Wednesday, March 30

Everything a Season

Every season has it's high points and low points.  We live in an area with four seasons, so delightful after living in a country with only two seasons, wet and dry.  The temps varied some, but certainly not with the range we find here.

I peer out the window and catch little splashes of color, my daffodils, crocuses and hyacinths promising warmer days ahead.  The radio is forecasting a mix of rain and snow tonight.  *sigh*  Will the warmer weather ever come, I wonder?  It is hard to be patient.

For everything there is a season, He whispers to me.

And like the seasons, there are periods in my life that, try as I might, I cannot rush through.  Just as the farmer has to wait the days and months for the maturing of the seeds he has sown, so it is with me.  I cannot rush through my maturing.  The seeds endure days of heat, drought, animals and patches of tough soil.  And so must I.  

So must we all, if we are ever to become all that God has intended for us.

(photo above: a path through beans planted on the hillsides near Matagalpa)

This pondering, waiting, enduring season, knowing that time is ticking away and our bodies continue to age, fills me with frustration.  I want to go!  I want to minister!  I want to be there, to be in Nicaragua, living and working.

Godliness with contentment is great gain, He reminds me.

What is that really about? I wonder.

Learning contentment is not an easy lesson.  It can hardly be forced with a snap of the fingers.  Meditating on His word, and being in communion with Him daily, brings us to a place of realization.  That for everything there is a season.  And we cannot rush through the seasons, for there is so much to be gained, and learned, and treasured, in each one.

Ecclesiastes 3

1 For everything there is a season,
      a time for every activity under heaven.
 2 A time to be born and a time to die.
      A time to plant and a time to harvest.
 3 A time to kill and a time to heal.
      A time to tear down and a time to build up.
 4 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
      A time to grieve and a time to dance.
 5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
      A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
 6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
      A time to keep and a time to throw away.
 7 A time to tear and a time to mend.
      A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
 8 A time to love and a time to hate.
      A time for war and a time for peace.

Monday, March 28

Here vs. There

Some more random thoughts about "re-entering"....

I still chuckle when I go shopping and see oranges...bright, intensely orange-colored oranges.  They look so fake, I wondered the first few times I saw them if they were real.

I still boil my water to clean my super-greasy cake decorating items.  This habit I can't seem to break.

Once in a while I still throw the toilet paper in the trash, instead of the toilet.

I no longer hesitate and wonder how many diarrhea-producing germs I am looking at when I drink water out of the faucet.

When at a parking lot, I have reduced my staring to less than 2 seconds when I see a car running, or with it's windows down, or unlocked.  The first few months I had to literally hold myself back from running into the store and screaming for the person who left their car in such an unsafe position.  Did they really want it stolen?  I usually just stood there and gaped for a good 10 seconds. So my 2 seconds is definitely better.

I no longer think about covering up open buckets of water.  There are so few mosquitoes here to reproduce.  

It feels strange to have the sun going down and up in always changing times.  The timing only changed about 1/2 an hour, over the course of the year.

When entering a house, I still have to restrain myself from going around and shaking everybody's hands.

I still drop by people's houses, unannounced.

When having people over, I still don't "remember" to clean first or have the house totally immaculate. It is not until after they leave that I remember Americans usually put a lot of stock in having a super clean house before  inviting guests over, and wonder if my guests were offended.

Steve has stopped beeping at every moving thing on the road, when driving.

Stuff is so much cheaper here!!

Stuff is so much more expensive here!!

Yes, it's a strange feeling, being caught between two worlds.

Friday, March 25

Than Checkers

So here is how you play checkers with my 4 yr old.

Everything starts our "normally".  You stay on the black squares *very important* and try to jump over your opponent to take them.  If you are lucky enough to get a man to the other side, here is where it gets interesting.  

"King me!" he yells.  I place another piece on top, then take my turn.  He moves out one square, I move.  On his next turn, instead of tromping around the board and wreaking havoc, he goes BACK to the same space.  "Queen me!" he yells.  

What in the world? I wonder.
This is the goal of the game, he explains.  You keep going back to the end space to see how many pieces you can stack before they fall down.

Ah yes.  How could I forget? 

And there you have it.  

Thursday, March 24

Nicaragua on WJTL!!

I am so excited to hear that our local Christian radio station, 90.3 WJTL, sent one of their radio broadcasters to Nicaragua and she is reporting live throughout the day today!!  

Below is one of the pictures on her blog.

The broadcaster is Lisa Landis, and she is on the coast (the Atlantic side of Nicaragua is referred to as "the coast"), spending time with an NGO called Friends in Action.  Friends in Action (FIA) is a “Friend to Missionaries”…Equipping, Sending, Drilling, Building, Assisting, Accelerating the work of reaching the unreached around the globe, with their headquarters located right here in Elizabethtown, PA!

You can stream WJTL by clicking HERE, for their website.  Lisa is posting videos and pictures of her time in Nicaragua on her blog, located on the WJTL website.  

It has been so fun to listen in today and hear Nicaraguan spanish being spoken, and talks of landmarks in the capital.  Ah, te quiero mucho, Nicaragua!

Wednesday, March 23


The colors of spring are so vibrant, so intense, especially after a dreary winter's gray and brown. 

In Nicaragua, color can be taken for granted, as it can be seen almost year round.  Too soon, the dazzling flowers and green mountains lose their appeal, and life goes on.  

And so it is in life, true?  When we go through a dreary or painful time, either emotionally or physically, when we come through the other side, how wonderful it feels!  How alive we are! 

I'll never forget how wonderful it felt, physically, to not have constant pain and contractions after I delivered my baby.  I felt like a new person.  I so appreciated the ability to walk down to the car without wondering if I was going to make it.  Or play with my children without struggling to keep a smile on my face, in the midst of great pain.  

Maybe that is why sometimes God allows difficult seasons, so we can learn anew, to appreciate once again the beauty all around us. 

To appreciate LIFE.

I had to throw in my latest cake creation...the flowers were particularly fun!

Tuesday, March 22

Lovin' It and "Dislike" it

There have been a lot of up and downs in our readjustment to American society, especially for our children.  Our middle boy still refuses a lot of American food, poor kid, but will gobble up rice and beans, which we serve a few times a week.  I was just thinking about how when we first came back, there were very few things I liked about living here.  But that list has grown the more time we've spent here, including:

waist-high counters, as opposed to close to my knees (a slight exaggeration, but not by much!)

smooth roads

fairly bug free houses

hardly any mosquitoes


museums, parks and all the free resources for kids

the doctors don't attribute my kids' sickness to superstitions

space (such as lawns)

lots of different cheeses!

free wi-fi everywhere

english-speaking church

not feeling like fish in a glass bowl (we hardly ever get stared at here....hardly)

understanding the cultural rules (although we don't always like them)

having lots to do....sometimes too much!

not having to worry about the electricity or water going off while showering

not having to fill up lots of buckets with water for those times 

BUT...I still struggle with some aspects of living here.  Things I "dislike":

the busyness (too many good things make it hard to say no, and make it hard to keep priorities straight 1. God, 2. my spouse and myself and 3. my children)

the constant go-go (nobody seems to know how to just hang out and relax, you have to always be doing something while conversing, the conversation is rarely the main point)

scheduling ahead...I still struggle with looking at the calendar.  I almost never looked at a calendar in Nicaragua, but people don't schedule ahead.  They come by the day before or that day to invite you to a birthday party.  

I miss my pila (concrete washboard).  it made scrubbing cloth diapers, washcloths and small clothing items so quick and easy. 

lawns.  I am still surprised when I drive around and see so much space, so many big lawns.  It feels strange to me that people spend so much time, energy and money on something most people don't really use.  While half the world is starving.  It feels very strange.

It's hard to hear people complain about being "poor" when they have a vehicle, cable, internet and a place to live.  They sleep in a bed all by themselves.  Our housekeeper in Nicaragua shared a twin bed with 2 other people.  And this is normal.  

There is no perfect culture.  Just like there are no perfect  people.  

Monday, March 21


I had a few insights into the kingdom of God while making supper the other night.  To read about them, click HERE to see my personal blog or click on the link at right.

Saturday, March 19

It's time

So...I think it is time for a new mixing bowl...what do you think?

Friday, March 18

Blogging for Compassion

Do you blog?

Do you love Jesus....and children?

Here is an opportunity to combine both passions, by becoming a blogger for Compassion International.

What is a compassion blogger?  Their website states:

Real estate agent. Musician. Student. Photographer. Mom. Dad. Single. Their lives may vary, but one thing Compassion Bloggers have in common: they’re using their influence in the blogosphere to transform the lives of children in poverty worldwide.
They’re posting banner ads. Telling compelling stories that inspire their readers to sponsor a child. And they’re traveling halfway around the world to see firsthand how Compassion International is releasing more than 1,000,000 children in undeveloped countries from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty. Read their stories. And find out how you and your blog can make an eternal difference in the life of a child.

So grab a widget and check it out HERE.   You may just help save a child's life.

Sponsor a child online through Compassion's Christian child sponsorship ministry. Search for a child by age, gender, country, birthday, special needs and more.

Thursday, March 17

Going back to school, perhaps?

So here we are, almost 8 months since we have left Nicaragua.

There have been a lot of changes.  A LOT.  Culture, money, cars, food, friends, church, jobs, hmmm did we miss anything?  

We moved, traveled the world (or it felt that way), sold 2/3 of our stuff, planned to return to Nicaragua, discussed and set the date back a few months, moved again, then again, then realized we needed more time and as of now, our return is....unknown.  

People have been asking us when we are going back, and it's a fair question.  One that I would like an answer to , as well, but since I don't really know, that is all I can say for now.  

What are we waiting for? people ask.  

When it comes right down to it, we are waiting for God to give us the green light.  He has confirmed to us, many times and through many forms, that we are in the right place.  Right now.  

Which is a good place to be, overall, although it can be frustrating at times.  Especially when you have dreams, and they don't include living in a trailer and trying to piecemeal work together so that you have enough to live on, and you realize that another birthday has gone by and you aren't getting any younger.  And you feel a bit stranded, waiting expectantly for any sign to "keep moving".  It is sort of like being 9 months pregnant and your due date is tomorrow.  You have been waiting and are now waiting, in anticipation, for "that moment".  It's hard to plan anything, and your whole world revolves a bit around this timing.  

Praise God that lately we have had more peace than ever, and know that we are in the right place. However, we are still dreaming about the future and have some possibilities in mind.

One possibility is a 15 week course, called  the H.E.A.R.T. missionary training institute, in collaboration with Warner University.  H.E.A.R.T. stands for Hunger Education And Resources Training Institute is an interdenominational training center designed to prepare people to serve effectively in the Third World. Located in subtropical Florida.

Courses include nutrition and health, appropriate technology and sustainable agriculture, animal husbandry and spiritual development, among others.  The first 4 weeks, there is no electricity and no running water...very primitive.  And exactly what we would love to learn more about! 

The catch is that it is only offered in the fall.  And being 15 weeks, we would move the whole family down there.  Uproot, again, and live primitively for 4 months.  But it seems to be exactly what we want to learn, do and teach to others.  It appears to be a very exciting opportunity for us and we are taking it into serious consideration.

So could you please be in prayer about this?...that God would show us if and when this might happen.  And of course, finances.  Everything costs something.  

Wednesday, March 16

Eating Home

Welcome to my restaurant..or actually, Nathaniel and Zach's restaurant.

Looks good, doesn't it?

My boys have a great imagination, and I sometimes let it carry me away as well, hee hee. Keeps the child in me...alive.

Hope for Orphans

Are you interested in adoption but don't know where to start? Have you thought about starting an orphans ministry at your church? Would you love to learn more about what the bible says regarding orphans?

Check out this website, called Hope for Orphans, that offers resources for churches and you!

There will be a one day workshop at Manheim Brethren in Christ church, entitled Your church and the orphan, Saturday April 2nd.

Your Church and the Orphan™ is a powerful, interactive, and fun one-day event that will bring together a group of passionate like-minded people from your church to pray, dream and learn about how God might want to use your churchon behalf of the orphan.
This informative, biblical, and hands-on group workshop experience will serve as a catalyst to help your church launch a ministry to orphans. Here are the answers to some questions you may have:

What will the schedule include?
  • Eight steps to launching an orphans ministry in your church
  • Creatively guided prayer and discussion times that will get your church well on its way to a plan for launching a church orphans ministry
  • An overview of key organizations that can help your church orphans ministry do what God calls you to do
  • Useful tools to help you take your next steps
  • Opportunities to interact with other churches in your area whose members share the same passions as you
Who should come?
Any follower of Christ who wants to explore how their church can make a difference for orphans and waiting children.
How many people from my church should come?
Anywhere from 3-12 people is ideal. But, if you have more than 12 sign up, certainly feel free to bring everyone.
Can I come alone?
Yes. However, this workshop has been uniquely created with team interaction in mind. Therefore, if you are planning to attend individually or with one other person, you will be seated together with other individual attendees to maximize your workshop experience.
If you'd like more information, click HERE.

Tuesday, March 15

Airfare for Missionaries and Adoptions

Have you seen this yet?

I just ran across this website, called Cheap Missions Trips, that offer low-cost airfare for those traveling for missions trips, humanitarian reasons or adoption.

Has anyone reading this blog used them before? Would love to hear more about them!

Seems like a fantastic website...check it out HERE.

Friday, March 11

Starting a new blog

Okay, so it's official.

I started thinking a few days ago, about all I've blogged in the last few months, and realized that while this blog started out as our family blog, about our life in Nicaragua, I've turned it into MY blog.

And I wasn't too happy about that.

So I fixed it.

By starting my own personal blog, which you can find by clicking on HERE, called Refined by Fire.

Or clicking on the link at your right.

So...this blog will go back to being our family blog, updates on our lives here in the U.S. and thoughts on our future, hopefully in Nicaragua, and hopefully sooner rather than later :)

And if you want to continue to follow ME, and my thoughts, struggles and conversations, become a follower of my new blog.

I will probably update my personal blog more frequently than this blog, but I guess it depends on how exciting our family life turns out to be this year. Who knows? God is full of surprises.

Almost here!

My boys have been itching to get outside. Any time the thermometer climbs above the freezing point, they are out, playing in the yard.

We took advantage of the particularly nice days to check out a nearby park.

Spring is almost here, I can feel it!

Thursday, March 10

Chickenpox plus cakes...

So, what goes cluck cluck and rhymes with socks?


Yes, I know, it's corny, but I'm digging deep to find humor this week, after my oldest came down with the chickenpox, even after having the vaccine, and the
other two boys are sick...runny noses, fevers, the green stuff, ear infections....yes, i
t's been a fun week.


I did get to do a few cakes (yipee!) in between holding my little guy, wiping runny noses, and trying to homeschool.

I even got a few hours of sleep somewhere in there :)

Here are my latest cake's been a while since I've done a cake and I really enjoyed it.

The below is for a kid with lactose-intolerance, and others in the house couldn't eat the colored frosting, so I probed my mind for creative ways to decorate with M&M's, provided by the parents.

This one I did for my niece, which was a nice change from all the boy cakes I've done these last few months.

If you live in the Lancaster area, feel free to contact me if you have a cake need!!

Stop the Bleeding

Another great song, beautifully stated, and expresses my feelings of late.

This one is titled "stop the bleeding" by FFH. Click HERE to listen to it.

How much farther must I go
'Til you say that I'm broken
How much heartache must I know
For you to say "enough's enough"

How many teardrops have to fall
For You to see that I'm empty
Is the reason for this all
So I'll admit I'm not so tough

So come and stop the bleeding
I think I finally understand
So come and stop the bleeding
I know you can

How much desert must I cross
Till I come to the Jordan
I am thirsty and I am lost
My heart is weak emptied out

So come and stop the bleeding
I think I finally understand
So come and stop the bleeding
I've tried to fix this but I can't
So come and stop the bleeding
I know You Can

So come and stop the bleeding
I think I finally understand
So come and stop the bleeding
I've tried to fix this but I can't
So come and bring the healing
I think I've had all I can stand
So come and stop the bleeding
If You can
Come and stop the bleeding
I know You can

Wednesday, March 9


Today is Ash Wednesday.

Today starts a 40 day period known as Lent.

What is Lent?

Lent is giving up. It is reclaiming.

It is dying and it is gaining.

It is freedom and bondage.

It is both rejoicing and sorrowing.

It is knowing Jesus. It is becoming like Jesus.

for Lent, I am giving up facebook.

I am choosing to pursue my relationships in more meaningful ways.

Through phone conversations.

Over coffee.

Through the tears and opening up of myself.

My whole self.

If you would like to learn more about Lent or check out some resources, click on Ann's blog.

and perhaps, will you fast this season?

seek to draw closer to God?

and once again discover how very precious, and loved, you are.

Tuesday, March 8

The Warrior's Path

Found this incredible website/blog and wanted to share it with you all.

It's called The Warrior's Path, and was inspired by John and Stasi Eldredge's teachings and books.

The Warrior's Path was created as a source of teaching, encouragement, and fellowship for a new generation of Christ-followers who desire to live life from the strength of their adoption as sons and daughters of the King, experiencing the "full" Christian life, and becoming God's Mighty Men and Women in the ongoing mission of bringing God's Kingdom into a dark world.

They offer weekend retreats and speaking engagements. You can find out more by clicking on The Warrior's Path.

Monday, March 7


I am broken.


My only prayer is that my life will be like the jar of perfume that was broken over Jesus' feet, sweet and used for His glory.

I have been strong, my whole life.

I've had so many people tell me, You are so strong! You've been through so much and look at you!

Yes, I was strong.

I survived a childhood with alcoholic parents, the screaming and yelling, trips to the bar to bring a parent home, working to pay for my own schooling, clothes and food.

I survived an abusive relationship in college, with a guy that was studying to be a pastor. Who is now a worship leader.

I survived the death of several babies, the death of a dream to have a large family.

I survived three years overseas, not knowing the language, not having any other Americans nearby, working and homeschooling.

But I am tired.

Tired of being strong.

Tired of carrying the pain through life.

Tired of people who claim to love and follow Jesus, and then walk away when they see my pain, see the things God has allowed in my life. No wonder so many people hate church and religion.

The world is full to the brim with pain, and as the body of Christ, don't we have the answer? But if we walk away from our own brothers and sisters pain, how in the world can we ever find the strength to offer healing to a broken world?

I don't want to be strong anymore.

I want Jesus to carry me for a while. To feel His arms around me, holding me like a child, giving me His shoulder to cry on, and hearing words of encouragement and love.

If you are in a place of pain, of brokenness, don't give up. And don't give into the world's "answers" to deal with your pain. The world only offers more pain, not less. The worlds ways may help for a time, but the pain is never healed. It only hides away, going deeper, and deeper, until it has wrapped itself around you and you begin to wonder where it all began.

And please, don't judge God because of people. While the church is meant to be many things, it is still full of flawed human beings. Many of them hurting themselves. And the church often fails.

But God NEVER fails.


HE will never leave you. He will never walk away from you.

If your church does not support you, then find one that does. Or find a support group. Or a close friend that will listen, and support you as you find your way through the pain.

Because there is more to life than pain. God promises. comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion,
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor. ~Isaiah 61: 2-4

Saturday, March 5

On Letting Go

Here I stand, on the edge of a cliff, barefoot, my toes clinging to the edge as small rocks tumble down, gulped up by angry waves. It's a long way down.

I feel the wind playing with my hair, wrapping it around my face, smell the salt and close my eyes. A whisper comes to me, quietly riding the wind. I strain my ears to catch the voice, but it eludes me.

I open my eyes and look out over the horizon. Dark swirling clouds, far away over the ocean, reveal a large and strong storm. And it looks to be heading this way. The roar of the waves, crashing against the rocks below, compete with the howling wind.

"What am I doing here?" I think to myself. As I turn to leave, the wind suddenly dies down, and I hear the voice, once again, my ears tingling.

"Do you trust me?" HE asks.

"Trust you?" I hesitate, unsure if I have heard correctly. I don't have to ask WHO it is. I know His voice. I've heard His voice for over 25 years now. But only the silence answers me.

My eyes drift to the horizon and the black clouds. They are coming for me. For ME.

"What do you want from me?" I ask.

Again the voice, stronger this time, gentle but confident, asks me, Do you trust me?

Inside, I struggle.

I want to trust. I want to be unafraid. I want to love and to be loved, completely and without bonds.

I turn back to the edge of the cliff, and look down, watching the white-capped waves beat against the rocks, angry and unforgiving.

"Then...let go", He says.

"LET GO, and trust ME".

I close my eyes, feel the wind around my face, the rocks under my feet, the salt in the air, and lift my hands.

And let go.

Tuesday, March 1

A weekend to remember

This past weekend, my man and I went away to a Weekend to Remember conference, put on by Family Life, and it was SO worth the money.

It was absolutely amazing and life changing. AND, I have never laughed so hard in my life! I seriously had tears running down my face at one point.

We walked away feeling renewed, encouraged and inspired. Whether you are engaged, newlyweds, married 10 years like us, or have been married for 50 years, the words you will hear at the conference will revitalize your marriage.

Just a few tidbits from the weekend....

from the Men's session: abdicating or abusing your responsibilities as a husband is taken seriously by God (ref. Malachi 2:14-15). If we (men) abdicate our responsibilities, we force our wife to learn to live without us. If we abuse our responsibilities, we force our wife to either run or retaliate.

Speaker: Turn to your spouse and look deep into their eyes. Now say, I'm looking at the second most flawed person in this room.

There is more at stake in your marriage than just your marriage. Your marriage reflects the love of God to the world.

Sex is a thermometer, not a thermostat (of your marriage).

Love and confrontation are NOT opposites.

and so much more...

We ended the weekend by standing, holding hands with our spouse and looking into each others' eyes, and repeating our wedding vows. It was so precious. Many couples were deeply touched.

I hope to pull several blogs out of what we learned this past weekend.

So check it out at Weekend to Remember (they have them all over the country, and no, I do not get paid to talk about them :)

Like a Child

I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.

The words of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospel of Mark (Mark 10:15)

I watch my children play, quietly, innocently, as I hear reports of war, violence and poverty sweep across the globe. And yet, here they play, unaware, enjoying the moment, secure in my love for them, completely trusting that I will take care of them.

They have no worries.

They do not fear war, or poverty.

I love them, and they know it.

Unless you enter the kingdom of heaven like a child, you will never enter it. ~Jesus