Thursday, April 28

Cake for soccer fans

Here is the latest cake I made, for a young soccer fan :)

I thought it turned out pretty well.  It was the first time I had ever baked a cake in a pyrex bowl.  Seems like every time I make a cake, I learn something new.  Oh, and I had so much fun with the grass tip, it was the first time I got to use it!

Saturday, April 23

the smartest kids

Apparently I must have the smartest kids in the world, because before they have reached the age of 10, they already know everything.

Listen to a few of these quotes from this past week:

"I don't need to go to church anymore, I already know everything about Jesus."

"There is only one thing left that I don't know, and that is how to drive.  Will you teach me?"

"I know more than God."

"I know more than you."

This little guy is the only one who doesn't spout his incredible array of knowledge, and only because he doesn't talk much yet.

It's tough living in a house full of know-it-all's, but somehow I make it....

ps yes, more on the Sacred Marriage book later, as promised

Thursday, April 21

How bad marriages just happen

We've all heard this before, usually from the little people that share our homes with us.

"It just happened!" they cry, as if they had absolutely nothing to do with the accident/spill/toilet paper in the bathtub/paint-all-over-the-walls/pillows-smashed-to-smithereens/{add your own lovely experiences here}.
You know what I'm talking about.

But alas, good marriages do not just happen.

They don't just happen because you eat supper together, make a few babies and sleep in the same bed together.  Indeed, these can all create even more space in the relationship.  We know.  Believe us, we know.

At the marriage weekend away we attended a few months ago, they emphasized that marriages are not stagnant.  You are either moving closer together, or moving farther apart.  There is no "floating along".

When we came to a crossroads and separation seemed the easy way out, we turned and walked towards commitment.  Hard work.  A changing of our priorities.

We have date night at least once every two weeks, where we don't talk about the kids, the bills or work. We talk about ourselves, we open ourselves up, become transparent and vulnerable.  This can only happen with time, with consistent time away.  We check in with each other, ask how we can be a better spouse, how can we support each other better.  And we are honest.

We only schedule 2 nights away a week. This ensures that we have time in the evenings to talk and relax together.  This means getting the kids to bed at a decent hour.  We love our children, and we love our friends, but they are not more important than our marriage.  Our marriage was here first, and it will still be here, God willing, when the children leave the house.  This is, and was, a very intentional reordering of our priorities.  And the kids know, after hearing it many times, that "mommy and daddy time" is very important.  And amazingly, they are happier for it.

At the moment I am reading an amazing and insightful book, called Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas.  More on that for the next post....

Monday, April 18

Happy birthday 2 you, Sebastian!

Well, it's hard to believe that my "baby" is two years old.  I guess he really isn't a baby anymore, but for some reason, that name sticks.

"Come here, baby!" I call.

"What's wrong, baby?" I ask.

I will probably still be calling him that when he is 30 years old and has children of his own.

I thought about doing decorations.  I thought about doing a fancy cake, a Noah's ark cake, but in the end, I decided to just enjoy the weekend with my man and keep it simple.

This is for you, "baby".  You are truly our miracle baby.  The doctors never expected you to see the light of day, or if you did, to not make it home.  But you did, and you are here, at home with us, healthy and full of laughter.  I will never stop thanking God for you.  It was worth all the pain, all the contractions and sleepless nights.  Worth all the steroid shots.  And even worth the emergency C-section that didn't go so well.

You are worth all that....and MORE.

Looking forward to another year with you and enjoying every moment, for who can say when will be your last?

Friday, April 15

A time to talk, a time to have fun

I am super excited about this weekend...we actually have the whole weekend without kids!!

Well, not the WHOLE weekend.  But about 40 hours worth, and that is a LOT, when you have 3 kids.  One kid is easy to find a babysitter for, but 3???  It definitely gets trickier as the number of kids goes higher.

So a BIG thank you to my hubby's family and our loads of friends who are making this happen for us.  We SO need it. And probably every other parent out there is thinking the same thing, harhar.

Tonight we have reservations at a restaurant/jazz club, which is one of my first loves.  And tomorrow, well....tomorrow we have plan A, plan B and plan C, depending on what we are feeling like.  We've been going through some processing lately, especially myself.  Processing can be hard to do with children around.  Almost impossible, to do it really well, and deeply.

But we've come to realize that while we have some ground to make up in our marriage, we cannot always spend the time we have together in "serious" study or talk. We also need to relearn how to have fun together.  So in these last few months, we have gone bowling and to the arcade.  I definitely do better at the arcade!!  As the weather warms up, we look forward to some mini-golf and biking on the rail trails.

When was the last time you did something fun with your special someone?  Is it time to plan something?

Tuesday, April 12

Auction to support Stacy

If you live in central PA, come check out this auction and support my friend Stacy Nofziger who plans to serve with EMM in the Czech Republic this August.

The auction will be held this coming Saturday, April 16th at 6 pm, at the EMM Meetinghouse in Salunga.  A simple sloppy joe meal will be served from 5 - 5:45 pm. 

The items to be auctioned off are:

-2 hours of handyman work
-one 16x20 framed picture

-one set of 3 8x10 framed pictures
-one set of 5 8x10 framed pictures
-basket of Mary Kay items/products ($50 retail)
-homemade mocha truffle cheesecake
-5 swim lessons (by Greta Short)
-1 chiropractic exam and treatment ($75 value) Weinhold Chiropractic Mt. Joy (by Dr. Leah Reiff)
-65 stroopwaffels
-video slideshow for wedding/funeral/birthday/celebration/family event from Backrowvideo ($250 value)
-4 advent art pieces from West End Mennonite Fellowship
-5 cookbooks (Renee Graber)
-flower arrangements
-Longaberger baskets
-hand crocheted scarf
-hand made coffee bean candle
-small wooden table
-wooden shelf
-hanging flower basket
-family fun night basket ($50 value)
-2 aprons
-1-2 flannel baby blankets
-vehicle oil change and service
-2 gift certificates for 9x13 cakes
-10 8x10 matted unframed Nicaragua pictures
-4 hours of waterskiing for up to 6 adults
-gardening supplies or tools
-African man's shirt
-car battery (Denny's Auto Machine Shop in Williamsport, MD)
-Loneberger pottery fruit bowl
-6 packs stamped greeting cards
-tomato plants
-chocolate covered oreos
-peanut butter fudge
-gardening gift basket
-hog maw
-rice heating pad
-iron wall decoration
-2 hours of yard work (trimming grape vines, small trees...)
-cool international item
-1-2 cheesecakes
-relaxation basket
-1 wooden hall tree (coat rack)
-3 bags that each contain 2-3 crocheted washcloths, 2-3 hotpads, and 2 scrubbie things
-6 (I think) afghans; 2 adult and the rest baby
-1 framed picture of Prague
-wooden puzzles (not sure how many my Grandpa is making)
-Buckeyes (not sure how many dozen we're planning to make)
-Lonely Monk coffee (though I have to double check with Leon how much he's donating)
-handmade jewelry (not sure what type yet) 
-Kurdish meal for 8
-night/b-fast in guest house
-certificate for housecleaning
-homemade bread basket
-several loaves of homemade bread
-2 pair of embroidered pillow cases
-2 jewelry sets
-wooden tractor and wagon
-2 magazine racks
-folding end table
-homemade woven rug
-2 sequence games
-crocheted doily
-quilted wall hanging
-2 centerpieces
-2 jewelry bags (to hold jewelry)
-3 dishcloth, scrubbie bags
-1 wooden homemade truck
-2 children's aprons
-2 jars "cookie in a jar"
-1 box Stella Leona chocolates
-1 movie kit (movie, popcorn, bowl, cheese seasoning, "Dots" candy)
-1 speaker pillow (radio in the pillow) and blanket
-1 home fragrance oil kit (glass holder, diffuser, 2 home fragrances
-wooden "occasional table"
-1 pan of authentic apple strudel (made by Josef)
-gift certificate to Pottery Works
-4 pair of handmade Amala earrings (by Melissa Engle)
-2 shoo fly pies (made by Bethany)

Sunday, April 10

Not goodbye

You are dearly missed, sweet one. We went to see your stone yesterday and your brothers picked flowers for you.  Nathaniel asked if you would come down from heaven to get the flowers.  But this isn't goodbye.  We will see you again someday.  We love you.

Thursday, April 7

Happy Birthday Alaina!

Happy Birthday, my dear sweet girl!

Your brothers are so excited about celebrating your birthday today.  Nathaniel asked if you like dinosaurs, and I told him you did, so he made you a dinosaur card.  Zach wants to help me make a cupcake and blow out the candles for you.  All 6 of them.  He asked me yesterday if you can smell the flowers he picked for you, and I told him, Yes, you can smell the flowers.

 photo: me at 4 months of pregnancy, 3 months before she was born

photo: holding her for the first time.  She died a half hour later.

I can't wait to see you again, baby girl.  Whole and healthy and full of life.

Until we meet again...

Wednesday, April 6

Discounts on my Nicaragua photos!

I've added a few more photos to my esty shop, and in honor of our daughter Alaina, will be offering a 20% discount on all photos from April 7 through April 14th!  Simply type in GIRL20 at checkout.  This discount does not apply to shipping charges.

So click on my etsy shop at right and enjoy the savings!!

Some of the photos below you can buy from my etsy shop!

God's sense of humor

I know I'm a little behind the times, but I had to post these pictures of what our yard looked like on Aprils 1st, Fool's Day.

I was so shocked when I woke up and looked outside my see everything in white, once again!  We don't live in an area where snow in April is a normal occurrence.  If we lived in New Hampshire, I wouldn't think too much of it.  But this is a bit rare.  Of course, my boys were happy for another chance at a snowball fight.

Isn't that just like God, I chuckled to myself.  He definitely has a sense of humor.

Tuesday, April 5


This is a tough week for us.  Thursday marks 6 years since our precious daughter came into our lives, and Saturday marks 6 years ago that she died.

Springtime is always tough.  Seeing the cherry trees blossoming and flowers coming alive is a bittersweet memory. While the color peeping through the ground reminds us of life, it also reminds me of death.  Hard to believe it has been 6 years, and how well I remember it all, like it was yesterday.

Driving home from the hospital, trying to think through the haze of pain, medications and grief, we stopped at a stop-sign.  I looked past Steve, and there on the corner was a magnificent cherry tree, in full bloom.  The delicate pink flowers swayed in the breeze, so close we could almost reach out and touch them.  Is God rubbing my loss in my face? I thought bitterly.  Everywhere around me there was new life, and we headed home to plan our daughter's funeral.  How completely ironic it all was.

And yet, like the little crocuses that are here for such a short time, so was her life.  So short, so insignificant to so many people.  But to us, she was a reminder of God's beauty, grace and love. She was small but beautiful.

So if you can, think of us this week, as we remember her and remember all that God has done through her short life.

Monday, April 4

Women's Encounter

I enjoyed an amazing women's encounter (a.k.a. retreat) this past weekend, at a church we had previously attended.  I haven't been to a conference in years, literally.  There had been a season where my hubby and I went to lots of conferences, and were really blessed.  Then we slowly grew out of that and went on to other things.

But when I received the postcard for this conference, time and time again, I really felt God calling me to go.  So, I went.  Of course, I argued with God first.  But I am slowly starting to realize that when God says to do something, you do it.  No matter how weird or strange or unbelievable it seems.  The bible is full of people doing things that, to the human eye, seem ridiculous or crazy.  Don't believe me?  Just open your Bible and read for a while.  It won't take long, trust me.

The main speaker was somebody really famous, and I had certain expectations.  I thought that she would say something life changing and I would go home a different person.  While she said many encouraging things and I was blessed, the highlight of my weekend was not the words that came out of the speakers mouth, but what God shared with me in the middle of it all.

While the worship band led on in praise and worship songs (which were good, by the way), God brought the story of the prodigal son to my mind.  Now, the topics of the sessions had nothing to do with this parable, or this theme.  So I thought, how strange, to be thinking of this particular story.

I remembered how the prodigal son had come home, after wasting his inheritance on foolish things, and his father had welcomed him with open arms.  They feasted and celebrated.  But not everybody in the house was celebrating.  The older son went outside to sulk.

The father goes out to talk to the older son and ask what is wrong.  The older son replies bitterly, All these years I have served you and never asked you for anything, and yet you have never celebrated over me like you do my foolish younger brother!  And the father replies, Son, everything I have is yours.  You only need to ask.

And in that instant, I heard God say, all these years you have served me, and you have never asked for anything.  Ask me, and I will give it to you.

Lately, I have been mulling over my journey of emotional healing, wondering if I would always carry these scars in my heart and spirit, or would it be possible to have a completely new spirit?  Would I always walk with a "limp", like Jacob did after he wrestled with the angel?  I wanted to believe so badly that it would not be so, but feeling like it was impossible to be otherwise.  I had one counselor tell me it would take years and years of therapy to work through everything I've been through. How depressing!

When God said this to me, I knew He was talking about my healing.  I have never asked him for a "fast" or "supernatural" healing.  But now, I am claiming His word to me. So yes, it was a very good weekend.