Thursday, January 27, 2011

These faces

I've missed these faces.  We've been together, but not together for the last week as I laid around and nursed some serious back issues.  I missed them...the playing and reading and tickling and hugging and being silly.  I'm thankful to be back to my regular scheduled program with them (almost).

And this word, don't you love it?  The ever talented Amber of Ciao Bella Photography.  Wait til next week when I show you some of the amazing ones she captured of almost 5 year old!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

L-o-v-e Banner

Meet my new friends:

Look what they can make!
My l-o-v-e banner!

My first Silhouette project was a success!  And here's a glance at number two, just because it turned out so cute.
A cute, simple tag for a birthday boy.

The list of projects I want to tackle with the help of my new Silhouette is growing everyday. I love this little machine and can't wait to see what we can come up with!  And I've got 3200 YARDS of red and white twine, people!  (Is it strange that I asked Cale to buy me a large quantity of twine for my birthday?!) The possibilities are endless!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Teaching them the way that they should go

I know that many of you who read this take very seriously your role in training your children in the Word and the Truth and sharing His love.  We certainly do here and I'm always on the lookout for great resources to help us teach our kids about the great God who loves them.  I thought it might be nice to share a few of my more recent finds here and maybe you'll find something new.

We ordered this book several months ago and we absolutely love it.  It's not a typical children's Bible story book in that it doesn't focus on the characters in the story as much as it focuses on how God was at work in and through these stories.  Each one highlights a character attribute of God and how He was working in that specific way.  I think our kids are a little young to fully engage with the questions and activities included with each story, but they'll grow in to it.

We also ordered this book a few months ago, but just started it at the beginning of the new year. There are over 70 weeks of 5-day devotionals that cover many of the major characters and stories of the Old Testament.  They are short devotionals, but substantial.  Haven is at the younger end of the spectrum for this book, but it is still something that we can engage in with her and we all love using it for family devotions.  I'm certainly no expert in family devotionals, but this one just seems like a fresh presentation and doesn't dumb down some huge truths that we want to impart to our kids.  I can't recommend this highly enough!

Have you heard of Seeds Family Worship?  It's straight up scripture, set to music that everyone will like listening to.  When you buy a CD, you get two; one to keep and one to share with someone else.  I love that! We have Seeds of Praise, but I'm planning on ordering another one very soon.  We listen to it in the car all the time and I think I might be impacted by them more then the kids.  I love having the Word being the soundtrack to our days and catching myself singing them all the time.  Great stuff!

Do you have any resources for teaching our kids about the Lord that I need to know about?

Monday, January 17, 2011

A family weekend

How quickly a week passes!  This week seemed especially full and busy, perhaps because 12 people joined the four of us the last 4 days.  It's been a little wild around here, but we've loved it.  Here's some highlights:

-Celebrating Christmas with my brothers and their families.  We did things differently this year and I think it was a huge success on so many levels.
-Watching the Steelers win on Saturday with a room full of other fans.  Much yelling, eating and a good time all around.
-Celebrating not one, not two, but three birthdays: me, my brother and my sister-in-law.  What does it say about me that I got a hooded sweatshirt, a Wii game and a blender for my birthday?
-Visiting my grandma (who's not my grandma) and needing a large room to hold 16 of us and all the memories we share.  She's not been the healthiest, so I'm so glad we all go to see her yesterday.  She was too.
-Playing lots of games, feeding many mouths and getting a ton of hugs makes for a great weekend in my book.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Weekends are good for a lot of things

This weekend was supposed to end with a clean and organized pantry, perhaps a closet cleaned out and maybe even a picked up basement.  Thanks to Cale, my basement dreams came true.  The rest didn't even come close to happening.  Didn't even attempt it.  But that's okay.  This weekend was good for lots of other things like:

-Haircuts for the boys
-Hot chocolate enjoyed by all
-Games played (this and this)
-Dinner and a movie and a good long chat with her (Yippee for birthday week!)
-Watching lots of football
-Pizza two days in a row
-Worship and the Word at church
-Library and school planning
-Finishing one book and starting another

Mati despises getting his haircut.  And I don't blame him.  It has to hurt cutting through all those tight little curls.  Well, the curls are gone.  Sniff, sniff.  Also, please call the cops because someone has stolen my baby and left me with this:
A giant boy and a hot chocolate mess.  

He lost at least an inch of width on his head and I'm not kidding when I tell you his hat now fits much better.  Can't even stand the cuteness of my little man.

What did you do this weekend?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ten years ago...

I woke up in a different world ten years ago today.  My bed was wobbly beneath me, a gentle rhythm that I would quickly get accustomed to.  My new home was a 520 foot long hospital ship that I shared with 400 other people.   I woke up that morning on the bottom bunk, surrounded by strangers who would quickly become my sisters.  Jet-lagged and a little unsteady on my feet, I set about exploring my home for the next three months.  I remember stepping out on deck and the air just felt so different, let alone the smell of it.  My eyes scanned the horizon and all was unfamiliar; large ships, hundreds upon thousands of containers, small fishing boats and the ocean beyond.  A ship in port is not even remotely glamorous.  It was almost too much for me to take in.

I've spent much of the afternoon looking through old pictures and being flooded with memories of my time in Cotonou, Benin with Mercy Ships.  To label it life-changing is certainly appropriate, but doesn't even begin to cover it.  It was the hardest 6 months of my life, but also some of the absolute best.  Mornings were spent worshiping and soaking in the teaching of some of the greats that YWAM had to offer. I spent my afternoons scrubbing the toilets and showers, mopping floors and polishing wood on really loooong corridors.  It was good hard work that provided lots of opportunity to think.  And there was always much to think about. Evenings were long, but soon filled with new friends, a modest library, 10pm laundry slots, dance lessons on aft deck and exploring small parts of the city.

Fast forward three months to our Outreach Phase and the world tilted once again as I fought to be content in every circumstance.  Some days I won, a lot of days I lost.  But He was faithful to me in a way I didn't know I needed Him to be during those long days in the village.  We poured ourselves out and dealt with more then a little resistance to His Word.  Everyday tasks were a challenge, a burden.  I wish I would have learned to accept it and move on a little faster, but eventually I did.  I embraced the dust and dirt on my feet 10 seconds after washing them.  I loved the quiet nights of sleeping on the roof and the sky full of a million stars.  Buckets of mangoes and fresh bread filled our bellies and His Truth and His Spirit sustained us.

I'm not overstating it by saying that I wouldn't be who I am and where I am today without the time I spent with Mercy Ships/YWAM.  He asked a small town country girl if she trusted Him. And then He took her about as far away as you can get from the world she knew.  But He knew what He was doing.

God expanded my vision and stretched my heart to capacity.  He cracked it open for the people and places of Africa. He loved me that much, to orchestrate such a wild plan and show me more of Himself then I ever dared to ask for.  He laughed when I said I'd never return because He already knew about the boy who would capture my heart and call me Mama.  He who knew that my first trip to the continent wouldn't be my last and in fact, pieces of it would stay with me forever.  It's an amazing story, really.  And I think He's just getting warmed up.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ready to go (and I've even got a theme song)

I'm feeling more ready to start the new year today. You won't find a set of resolutions or goals or anything like that this year. Instead I've got a verse and a song that I feel like are going to be the theme around here. There are some big things on the horizon and I can't wait to see them unfold. I heard this song for the first time on Saturday and it just hit me out of nowhere that this song is my anthem for the year. It's not a revolutionary thought or anything, but it struck me that these four simple sentences encompass exactly what I want this new year to be.
Set us free, trust the mystery
Till our eyes are clear enough to see you

Where you lead us, we will follow
Where you lead us, we will follow you

(Song by Jars of Clay and unfortunately can't find a link to listen to it anywhere!)

I feel like that is enough for one year. I could end it right there and just live each day trying to do and believe and follow. But wait, there's more. This morning I was reading my Bible and read Psalm 33. Again, there was an immediate knowing that the last three verses were meant for me today and the last two were especially for this year.
"Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you."

Psalm 33:20-22

I will choose to trust Him this year as I hope in Him and what He will do in my life. I don't anticipate it to be easy or problem-free. But I know He will be near and He alone will fill my heart with gladness.

So I'll tuck these sweet truths deep in my pocket and say, "Bring it on 2011! Let's see what you've got!"

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Not ready for new just yet

Am I the only one who feels surprised that the calendar reads January 1, 2011 today?  Of course, I knew it was coming, but the reality that it's here has left me feeling a bit unsettled.  I've already started some adjustments in our time and schedule for the new year and thought about some things I want to do differently.  But I've yet to take time and really reflect on this past year, the good and the bad.  I'm more of a everything-is-new-on-a-Monday girl, so perhaps by then, I'll be ready to face the realities of 2011.  For now, I'll sit and enjoy the glow of my Christmas tree lights for one more night and think about what He's done and what lies ahead.

Happy New Year, my friends!