"Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words." Saint Francis of Assisi

Friday, February 29, 2008

Garrett and the snake

On our recent camping trip to the waterfalls Garrett stumbled upon this: A big fat hairy snake complete with, as noted on the left, his head lopped off. Someone had, thankfully, found and put an end to the snake threat before our kids found him. After they found it, Garrett and Carys came running back to the tent asking for the camera to take a picture of a snake. Being the concerned parents that we are, Benay and I gave them the camera, told them to be careful and they were off again. When we finally got down where they were to see the snake he was pretty scary looking. He was fairly long and thick. Garrett, being all boy, began moving it around and taking other pictures of it. It sure is fun to play with a DEAD snake. The funniest picture turned out to be this one: The sign says, "Children should be accompanied and watched by their parents or someone responsible."

We liked the idea of the next family that came through, reading the sign and seeing the big snake hanging over it. That would've been a good reminder for the kids that don't like to obey, don't you think? Yeah, that's what Garrett was doing......teaching other kids to be obedient. Sounds good doesn't it?

We are thankful that someone got to it and killed it before we met him because as Anderson said later, at least ten different times, "THAT'S ONE NASTY SNAKE!"

Thursday, February 28, 2008

That's My King

We first heard about this video from our small group from Abilene, Texas. A couple of years later my dad sent the same video to us. It's an almost six minute description of Jesus given by Pastor S.M. Lockridge who was a pastor for the Calvary Baptist Church in San Diego, California. He pastored this church for 40 years and, from the bio I read, through his various ministries touched the lives of over 100,000people.

This is an incredibly powerful video and, whether you've seen it 10 times or have never seen it before, it's worth every second it takes to watch it. Like Bronwyn, our oldest, said after watching it, "I've got goosebumps."


Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Memphis Guys

God really blessed me by allowing me to grow up in a Christian family and be surrounded by Christian friends. These friends grew up in Christian homes as well. Some of the parents of these friends have, over the years, become some of my parents' best friends. They take trips together, laugh anywhere and out loud(sometimes in a way that would make you think they had a snootful of moonshine), have fun, talk smack on the golf course and, most importantly, pray together. They literally show and live the love of Christ.

My dad and four of the men from this group have been praying together every Tuesday morning for the last few years. Garrett calls them the Memphis guys. I've seen what this time together has done to these men.

When we are back in the states and visiting Memphis, I have the privilege to join them on Tuesdays. It's been fun for me to move into an adult, spiritual relationship with these men after years of seeing them as being "the dads of my friends." I've learned much from my times of prayer with these guys. I've seen them confess, cry, laugh and, of course, pray together each Tuesday morning. I've seen them being faithful during hard, very hard, personal struggles. I've watched them bring their paper and pens and write down each prayer request and then pray for every thing listed usually more than one time. I've been blessed to see these men grow in their faith as well as have my faith grow just by being around them.

They are all different today than they were years ago. They are different today than they were yesterday and isn't that what God wants from His kids? Transformation and growth? What I've seen in them reminded me of a quote I read from an older brother in Christ in regards to growing his faith and how he continues to be changed in Christ. He said, "Yes, I have changed on many issues BECAUSE I have been studying the Bible, praying, trying to have a daily, intimate, personal relationship with God. Paul says in Rom. 12:1-2 to be transformed by the renewing of your mind, and it is very difficult for me to understand how a person can be transformed without changing. If transformation is not change, what is it? How can one put off the old person and put on the new without changing?" I say......EXACTLY! This is what I have seen in the Memphis Guys and what I want for Benay, myself and our kids as well as our new family in Porto Alegre.
Transformation and growth.

My blessings continue as I now see the influence that these guys have in my life being passed on to our kids. Here is a picture of me and Garrett with the guys and my dad, at their prayer time, last year during our visit to the states.
Since then Garrett has, at different times, prayed for these guys by name. Garrett has a heart for prayer and his time with these men impacted him.

When I think of the "Memphis Guys" I feel very blessed to have had them in my life since I was a child. It's been a cool thing for me to realize that God had these prayer warriors planned for my family in Brasil years before we ever felt the call to move here. He is so good that way isn't He?

Thank you Paul, Gerald, Larry(a.k.a. The Duke), and Danny for praying for my family every Tuesday, for praying blessings on what God is doing in Porto Alegre, for being there for my parents and for continuing to show Christ to a family 5,000 miles away. We love you and your families.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Marshmallow Walk

Okay, first things first. Who knew, without looking it up, that "marshmallow" is spelled like that? Be honest. I always thought it was "marshmellow" and even fought Benay on the spelling as I began this blog. I had to look it up and she, like 99% of the time, was right. I, however, still don't want to believe it and might continue arguing about it just for the fun of it. Why does it sound like "mellow" when it's spelled "mallow"?

Sorry for the brain diversion. Okay, I'm sure you are wondering what in the world is the "Marshmallow Walk"? Allow me to set it up first.

This is our son the pyro. He LOVES to build fires. When it's time to have a cookout he HAS to help and so it was just natural that on our recent camping trip he spent a good amount of time trying to build a fire. Why the trouble? Well, like I said he LIKES it....ALOT, but he also wanted to build one so that we could have the pleasure of making smores (or as close to smores as we could make with our Brasilian choices of ingredients.......we had to pay $6 for a bag of imported marshmallows). Most of the kids had never had them and didn't know what they were and so Benay was determined to make some. She needed a firestarter and that is where Garrett came to the rescue.
We THINK Anderson liked them.
We KNOW Carys liked them. "Like these are sooooooo good!"
Which brings us to the "marshmallow walk." The next day we used our lunch fire to cook some more marshmallows. The first video shows the kids cooking them. At some point, Ansley's marshmallow fell to the ground. You'll see what happens next with Anderson.

Which brings us to the second video. This is Anderson going to take care of the sticky foot problem on his own, by washing it off in the shower, and he really doesn't appreciate the laughing that is taking place at his expense. Just so you can appreciate it fully, his initial response on this video is, "When I step in marshmallow you don't laugh! You guys are weird!" He then punctuates his anger with his final response of "go away." Things weren't going well on the sticky marshmallow walk up to the bathroom. Anderson had to endure some of his brothers and sisters ignoring him while they continued cooking marshmallows, his dad thinking it was more important to film than to help and his mom laughing throughout most of the long, humiliating walk to cleanliness. Finally, his loving big sister comes to his rescue.

Camping Out

Our family (except Bronwyn who spent a week at the beach with her best friend) went camping last week. We bought a big tent right before we left the states on our last furlough and decided to finally use it last week. Some good friends of ours told us, a couple of years ago, about this place a little more than an hour outside of our city. Since then we've been 5-6 times and each time it gets better. Last week was the first time we've ever spent the night there as well as being the first time ever for our family to camp out.

After and hour and fifteen minutes of work, here's a picture of what the finished product looked like. Not bad for first timers.
We enjoyed God's beauty and His creations.

Some went out and explored nature. While others had a more passive approach and allowed nature to come to them......in the forms of a good book, Twix bars and Diet Coke.

We had lots of fun together as a family and that's what's most important isn't it?

There is something about getting out of the city and being in God's nature that just causes you to sit down, relax and take things a bit slower than the big city pace you're accustomed to.

Okay, so that would be in theory and is not necessarily the rule.

The kids are already asking to go back when Bronwyn gets home from her trip. I think they enjoyed their first camping adventure.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Meet two members of our house church - Ivoli and Grace. (Pronouced like Gracie in Portuguese.) This mother and daughter were just beginning to participate in our church when we were still in our church building, and when we changed to house churches, we have had the blessing of having them in our house every Sunday. While both Ivoli and Gracie have had a strong faith, neither one had made a public committment to Christ in baptism. At the end of last year, Gracie decided that she was ready to take this step. So one Sunday in December after our worship time, we went to our teammates', Sascha and Jennifer's house for the baptism. Gracie is great friends with our daughters Bronwyn and Ansley - something for which we are very thankful. Gracie is a great girl in every way and a good influence on our girls. When it came time for her baptism, Gracie chose Bronwyn and Ansley to do the honors. (Would this ever happen in a "normal" church?) Bronwyn and Ansley took their responsibility very seriously and chose special scriptures to read before the baptism. We sang songs and gave others the opportunity to say something to Gracie or share a scripture. Gracie chose a song to sing called "Be the Center". It says "Be the center, Be everything, In my heart Lord. Be the life in my chest, everyday here and eternally." The baptism was one of the most moving and special things that I have ever been a part of. There was just something so pure and innocent about 3 sweet girls going down into the water to publicly proclaim Christ as their Lord.
After it was over, I don't think there was a dry eye among us as all of our house church members, one by one, hugged and loved on Gracie as we sang songs of praise. This is Gracie's mom, Ivoli, hugging her.
This was an especially bittersweet day because the week after this, Gracie would leave us for a while to do a work exchange program in the US. She is an excellent English speaker, and she was chosen for an opportunity to work in Orlando at Universal Studios for a few months. Here she is sharing a prayer with Bronwyn and Ansley at the airport right before she left. She is still in the US now, and has had a wonderful experience - although we have missed her terribly. We are so proud of the way that she has represented her family, Brazil and especially Christ on her trip - as He, too, represents her before the Father. I couldn't write this post without thinking of the song by Point of Grace called "Saving Grace". I looked up the lyrics, and while all of them don't pertain to our Gracie, some of them were very appropriate. You see, Gracie didn't decide to become a Christian because one of the missionaries had a Bible study with her. I believe that she was shown Jesus consistently by our group, and especially by Bronwyn and Ansley. These lyrics say it all.....

She never darkened the door of any church
She would say, What for...no one there would care for me
We have to go where she lives
Simply show her who Jesus is
Watch Him set her free
For grace flows down from above and
faith requires a selfless love
For a world that's dying to see
the hope in you in me

It's all about saving Grace
All about living love
Being Jesus to those He came to save
Sharing life and giving our own away
it's all about serving God
All about saving Grace

There are countless millions just like Grace
Who need a merciful embrace
They won't believe our God is real
Until they feel His touch

It's all about saving Grace
All about living love
Being Jesus to those He came to save
Sharing life and giving our own away
it's all about serving God
All about saving Grace

Thank you, Lord, for letting us be a part of your saving work in Gracie's life.
Gracie - We miss you and we love you!!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Carys's New Pet

Our youngest daughter has been wanting a pet for some time. She really wanted a dog. I didn't. The fact is I grew up as a dog lover and I've always had dogs as pets. Up until 2004 our family has had dogs. When our youngest child was born we had a wild boxer named Patch. I loved that dog but I didn't have the time to train her correctly and so she was always into things. One day we heard a crash in the kitchen and she had taken an apple pie off the stove and pulled it to the floor. It was still in the pyrex glass dish and glass went everywhere. When I came into the kitchen she was still eating the pie even though her mouth was bleeding from the glass cuts she was getting from the shattered pyrex dish. We have a Brasilian sister in Christ who always joked with me that the dogs name wasn't Patch but "NO PATCH." Like I said, she was a wild dog and was always getting into things. It became obvious that someone had to go. We chose to let the dog go and to keep the baby.

Since then our kids, some more than others, have wanted another pet. I haven't wanted to deal with the time and effort it takes to train another dog (apologies to cat lovers everywhere but I'm a cat HATER and that's why we aren't mentioning here a cat as a pet option). So we have avoided lengthy pet discussions.

Carys had enough money of her own and wanted to buy a pet. She received some money from her grandparents and great grandmother for Christmas and, to be honest, we don't know where the rest of her money came from. She's either lifting it from my wallet or she has some side job we don't know about. Anyway, she began the job of breaking down the parents (an art form with her) with repeated questions about why we can't have a dog. This was met with a firm "because." She is very smart and after realizing that her normal line of "why not" questioning would not work she shifted tactics. We then moved into low maintenance pets. "Well what about this? What about that?" Somewhere in the new line of questioning I agreed to a turtle. She flipped out and went upstairs to get her money. I had in mind in a day or two we could start looking . My "yes", to her, meant now, right now, we are going to buy a turtle.

So,with money burning a hole in the purse, off we went to the pet store.
Carys picked out everything. Tank, filter, rocks.......everything. You've heard the expression that a dog picks it's owner? Can a turtle do the same thing? Who could resist that face? Ladies and Gentlemen, we give you Sam the turtle. The name wasn't decided upon until the day after we bought it. Garrett and Carys asked if the turtle was a boy or a girl and the guy at the store told us we would not be able to tell until he/she was 15 years old (he/she is 3 months old now and can live to be 30). So Carys picked a name that could easily flip to Samantha if needed 15 years from now. Okay I realize it's just a turtle but it's the prettiest turtle we've ever seen. Here's Sam's underbody or whatever you call that side. Sam is a Brasilian Water Tiger turtle and he is protected by the government. When Carys made the purchase we had to have him/her registered. We were told that we have to keep this document with us and if we travel with Sam we have to take the document with us. If we don't have it and we get stopped by the authorities we can be fined almost $300.
This is André. He helped Carys every step of the way. After all the hard work of picking Sam out it was time to leave the mall and to take him/her home. He/she is in the box Carys is holding. We all love Sam. When we came home all 7 of us were in Carys's room with her helping get everything set up just right before we put Sam in the tank. Sam has to be outside every day for 5 minutes soaking up some rays. I think he/she likes it.
Not sure how but Carys has already taught Sam a trick. I guess in dog language it would sound like this, "Come on boy/girl.....come on."
"That's it boy/girl. That's it. Come on." "Good boy/girl. Who's my good boy/girl? That's right you are!" (insert "dog licking your face" with "turtle just staring at you" here)We think Sam is in good hands.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

We're engaged!

Twenty years ago today I asked Benay to marry me. Let's just say we looked a little different as noted by the picture taken just after we got engaged. A favorite phrase of our three year old seems to apply to us in this picture.....we looked a little bit "weird and funny."

Our oldest daughter wanted to know why we got engaged on the 12th instead of Valentine's day. Here's why: It was my senior year in college and I lived in one state and Benay lived in another while working her first post college job. The only time we ever had to see each other was on the weekends (usually on my college campus, the city where she lived or the place in the middle which was where my parents lived). The weekend I asked her to marry her happened to be at my parents' house.....thus the congratulations cake already ready. What would we have done with the cake if she had said no?

Anyway, I had already asked Benay's dad for her hand and he said yes (I'm sure he's still kicking himself on that brain time-out). The ring was bought and it was literally burning a hole in my pocket. We got to my parents' house on Friday the 12th and there was no way that ring would stay hidden until the 14th.

It's been an incredible 20+ years of being with Benay. I am very blessed.

Thank you for saying yes!

Monday, February 11, 2008

How Jesus Messed Up My Life

As missionaries, we face many challenges. Sometimes, they can seem overwhelming and we might, in weak moments, look at the lives of others and wish ours were as "simple" as theirs appears to be. I, Benay, think of when I was a school teacher and how I thought that was the hardest job in the world - until I got this one. I used to look at what other people have or what their kids do and wish that I had stayed in the states so my life could be like theirs. We are encouraging our church members here to really BE church - not just DO church on Sunday. Honestly, being church is harder. It is much easier just to go to services each week and get your earful.

A few months back, we read a post on a blog - http://www.mattritchie.wordpress.com/ - that we could really relate to. We translated this post and shared it with our church members. And, even though we face challenges, we wouldn't go back for anything. Here is the post that we loved:

If I had gotten my way 15+ years ago, I would be a wealthy, big-city litigator right now, wiling away the years in an expensive office building during the weeks and at every Cowboys game on the weekends. I’d have a big house worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. I’d go to a nice, clean-cut church where I’d check in every Sunday morning and otherwise do all of the things that good Christians do to make sure they can punch their ticket into heaven. And I’d listen to conservative talk radio, just to remind myself that there is no need to change the order of things: everyone is making their own choices and getting just what they deserve.

Life would be good.

But the more I read the gospels; the more I try to understand what Jesus was really all about, the more he has the audacity to come into my life and totally screw it up. He makes me think about every dollar I spend - who is benefitting from it and how? He makes me reflect on the kind of car I drive and how it affects God’s creation. He challenges me to make my children into risk-taking disciples, instead of neat, middle-class carbon copies of myself. He asks me to go places where I am uncomfortable, and to invite people into my house when I’d much rather have a quiet night alone. He intrudes on my free time and tells me to invest it the things that matter to him. He tells me that the politics that seemingly support my interests aren’t necessarily the ones that support his.

Far from being a cosmic Mr. Fix-it, Jesus is taking every priority and ambition that I ever held and - without so much as asking - turning it over like he did the tables in the temple.

But the truth is - having come to know the Jesus who messes with me at every turn - I would never go back to the old one. For all his annoying qualities, this is the Jesus that feels authentic to me. I feel like I finally am coming to know him for who he is. And in spite of all of the discomfort and downright inconvenience that he causes, I’m coming to see that the things that he is about are the things that really matter in this world.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Benay's Birthday

Friday was Benay's birthday and in keeping with Blume family tradition she picked out everything we did on her special day.

Her day started with a surprise as Ansley, Carys and Bronwyn woke up very early and made a special breakfast for their mom. Part of her special breakfast consisted of heart shaped biscuits as well as a "M" for mom biscuit. She was served on the "You are Special" plate used for birthdays and other special days. It was a good breakfast. Then it was time to give her presents.

She wanted to follow up present time by going to the pool. We had lots of time to relax.....

......and do some wrestling as well.

We then went home, got cleaned up and went back out to go see a movie together. We had to walk down the street to get to our van. Why?

Because they've been ripping up our street for about 6 weeks replacing our sewage lines and they chose Benay's birthday to completely block our driveway.

The day was long and some couldn't make it through the movie.

While others barely made it to the couch before crashing..........yes she really is asleep.

So, Happy Birthday to a very special woman. An incredible wife,my best friend, an amazing mom and beautiful child of God. I don't know how but she seems to get more beautiful with each passing year.