Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Birds!!!! and Barbie????

It happens every spring time with out fail.  The sky above our backyard suddenly becomes black with swarms of birds.

One minute they are flying around in total chaos and the next minute they instantly synchronize their flight pattern and become one giant bird tornado that rapidly descends upon the trees in the swamp behind our house.  It is the freakiest thing I have ever witnessed.
I have no idea what it is they these birds are up to, but they creep me out.  It reminds me of something out of Alfred Hitchcock's movie,  "The Birds".  Bizarre!

And speaking of bizarre...

Check out the Alfred Hitchcock 45th anniversary commemorative edition of Barbie and The Birds.

No Barbie collection would be complete without one of these beauties. So charming!

What marketing genius thought that this was a good idea? It is just wrong on so many levels.

I love how Barbie is smiling and waving as she gets pecked at by rabid birds.  Smile and wave, Barbie.  Smile and wave.   Or wait, is she swatting at the birds and smiling?  And the perfect hair...Wow!  Barbie refuses to let those pesky birds ruffle her feathers.



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Calling in the Big Guns for Japan!

I have been laid up in bed the past few days with the flu.  And during that time, I have had some time to read updates and pray specifically for the vast needs in Japan.  I have also read some troubling comments on various websites from people around the world on how prayer is just a cop out, a lazy person's approach to dealing with tragedy, a delusional dead end, and many other sentiments that just sadden me.

I have read comments that Christians are just sitting by, watching the events in Japan unfold and not doing 'anything but praying'.

I will politely disagree with those comments.  Christians just like people from many other different belief systems around the world are reaching out to help in Japan.  Many are on the ground in the worst hit areas providing for the vast needs of the victims.

Here are some updates on what is happening now in Japan as a result of Christians and others world-wide praying and taking action:
Samaritan's Purse - Much-needed relief supplies from Samaritan’s Purse were transported on Sunday to Sendai, the city nearest the epicenter of the earthquake and tsunami. The 93 tons of supplies—which included blankets, shelter materials, hygiene items, and other aid—will be used by our disaster response team to help relieve the suffering of thousands of disaster victims.

C.R.A.S.H Japan - Last Thursday, C.R.A.S.H. established its first base camp in Sendai, as I type this more relief camps are being set up.  C.R.A.S.H. has been working in conjunction with churches in Japan and around the world to meet the dire needs of the victims. 

Half a Million Meals Donated

Tokyo, Japan- March 17, 2011- With the establishment of the first CRASH Base Camp, CRASH has been promised two 40-foot containers of much needed food. The containers are filled with enough rice and soy to make more than 500,000 meals — ideal for feeding large groups of people. The much-needed donation comes from Feed the Hungry.

Many other organizations are also sending supplies. Although CRASH has the network to reach those in immediate need, such large donations require significant resources to get from crate to table. CRASH Japan continues to seek funds to ensure the pressing needs of victims are quickly met.

And yes, as a Christian, prayer is the most important part of my daily life and my first response in times of tragedy or joy.   In my life, prayer paves the way for making a difference.  I could never sit on the sidelines of life and "just pray".  Prayer is the first step when taking action and through prayer my path is paved.

Here is an interesting article about praying in times of disaster:

How to Pray When Disaster Strikes

There is an old adage that goes like this, "Well, I guess all that we can do is pray..." I approach prayer quite a bit differently and perhaps so should you. Prayer always comes first – before we can even attempt to do our "little bit" we should make sure that we have called in the "big guns". I originally wrote this prayer list for the earthquake in Haiti. If it is helpful in organizing your thoughts feel free to join in and pray with me.

1. Pray for those in need of rescue that it will come swiftly.

There are many who are in need of miracles. That teams would arrive an hour sooner, that dogs would catch a faint scent amidst the stench of death, that the right piece of concrete would be moved. For all the training and effort that the courageous rescue teams put in, at this point they need miracles more than anything else.

2. Pray for the rescuers – safety, rest, encouragement, in the midst of horror and unrelenting pain.
The job that the rescue teams face is completely overwhelming and they will fail many more times than they will succeed. Rescue teams suffer great personal trauma and often become suicidal months after an event. Pray for these courageous men and women now and after they return.

3. Pray for families that have witnessed the unthinkable, are worried about loved ones, and fearful for their own safety.

For every person who is missing, dead or severely injured in the quake there are ten more who care about them and find themselves unable to do anything about it. Pray that emotional needs would receive attention amidst all of the physical needs.

4. Pray for children who need comfort and safety, hugs and reassurance – even if they are physically "fine."

Children are the most vulnerable amidst the aftermath of a disaster. Every child whose world has been disrupted, who has seen the death of another person or lost friends or family is in need of emotional care, even if they have not suffered physical harm themselves.

5. Pray for governments and authorities that all red tape would disappear and corruption would cease.

International relief efforts are often hampered by red tape and governments can find getting relief to local areas difficult because of corruption. Pray for aid to go unhindered to the people that need it most.

6. Pray for relief agencies to have wisdom and compassion to make a lasting difference.

The earthquake is a great opportunity to make forward progress. But long lasting change will come through courageous and wise decisions that deal with the source of problems.

7. Pray for those around you that they would respond not just with what they can do, but with their heart.

The temptation that we all have is to give a small donation and call it the best that we can do. We all have many reasons why we cannot give more. Pray that hearts would be moved and that people would be truly generous. For those of us using social media like Facebook or Twitter, this means that we should get involved, make connections and let it be personal.

8. Pray for yourself that you would have a heart of compassion – start now and it will grow.

A true heart of compassion is not just ready to give when the need arises. A true heart of compassion seeks out ways to help even when no one else notices that there is suffering. A true heart of compassion will allow itself to continue caring long after the world has lost interest.

Once you finish praying, ask yourself two questions.

* How can I become personally involved with helping the people?
* How can I financially support someone who is personally involved?

It is important in the early stages of a disaster to fill up the coffers of those organizations that do rescue and relief work. They will use that money to stay ready for the next disaster that comes. But in the age of Twitter and Facebook, find someone who is giving their time, energy and life to help those who are suffering and give generously or become that person and give your heart to those who need it most.

Jonathan Wilson
Director, CRASH Japan

And finally, I would like give thanks and pray for a brave group of Christian Japanese men.  Naoyoshi Sato, is believed to be a member of the First Baptist Church of Fukushima, and is the project head of operations to cool down the reactors at Fukushima. His team includes 5 other Christians. They re-connected electrical wiring to restore cooling of reactors last Saturday or Sunday. According to a teammate, Sato-san  "has diabetes and his health is deteriorating from fatigue, tension and lack of medical care he needs. So pray that he would be sustained both spiritually and physically." A few have placed their faith in Christ through the influence of these Christian heroes.



Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Greetings from the Land of Influenza A

Fevers and headaches and muscle pain.  Oh my!

We are all getting the flu and dropping like flies.

It starts with really nasty coughing fit

And out of nowhere, your head feels like you could fry an egg on it. 

Sleep is fleeting, cough repeating, stuffy noses impede our breathing.

On and on and on it goes...

When will it stop?

In 4 - 10 days or so...

This is the nastiest, meanest, flu I have ever had!  What is worse, is watching the kids suffer through this as well.  I was able to tend to them until Sunday evening, then this flu hit me like a rabid freight train.  For now, Music Man is playing Dr. Dad and helping us all.  I love that guy! I hope that he stays flu free. 

Here is a sweet picture of our oldest monkey girl comforting our youngest monkey boy a few days ago.

The flu stinks.  It should be outlawed.  It should be illegal.  It should be chased out of town by an angry mob of people holding pitchforks.  It should be shipped off to Siberia (the remote parts, where there are no people). 

I think that I am delirious.


Friday, March 18, 2011

C.R.A.S.H. Update

Dear friends, please, please continue to pray and give to help the victims of the earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan.

We can make a difference.

C.R.A.S.H. Japan is already reporting that they are four days ahead of schedule in setting up one of the planned relief base camps in the city of Sendai!

Here is an update from website:

CRASH Teams and Supplies Head to Sendai

Tokyo, Japan – March 17, 2011 – The first of CRASH’s teams left early this morning with a truck of supplies heading to Meysen Academy, a kindergarten in Sendai. Meysen Academy is out of range of the radiation evacuation zone in Fukushima, but highways heading north will take the team within 40km of the nuclear reactors.

Located slightly inland, with a large campus and two locations, MeySen academy is an optimal location for a base. Team leader Drew Glosson, who survived the 2007 Niigata earthquake and has personally received help from CRASH in the past, said of the team's spirits: “We’re all ready to go, we’re anxious to get there, we’re a little nervous about snow...but the weather is alright, so we should be ok.”

Reports of relief efforts remain hopeful as more area roads are opening, making travel less dangerous. Even so, few are traveling, and highway passes are still required near disaster areas. CRASH teams have passes and access to the affected areas. “The highway is nothing but us and emergency vehicles,” said Glosson.

The runway in Sendai airport, the largest in the Tohoku region, has now been cleared by US military teams, making supply delivery easier. However, ports along the northeast coast of Japan remain inaccessible, forcing supply shipments to move across land from the west, and severely slowing deliveries. "These truckloads that we’re sending up [the highway] are the main things that are getting through," said CRASH Supply Coordinator Tim Cole speaking of supplies being transported in small quantities by CRASH and other relief organizations.

CRASH continues to work with local churches and missionaries in the Tohoku area to gather relief teams, identify the most pressing needs, and coordinate base locations.

Also -

Half a Million Meals Donated

Tokyo, Japan- March 17, 2011- With the establishment of the first CRASH Base Camp, CRASH has been promised two 40-foot containers of much needed food. The containers are filled with enough rice and soy to make more than 500,000 meals — ideal for feeding large groups of people. The much-needed donation comes from Feed the Hungry.

Many other organizations are also sending supplies. Although CRASH has the network to reach those in immediate need, such large donations require significant resources to get from crate to table. CRASH Japan continues to seek funds to ensure the pressing needs of victims are quickly met.

Update on our friends:

Our friend, Ayumi, emailed that there is little rest for the weary of northeast Japan.  Aftershocks, power outages, and the uncertainty of the situation at the nuclear power plant make sleep fitful at best.  Please continue to pray for those affected by this disaster. 

Also, be sure to check out this video that our missionary friends' son put together. 

C.R.A.S.H also has a Facebook page.



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

C.R.A.S.H. - Japan Earthquake Relief - We Can Help!

Are you looking for a way to help Japan?  C.R.A.S.H. (Christian Relief Assistance Support and Hope) is one way to "Love on Japan".

Our friends, the Caughlin's, who live in Tokyo have a sixteen year old son, Connor, who produced this video about awareness video about C.R.A.S.H. -


Here is a link to condensed video of a C.R.A.S.H. briefing.  That has very helpful information for potential volunteers.
You can donate to C.R.A.S.H. through Horizon online giving.

Here are some pictures sent to me by Cam and Kristen of the volunteers at C.R.A.S.H. debriefing and preparing:

Finally, I want to share this powerful video with you.  It was produced by one of Connor Caughlin's friends.  

So, friends, we can help.  You want to know how you can help right now?  Pray, give, and then forward on this information to everyone you know.  Seriously!  In this day and age, with modern technology and the internet, news travels.  Let's give the world some good news.  Let's make the C.R.A.S.H. video go viral!!!! LET'S LOVE ON JAPAN!!!!

All fired up, 


Monday, March 14, 2011

Update on Japan

Wow!  There have been so many people calling and emailing us about friends we know in Japan.  I wanted to give a quick update:

Nozomi, Mark and Towa heard from Nozomi's grandparents who live on the northeast coast of Japan and they are okay!  This is such great news!

And our friends, Warren and Yukari Griffith from Mission to Japan emailed this today:

Dear friends,

We've gotten a flood of phone calls and emails and have been encouraged by all the people praying for Japan, for us, and for the willingness to help.  I may not have the time to respond to each person but here are some things I tell each person.  First, to our knowledge none of the over 800 Japanese students  we've had on our homestay programs are near the most affected areas of the earthquake and tsunami.  Also none of the missionaries we know have been directly affected.  We are thankful for that.  My wife Yukari's father pastored a church in Sendai about 50 years ago, and they know people there.  They have not been able to get in touch with anyone yet as the lines of communication are not yet open. 

If you would like to give to help those in need, I suggest looking into the Red Cross, or CRASH to make financial donations.  I think this is better than sending a box of supplies, because sometimes   in these situations, inadequate distribution channels result in supplies not being delivered in time.  Above all, let's keep praying for Japan and those in the affected areas.  May the Lord use this to bring many into his kingdom!

Thank you Warren for this update! 



From America with Love!

This shout out is to all of our Japanese tomadachi (friends) (and you know who you are :-) ).

We just wanted to brighten your day a bit.

And to let you know that we admire your strength...

And your gentleness...

And your really cute red school backpacks :-)...

And your breathtaking gardens...

And we wanted to let you know that we love you!


Melissa, Music Man, and the Monkeys

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Update On Our Friends in Japan and How We Can Help

Yesterday, I blogged about our friends in Japan who have been impacted by the massive earthquake and resulting tsunami.  I wanted to update you:

Ayumi, our beautiful friend in Tokyo, made it back to her apartment earlier today.  She has been reunited with her mom and her sister and family.  Ayumi's dad was able to make contact with her brother.  Everyone is safe.  Please continue to pray for Ayumi's brother as he is in one of the most devastated areas of northeastern Japan.

Ayumi, we praise God that you and your family are safe.  We love you!

Our other lovely Japanese friend Nozomi has heard news about her mom who is in a nursing home.  Nozomi's mom is alive, but there are food and water shortages in the area where she lives.  Please continue to pray for relief workers to be able to get much needed supplies into damaged areas and for their safety.  Nozomi has not heard news on her grandparents or other family members that live near the coast.

Nozomi, Mark and Towa we love you and are continuing to pray for your family.

Our sweet friends, the Caughlin's, have been hosting stranded students in their home.  Here is an update from Kristen.  In the update, there is information about an organization called CRASH that is based in Japan. Donations can be made by visiting this website or this website.

From Kristen:

Praying Friends,
10,000 missing people, but none that we know personally. A grandma of a friend is missing, others have been evacuated and are staying in school gym-type places. One of our kids expressed feeling guilty that we have food, water and warmth when others don't. A boarding student-friend asking "Why, God?" with intense worry for their recently evacuated family. Hearing talk of nuclear meltdown effects. Unsure what's rumor and what's true, but not panicking. Wanting our kids to see "fuel for worry" is Satan's ploy. God is our unshakable anchor. My cell phone warns us of an upcoming aftershock, and we huddle together as, about 30 seconds later, our home sways a little again. But it's less frequent. Elisa said that she awoke last night often feeling like she was swaying, and would glance at the dangling earrings on her earring-holder by her bed to see if they were swaying or not. Electricity is being conserved for the areas in greatest need, so there are some planned power-outages. We were surprised to see delivery man early this morning with a package from Cam's mom; he told us that he'd been stuck in downtown traffic till 5am... Japanese work-ethics. (It was fun timing for our kids.)

Yes - we all need your prayers. In one town in Miyagi, over half of the population is unaccounted for. Rescue efforts from South Korea and elsewhere are arriving. CRASH (Christian Relief Assistance Support and Hope) is coordinating church responses here, and we covet your prayers for them. JCCC is on stand-by. CRASH can receive gifts online through Horizon at So thankful for the calm environment that our school maintained for our children through the quakes. Trains are mostly running again, and the damage, though horrible, seems less than would be expected from the 5th worst earthquake since 1900, and 700 times stronger than Haiti's with a death toll of over 300,000.

The coming days will unfold further devastation for sure, though. 10,000 missing! Pray that the people of Japan would toss aside idols and empty materialism and fall on our knees before our Creator and loving Redeemer. Psalm 46 begins: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging." I see people cursing God in the comment area under English online news updates, as if they are higher than God, and totally miss the point that He is our Refuge! We cry "Why!" yet we are "still and know that He is God" (Psalm 46:10) and trust Him wholly.

Please don't just read this update, but draw near and talk to God with us! We are thankful for your prayers.

Cam, Kristen and kids thank you for sharing this update.  We are very glad that you are safe and we are so grateful that you are able to help in your community.  Thank you for being such servants and for sharing the resources that you have with those that are stranded.  Thank you most of all for sharing your faith.  We will continue to pray for you and those who you are helping.  CRASH looks like an amazing ministry.  We will spread the word.

So, to all of us who are eager to help Japan, here is the plan:

Pray and then give.  God hears our prayers and we can help!


Friday, March 11, 2011

To Our Dear Japanese Friends

When my phone rang early this morning, I knew something was wrong.  My mom called to ask me if I had heard the news about the earthquake and tsunami that had hit Northern Japan.  I instantly turned on my computer to check the news and then I felt sick.  We have so many sweet friends throughout Japan and a special place in our heart for the nation of Japan.

After a couple of hours of emailing, praying, and waiting we heard from some of our dear friends in Tokyo.  I am thankful to report that the Caughlin Family is doing well.

And in true Caughlin form, they are housing some students who were left stranded in Tokyo, as the trains are not operating at this time.  Cam and Kristen, you all are true servants. You are in our prayers as you minister to those around you.

Our dear, sweet friend, Ayumi, has been in contact with us as well.

She is stranded in Tokyo with her co-workers, but she is not hurt.  She has been able to communicate with most of her family.  However, she has not heard from her brother.  We are praying for Ayumi's family to be reunited soon.

We love you Yumi!!!  We are praying for you and your family!

We have been praying today for Nozomi and Towa as they await news on Nozomi's family members in Tokyo.  We miss you and love you!

And to all of our homestay students from Kobe, Osaka, Okinawa and Nagasaki - Asuka, Aya, Kasumi, Karen, and Yuki.  We are praying for you, your families, your friends, and that beautiful island nation of yours.

 To our precious friends in Osaka...

Akiyo, Masaki, Saeka, Haruka, Shigemi and all of the kids, we love you!

And Dan and Karen, as you pastor and minister to your hurting flock, please know that we are praying for you and that you are loved!

These are the names and faces of our Japanese friends that our hearts hold near and dear.  And even though we are literally across the world from each other, separated by land and sea, I know that we can pray with them and for them.  I know that God has them in the palm of His hand.  

The earth may shake and the seas may roll, but the God of the Universe will not be moved.  He is our  rock solid foundation! Our anchor!  Our everlasting Father in times of need!  



Thursday, March 10, 2011

We Are Not the Brady Bunch

We have six kids like the Brady Bunch, we have three boys and three girls like the Brady Bunch, we have a two story house like the Brady Bunch, we have a dog that I would like to ship to Siberia like the Brady Bunch, but unlike the Brady Bunch, we do not have a housekeeper named Alice (or any other name for that matter).

Tomorrow is cleaning day at our house.   The monkeys, Music Man and I (sans Alice) will be sweeping, scrubbing, and sweating until this place is squeaky clean.  Oh yes!

Even the littlest people in our family will be contributing to the clean-o-rama.

This kid loves the duster.  No one else is allowed to touch it on cleaning day. No one.

Cleaning days are happy days. Can you see the joy on this monkey's face. Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Music Man and I have always involved our kids in the process of cleaning our home.  When we all work together, the work usually goes faster.  Our monkeys get a sense of serving together as a team, instead of being served on the sidelines.

And though they might not always clean that toilet bowl quite as thoroughly as I would, it is okay because they are learning something far more important than potty purification.  They are learning responsibility.  They are practicing how to be good stewards, team players, contributing members of society.  It's all good!

And this...

This is very good.  I love seeing these two monkeys playing "train" together with the kitchen chairs all lined up.  It just warms my heart as I mop the floor.  Cinderella never had it so good.

Who needs Alice?



Muddy Buddy

It has been raining off and on here in Central Florida for the past 24 hours.  I love it!!! We needed it.

The little monkeys and I squeezed in some time at the park between rain showers.  The ground was soaked and it smelled so good outside.  Spring is here!

The littlest monkey saw a puddle and he just could not resist it. 

He ran through that puddle over and over until he was soaked through.

I think that he ran back and forth at least 500 times.

Sometimes he would stop and rest and then...

Back to work. 

Like a little wind up toy.

That's my boy!



Eating the Alphabet - Letter "D"

Letter "D" is for dates.  

No, not the hot dates with Music Man that I enjoy so much.

These dates...

These little babies pack a powerful sweet.  They are great right out of the container or...

Like this...

These, my friends, are little mounds of joy. 

 Almonds, coconut, chocolate and dates, oh my!

Here's how you can get some of this yummy goodness into your life.

Soak 12 dates in some water for one hour. Drain them, pit them and place them in a food processor.
Add 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut flakes, and a cup of soaked almonds.  Mix it all up. 

Form the mixture into small balls and roll the balls through some more unsweetened dry coconut flakes.

And there you have it. You try just eating only one.  You can't. Trust me.  And that is okay, because these are naturally sweetened, almond joy balls.

Yep, dates are great. 

Both types.



Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Laundry Fetish

My littlest monkey has a laundry fetish.

Come laundry day, this boy is "Johnny on the Spot", up front and center, ready for action.

First, he loads the dirty laundry in the washer.  Do not get in his way, because he will yell toddler obscenities at you.  He is on a mission. And you will either move or be moved.

I love the plumber's butt action in this shot.  It cracks me up.

After the laundry is loaded to his liking (which could include just one item of clothing or more and colors definitely go with whites), monkey boy asks me to pour in the soap.  Then he wants to, "Push the buttons, its goes beeps."

Well now, I would say that's a job well done for someone who is two. Wouldn't you?

My future daughter-in-law will thank me one day when she finds out just what a laundry stud this guy is.  First, I need to teach him how to sort the clothes though.  No one likes it when their skivvies turn pink in the wash.

Lovin' my little laundry boy,