Thursday, May 31, 2007

Advice on Moving Overseas

Over the past two weeks of consolidating our lives, putting things into storage, selling things, packing things for Russia, I've come up with some advice for all you would-be-perhaps-one-day-living-overseas-people.

The BEST thing to do is this; Plant a bomb underneath your house. Set the bomb to detonate in 30 minutes. Everything that you can get out of the house in 30 minutes is really all you need.

If that idea sounds a little too extreme then let me offer some other bits of advice.

1). Learn to be Less Sentimental - I'm not talking about throwing away your child's pictures, or his baby book. But after cleaning through boxes and boxes of sentimental thingsies I found shells, wooden pens, brochures, plane ticket stubs, etc. I also made a rule for myself that if I couldn't remember where something came from then I threw it away. I've had to remind myself that all of this stuff is going to burn up anyway one day. If you struggle with sentimentality like me then read Revelation 21 & 22 several times.

2.) Sell Whatever You Can - Have yard sales. Have several of them. Sell whatever you can. Sell stuff for cheap and fast. Don't haggle over quarters, just get rid of the stuff. Tell all your friends to come over to your house and "shop." Give stuff away to those whom you know need it.

3.) Take Breaks - The madness can get to you. Stuff is piling up all around you. Your house doesn't look like home anymore. You're living out of boxes and you're watching all of your worldly possessions depart to the four-corners. Remember to stop and do something that reminds you of 'home.' Watch a movie with your wife. If you've already sold the T.V. then watch it on your laptop (all missionaries have laptops these days right?). Order a pizza and play a game, but do something to ease the stress.

4.) Keep Focused on What You're Doing - One of the hardest things to do during this time is stay focused on what's really important. Satan has tried and tempted me a lot during this time. I've had trouble sleeping, I've become easily frustrated. I've missed Bible reading time, etc. I've had to constantly keep reminding myself that we are about to embark on trip to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. This is no mundane task. So keep your focus on the Lord and on his word.

So, that's what we've learned for now. I'm sure more lessons will present themselves in due time.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Almost done

Well, we only have 2 1/2 more days in our house, such as it is. Our house is in utter chaos, and every time we see someone we invite them to come and go shopping. Anybody need anything?

Now that Isaiah is getting more mobile, for which we are so grateful and excited, he enjoys adding to the packing challenge....has anyone seen my pen, purse, book....? He is so much fun to watch as he enjoys himself.

Thomas' sister Emily has come to join the craziness. We are so excited to have her here. We are in great need of some reinforcements.

So this is really short because my brain isn't forming words and sentences very fast, so blogging takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. Have a grand day!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Isaiah's First ABF and Beacon Homecoming

We've enjoyed lots of firsts with Isaiah. This weekend we added some NC activities to the list. On Friday Thomas, Isaiah and I flew up to NC after being invited to the Atkins Backyard Fellowship (ABF). Every since I can remember, my parents have hosted this backyard festivity before their church's anniversary. This year was no exception. I remember my dad saying in the past, "It's not an official ABF unless we have 35 people." Well, this year on Saturday they blew the top off that statement with a grand total of 79! Thankfully the weather was great, and the bugs were few. My mama really outdid herself with all the barbeque chicken to which my grandpa gave the finishing touches, potato salad, pulled pork, well the list is quite long, so I won't continue with that detail; except to say that we also enjoyed Southern Illinois style strawberry shortcake! Yum!!!!!!!!! Isaiah even got to have a taste of that, and yes, he did like it.

I was able to catch up with some friends.
Isaiah was able to get to know Adelyn Newton the daughter of one of my friends, Cherith Barkman Newton. I think that they liked each other!

I love the feeling of coming home. I think that it's a little piece of heaven, coming back to the place where I grew up and being accepted and loved. When we go to heaven, we'll have the ultimate feeling of coming home because we'll be as God created us to be, and we'll be with Him! We'll get to know and understand more and more about Him and be loved by Him and glorify Him the way that we only long to now.

Sunday we enjoyed worshiping at Beacon Baptist, the church where I grew up. For celebrating the 34th anniversary, Beacon invited Dr. Richard Belcher to come as a special guest. He preached the Sunday morning sermon. As a sacred concert, he recounted the life of Adoniram Judson through narrative and song. How humbled I was as I heard all that America's first foreign missionary suffered for Christ. I pray that as things are difficult for our family, whether on the mission field or back in the States, that God will help me to remember what kept Adoniram Judson going: Christ! Christ is worth anything that we might endure. Remembering Who Christ is and what He has done will strengthen us to continue to work for Him to accomplish the great commission that He has given us.

I was able to spend time with my wonderful friend Grace White Sunday afternoon. We had great fun drinking tea and talking about lots of different things. Hopefully we'll get to spend more time together again in June while we're visiting with my family.

Our last few hours with my parents and grandpa were nice and relaxing. Our flight home was on time at both legs and all 3 of our bags made it! We are always delighted when such things happen. Tomorrow we will spend most of the day in Jackson, finishing the day with picking up my mom at the airport. She'll be staying with us until we have our last big yard sale June 2. I'm so thankful that she will be here to help us get ready to go.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Our 2nd Mother's Day

Mother's Day has always been special to me because I have a wonderful mother. Now it is even more special because I have a wonderful son! Thomas and Isaiah helped make my second mother's day quite grand. Thomas cooked breakfast and lunch, which is always a treat because he is an excellent cook! I also had sweet cards from him and Isaiah. It's amazing how well Isaiah can get around to shops these days!

We had a good time of worship in the morning and evening, with a nap in between and some fun f
ellowship at the home of some friends of ours afterwards.

Before Isaiah was born, people told us over and over how having a baby would change our lives. Some things I could think ahead and just naturally figure would be different, but most of the changes I never anticipated. One that I worried about was sleep. I have always been a very sound sleeper. You can ask Thomas about this, he is quite jealous of my sleeping abilities. I worried before Isaiah was born that I wouldn't be able to hear him crying for me in the night because I sleep so soundly. Now I still sleep through lots of noises, but the one that always seems to awaken me is the slightest sound that comes from the room next to ours. I am amazed at how God changes us to fulfill the duties that He gives us. I do see being Isaiah's mom as a calling from God. I am thankful that for whatever He calls us, He also equips us in order to be able to do that calling. Not that I'm the perfect mother, anyone who knows me even a little bit can see my faults in that area, but God is faithful to help me be a godly mother who continues to grow in grace.

Here's a comparison of Isaiah and Mama from our first
Mother's Day to yesterday. I think that the Lord has done a great deal in both of us!
Seeing God's help in this area gives me encouragement for our work in Russia. I often get nervous thinking about working in Russia and learning the language in particular. It's not a "I'm scared to death" nervous, but more of a fear of not being able to do well. I must remember to look at what God has done in my life in other areas to enable me to do things I never thought possible and then trust that He will also enable me to learn Russian and minister in a culture that I do not understand right now. I must remember to look to God! He is so faithful even when I forget and become anxious! I pray for His grace and wisdom!

Monday, May 07, 2007

God's Providence

Regularly we take comfort in the providence of our Great Father. This weekend we saw the hand of God clearly in our lives. Thomas' maternal grandmother, Louise Bracker has been living with his parents in Baton Rouge for the past 13 months. I have only been blessed to know her for the past three years, and really only well in the past 13 months, since her move to Baton Rouge. I am confident as is possible that she is a believer, trusting in Christ alone for her salvation. Yesterday we were able to celebrate her homegoing. She has been in declining health during the time that I have known her, but her spirit has always been strong and her faith clear. So, a month after her 96th birthday, the Lord finally called His servant home.

I am so thankful that we were able to be with Thomas' family this weekend. Thomas was asked to preach the sermon at his grandmother's memorial service. I believe that the Lord blessed his preaching. At an emotional time, Thomas was able to stay composed and clearly present the gospel. Please pray that God will use the proclamation of His Word in the hearts of those who were present.

For several years Miss Louise had longed to be with her Father. Her journals and devotional books were filled with prayers to be with the Lord. Even though she longed to be in heaven, she always wanted to be useful while here on earth. As Thomas' brother said, we would all do well to remember and learn from his grandmother's life: Faithfulness throughout life,
no matter what the circumstances; focus on Christ.

I pray that we will be faithful to teach Isaiah the spiritual lessons that we have seen by example in his great grandmother's life.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Staying busy

This has been yet another busy week for the Slawsons. Isaiah got his braces on Monday and stood for the first time without someone holding him. Tuesday we got to go to a park in Jackson with Michelle and her girls; what fun to be outside almost all day! Wednesday we were able to do something really special!

Isaiah's physical therapist Becca teaches at University Medical Center (UMC) where Isaiah was born. She's actually the assistant chair of physical therapy at UMC. We are soooooo thankful to have her as Isaiah's PT. Anyway. A while back Becca had asked us to bring Isaiah in to her class. We were finally able to do it on Wednesday morning. We also took some pictures with us to show his development, in other words to show how greatly the Lord has worked in his life. Watching
the pictures on the screen was a little overwhelming. We started with his first picture ever...and moved on from there. Isaiah was his usual cheerful, flirting self. He had everyone in the class in stitches at his antics. The Lord has given him such a sweet spirit that really attracts people. He's now starting to try to get people's attention whenever they pass by. He looks up at them from the floor and flashes them one of his infectious smiles. I get so tickled with him. I pray that God will help him to always have such a sweet spirit to show the love of God to others.

We are really going to miss Becca. She has become quite attached to Isaiah, I think. As she was telling her class about us moving to Russia, she had tears in her eyes. She even sent Isaiah home with toys.

Wednesday night we went to our church picnic. I think that I held Isaiah for 5 minutes the entire time. He loves to be loved on and to give love, too.

God has put us in such a special place for this time. Isaiah is loved by so many people. He has had so many advantages that Thomas and I never would have imagined. We pray that we will be able to give that love to the people that we meet in Russia. We long to show them the love of Christ, especially to the children with disabilities and their families. And that longing is getting closer and closer to reality! We have our plane tickets! Monday we bought our tickets to depart on July 18 from Atlanta.

And we're in serious preparations now. Our living is half-full with all the stuff that we hope to sell on Saturday at a yard sale. We are exhausted but still have a lot to do. Our friends are being very helpful. Tomorrow several friends are coming over to help me sort through and price things. It's a big job, and I am so thankful for people to help. Having people offer to help is great, but also sort of humbling. One of my friends even came over and took my ironing to her house. We have so much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Some fun contraptions

This Monday Isaiah had his physical therapy, just like most Mondays; but this Monday was special. Becca (his physical therapist) came bearing surprises! A few weeks ago, Becca had cast Isaiah for braces. I didn't expect them to arrive until the middle of May, but she brought them today! These braces will enable Isaiah to stand in something called a Gecko upright stander, which holds him upright and makes him bear weight on his feet.

Sometimes it is hard to see all the "aids" that Isaiah needs to do the things that other children his age do naturally. But most of the time, by God's grace, I am able to be thankful for what God has enabled men to invent to help other people. I praise God for the common grace that He has extended to man.

I also think about all the "aids" that God gives us in our spiritual life. I know that there have been times in my own life that I don't think that I could have "stood" on my own. God never failed to bolster me up with the truth of His Word, whether it came through reading, preaching, or fellowship.

I look at Isaiah's body and his capabilities and think about all that God can do for him physically, but that is nothing compared to the greatness of what He can, and I pray will do very soon, in Isaiah's heart.