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LIJ Episode Lives Videos

Why We Go to Japanese School

As westerners living in Japan, the decision of where to send your kids to school can be a bit overwhelming. You want them to have the best education possible, and at the same time you want them to learn Japanese and fit into Japanese and Western cultures just fine. Upon arriving in Japan, while Becca and Anna (our oldest daughters) were still 4 years old, we looked into the different options.

We could send them to international schools where they would grow up learning in English. Some are even good Christian schools, which were very attractive to us. But at the same time we wanted our kids to learn Japanese and make good connections locally. These private schools were not local.

Also, we’d heard of the intense pressure Japanese students undergo and bullying which can be problem. These things were certainly red flags to us. The more we talked with others, we found out that the real pressure to perform begins when students prepare to go into Junior High School. They want to get good grades to place in the good schools. Then of course the same thing happens for High School and finally college. Once students get to college, it is perhaps the most free time in the life of any student in the Japanese system.

We wanted the kids to learn Japanese but eventually prepare them for university in English (most likely in America). We determined we could have our kids in local Japanese schools up until Junior High, at which point we could either home school them (yikes!) or move them to an international school that teaches in English. We’d heard of some other students that did it this way and it was very positive for them.

So for now we keep a close eye on our kids, always asking them about other students (or potential bullying), friends, teachers, etc. Many times they haven’t quite understood what all was going on, and we weren’t able to help them much in terms of the Japanese, but that’s where good friends really helped out. Several friends would help us make sense of the system and we even enlisted the older girls in after-school sessions that helped them with their school work.

Since the girls are in 5th grade, soon we will need to cross the bridge of what we will do for them in Junior High School. Until then, it has been a positive experience having our kids go to local Japanese schools.

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Lives

Why We Live in Japan

When you watch our family on YouTube, what you’re hopefully seeing is the fruit of living biblical principles with God’s help.  Maybe you’ve never read the Bible, but you can start to get a good idea of what it’s about just by watching these videos. And what’s the most important thing that Creator God wants from each and every one of us?  To the love Him with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength.  And the second most important thing is like it: to love one another as God loves us.  

God proved His love for us in Jesus.  Jesus is God as a human.  He is 100% God and 100% man.  Instead of staying comfortable in heaven, he humbled himself and came as a little baby — all of the fullness of God in a little human child. He came to show the full extent of God’s love, not to condemn us, but to save us.  And just as God sent Jesus, God still sends his servants all over the world to express God’s love to others.  

People ask us all the time, “Why did you move to Japan?”  Our whole team lives here in Japan so that as many people as possible can discover the inexpressible joy of knowing God through Jesus; his care, provision and salvation. And God gives us great joy in doing this — a joy we like sharing with you.  

We need not fear the future because God is with us, He is for us and not against us.  He is our helper.  No matter what happens here on earth we have a confidence that when this life is over, we move on to eternal life with God.  When that happens, this world will seem as if it was a dream from which we woke up.  But this is more than a dream we live now.  What we do now matters, and how we live now matters.  What we do with this life will determine where we spend eternity.  How we respond to God’s love in Jesus matters. And your life matters — it matters to us and to God.

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LIJ Episode Lives Videos

Is it over yet?

There are seasons in life that we would rather rush through. Junior high school was like that for me. I couldn’t wait to get through it. School days seemed so long with so little time to do the things that I loved. I loathed going to school (loathe is the opposite of love). I had been home schooled until 7th grade when I entered private school. Home schooling was great because I worked hard and got all my homework done by noon, when I was then free to do the things I loved: music, play sports, be creative, play games and the list goes on. But in school, it didn’t matter how hard you worked, you were there most of the day. When I finally made it to college, I loved it — it felt like homeschooling! You didn’t spend nearly as much time in class, which meant that if I worked hard, you had time for the things you loved.

This season of everyone being stuck at home kind of reminds me of junior high school. It doesn’t matter how hard you work, you just have to do your part and wait it out. Waiting can be hard. But as I look back, I needed junior high school. It taught me the disciplines that were necessary to succeed in life. I wouldn’t have been ready for high school or even college without going through that phase in life. I think that what we are going through right now with the quarantines and the states of emergencies is preparing us for something greater on the other side. Something we wouldn’t have been ready for had we just rushed into it without the proper preparations.

This time has taught us how to love each other better, it has turned our attention back to the family and brought us closer to each other. It has forced us to establish habits in our lives, marriage and family that sets a better foundation for the future. We are closely involved in our children’s formation — their character is being formed each and every day. We ourselves are becoming better people as we have to force ourselves to stay healthy.

The title of this week’s Life in Japan video is “Is it over yet?” And although we often feel this way, the truth is that we don’t want to rush out of this season, because with each and every day we become more and more of who God has purposed us to be.

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LIJ Episode Lives

Conquer the Moment

History is changing before our eyes so fast that it’s hard to keep up. Every part of society is scrambling to figure out what to do next — from governments and corporations down to churches and families. Everyone in every nation has been effected to some extent or another. And moving forward no one really knows just how much things will be different. This can cause a lot of stress and fear. Or it can be seen for what it is: one of the greatest opportunities in history.

It’s not just about surviving the times — although that’s certainly important. It’s about seeing the opportunities and conquering the moment. It’s about evaluating the times and seizing the day. Things that never worked before are working now, and things that once were extremely successful are barely getting by. And possibly one of the biggest shifts in society during this time has happened with the family.

Family members, once dispersed across a large area in many different activities and schedules are now centralized at home once again. Kids at home with their parents. Parents at home working, kids at home doing schoolwork. It can be a recipe for disaster, or the greatest opportunity of a whole generation. It all depends on your perspective of the situation and approach.

There’s an opportunity to discover the joy of being together as a family. There’s an opportunity to have meals together at a dinner table and talk to each other. There’s an opportunity for parents and children to get involved in each others’ lives again and connect in a a meaningful way.

No one really knows how long life will be like this, but we shouldn’t be just counting the days until things go back to “normal,” but take advantage of each and every day God’s giving us to focus on what really matters. It’s time to conquer the moment.

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LIJ Episode Lives Update

Being Happy

What things make you happy? When you landed the new job you wanted? When you moved into your dream house or when you got into the college that you wanted? Maybe you started that relationship with the person of your dreams? Or maybe you’re one of the lucky people out there who have won the lottery. Or you finally reached retirement. We as humans have a funny way of getting excited and happy about things that ironically cause us much heartache, stress and insomnia in the future.

A good job is a blessing, but even the best jobs will cause stress at some point. And even the best relationships have difficulties — a bad relationship is full of them. And sometimes the things that make us sad: a heart-wrenching breakup, losing a job or even just being quarantined, can actually end up being good for us in the end. Ironic, isn’t it?

My point is this: true happiness is not found in the circumstances of life. These things are fleeting moments that come and go — good moments and bad ones. True happiness is mental state of being thankful for the people and blessings already in our lives today. When you are thankful and content, you are happy.

This doesn’t mean you don’t long for better things in your life. Desiring these things is a powerful force to better yourself, but it means you don’t waste energy focusing on what life would be like if you had those things.

For example, today we all sat down and had lunch together: Ruth made her famous pizza! I was so happy! We talked about our dream house: a big place where we can have people over and each person has space for their things. A nice kitchen and garden for mommy and a nice studio for daddy. A big yard for the kids to play in and have a dog. They are already praying that God gives us the right place! But we don’t focus on what we don’t have. We are thankful for where we do live — we have a beautiful view, a great location, wonderful neighbors, a quite street, a nice little garden, and the list goes on.

Most of all, each and every person in our family knows the love of God personally. They know that not only do daddy and mommy love them, but most importantly God loves them and calls them his children. Do you know that? Knowing the love of the Heavenly Father in Jesus Christ is the key to having lasting, meaningful happiness (which we call joy) that goes beyond any circumstance. But you don’t have to wait until you’re a Christian to start becoming happy — you can become happier by just finding one thing in your life that you’re thankful for and start to thank Jesus for it. Just see what it does to your attitude. We call this worship, and it can change your life.