Friday, January 20, 2017

Tales from Taiwan #19


Dear sisters,

The other day I woke up and realized that I couldn't open my eyes!  With much effort, I managed to pry one eye open and stumble around the room to get ready for the day, praying that my other eye would open soon.  When it still wouldn't open 30 minutes later, my teammate came to the rescue and taught my class as the school nurse tried to help me.  Long story short, I ended up in the eye doctor's office and found out that my eyes had become inflamed and irritated because I had worn contacts too long the day before!  The eye doctor finally got my eye to open after applying some medicine.

I came back to the school, feeling slightly silly at having to go to the doctor just because I wore contacts too long the day before but then I realized something - my team came to the rescue when I needed it.  I'm so thankful to have these two ladies serving with me and that day really highlighted how the body of Christ works.  We need each other!  My eye couldn't see so my one teammate used her hands to lead me to the car.  I couldn't teach my class so my other teammate stepped in and did it for me.  That day leaves me feeling grateful for how God put us together to serve and love each other.

When it's functioning properly just like a healthy body should, the body of Christ is a beautiful thing to behold.

Just like at my local church, they serve us by providing English translation for the service.  Sure, my Chinese is a lot better now but I'm still not fluent and sometimes need the extra help to understand what the pastor is preaching on.  It's something I can't do myself - I need someone else to translate for me.  This is the body of Christ.  We rely on each other and help each other.  We are there to support, pray and encourage.

So this week, I pray that God will continue to open your eyes to how you can be a working part of the body of Christ.  Not only that but how you can be open to others helping you.  Give and receive, sisters, that's the secret to joyful living.

Give and receive.

For Him in Taiwan,
Joanna

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Movie Review: Alone Yet Not Alone

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Title: Alone Yet Not Alone
Rating: PG-13

How it rates (1=lowest, 5=highest): 5

Produced by: Enthuse Entertainment

Synopsis:  From the movie website:  Seeking religious freedom in America, a devout Christian family from Germany settles in the peaceful Pennsylvania colony - only to find themselves caught in the crossfire of the French & Indian War.  Following a merciless raid on their settlement, daughters Barbara and Regina are abducted, separated, then raised by their Delaware captors in the harsh Ohio wilderness.  Now, only their devotion to each other and faith in the Lord can lead them through  their darkest hours and back to freedom in this inspirational true story.
Language:  None.

The Good: There's so much good about this movie I'm not sure where to start.  The movie is true to history, showing the struggles of the French and Indian War in a realistic way.  The Leininger family is shown as a caring and loving family.  Faith in Christ is the strength  that Barbara and Regina turn to in their distress.
The Bad: The movie is based on a true story about one family in the 18th century as they face death, abuse and kidnapping.  The movie doesn't hide this, so please be cautious about kids watching it, as it may be too much for them to take and understand.  
 The Spiritual:  Joni Eareckson Tada sings the theme song of the movie and if you haven't heard it yet, see it here!  The fact that it's a true story and portrays Barbara and Regina's faith in Jesus in a beautiful way is inspiring.  Their parents taught them well growing up, pointing them to the Book so that when they are kidnapped, their faith in Christ is secure.  They know that though it feels like they are alone, they aren't really alone.
The Verdict:  I grew up reading Alone Yet Not Alone by Tracy Leininger Craven, descendant of Barbara and Regina.  Their incredible story of believing they weren't alone because God was with them is one that greatly encouraged me in my faith in Christ.  To see the trailer and find out more, check out the movie's website!
-- by Joanna Suich, Bloom! writer

Monday, December 26, 2016

Bible Plans for 2017

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It's almost 2017 and that means it's a great time to reflect on your Bible reading plans for the new year.  We thought it would be helpful if we reposted this list from last year of reading plans offered by three different ministries. Take a look below and pray about how the Lord would have you study His Word in this new year.

Bible Gateway:

Bible Gateway offers many different Bible reading plans (including these below) that they will send to your email daily:

- OT and NT in the NIV version, 365 days.  Readings sent daily to your email.
- OT and NT in the KJV version, 365 days.  Readings sent daily to your email.
- NT in the NIV version, 365 days.  Readings sent daily to your email.

Ligonier Ministries:

Ligionier Ministries, a ministry of RC Sproul, offers all the following Bible reading plans via PDF (plus more on their website):

- 365 days, each day of the week dedicated to a different genre of the Bible
- 5x5x5 plan - read through the NT in a year, Monday through Friday.
- chronological plan
- 4 readings plan - Psalms and  Wisdom Literature; Pentateuch and History of Israel; Chronicles and Prophets; and Gospel and Epistles.
- Historical plan - read through the Bible in the historical line-up.
- Straight through plan - read through the Bible starting at Genesis and finishing in Revelation.
- a Bible reading chart

ESV Bible:

The great thing about the ESV Bible website is that they offer their plans via email, mobile, RSS and more.  They have 12 different Bible reading plans, including these three:

- Chronological
- Daily Reading Plan - daily readings in OT, NT, and the Psalms
- Through the Bible in a year

We pray that as you read God's precious Word in 2017, that you will draw even closer to Him.  May you experience His presence and guidance now and always, girls, as you delve into the Bible!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas favorites

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It's almost Christmas Day and we thought it would be fun and encouraging to share some questions and answers from several of our Bloom! staff about Christmastime!  Enjoy!

Victoria:

What's your favorite Christmas tradition and why?

The Christmas Eve service at our church.  It's special to me because we sing Christmas carols together and we light each other's candles and sing "Silent Night" at the end.  This is often a time when the reality of Jesus' birth sets in.

Share with us a favorite Christmas movie or song and why you love it.

One of my favorite Christmas songs is "O Holy Night."  It's awesome because the chorus calls people to remember the holiness of Jesus' birth and to still realize the specialness of each Christmas that follows.

Joanna:

How do you focus on Christ during Christmas, especially when it's so easy to get caught up in the festivities?

Service!  Just as we talked about recently, I try to keep Christ the center of Christmas when I remember to serve others just as He did.  I find that if I start focusing on myself and what I need or want, my attention drifts and suddenly, I realize that I'm being self-focused and selfish!  Definitely not what I want at Christmastime (or anytime, for that matter!).  So I've found that the best way to make sure I celebrate Jesus, His amazing faithfulness and goodness in my life is to make sure I'm outwardly focused, putting others' needs above my own.

Emily:

How do you focus on Christ during Christmas, especially when it's so easy to get caught up in the festivities?

In my family, our Bible study revolves around the prophecy of Christ's birth as well as His birth during the month of December. Another wonderful way to stay focused is by having a daily advent service with your family. Advent is a big part of my family's Christmas season.

Share with us a favorite Christmas movie or song and why you love it.

I absolutely love, "While You Were Sleeping" by Casting Crowns. The song speaks such truth about the first and second coming of Christ. While it is a sad statement of humanity, it is a statement that needs to be heard. Check it out here! Will we be sleeping?

Ladies, may you be blessed and refreshed as you celebrate Jesus - all that He's done and Who He is - this Christmas.  We'll be back soon with more!

Merry Christmas!
Joanna, Megan, Krista, Emily & Victoria

-- from Christmas 2014 but still holds true today!