Saturday, June 25, 2011

Comfort in dreams

It's amazing how dreams work.  

Most of my life, I have had "inspirational" dreams we'll say. Dreams that have not made sense at the time but have helped out later in life. Dreams that I feel were a gift from God. Dreams that informed me of something to come. Dreams that I could do nothing about but wait and watch for them to happen. 

Some dreams have woken me up from a dead sleep - the kind where you have to catch your breath as you jolt awake and are finally sitting up in bed. Some dreams have been peaceful and happened while I was fully awake (these visions are different, but still from the Lord). I have "regular" dreams too - the kind that no one can understand, the kind where you're flying. Sometimes I have nightmares. These types are different than the rest of the "telling" dreams that I have. I can usually tell a difference when I have one that means something.

I know we're getting into weird stuff here, but when your whole life is filled with weird stuff like this it really becomes less weird.

Regularly weird begins to equal normal. 


Here are some of my "telling" dreams:

I had a dream about my children before I was married. My doc told me I probably couldn't have kids (I never told many people). The Lord gave me a dream about a little blond haired boy (about age 2) sitting on my lap while I was pregnant with a little redheaded girl (I could see her in the womb in this dream). Voila!  In reality I have my two kiddos, Ethan my blond haired boy when he was a toddler & Claire my very redheaded girl. 

I had a dream about meeting my husband. In the dream he was tall with very long brown hair. In reality, when we met he had longer hair than mine - past his shoulders. (Don't worry, I didn't tell him about the dream until after we were married.)

Dreams I've had, have called me to Africa. More than just dreams, of course, have called me there, but the dreams confirmed it - even directed parts of it. Dreams that I'll understand better way in the future when I am there. 

I have moments when I know something is wrong with my family when we are miles apart - not always, but several times I have known to call and check on them. Sure enough they'll had something major going on. 

No. I am not clairvoiant - I can not predict the future. So don't ask me to. God really just tells me certain things to help me through it or to have me pray.

God wakes me up to pray for people. My friend went into labor early once and had a long (24hrs) hard labor. God woke me up in the middle of the night to pray for her time of labor. All went well finally. 

I've been woken up by a dream about an car accident in my neighborhood only to actually hear the accident happen 10-15 minutes after waking. I was already praying. No idea how it worked out, but I know I did what He wanted me to. 

I've had a dream (months ago) about my dad going to heaven. My dad looked young (about 20) and so happy in heaven. He looked so healthy and handsome. He wanted to let me know he was alright. The dream was happy and made me sad when I woke up, but it gave me a HUGE peace. In reality, my dad is fighting terminal cancer (without treatments - just vegetarian organic diet & no sugars). He's in his 10th month of a one year prognosis. He also has major heart problems. (Today he's in the hospital for chest pain - so far all is ok).  All of our days are numbered and only God knows how many for each of us. 

Today, I had another dream. I never know when I have a dream if they are one of those dreams.  Will it come to pass? Who knows. I just wait and keep living life in the mean time. Sometimes I forget about the dream until it comes to pass and I am oddly reminded like that very strong kind of  deja vu  feeling (By they way, deja vu is French for "already seen").  

So in today's dream I received an email, letting me know that my dad had finally lost his battle and went on to be with the Lord. In the dream it seemed like it was way in the future. There were some people there that I did not know but we had a mutual missionary friend. I will not share who was in the dream, but one thing I will share is this song that we were singing as I was reading the news about my dad in this dream:


In Him We Live And Move

by Randy Speir

In Him we live and move
And have our being
In Him we live and move
And have our being

Make a joyful noise
Sing unto the Lord
Tell Him of your love
Dance before Him
Make a joyful noise
Sing unto the Lord
Tell Him of your love

© 1981 Integrity�s Hosanna! Music 
Strange song to be singing in a dream about your
dad dying, right? No. It made sense to me. 
It brought joy & peace. 

I know that it is only through 
God that we even have our being here. The 
celebrating in the song is thankfulness for the 
gift of life that He shares with us - the eternal 
life that will continue when we are in heaven dancing 
before Him. Why not dance now? 
Dance because He's with us.

It's crazy, I know. It's just a dream. 
I will REALLY miss my dad 
when the time comes, but I have more peace now.
These dreams have brought some comfort.

I wanted to write all this 
to be able to look back at the song whenever
that fateful day occurs. 

I'll look back to remember 
all the tough things God 
has walked me through.
I am never alone.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Incredible boy!

The Parr family. From left to right: Elastigirl, Mr. Incredible, Violet and Dash. Bottom: Jack-Jack.

Picture thanks to Wikipedia & Pixar 2004 Movie The Incredibles.

I think this movie is so fun! Definitely a great "grown-up movie." We're waiting for the kids to be a bit older before letting them watch it again.

Anyway, the point of bringing up this movie is to because I really would like for someone to invent that indestructible sort of clothing/shoes that the character Dash requires since he creates an enormous amount of friction. Seriously! Can someone help us out with something like that?

Ethan loves to be on the move. He's bright and full of energy that I'd love to bottle. He's my incredible boy!

This school year we've gone through two pairs of sneakers (ok, well, three since we designated one for church).  This last pair got some good use but lasted maybe only 3-4 months. Take a look.

Yes that's light shining through. No it hasn't been this way for a long time. 
My boy is incredible for sure! Always on the move. Even when he's reading. Home school at work for the active brilliant types.

Yes, reading upside down is allowed at our house. Fun!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Taffy, anyone?

France is a wonderful place.

Yummy food! I once told Brent I'd move here just for the food. And voila! Here we are.

Oh, and it is gorgeous! Mountains and natural beauty everywhere.
Prettily dressed people too - a la mode. O la la!

Not to mention a beautiful language - it really is romantic and so nice on the ears!

So, yeah, France is GREAT!

I expect Africa to be hard.  
Sometimes... I really don't want to go - there I said it.

No running water, no electricity unless we make our own solar electric. No church among "our" people group. Hard life yet to come, perhaps? Can count on it.

This is what a local "nice" kitchen looks like in our future African location. That's right, no sink.

When I look at the problems
Instead of His face,
That's when I think Africa will be hard.

So, yeah I expect Africa to be hard at times. It's a bit of a roller coaster for me. Some days I am so excited about finally getting to the mission field. Finally getting to start in ministry that I have been called to since I was 14 years old. Some days, though, I freak out about the unknown... and then there are days when I am totally secure again, able to rest in the grace that God will give for those unknowns. Well, with something as big as Africa in the future, I never quite imagined that a year in France would be hard at all. I mean, come on, it's a first world country right, how hard can that be?!

I never expected for this place to be hard.

France, This grand European land - hard. Ahh, but it is hard at times. Or maybe it's that God is allowing me to be stretched so it's not as hard on me when we get to Africa. Or maybe Africa will be harder but by then I will have learned how to Trust Him.

He purposes what the world means for evil and turns it to good. Believe it. (Talking to myself here, but if it helps you- then great!)

Stretching...  Like taffy.

Oh, I remember this one brand of taffy when I was a kid: Laffy Taffy.
Delightful because it is stretchy and still sweet. I used to play with it a bit (I was a kid after all). You can make just about anything out of something that flexible.

Stretching times give me a choice:

Get hurt, retreat, and become bitter, hard.


Learn a lesson, keep going, and
Grow by staying soft (flexible)
And sweet... knowing He's there for me through hard times and will gently help me up, hold me in the palm of His hands - LOVE me through it.

I wanna be Taffy.
Help me, Lord. It's not easy.

Things I did not expect about living in France that God might just be using to help me work through Trust issues:

Feeling lost while using public transit - we're talking panic attacks - feeling helpless.

Making hard choices about important things - time away from family while the kids are young.

Time away from dad who is diagnosed with terminal cancer and has heart problems.

Time away from my home church - No easy access to times of refreshment in the Lord (I have to seek Him myself -brilliant! thought I had a handle on that one though). No church here in my heart language. (Hmm. Motivation for working in Africa, but a hard lesson).

Rough times when your child is sick and you don't know the language well. Trying to figure out scarey things on our own (don't worry we're fine).

So, yes, I feel the pain of the stretch. I am tempted to be bitter sometimes and some days when I break down in tears I think about giving up. If I do that who wins?
Then when I realize I can not do it on my own, the strength comes!
All these trials and all those to come will be worth it one day - maybe I'll only see it in eternity, but it will not be in vain.
This is Why I keep on keepin' on. 

There are really awesome things that I didn't expect about my time here too:

Encouragement from unexpected places - Look out for Veggie Tales - they've spoken to me in my time of need more often than I can count (and I've seen these a hundred times before with my kiddos!)

Nice French people who make you feel welcome, befriend you, and work with your inability to speak the language.

Help from strangers while traveling (multiple strangers helping foreigners - only God can orchestrate that!)

Inspiration and encouragement from my hubby when I would have expected him to be disappointed in my lack of faith.

Realizing I'm not alone. Realizing there are believers everywhere - and they glow in dark places. So amazing how bright it seems when we gather together in Christ.

Thanks God, for stretching me a bit. I know you have a plan for even the things the enemy means to use against me. Thanks for Your goodness. Let me remain sweet & stretchy like Taffy. May I never become hard or sour.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Homeschool Fun - Counting Activity for little ones

We're trying to teach Claire how to count & she's got 1-5 down, but beyond that it's fuzzy for her. What can you say! She's just turned three in February. She's doing great. She picks up on a ton of things we might not even notice, but numbers? Not yet.

Here's a fun tactile tool we're using now:
Egg Crate Counting.

I learned this from someone else, but can't remember who (sorry & thank-you!). You put numbers in the bottom of the egg crate and let the little one fill them up with the right amount of items (dry beans, popcorn kernels, buttons, etc.). An older one can count correctly for them while the younger drops in each item being counted.

In France we can get eggs in a crate of ten (not 12) and that just happens to be perfect for what we want her to learn! Since the egg carton is clear, I used colored dots stickers (the kind you can find at an office supply store- they are useful for so many things!) to help the number show up. It worked nicely because I was able to use one color for the first 5 numbers and another color for the next set of 5. Once she learns the basics, we might just have to get a set of 18 or 30 eggs. :-)  Here's some pics:

Family fun - bonding over math! Counting basics 1-10.

Putting one kernel in 1, two kernels in 2, three kernels in 3, etc.
You can also just put one in each number slot and then dump them out and count them up at the end. 

She did great up to 6 this time! We'll keep working on the others as long as she enjoys it.

Homeschool Management - Organized School Books

Organizational Tip/Activity: (good for the kids and my sanity!):

Let's face it, life at home runs better when it's a bit organized (I know some of you are cringing!) and when there's less visual clutter.  At least life runs better in my home this way. *smile*

Well, for each school year, there are a ton of books that come from Sonlight (this is the curriculum we plan to use in Africa - it's easy to mix with other things, so we've heard - you can find the link at the bottom to see for yourself).


To keep the chaos to a minimum, we color-coded our books (another helpful home school tip I learned from a Sonlight mom). This helps us keep track of books we're currently using and ones we're done with for the year.

It helps keep clutter at bay when the kids can easily help put things away.

The kids can even help put the stickers on. This is where those lovely dot stickers (pictured above in the egg crate counting game) come in handy. You can get them in a lot of colors. If you want to do more than maybe 6 colors you might consider using the white dots and having your kids color them certain colors - we put clear tape over all the dots to help them stick to the book binding.

Here's How To Label Your Books:
Each reading level (or grade level) gets it's own color sticker with the grade number on it. At the end of the year, if the next child is not using that level, you put all the grade 2 books in a grade 2 box, for example, for storage until the next child reaches grade/level 2.

Our  Level 1 (basic little kids read to me books/ just learning to read books) ended up with a yellow sticker.

Our Level 2 (I can read for myself but might need help books) ended up with a blue sticker.

Our Level 3 (I can read simple chapters books) ended up with a red sticker.

And so on... You decide what categories work for you.

This color coding helps the little kids be able to help put books back in the right place too. They don't need to know numbers to help put books back on the shelf. They just put the yellow dotted ones in the same spot and the red dotted ones next to other red dotted ones. It's great! Here's a pic of some of ours. 
This might sound overboard for some, but if you literally end up with hundreds of books - it helps!

Disclaimer: The books pictured above are not from Sonlight. We started labeling our own collection and had it done when the box of Sonlight books arrived so it wasn't as overwhelming. This idea of color-coding books could work well for any library for home-schooling though.

If you want to see what Sonlight is like you can check it out for yourself:

We have not started the curriculum yet - two years worth of it, for each kid, is already packed for Africa (ready to go into our shipping container)! We got lots of recommendations for this one from fellow missionaries.

Homeschool Management - Easy Labeling Tip

Easy Labeling Tip: (stop the squabbling over home school tools)

Our kids need to feel a special ownership over their home school items. Kids who leave the house for school have special stuff (backpack, pencils, lunch box, etc.) why not home schoolers too?

Well, someone a long time ago on a blog shared with us a nice way to help our kids feel a sense of ownership and keep track of their items too. It involves colored electrical tape. Bizarre, I know - but it works.

(Again, sorry and thank-you to whoever came up with this. I'm going to start paying attention to who writes what in order to give credit on my blog.)

Each kid gets their own color tape (we bought ours at a home improvement store in the States).  Every school item, pencil, tape, scissors, notebooks, etc. gets a strip of their colored tape. They learn their color and recognize their items around the house. They feel happy to see their color and know it belongs to them. It really helps with squabbles over whose is whose too.

Claire's color is purple - This is her pencil.

For older kids, there's the possibility of building even more responsibility for their items when the items need to be monetarily redeemed from the Lost & Found basket. If an item is laying around, it gets picked up by a parent and put away in the the L&F basket. When the child finds he/she needs it, they have to pay a nickel to get it back. Our kids are not old enough for this yet, and we have not yet introduced ways for them to earn money, but when they are older we might try this. For now, we simply say, "It has your color, you are responsible to put it away".

Homeschool Fun - Tactile Tracing

Tracing Activity: (for the tactile learner)

We're working on tracing capital letters. Introducing one a week. Younger kids are not ready to write yet, but you can begin to work their smaller fine motor skills muscles by tracing in a large space. (Play-dough is good to build those muscles too.)

You can have them trace one letter that takes up a whole sheet of paper or have them trace it with their finger in a pan of sand. We use rice, because it's on hand. Here's a pic of Claire tracing over the letter "N," that I made, with her finger. 

Homeschool Fun - Heart Chart Lessons in Virtues

The kids are learning a lot. Ethan goes to French pre-K to learn French (and they are teaching him French cursive!) and he seems to be doing great. Claire is completely home-schooled (she's 3 and will go to French pre-K in September to learn some French too, but we might just do a half-day). She's currently learning the letter "M" and is starting to recognize some numbers and letters here and there. I'm so proud of my kiddos! They are so curious and excited to make friends. They had very little adjustment to work through in coming to France. Praise the Lord!

So this is my first entry about some of our homes school projects or ideas. I want to remember them and maybe others can profit from these posts too. I like to be creative and think I have some capability, but really I don't have a ton of time to invent new things for the kids to do, so I quickly search things online (using my creative juices to choose good projects). A lot of what we do, I've borrowed - I can not take credit for it.

This first one comes from the Women Living Well Blog (I have a button for it on my site - check it out!).

So a Heart Chart is a way to track your child's progress pertaining to a certain virtue. I made a grid by using colored electrical tape on a dry erase board.

Our virtue last month was Kindness. They had to work together as a team. If they were kind (polite, helpful, caring) they could earn a heart that they would draw in one of the squares on the dry erase marker board. If they were mean or rude, they would lose a heart. By the end of the month, they filled the chart and earned their reward. They got to choose what kind of ice cream pops they wanted.

Claire age 3 & Ethan age 5 (almost 6).

This month we are working on Obey Right Away. It might be a long month, but it will be worth the effort. We're in the process of sculpting souls. Ministering to my kids is important - it is well worth the effort.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

BIG Need for Ministry - Vehicle for Africa

Here's something to add to your prayer lists:

The Brollier fam is in need of a serious vehicle for when we arrive in Africa.

Actual photo from in "our" country

We'll need it travel between villages to get supplies and to travel up country to the capital (a 2-3 day drive because of the roads and the distance) for branch meetings three times a year. Part of our traveling in country is made hard by heavy rains and pot holes the size of hippos and trucks! (No kidding! You'll get to see pics).

We have asked our branch what they recommend for such travel, and they gave us a serious answer.

We will need a 4-Wheel Drive Vehicle which we're estimating will cost close to $50,000. 

This is a big need, but God can meet our needs in whatever way He sees fit. 

I know you're thinking, "Why does it cost so much?"
We need a reliable vehicle - one that won't break down much. We're not mechanics & we don't want to get stuck out in the bush in between our village town and the capital. That means we need to buy a new vehicle - not a used one. Something kinda like this:

Our branch leadership also requires us to have some very specific features for this vehicle:

- a snorkel (pipe pictured above - helps the engine can breathe when we drive through high water during rainy season)

- a winch (a crank with line to help pull the vehicle out of mud when we get stuck - we're told we will)

- space for enough gas (spare tank) to make the full trip to the capital because there are fuel shortages in country.

- a 12 seater to fit our family (4) and possibly other teammates (2+). The remaining fold down seats will be space for cargo crates that we'll bring from the shipping port up in the capital. (These crates contain our set-up supplies for getting our African style house live-able and workable: pipes, wiring, solar panels, battery cells etc.)

Our family & teammates in the 1st two rows - cargo for the rest

In addition to these features, we will need to include in our fund raising, customs fees/ taxes for importing such a vehicle from Japan.

Since the vehicle will be coming from Japan, we need to get a jump on raising support to have this vehicle pass customs and be in country waiting for us when we arrive late Spring 2012. The branch expects there to be some delay with imports from Japan because of the recent devastation from the tsunami. They regularly estimate at least 4-5 months to get the vehicle in country so that means we need to place the order well in advance of our arrival.

Although Brent & I grew up in Assemblies of God churches (AoG), we can not benefit from the Speed-the-Light Vehicle program because we are not AoG ordained missionaries. We are commissioned to serve with Pioneer Bible Translators (PBT) and we're required to raise funds for a field vehicle before departure for the field.
On the road  (no it's not a river) to our village town

Will you pray with us for God to move this mountain? 

Will you pray for provision... like only He can provide...

For something that's seemingly out of our reach?  
He is able & He is amazing!

Please PRAY that God would provide for this need.

If you'd like to donate
towards our PBT Africa Vehicle Fund...

Checks can be made out to PBT 
And mailed to our Stateside forwarding agents:   
 M & C Shell
 1502 NE 11th Terrace
 Cape Coral, FL 33990 USA

To Donate Online Right Now,
Scroll Up & Click on the yellow Donate Now button on the Left and...
  Select "Projects" and
 Choose "Brollier Vehicle"

We know that not everyone can give, but
  Everyone can pray. 
We know that your prayers make a huge difference because PRAYER is POWERFUL!
Thank You for Praying with Us!!!!!

Actual pics from trucks stuck in the roads in country


The unpaved road on a good dry day

More roads in country

Holes the size of Hippos (spans the entire bottom of this pic)

Please consider being an advocate for us - share this need with your friends and your church. Thanks again for praying!

Traditional French Lunch

We had the opportunity to be invited over for lunch after church by some French friends who have children the same age as ours. It was a delightful day & we were so excited that they extended an invitation to us since they know we do not speak a ton of French yet.

The day was lovely! Traditionally if you are invited for lunch, you should plan on spending the whole afternoon. We read up on what it could be like before we arrived. We made sure to bring a gift since that was recommended. That was interesting to try to figure out. It's recommended that if you bring wine, you bring a good French wine. We're not wine experts so we avoided bringing wine. It's recommended that if you bring flowers you bring an odd number but not 7 or 13, and also certain flowers signify different things and so do their colors. We avoided bringing flowers too. It's safe to bring chocolates, and I was comfortable with the idea of bringing a dessert, though I did not want to show up my hostess if she had prepared one. So we brought fancy chocolate tea cookies (biscuits) and some Disney character chocolate or strawberry filled cakes (reminded me of twinkies) for the kids. Turns out we picked a good thing to bring. They were a hit with the kids and the adults. :-)

So the main idea of a meal is not just good food. In France the idea is to sit and talk and taste and talk some more. It was fabulous! We started at about noon and finished the day with our friends at 6pm. The first course was an apertif, or pre-dinner drink. It was some sort of hard liquor, maybe Vermooth (I don't even know how to spell that!). We sat sipping this strong drink while talking and munching on pistachios and chips (pronounced: sheeps). Then the kids were called in for the meal and we sang & clapped a prayer.
It went something like this (pardon my spelling and lack of accent marks):

Le pain de hier etait dur. (Yesterday's bread is hard.)
Le pain de demain n'est pas cuit. (Tomorrow's bread is not yet cut.)
Merci Pere, pour le pain d'ajourd'hui. (Thank you Father for the bread of today.)

Then they poured water into one cup and wine into another and we all toasted: A votre sante! (To your health.) All French people, including Christians, have wine with meals. It would almost be unheard of to not have wine with a meal. Wine is used for communion and at the potluck meals at church too. It takes some getting used to.

There was a delicious chicken and a special regional potato and cheese dish for the main course followed by bread and three types of cheeses and then a salad (which is traditionally just lettuce with a dijon mustard dressing).  We spent lots of time talking and laughing, and stumbling over our French. It was great and they were so patient. After dessert, strawberries with chantilly cream (whipped cream), we went to the lake. They drove us out to the lake near Chambery simply because they had asked if we had ever been and we had not -what hospitality! The lake was stunning with the Alps in the background. I wish we had brought our camera. It's the largest natural lake in Europe. The weather was perfect and the water was cool. Our kids loved it! When we came back we had icepops. I'm pretty sure the evening would have continued but Claire suddenly started feeling ill (the start to her flu), so we went home. We plan on having our French friends over for an American experience soon. :-)

We were so glad to be able to experience this so that we could prepare a traditional meal kind of like it for our friends who visited from the States.

More Likes - for Laura

Here's another simple list (in no particular order) of things I like...

1. Stain glassed windows
2. Medieval flags
3. Riding my bicycle
4. Eating a meal outside in the cool of the evening ( in a garden - even better)
5. Watching really FUNNY movies with friends and quoting lines afterwards
6. Playing yahtzee or cards with my kids
7. Eating fresh baked pastries (croissants, baggette, chocolate chip cookies!)
8. Buying news songs that I love on ITunes
9. Good old time music (Sinatra, Fitzgerald, Armstrong, 50's, 60's - things that remind me of time with my dad) and black and white movies (The Thin Man series, Arsenic and Old Lace, Casablanca)
10. Sewing on a sewing machine or by hand (makes me feel creative like my grandma and mom)

The following, I only tried once so far but absolutely LOVED each one:
1. Riding horseback
2. Making pottery
3. Archery
4. Canoeing
5. Camping
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