Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Why we honor the name of Hudson Taylor

In 1832, James and Amelia Taylor prayed, “Dear God, if you should give us a son, grant that he may work for you in China.” With that simple prayer, the story of Hudson Taylor began. And although his parents did not tell Hudson about that prayer until decades later, God put China into Hudson’s heart and gave Hudson the faith to believe that God answers prayer.

Hudson Taylor was raised in a Christian home, but faith was a struggle for many years. Hudson wanted to be a Christian; he tried to be a Christian. Time and again, however, he felt he failed in Christianity. He failed so much he eventually gave up, believing he was simply incapable of faith. Then, one day, Hudson found himself so bored he decided to read a gospel tract he found lying around. He knew it would contain a short story, which would help him pass the time, and he planned to ignore the spiritual aspects. But, when he read Jesus’ words, “It is finished,” said on the cross, Hudson paused and pondered. He later wrote, “Then came the thought, ‘If the whole work was finished and the whole debt paid, what is there left for me to do?’ And with this dawned the joyful conviction, as light was flashed into my soul by the Holy Spirit, that there was nothing in the world to be done but to fall down on one’s knees, and accepting this Saviour and His salvation, to praise Him forevermore.” That day, Hudson Taylor discovered the reason he had failed so many times was because he was trying by his own effort. Hudson realized the gospel of Jesus is based on faith in Jesus’ finished work, and that realization became the foundation of Hudson’s life and ministry.

It was not long before Hudson felt God calling him to China. Knowing the difficulties he would face in missions, he determined to build his faith in God, for he knew God would be his only assurance. So, as a young medical student, he determined to live as modestly as possible and to depend on God for his daily needs. He gave away almost all his possessions, ate a diet of mostly oatmeal and rice, and rented an inexpensive room in a poor part of London. He soon found, “The less I spent on myself and the more I gave away, the fuller of happiness and blessing did my soul become.” And during this time, he determined to never ask anyone for payment or financial help, not even his own employer. Many times he found himself without money or food, often after giving away his last temporal resources. He depended on God, and in all his years, God never let him down. Hudson prayed, and it was never long before Hudson had whatever he needed.   

In 1853, Hudson left England to serve with the Chinese Evangelization Society. Within months of arriving in China, Hudson broke with missionary custom by wearing Chinese clothing. He sought to identify with the Chinese, build relationships with them, and distinguish the Christian faith from the British culture. He further divided with his fellow missionaries by his desire to go beyond the five large Treaty Ports—cities where British missionaries were legally welcome. Hudson wanted to see missionaries bring the gospel to every part of China.

Hudson’s tumultuous relationship with the Chinese Evangelization Society ended in 1857 when he discovered they were borrowing money to pay their missionaries. Hudson resigned, and although he had no source of income, he believed God would provide for him. Continuing the manner he began in England, he committed to never ask anyone for money and never give any indication of his financial need; instead, he would speak to God alone for all his needs.

Hudson Taylor served until 1861 when he became very ill and needed to return to England. He used his convalescence in England to continue a project of translating the New Testament into Chinese, and he travelled and spoke to encourage British Christians to sacrifice for the evangelization of China. He challenged British believers to consider their spiritual wealth and security in light of the hundreds of millions of Chinese people who never heard the name of Jesus. Continuing his dependence of God, he refused to allow any church he visited to collect money for his ministry. Instead, he wanted people to leave church having given nothing to missions, for if they had thrown some change into a collection plate, their consciences might be absolved from any further thoughts about China. Hudson wanted Christians to leave church having given nothing so that God could work in their hearts to do whatever he would have them do.

The time in England, pleading the case of China’s multitudes, led to the next major work in Hudson’s life. He concluded that a new missionary agency was needed for the specific purpose of bringing the gospel into the unreached parts of China. On June 25, 1865, Hudson Taylor prayed that God would send him 24 missionaries—two for each unreached Chinese province and two for Mongolia. The prayer was audacious. It would increase the total number of missionaries in China by 25 percent. But, as always, God provided, and the China Inland Mission (CIM) was born. Hudson returned to China in 1866 with the first group of CIM missionaries.

Never content, Hudson continued asking God for missionaries. In 1881, Hudson prayed for 70 more, and he received 76. In 1886, he asked God for another 100. Within a year, he had added 102.  When Hudson died in 1905, CIM counted 825 foreign missionaries, plus hundreds of native Chinese ministers, none of whom ever asked anyone for financial support. Missionaries brought their needs to God and trusted God to provide.

Despite the success of CIM, Hudson Taylor was not always popular. Unlike other agencies, CIM allowed unmarried women to serve as missionaries, and women were sent to all parts of China. Further, contrary to Europe’s theological ethnocentrism, Hudson prayed for the day when China’s church would be led by Chinese believers. Hudson Taylor declared the native Chinese ministers to be CIM’s “most important department.” He continued, “They are becoming more efficient as well as more numerous, and the hope for China lies doubtless in them. I look on foreign missionaries as the scaffolding round a rising building; the sooner it can be dispensed with the better.”

Many in England also criticized Hudson Taylor as insensitive to the political and commercial interests of the British. After CIM missionaries, including Hudson, were attacked during the Yangzhou riot of 1868, the British Parliament debated whether missionary activities in China’s interior were in England’s best interest. Hudson, of course, was most concerned about the eternal interests of the Chinese. So, he and CIM continued, despite the dangers.

Taylor once wrote, “China is not to be won for Christ by quiet, ease-loving men and women.... The stamp of men and women we need is such as will put Jesus, China, souls, first and foremost in everything and at every time—even life itself must be secondary.” And this was not hyperbole; during the Boxer Rebellion, CIM lost more missionaries than any other agency. Dozens of CIM missionaries, even their children, and many native believers, were tortured to death and their bodies mutilated. One CIM missionary wrote, “Alas, only a very few of my beloved fellow missionaries in the province of Shanxi escaped the blood-stained hands of the Boxers.” But, Hudson and CIM continued to serve and to show the love of Christ. When the British military defeated the Rebellion, the Chinese were forced to pay compensation to any British who suffered loss. But, Taylor and CIM refused compensation, choosing instead to demonstrate the “meekness and gentleness of Christ.”  During his lifetime, he suffered diseases, beatings, arrests, the burning of his house, seizing of his property, and the deaths of family members. He was willing to suffer, even to the point of death, because to him, even the worst death was nothing to fear. He wrote, “To be absent from the body! To be present with the Lord! To be free from sin! And this is the end of the worst that man’s malice can ever bring upon us!”

More than fifteen decades after Hudson Taylor first entered China, CIM still operates in East Asia and has pioneered many missions strategies that are now commonplace throughout the world. But, Hudson Taylor’s greatest legacy is his testimony to God’s sovereignty over all things and to God’s personal attention to the needs of his people. Hudson Taylor lived by faith and relied on God’s provision.

While we are not specifically praying that our Hudson will serve Christ in China, we are praying he will have the faith to follow Christ anywhere and to trust God in every circumstance. We pray that his name will become a legacy reminding us and him that God is our provider and sustainer, and that because Christ’s work is finished, there is nothing in the world to be done but to fall down on one’s knees, and accepting this Savior and His salvation, to praise Him forevermore.

Bruce & Jennifer


You might also be interested in:

"Why we honor the name of Charlotte Moon"

"Why we honor the name of Mary Mitchell"

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Adoptions & Airplanes: A Different Kind of Baby Shower

Banner courtesy of Dearie Designs
I'm not much of a party person. I'm awful at planning menus and creating awesome decorations. Just ask the last friend who was on the receiving end of my baby shower planning. She was a good sport about it, but really, she deserved better. Now, I have a chance to redeem myself. But without the need for cute Pinterest inspired decorations and gourmet food. Which is totally my style!
Photo Courtesy of Emily Rose Portraits

My friends, Craig and Karissa, are in the process of adding two children to their family through adoption. In fact, they just found out today that they finally have a date to go and pick up the two little boys who have been in their hearts for nearly a year. You can catch up with their adoption journey at this link from Karissa's blog, The Acting Mom.

Photo Courtesy of Emily Rose Portraits
Since it is an international adoption of two boys who are not newborns, the traditional baby shower is not really an option. So, Karissa agreed to let me try something different. You may now consider this blog post your official invitation to "Adoptions & Airplanes," an online baby shower to raise money for the plane tickets this growing family will need to buy to bring their two heart-grown Ugandan boys home.

Craig and Karissa will be leaving in about 14 days to fly half-way around the world and meet "Big" and "Little," as their two sons are affectionately known. The cost for both of them to travel by plane is about $4,000. While this is not the largest portion of their expenses, it is a need that must be met quickly so they can travel to Uganda and then home again with their sons.

I hope you will drop by this unique Adoptions & Airplanes baby shower. Make an official RSVP for the party and invite others to participate via this Facebook event - Adoptions & Airplanes.

To participate in the baby shower, use the Paypal button below and be sure to put "Adoptions & Airplanes" in the notes section.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Please Hold Me Accountable

I'm afraid that, if I don't tell someone what my plan is for today that it might not happen. So, random Family Musings readers, here's my list of 6 things I need to accomplish today:

1) Clean out refrigerator/freezer
2) Re-organize pantry
3) Create menu plan/grocery list for the week
4) Update coupon filing system
5) Find a local, reliable pest control company
6) Go grocery shopping

This is not an unreasonable to do list at all, but I've got a cold and am experiencing third trimester exhaustion. No amount of sleep seems to be enough these days.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Visit to the Park

I've been trying to motivate myself to do more fun things specifically for Mary each day after we drop Charlotte off at school. So today, we went to the park at 7:40 AM. I wasn't even sure it would be open that early, but thankfully it was!

Despite the sand pit being closed, Mary still had a good time. I tried to discourage her from taking the sand toys out of the bag, but she insisted and said, "dat's otay. me can petend!" This is her using her sand toys to make us some breakfast. In this case, it might have turned out better that the sand pit was closed.

Later she called out to me, "de eggs are almo done honey!" For some reason she calls me her honey, which I don't mind at all. I have all sorts of nick names for her too. My favorite though is May-May, which comes from how she normally says her own name. Recently though, she's been trying to say it more like Mare-a, which sounds much more like her actual name.

Because the ground was wet, Mary got a little creative and made what she called a "foot parade." It was so exciting to me to see how excited she got each time she made a new set of footprints. I wish I had thought to get a close up of some of the foot prints... her toes are still so little and they made the cutest dots above the rest of her foot.

She also consented to some video footage... though it took a little more convincing. These are mostly here for the enjoyment of my family, but hey, the rest of you can feel free to watch too.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Is God Really Sovereign?

I am so glad that, as a follower of Christ, I am called to think differently. Were it not for Christlike thinking, I'd find myself stuck in sorrow, fear, and dread far more often. I am human of course and do deal with these issues, but faith in Christ gives me a place to go with my fear and my dread and my sorrow.

In my life, this hasn't just been a theoretical idea either. Recently, two situations in my life tested how much I really believed what I wrote about thinking differently. To understand where I am coming from, you may recall a post I wrote last Spring called "Motherhood and God's Sovereignty."

About 2 weeks after I wrote that post, I had my 20-week ultrasound. In it, the ultrasound tech thought she noticed a club foot. Her findings were inconclusive, so we eventually had another ultrasound. As it turns out, our son does have a right club foot.

At the time of my post on God's sovereignty I wondered if my thoughts were the natural progression on my faith journey or if God had revealed that knowledge to me at that time for a specific reason. As it turns out, He was being intentional in my thought process about His sovereignty. Pretty cool if you ask me.

I do not fear dealing with a club foot. My research over the last couple of months tells me it will not be easy, particularly when we get into the bracing phase, but a club foot can be addressed.

The other situation that tested my belief in God's control was harder to deal with. It came on more suddenly and was more severe. Fortunately, I had a couple of people I could go to in that short time who pointed me back to the truths of scripture and reminded me that, for a Christian, there is no bad news from the doctor.

In late July we found a lump in Charlotte's groin. She has slipped in the pool earlier in the day so my first thought was that she had a hernia. A doctor's appointment led to an ultrasound which showed no hernia and suggested she had an enlarged lymph node. We were told that, if the lymph node didn't return to normal in a few weeks, she'd refer us for a biopsy. This also led to blood work which showed she was anemic.

Let me pause here to tell you that Dr. Google is not a mother's best friend! You'd think I would have learned that lesson when Mary was born, but I'm stubborn!

The results from her blood work came about 4:15 on a Friday afternoon. Great timing. Knowing we had a surgical consult just a few days later provided some relief, but let me tell you... I spent quite a bit of the weekend laying on Charlotte's bed praying for her, hoping that we would not be walking the path of a child with cancer (Google's logical conclusion of a swollen lymph node, anemia, and the absence of an infection). A friend who was aware of the situation emailed me to make sure I stopped Googling everything. Of course Bruce and I prayed together and read scripture together to be encouraged that God is in control of even our smallest details.

As it turns out, the surgeon thinks the initial ultrasound was wrong and that Charlotte really does have a hernia. It's not causing her any pain or discomfort, so we are just keeping an eye on it. And giving her a multivitamin with 100% of her RDA of iron for the anemia, which will be rechecked in a couple of months.

In the end... these circumstances are but a small test of my faith. I am no more at risk of losing a family member than I was before I knew about the medical issues we could be facing as a family. I am grateful that God spared me from watching Charlotte fight cancer, but I like to think that, had we been called to walk that road... I would have remained grateful to God for the opportunity to praise Him in that storm as well.

"Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything, through praise and thanksgiving,
present your requests to God. And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Phillippians 4:6-7

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Being a SAHM to One

The adjustment to taking a child to school every day has gone fairly well. We've developed a few morning and evening routines that certainly make getting out the door much easier. I've tested them by waking up late or neglecting the routines in the evening... without them, things start to unravel quickly. And rushing to get out the door is no fun for any of us!

One thing that I thought about this morning, and surprised myself with, is that I'm kind of back to being lonely as a SAHM. Sure, I may have complained about Charlotte's constant chatter, but now that she had gotten old enough to have actual conversations, I did enjoy her company more.

Mary plays wonderfully by herself. Which is great in so many ways. I can be more productive if I choose to be since she can occupy herself making up great stories with her Littlest Pet Shops or coloring several pages. In fact, I think she prefers playing alone to playing with me.

I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.I looked back over my schedule for the last month and see that I was avoiding that loneliness by keeping Mary and I super busy. Some of the busy-ness was a great fill for my loneliness - it involved spending long mornings with friends or going to MOPS. But the rest of it... Facebook and Pinterest and whatever else caught my fancy online... not so much.

As always, the solution to this issue is to learn contentment with where I am. And to stop wasting gas money driving around town filling my day with errands!

How do you deal with loneliness? What do you use to fill the void left by major changes in your daily schedule?

Monday, August 20, 2012

First Day of Kindergarten - Charlotte

Dear Charlotte,

Just a little over an hour ago, I waved good bye as you blew me one last kiss on your way to Ms. Rhoade's kindergarten class. It wasn't easy, but I tried to give you the biggest smile I could. I really want to write something super elegant that bring a small tear to your eye when you read it many years from now. Instead, every time I start to wax poetic, I get all teary-eyed. And, as you know by now, I'm not one of those "pretty criers" like you see in movies. It's a good thing that just Mary is home right now.

This morning, you showed so much enthusiasm for learning and experiencing new things. You even told me how you were going to greet your teacher, "Good morning Ms. Rhoades! I'm excited to learn something new today!" I hope you maintain your love of knowledge for the rest of your life. It will serve you well as you grow in both mind and spirit.

When I helped you put your uniform on this morning, I was really taken back by how grown-up you are looking these days. Maybe it's the fresh hair cut or the peter pan collar. Or maybe, it's your confidence that you can do anything if you try hard enough.

I sure do miss you, but know that this is part of growing up. You are only "mine" for a little while and that's okay. I can already see how God is molding you to be an amazing warrior princess for Him and that is enough for me.

Mom (since Momma is "baby-ish" according to you)

Linking up with Miss Elaine-ous Life.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

It's okay to not know...

As I watch my children grow up, I want them to learn to love. I don't want to squash their questioning and wondering about the world around them. Admittedly, after the 4,537,136th question of the day, I wish Charlotte would give it a rest, but I am still glad that she continues to ask questions.

Sometimes though, when it comes to trying to do new things, like learn sight words or some other new skill, she seems to get frustrated easily. I try to encourage her to try, even though it might be hard. this works in varying degrees depending on the circumstances.

Related to this, I saw a great pin today and wanted to print it as a reminder in our home. But, unfortunately, the link trail didn't lead me to one that was printable, so, I made my own. And since I know lots of home schooling moms and teachers, I thought you might want to print this for class rooms, either at home or at school.

You can click on the image to download a 8.5x11 PDF version from Google Docs.

Leave a comment if you found this useful. I'd love to hear stories of how you encourage your own children to try something new.

Friday, July 13, 2012

My New Project - A Dresser for the Dining Room

My husband just brought home my newest project! I had only seen a fuzzy cell phone picture of it so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but it was free for the taking and I had just enough info to know it would fit my space in size, if not color.

We are in the process of trying to make our dining room a functional space for both homeschooling and dining and the Ikea dressers we had been using for storage the last four years are falling apart from continued use. This redo has to be done on a frugal budget, so I really couldn't see myself passing up a free dresser! It easily offers enough storage to replace the two plain white, Ikea dressers that are going to either be repurposed, donated, or tossed.

Now, we have to figure out what to do with this piece to make it my own. It really is gorgeous and I am thrilled that it has "feet." The rest of our furniture (mostly also from Ikea) all sits flush to the ground, so I am really counting on this piece to break things up for us.

I've pretty much already decided that I am not keeping all of the drawers and am currently leaning towards only keeping the bottom two (the long yellow ones below). My Pinterest has been busy tonight looking for some inspiration pieces both in color and design. Since this dresser will go in my dining room, I don't want it to look like a dresser.

Then, of course, is the color decision. After going back and forth and back and forth while I waited for it to arrive, I'm thinking about painting it a neutral on the outside (or keeping the current yellow), and then using a bright pop of teal and/or red on the inside (like this dresser redo).

But the issue of what neutral color to choose is hard for me. I don't want a neutral shade of brown... but I also don't want a darker neutral like navy or black. A neutral yellow really does appeal to me, which is why I might not do too much to the outside of this piece.

I really love the curves in this piece... such a nice change from all of the lines and angles in the rest of our furniture!

What do you think? What changes would you make to this dresser to make it more fun and modern? Any suggestions for drawer pulls or baskets?

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Charlotte's Nagarote Photos

My best plans to teach Charlotte about taking pictures never really happened. But she does know how to turn the camera on, zoom in, and take a picture... here are some of her better ones.

The  first sunrise Charlotte has ever seen. This was taken from the bus on our way to Miami.

Hanging out on the front porch of our hotel.

I guess when you are short you are more likely to cut people's heads off in photos. There were several like this.

This is Mary Ruth, a very good sport for letting Charlotte take so many pictures of her.

Our trip leaders, Steve & Angela. This is the couple who bought the farm.

 This is Carlos. He is the main, native interpreter for our trip. Today, he is interpreting for Bruce's seminarios with the local pastor's alliance.

Mission Nagarote: Monday Recap

Monday included two visits to a local school called Dream of Louisa. While public education is free in Nicaragua, uniforms, books, and supplies are not, so many children are shut out from educational opportunities. This school exists to fill that gap. 

For some reason, my photos from our morning visit uploaded in a random order... This first one is Mary modeling for the camera in the older student's classroom.

Charlotte finally had a chance to ride in the back of a truck. And to take a picture of mommy taking a picture of her. :)

Our family is grateful for Stepanie and the other teenage girls on our team. They are willing to help out and keep the girls occupied when we need a rest or have something else to do.

Here, Charlotte is encouraging the students to dance during the Chicken Dance song.

And here she is working on the fishing game. During the morning session she quickly bored of her job, but towards the end of the afternoon session, she was practically running the whole thing herself.

Mary has been typically shy this week, taking a while to warm up to each new situation. Here, she was meeting a family that lives next to the school.

Do you have any questions about Nicaragua? Our trip? Our team? If so, leave them in a comment and we'll try to answer them soon.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Like A Weed

They say mission trips can change lives. Apparently, that is true even if you are 4 years old! We've seen Charlotte take risks she never would have taken in the states. Some of it is just fun to watch and are things we already knew she could do, but other things are really surprising to us.

She freely walked all over a farm we visited today. Even going so far as to venture off the beaten path to find her "walking stick." There was a big hill to tackle and she did it cheerfully too.

While she normally freaks out at the sight of most unleashed dogs, it didn't take long for her to get up close to this one.
Her love of the bixi ride has far outweighed any fear of strangers she might have had. Fortunately, this is one of our trusted drivers and Bruce was following close behind while she and Antonio (about 3 years old) rode on his daddy's bixi.

Maybe it's just me... but I had to include this picture because she looks so darn grown up in it!

If you have ever visited a play ground with us and seen Charlotte attempt the monkey bars, you'll understand what a big deal this is. The bars were about 2 feet away from the wall and she was just freely jumping to them and swinging! This is something we knew she could do, but she never felt brave enough to try.

Other things that have surprised us include her response to seemingly random adults picking her up or stroking her hair. I was a little concerned about how she would handle this part of our trip, but it hasn't seemed to phase her at all.

Finally, tonight at Alfa y Omega Church, she made fast friends with several of the little girls. Next thing we know, Charlotte is climbing trees in the dark, climbing on logs, and leading them in all manner of "spy games." I'm not sure how it happens, but she always manages to get the older girls to do exactly what she wants them too!

It sure is fun watching her grow... I love each stage of life with her more than the last! Can't imagine how much I'll love her by the time she is in college!