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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

dear santa

letters to santa tonight is the vote
lights on the tree and jammies on
advent calendar read and new ornament on the tree

we talk tonight of Jesus
His birthday is soon ~ it is why we celebrate
but what does the little baby get?
the world talks of gifts ~of the things that make Christmas
what does the baby in the manger get?

so we talk
Jesus is with the poor, the orphaned, the widowed
with the struggling, the hurting 
what do they get?

so we hand out ministry catalogs
and their little eyes glimmer and shine

and silly mommy worries ~ will they understand?
will they want to do this?
will they be okay with a smaller Christmas to give to others?
silly mommy worries vanish
they pick out rabbits and ducks
clean water and building supplies
a Bible {of course they need this mama!}
blankets and fruit trees and seeds
fishing classes so others can feed their families
and countless other things

and we love as a family
and my letter to Santa is already fulfilled

then it's on to pencils, paper, wishes for us
we sit to write of the things we think might be fun
and she turns to look at me 
"mom, this is hard. we have what we need."
and my heart overflows
"yes, sugar love, yes we do."


Monday, December 19, 2011

sweet surprise

a sweet surprise. a kiss from the Lord.  a blessing from our friends and church family.  we walked into church to find a table all decorated with tree and beautifully cut out, decorated ornaments in two shapes ~ one a plane, one a house.  and a framed message about our plans with a heart felt request.  ornaments for sale ~ any price.  choose a plane and please pray for the Lord to make a way for travel plans.  choose a house and please pray for a new home, its furnishing and provision.  and i was undone.  simple God breathed idea. and people stopped.  and chose. and blessings and prayers were written and hung on a tree.  and the total for a day left me amazed at my God and blessed by my friends. 

and then a second sunday arrived and more people came and ornaments continued to decorate a simple tree.  they continued to come off the table.  continued to represent prayers and support and love.  generosity flowed and mixed with love as Heaven opened above our little family and God poured out His blessings.  and through simple, beautiful paper ornaments He spoke to my heart as i read the prayers and the blessings and felt the love and support. oh my heart.  sweet simple tears as He spoke.


of reassurance.  of His commitment to our family.  of His presence.  of the certainty of His plans for us and His provision in the process.  of the love that people have in them.  the love He placed in them that is just waiting to be poured out.  of how He loves us and how He loves the orphaned children across the world.  of how He will bring us together in His perfect way, with His perfect plan, in His perfect timing.  oh how He loves us, loves us all!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

cookie time

sugar cookies.  
oh the tradition and the fun. 
it is messy and crazy.  today we doubled the recipe.  
butter and sugar and flavor go in.  
and we take the separate parts and we put them together
and they become something new, 
something wonderful, 
something better then the ingredients on their own.  

and we snitch the dough.  we find cookie cutters and extra flour.  

we take the dough.  
we knead. 
we roll. 
we work.
we shape.
we think of ourselves in His mighty hands
knead us
shape us

and the cookie cutters come out
some cut
some decorate
some continue to snitch

and i feel a little out numbered
four kids
one mom
and way, way, way too many sprinkles!!

and i breath
it's about them and their memories
not about my perfectionism
the sprinkles will sweep up
the smooshed shapes can be re-rolled
it doesn't matter if we cut out 32 stars in a row

so we roll again
we trade cookie cutters
 we rotate decorating sprinkles
we giggle and laugh
we get covered in flour
and we make cookies
 and we make memories

Sunday, December 11, 2011

snuggled on sunday

it's sunday.  it's cold outside.  sitting here by the twinkling christmas tree lights snuggled in sweatshirts and cozy slippers.  continue to try to convince children that perhaps now that it's dark and cold and snow covers the top, it might be a bit cold to jump on the trampoline.  try.  but seldom succeed. so out they go with snow pants and coats and hats.  or in they stay and cuddle in blankets and beg for christmas movies. 

we have been doing a different kind of advent calendar this year.  it came from here.  oh i love it.  an ornament every day for a special tree.  scripture to teach us.  a prayer as a family.  an activity to focus us all on love and the true meaning of the season. 

and we will pick out christmas gifts for Jesus.  because it is His birthday and what does He get?  in our family He gets us and we give to those who need more then we do.  those who live in poverty.  those who are hungry.  those who need His love too.

listening to words that were spoken over us before we officially began this journey across the world.  pondering them.  praying into them.  believing them.  knowing they are truth and His plan and timing are perfect.  excited that though the bumps in the road are here that only means we are getting closer.  and knowing that He is so much bigger then any bump.

blessed by sweet surprises at church today.  hearts who beat with ours.  a church family that is dear and sweet and loves us so well and tangibly.  ornaments in the shape of planes and houses for a journey that He is planning for us.  listening to the Christmas story today in service with my boys {while my sweet girl sat arm in arm with her friends} and letting happy tears slowly flow down.  for the love of my family, for the love and support of our church family, for His love that came down for us all.  how do you contain that emotion? 

but we aren't to contain it.  pour it out.  pour it over. pass it on. a smile. a hug. a kindness.  encouragement. compliment. a gift for a family on the other side of the world who needs it.  a hat and mittens for the local mitten tree. a toy for the toy drive.  pass it on.  pour it out. share it.  because He did not contain it.  He poured it out. and He poured out His lilfe.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

today

someday soon i will leave here.  i will pack my little ones and hold my husband's hand and we will board a plane for a country far away.  a place that has been calling to us from across an ocean.  to be with little treasures who have been praying and fasting for us to come.  i will leave what i know, what i am comfortable with and i will go.  i will sell what i own and leave extended family and lifelong friends.  i will walk with my children, hand-in-hand with my husband across the red dirt and into our new home.  and we will open our lives to the things He has to teach us through the precious children who think we are there to give to them.  but you see i know better.  i have glimpsed the things He will teach us through them. of the way He will knit our family closer together because we were willing to share it with those who lost theirs. of the way they will change me and mold me and turn me toward Him.  and my simple prayer is that i can give them half of what they have already given me.

someday soon i will leave; across an ocean;  across two continents; along a red dirt road; to the place He prepared for me before He knit me together in my mother's womb; a place He prepared for my husband and my children; a place to call home; a place of blessing. it will not always be pretty.  it will not always be easy.  it will not always be comfortable.  it will not always be what we imagine.  but it will be what He intended for our family.  what He intended for our children.  and that is where i want to be ~ right where He intended me to be.

someday soon i will leave.  i will step over the last of my worries, my doubts, my hesitations and bring with me my hopes, my dreams, my heart.  i will watch as He molds me and my husband and my children.  watch as He provides and teaches and draws us closer.  watch as children from a world away teach me things ~ about life and God and myself.

someday soon i will leave.  but today is not that day.  and so today i will focus on the things before me.  today i will treasure what is here.  today i will learn the lessons He has for me now.  today i will be ~ because today is just as great a gift as my someday.

Friday, November 25, 2011

oh christmas tree

it's our tradition.  it's the day after thanksgiving.  the leftovers are still in the fridge.  the family gathers again.  this time we trade our snuggly blankets and indoor laughter for warm coats and hats and winter boots and outside fun.  we pile into cars {usually with cousins switching cars and families all jumbled up}and turn on the christmas music and head off to find the tree.


this year was smaller.  we were missing family.  they were recovering from surgery, getting very ready to add a new little niece to the family, studying abroad this year for school.  we had a smaller group.  but the tradition continued as we pulled in and giggled and unloaded.  we went to find santa and tell him our little heart's desires {once we were confident enough to sit on his lap}. 
then it was off to find the horse drawn wagon that would lead us out to all the beautiful trees.  we sat on the hay and listened to the sleigh bells.  we rejoiced that we had wonderful weather and it wasn't too cold.  we snuggled on the hay bales and looked at all the baby trees. 


we walked through rows of trees looking for the right one.  then we found it and we took turns cutting it down.  everyone shared.  everyone took turns.  we all pulled the cart with the tree on it.  it was amazing how strong everyone was!



it's honestly one of my most favorite traditions.  there is just something magical about every part of it. how grateful i am for these everyday moments.  these simple traditions that speak of family and togetherness and love.  what traditions do you have that you love?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

many thanks

so thankful for all that God has done for us, for all that he is doing for us and for His amazing presence in our lives.  the kids are all in bed tonight after a day of thanks.  a day of family. of food. of realizing our blessing. of laughter and games and cuddles and snuggles.  it's quiet now and i think that it is in the quiet that i realize anew how blessed, how grateful, how thankful i am for all the things in my life.
for family

for little ones
so today we celebrate all the amazing things in our life.  we focus on what we have {not what we still want}.  what we have stocked in our cabinets {to eat on a whim}.  what we have to snuggle into when it's cold {and that we have several choices}.  what a home means {no matter the size or the situation}.  how healthy we are {despite little coughs or teething fevers}.  how many friends we have, how close we are to our family, how blessed we truly are to be in this country.  and each of these perfect gifts comes from our Father.  and the fact that we are in His family, well, that's the greatest gift of all.




Friday, October 28, 2011

downtown

such a sweet little kiss from the Lord today.  had to work. but at the end of the day i had a few little visitors.  

the kids arrived all dressed in their costumes.  so a little lion, a clown, a red dragon and a christmas princess {not sure where her little red riding hood costume went but have dress will be a princess!} came to visit me at work.  it was so fun.  they were headed downtown to do a little trick-or-treating.

and then the sweetness continued as my last patient never arrived and i was able to walk out the door shortly after they left.  hooray!  i was able to catch up to them and off we went as a family.

the stores downtown pass out candy in the early evening toward the end of their business day. it's well before it gets dark so the costumes are mostly sweet and whimsical.  there are families together laughing, talking, experiencing life together.  we have done this in other towns but this time was so sweet and so nice.  this downtown is smaller.  there are people but there are not crowds.  everyone smiled and held doors open for others and complimented costumes and noticed manners.  it was simple and sweet and small town.  it was wonderful.

the older kids had a great time and were on the ready with a "trick-or-treat" and an equally quick "thank you".  ethan caught on quick that if he put his candy in the bag and started signing please some sweet lady would smile, tell him how adorable he looked and hand him another piece of candy.  he clung to that piece of candy until we came near to the next spot then he would quickly call for his bag, drop in the candy and start again.  each time his grin was huge and he seemed pleasantly amazed that these people kept handing him candy.

we are not big on halloween at our house.  we love fall.  we celebrate the change of season and all things harvest.  we don't do scary.  we don't do dark.  but we indulge in dressing up.  in getting to be whatever you want to be.  in getting to let your imagination run wild.  in dreaming.  because those are things God wants us to do.  dream big.  let your imagination run wild.  shake off the limitations of the world and dare to do something "out of the box".  are you dreaming?  is it big?  is it out of the box?  He's totally okay with it.  i promise you ~ you cannot out dream God.  nothing is too big for Him.  He's ready.  are you?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

harvest time

we have a bean field next to us now.  well actually we have a bean field on one side and a corn field on the other side.  and the colors are turning and the time is here.  it's harvest time.


the combine drove into the bean field.  the kids watching.  they venture close.  they watch as the dust begins to rise and the harvest begins.  they watch with wonder as the machine passes over the rows of beans and leaves only small stalks in their place. the things the farmer planted ~ the things he sowed ~ well, it's time to reap.


an amazing woman shared her heart with several of us recently.  i was so blessed.  she spoke of seeds and bearing fruit.  of generosity.  of God's principles at work. in genesis 1:11-12 He talks about seed bearing it owns kind and plants bearing seeds of their own kind.  you get what you plant. if you plant the little bean you will get an entire stalk of beans in return.

 
and she asked "what is the need in your life? and based on that need what seed are you going to sow?"  seed bears its own plants.  it produces its own.  what are the things you are believing for?  what are the things you need?  sow into those things.  plant those things in the lives of others. the seeds of what you need  will produce the things you need.


so what do you need?  is it your finances?   sow into what you need.  give to someone who needs it even more then you and watch what God can do.  is it food?  are you worried about where dinner is coming from?  bless what you have and give some to someone who is hungrier then you.  is it friendship?  extend your love, your life, your friendship and watch what He can do. you are His child.  how He loves to bless you and provide for you.  will you let Him?


because only when the seed is planted can it produce fruit.  if you hold it in your hand it can do very little for you.  if you grip it tightly, too afraid to let go, God can never turn it into the things you need.  but if you sow your seed, if you plant it instead of hold it ~ He can fill you to the full.  He can fill you to overflowing.  you will reap far more then you sowed. but you have to choose to let the seed go.

a choice to live without fear. living with hands open instead of tightly clinging. no longer fearful there will not be enough.  for He has enough.  He is enough.  He wants to bless you beyond measure.  but He needs you to open your hand. to plant your seed.  to trust Him. to let Him bless you.  are you ready?

fitting in

this my heart.  this was my struggle.  this i share with you because i pray that it will free you from your own struggle.  that you may know the voice of the almighty Creator when He whispers sweetly to your spirit and that you choose to agree with Him ~ because He loves you.

it had been a long interrupted night.  full of nightmares and little feet and uneasy sleep.  and the morning  came early and tiredness came to stay.  overwhelmed added its weight and the children were having a similar morning.  nothing was clicking.  no one was content.  tensions were high and patience was low.

so a break. a time to breath.  and i draw the blanket around my shoulders and the enemy of my spirit begins to whisper. "you know you don't belong here right?  you don't fit in with the people here?  you want to leave the country and go around the world to a country that is still developing, still in poverty.  no one here really gets that ~ not really.  no matter what they tell you.  it's weird.  and you are alone.  you don't fit in here with them."

and i almost want to cry from the weight he is putting on me.  and i turn to the Lover of my Spirit and i wait.  and i listen.  and i cry out ~ show me the truth.  whisper to me now.  and in the quiet He comes.  "you are My child.  the people here love you.  you are taken care of and in great community.  you are where I want you to be.  you are doing what I want you to do.  I am here ~ and you always fit in with Me."

and the tactic changes as the voice that tries to sound like my own prods "but what of your children?  they are yelling today.  they are fighting.  some parenting style you have.  looks like it's really working.  how are those choices working out for you?  do you really think you are doing a good job?  and you're going to move them away from everything they have ever known.  for what?  to take care of someone else's child?  do you really love your children?  shouldn't you be putting them first? how could they love you as a mother for that?"

and i close my eyes and i try not to agree.  try not to see his points.  try to ignore how many times this has been said to me {in spirit and in person}.  and my mother's heart breaks.  and my Lord whispers softly "you are My child.  they are My children.  I hand picked these children for you.  I knew what I was doing.  your parenting is exactly what I told you to do when you asked Me what I wanted.  you are moving them where I have told you.  you will be teaching them about relationship and valuing people.  about pursuing Me above all else.  they are first, they are prized.  you are choosing this for what it will teach them as much as for any other reason.  they love you and will treasure their time there."

"so you think you fit in with all the people whose blogs you read? ha!" he whispers as he tries yet another tact. yet another lie to get me weighed down and doubting.  "they are doing something you aren't. your thing is different.  you aren't adopting.  you aren't ministering to hundreds of people.  you aren't even sure what things will totally look like.  i mean what kind of impact are you really going to have?  you don't fit in with all these people.  you are not in their circle.  you are outside. and then think about all the things you could do better for your husband.  while you sit here and wonder about where you fit.  shouldn't you be doing more, being better for him?  doesn't he deserve that?"

oh Lord.  i begin to give in to the whispers.  i begin to believe i don't fit.  that i am not enough.  that i have not done enough.  and i pull the blanket tighter.  and He comes.  and He speaks.  and He soothes.  "your heart is what matters.  you do not have to perform for Me.  you are not valuable based on your performance. you are valued because you are my daughter.  for who you are."

and Jesus sits down. and the Prince of Peace envelopes me with His grace and His presence. "I have done it all.  I have satisfied the wrath toward sin.  you are blameless now.  you do not have to perform.  you do not have to be anything.  your heart makes you fit in everywhere.  your relationships are not based on how much you are or are not doing.  you were not designed to fit so completely into any group that you can not move between them.  you fit and yet you were designed to move and be part of all groups.  you are right where I want you to be.  doing right what I want you to be doing.  and no matter what, I am here with you.  I love you.  You are valuable to me."

and as i believe and trust Him the enemy of my spirit retreats.  and the weight lifts.  and fatigue eases and the day brightens.  and i wonder if i am the only one who falls for his lies.  the only one he tries to isolate and weigh down.  am i the only one who falls for his lies?  and my Lord responds "no my precious child.  he tries to isolate all.  he tries to destroy all.  will you share this so that others know?  will you be that vulnerable?"  and i hesitate.  i am scared.  and i choose.  and you have read my choice.

when those thoughts come, when the weight is there.  that is not Him.  that whisper that tries to sound so much like your own voice is not.  it is the enemy of your spirit and he is trying to make your life as hard as miserable as lonely as possible.  he is lying to you and he is so tricky that he sometimes doesn't seem like a liar.  but he is.  listen again. 

listen for the small quiet voice that whispers hope and light ~ even when you don't feel it, even when your circumstances don't seem to line up.  listen to what He has to say to you. to what He says about you.  and will you agree with Him?  believe what He says about you?  will you say yes to Him?  read what He says about you ~ you are treasured, bought at a price {which means you don't owe anything, have to do anything}, seated on high, a light to all around you, a jewel to behold, royalty and valued beyond all measure.  He loves you, oh how He loves you!  will you say yes to Him?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins

it's been unseasonally warm here lately.  we have truly been enjoying this indian summer.  the kids are having a blast enjoying every minute outside.  we took full advantage of this weather and headed to the pumpkin patch a little while ago.  i have to be honest it was a little odd to be picking out pumpkins in such warm weather but it was also kind of nice. we were able to go with friends which made the trip all the sweeter.

the kids always have such a good time playing on all the wooden things they have there ~ from trains to tractors to a hollowed out school bus to play in.  they also have a child size corn maze which the kids love, love, love.






ethan was a ham with the pumpkins.  he went right to them, sat down and started smiling at me saying "sees, sees" {aka cheese, cheese}oh the cuteness.  i seriously took way to many pictures of him.


they were super sweet and even let me take a few pictures of them all together.  it was so fun to watch them all get together and squish in and look in different directions and grin and giggle and say cheese at different times.  it's our life.  it's the way it really is.

 the girls had lots of fun leading the littler ones, examining all the pumkins, holding hands and doing their own thing.  the boys of course just had a great time running, jumping, and practicing all their super hero, save the world stunts.  the little ones laughed and giggled and loved getting to climb on anything and everything.  it was a great day.  oh fall how fun you are.  oh little ones how much i love you. oh really how blessed we are.

Friday, October 14, 2011

city time

we we so blessed to get to spend time with carole and benjamin while they were here.  we took them to the big city near us.  we got to ride the train which the kids loved.  i think they mostly like it because they can hop between seats and had so many different laps to choose from this time.  and right about the time they were done with the ride we were pulling into our station.  hooray for that!!

we didn't have major plans.  we just walked around the city.  went to the parks. played with the sculptures there and laughed and had fun at all the silly images we saw and created. .




we played near the fountains.  because there is always something magical about water.  watching it flow and move and ripple.  watching it glide by.  inviting and calming and life-giving.  there is something about water that draws you in ~ especially when you are little.  there is such a reason that Jesus is referred to as living water.  He draws you in, He calms, He gives life, children are so open to Him, drawn to Him, relish in Him. He is the water we all so desperately need ~ no matter where you live.




we got popcorn and nibbled and window shopped along way.  we looked at the river.  we saw the tall buildings.  it was surreal to be there and to think that hopefully soon we will be on the other side of the world.  with things so different and yet really, at the heart of it.  the people just the same.  loving their family and friends.  providing for them in the best ways they can.  because really we are all so much more alike then we really realize.



Saturday, October 8, 2011

a BIG step ... and an introduction

so it's time for us to take another step toward africa.

a BIG step along this journey that God is leading us on.
for awhile now we have been talking, emailing, and skyping with organizations.
there have been countless hours praying
and pressing in and learning more
about all the amazing things He is doing all over the continent.
every group was amazing.
every need real and pressing.
every conversation left us thinking
"wow, this group is doing such amazing things.
their cause, their group is great." 
but within that statement was always the prayer ~

"Lord, show us where You want us to be. 
keep our hearts for the group, the kids, the people that you want us to partner with."

and He did.

there is so much that could be said about the past few months.
so much that went on with us, in us, for us
as we continued to search for where He wanted us to be.

one of the hardest things about this journey
is leaving the relationships here
leaving our family and friends
leaving our church family

but that last one got a little easier for us 
when we met this group
they feel like family
they feel like our church
they feel like an extension of what we are experiencing here
they are 'home'

so the searching is over.  the prayers are answered.  
we have committed ourselves to an amazing organization!!!

so let me introduce you to 

yeah!!  we are so excited!

we will be in northern uganda
just outside the city of gulu
working with the orphans there
living at house of hope
living on site with those precious children
building into them, loving them, caring for them
letting them change us

there are many different parts to favor
from clinics, to radio ministry 
{the kids get to be on the air every week sharing what God is doing!}
to outreach, to huge open air meetings
where miracles abound and lives are given to Jesus

they are dedicated to bringing healing
and the precious light of Jesus
to the people who were terrorized
for 20 years
by the lord's resistance army

and we will lovingly, humbly, thankfully
serve the little ones that live in 
house of hope

more to share as the days go on
but thank you for your prayers, 
your support,
 your love
we treasure them all
they are such a blessing to us as we walk this journey
one step at a time

Friday, September 23, 2011

a little fun

so today i have no pictures.  sorry.  you'll understand why in a few minutes.  today was wonderful.  it was hilarious.  it was unexpected to say the least.  a little while ago we had an amazing message from one of my favorite people.  in that message she talked about a "normal" day for Jesus and followed Him through the closest chronological day that is presented in the Bible.  it was a day that included healing, deliverance, going to the place of need regardless of the plans, raising people from the dead and providing for the physical needs of the people.  the take home for me was something i still think about often ~ what about my day is like His?  am i listening to the Father and doing what He asks in every minute?  do i believe my day could be like His?  aren't i supposed to be believing that?  doesn't it say so in the Bible?  isn't it Jesus himself right before He ascends into Heaven that we will do all these things and more before??  just thoughts for you.

so today involved going to the place of need.  a place we didn't expect to go or think we would end up.  we had just returned from our field trip to the state park and had our lunch.  the kids were playing on outside and a friend and i were chatting.  in runs eli ... "mom, mom, the turkeys are out!!"

oh my!  so out we went and as we continued to explore there they were.  and it was not just the turkeys that had escaped their coop next door.   oh no, there was a ridiculous number of chickens and several large turkeys running around the yard, roosting in the pine trees and gobbling insanely.  so off we went.  naps were forgotten, homeschool forgotten, shoes forgotten and chasing crazy chickens became the priority.  and if you are not laughing at the thought of this then let me continue to elaborate for you.

i have no idea how to get chickens back into a coop.  no idea how to catch a chicken.  no idea how to pick one of them up or how to get them to move.  so we did what any moms with lots of small children, a plethora of running chickens and several intimidating looking turkeys would do ~ we shooed them. with loud "shooshing" and waving arms {highly scientific right?}. and we grabbed a few pine branches and we herded them the best we could.  and we got them to go ~ a little bit.

and then as we rounded the corner toward the gate with a group of nicely herded chickens and turkeys eli came to help brandishing a large stick overhead like a sword and screaming at the top of his lungs.  and the chickens all scattered.  again.  so we started .. again. 

are you laughing at the thought of this yet?  cuz it gets better.  as we got them started again here came the dog into the mix of chickens.  so now we have chickens running everywhere, the kids running everywhere {shooshing and waving branches and arms}, the dog running a muck, turkeys gobbling all over  and the two of us trying to grab the dog, calm the kids, avoid stepping on the chickens and not fall over from hysterical laughing.

we got the dog chained up.  we developed a system of shooshing and "herding" the chickens ~ which also involved having the kids "sneak attack" the chickens and turkeys. the kids would ensure that the chickens passed them at key points and if the chickens tried to run for it in the wrong direction the kids would yell and whoop and wave their sticks.  they loved it.

this worked most of the time but we had a few chickens that were too stupid stubborn to be herded in our fabulous system here.  so i had to figure out how to pick up a chicken that has absolutely no desire to be picked up.  so we cornered them and then with wings flapping and me turning my head and trying to avoid feathers and flapping wings i would grab one of them and up and over the fence they went.

are you on the floor yet?  so see, going to the place of need can be totally unexpected and totally hilarious.  the neighbors weren't home.  they needed us to round up those crazy chickens and turkeys before they ended up lost, in the street, in the field or some other crazy thing.  and yes, naps were late, schooling ran over and made dinner late.  but the need was met.  we were able to help.  we were able to be His hands and feet to our neighbors.  nope, i don't think Jesus ever chased a chicken.  but i'm pretty sure He took care of His neighbors and that He wants us to do the same.  and we taught our kids to prioritize the needs of others ~ and that helping others can be more fun{ier} then you think.

and you want to know the fun way the night ended?  as i lay cuddling with eli and he was drifting off to sleep he was twiddling with the fingers on my right hand.  and he opens his eyes and asks me "mama, where?  where your ... your..."  and i smile and move his hand to my left hand, "here baby.  my ring from daddy is on this hand." and he wiggles it between his fingers and he closes his eyes. and he runs his fingers along the bands and over the stone and his breathing slows.  and he finds comfort in this ring.  comfort because we talk about what those rings mean ~ that they mean his parents love each other ~ and always will.  that our relationship is stable and he finds comfort in that.  and so he drifts off to sleep playing with the rings that symbolize his parents love and the covenant bond that began our family.

and so God shows us the needs of others don't always have to be serious and somber.  that following Him is wild and unexpected and sometimes just down right hilarious.  that covenant love is comforting and reassuring and a treasure ~ to more then just the people that have made the covenant.  and that is a fun day {and hopefully explains why there are not pictures because i was simply not able to wield a camera at those moments.}

Thursday, September 22, 2011

he changed the world

i have on/off struggled with the question of whether or not our family going to africa to serve and love on precious little ones there will really make a difference.  i mean, yes, it will impact those kids.  no doubt there.  but will we really be doing anything to change the world?  and a friend of mine entered into this discussion as she wondered about short term trips and whether they would really have a real impact.  and as we spoke the words began to flow and i know the Holy Spirit was speaking to both of us through those words.

you see i know a man.  he's been quoted on facebook more times then i think i can count.  his impact reached farther then i think most people, himself included, realize.  but you see he knows how far it goes now.  now he's with God and God is showing him.  showing him he changed the world.

he wasn't a president, an athlete or a rock star with a bleeding heart.  he wasn't a missionary in a far off country or a major prophet. to my knowledge he never wrote a book or published a song or created a product that revolutionized the modern world.

instead he was a husband, father, grandpa, friend.  and one of the most amazing men i have ever known. he was, on the surface, a rather quiet man.  gentle and warm.  the perfect grandpa ~ which is why i think most of us called him "pop" or "papa".  the kind of guy you just wanted to hug.


"love wins"  he said it.  he believed it.  he embodied it like no one else i have every known.  he liked everyone ~ genuinely.  he was the first one to encourage you.  the one to always encourage you in your dreams.  the one to lovingly put his fatherly arm around you and tell you how amazing you looked ~ even at the end stages of pregnancy when everyone else was questioning twins and bringing up the size of houses.  he always had an encouraging word.  always.  he was the personification of love.  he was gentle.  he was kind.  no record of wrongs. quick to forgive.  he could hug you and make the world melt away, your walls come down and overflow you with love ~ all in a matter of seconds, without even trying {even if you were not a "hugging" person}.  he was a papa and a father to everyone.

and this man changed the world.  how?  what did he do?  he simply was who God created him to be.  he knew his identity and shared it with all of us.  he loved every single person he ever came into contact with.  and that loved changed every single person that it touched. he imparted the love he was so freely given into each of us.  and when you are touched by that kind of love you are never the same.  it creates a ripple in you that drives you toward it's origin ~ straight into the heart of the Father.  and i guarantee that each person touched by this man's love was changed by it.  you can't walk away the same after feeling, seeing and receiving that kind of love.  it changes the world.

and so he did it.  he changed the world by loving the people that are in it.  one person at a time.  he changed me.  he changed our family.  he changed our friends.  and the love he deposited in each of us ripples out and touches another and the ripple grows and the world is changed because he was here.  because he walked this planet.  because he chose love.  love wins.

and so i choose love.  i choose my identity in Christ.  i choose who He says i am.  i choose His way even when i don't know the impact or when i don't feel it or when my circumstances are trying to scream the opposite.  i will love.  as He shows me the way, i will love each person.  and the ripple will grow ... and the world will change.

we love you cliff!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

apple craziness

so last week we went apple picking {i know, i know but at least i'm posting it right??}  it was field trip for school.  highly educational let me just tell you.  i had this vision of talking about apples and varieties and looking at the parts of the apple we learned and how to they keep the apples free from bugs & animals and well, you get the idea.  i had visions of us wandering the rows of trees as we had done in years past  talking and looking for the right ones to pick.
it was not to be.  nope.  not even a little bit.  we went with other homeschooling friends and so before i could even get ethan out of the van the big kids were exploring the small country shop.  by the time i caught up with them there they were grabbing bags and literally running with their friends into the orchard.  there was a vague attempt to steer them in the right direction of the apples Daddy had requested and to avoid the ones they refuse to eat {yep, i have kids who are apple snobs}.  there was an attempt.  it was futile.  the ones they like the least were the reddest ones.  then it simply became a free for all grab fest with plastic bags straining under the weight.  i have no idea what kinds we brought home.  not even a clue.  not even sure if all the varieties we got were even ripe yet.  
 but oh they had fun.  the orchard was smaller then others we have been to.  we had the run of the place {literally}.   the couple that ran the place were sweet and kind and had sweet smiles for the kids at every interaction.  they were allowed to pick any thing they wanted ~ hence the option to pick apples that may or may not be ripe yet.
they were out in the sunshine.  they were with friends.  they were happy little kids who had no worries, no cares and no concern about trying to do something right or perfect.  they filled their bags to overflowing with the apples that their little hearts desired.  and overflow they did.  those poor plastic bags never stood a chance against these eager little apple pickers.


so we repacked our apples into a larger bag.  with stronger handles.  and they each got to pick an old fashioned stick candy.  we brought home homemade apple butter. friends bought red and blue popcorn which we promptly tried once we got home {sooo yummy!}
it was not the trip i had planned.  it was not the way i thought things would go.  but sometimes you have to let go of the way you think things should look.  and look at the amazing things that are going on.  and when you see what's going on in front of you, the magic there, the rest of it doesn't really matter.   it's this moment that matters no matter what it looks like.  these little faces.  these little laughs.  this little reminder of the important things and the blessings that abound every day.  every moment.  the blessings that are there just waiting to be found if we look with His eyes instead of ours.