Lumps of Life

— by Eliza

Sometimes there are bumps in the road and lumps in your life.

Raising children brings around plenty of mysterious bumps, bangs, and bruises. Some of those require ice others a bandaid while many go unnoticed and untreated because life just keeps going.

Many times the care of the bump is conditional of the audience and surroundings. Do we want to stop playing, do we want to wait at the doctor's office, do we want to give up our time doing something else to check the bumps and lumps? 

Not usually.

But sometimes we need to stop. We need to cry a little to clear out the eyes and release the adrenaline. We need a kiss to end the sting. We need a bandaid for out of sight out of mind.

And every once and awhile we need the doctor for a cream, stitches, or more thorough investigation.

Thanks to the great physician for providing care for the bumps and lumps of life. He knows there will be plenty whether they are physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. But in Him there is rest and peace.

Blood is Thicker than Water

— by Eliza

You’ve heard it said before that blood is thicker than water.

This saying reminds us of the bond we have with our blood family. We don’t choose family; those individuals are chosen for us. They are a gift from the Lord that cannot be given back. We learn from our grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and cousins. We are also protected and supported by them.

We said good bye to those teachers and guides when moving to the mission field. Despite the water separating us, the blood still binds us, and we communicate in various ways.

But we have been further blessed in the field by water that binds us with another family.

The family of Christ supports and teaches us here in its own way as well as filling the voids. It is through the baptismal waters and even the gracious blood of Christ that we have the gift of an even larger family. Our children have grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins here in this place.

No they are not blood relatives, but they are blood-and-water relatives.

We are fortunate that other missionaries come through Hong Kong regularly. Those people have opened their arms to our children. They’ve sat at our supper table listening to chatter about the latest read or newest lego creation. Those people have read a picture book or listened to a blooming reader on the comfort of our couch. They’ve kept watch as we all maneuver public transit or settle in the chairs of the sanctuary. They’ve sung the hymns of our church boldly with little voices.

And for all these things my children beam with joy when any of them visits because it is family gathering together united in the blood and water of the Lamb.

Because yes, Christ’s blood is thicker than water.

He Read My Bum Expression

— by Eliza M. Askins

I'm a mother of five. My clothing has evolved since dating and marrying my husband to mothering my children. What I once wore is not what I would choose today. 

I still have clothes from high school and college because they fit, and I don't like to get rid of things that aren't worn out. I've never been good at style or shopping for what's in at the time. I typically purchase solid, comfortable, and simple. When I attempt to branch out to color or stylish, I usually give it a second glance and think, “nope.” 

I've always wanted to fit in. I don't want to be the center of attention of show stopper. And yet, years ago, I bought comfy lounge pants with words written on the bum. At the time I probably didn't give it a second thought that people would be reading my bum. 

But, my son recently read my butt. 

He sounded the word out just the way I'd taught him. Taken a back, I realized that was the last time those pants would be worn. I don't want my children reading butts. 

We are bombarded daily with immorality and adultery. I recite regularly the Ten Commandments and their meanings with my babes. They know you shall not commit adultery means to lead a chaste and decent life. 

It starts with my example that they might learn too how to dress. So, it starts in my home with eliminating those types of clothing that I would not want my own children wearing. We have all sinned an gone astray, but my bum will not draw attention to itself in that way possibly causing even a little one to be tempted. 

Yes, my son was innocent and simply reading the world around him, but there are much greater works for him to read. And I'm not bummed about discarding the bum expression on pair of pants at a time. 

Yackety, Yack and Don't Talk Back

— by Eliza M. Askins

All loaded for an overnight trip. I even managed to pack lightly for the children and I myself. Everything was in one duffle bag with a little extra space. Everyone was buckled. Everyone had their chewy (crocheted square from grandma that is much easier to travel with instead of full blankets). Everyone excited to sleepover at an aunt and uncle’s house. 

We even left the house show-ready just in case someone called for a Sunday walk through. 

About ten miles out of town the sound and smell of vomit crept to the front of the van. 

The poor boy was green and tired. The others upon whiff requested bags also. Pull over, send back wipes and napkins, roll down window and turn A/C on full blast. Take a moment to regroup and turn back toward home. 

Disappointed that we won't see family, we scramble for dinner and try to keep kiddos separate so it doesn't spread. 

You see, I just told a toddler the night before, "don't yack on me, I don't handle puke up well." 

And yet, here I sit typing with the smell still lingering after hosing clothing, vacuuming a van, detailing a car seat, hounding children to keep their barf buckets with them, and ordering cheese pizza because I couldn't bear to serve everyone else the Mac N Cheese the sick one coveted. He picked it early in the week at the store with such excitement that he has to be allowed to enjoy it when he is well. 

Thanks be to God that this happened close to home. We were not miles away; we were not staying with someone we just met; we were not in a house with lots of someone else's children to infect; and we caught it before passing it to our own relatives. And so far, only one has fallen to the yack. 

So please yackety, yack and don't come back before the morning light.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

— By Eliza M. Askins

During my childhood I saw the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It was a cartoon meets real people simple mystery. They were trying to save ToonTown. I recall a scene in which a character whops another on the head with a cast iron skillet. 

More recently, Rapunzel in Tangled defends herself using a cast iron skillet. 

In my kitchen I have cast iron aplenty. I did not start cooking on it, but once I did there was no turning back. But cast iron serves a different purpose in these movies. 

It also serves a metaphorically different purpose for me. I am stubborn and slow to change. I've said more than once I need to be hit with the cast iron frying pan upon the head in order to help me see what changes must be made or what doors must be closed or opened. I've even prayed to be hit with the obvious so I would not make a mistake or doubt. 

It has happened on this journey. 

It started with the closing of a work from home job I started while my husband was in seminary. Little did we realize how it was taking my energies and patience from my children. Now with that one less responsibility I can focus my attentions on my nearest neighbors. 

While recapping the day tonight, my husband reminded me that we are 6 months in. What!?! 

Frying pan again. 

Time to get birth certificates for the younger three children so we can fill out passport paperwork. Just the other day, we hustled out of the house so a realtor could show it. We were told those who viewed it really liked the house. 

Another frying pan or maybe flame under foot to motivate to move things out. Time to gather boxes, bags, bins for donation. Time to snap photos of larger items to sell on line. Time to take out the "trash" we've accumulated. Whether this looking develops into an offer or not, the frying pan hit and movement needs to happen. 

In cartoons, they use real frying pans to catch someone's attention, and I too need something obvious at times to wake me up. I thank God that even if those frying pans are uncomfortable, He has sent them to help me on His way. I'm also grateful that He gives my husband patience with me until those frying pans hit. 

Welcome to our ToonTown. 

Faith in the Face of Trial

— by Eliza M. Askins

Luther writes,

The great art and power of faith consist in seeing that which is not seen and in not seeing that which is nonetheless felt, aye, which oppresses and depresses a person; just as unbelief sees only what it feels and does not at all like to cling to that which it does not feel. [This was the selected reading for July 9, 2015 through the Pray Now app.]

Faith is given through the Holy Spirit. It is not something we choose or earn. God chooses us and at the font calls us by name. He makes us clean in these waters by Christ's sacrifice on Calvary. Our Heavenly Father promises to provide in His time and by His means. 

It is through faith alone that we can get through the oppressions and depressions of daily life. Faith is not a feeling. It is not a pulling up of our boot straps. Faith is seeing that despite the “for sale” sign still on the lawn, the garage and many closets still full of stuff, the paperwork still to be completed, the questions still unanswered, all will be done in His time. I cannot see how it will all resolve itself before we are to board a plane, but it will. And though I might feel oppressed and depressed by the looming tasks and weight of change, through faith I receive peace.

The Million Dollar Question

— by Eliza M. Askins

With each stop and each encounter of sharing the work we are preparing to do in Asia, we are asked, "when do you leave, move, go, etc?"

Well, only the Lord knows.

And it is so hard to wait to go. It is hard to come home after days and weeks away to this house. It is hard to travel hours in a van. It is hard to meet new people week after week. It is hard to say goodbye to both the new and old friends we meet along the way. It is hard to be patient.

But, that is the cross we now bear.

Clock.jpg

We will leave when there are presentations and preaching scheduled. We will leave when someone calls to see the house. We will move from this house only when there is a buyer and a closing. Then, whatever we have will be sold or given away. Or a few things moved and tucked in a storage unit for the small shipping container we might send over the ocean.

We will go to Hong Kong only when the magic monetary number is reached and all the correct paperwork is processed and approved. We will leave, move, and go on the Lord's clock.

And this is not easy because it's a clock I cannot see.

The days pass by and the hours tick away, but I don't have a visual count down clock showing me when it is time to leave, move, or go.

And in that I realize, God has to be in control. Only He can raise this amount of money. Only He can sell this house in which a traveling family of seven still lives with all their possessions and limited time and energies for home improvements beyond the day to day routines and up-keep. Only He can cross all the T's and dot all the i's according to His time.

So, the answer to the million dollar question, only the Lord knows when. So, I'm leaving, moving, and letting go because I am not in control. But, finally in this I'm acknowledging who is in control and trusting the Lord. 


1. I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus, Trusting only Thee; 
Trusting Thee for full salvation, Great and free. 

2. I am Trusting Thee for pardon; At Thy feet I bow,
For Thy grace and tender mercy Trusting now. 

4. I am trusting Thee to guide me; Thou alone shalt lead, 
Ev'ry day and hour supplying All my need. 

LSB 729:1–2, 4


Never Say Never: One Day You Will Drive a 12-Passenger Van and Enjoy It!

— by Eliza M. Askins

Before I was married, I vowed never to buy a grocery-getter station wagon. As young parents, we said, "never will we own a mini-van."

And then we were expecting child number 4. Now, I can't imagine driving anything else. Where would we put all the water bottles and sippy cups? How would all the car seats fit? How would I buckle or unbuckle the car seats if I could fit them?

But, I've said time and time again, nothing bigger than the mini-van. We bought an 8 passenger mini-van and should have enough space, right? Now while building our support network, we have been driving a 12-passenger Ford Transit. And yes, we have both swallowed our words and decided that if we were staying in the States, our next vehicle would be one of these.

Except, we'd have cruise control and more cup holders.

The space is great; even with three weeks of stuff, we can see out of the back window. There is a seat between children to prevent the he's-touching-me bellows. It rides smooth and gets great gas mileage. We can even take others with us along our travels. Wanna come too?

Kiddos in the Ford Transit 350

Kiddos in the Ford Transit 350

A Cast of Characters: Septimus Heap, Jenna and Niko, Benny the Jet, Luke, Leah and Vader

— by Eliza M. Askins

We've packed toys, books, colors, papers, worksheets, and more to entertain the children as we travel.

WHY? 

Their imaginations and life experiences are entertainment enough. As we roll down the road, we listen to audio books. When we stop, the children play on the playground calling each other by the names of characters in the books and pretending the play structures are the settings of the stories.

Mathias's feet needed new kicks as his toes were squished. We decided it was time for laces instead of Velcro. He ended up with Converse high-tops. Who is he now? Benny the Jet from The Sandlot. He will out pickle the beast as in these shoes he can run faster and jump higher.

When they do have a chance to watch a movie, they all request StarWars. Later you hear them call to Leah, Luke, and more running from Vader as they play inside and out. Legos, blocks, cars, playgrounds are areas for StarWars to come to life. Who needs store bought toys, they have God's given creativity?

They are Children

— by Eliza M. Askins

Please remember, they are just children. They did not choose to move across the ocean. They did not choose to sell or give away their toys, books, and stuffed animals. They did not ask to spend hours in a vehicle. They did not ask to sleep in a different house or hotel every other night. Yet, this is now their life.

They do ask, "Where are we going next? Can we go to a park or playground? Will you play a game with me? Will you read to me? When will be home? Can I have this or that or do I still have this or that at home?"

And in all this, I must remember they are just children.

They need hugs, kisses, and snuggles. They need routine. They need rest. They need to run, play, and laugh. And when these things are missing, they will in time act out and possibly misbehave.

They are children given to me by God, and I am called to love them unconditionally as He first and still loves me. May the Lord grant me patience and strength to allow my children just to be children.

Homeschool to Roadschool

— by Eliza M. Askins

I like routine and order. I like plans and lists to check off what has been accomplished.

Yet, schooling has always been an organizational and accomplished challenge for me. I put off routine because, when we first moved to Livingston, none of my children were of official school age.

Old habits die hard.

I fell into pushing school aside for housework, children playing, or outings with friends not to mention pregnancy or newborn babies arriving. I realized the need to buckle down and focus, but still struggle being consistent. It frustrates me a little to set out on the road and not be in one place to set up school.

Eva Maria and Ronan caramelize bananas with cousin Lauren.

Eva Maria and Ronan caramelize bananas with cousin Lauren.

However, in each place we stop, my children are learning, and I'm not always the teacher. Eva Maria was reading a reading workbook for context. This reading led to great-grandparents teaching and showing about both wheat and record players.

A cousin shared experiments of bubbles and caramelized bananas. Other cousins shared laps for stories and led physical explorations up and around mountains. Family history was both shared and made in these long days. 

We've gone from homeschool to roadschool.