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Mike and Anita James

Reaching Children – Training Leaders

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Sun
21
Sep '14

Introducing….Samuel Timotheus James

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One week ago, our lives changed dramatically.  On Sunday morning, we were in Royse City, TX doing a family service.  My worst fear was that my water would break while on stage at a church.  Fortunately, that didn’t happen.  It happened two hours later in the parking lot of a restaurant while we were saying goodbye to the pastor.  We went home, and I wanted to make sure that it was really happening before I called the doctor.  After going home, I decided that it wasn’t as bad as I thought, so we packed bags in preparation for the next day, when I was to be induced.

After dinner, we went to Wal-Mart to get some things, and my water broke even more.  I decided to call the doctor, who said to get to the hospital.  Things seemed pretty normal.  I was at the hospital about 12 hours before I was scheduled to be.  We were all excited.  They let me continue with labor for an hour or so before starting medicine to help the process go faster.  After a few more hours, we suddenly had 4 or 5 nurses in the room, and they were giving so many commands, calling for a doctor and stopping the labor process for me.  It was a little scary, to say the least.  We found out that Samuel’s heart rate had dropped for a long time, and they were having problems getting it back up.  Because I wasn’t far enough along in the process, they wanted to do a c-section because they were concerned that Samuel’s  heart rate would drop, and we would lose him.  I didn’t want to have that procedure done, but I trusted the doctors to know better than I did, and I wanted a healthy baby, so that’s what we did.

God’s hand has definitely been on this child.  I wasn’t supposed to be able to get pregnant, so he is a miracle.  I didn’t understand why my water would break and send me to the hospital 12 hours earlier than planned, but God knew.  I needed to be at the hospital so they could monitor him.  During the c-section, the doctor discovered that the placenta was pulling away from the uterus.  God had his hand on this part of the process too and knew when I needed to have the surgery.  If the placenta had pulled away any further, it could’ve caused loss of oxygen/brain damage for Samuel or bleeding for him and me.  I’m very grateful that God was working all things together for our good!

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So, at 7:18 Monday, 15 September, Samuel greeted the world.  He was only 6 pounds 14 ounces.  After having Grace at 9 pounds 9 ounces, I still look at him and see the tinniest baby.  Of course, he’s also the cutest baby around.  He has a head full of dark hair, and we just can’t get enough of him.  He is healthy and happy baby.  Our family is so happy that we were in America for the birth so they could meet him as well.

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Grace loves her little brother.  She didn’t know how she would like it when I was pregnant, but she loves holding him.  I’m sure it’ll be even more fun when he’s out of the newborn phase.  She’s looking forward to dressing him up.    They say that life changes when you have a baby.  Ours has definitely changed so far.  I’m sure that there are more changes to come, but I know that God will be with us through every change to come.

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Mon
25
Aug '14

Extra Time

Since we’ve been in The Netherlands, we’ve learned a lot about football (soccer).  One thing that is very common is going into extra time.  The half might be a certain length of time, but the referees almost always add on extra time because of times they stopped for injuries or penalties.  You don’t know how long it will be exactly until they announce it.  In our house, we try to guess and see who is right about how many minutes extra they will play.

We are calling this time in our itineration “Extra Time.”  We were supposed to be gone by now.  A few things have kept us back.  First of all, we don’t have our complete budget raised.  We are very close, so we still could’ve left in time for Grace to start school in The Netherlands this fall.  The biggest holdup at the moment is waiting on the arrival of our son.  As of today, I am 36 weeks pregnant.  They definitely don’t let you fly at this point in the pregnancy – especially over an ocean.  In our extra time, we continue to have services.  It’s changed a bit.  I’m not supposed to travel more than 100 miles from our hospital.  We’ve gone a little over that in the past month, but it’s about to change.  The long trips just wear me out.  Plus, there are some trips where there isn’t a hospital on the way in the case of the baby coming on the trip.  Side of the road delivery isn’t exactly what I have in mind.

Our extra time has really been a blessing to us.  We’ve had amazing services at great churches and been able to meet some amazing people.  Recently, a church really blessed Grace.  The children’s pastors, Jason & Jennifer Libby heard of something we plan to do when we get back to The Netherlands and had their kids help us already.  Grace loves drawing and is really good at it.  We plan on using her in our Kids Club in The Netherlands to draw pictures while we tell stories.  When I was a kid, someone usually did it with chalk.  Today, with the technology we have, we planned on her using an iPad that can be connected to the projector.  She can draw so that the kids can see it on the screen while we tell a story.  She learned of a great app and tool to use to do an even better job.  We were going to get an iPad for her to use.  The Libbys and the kids of Mustang Creek Community Church in Forney, TX raised money and got Grace a new iPad mini.  To say that she was surprised and excited is an understatement!

The children of Mustang Creek Community Church and Grace with her iPad mini.

The children of Mustang Creek Community Church and Grace with her iPad mini.

Our extra time also has us doing everything we can to get ready for the new baby.  The three of us all taken CPR classes hoping to never need to use the skill.  Grace took a babysitter’s class that taught her.  It also taught her things like discipline, first aid, swaddling, changing diapers and much more.  At first, she didn’t really want to take the class, but she’s decided since then that it was a great class and she would like to babysit – not just her brother.

Grace is demonstrating how to do CPR for the parents after her class.

Grace is demonstrating how to do CPR for the parents after her class.

Grace is also going to go to one semester of 7th grade in America.  This year was much different than last year because she knows what to expect from an American school and she has friends already and knows of people in her classes before she even started.  That gave much more peace to her and to us as parents.

We stil have services in September and some in October.  Mike will be going to The Netherlands for a few weeks in November for meetings and to try to arrange our housing.  Everything we have is in storage at the moment, so he will hopefully be able to find a place, get it ready and get our things moved in.  Then, he will come back and we will all go at the end of December.  We’re looking forward to that, but there is a lot to do before that happens.  Our extra time is bringing a lot of changes into our lives, but we know that God is ordering every step/minute.  Even though we don’t know how long it will last or what exactly will happen, we trust Him!

Mon
28
Jul '14

The First of Many Lasts

It’s hard to believe that in approximately 8 weeks, we’ll have another member of the family.  We’re getting to the point where I’m not allowed to travel very much because of the pregnancy.   Because of that, my part of itineration is winding down.  This past weekend, we did some children’s services for a church in Texarkana, AR on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  We love that church so much.  I told the pastor that I certainly wouldn’t do something like that for many people but I would make an exception for them.

Speaking at a children's service in Texarkana

Speaking at a children’s service in Texarkana

One of the highlights in Texarkana for us was the introduction of Mini Foo, a tiny version of Foo Ling U.  This definitely starts expanding some of our family (Grace) in ministry.  It was such a hit that it made her day.  Her response to it all was, “See, Mom, I’ve got puppet skills up my sleeve.”  In the next 8 weeks, we have a few more services when I will not be able to travel.  Grace will get to be the person out front.  We’ll see if she has “talking to puppet skills” up her sleeve as well.

Foo Ling U with Mini Foo

Foo Ling U with Mini Foo

Sunday morning, I had some women who asked how much longer I had in the pregnancy.  When I said that it was 8 weeks, they were shocked because they didn’t think I could get much bigger.  Sunday night, a lady told me that I wasn’t very big for 32 weeks along.  I’ll go with the lady Sunday night.  Things are getting much more uncomfortable for me; there’s not much room for the baby, and things like breathing and reaching the floor are getting more and more difficult.  The end is near however.

There is so much that will happen for us in the next few months.  We will wrap up itineration and have a baby.  In November, Mike will be in The Netherlands for meetings and to take care of our housing.  Right after Christmas, we will all go back to The Netherlands  to stay.  That means a lot of packing and goodbyes in the months to come.  It’s never easy to do, but we know that God will help us through it all!

 

 

Tue
3
Jun '14

The Netherlands in Texas

We’ve been gone from The Netherlands for a year now.  At times it has flown by, and at times, it feels like we just got here.  While we’re in America, we do an awful lot of traveling.  This weekend, we were in Spring, TX for morning and night services.  After church Sunday morning, someone told us about a store in Spring called The Little Dutch Girl.  We were hoping to have enough time to go check it out between services, and when we went, we weren’t disappointed.

Our new favorite store in Texas.

Our new favorite store in Texas.

When we walked in, our senses were immediately overwhelmed with things we haven’t seen in a long time.  All three of us were walking around finding some of our favorite things.  When Grace reached the hagelslag section, she was in heaven.  Hagelslag is sprinkles that you put on bread with a little butter.  They didn’t have Grace’s absolute favorite kind, but we did go ahead and get her some that will take care of her breakfasts for a while.  When we showed people, they thought it was crazy to have chocolate for breakfast until I reminded them what Pop-tarts and cereal are: mostly sugar.

Hagelslag

Hagelslag

There were plenty of other things that we enjoyed seeing, but we couldn’t get everything.  I had to remind Grace that it was like buying American things when we’re in The Netherlands.  When it’s imported, it’s going to be much more expensive.

They had pins among other things, and when I saw this one, I really laughed.  My family thinks that I’m pretty opinionated/outspoken (as we all are), but when I come back from The Netherlands, I’m worse than normal.  We like to say that the Dutch people speak with candor.  Others call it bluntness to the point of rudeness.  I’ve gotten used to it, so it’s normal for me.

Probably the funniest thing we saw in the store

Probably the funniest thing we saw in the store

All in all, we were really happy with what all we found.  We weren’t able to get absolutely everything that we wanted, but we got enough to tide us over for a while!

Grace with our goodies

Grace with our goodies

Tue
22
Apr '14

Easter 2014

For an itinerating missionary, it’s rare to have a service on Easter.  We were blessed because we had a pastor at a church we’ve already spoken at who asked us to come and do the children’s service for a special outreach their church was having on Easter.  We love doing things like that.  We truly want to be here in America not only to raise money so we can go back to The Netherlands, but also to bless churches when we can.

So, we did the entire service: songs, games, puppets, message, etc.  The church had a great turn out.  They really worked hard to reach out to their community.  They had breakfast for everyone before the service started and had an Easter egg hunt afterwards.  They really worked at inviting people.  The pastor told us that they normally have about 10 kids in their children’s church, but they had 55 on Sunday.  Wow!

Doing what we love doing

Doing what we love doing

Easter is a strange time for us.  It’s a huge blessing for us to be able to be in America and be with some of our family.  We really enjoyed being with some extended family on Saturday and having dinner together with Mike’s family on Sunday.  It’s also a reminder of the special services we have in The Netherlands and makes us miss our church family very much!  It’s sometimes hard to tell this to family because they think that America is our home.  Of course, if we were in The Netherlands, we would’ve had a great time with friends but missed being with family.  We really do live between two worlds!

We had to get a little something this Easter to remind us of home.

We had to get a little something this Easter to remind us of home.

 

Wed
19
Mar '14

What to Expect When You Weren’t Expecting

We definitely weren't expecting this!

We definitely weren’t expecting this!

We are a very happy family of three.  We had Grace 12 years ago.  10 years ago while we were itinerating, we suffered a miscarriage.  It was a devastating loss.  We really wanted to have another baby, but while living in The Netherlands, we had some testing done to see why I wasn’t getting pregnant.  Without going into too many details, I’ll just say that it was 7 years ago when I was told that I couldn’t have any more children.  I had peace about it and told Mike I was happy because we were blessed with one amazing child.

Now that you know that, you can imagine the shock I received 7 years later when I went for a routine checkup at the doctor’s office and was told that I was pregnant.  I honestly thought that it must be some kind of joke or I had misheard.  I didn’t even suspect that I was pregnant.

Everyone has been asking us when we’re going back to The Netherlands.  If we raise all our money when we thought that we would, it would be getting really close to the time that I’m not allowed to fly anymore.  Plus, trying to hurry and get there, find a midwife, find a hospital, find a house and move all our things from storage into it would be a bit overwhelming just weeks before delivering. The due date is actually September 22, and we’re now planning on leaving for The Netherlands at the beginning of January.  I’m sorry to anyone who has asked us in the past couple of months.  We didn’t want to say anything for sure until I was past the first trimester.  Having had a miscarriage while itinerating and having to constantly tell people what happened was a really painful experience that I didn’t want to repeat.

Our plan is also for Mike to go for a several weeks in November to get our housing sorted so that when we come back with a very small baby, I’m not having to get all the furniture arranged, and we can come straight into our own place.

A verse from the Bible that I definitely relate to is Genesis 21:6 – Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”  I understand how Sarah felt.

Tue
18
Mar '14

Memory Lane

Last week, I was really busy with the Arkansas District sectional tour.  It’s actually been going on for the last month, but this week, we had 7 meetings in 4 days.  It was a lot of driving, but it was worth it.  My mom was quite the trooper and went with me to all the meetings.

On Monday, we were in Pine Bluff and Monticello.  This is the part of Arkansas that I know best.  I grew up about 30 minutes from Monticello in Dermott.  If we wanted to go shopping, we would often go to Pine Bluff.  Driving down to Monticello, I asked Mom if she wouldn’t mind driving through Dermott.  It was a little out of the way, but I wanted to see the place where I grew up.

Driving through Dermott doesn’t take very long at all.  Five years ago, we were near there, and I asked Mike if we could drive through.  He said that we didn’t have a lot of time to spare.  I promised him that it wouldn’t take long, and I was telling the truth.  That time, I was sad to see that the video store where I worked was torn down, and only the foundation was left.  This time was even sadder for me.  You can really see that the town is dwindling.  The junior high and high schools have been combined, and the grocery store where I had my first job, Piggly Wiggly, has closed.  There are no plans to open another store.

The old Piggly Wiggly

The old Piggly Wiggly

After driving past the closed grocery store, we went down the street where our house and the church are.  It definitely brought back many memories.  When we pulled up by the house, I rattled off the phone number we had for years.  I was surprised that it stuck in my memory.  I would’ve loved to look inside the house and around the back yard, but I didn’t want to look like too much of a stalker.

Our house in Dermott

Our house in Dermott

Right next to the house is the church.  It made it really convenient for getting to church.  I was assaulted with memories of cleaning the church on Saturdays with my sister, teaching Sunday School, playing the flute at church, singing so many times and very special people.

The church in Dermott

The church in Dermott

Even though the town seems to be shrinking, there are still many wonderful memories that it gives me.  I’m curious to see what it will look like the next time I can get there.

 

 

Mon
3
Feb '14

I’ve Been Everywhere, Man!

I’ve got that old Johnny Cash song going through my head this morning.  We normally travel over the weekend and some during the week as well speaking at missions services, but the last few weeks has been a little worse than normal for us.

Two weekends ago, we were out in East Texas.  We clocked in 471 miles that weekend.  Fortunately, we started the process Saturday and came back Sunday.  Like all our services, we’re very happy that we went.  Of course, when your daughter wakes up sick Saturday night in a hotel, you’d really rather be at home with her.  I had to apologize to her and tell her that we couldn’t just go home because of the service the next morning.  Thankfully, God helped her, and she got much better and was able to go on Sunday to two services and even ask for some ice cream Sunday night.  The desire for ice cream apparently has some amazing healing properties.

Itineration in East Texas - love the sights

Itineration in East Texas – love the sights

Last weekend, we were in Northern Arkansas.  We drove 1,043 miles during that trip.  There are many plus sides, but the view is just beautiful!  I’ve had many people tease me over the years about being from Arkansas.  I swept my arm at the scenery and told Mike, “Let them laugh all they want!  This is a beautiful part of the country, and I’m proud to be from Arkansas!”  Also, we have discovered that in the hills of Northern Arkansas, the hills really are alive with the sound of music.  On Sunday night, the pastor asked if anyone had anything special they’d like to sing.  I’ve been in churches where that is a scary thing to ask.  The people who got up and shared were amazing.  Even if bluegrass or country isn’t your preferred style of music, you’ve got to appreciate good musicians, and we definitely appreciated the good music.

This view from the church is just a portion of how pretty it is.  I wish I could have taken a panoramic.

This view from the church is just a portion of how pretty it is. I wish I could have taken a panoramic.

This past weekend, we were in Abilene, TX.  It’s a pretty good drive; this weekend added 451 miles to our car’s odometer.  Even though it was the shortest of the three trips, we got ice while we were there.  The hotel we were staying at is just a few steps from the church we were at Sunday morning.  Thank goodness we didn’t have to drive because our car doors were frozen shut and took a while to open.  We thought that we would have a service Sunday night also, but due to the ice on the roads, it was cancelled.  So, we started on home.  We had some icy patches, but we made it without event – just how I like to travel.

Texas in winter

Texas in winter

This coming Sunday, we’ll be in Ardmore, OK.  It’s only about two hours from here.  We won’t know what to do with such a short trip.  At least it will help us not to feel like we’re becoming permanently attached to the seats in our car.

 

 

Fri
24
Jan '14

Christmas Continues

On December 22, we were at church at Lavon Assembly of God in Lavon, TX.  They greatly blessed our family.  Grace would’ve said that the first blessing is that we didn’t preach or say anything at all, which means that she didn’t have to hear a sermon she’s heard before.  Their kids and youth did a play that morning.  When they were finished, they called us up on the stage.  Grace said that she thought they would just pray for us.  They gave us gift after gift.  I even got an iPad mini, which I can’t tell you how much I’ve used since.  It was amazing!  Then, they gave us a personal offering.  Wow!

This past Tuesday, we drove over to North Richland Hills to LifeChurch because a girls’ class had gotten gifts for Grace for Christmas.  They asked me some things she liked, and they hit home runs with Grace: hoodies, craft things, a dry erase board, and then cash.

Grace with her dry erase board.  I didn't tell them she wanted one, but she said that she was so happy because she's wanted one for a long time.  I guess those girls know what a 12-year old likes.

Grace with her dry erase board. I didn’t tell them she wanted one, but she said that she was so happy because she’s wanted one for a long time. I guess those girls know what a 12-year old likes.

We can never say thanks enough for people's generosity!

We can never say thanks enough for people’s generosity!

When we were at Lavon, I told them that when they bless my daughter, they bless me.  I’m glad that so many people love Grace and want to do such amazing things for her.  We have such an amazing support system – both in giving and in prayer, and we can never say thanks enough for that!

Thu
2
Jan '14

Christmas in the Same Room

The way that our mission organization works, we are in America 1 out of every 5 years.  It’s not always ideal, but we’ve gotten used to it. Because it’s pretty expensive to fly from The Netherlands to America very often – especially for three people – we normally fly once in the four years away.  It’s expensive, but it’s worth it to see family.

In the year that we are here, we are very busy because of traveling and fundraising.  Because we do that on the weekend and Grace is in school, going to see my family doesn’t happen all that often.  So, we really cherish it when we can all be together.  Such was the case with Christmas.  Well, almost everyone was there.  It gets harder when the grandchildren get older and have jobs.  One of my nephews couldn’t be there.  nevertheless, it was wonderful being in the same room with everyone.  Let me explain how Christmas usually works for us:

Christmas morning: wake up and have homemade cinnamon rolls, open presents, chill out at home and finally, go have dinner with friends.

Some time in the Christmas holiday : Skype/Facetime with family.  We send presents to them, and they send some to us.  With today’s technology, we are able to watch each other open the gifts.  It’s not the same as being in the same room, but it’s the closest we can get.  For my family, they set up an iPad in the middle of the room on a table.  When it’s their turn to open a gift, they come to the middle of the room and face the iPad while they open it.  I joked that we should sit in the middle of the room and they should all bow before us to open their gifts.  For some reason, they didn’t agree.  When we are finished, we close our computer/iPad and go about our business.  We usually talk with a few people, but after an hour or so, we are finished with our family time.

Christmas with Mike's family last year

Christmas with Mike’s family last year – It’s good but not quite the same as really being with them.

For our year here with family, one of my greatest gifts was being in the same room with them.  It sounds strange, I’m sure, but in the same room, you can hug and kiss them.  You can have a conversation with one or more people and hear them without any internet delay or something/someone loud in the background drowning out what you are saying.  You can help cook the meals and help clean up.  You can play games and joke around.   What gifts we received!

Grace playing games with some of her cousins - one of the things you can only do in the same room.

Grace playing games with some of her cousins – one of the things you can only do in the same room.

When we talk about The Netherlands, we are often asked about the weather.  We say that it rains a lot, which it definitely does – especially compared to here.  When people look at us like it must be awful, we explain that it makes you appreciate the sun when it’s out so much more and you walk outside to be in the sunshine.  I view our family time – especially at Christmas – much the same way.  We get it once every five years, so I appreciate it so much more.  Family – what a gift indeed!