Saturday, February 20

Perfect? or just HUMAN?

I’m having one of those days. You know, one of THOSE. Where I feel so….HUMAN.

When one of my little alarm clocks woke me up (we have never had to set an alarm clock, unless we woke up before 5 am, since Zachariah was born, I’m not kidding!), I just wanted to roll over and start the night all over. I felt grumpy all day. Snapped at my hubby, didn’t play with the kids, made a mess in the kitchen and didn’t clean up, and didn’t make supper. And I really didn’t feel like doing my devotions or praying to God. By the time I flopped into bed, I thought, What a day! Everything just went so wrong. I feel like such a failure as a mom, and as a person. Why do some days have to be SO hard?

But not every day is like that.

Some days, I get up early, read the Bible, help get Zach off to school, play with the kids, get some work done, make supper, go to aerobics, read books to the boys, have a wonderful heart-to-heart chat with my man, and peacefully drift off to sleep.

Why can’t all days be like that? It’s funny how some days, I feel like superwoman. I can do anything, I can do it all!! And then the next, I fall flat on my face, and feel so 100% human and wonder how I will ever survive until I get to bed.

I guess that is one of the reasons I love God so much. Because no matter if I’m having a superwoman day, or a very human day, His love for me NEVER CHANGES. And his grace is sufficient.

10 months

Time is really flying by…in a lot of ways. Our 3 yr term ends in just 5 months, Steve will be 31 in a few weeks, and Sebastian just turned 10 months. 10 months !

Sebastian is a good baby, very tranquilo, as they say here. He doesn’t sleep as much as I’d like, but he’s happy when he is awake, and so very curious! He loves to feel things and touch everything and everybody, especially their faces. He pokes his chubby fingers into their eyes, noses and ears. Thankfully people here LOVE babies, so they just laugh and give him raspberries on his hands.

He now sports 2 bottom teeth and 2 top teeth that threaten to come through any day. He can also stand alone and is quite capable of walking…but he is too timid. He is very cautious, which is probably a good thing, since the one daredevil I have is already giving me gray hairs. One more and I’d probably be completely gray by the time I turn 35.

I never would have thought that my most premature baby would turn out to also be the biggest. Boy does he eat! I think Zach and Sebastian probably eat about half of our food budget. I don’t know where he puts it all, since he doesn’t really have any rolls.

I love the fresh fruits here. Right now, oranges, mandarines and avocados are in season, and mangoes are right around the corner. We bought 25 oranges for $0.75!

I tried to get a picture of him standing alone, but every time he sees the camera, he thinks, Ooh, so shiny! I must have it! and comes for me.

He is such a miracle, literally. Sometimes I look at him and feel…amazed. And humbled. There were so many days, and nights, that I wondered if I would ever get to meet him, alive, and bring him home. I’m so grateful to God that HE allowed me the privilege of caring for this precious bundle. To God be all the glory.

Friday, February 19

Isaac turns 2!

Nicaraguan birthday parties are a lot of fun: food, LOUD music and of course, the pinata, which our boys have come to love. I guess I'll need to learn how to make them when we go back to the US :)

On February 13th, Isaac turned 2. He is Damaris's second son and a cutie. He is practically an older child as there is almost 5 yrs between him and his older brother.

The birthday boy.

The Cake. I had fun decoaring with the M&M's and the boys had fun eating them.

The parents played a game with their kids where the moms/dads blew up the balloons and the kids ran to a designated spot and sat on them to pop them.

The pinata awaits!

As the birthday boy, Isaac takes the first hit.

*POP* there went the pinata! The kids all rush in to get their candy. Nathaniel is still learning :)

Thursday, February 18

First Girlfriend

Uh oh, it's already starting! Yes, that age of star-dazzled eyes and requests of, When is she coming back? He has it bad. and she is 6x his age! Nathaniel is in love...with this girl.

I'd like you to meet Yessenia. She is a sweet and fun-loving girl. She is the niece of the last housekeeper and actually lives out in the countryside, about a 2 hr ride. She comes in on Friday to go to school all day on Saturday, and then heads back home Sat. night. She has been helping us with the laundry for a few months now.

Her catching smile has endeared the boys to her...especially Nathaniel. She stays over on Friday nights, and Nathaniel has decided that he wants to sleep with her. Having 12 brothers and sisters, she is used to sharing a bed, so she doesn't mind at all.

This is so unusual for him. He is in the stage of not really enjoying people and generally wants to be left alone. But he has it BAD. We are really blessed to know her. She has been learning how to make and decorate cakes, as well as other desserts. Besides that, we have a lot of fun together. She isn't a Christian, but I hope to work on that :) Please pray for these last 5 months we have together, that we could be witnesses of Christ's love and peace to her.

Monday, February 15

Valentine's Day Dinner

Since this was our last Valentine's Day here in Nicaragua, I wanted to do something special for Roberto's family.

I planned a full course meal for Saturday night and hoped to take care of the kids so the adults could enjoy a meal in relative peace and quiet.

The menu for the party was a cream cheese fruit and nut spread with sesame seed crackers, accompanied by a hot and creamy fruit punch (from MCC's cookbook, Extending the Table), followed by a tropical fruit salad, then the main course of chicken cordon bleu (my first try...rolling chicken breasts are harder than I thought!) with wild rice (from Canada, the Obijiwan tribe) and a lovely broccoli salad with a home-made mustard vinaigrette. For dessert, I made cupcakes and planned on topping them with whipped cream, but the cream just would not thicken :( But everybody seemed to enjoy the cupcakes anyways.

I planned to do this all in one shot, on Saturday. I got up early Saturday morning and started off with baking a cake for a birthday party the next day. Details coming in my next blog. After that, the day flew by, and at 4:30 I showered and it was time to head over to Roberto's house for the final touches!

I bought some used candle holders at a used American stuff store, and a nice plastic tablecloth (beautiful AND easy to clean, a lovely mix of romantic and practical). Abby, her mom and Jacqueline helped with the last minute details and passing out of the food. Candida gives Sebastian "his" valentine's supper, mashed papaya.

Since Nicaraguans generally don't eat much for supper, this was a LOT of food. So after the appetizers, we played a game of, How Well do you know your Spouse? Itwas fun and I learned a few things about people. Below, Abby reading off the answers to the game.

Everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves, and I was glad to have been able to do this for them.

What if...?

Steve and I have been having some lively discussions lately about poverty, about our return to the US in July, about what we want our vision to be, for us personally and as a family.

A book that Abby lent us has definitely fueled our conversations. It is called Simple Spirituality. I highly recommend it to anyone who does not want to be “comfortable”; somebody who wants to be challenged in their spiritual walk and think more about how we as rich Christians should address our brothers and sister who live in poverty.

A passage from Isaiah has also continually puzzled and challenged us. Here is the passage, from Isaiah 58:

2 Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.

3 “Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice? Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers.

4 Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high.

5 Is this the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?

6 Is not this the fast that I choose:
To loose the bonds of injustice,
To undo the thongs of the yoke,
To let the oppressed go free,
And to break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them ,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

What is God saying here? What does this look like in the 21st century? Is it possible that as Christians, God is asking us to do more than go to church once a week and give a tithe? We have been asking God to show us what this means. How do we “loose the bonds of injustice” or “break every yoke?”

I started to imagine what this might look like. What if…

Instead of thinking that adoption is only for those who cannot have children, every Christian saw it as an alternative to abortion, a ministry, a way to personally affect someone for Jesus? Fact: If only 7% of the world’s Christians would adopt a child the orphanages of the world would be empty. Also see James 1:27

Instead of adorning our churches with fancy decorations, we gave the money to poorer churches for their needs, or even to homeless and starving families? James 2: 5,15,16,Romans 12:13

Instead of thoughtlessly piling our food on our plates and eating until we can hardly walk, we spent some time at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter…and learned what it means to be truly thankful? 1 Thessalonians 4: 18, Colossians 3:17

Instead of building a bubble around our family, we learned about persecuted Christians in other countries and taught our children to pray for them? Hebrews 13: 3

Instead of building big churches, we had only house churches, and the money we saved could be used to support our brothers and sisters in need? 1 Timothy 6:6-10

Instead of mothers competing against each other through their children, they became like true sisters, encouraging each other and praying for one another? Philippians 1:27, Ephesians 4:1-3, 1 John 4:20, I Peter 4:8, Titus 2:3-5, I Corinthians 10:24

Instead of tearing down masculinity and waffling on family issues, churches powerfully and practically supported the men and their marriages? 1 Peter 5: 1-3, James 5:16, Titus 2: 2, 6, Ephesians 5: 25-31

Instead of believing that war is the only option, we truly believed that Love overcomes all things? 1 John 4:4, 8 and 5: 3-5, 1 Corinthians 13:8,13, Romans 8:31,37

Instead of criticizing our leaders and fighting each other along political lines, we remember that our kingdom is not of this world and we pray for those in authority over us? 1 Peter 2:13, Romans 13:1,2

Instead of spending on our money on beautifying large houses in the suburbs, going on expensive vacations, making payments on luxurious vehicles and buying a new wardrobe every season, we lived more simply and directed the money towards people who don’t know where their next meal will come from? 1 Timothy 6:6-10, Colossians 3:2,3, James 2:14-17

Instead of thinking that evangelism is only the work of missionaries, we resolved to get to know our neighbors, our co-workers, and to walk alongside them and possibly even tell them about Jesus? I John 3: 18, James 4:12,

What would this world look like?

I don’t know for sure, and I realize that none of these are easy, but I think it would look very differently.

Sweet Dreams

I’m not a very good sleeper. Well, not usually. I am a better sleeper now that I have 3 little boys. So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that 2 out of the 3 boys aren’t great sleepers either.

But at least I have one good sleeper. I can always count on him to not give me any trouble in this area. He sleeps great all night and doesn’t have bad dreams. He drifts peacefully off to sleep for his naps and can sleep just about anywhere, and in any position. When he sleeps, he sleeps DEEPLY. We can move him from one area to another without ever seeing an eyelid open. One of his favorite positions is what I call, the Prayer. He looks like he is doing his noon prayers, kneeling on the floor and his head touching the bed, except he does this all night long. Perhaps he’s extra spiritual, heehee.

He sometimes reminds me of the cats we had growing up. All stretched out, paws above their heads, or over their heads, hind feet sticking straight up. Are they actually asleep like that, I wondered? It was good free entertainment just watching them sleep. I don’t have any cats now, but I sometimes get a good laugh over the places, and the positions, in which Nathaniel falls asleep.

I recently joked that Nathaniel sleeps like a campesino (farmer). Campesinos are known to be able to sleep in anything, be it a crib, small cot with 2 other people or on the dirt floor. It’s an ongoing joke around here.

Instead of just standing in the doorway and chuckling at Nathaniel in one of his weird positions, I decided to take some photos…just to show you what he looks like. Looks pretty cozy, eh? I might just join him...

Friday, February 5

photo albums

I love taking photos. I've never had any classes, but I'm learning, little by little. But I've yet to figure out how to organize them...and where to put them all.

I have photos uploaded to 3 different sites, depending on my needs.

So I finally linked some of my can check to the right to see some photos from Simon and Jenny's visit, our day trip to a coffee farm, and random pictures of us around the house.

Thursday, February 4

Artist in Residence

We have an artist here in our home. I'd like you to meet Zach, our oldest son, artist, visionary and creator.

He has an amazing artistic eye. He makes so many paintings and drawing a week, I finally decided to make his own Art Gallery. Every week I hang up his latest creations and after a while, I take them down and replace them with his new art. It's fun to look at and show off his work.

Lately he has been really into constructing buildings with these styrafoam type puzzle pieces. His buildings have been quite intricate and beautiful. Nathaniel enjoys making them as well, but afterwards he enjoys destroying them with his bat (which I think he enjoys more :)

Time to do some Real Work!

Let the real work begin. Or is it? Although we've technically been off of vacation since Jan 11th, it was about the same time our housekeeper took off for Costa Rica and I developed pneumonia, from which I'm still recovering, so Steve has been converted into Mr. Mom for the last few weeks. He is a great cook, back rubber, bed time story reader and wrestler. He would generally head to the office for the morning, but be back before lunch to help out.

But wow was he tired! This past Monday our new housekeeper started, and he was ready to get back to "real" work...the much easier job! He spent most of this week out in the countryside, checking up on the goats and rabbits and talking with the farmers.

The good news is that most of the goats had kids and are doing well. Some of the farmers are milking their goats. Others have yet to really start. The bad news is that the rabbits are not doing well. Many have died, and quite suddenly, without symptoms. We researched diseases, but often an autopsy is required soon after death to determine the cause. And since we don't hear about the deaths for several days or even weeks later, we aren't able to identify the cause. Steve plans to do several workshops this month, educating the farmers on general care of the animals and their pens, how to milk goats, and diseases. Abby and I also hope to start making some rounds with the farmers and possibly doing a few workshops with the women, talking about the benefits of goats milk.

Meanwhile, in between trying to choke down disgusting antibiotics and entertain the kids, I've been messing around the my camera and had some fun. Yesterday I went back to the lung specialist and she said my lungs sound much better. However, I've developed a sinus infection and she put me on another antibiotic, as well as pulmicort because my lungs have some inflammation. But I think I am nearing the end of my road...after 5 long weeks. I am ready to feel like myself again :)