Saturday, December 18

Can I borrow...?

Here I am, at the library, using the internet, because we don't have internet at home. Or a landline.

When I woke up this morning and got off the couch (there's no room to set up our bed, so we're crashing on the couch for a few weeks...might need to find a good massage therapist soon), I stepped over boxes, dishes, bags and toys strewn about the living room.

My clothes are tucked in somewhere between a suitcase and laundry basket, and I'm still trying to figure out which clothes laying on the floor are dirty. We are hoping to get a washer in today so I don't have to borrow somebody's washer for long, and we still need to figure out how we're going to heat the bottom part of the house, where my husband is currently constructing our bedroom.

When I woke up this morning, I wanted to complain. In a bad way. I was grouchy. I haven't slept much, and I can't find anything.

We've had to borrow so many things. Vehicles, furniture, phones. You name it. It stings the pride a bit, to have to borrow the basics. It's easy to look around, and want MORE. More of my own stuff.

But when I wanted to complain about our "small" house, I thought about some of our friends in Nicaragua, people with 3, 4 or 5 kids, who live in a plastic shack.

When I wanted to complain about not having a bed to sleep in, I thought of our friends who sleep on a feed sack. Or cot. And share it with several other people. I only had to share the couch with one person, my hubby.

When I wanted to complain about not having much space to put all my kitchen gear, I thought of my friends in Nicaragua that cook over firewood, and only own 2 pots.

When I wanted to complain about having to go to the library to use the internet, I thought of all our friends who don't have a computer, and have never even used a computer. They have no concept of the internet.

When I wanted to complain about having to "borrow" somebody's washer, I remembered how we had to wash our clothes by hand in Nicaragua, ona concrete washboard.

and when I wanted to complain about my kids fighting and whining, I remembered my babies in heaven, and all those who struggle with infertility.

Thank you, God, for reminding me all that I have to be thankful for.

And for reminding me that all this stuff is just...stuff. I can't bring it with me when I die. Help me to remember to store up my treasures in heaven.

Thursday, December 16

Baseball/Softball equipment wanted!

Our former mission agency, Mennonite Central Committee, will soon be sending a shipment down to Nicaragua, and is looking for slightly used baseball and softball equipment.

The equipment will go to 2 communities in Managua that are know for high rate of delinquency. The program works in violence prevention including sports as an outlet for youth. The equipment can be used, but should be in good shape, can be either baseball or softball.

So if you can, brave your shed or garage and donate some of your used stuff.

Any stuff (baseball or softball) can be dropped off at the Material Resources Center 517 W Trout Run Road in Ephrata. Phone number (717) 733-2847

Or if you don't want to travel that far, you can drop if off at Mark and Sue's house and we can take it there. Just let us know you have dropped the stuff off.

Off the Grid!

To all my readers,

Today we will be making "the move" from one house to another, and will not have access to internet for at least a week, which will be good timing, because those mountains of boxes are staring at me, daring me to get through them all.

So I'll be signing off for at least a week, perhaps two.

Until then, enjoy this time with friends and family, and remember that it is because of Jesus that we can celebrate! So celebrate HIM!

Wednesday, December 15

Inspiring Book Giveaway

Just had to highlight this wonderfully inspiring book giveaway, at the Raising Homemaker's Blog.

They are giving away several book packages:

Mornings and Evenings devotional by Charles Spurgeon
The Life of Washington and For you they Signed for any American history buffs

and for the kids...
The Children's Illustrated Bible and Passport to the World

Click HERE to go to the blog and see how to enter. Contest ends tonight!!

Cakes, Crafts and bucket bathing

Here are just a few pictures of my latest cake creations and craft items I am currently working on. I love learning about crafty items and how to make and create beautiful things. I'm hoping to learn how to knit and crochet, and hopefully bring some of this knowledge down to Nicaragua and share with the women there. They have fabric stores with yarn and so forth, and some thread for cross-stitch pieces, although not in the quantity here.

First a picture of me and my funny guy...he's the comedian in our family. He loves to make people laugh.

A cross-stitch piece I'm working on. I plan to post more pictures as I progress. Can you guess what it will be? I had given a few classes on cross-stitch in Nicaragua, but I really need more time with the women and more consistency. One of our plans with the demonstration farm is to have a space to offer classes, in sewing, embroidery, nutrition, etc.

"bucket" bathing....not quite how they do it in Nicaragua, but close enough :) This is how we bathed our kids when they were babies. Of course, they were much smaller then, and actually fit inside the bucket!

and here is my latest cake creation...isn't it fun? My boys were so jealous that this cake wasn't for them :) We hope to raise funds while here in the States, and decorating and selling cakes is one way I hope to do that. So if you know anybody that needs a cake, please email me!

Monday, December 13

Aimless Wanderers

As we got back in the van and I strapped the kids into their car seats, my 4 yr old asked, Where are we going?

Home, I replied.

Which home? The one with Papa and Nana?

No, the other home. The place where we slept last night.

My poor children. "home" is a variety of places. They handle it well. When we get in the van to travel, they ask, Which house are we sleeping in tonight? And they sleep well in pretty much anyplace. On the floor, in sleeping bags, and together in various beds. They never complain. I think, to them, it is a sort of adventure.

We are moving, yet again. Putting stuff back in boxes. Trying to keep the important stuff available and not lost in the shuffle. Cleaning and keeping odd hours, with no semblance of a schedule. Living between 2 houses at the moment, various types of food in both refrigerators and pieces of clothing strewn in both basements.

This move will be our fourth move in 6 months.

Yep. We have moved 4 times in 6 months.

In the last 3 1/2 years, we have moved 8 times. Yes, you read right.

Does this seem a little crazy to you? Because it's starting to feel a bit insane to me.

Am I tired of living the faintly romantic nomadic lifestyle? I am exhausted. Tired of living out of suitcases. Tired of living with a "not settled" feeling.

I am really, really looking forward to having our own place. Our own space. Where I can lounge in my pj's all day if I so desire. Where the kids can yell as loud as they want. Where I can leave my dishes in the sink all day.

Oh yes, I am ready to settle down.

And yet....

there is a part of me that fears this putting down roots. Every time I buy something for the house, or even look at something, for instance, curtains, I feel a tension inside of me.

I wonder, If I start putting down roots, will I get too comfortable?

Will I not want to return to Nicaragua?

and so, there is a war inside of me. The part of me that wants to settle down and have my own space, and the other part of me that doesn't want roots because I am ready to return to Nicaragua.

Talk about tiring!

It was comforting to read the Bible this morning with Steve, the passage in Hebrews 11, that specifically talks of so many God-lovers that have gone before us, people who also wandered the earth, and they had no home. But they knew that their home was in heaven, not here on this earth.

It was a good reminder to me, that I will never truly feel at home here, on this earth. Because my home is not here.

Saturday, December 11

Handel's Macy's

Have you seen this video on YouTube?

On Saturday, October 30th of this year, the Opera Company of Philadelphia Chorus and over 650 650 area choristers met at Macy's Center City Philadelphia, and made a huge impression on many people.

Check it out by clicking HERE.

And this is a just a preview of what we'll hear when we get to heaven....

Wednesday, December 8

Happy Birthday Zachariah!

Today my oldest turns 7 years old.

I can hardly believe it. It seems like yesterday that I found out I was pregnant with him. I was shocked. Total disbelief. I thought I had read the test wrong.

I called Steve at work, and his first words? No way!

It's a good thing pregnancy lasts 9 months, because I needed the WHOLE 9 months to get mentally prepared to be a mom.

And of course, I was one of those women that go into the hospital, only to be told, Go home, because I was in early labor. While I was having lots of nice contractions every 2-5 minutes, they weren't doing too much. Go home, they said. You'll be back in about 10 - 12 hours to have your baby.

24 hours, 36 hours, and finally, 40 hours later, I went back to the hospital.

I hadn't slept in 20 hours. I was tired. Tired of having contractions. Tired of being pregnant.

I was SO ready to meet this little guy. Nothing scared me at that point.

And 6 hours after entering the hospital, I did just that.

And you know what? They are right. It is SO worth it.

Tuesday, December 7

Growing Generosity in your kids at Christmastime

Just had to share this practical article by Dr. Tim Elmore on how to grow generosity in your kids this time of year.

You can check it out HERE.

I haven't perused the blog much, so I can't speak for the content or material on the rest of the site, but am looking forward to getting to know it better.

How we handle the holidays here in the States is a topic and Steve and I have discussed for months, even before we returned to the States. We want to be intentional about how we look at Christmas, about our conversations regarding Christmas and our actions this month, because we know our kids are watching.

What do we want our children to think about, when they hear the word Christmas?

Monday, December 6

Crayola Craziness

My boys are on a coloring, painting, drawing spree, an unprecedented mountain of creativity from all 3 of my boys. My house is literally strewn with construction pages and pieces of construction pages, in all sorts of colors and shapes. The trail leads from the kitchen and dining room, into the living room, and on into their bedroom.

They color on the table, on the floor, and in their beds. They get up at 6 am to color before we leave for school. They want to color in their pajamas as we turn out the lights.

The other night, I heard a small noise come from the boys' room, a good hour after we had put them to bed. I peaked in to see Nathaniel on the floor, coloring and using the light from the open door. He meekly asked if he could finish before going back to bed. I couldn't refuse.

It is so wonderful to see such creativity at young ages. With so many colors, there is no limit to their imagination. I can't help but wonder if they will continue on to other stages, or if one of them will continue this path and make art a lifelong passion. Thank goodness for washable markers and paints! Now I just need to figure out what to do with all this paper.

Below is the "trail" of artwork, starting with Artist #2.

and finally, the reason for all the picassos...

More than Desire

He could be your pastor. Your youth leader. Boy Scout leader. Dentist or doctor. Even your husband.

She could be your mother, your pastor's wife, a missionary or even your best friend.

Who are they?

They are our brothers and sisters in Christ, good and decent people who struggle with pornography, or who have been deeply wounded because somebody they love, struggles with an addiction to pornography.

Considering the statistics, chances are very high that you know somebody that struggles with this addiction.

This is a serious issue, and it's time that the church stopped being silent, and started talking about it. From the pulpit. In men's groups. And started walking, encouraging and supporting men and women whose lives have been affected by this sinister addiction.

There are lots of women out there who don't know where to turn, for support, a listening ear and advice, but there is a wonderfully refreshing and honest blog that you CAN look to. Where you can ask questions, read articles and talk to other women who have been there. And who understand. And if you or your husband don't struggle but want to know how to help somebody who does, this blog can be a good resource.

It's called, More than Desire. And Ashley Weis has been there.

She and her husband wrote a book this past year titled Exposed. Read below for more info.

When I discovered my husband’s porn addiction I never thought I’d be here today, writing about the restoration of our marriage and the hearts of porn stars. God had a plan. A bigger plan that I may have missed had I not been willing to forgive and love. My husband and I are working to publish a non-fiction book and a novel about the heartache porn brings to those affected by it. The novel, Exposed, is the story of a marriage counselor who discovers her husband’s pornography addiction, and an unloved teen who falls into the same self-destructive industry.

They have also written a workbook for couples, couples that are on the road to healing.

You don't have to walk the road of reconciliation and forgiveness alone.

and church?

This is what the kingdom of God is about. Extending our hands of mercy and grace, because there will come a time when we need those hands of mercy and grace to lift us up.

Friday, December 3

Part 2: What do you say?

What do you say when somebody dies?

This is a very difficult topic. You want to say something to take away the person's pain, but you don't know what to say, so is it better to say nothing? Or is it better to bumble your way through some sort of condolence?

Rule #1: Don't stay silent.

This only invalidates the loss. Remaining silent does not give permission for the person to grieve. There is no space for comfort, no space for tears, no space to remember the person who died.

Rule #2: Don't try to explain it away, in religious terms.

For example, It was the will of God. Or, they are in a better place, or, at least they are in heaven now and not in pain.

While these statement may be true, they only invalidate the pain of the person grieving. These statements make the person feel as if they shouldn't be grieving, "because it was the will of God". The pain is only driven deeper, as the person copes with the loss AND the feeling that their own feelings of grief are somehow wrong.

Rule #3: Be mindful of the timing of sharing your own story of loss.

If you have experienced a similar type of loss, be mindful of sharing it with the person, especially soon afterwards. Dealing with a recent loss, the person can feel overwhelmed with their own feelings of loss, despair, sadness, anger, etc. and may not be able to connect with you and your own experience. But feel free to ask if you can share. Tell them you have experienced a loss and would like to share it with them, when they are ready. There will be a time when hearing about others' losses and how they dealt with them will be very supportive and helpful. Now, I'm not talking about losing your pet. Mentioning that you once had a dog that died is NOT helpful.

Rule #4: Don't say anything that will invalidate the person's grief. Since my own personal experience is with babies, I will talk specifically to statements made in that respect. As in,

You can always have another one. {Like she was just a replacement appliance that I can pick up at SEARS. I could have 10 more girls, and none of them would be her}

Be thankful for the one you have. {Yes, I am very thankful for the child I have. But that has nothing to do with the pain of losing a child.}

She was too sick anyways, you wouldn't have wanted to care for her that way. {My depth of love is not conditional on how healthy she is. All my children are different, it doesn't mean that I love them any less or more. Do people love their down syndrome children, or blind children, any less? I doubt it.}

So...what do you say?

It's really quite simple.

You say, I'm Sorry.

I'm very sorry for your pain.

It must be very difficult.

And as time goes on, talk about the person who died. If you have stories or fond memories of them, bring them up. Share any pictures you have. Don't let their memory die.

If their are people in your midst who have lost someone close to them, reach out to them this holiday season, and don't be afraid of their pain. This is what the body of Christ is about. This is partly why Christ came to earth.

A Holy Experience

Yesterday I ran across this very interesting and thoughtful website. A free book on ideas for Advent, as well as alternate ideas to gifts for Christmas.

You can check it out at A Holy Experience.

There are so many wonderful traditions to be had during this season. What are some of your favorite family traditions?

Thursday, December 2

and Weep with those that Weep

As I look forward to celebrating this Christmas season with family and friends, I also remember those who have recently suffered losses. There have been several instances of loss in the past few months, two of which are the loss of a young wife and mother, and a young couple who recently lost their first child (she died an hour after birth).

How can we "weep with them"? How can we show our support?

Last month I had blogged about how it felt, from my own personal experience, to walk through the loss of a child, and some of the challenges we face, both as a culture and church, to support those in our midst who are walking through a time of grief, whether it be a parent, spouse, or child.

So here is my Lesson #1 in How to Support those who are Grieving:

Help in Practical Ways

What does this look like?

First, don't say, Call me if you need anything. Because they won't. They are dealing with a terrible loss and haven't the brain function to "ask for help". But they still need your support.

1. Offer to bring a meal. Often times after losing someone close, the person will not feel like cooking. All of their energies are focused on dealing with the loss. While the person may not feel like eating, it is nice to not have to worry about meals for several weeks, or even a few months, after a loss. Tell them, "I'd like to bring a meal on such and such a day. Does that work?"

2. Offer to clean their house or do yard work. This is another mundane task that can seem fairly overwhelming, especially in those first few weeks. Ask them, When is a good time that I can come and do dishes, vaccum, mow your grass, rake the yard, etc? But be prepared if they want their privacy. They may not be ready to have somebody in their house. That's ok. But offer again. Because grief is a cycle. One day they may want to be alone, and another day they may want company.

3. Offer to watch the kids, if they have any. After my daughter died, I had no energy to take care of my 16 month old. I would have loved the chance to be alone and process my grief; it was very difficult taking care of a high-energy toddler. Babysitting would have been a huge help. Again, offer to babysit by asking, I'd like to take the kids for a few hours this day, does that work? Offer specific days. Don't say, let me know when a day might work. And if they decline, offer another time.

4. Call. Call often. And don't be discouraged if you don't hear back. While I enjoyed the many messages that were left on my machine, I didn't have the emotional energy to interact with people for many months after my daughter died. Leaving messages, especially on milestones afterwards (1 month later, 2 months later, the due date, holidays, etc), is a quick, easy way to show support.

5. Ask how they are doing. Don't be afraid to mention the person by name. You aren't going to cause more pain by mentioned the person who died, you are allowing the person to be remembered. You are validating his/her life. There may be tears when you ask how the person is doing, and that is OK. Tears help to heal.

6. Help keep their memory alive, by planting a tree, donating money to a cause in their name, or doing a run. If the person died from cancer, there are many runs to raise money in support of curing cancer. There are gardens of hope with plaques for babies that have died. Hearing that others remember your loved one helps to validate the pain felt, even years later.

I hope this has been helpful to you. And if anybody has more suggestions on practical ways to help, please feel free to leave a comment so we can all learn from each other!!

My next blog? What to say and what NOT to say.

Wednesday, December 1

Only you can Save

Another wonderful, deeply insightful song, by former American Idol singer. If you want to hear it, click on the title "Only you can save".

"Only you can save" by Chris Sligh
I saw a man today, his whole world across his back
A living monument opposed to my success
I tried to look into his eyes as he shuffled past my car
Sweat beading on his skin, his clothes and hair a mess

As the light turned green and I pulled away
He slowly disappeared
Just a memory of another chance
I failed to show Your love here

I wanna love because You loved
I wanna give because You gave
I wanna reach my hand out to the lost
'Cause I know Your hand will save

Only You can save
Only You can save

Have to wonder if I really want to know
The struggle and the pain that others feel
Do I want to hear the stories I see echoed in their eyes?
Or is this love I say that I'm reflecting even real?

As the light turns on inside my head
And I slowly disappear
I steel myself 'cause what You call for me
Is to show Your love here

I wanna love because You loved
I wanna give because You gave
I wanna reach my hand out to the lost
'Cause I know Your hand can save

I wanna love just like You loved
I wanna give just like You gave
I wanna reach your hand
'Cause only You can save

Only You can save
Only You can save

Just let me be Your hands
(Only You can save)
Let me be Your eyes
(Only you can save)
Help me understand
(Only you can save)
That I'm Your hands and feet
Hidden behind this frail human disguise

I wanna love because You loved
I wanna give because You gave
I wanna reach my hand out to the lost
'Cause I know Your hand will save

I wanna love just like You loved
I wanna give just like You gave
I wanna reach your hand
'Cause only You can save

Only You can save
Only You can save
Only You can save
Only You can save

Only You can save
Only You can save
Only You can save
Only You can save

You Are More - Tenth Avenue North - w/lyrics Music Video with Lyrics

You Are More - Tenth Avenue North - w/lyrics Music Video with Lyrics

You are More

I am so impressed with the depth and passion of today's young Christian songwriters.

Here is another of my latest favorites (the list just keeps growing :)

There's a girl in the corner
With tear stains on her eyes
From the places she's wandered
And the shame she can't hide

She says, "How did I get here?
I'm not who I once was.
And I'm crippled by the fear
That I've fallen too far to love"

But don't you know who you are,
What's been done for you?
Yeah don't you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

Well she tries to believe it
That she's been given new life
But she can't shake the feeling
That it's not true tonight

She knows all the answers
And she's rehearsed all the lines
And so she'll try to do better
But then she's too weak to try

But don't you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,

[ From: ]

You've been remade.

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

'Cause this is not about what you've done,
But what's been done for you.
This is not about where you've been,
But where your brokenness brings you to

This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

You've been remade
You've been remade.
You've been remade.
You've been remade.

Monday, November 29

Breaking Through

Forgot to mention....

Sebastian got another tooth the day before Thanksgiving AND was weaned from his pacifier.

Our secret?

We lost it.

Blessed beyond reason

Just a photo gallery of our Thanksgiving holiday. We drove 10 1/2 hours north to see my family, and I am thoroughly convinced that the trip gets harder every year.

Besides eating the customary fare, we stopped at an incredible Dinosaur Park in Connecticut, that showcases an actual slab of dinosaur footprints. There was a kids area, in which they could make bookmarks with embossed dinosaur tracks, pick a 15 or 30 min movie to watch, and learn more about the area's dinosaur finds. We all really enjoyed ourselves.

We played Apples to Apples, which we initially learned to play while in Nicaragua.

I made pecan tassies and am trying to teach myself control in the eating of them (they are absolutely to die for!!!)

I bought 2 pairs of black shoes, which takes the total of shoes I have up to 4 pairs.

AND I enjoyed some girl time with my best friend, a rare thing these days. We counted back to the last time we had gone out by ourselves, and it has been 8 years. 8 YEARS. Yes, it was time. We ate at Panera Bread, went shopping, and talked about...pretty much everything. It was so relaxing and fun.

We also celebrated Zach's first birthday with my family here...hard to believe he will be 7 already!

The time went by way too fast, but as I was tempted to complain about all the laundry I have to catch up on, I thought of all the people around the world who only have 1 or 2 pairs of shirts, or pants. And then I realized how blessed I am, that I have several loads of laundry to wash. And that we have a vehicle. And that we can afford to buy gas to make the trip north. We don't skip meals because we don't have the money. Fasting is optional.

Yes, we were so thankful, for so many people and things, this Thanksgiving.