Re-Implementing Circle Time

Values-Driven Family was pretty quiet during our time in Kenya, and I’ve been thinking on what to write here, since we’ve been back in the States again since February of last year (2021).

The transition back to Indiana went as good as it possibly could, and we are so thankful for God’s grace in that. Just about concurrent with our landing in Indiana was purchase of property in Kentucky (also only God!), where we had hopes to build. Suffice it to say, that went much more quickly than we ever could have anticipated, thanks to the hard work of Marc and the children, financial provision from the Lord, and the willing and amazing help, generosity, and prayers of many, many brethren over many months.

We have been in Kentucky now for 4 months! When we moved in, the house was still somewhat unfinished, so we’ve been working on many different projects while trying to school and manage Carrier Family Doodles. God is good, and we are thankful.

One thing that I have wanted to do upon returning to the States is to re-establish our beloved “Circle Time” as a daily routine, especially with our Littles. We were pretty hit-or-miss while in Kenya for a number of reasons, and, while I have some regret about that, I also realize that regret doesn’t change things. I have to deal with the reality that is, rather than hope for an ideal that may not manifest. While I have still not been perfect in my goal of having a daily Circle Time, we have been consistent enough that I see the benefits once again and am grateful for what the Lord has done through it.

We’re also returning to the “Core Values” with our younger children, which has been an absolute blessing. The Core Values (faith, surrender, love faithfulness, wisdom, self-control, righteousness, holiness, humility, generosity, and praise) gave our older children such a solid foundation in character and in faith, as we consistently emphasized these “values that God values” during daily Bible times, Circle Time teaching and training, and daily “teachable moments.” We are working our way slowly through our dog-eared copy of “Values-Driven Discipleship” once again during our family devotional times in the morning and evening. Circle Times include stories, songs, games, and memory verses pertaining to the Core Values, right on the level of our Little ones. I am so thankful for God’s faithfulness to us and to our children over these many years of desiring to know Him more and honor Him in everything. The core values, and daily Circle Times, have been a reliable means to that end for us.

Just in case you are new here, you can get an idea of how we implement core-value Biblical instruction and character training here: Be sure to visit our free downloads area, where you can find a free, printable core value chart and mini poster that can get you started in implementing Core Value instruction with your family, if you think that it would be helpful for you.

I never cease to praise God for the years spent investing in my older children: teaching, training, encouraging, and developing relationships, as I see the fruit that the Lord has brought from our hearts desire to follow Him and teach our children His ways. On days when I have pressing responsibilities and might otherwise have to neglect Circle Time, my older daughters have picked up the baton and carry it well. Here’s a photo of a fun project one of them did after a Circle Time last week, to help illustrate the core value of “Love” and leave the Littles with an ongoing reminder of what it looks like for them:

Core Values: Love

No matter what methods you choose as you seek to raise up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, keep pressing on in your efforts. Although in some seasons of life things may not be perfect, I always like to remind myself that God “gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:11) and that “at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

Meet Silas…

We met Silas pretty much on day one when we moved to the village here in Kenya. He owns a shop just across the street from our house, where he lives and works with his wife, daughter, and newborn baby son.

Though we didn’t know it from the moment we met, Silas was eventually identified as that “man of peace” that would be instrumental in expanding the Kingdom of God in our community.

2014-06-24 17.24.31Recently, we helped Silas to purchase a piki piki (motorbike), in hopes that a fledgling business as a boda boda (driver) would help provide more comfortably for their family so that Silas would be more free to invest his time “on the mission.” Most recently, he coordinated many of the brothers to construct a home for a widow in our fellowship. He also regularly shares the Gospel of the Kingdom with visitors to his little shop, runs patients to the local clinic, and visits satellite fellowships that are still in need of teaching and discipleship. If there’s anything to be done, not only do we trust Silas to do it, but he is always willing.

If Silas has a fault, it’s his memory. Rumor has it he suffered a head injury as a youth and was never the same (though we’ve never confirmed that to be true). In any case, he often confuses the English words “remember” and “forget” and he’s always “remembering” something–which is really “forgetting.” So when you call him to pick you up on his piki piki, he sometimes gets distracted and then “forgets to remember,” or “remembers to forget.” In other words, multiple phone calls by way of reminder are often necessary. And sometimes he shows up at the door and, after greeting and small talk, when asked if he needs something, he may stand there with a dazed look for several minutes before, with a shake of his head, he says, “Oh, yes!” and then proceeds with the reason for his visit.

We love Silas!

Riding on the piki today behind Silas, on my way to a women’s meeting, reminded me just why someone like Silas is such a gem. For starters, let me compare him with many other drivers at the boda boda “stage” in town (the place where you can hire a driver from a sea of motorbikes). Many of them are drunkards (not necessarily abstaining in order to pursue a living as a driver). Some are just plain rude and crude. Then there are those who lack not only a desire for safety but common sense as well. Couple that with dirt roads where potholes are the rule rather than the exception, impromptu speed bumps pop up unexpectedly, and pikis share the road with animals, pedestrians, bicycles, the occasional car, and other unsafe pikis often driving at high speeds, and a ride into town (or even a couple kilometers to a women’s meeting) can be downright scary.

I meditated on this as I rode peacefully on the back of Silas’s motorbike this morning. Needless to say, Silas is as straight-laced as they come. He drives at a moderate speed and even slows down for speed bumps so I don’t fly up off the seat. I smiled when we came upon a little girl, maybe a year old, sitting in a little pothole in the dirt path we were driving on. I wondered what Silas was doing as he stopped and beeped his horn, since the house we were at wasn’t our final destination. Turns out he just wanted to get the attention of the girl’s mother, who was busy doing her wash in the courtyard.  They had a short conversation, and then Silas said to me, “Yeah, many drivers they go too fast and they might not see her.” True enough!

I called him to come pick me up as I thought our meeting was wrapping up, since for him it was about a 15-minute ride and I didn’t really want to wait around. However, as it turns out, our closing prayer time went on longer than I thought it would and, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Silas pull up on the path outside before we finished. He ended up sitting there for about 10 minutes and I wondered what was going on when I saw him turn around and disappear down the path the same way he had come. To my amusement, when I exited the house I found him giving one of the neighborhood little tykes (about 2 years old, maybe) a spin on his piki, safely situated on the gas tank in front of him. Needless to say, the boy was smiling from ear to ear.

I apologized for making him wait and said,”Those Mamas prayed long today!” To which he simply laughed and said, “Yeah, it’s like that.” (That’s one of Silas’s favorite phrases, which he uses liberally and sometimes in a way totally unrelated to the conversation.)

To my surprise, one of the Mamas from the meeting begged a ride home, since it was on our way. Without missing a beat, I got squashed between her and Silas like a mzungu sandwich. Ordinarily, having a piki driver practically in my lap would make me uncomfortable, but knowing that it also made Silas uncomfortable actually made me feel better. I noticed that he scooted up on the gas tank as far as he possibly could to create more space for me. 😉

So now you’ve met Silas and gone with me a  morning errand on the back of his piki. …”It’s like that.”

Supplies have arrived; Ready for Thursday Clinic!

This Thursday we’ll be hosting our first community children’s clinic here in our village. As I said previously, one of the most common (yet most preventable/treatable) medical problems I see among the children here is intestinal worms, so we’re starting small and just addressing this one need. I hope to expand to be able to offer other treatments and services in the future…but we’ll see how this goes first!

Rose, who has been faithfully attending our fellowship for some time and is a community social worker, did the leg work in setting up this event, as my Swahili is currently insufficient to address the village chief, arrange a venue, and communicate throughout the village just exactly what is going on. I praise God for her and her willingness to help! She has organized for our first clinic to begin at 9 AM on Thursday at the church across the street from where we live.  And I was excited to have the boys come back from town today with our supplies!:


This is 100 liquid doses and 100 tablet doses. To serve 200 children in our community ended up costing only about $57 (5000 KSH) because our chemist passed along a bulk purchase discounted price (yeah!!). We still have some money in the budget and Rose is busy scheduling another clinic that will be in our village center. (That should attract a much larger crowd). If funds allow, we’re going to do another in a neighboring village.

Excited for Thursday, and blessed to see how God has provided for this outreach. I had hoped to be able to post pics of the actual clinic but I probably won’t be able to–I don’t want to bring our big digital camera, as I think it will attract w-a-a-y too much attention, and Marc will be away visiting a house church group in West Pokot (quite a trip from here) so his camera phone will also be out of commission. For those of you who gave so generously to this project, though, I hope you know how much you are blessing children in need–even from half-way around the world! 🙂




Walking Wounded

I recently posted this as a guest At the Well, but wanted to include it here as well:


I’ve had many moments as a Mom where I’ve felt like one of the “walking wounded.” Not  just physically, of course, but emotionally or spiritually as well. At those times, I find myself struggling; either trying to find peace in a particular situation or learn something through a personal trial, or deal with pain. And in spite of where I’m at personally, I sometimes have to pretend that everything is fine and carry on with the day-to-day “stuff” of family life. There are others who may be in worse shape than me and other demands that need to be met.

My issues, whatever they may be, need to be put on the back burner as I continue to encourage discouraged children, mediate conflicts, capture “teachable moments,” and take time to invest in relationships with my children (not to mention the necessity of keeping up with various tasks around the home, which is also time-consuming). The fact that I have little opportunity to sit around feeling sorry for myself sometimes makes me feel sorry for myself! This is an occasional reality for most Moms, I would guess.

Yet our spiritual and emotional growth and health is vital in making us available for others. As my husband so often says, “You can’t take someone else where you haven’t been yourself.” I can teach my children with words all about forgiveness, but if I’m harboring bitterness, I’m just a hypocrite. Jesus said so:

And He also spoke a parable to them: “A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit? A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

(Luke 6:39-42)

The same is true with things like love; if I’m encouraging my children to be kind to one another but am quick to criticize or judge, what have they learned?

Sometimes this puts an incredible amount of pressure on me as a Mom. I know the importance of my example, but when I’m struggling and don’t have the time I feel I need to work things out, feelings of failure are inevitable. And the discouragement of that just adds insult to injury. What’s a Mom to do?

Be real.

Tell your kids you’re having a hard time. Ask for prayer. Buy takeout instead of cooking from scratch if you need to. Take a day off from homeschooling and watch movies or play board games. When you mess up, ‘fess up…confess, repent, and move on. Let your children see in you an example of the humility of following after Christ. They can learn just as much from your imperfection as from your shining example. We all struggle. We are all works in progress, and if we try to pretend otherwise, we do ourselves and our children a great disservice.

I’ve found great help in a little tool called the Spiritual Inventory. When prayed through regularly, it has slowly but surely brought freedom in many areas of my life. And when progress is slow and I feel like the walking wounded, God comforts me. I am particularly encouraged by passages like Isaiah 40:11: “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (emphasis mine).

Do you feel like the “walking wounded” today? How can I pray for you?

Africa Missions and Web site Updates

Many of you who have appreciated our Values-Driven ministry to families have also followed us on our journey to Africa. We have been very blessed by your encouragement and especially by your prayer support. Things have been quiet here on our family blog, as our interests have been very focused on Africa missions. I (Cindy) have been busy at home while Marc has been traveling for a good portion of the past five or six weeks. When Marc has been home, he has been busy developing a simple tract and teaching video that he (and others) can leverage on the mission field. He has made many copies of the tract in both English and Swahili and they are already receiving favorable reports. We are excited to have such a simple (and inexpensive) way to share the Gospel of the Kingdom!

You can see the video here, and feel free to download the free tracts on the Kingdom-Driven Ministries Web site.

Photo update

Our potty is a hole in the ground. At first, the littles couldn’t handle the idea of hovering and doing their business over a hole. So we improvised with our bucket potty. They have since acclimated to not using  it, though. Here is a photo:

I have a photo of our new family kitten Tiger. Cute cat, but she meows ALL NIGHT! Got its first flea bath this morning.

Following are pictures (in no particular order) of Cindy’s propane stove, her sink with no faucet, the solar panel on the roof near the chimney, the children’s bicycles, house photos, the battery setup, loitering children, and the girl’s bedroom with mosquito nets.


Airport Training Session 2

Here is a video of the second training session. The third session, which was not filmed, was the funniest. I set up a table and line up the children in jackets and shoes with passports and tickets and all bags. Then they in single file took off coats and shoes, placed them in a tray, set their bags on the table and proceeded. They then positioned for the scanner which I simulated with sound effects and puffs of air (over the top realism) and then they gathered their stuff and put on their jackets and shoes. They did remarkably good. My confidence is high that they will do fine.