Monday, November 24, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri

I made a little deal with myself.  {Does anyone else ever do this?}  I decided that I would not work on a blog post {favorite thing to do} until I had found something I had been searching for for weeks.  I had absolutely no clue where it was before the move, let alone where it was since the move and there are "paperwork boxes" galore left to unpack.

But God in His gracious nature, led me to what I needed and I continued to clear through some paperwork and now I have the privilege of doing a bit of writing.

Today much of the United States is waiting for the Grand Jury to speak regarding the Ferguson, Missouri situation.  I keep refreshing my laptop news screen.  My stomach feels like throwing up each time I do.   You too?


Please join me in praying for the citizens, the clergy, the police officers and the government officials of Ferguson.

No one wins, no matter the outcome and no doubt, there is much at stake.

More than we can begin to imagine or grasp.

Please Lord, come and heal our broken land.


The LORD hears his people when

they call to him for help....
Psalm 34:17a
 









Saturday, November 22, 2014

Log Cabin Living: Another Favorite Meal - B & R

I am loving sharing some of our Log Cabin Living
ideas with my bloggy friends.

Just to recap what it is though, in case you missed it...

In my heart of hearts, pre-Ruby, I have always 
longed to move to a remote area 
{with the desert weather!} 
where we could enjoy Log Cabin Living 
as a sweet, large family.  

I am so grateful that I had the privilege of living in our little log home
before we lost it in the fire. 

No doubt, with Ruby's fragile health, this is not in the realm of
possibility unless the Lord totally heals her - 
which is, of course, totally possible!




So in this season, we embrace our wonderful home in Phoenix, 
with close proximity to Phoenix Children's Hospital 
while we enjoy the gorgeous Phoenix 
weather and all the beautiful perks of big city living!!

The series will be an on-going and I will share our version of 
large family living, on a very limited budget while practicing Simplicity.  
We graciously invite you to journey with us.  

************* 

I have had so many requests for recipes that we enjoy
as a large family on a limited budget. 
Here's another favorite, yet simple and inexpensive 
meal from our home to yours.


Beans and Rice

Yes, beans and rice.

Don't knock it if you haven't tried it,
but please try it with an open heart!

Here's what we do:



1.  Sift through beans for small rocks.
I have found some on occasion,
so please don't skip this step
{unless you're married to a dentist}.

2.  Rinse beans.

3.  Place sorted and rinsed beans in crock pot
and fill with water to at least 2" above beans.

4.  Soak overnight.

5.  In the morning, sauté an onion and stir into beans. 

6.   Cook on low for at least two days,
stirring often. 

7.  Serve over steamed rice.
We love Basmati.

We eat this often and truly is one of our favorites.

We also use the now cooked beans for another 
favorite meal of ours - 
which I am planning on sharing next. 


Food for Thought:


I have had people tell me over the years that their spouse or children 
"would never stand for that for dinner" 
when I have shared some of our meals.

For our family, over the years the way we eat has been a journey.

A long journey.  


Yet a very purposeful, intentional journey. 

Bringing treasures home from places where food was sparse, 
has given us all a renewed thankfulness for all that we do have.
Most of our treasures remember well their stomachs gnawing from
 hunger.  One remembers 'chewing' on rocks to ease the hunger.

Food is a necessity, however, what and how much we eat is 
not a 'right'.  We have the privilege of living in one of the wealthiest
nations in the world.   Our simple meal of Beans and Rice
would be a feast in most countries.  

We have to remember that!

We actually don't "deserve" anything.  

All we have is because God has graciously given to us out of His
abundance.  But He didn't give us in overflowing for us to hoard and indulge
on ourselves, but rather to share generously!!

Our joy is to live in Simplicity, prayerfully honoring Him and 
thus enabling us to share more of our resources with others.  

It's that Simple.  


Thursday, November 20, 2014

We Believe


I mentioned the other day how we enjoy spending a lot of time
focusing on worship and praise in our home....
and especially after times like this past week-end.

One of the ways we focus on praise is to 
play what we call "The Thankful Game".

It's the game we invented almost 30 years ago 
where we go around the room naming 
a designated number of things we are each specifically thankful for.

We just begin with one person and he or she
names a certain number of things they are thankful for.

It can be anything.

Actually it can give great insight to where 
our kids are in life!

Oh - and for some added fun,
we pretty much insist that no one can name what
someone else just named.

We go around and around until the 
general attitude has become lighthearted
and sweet.

It usually doesn't take long!!

Sometimes some have gotten so carried away naming 
all kinds of beautiful things that 
I have had to tell the kids it's time to let 
someone else have a turn.
[That would definitely be a good problem!]

An added benefit is that The Thankful Game has turned many 
a grumpy car ride or time hanging around the house
 into a period of giggly joy and true thanksgiving.

Works like a charm!!

It's amazing what happens when we start to 
focus on all the things we have to be thankful for 
rather than what we want or the "agony" of ourselves!

Face it,
it is super easy to be self-absorbed, grumpy and grumbly.

Anyway, we have been playing the Thankful Game
and worshipping extensively after our eventful week-end. 

I absolutely love worshipping with my treasures.

We put our favorite songs on and sing, lifting hands in praise
 and worship together.

A candid shot.
Isaiah had no idea I was taking a picture.


Anyway, my current favorite song is 

We Believe.

Have you heard it??

And although there are a few "We Believe" songs this version
is my all-time favorite.

I love that is a proclamation of what exactly 

We Believe!!

And in today's society [and sadly in many of today's churches]
there are many, many disillusioned folks
 who have no idea what they believe!!!

This song makes me well with tears almost every 
time I worship with it.

I first heard this song in our church and 
yes, our church collectively and unashamedly 
declares what We Believe as we sing
it regularly.




As Thanksgiving approaches,
incorporate praise and thankfulness into your home.

It's a sure attitude changer - even for us mommies and daddies!


"Serve the LORD with gladness: 
come before his presence with singing."
Psalm 100:2

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Over Here in Phoenix....

For many years, while living in Colorado, I would watch my bloggy friend, Martha, who lives in South Carolina, post gorgeous pictures of a myriad of flowers growing in her yard in the dead of winter.

Mesmerized by her spectacular flower pictures, I would stare out my window at the snow piled acres and long for warmth, brilliantly colored flowers in my own yard, freedom from a snow shovel and blistery sunshine!

I would write to her and jokingly ask her to stop taunting me!

Well this morning, a friend from high school was posting pictures on Facebook of Western New York where I grew up.  He said the weather reminded him of the Blizzard of 77 {one of the worst in our nation's history!}

I was in college at the time and had to ride a city bus downtown.  My normal morning ride  of 35 minutes took 2-1/2 hours that day the blizzard started!!  As the blizzard went on and on and on and on, we could walk up to the top of the drifts and touch the lights hanging in the middle of the intersections!!   

You don't ever forget blizzards like that!



I shivered as I looked at my friend Rick's pictures this morning.  I remember it all very, very well!

So for those bracing for snow, buried under it or watching blustery flakes fall....I just want you to know that I would never taunt now that we have the privilege of living in Phoenix.

Not ever.

Although I might want to. 

I mean it would be too cruel.

So let me quickly change the subject and just show you pictures of what my treasures are doing outside my kitchen while I work on this post.



And for the record, when we are asked how we stand the summers in Phoenix, Dw and I grin from ear to ear and quickly respond:

"We'd rather shovel sunshine than snow..."



Isaiah getting some sweet 'air'.....



while playing their one of their favs - 


Foursquare



My warm heart is sooo thankful! 



Monday, November 17, 2014

This Past Week-end

It feels like forever since I've posted!  I've missed you all!  Seriously.

It has been some of the most eventful days in a row for us on so many levels.   And for those who think our lives are pretty near perfect, read on.....you'll be comforted knowing that we have our share of struggles!  Sometimes they come like wildfire.

Here goes:

Friday morning Dw and I were up early.  We had decided to have a yard sale and make some Gem cash with stuff we needed to get rid of in order to simplify.

It was 5ish when our bones squeaked and eeked  climbed out of bed.  We still wanted to sort through some more things before we opened the garage door.



Coffee on, Dw headed to the garage and as I was walking through the maze of already packed boxes my left foot, which often drags from the Multiple Sclerosis when I am tired or stressed, caught the edge of a box and I literally went flying over top of the boxes, landing with brutal force on my right knee and hands.  I thought I had broke my knee as I attempted to drag my injured self toward the garage for Dw to help me get up.   I was ticked!  I do not have time to be nursing an injury.  

We thanked the Lord that my knee did not appear to be broken, bruised yes, but it could have been much worse.  I was grateful I had mixed some Peppermint and Wintergreen Essential Oils together which I have now rolled many times on my achin'-self to ease the discomfort.  It has helped a ton!

Before long customers started arriving and things started selling.  God is so good!!

In the meantime I found that my computer was broken.   Which my computer is a necessity to communicate!  Ugh.

The kids were amazing and helped me pack a ton - after all, we had only found we were moving four days earlier.

Saturday morning friends were going to be heading to help us and I noticed Ruby seeming sleepy and it was only 8 am.  I asked Liberty to take her outside and see if she just needed a bit of fresh air to perk up.  She was outside a couple of minutes and brought her back to me in our bathroom where I was packing.  I turned to Ruby and saw an unusual look on her face and stepped closer.

"Liberty!  It looks like she's starting to have a seizure!"

Which she was.

I lifted her out of her wheelchair and laid her on our bare mattress - because of course the bed had already been stripped for the move!

I was shaking and told the kids to go get Daddy and as he came to the room I yelled to call 9-11 {just like her neurologist told us to do - call immediately!!  Ninety seconds into the seizure we are to administer a powerful drug in her rectum.}   Her seizures are life-threatening and we have been told that if they go past five minutes they are harder to stop!

I texted my precious friend Renee from the Knee Team asking her and her husband Joel to pray and our big kids.  I phoned Dan and Lavonne and asked them to pray!

Shaking like a leaf, I administered the drug as Ruby continued to seize.

Five minutes passed.  The EMTs had to be here soon!  The littles were gathered around Ruby on our bed and we were all praying out loud asking the God of the Universe - who loves Ruby so much to intervene!

Six minutes.

Seven minutes.

Eight minutes.

I cannot type without tears.

Nine minutes.

The EMTs arrived.

They asked what had been done and I showed them the syringe.  They questioned, "You put it all in?"

"Yes!  That's what her neurologist has prescribed!  It is ready-dialed to exactly what he prescribes!"

"Wow!  That's a large amount!"

"Yes, her seizures have lasted 30 minutes.  They are life-threatening."

At about 10 minutes she stopped.  Thank you Jesus!

Soon Ruby and I were packed up and on the way in the ambulance.

Dw and our friends packing the house.  Tests for Ruby.  Docs wondering if it was her shunt?

Very stressful.

Eventually, after all the tests came back okay, her seizure meds increased, we were told that her neurologist wanted us to spend the night.  I begged the doc to appeal and ask if we could please go home.

We were released to leave and Savannah came to get us.

By the time Savannah arrived Ruby was playing with the BP cord and cock-a-doodle-do-ing {she has learned how recently and it's precious beyond words, since a rooster is my all-time favorite creature!}

We arrived at our new home as the last piece of the first load was being emptied.  Grateful for Stan, Shelby, young Graham {Stan & Shelby's son}, Kimmy and Bruce and their son Logan
, Graham and Savannah's help.

So thankful that Ruby was okay!  The Lord had heard our prayers!

Back to the old house for a second load.

Closing the back door of the truck we discovered that the truck wouldn't start.  At all.

The truck rental company informed us that it was our problem.  Bless their hearts.

Eventually, after much prayer, the truck started.

We crashed Saturday night on our mattresses, thankful to have two loads at the house.  One more to go when we rent a truck again later this week.

Sunday was my birthday!  How thankful I was to be in our new home.  We had no clue where anything was, but Elizabeth found the skillet and asked if I would like an egg for breakfast.  We knew where the potatoes were {and I love eggs and potatoes} so they set to work making me a sweet breakfast in bed.

I gave each of the kids a slice of my potato and was enjoying Ruby as they headed back to the kitchen to get some more food when suddenly I heard Dw screaming.

I mean screaming.

My normally calm, even under traumatic circumstances, 
was screaming with a panicked voice!!

He was shouting, "Come up!  Come up!"

I knew someone was choking.  My heart started to race as I threw the covers off and started running to the kitchen {which is one room over from our bedroom}...

On the way I met Liberty and she was beside herself, 
"Mom!  Elijah's choking!  Daddy can't get it out!"

At this, my legs collapsed from the MS and now flopped to the kitchen as Dw
continued to scream commanding it to "Come up!"

Dw was doing the Heimlich Maneuver and had already done it five times with extreme force!

It would not budge - and only by the grace of God, the potato dislodged and went flying across the room.

Friends, it was close!! 

So very, very close!





What had happened was that Elijah had the slice of potato and had taken a bite and at the same time had thrown a ball up in the air.  The potato chunk went down accidentally and lodged with his head looking up.  When it happened Elijah realized he couldn't breathe and bent over.  It wouldn't dislodge.

Elijah then got on all fours on the floor in an attempt to allow gravity to bring it up.   Only thing Dw was on the other side of the island, I was in our bedroom and by God's amazing grace Liberty noticed Elijah and thought, "What's he doing?"  She questioned, "Are you okay?  Are you choking?"  She then told Dw what was happening.

I think I need to leave the coffee shop now and just have a good cry.  It has been two horrific life-threatening events two days in a row.

Was God's merciful grace and protection evident?  

Yes!!  

But whoooa, really!!??

Feeling a bit overwhelmed and vulnerable at this point?

Yup!

So what are we doing??

We're praising Him.

Out loud.

Intentionally.

God's word tells us that He inhabits the praises of His people!!

my birthday celebration last night


Today, Dw went to the old house to pack up some more and found this:


That would be the canopy that Ruby and I sit under to watch the kids swim 
{because you can't see the pool from the back of the house}.
No idea what happened, but it is "one more thing".

In all circumstances we will praise Him.

He is faithful.

He is trustworthy.

He inhabits the praises of His people.



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Please, Would You Be Willing to Help?


Let me introduce you to...



Penelope, Spencer, Landon, Eli, Preston, Grace and Adaline



Recently I received a precious and very passionate email from their mommy, Jessica.  

She had a question and wondered if I would help them with something.

Well, I readily admit that the minute I began to read her email I felt the Lord 
very clearly tugging my heart.  

So as I wrote Jessica back I had one question, 

Do you guys consistently tithe?

When she responded with a hearty "yes" 
and said they had since they married
and it's the first check they write when her husband gets paid,
I then asked her if we could talk on the phone and to 
please call when she was able.  

A couple of hours later she phoned.

We had a great conversation
as I explained that in over 2,200 blog posts
I had never, ever done what she was asking me to do,
yet,




I was very clearly hearing the Lord say, 
"You need to do this."

So here I am friends, being obedient to what the Lord has asked me to do.








Let me introduce you to sweet 


Esther


and

precious little 



Vivienne


Jessica and her husband Jeremy have said "yes" over and over and over 
and over and over and over and over 
to the Lord when He was nudging them to bring home

And even with what many would deem a houseful, 
they eagerly said "Yes" yet again and again to bring home Esther and Vivienne....
because they know what a privilege it is 
and they are passionate about living a life that 
honors God's heart.

Jeremy works THREE jobs because of their commitment to live loudly
God's heart for the orphans...

They have sold all they can and been working so hard
but they are still in need of the funds to bring
Esther and Vivienne home.

The news station in their area of Northern Virginia 
actually came out and did a story and news story which aired
 on their family.

It can be seen here:




As I watched their family's video my eyes welled with tears.
Their family is the real deal.  Their treasures are precious.
Jeremy and Jessica have chosen a road that most don't travel
and
the beauty of their lovingly gathered family is priceless.

So here's my challenge....

Would you be willing to help Jeremy and Jessica and
their family bring 
home Vivienne and Esther?

So many times I have heard people say,
"I can't adopt."  

And no doubt, many are unable....

But can't we who aren't currently adopting 
or are unable to adopt help those who are
bring home some treasures at this moment?

Couldn't we have a part in helping Esther and Vivienne come home?

Wouldn't it be amazing to for Jeremy and Jessica to 
lay their head down at night and know that God had met the 
need through hundreds of bloggy friends around the world?

Can we even imagine how amazing if Jeremy didn't have to work three jobs 
to help fund the bringing home of their latest treasures?

Our God meets the needs of others 
most often through us.

Although God could do anything
and literally drop a money tree in Jeremy 
and Jessica's front yard, for some reason,
He seems to thoroughly enjoy us helping each other.

Maybe it's because He wants us to be community.
Maybe because He loves when we work together.
I know as a parent there is nothing more fun
then seeing my kids love each other -
both the big ones and the littles.

We are His hands and His feet.  

We get to!

I don't have a fancy giveaway to entice people to give
just a heartfelt call
with a promise that the rewards for helping
will be "out of this world".

Would you help Jeremy and Jessica bring sweet Esther and Vivienne home?

We have been praying as I put this plea out there.

Here is the link to their fundraiser page
on YouCaring.com



This is post number 2,215 for this silver-haired chica 
and I've never once asked for my bloggy 
friends to specifically help one family bring treasures home...
but the time is now and I am excited at what God is going to do.

Would you be willing to ask the Lord if you should help?



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The "Project" I've Been Busy With

                       Although your story will likely not look exactly like ours, 
I share ours because I firmly believe that we, as the body of Christ, are called to live 
outrageously and by our reckless love for Christ, encourage others that they, too,
can make a difference by living "outside the box".

Our journey to Simplicity began many years ago, 
actually, I just realized the journey began in 
the fall of 1988 {26 years ago!}, 
 when we intentionally began to Simplify our lives
and live in Simplicity with only one purpose in mind:

Do all we could to serve the Lord,
no matter the "cost" by giving of our time,
talents and resources.

In doing so we would strive to stay out of all debt
and
get out of mortgage debt as quickly as possible,
so that we could do easily and instantaneously all that
the Lord called us to do.

That journey became an adventure!

We had no idea what it would look like.

All we said was, 

"Here we are.  
The good, the bad and the ugly.
Our lives, our comforts, our money,
it's all yours.
We're willing to do anything.
Please just use us." 

And what an adventure it has been!!

We immediately sold our brand new, just built {6 months before}, semi-custom
home and bought a dilapidated relic with solid bones out of our 
proceeds from the sale of our new home. 

We were determined not to have any mortgage debt
ever again, if we could help it!

We reasoned, 
"Just imagine how much more we 
can accomplish for Him without mortgage debt!"

I'll save all the beautiful details of God's miraculous provision
over the last 26 years for a book I've been writing in my head for ages,
but suffice it to say, we have had an amazing adventure,
not necessarily easy, but so fulfilling and rewarding!

Anyway,

when I was in Africa a couple of weeks ago, you may recall reading this post:



 I eluded to a Crazy Dream we had lived out twice in the 
past and I felt like it was time to dream again - 
that same crazy dream!!

I was over-the-moon excited at the possibility and couldn't wait for Dw to wake up.
When I actually talked to Dw about it via Skype,
he loved the idea!!

So what was that crazy dream?


Simply this...

Sell our current home and buy a less expensive one
enabling proceeds to be used to do something crazy-fun...
{we had bought our home as a short sale, have put quite a 
bit of sweat into it and with the current housing market
here in Phoenix we can sell it for a profit}

like oh, maybe, just perhaps, help build a home for orphans...

Twice before we have intentionally sold/moved to a different home
enabling the proceeds to serve the orphans.

Why would we do that?

Why not?  

It's a tedious, yet practical way to be His Hands and His feet.

Is moving hard?

Of course!

But the smile on our faces,  the joy in our hearts and the peace in our souls??

Whooooa Nellie - too glorious for words!

So while in Africa we were praying....

and this story is definitely a Memorial Box story that just might
be better than most others of ours...

We had ONE prayer:

"God please make this story, one that only You could write....
please allow the story to bring glory to You and You alone - 
creating a story that at every.single.step. we see Your
direct involvement and powerful display of Your provision....

And boy-oh-boy-oh-boy has He answered

wildly above and completely beyond all we could think or ask!!

I will share the story one day....

but for now, I'm off to pack.

Two weeks ago today I landed.

Last week we signed papers.

Yesterday we had the home inspection where
we are buying...

All the while, 
God has been at work in total God-ordained fashion
showing us, once again, that He is our  
Miracle-working,
Mountain-moving,
Awe-inspiring,
Gasp-giving God!

We just have the enormous privilege 
of being along for the ride.  





I was telling my friend Audre over the week-end the story
and her mouth kept dropping open...
Yes, it's *that* good.

Then last night I was telling my friend Candis
and she kept giggling,  "Wow.  Wow.  Wow!!" 

So my project over the week-end was packing
and purging and packing some more...



  because we're moving this Saturday!!




*giggle*

What a wild and crazy adventure we are on!

Life just keeps getting better and better.

And He gets all the glory!!