Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Just a Quiet Day

It's been a quiet day on the home front. The kids and I sat on the porch while I sipped coffee and we ate pumpkin bars I had made a few days ago.

This afternoon Emma and I have been working on wreaths for above our beds. Emma's making two...one for above Elizabeth and Jubilee's bed and one for above Liberty and her bed. We had picked out the dried flowers and grapevine wreaths a few months back and finally today are getting around to it. So far they're looking so sweet!

The kids have been running in the sprinkler and eating Fudgsicles. It's a perfect summer day.

There is a post {okay, so there's really about four that I think the Lord wants me to share} mulling in my heart. We'll see if I can write it for tomorrow.

And tonight? We have a prayer meeting at our church. Many churches have committed to joining together for this special time to pray for the end to the Sex-Trade/Slave Industry. We have heard that 40,000 sex slaves were moved to South Africa for the World Cup. We must join together and pray for hearts to change, repentance and God to move to set these slaves free.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Memorial Box Monday - The Notebooks

Yesterday I was asking the Lord to remind me of all the times He was faithful when I was a little girl. I just have a need to remember all the times. All. And although He hasn't {yet} reminded me of all of those times years ago, I am certain He will. Sometimes we look back on a season of our lives and wonder, "Were you there Lord? How were you there?" That's why it is so important to have a Memorial Box. To remember. To keep remembering. Because it's so stinkin' easy to forget. God told those forgetful Israelites to tell their children the same story over and over and over and over each time they saw the stones.....to their children, their children's children and so on.....

Today's story is a simple story of God's faithful provision. It took place about 14 years ago. We were living in Virginia where we were planting a church. Times were lean. Very lean. I was home schooling Abigail, Tyler and Autumn. I had been home schooling for about 8 years and the routine was to buy notebooks and supplies at the beginning of the school year - when all that stuff was on sale. For some reason I had missed that and here it was well into the year and we had none left.

About this same time the Lord had been speaking to me about trusting Him. Not worrying about anything - instead to pray about everything. It's so easy to wonder and worry about everything. It's so easy to spend large chunks of time worrying.....for instance my thoughts would have typically gone like this: Where am I going to find notebooks right now? They never, ever have notebooks on sale at this time of year. How will I afford them? I need a bunch. How many would be the bare minimum of what I need? Where could I look for some? Who would have the cheapest....and on and on and on.

But I was learning to just share my need with the Lord and leave it with Him. And as I am sharing this story I am remembering......I could take you back to the home we were living in and show you exactly where I was squatting down to get something in a lower cupboard and realizing I needed notebooks. I simply said, "Lord, I need some notebooks. Actually I need lots. Please provide them on sale where I can easily find them." That was the end of the prayer. My mind went to other things. I didn't fret. I didn't worry. I didn't give it any more thought.

Worry can be so time consuming. I could have spent hours thinking {and actually worrying} about those silly notebooks. But I was learning to pray and trust. Trust for me means not worrying. Just giving it to Him and leaving it there. {I am still working on doing this, but over the last 15 years it has definitely gotten way better.}

A few days later I went to Richmond to grocery shop. I walked in to Walmart and right there, smack dab in front of me, right at the entrance was an entire pallet of notebooks. Green. Yellow. Red. Blue. Black.

And the best part? They were $.09 each!!!!!! I would have thought it was a stinkin' deal at $.50 each...but no! They were NINE CENTS!! Gracious - I could have walked the sidewalks and found enough to buy a few, right? I was bouncing up those aisles rejoicing....

No worries.

No frets.

No chunk of change.
Just faithful, covenant keeping God meeting my very real need!! Proving that He loves to be our Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God!! How stinkin' fun is that?

So when it's easy to fret, worry, struggle, try to figure it out - DON'T!! Remember the things God has done for you....just ask Him and trust He will do it again.

Please share your Memorial Box Monday story below. Link up with your permalink. Link back to here. So your bloggy friends can read others stories and be encouraged!! Let's remember together...He is so faithful.

And if you missed the Crazy Love post yesterday...check it out...xo

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Crazy Love Challenge #4

Liberty has allergies and her eyes are swollen,
but wanted you to see our Crazy Love shirts...

Today's service in the park {and baptismal beside the river} was awesome!! A young man who had come to help cater the picnic, listened to the service and prayed to receive Christ on the side. He then said he wanted to be baptized and came to the baptismal pool. It was amazing!! A young woman who had been baptized four years ago had strayed from God. She recently moved to our area and a couple of weeks ago started attending. Today, as we were finishing up the baptism, came forward in her street clothes and said, "I want to be baptized too. I have been running from God for almost four years. I'm running back!" A teenager who received Christ Monday night came forward after watching all the others and said, "me too"....it was such a wonderful response to God's Crazy Love for each of us!!

Our church went out on Wed night to spread some Crazy Love....
here's April, Emma & Josh heading out...

So for today's Crazy Love Challenge....

I would love to have you bloggy friends post stories of how you are showing Crazy Love. Please don't be shy. God's word says {in Hebrews 10:24} "Spur one another onto good works!" Your stories encourage others and challenge friends to show God's Crazy Love...

A group of us {with all my littles} went to the Soup Kitchen and pulled weeds and
worked on the outside of the building...while others painted inside....

I will keep this post open for a few days - till July 2nd..... Please post your stories. Please link back here so that people who read your blog can hear about God's Crazy Love and be challenged themselves. Please don't be shy. Sarah, you mentioned in a comment something you and Chris did. Come on Sarah, please share it!!

I also want this Crazy Love post to include prayer requests....there are so many needs right now...health issues...adoption struggles...etc..... If you have a prayer request... please link up. A couple of posts ago some of you shared some prayer requests in the comments...please link up by doing a post....or at least put your request in this comment section. You know friends around the world will be praying for you...and it is unfathomable what God will do when His people pray together for a common need!!

So how about we keep this Challenge to stories of how you and/or your family showed God's Crazy Love....and to prayer requests? Any other suggestions for our next challenge, I'm open. Su, you always have good suggestions, too, so share!! The rest of you out there - share!! Come on, I'd love to hear from you. Let's keep this challenge open till July 2nd, k?

Sunday Snapshot:: {Summer Chillin}

Am I the only person out there who loves summer best?

Personally, I wish it was all year long {sorry, ski fans - I can't help it!}.

To see more Sunday Snapshot's brought to you by Stefanie - click below:

Ni Hao Y'all


I'll be back later to do a Crazy Love Challenge post....but first we're off to our church services in the park....and folks are gonna' be baptized alongside the river....and worship will be heard echoing across the river to the homes....and Crazy Love will be shared with people walking the river trail....and I get to baptize a young woman who has been growing in Christ.....oh yes, it's gonna' be an amazing day!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Striving for Simplicity: Purging & Orphans

When I first started really trying to simplify, it was hard - stinkin' hard!

For starters: I am a sentimental person. Somehow, every special moment that held a treasured memory needed to be remembered with a tangible item {or so I thought}. As a young girl I was known to even keep a napkin that a special someone had wiped their mouth on - I have the "sentimental stupidity" really bad - trust me!

Finally I decided that I couldn't keep everything, no matter what - especially if I really wanted to live simply. For instance, I had accumulated several vases. One had been a gift from my sweet niece, Candi, but the rest were the kind that someone special had sent flowers in. I could remember each vase as the one from this person and it represented that time. But as much sentimental significance as each one held, did I really need a bunch of vases?

I wanted my life simple. And I did not want to spend my days digging through "stuff", shuffling a dozen vases in cupboards. The beautiful vase from Candi was a no-brainer - it was gorgeous and it was from her! I would use a canning jar if somehow I needed another vase. All the rest went into the yard sale to bring our Isaiah home. Amazingly I haven't missed one of them. Not one. Even though the other vases represented special moments, the freedom that getting rid of them beat a cupboard full of "mementos".

My other problem in simplifying was the thought, "I might need this someday." I had to ask the Lord for grace and strength as I determined that if I needed it, He would provide it {and He has! As a word of encouragement for those who are stuck in the "I might need this someday trap", you won't need it and if by the slightest chance you did, He will provide it again!!}

About the time of starting Isaiah's adoption I was able to go on my first missions trip. Dw and our oldest kids had been on many, many, to several different third world countries - but I was the one holding down the fort at home with the little ones.

But about four years ago we finally were able to go as a family to Mexico to work in an orphanage there. It changed my life forever. We are convinced that our kids must, must, must go on missions trips. The price of a missions trip is nothing in comparison to the changed hearts that it produces. I will never forget leaving Mexico where we had spent about 5 days working with orphans ages 3 to 14. Graham was 11 at the time and said to me, "Isn't it funny mom? Kids in America have everything and are so unhappy - they don't smile much. But the kids in the orphanage have nothing and smile and laugh all the time!"

The original plan was to work in the orphanage for 5 days, then head to visit Abigail and Ryan, and end up at Disneyland and Sea World for some R & R. Our kids begged us not to do all the Sea World & Disneyland stuff, they wanted to go back and work at the orphanage. So as it turns out we spent the 5 days in Mexico, went to see Abi and Ryan for a few days, load our car with smoke alarms and fire extinguishers and went back to the orphanage in Mexico to serve the remainder of our vacation. Dw and Graham installed all the smoke alarms and fire extinguishers and I served in the kitchen. Emma worked with the kids and Liberty helped where she could. {Remember I said that I had been always been giving away smoke alarms - seriously, who'd have guessed a few years later we would lose our home to a fire?}

Anyway, a few months later Dw was going with our staff to a meeting in TX. I asked him if he would mind if I drove the kids to Mexico to serve again. So I loaded the kids {ages 12, 11 and 7} up and the four of us headed to Mexico. It was a week we will never forget - just Emma, Graham, Liberty and I on an adventure!

After serving there I came home on a personal mission: I had to simplify even more. People in Third World countries make due with little. Very little. Many items have multiple purposes. I wanted the simple life that they had.

I decided everything that I hadn't used in the last few months needed to go! We ditched tons and tons of stuff and had a yard sale to bring our Isaiah home. We were truckloads lighter and boy did it feel good.....But it was a process friends. It didn't happen overnight, but with persistence, perseverance and a lot of prayer - it is continuing to happen, because I have found, sentimental people don't lose it overnight. So it is a continual battle and I vow, I am going to win!!

Please link up and share your Simplifying Tips or things you have done to begin to Simplify or the struggles you've had, the progress you've made...anything about Simplifying your life.

And on a sidenote: Tomorrow we will begin sharing our Crazy Love stories....so please start thinkin about it...K?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Gardening: {With a Boatload}

I really can't think of much I would rather do then work outside in the garden as a family. There is something so gratifying about working hard {and playin' hard} and seeing the fruits of our labor.

Last week-end we worked together and put in our garden. Dw had built some raised beds out of scrap lumber.....and together the big kids worked steadily along...

and together we planted: herbs, tomatoes, squash, zuchinni,
peppers, lettuce, cabbage and more herbs...

Really, is there anything better than a tomato out of the garden?

Maybe only better is fresh tomato on top of fresh lettuce,

And while we worked the little ones played on the John Deere

'Course that ol' John Deere needed a lil' fixin....

thankfully Daddy's hammer was nearby...

Tractor's fixed.....and ready to run....

And all of a sudden, Emma turned on the hose......
and where the two hoses joined a spray spurted across the acres....

and somehow {miraculously} I caught on camera Elizabeth's sheer delight when she saw the water spurting across the field....

and the playin' began.....

Jubilee tentatively peeked at the water....

cautiously leaning closer...{as Elijah ran for cover}

Then her own giggles started....

And she was right in the mix of things....

Gardening toes.....

Living in the country and a boatload of kids is kinda like Peanut Butter and Jelly....

they just gotta' be together...