Friday, September 07, 2012

Man on a Mission: El Salvador

We've got a man on a mission in our house.
The leader of our pack is packing his bags and heading to El Salvador come October!
Because God asked, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And Mike has answered, “Here am I. Send me!”
(Isaiah 6:8) 

To answer the call that God has put on his heart, Mike will be heading out to La Libertad, El Salvador on a short-term mission trip sponsored by Great Commission Latin America (GCLA). 
The purpose of this trip is to share the incredible good news we have in Christ in a community where the local church is involved in the development of families. 

They will be showing the love of Christ in a very real way - by serving the community physically. 
Serving by building necessary buildings as well as helping the members of the community through multiple service projects. 

While they serve physically they will also reach out spiritually. 

We all hear the whisper of our Savior at one point or another in our lives and wonder about who this man is. This man who was willingly hurt and crushed and bled out for our hearts. 
The people in La Libertad hear His whisper too and are hungry to see this Man and hear His message. 
Their hearts yearn for spiritual growth and this trip will provide an incredible opportunity to partner and support their local church. 

Mike's heart and hands and feet are ready to go! 
However, in order to make it all possible, we need to develop a team of support who will join him in this effort. As they travel and work, they will most be needing your hearts in prayer for safety and success, as well as for the team and the work they will be doing within the community. 
Beyond prayers we are reaching out for financial support as well, to make this trip possible.

We have been so generously blessed already with a portion of what Mike needs to be on this team and head to El Salvador, however we have some financial deadlines to meet. 

We need to raise roughly $500 by next Sunday - September 15. 
This means we only need 25 friends to give $20! 

So what we're asking of you is to prayerfully consider what you may be willing to do or give to help further this man and His mission. 
If all you can give are your prayers, we will joyfully accept them with our whole hearts! 
However, if you feel lead to give financially, we will humbly accept any generosity poured out on us. 
If you feel so lead, all you need to do is click on the donate button at the top of the page, in the upper left corner.
It's quick and easy and all up to you. 

Thank you, dear friends, for taking the time to read this blog and for joining with us in life, even if for just a few minutes at a time. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Goodbye, sweet baby.

Only a few short hours passed after my last words here before change knocked at our door. 
I answered, pain walked in. 
Pain laced black and red. 
Pain wrought in tears.
Tears of thousands, millions of women. 

Saturday writhed with the ugliness of this world. 
This broken world. 
When all feels broken. 

But the broken was preceded with grace. 
Grace in little blips on a black and white screen. 
Grace in a slow, steady beat. 
And when grace precedes the pain, we see the love of the Creator. 
The Creator does not leave us empty in pain, 
He fills us full up with grace so we can see just a glimpse of His love. 

A glimpse. Just a blip. 
A blip that is more full of love than I can fathom. 

Still, I want to question. 
I want to writhe against truth. 
I want to listen to the whisper of darkness. 
Darkness forged in lies. 
Lies that say He isn't good, 
He isn't grace, 
He isn't love, 
that this isn't right or just or true.
And he, the prince of darkness, "he sneers at all the things that seem to have gone hideously mad in this sin-drunk world, and I gasp to say God is good. The liar defiantly scrawls his graffiti across God's glory, and I heave to enjoy God ... and Satan strangles, and I whiten knuckles to grasp real Truth and fix that beast to the floor." 

When I focus the lens of my heart on the lies, I miss the whole of His truth. 
It is only when I change and use God's Word as a lens that I can see truth.
Without it, "the world warps."
"Only the Word is the answer to rightly reading the world, because the Word has nail-scarred hands that cup our face close, wipe away the tears running down, has eyes to look deep into our brimming ache, and whisper, 'I know. I know.'
The passion on the page is a Person, and the lens I wear of the Word is not abstract idea but the eyes of the God-Man who came and knows the pain."

So, I look for His truth.
Truth that He is the Creator. 
"You were in My care even before you were born." (Isaiah 44:2)
Resting forever in His care. 
Truth that we were never promised a life free of pain.
This life is enveloped in suffering.
We yearn to mirror Christ but what when that mirror means pain?
Those hands that cup our face are the same hands that faced
"the abandonment of God Himself (does it get any worse than this?). "
Yet, "Jesus offers thanksgiving for even that which will break Him
and crush Him
and wound Him
and yield a bounty of joy."

I grapple for understanding even when my life has not been wrought with hardship. 
I am, ultimately, blessed. 
I've only glanced at pain for a moment, 
it has never wrapped me whole. 
Left me destitute. 

And even in my briefest moments, I want to question. 
How do I grasp grace? 
How do I breathe in love? 
Wrapped in truth. 
That, "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28) 
Even in these briefest of moments, I hear it soft,
"it is suffering that has the realest possibility to bear down and deliver grace."

And when my eyes are clouded or my mind cannot comprehend 
I am reminded that He speaks in the wind, and His gloriousness reaches beyond me. 
"As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the maker of all things." (Eccl 11:5)
And He makes all beautiful.
He transfigures all into beauty.
"And if all the work of transfiguring the ugly into the beautiful pleases God,
it is a work of beauty."

When I stop to breathe in His truth, 
I welcome His grace. 
He catches my breath and binds my wounds.
He heals my heart and fills the empty. 
In the weakness of my questions, His power is made perfect. 
His grace is sufficient. 
His hope is everlasting. 

God speaks to me through the words of another and I am blasted through, a cold wind seizing my lungs. It's hard to breathe.
"He takes the empty hands and draws me close to the thrum of Love.
You may suffer loss but in Me is anything ever lost, really? 
Isn't everything that belongs to Christ also yours? Loved ones lost still belong to Him - then aren't they still yours? Do I not own the cattle on a thousand hills; everything? Aren't then all provisions, in Christ also yours? 
If you haven't lost Christ, child, nothing is ever lost. 
Remember, 'through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God' (Acts 14:22), and in 'sharing in [My Son's] sufferings, becoming like him in his death' you come 'to know Christ and the power of his resurrection' (Philippians 3:10)." 

"God is always good and I am always loved."

I takes lessons from her, this writer, who writes the words of the Father.
She grapples for gratitude and I yearn to count my own one thousand blessings.
I re-read underlined words and blink back the sting when I see what I scribbled across those pages that grip my heart:
26: 6.26.12: 2 tests. 4 pink lines. 1 leap of my heart. A 5th. Blessing upon blessing. 

Can I write again? Can I add to the number?
44: 7.30.12: A life joined with Him. A life with no pain, no sorrow, no tears. 
Hope for a glorious reunion at the barrier of eternity. 

Eucharisteo: to give thanks.
"Because eucharisteo is how Jesus, at the Last Supper, showed us to transfigure all things - take the pain that is given, give thanks for it, and transform it into a joy that fulfills all emptiness. I have glimpsed it: This, the hard eucharisteo. The hard discipline to lean into the ugly and whisper thanks to transfigure it into beauty. The hard discipline to give thanks for all things at all times because He is all good. The hard discipline to number the griefs as grace..."

Quoted sections taken directly from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Helloooooo Baby!

Yes, that's right. 
We're growing another baby! 

 3 positive tests - 2 on June 26, 1 on June 27.
There was actually another one from June 25 but I didn't keep it! 

This is one of our fabulously fun pictures with the beautiful Traci to help us announce our excitement to the interwebz world. 

Since I haven't been blogging recently I thought it was time to catch things up a bit and we had an ultrasound yesterday that left us scratching our heads.

So, this will also be a post to update any of you lovelies that are interested on what is leaving us baffled with this new pregnancy. 

Please be warned, I'm going to get nice and close and personal here.
For some of you, it may be a bit toooo personal.
So stop reading in a little bit. 

Not quite yet if you don't mind charting details. 

I've been charting for a while. Over a year. I didn't take my temperature daily most of that time but started about 4 months ago, or 4 months before we conceived. 
So, I've gotten familiar with everything included in charting and conceiving and have read a lot and studied a lot.
My eyes have started to cross a bit while studying my chart online. 

Well, looking at my chart from the time we conceived this baby, it was all very standard. Ovulation was  late but I knew when it happened. All the right signs were there, the OPK's were positive and my temp rose afterward and stayed high, a sure sign that ovulation did indeed happen. 
We waited 14 days to test and got positives! 

So we knew pretty precisely when this baby was conceived. June 12th/13th. 
That would put me at 9weeks 5days today. 
A due date of March 5, 2013

Stop reading now if you don't want any more details than that! 
Come back to the very end. 

I'm going to share what's been going on lately and it gets pretty personal. 
I'm not trying to spill all the unnecessary details to the world, but it is very hard to explain our new due date without explaining what's been going on!
So, here it goes. 

July 16 I started spotting pink with occasional red streaks. That lasted about a week but didn't stop. 
A few days ago it was more that just occasional spotting. 
Then it turned dark pink and then some brown. 
But I haven't had any cramping yet, so I've been trying not to worry and just let it go knowing full well that many women spot or even bleed during their pregnancies! 

Thursday morning it was red. Bright red. It wasn't a ton but enough to concern me and there was a clot in it. Maybe dime size? Maybe pea size. There have been a couple more pea size clots since then. I have continued to bleed bright red and it's been gradually getting heavier. I wouldn't consider it "heavy", if you ladies know what I mean by that. But it certainly wasn't nothing. 
I called the midwife I was hoping to see and they squeezed me in yesterday at 12:10. 

The appointment was interesting, I guess. I was able to get in for an ultrasound, it just took forever because they were super busy and squeezed me in. 

They gave me an internal ultrasound and according to the tech and all the measurements, there is indeed a baby and that baby DOES have a heartbeat. 

Praise God! 

However, that baby was only measuring 5w6d - 6 weeks today. 
A full 3 WEEKS behind what we knew. 
It's actually quite an odd mystery because according to those measurements it puts conception on July 1st - 4 full days AFTER we got 4 positive pregnancy tests! Which is impossible. You can't get positive tests before you actually conceive. It boggles my mind. 
Especially considering that we have been charting. Everything according to my charts put ovulation at CD19 - June 12th. And we got our BFP's exactly 14 days later. 

There are a couple crazy scenarios in my head but I don't know what's actually realistic. 
1. We conceived twins and lost 1. 
2. Maybe there are twins and my body is learning how to deal with that? 
3. 2 eggs were released at different times, both fertilized, one lost. 
4. We were pregnant, lost that baby and conceived almost immediately after that. 
5. The ultrasound is off a bit (they have been known to be off by 2 weeks or so) and the baby just hasn't grown yet. 

I am still bleeding and it's not getting much better but the tech didn't see anything to be concerned about. 
When I asked if there was any reason to explain the bleeding she said that either:
1. I was 9 weeks and the baby stopped growing at 6 weeks and I was miscarrying but that wasn't the case because if that was it, the baby wouldn't still have a heartbeat. 
2. My body was just readjusting to being pregnant again and it's just different this time. 
She said that, in theory, because there is a heartbeat that the baby should keep growing and get bigger and the heartbeat will get stronger. 

If things get worse, I'll go back in. 
Also, I am waiting for the midwife to call back after seeing the ultrasound results. I haven't talked to her yet, just talked with the tech a lot. 
If the ultrasound measurements and conception date are correct, that gives us a new due date of:
 March 23, 2013 and puts us back at being newly pregnant, at 6 weeks along! 

I am indeed, praising God that there is a heartbeat and a baby that we could see! 
I have no doubt that He is the author and perfecter of life and holds it all in His hands. 
I also have no doubt that this may never be explained because it may just be His miraculous and mysterious plan for us. 

And I will praise Him for all of it. 

I also know that should anything change or worsen, I have a tender, loving, and compassionate God who wastes nothing and makes no mistakes. 
I trust Him knowing that every life has a purpose even if that life is only 6 weeks long.

Thank you to all who have been praying for us, we greatly appreciate it! 
Many apologies to any that I made squirm. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Typical Tuesday

I just wanted to take a quick moment to share what we did today because I really enjoyed it and I actually felt like we accomplished more than just chores. Ha. 
I mean, don't get me wrong, the chores are essential. 
But sometimes I feel like it's 10 o'clock before we even finish the "before breakfast" chores and then by the time breakfast is over or the chores we skipped are then done, it's lunch time! 
Where did my morning go?

Yesterday we didn't do much "real" school but we spent the entire morning on obedience. 
We played a LOT of games and it left me feeling more accomplished than I have in a while. 
But that's another post for another time. 

This week we've been talking about Abraham and today we were emphasizing how God promised Abraham more descendants than there are stars in the sky.
And Abraham believed Him.
(Genesis 15:1-8 and then we read Genesis 18:1-10)

This was the project. 
Very simple, but very fun. 
A tent made from an index card colored with crayons and folded in half. 
Then taped to a black piece of paper that you decorated with "stars". 
The stars we made from cotton balls dipped in white paint. 
I added the lesson in silver crayon. 

Gman on the left, SuperWy on the right.
SuperWy enjoyed the paint. A lot.

Emma's! She even drew Abraham and Sarah in the tent. :) 

And just for fun ... 
we made the letter C with blocks. 

This is George's 

And Clara's 

And afterwards SuperWy made a train. 

Now I just need to keep this motivation every day! 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mothering Moments: "I wanta be a friends mama"

Those were the words thrown out by my 3 year old this morning after I somewhat harshly told him to stop jumping on me while I vacuumed. 

Eluwhoo was busy doing dishes, Gman was busy picking up books, and Cbelle was ... hmmm, playing in her room? 
Wyatt was without a job and therefore, wanted to "play" with me while I finished the vacuuming. 

I'm thrusting the dirt eater around the living room and every 5 seconds there's this 32lb stringy beast landing on my legs and clinging to my waist. 
Child, off! 
Is what I'm thinking. 

I said a few:
Superwy, no.
Superwy, stop. 
No, son. 

So then there was: 
SON! Stop jumping on me! 

A boy, sucking his thumb on the stairs, cuddling his blanket. 

A few minutes pass and I hear:
"Mama, I wanta huuuug.
I wanta be a friends mama."

I actually laugh when I hear him.
I responded with, 
"We are friends, son."
And then I'm sad. 

I realize there are a couple things in what my little superman said. 
The first is that our children want our friendship and they will push us to give it to them. If we give in and give them friendship without parenting, it will be to their detriment. 
I am not called to be my child's friend, I am called to be his mother. 
A mother first, always. 

So many parents now seem to think that they can be their child's best friend and focus on that relationship more than the relationship of the parent to child. 
We are our children's parents for a reason.
God designed the family system for a reason and with a purpose. 
A big part of that purpose, I believe, is to provide our children with an environment where mom and dad teach them, train them, discipline them, and disciple them. 
Not be their best friend. 

The second thing is that I realized in that moment that my child was calling out for relationship with me.
Right then. At that moment. 
That calling out didn't mean that I needed to rush to him and apologize up and down and just hug him, though it's easy to think that. 
Just like we cannot be friends without parenting, we cannot parent without relationship. 
So what this moment meant was that I needed to go to him, hug him, apologize for being harsh, and then explain to him why he needed to stop jumping on me. 
I needed to restore the mother-child relationship. 

So we did that. And then I asked him to obey, and he did. 
So often, we move from one task to the next and disregard the need to repair the relationship with our children. 
I could have easily finished vacuuming, moved on to dishes, and then on to blanket time without taking a moment. 
I could have responded with my,
"We are friends, son." 
And just left it there. 
But what would that have accomplished and what would I have missed and messed? 

Don't let yourself only be a friend to your child without being their parent and don't parent your children without a healthy parent-child relationship. 
Spend time building a healthy relationship with your children even when it's easier to do the opposite. You will win their heart and will be able to turn that heart right back to Christ. 
What a beautiful thing! 

I'll be trying right along with you because heaven knows, I need to keep trying. 

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Eat: Pancakes here! Come and get your pancakes!

We love pancakes in this house.
Pumpkin pancakes, chocolate pancakes, cinnamon pancakes, banana bread pancakes, oatmeal pancakes, plain pancakes ... ohhhh pancakes. 

So over the last two weeks we tried 2 new pancake recipes that were both huge successes and tonight I'm going to share those recipes with you! 
Lucky, lucky you. 

First up, chocolate brownie pancakes. 
If that name itself doesn't send you into a tizzy, I don't know what will. 
What makes this even better?
Oh, their clean eats! 
The original recipe is actually a waffle recipe but since we don't have a waffle maker I took her recipe and made pancakes instead. 

1 1/2 cups whole wheat  flour
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. real salt
1/4 cup wheat germ (I used raw wheat germ, but any kind will work)
1 3/4 cups almond milk (you can also use non-fat or low-fat milk)
2 ripe bananas
2 whole eggs
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. honey

Step 1 – Place a flour sifter in a large mixing bowl, and place all your dry ingredients, except for the wheat germ, into the sifter and sift. 
Disclaimer: I didn't sift my ingredients because I don't have a sifter. Oh, snap! 
They turned out great nonetheless.

Step 2 – Add your wheat germ to the bowl and blend well with a whisk. 

Step 3 – In a separate bowl, mix all your wet ingredients. I used a hand blender to blend everything into a smooth liquid.

Step 4 – Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients, and blend with a whisk. Don’t over mix, but do get out any clumps you see.

Step 5 – For waffles: pour a little in at a time. Use a spatula to help it spread. You don’t want to go to heavy, or you’ll end up like me with batter oozing out the sides. Less is more here. Trust me.
For pancakes: same rules apply, less is more. I used a 1/4 C measuring cup to pour the batter onto the griddle. 

Eat and Enjoy!

My children each ate 3 and asked for more and I had to cut them off! They would have eaten all 19. 

. . . 

Alright, so the next morning, after your delicious brownie pancakes, you may want lighter ones.
These cinnamon pancakes with cinnamon honey butter will be just right! 

Cinnamon Pancakes:
2 1/2 C Flour
3 Tb. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Baking powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
2 Eggs, beaten
1 tsp. Vanilla
2/3 C Honey
1 1/2 C Almond milk
1/4 C Coconut oil 

In a large mixing bowl, mix the first 4 ingredients. In a medium bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients; mix well. Using a 1/4 C measuring cup, pour batter on hot, greased griddle or frying pan. 
Top with cinnamon honey butter. 

Cinnamon Honey Syrup:
3/4 C Honey
1/2 C Butter
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon (you could do more. I would have liked it better with about 1tsp.)

Heat all ingredients until combined. Serve warm. 

I wanted to eat all 16 of these pancakes. They were to die for.