Rachel mourning for her children” the same again after you read these books. The description of a shepherd’s wife named Rachel hiding in a well with her baby boy while listening to babies being slammed into concrete above her head will forever be with you when you read those simple, quick verses in Scripture.

I know I used to never really think much about the political climate surrounding Jesus’ birth until I read these books. It was not a sweet, pretty time in the history of the nation of Israel. King Herod was evil and insane and paranoid – not a good mix. The Romans didn’t really care about the Jews and crucifixions were rampant. You dared not speak your mind about King Herod or talk about the future coming of Messiah for fear of those being the last words you say.

The book has some interesting thoughts. Some of them are most definitely true. Some could be – I, personally, haven’t done the research to know if they’re true or not. However, they very well could be, so I think it gives us a bigger imagination of what the surrounding events could’ve been like. Here’s a few examples [stuff in blue are things I’m not sure are true or not]:

  • Herod had the genealogical records of the Jews burned by his henchman, then decided he needed the records again, so that’s why he ordered the census. 
  • All the stars (constellations) and planets have Jewish names. [This I do know: Jewish astronomers used to read the stars to get signs from God.] In the book, the Magi are astronomers from Persia who are reading the stars and the turning of the planets and in doing so, they read a sign from God that the Messiah has been born. It’s not just a single star, but a whole meshing of planetary objects that have come together to showcase the birth of the Son of God. [It goes along with the verses in Psalms about the heavens themselves declaring the glory of God.]
  • The father of Joseph the father of Jesus was a man named Jacob. Joseph the father of Jesus was told in a dream to take Mary as his wife. He is compared frequently in the books to Joseph, the Dreamer of the book of Genesis, whose father was also Jacob (Israel).
  • Joseph and Mary had to go through 9 months of Jewish festivals, knowing all the while that these celebrations that point to a coming Messiah were in the process of being fulfilled – yet they really couldn’t say a word about it!
  • A few months before Jesus’ birth, during a festival, some of the Jewish rebels tore down a statue Herod had put on top of the Temple. This caused a riot and massacre of hundreds of Jews. Herod crucified even more who were involved in the destruction of his statue.
  • Basically every word in Scripture in Hebrew has a meaning. And the meanings all point to the coming of Jesus as Messiah. For those Jews that were truly seeking Christ, they could’ve easily pointed Him out when He arrived – prophecies were crystal clear for those who were looking.

The book uses a lot of Hebrew words and it explains a lot of Hebrew Scripture, which I find just fascinating. God used Hebrew for the Old Testament for a very specific purpose. You can say so much in Hebrew with just one word. A cool example is this:

The first word of Torah [the Hebrew Scriptures – our Genesis] is? BeRESHiYT which is 6 Hebrews letters: bet, resh, alef, sheen, yod, and tav. The whole word means: “in the Beginning.” But, if you take the letters apart, you get: Bet ReshSon. Alef Sheenfoundation. Yod Tavwho. Bet Resh Alefcreated. “… son… heir of the Father…from foundation…who…created…So, you see, within the Hebrew word In the Beginning is also the identity of the Creator. He is The Son. He is The Heir. He has existed From the Foundation. He is The Word. The Creator. The Son and Heir is one in being with Elohim…” 

The first word of the Bible and look what treasure it holds! Isn’t our God amazing?

And to think – this God came to our earth as a tiny baby. What wondrous love is this?? What an amazing God we have.

Merry Christmas.

Favorite Tradition.

So, my favorite family tradition that we do at Christmas is our ornament tradition. I heard an idea on the radio once during our first year of marriage that we have followed since – and I love it! The concept is simple:

Fill your tree with memories – not just ornaments. Every year, find an ornament that commemorates something that happened during the year – more specifically, something that God did for you as a family over the year. This way, each year when you unload your ornaments and decorate your tree, you can remember the things God has done for you as a family over the years.

This will be our 7th year Christmas together and hopefully tomorrow we will find our “ornament of the year.”

Here’s what we have for the last 6:

2005: 1st Christmas Together!

2006: Our 1st Home (we purchased a house that year)

”]”]”]”]See the trend? I love snowmen. I’d be perfectly content to decorate my tree with red and silver balls, snowflakes, and snowmen, with all these fun ornaments. Oh wait, that’s more or less what I do!

My goal this year is to start getting Elena her own ornaments. I think this is another great idea – each child gets their own ornament each year and then when they get married or move out on their own, they have their own little start-up to decorate their own trees. I think that’s really a special thing to do and I’m excited to start that with Elena this year, on top of our family ornament.

I am definitely a believer that Christmas should be full of memories, not just rote traditions. I can’t wait to do Advent with Elena. Brian didn’t grow up in a Christian home, so that concept is completely foreign to him. But, I remember my mom had an advent wreath and each night during December when I was little, we’d do something for Advent around the dinner table and we’d all take turns rearranging the nativity set (complete with wooden camels my dad brought home from Israel). Unfortunately, my nativity is still boxed up in the States (how come there is never room for it?!).

the nativity that's packed safely away in PA

I would love to get one like this:

Just a simple, plush set that Elena could play with and rearrange without fear of breaking and then have the nice one set up somewhere as more of a decoration.

I have so many ideas for Christmases future! I have to keep reminding myself to live the Christmas now and enjoy this time with Elena. She doesn’t quite understand (naturally), but she does know she loves the Christmas tree and makes sure everyone who comes into the house looks at it. She goes over to them and points at the tree and goes, “OOO!!!” until they acknowledge the pretty tree in the corner. She’s doing really well and not playing with it. I can’t wait to see her expression Christmas morning when we put all the packages underneath!

And for your viewing pleasure… Fred the Snowman we gave to friends when we left SD. This was the only light-up thing outside our house – it wasn’t tacky or large or obnoxious – it was just right. Ah, Fred. I still miss you. You’re even covered in beautiful Christmas snow. sigh.

Termine.

Done! Over! My 3rd year of teaching in Peru is finished! Phew.

Yup, that’s my little peanut right in the middle of my students. She thinks she can say the verses, too. 🙂

The year ended… okay. It didn’t end great, but it ended well. Now, I look to next year! Seriously, is a teacher’s work ever done? Someone came to me this week and said, “Well, I suppose now that you’re done with school you have absolutely nothing to do right?” Heh. Wrong. I actually found that comment offensive… but I think it was meant to be slightly rude anyway. My school materials for next year get here on December 17 (courtesy of the team coming – the one I vented about in the last post) and I’m so excited about seeing all the new stuff.

This summer, I need to:

  • Organize all the new school materials.
  • Put the school back together.
  • Repaint two walls and paint a mural on a third wall.
  • Do lesson plans for my 5th grader.
  • Come up with devotional plans for the year for my older kids.
I was able to go to a brunch yesterday with a bunch of other American missionary women – most of whom I’ve never met. It was so refreshing! Just perfect timing. One of them offered to meet with me and go over some game plan strategies for teaching my dyslexic student. A couple others told me about a girl visiting from South Africa who is here for a year and looking for a teaching position and opportunities to do ministry. I will meet her on Sunday and hopefully offer her the opportunity to come help teach in my school! I’m praying this works out. Regardless, it makes me think that maybe, out there somewhere, is someone who’s willing to come help!
 For now, though, I have determined to make myself take a breather and enjoy some time with my little girl. I’m loving – absolutely soaking up – spending my days with her. She’s such a stubborn little goober, but I love her to pieces and I’m enjoying being her mommy 24/7 instead of feeling like she only gets me half the time. Just for this month, I’m going to take a break and just focus on my home and my family. December seems like a good month to do so, don’t you think?

December 2011
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