Thursday, December 31, 2009

The View...

My view looks a lot different as I peer out my back door today. As a matter of fact, our "view" has changed a lot as we close out 2009 and welcome in a new year.

Though our current view does not quite feel like "home" just yet; it's been a good reminder to me that as Christians our "view" is always supposed to be on things eternal.

A few weeks ago my view consisted of "security", "comfort" and "warmth".

Today I pray that my view will be of "faith", "boldness" and "courage".

As you enter 2010, I encourage you to take a little personal assesment of what your "view" looks like.

Let's make 2010 a year of viewing things eternal.

The actual "view" out my back door this morning:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Balmy Weather...

I don't know what the problem with everyone is...NY is not such a bad place:) This morning I woke up to the balmy temperature of 9 degrees!! Ahh...sun and humidity, where have you gone? :)

We're doing really well here although I wouldn't say that we're totally into the groove yet. I don't really expect that life will feel too normal until Ayden is back in school and we're out of "vacation" mode.

In the meantime, we're having a blast hanging out with family and meeting with people about the ministry.

Gotta head out now...headin' to the "big city" (aka Albany) to return a broken Christmas gift. :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas 2009!!

Better late than never! :)

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!


Friday, December 25, 2009

Unto You A Child Is Born!!!

Merry Christmas one and all! Our morning began bright and early (at 6:08) exactly, when two little elves arose and proceeded to wake up the rest of the house!

We are now in the midst of laughter, wrapping paper, superhero costumes and lots of food!

Merry Christmas to everyone! Remember the REAL reason for the day!

I'll be back later with pictures!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

We made it!!

After a trip that was delayed a day due to the HUGE storm, and then involved a 4 hour stint sitting on Hwy 81 in Virginia with the car off so we didn't run out of gas before reaching an exit (aka - no DVD player!!) and then a hotel stay in PA because of black ice - we are FINALLY here!! (How d'ya like that run-on sentence!!)

We are getting settled in and finding it quite the adventure fitting all our "stuff" into our college dorm (I mean bedroom):)

The interview that I had scheduled for Monday had to be rescheduled until after the new year because we got stuck in the storm and ended up behind schedule. I'm bummed not to have made it, but I am trusting that, once again, God has a reason for all of these delays. As we've continuously seen, this entire adventure is in God's hands...He's made it very clear that there is NOTHING that is going to be on our schedule!

Ayden and I spent today getting him registered in his new school where he walked around with the principal and met a few teachers who knew his YaYa.

It was 15 degrees here this morning and although my car is desperate for a wash because of the snow we drove through to get here; I am unable to clean it for fear that it would freeze shut if I do:)

On the bright side, I love wearing the cute scarves that I've had for years and never really needed in Carolina.

So, all in all, we're doing well. We're getting settled in and praying for God's direction now that we're here. We're happy to be back together again and I can't thank you enough for your prayers. We know that MANY of you prayed us into NYS and we feel so blessed! :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Other Side...

Well, this is it.

The internet gets shut off today and Lord willing, we will drive away tomorrow from this place we have called home for over a decade.

It's a hard day - but a good day.

The day is not without tears and heartache and, the more I've thought about that, the more I've felt blessed by that.

For almost 11 years our family has "grown" in this amazing Southern town. We have fallen more in love here, had our children here, laughed with our friends here and cried with our "family" here. I can't imagine what it would be like if we found it easy to leave this place. I feel honored that leaving here is heart wrenching because I know that means I have lived life well here.

There is much being lost - but so much more being gained.

Following this calling is by far, the hardest thing we have ever done; but there are times when you need to take the step to get out of the boat.

This is that time in our life.

And so, I bid you farewell for the final time from my Southern home. Though the words sting as they come off my lips, they also bring with them a great amount of excitement and anticipation for things to come.

Lord, I thank you for this chapter of my life and what it represents. It's a very hard chapter to close, but I turn the page knowing full well that you are on the other side.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Executive Decision...

I just pulled rank and made an executive decision.

You see, I have an amazing friend who knows that my biggest love in this life are my swiss cake rolls (well; and my coffee). This sweet friend brought a few swiss cake rolls to our Mom's group today in honor of my last day there. I ate one at the the luncheon and then my friend told me to bring the rest home.

At first I refused since I have NO will power and knew I would just eat them by the time I got home, but then I decided that I would save them and give them as a treat to the kids in their stockings.

Then I got home.

When I got home the reality of all I still have to pack kicked in and I began to stress.

I made myself a cup of coffee but it didn't work.

And then I looked over to the counter...sitting so nicely strewn in amongst all the piles of papers and lunch boxes were the 2 remaining swiss cake rolls....Sigh.

And, so I made an executive decision.

I need a little peace and quiet and a break from all the emotions and chaos.

I need two things - my Bible and a swiss cake roll.

So, I apologize to my poor children. Mommy thought she'd have the strength to save the treats for your stockings but, alas, they are now gone...

And now I must be off...gotta spend some time with my Father and my swiss cake rolls.

Better luck next time kids.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Moving Boxes and Post-It Notes...

It's seems like no matter how hard I try lately, I look up at the clock and realize that it's almost time for some kids to wake up from naps and my blogging time has once again gone to the birds (gasp!)

In an effort to give you some insight into our crazy life, I will do a really quick update now before I hear the pitter patter of little feet.

Donn is currently in NY and we are praising God that his truck and he made it safely there! He arrived last night and is working today doing some temp stuff for his uncle who is a CPA. It's a huge blessing to have him be able to make a little money during this interim time.

We have also been blessed as Donn has received a part-time job at a facility that works with special needs people. It's only PT now and doesn't pay very well, but it truly is a blessing and hopefully it will go into FT soon. In the meantime, it's what God has given us so we'll take it. He begins the training for that position in January.

In the meantime, as we've been looking at job opportunities in NY, we've realized that most of the FT jobs are geared more toward my administrative capabilities. Because of that, we decided that it makes sense for me to begin looking for FT work. I sent out two resumes last week for secretarial positions. I haven't done secretarial work in a long time but when the options are few you take what you can get.

I was incredibly blessed to receive a call the next day from one of the employers letting me know that they are currently in the process of trying to get approval for adding a Marketing Director to their company. He then mentioned that since my work has always been in the Marketing Director realm, he would like to meet with me about that. Of course, none of it is set in stone just yet, but it truly blew my mind to think that God might actually give me a job doing exactly what I do here from my home office!

And finally, with all of the change of events and with me now scheduling interviews, the realization that I need to get to NY has kicked in. And so, the kids and I will officially be leaving on Saturday. We had always hoped that the house would be sold by the time we left, but it just doesn't seem to be God's plan right now.

And so I am surrounded in a sea of boxes and post-it notes as we prepare to officially make the move to NY. It's been a bitter-sweet week as I think of closing this chapter of my life but I can honestly say that I think I am ready. God has brought us through so much in the last few months and we've seen innumerable blessings. I am ready to see what He has planned for NY and for our family!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Princess Turns 2!!

I can hardly believe that for 2 years my life has been blessed with this precious little cutie pie! I can honestly say that I feel like I have been given WAY more than I ever deserve as a mother.

As I celebrate your birthday my sweet little Elle, let me tell you some of my favorite things about you.

I love your amazing smile with your adorable little teeth. You melt my heart when you look at me and say "lub you."

I love your hair that smells like fruit and your skin that is softer than a bunny's fur.

I love watching you dance and look at me funny when I try to dance with you.

I love the way you walk up to your "baby dow" and kiss her on the cheek.

I love it when you give us your "big smile" where your head shakes because you are smiling so huge!

I love it when you come running through the room after bath time yelling "I'm nakey!"

I love it when you look at me when I'm having a bad day and you pat my head and say "okay Mommy".

Elle, you have brought me more joy than I could ever put into words. I am honored to have been chosen to be your Mommy and I love you with all my heart.

Happy 2nd Birthday Dolly!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Little Update...

So, life has been interesting around here (to say the least).

Donn continues to still be here despite the fact that he initially tried to leave for NY over a week and a half ago. After his truck broke down on the trip to NY, he was towed back here where we have now had to wait for it to be fixed. What was supposed to have taken 2 days has stretched on for much longer and yet we continue to be amazed at all that God is showing us.

For one, He is clearly showing us that nothing will be done in any timing other than His own. This has been a hard lesson to sometimes take in, but we can both see clearly that we need to learn it more each day.

Secondly, we can state beyond a shadow of a doubt that this ministry will only bloom through faith and prayer. The incidents, emotions and fears of the past few weeks have shown us that we really have no place to turn but to God Himself. In the times when we feel weak or hopeless; our only refuge is Him alone. Those are the moments when we crawl up in His lap and beg for Him to wipe our tears.

Finally, I'd say another big lesson I'm recognizing is that we are being given the opportunity to find joy in the midst of the trials. We're moving to an area of the world where minimum wage is the norm, jobs are scarce and hope is often more scarce. I can't think of a better way for us to have true compassion then to be forced into a situation where we have a better understanding of what it's like to live with these trials.

Don't get me wrong; I don't enjoy living life constantly carrying a calculator and wondering about tomorrow; but I also have to admit that there's really no point in ministering to people who struggle with money if you don't understand what it's like to struggle with money. When I think of things through that light, I can't help but praise God that we are walking down this path. Learning how to find joy in the midst of these trials has not been a fun lesson but is one that I clearly needed to learn.

When I sit and write down all of these thoughts it seems clear to me that God is still VERY MUCH in control of all that is going on in our lives right now. I praise Him for all He's doing and I look forward to the day when He gives us the green light to move forward.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Old Fashioned Fun

Last night I had a stroke of genius (humble, I know).

You see, in an effort to use our money wisely during this time, our family has been focusing a lot more on conserving energy by changing simple things. For example, I happen to be the worst person in the world when it comes to leaving lights on. Truth be told; I LOVE lights! Little end-table lamps shining in the corner of a room make me feel cozy. That's a great thing, but I have a tendency to just leave them on ALL THE TIME so that I feel "cozy" when I walk into that room.

It's worked fine for us up until now; but with this new budget (or lack thereof) we are making some changes. I have been much more conscious of turning off lights and only using what we need.

Last night our family decided to take it to an extreme. As I looked at a picture of our little Prince from Africa, I said to the kids, "Hey! Let's have an old-fashioned night!"

We literally ate dinner before it got dark and once the sun went down we turned off all lights except the Christmas tree and some candles. We then got in our comfy cozies and cuddled under blankets in the living room while the kids sang and we played games.

It's amazing how something so simple can be so cool. We had a blast as we talked about what it must be like for Prince every night to only rely on candles. It really makes me appreciate the life we have.

Sure, we may not have much by American standards but the fact remains that our little Prince would think we were rich to see all that God has blessed us with. It's a really good thing for me to remember during this Christmas season.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Short Term Memory...

Praise the Lord I have short term memory (in some cases; VERY short term memory)!

You see, the other day it hit me that my sweet little poofy haired girl is turning 2 in just a few days.

Sure;for many moms that would mean a quick assesment of gifts purchased and cake choices - But not for me.

For me, the age 2 holds another VERY significant meaning...

NO MORE PACI's and time for a BIG GIRL BED!

AHHH!!

And so; with just 6 days to go before the big 2, we have "mailed all the paci's to Santa to give to other babies" and we have converted the crib into a toddler bed.

Surprisingly...the paci thing seemed to go okay. Not sure what in the world Santa is gonna do with a bunch of used paci's but that's his problem not mine!

The big girl bed???

Well, let's just say I have finally stopped putting her clothes back into her drawers and yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of searching the house for the "secret key" in order to get into her bedroom after she locked the door.

Add in the simple fact that Daddy has left for NY and I think it's safe to say that I may in fact be in a rubber room by the end of the week! :)

Soooo; all I can say is praise the Lord for short term memory...you see; somehow, with each child I manage to forget how much I hate these little "stages" of life.

Next up - potty training....Hmm...pretty sure I hate that "stage" also. :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday...

The sweet smell of a freshly mopped kitchen floor.

The hum of the dryer in the background.

The sense of accomplishment in a list almost completed

AND a free babysitter coming over tonight!

What a great Friday!!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Will of God...

"The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you."
Anonymous

I have repeated this phrase in my mind countless times over the past few days.

Donn's official last day at church was on Sunday and he was scheduled to leave town to go ahead of us to NY on Tuesday morning. About 3 hours after he drove away, he called me and said that his transmission had gone on his old truck. We then spent the remainder of the day watching God provide.

First He provided for Donn's truck to be towed back to Charlotte.

Next he provided for a group of people to come beside us to pay for the new transmission in the truck.

Finally, he provided plane tickets so that Donn can still fly to NY to be at an interview which he had previously scheduled (which he would have missed because of the truck still being in the shop).

Many people have responded to the incidents of the past few months (like the house sale falling through and the truck breaking down) by asking us if God is saying that we should be staying in NC. Although we've asked ourselves those same questions; I can honestly say that our spirits tell us that these trials are from Satan. God is still at work even in the midst of what seems to the world as a disappointment.

In our hearts we know that God has called us to this new ministry. Every part of our being tells us that these trials are a direct result of the fact that Satan is trying his hardest to beat down our spirits and keep us from getting to NY.

On the flip side; God is shining brightly as He provides for us in countless ways such as car repairs and plane tickets.

And so I remeber the quote that I shared with you earlier:
"The will of God will never take you where the grace of God won't protect you."

Today we pray simple prayers. "Lord, let your will be done and let us remain in the center of it. Protect our family...protect our spirits, and guide us down this path."

Faith is not supposed to be easy. I sure wish it could be, but in my heart I know that easy faith is no faith at all.

"The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you."

Amen.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Faith

Sometimes things don't go as you plan.

Sometimes plans are not the plan.

Sometimes faith requires sitting still and hearing God's voice.

Sometimes it means running and jumping into His arms.

We're watching God unravel His "plan" today. It's a wonderful day...a really hard day and a day that is far from over yet.

More details later, but for right now I will heed the wise words of my sister and go spend some time with my Father.

I'll also leave you with a song that my Mother-in law sent my way after encouraging us in the midst of Satan's arrows.

God is good...faith is real...this is all part of His 'Story'.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Birthday Fun!!

We just got blessed with a little sunshine in our email inbox!
Today we received this picture of our little Prince in Liberia! Turns out one of the other kids who lives in his foster home recently had a birthday. His amazing Foster Mom threw the little girl a birthday party and I am guessing it was probably one of the first birthday parties our little Prince has ever attended.

What a blessing Prince's foster family is in his life! We miss him terribly and dream of the day when he'll be "home" but we couldn't have asked for a better foster family for him during this time apart!
Prince is the little guy in the "Local" t-shirt.



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Thanksgiving Blessings...

Counting my blessings as I think of all I am thankful for this Thanksgiving:

My amazing family and incredible kids.

My studly hubbie who still makes my heart skip a beat.

Friends that love me through good and bad.

A Savior that knows EVERYTHING and still thinks I'm His princess.

A home that has given us shelter, love and safety.

"Jobs" that have allowed us to tell people about Christ.

Batman costumes, homemade brownies and hot chocolate.

Time to sit back and reflect on all that I have been given.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

What are you thankful for??

Monday, November 23, 2009

November 23, 2001

Though I can hardly believe it; 8 years ago today at approximately 6am, I watched all the Black Friday shoppers scurry in and out of the stores via the local news station while my world was forever changed by the arrival of my sweet freckle faced Ayden.

And so; on this special day, I'd like to tell you the top 8 reasons why I love this little boy so much:

1)His absolute passion for serving God
2)His gorgeous brown eyes
3)His love for telling stories
4)His incredible memory
5)His compassionate spirit
6)His sensitive heart
7)His love of athletics
8)His cuddly nature

Ayden, you are my precious little monkey and you make every day brighter with your love and your smile.

I am blessed to be your Mommy and I thank God that you're a part of my life.

Love,
Mommy

Thursday, November 19, 2009

... na na na na BATMAN!!

Came across some pictures while cleaning and couldn't resist!


Donn - Approximately Age 4
Brekyn - Age 4

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

ABC's...

Today as I was sitting at my computer I heard my sweet little princess singing the ABC's.

I looked over at her and noticed that she was lying on the ground with her blankie over her face.

I then heard the following song:

"A, B, C, D, Night-night....A, B, C, Night Night."

Gee, do you think she was trying to tell me something?

If only I'd taken all those silly parenting courses....maybe I'd be able to figure out what she's trying to tell me!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Exciting Life...

Not a whole lot to report on as of right now.

Life is pretty busy this week as we have the Loecken Family (the family that travels in their RV serving the poor) staying in town. We have had such a blast getting to know this amazing family. If you want to hear more about them click here. http://www.thearktour.org/The_ARK_Tour/Home.html

Beyond that, we're still trying to make final decisions about Donn's departure date. We are avoiding actually admitting that he's leaving soon (basic denial ya'll) but in reality we have both realized that it's the best option for now. Luckily, we'll have Christmas vacation to be together.

Now I must go tend to my incredibly exciting mountain of laundry and maybe I'll even shoot for the moon by attempting to get a shower in here someplace! Don't be jealous of my exciting life...I know it's very tempting. :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Decisions...

With all that is going on in our life right now, it seems like we are constantly seeking God's will regarding decisions that have to be made.

Although it's often hard for me to be patient, it's also a really exciting time of waiting before God and allowing Him to truly care for us.

We are now in the midst of another big decision.

Yesterday I was sitting and praying when something hit me.

It was a thought that had actually never entered my mind before - and it really threw me for a loop.

It was the simple thought that maybe it is NOT the best decision for my husband to stay here once his time at the church is finished. Maybe, in fact, it would be wiser for him to go ahead and move to NY to begin pursuing a job there and to begin getting to know the people of the town.

I'll admit...it was hard for me to even bring myself to mentioning this possibility to Donn. The thought of being left behind to sell, pack and manage the house by myself (well, with the help of 3 little kids) is enough to make me sick; but maybe-just maybe-this would be the best long term option for all of us.

We had initially been assuming that we would all stay here until the house sold and Donn would just get a job here in the "meantime". Don't get me wrong; we would love to all go to NY right away; but the cost of carrying the bills there and also the house here are just not feasible for now.

With just Donn going (and not all of us in tow) he could easily stay with his family and live rent-free for a bit.

Nevertheless, with this turn of events, our world has become a little more complicated. We have not made any official decisions yet but the more we talk about it, the more we both realize that it may be for the best. Yikes...it may be best for my husband to move to NY in just a few weeks!! Ahhh!

Who knows how long it would last...we know we would see eachother when we make the trip there for Christmas, but beyond that it would just be dependent upon the house sale here.

I realize that to some people, it may be no big deal to think of separating the family for a bit. However, during our early years as missionaries with the sports ministry, Donn often spent almost a month at a time away and we have since said that we would never want that to happen again. It's a hard life and it's particularly hard for a family that does so much together. We have already cried at the mere thought of it.

And yet; just because it may be painful doesn't mean that it may not be God's will.

And so, again Iwould love your prayers if you feel led. It's just one more chance to surrender on this journey that has already been such a blessing to our family. I am excited to see how God will answer this time! :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Green Tea...

Monsoon-like rains are pelleting the window and I just arose from a little cat nap with my 4 year old snuggle bug...

Life is good.

I've taken on subbing a bit more these days (at both our church pre-school and another daycare in the area). I'm really enjoying the time there and am actually finding that staying "busy" is helpful since it keeps me from thinking too much about the house sale (or lack thereof).

However, I must admit that this afternoon I am one tired Mommy and I almost welcomed the rain as an excuse to lay down with the kids.

And so now, here I sit with green tea by my side, cozied up in my favorite sweatshirt and sweatpants and thanking God for His goodness...

Despite the fact that life may not always go the way I had planned - I need to remember to pause and thank Him for all the good things in my life...

...for cozy sweatpants, warm tea and sweet little cuddlebugs by my side. Does it really get any better than this??

Monday, November 9, 2009

Welcome To....

Day 3 of my 23 month old NOT taking a nap!!!

Grr!!!!!

'Nuff said.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I'm BAAAAACKKK!!!!

Thanks to an amazing friend who had an extra computer sitting around the house, we are now back in business!! :) Not that I have anything brilliant to say but at least I can say it now! Long live ALWAYS TALKING!! :) Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Technical Difficulty

Just a quick FYI.

Not that I have throngs of fans or anything, but nevertheless I figured I'd let you know that I won't be blogging very consistently for a while.

Our personal computer crashed (again - 2nd time this year) and obviously, a computer is just not in the cards for right now.

I will do my best to blog as I can get to a public computer, but with 3 kids that is also not an easy feat either.

Please keep checking back though! Don't leave me now!! :)

I feel like one of those stupid computer commercials -
"I'm a PC..."
Of course, if I was a Mac I probably wouldn't keep losing my computer to viruses!! Argghhhh!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Trick Or Treat!!

We had a blast trick-or-treating and going to a local Fall Festival! Sure, the rain was a bit of a bummer but that didn't seem to deter the spirit of three kids hyped up on sugar! :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Manna...

“He rained down manna for the people to eat. He gave them the grain of Heaven.” Psalm 78:24

There are times when my faith is lacking.
There’s no way around it – my heart knows that God has a plan, but my logical head just doesn’t understand how He is going to ‘fix’ the problems.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Ironically, yesterday was also November 1st…You got it – Bill Paying Day (gasp).

Since the house contract fell through and the reality has hit that Donn will soon be lacking a pay check, while at the same time needing to pay our mortgage, we have been forced to take a hard look at life and prioritize in a major way.

I have always been a pretty well budgeted person, but there is always room for improvement so yesterday I sat and did some major pondering.

After paying the bills I had literally hit rock bottom. I sat and sobbed at my desk as I looked at the money left in our account and calculated how far that money would last once the paychecks end…Gulp.

I then grabbed the grocery list and faced a harsh reality.
I couldn’t spend a dime from our bank account. Not one dime.

Sure, there is still some money in there – but I can’t justify spending it when I know what we’re potentially walking in to.

I reached into my wallet and looked to see how much cash I had on me.

$11.

Hmmph…that’s not gonna go too far.

But I felt God saying, “Try me.”

And so I vowed that for this week I wouldn’t spend any money from our account for groceries. I’ll use the $11 and trust God for the rest.

So last night, me and my $11 went to the grocery store. With my list prioritized into “must haves” and “maybe haves” I walked the aisles of Aldi.

Now, let me just stop and say that for me to publicly admit I shop at Aldi is a pretty big deal. Over the years I have grown to love Aldi and it has saved our family some major moolah. However, it’s certainly not the most glamorous place on the planet and bagging my own groceries took some getting used to. Needless to say, I went to Aldi with my list in one hand and my calculator in another (oh yes I did!!). I sat and calculated every purchase I put in the cart!

Even during my college days I never once did that!

As I got to the bottom of my list of “must haves” I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to get a few things…cereal, shampoo, tissues…those would have to wait. I literally prayed a little prayer of “God, we could use some cereal and shampoo…I guess toilet paper would work fine for tissues.”

Then I paid my whopping $10.46 bill and went home.

Today, as I sat with some of my amazing friends in bible study, we all laughed as I recounted my story of shopping with $11 and a calculator. We prayed together for God’s direction and provision as we make this transition and I felt this absolute sense of God’s peace.

And wouldn’t you know; God showed up.

One of my friends looked across the table and said, “You don’t happen to need cereal do you?”

“WHAT!! Are you kidding me?? That’s exactly what I need!”

Apparently she had encountered a great deal and had a ton of extra cereal that she just couldn’t pass up!

And, of course, because God is so good, when my friend brought the cereal to my house later in the day, she also filled a bag of other items that she had found when she was bargain shopping. Go figure, there was a bottle of shampoo and a box of tissues in there!

And, that’s the reason why I hate it when I start to doubt God’s goodness in my life.

He saw the tears I shed yesterday and he loves me despite the lack of faith that I can sometimes display. Not only does He still love me, but He also decides to wow me with His absolute provision for what I need (and don’t even need).

And that’s the manna that God provided for me today. Sure, it was in the form of cereal, shampoo and tissues, but there is no doubt that it was directly from God Himself!

Now - if I look outside and see some white bread stuff falling from the sky…wow- that would make for a great story! :)After today, I would say that anything is possible! He’s just THAT good!

My Manna From Heaven!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Good Morning America

You may remember this family.

I showed a clip from their website on my blog a few months ago.

They are the Loecken family and they sold their huge suburban Atlanta home in 2007 in order to buy an RV. They have now been travelling across America encouraging people to get out of their comfort zones and serve God. Every place they go they serve in the community and spread the love of Christ.

I'll be honest, when I first read about them I thought they might be a bit weird. However, over the past few months I've had quite a few interactions with them and I can't get over how "normal" they are. They are a real family, with 4 kids who just love the Lord and have decided that living for Him is really what it's all about.

I am thrilled because they will be with us in just a few weeks speaking to our youth and serving alongside of us in our community!

And guess what???? They were on Good Morning America this morning! :)

CLICK HERE FOR GMA VIDEO
Way to go Loeckens!! Way to go God! :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hamburgers!!!

I took a little break from our recently hectic life to step back and focus on the important things...
HAMBURGERS!!!!!!!!!!

Brekyn's big preschool Halloween party is tomorrow and I'm in charge of the snacks!

TRICK OR TREAT!!
Have a hamburger cookie!


In case you're dying to make a "Hamburger" all your own; here's the deal:

The "buns" are sugar cookies with egg spread on the top and sesame seeds over that (then just bake following the directions)
The "hamburgers" are either the large peppermint patties OR I used chocolate covered marshmallow cookies (cuz they're WAY cheaper) - FRUGAL MOMMY HERE!
The "lettuce" is green colored coconut.
The "ketchup" and "mustard" are icing and are used to glue all the pieces together.

VOILA!! Hamburgers for the person with a sweet tooth!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

When I know I should trust...

What do you do when you know you should trust...

You know you have to trust...

You know you want to trust...

BUT you're really struggling with the reality of it??

Those are the questions perplexing me at the moment...

Since the house sale has fallen through we have been thrown into a spin of re-listing the house, re-cleaning the house, re-budgeting and reevaluating the plans we thought had been set.

Donn resigns at church as of November 29th so we are now having to seriously look at the possibility that we could in fact be unemployed and yet still have a house payment to make.

That's a scary place to be when you have been in ministry your entire life and "savings" are not something that you've amassed a great wealth of.

At the same time, because the man who backed out of our house contract had an inspection done, we're now aware of some of the "problems" that came up with the house.

Unfortunately, being aware of them means that we now have to either disclose them to any potential buyers or we need to fix them immediately. Even more unfortunate is the fact that the inspection turned up some bad siding so we are now having to re-side 2 major portions of the house this weekend. Luckily I have a studly hubbie and some good buddies who can do that sort of thing, but obviously every dime spent right now means even less to carry us through when the paychecks stop coming.

And so I sit.

I sit and pray a lot...

I sit and beg God to fill me with the peace that He gave me the day this all first happened, and I sit and remind myself that we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this move is ordained by God.

There are no doubts in our minds. God told us two specific things:
1) That we are to move to NY to start a much needed ministry in a very dark area and
2) That the end of November was the time for Donn to resign from church.

That is what we've known all along.

This was all part of God's plan. It's just my heart and head that need a bit of adjustment time as the weight of it all sinks in.

And yet I've been reminded in many ways today that God is not worried a bit about the things of this world. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He has a perfect buyer set for our home...He could still choose to sell it before the end of November if He wants to.

HE KNOWS.

And again I find comfort in that fact.

He's already walked this path...He knows the rocks and valleys that lie in the way and He's making the way clear even as we speak. It doesn't mean that we won't have to climb over some boulders or pass through rough waters as we walk this path - it simply means that we will come out on the other side exactly as He has planned.

And again I remind myself that in these times when I know I should have faith; I may need to just crawl up in my Father's arms and beg for Him to give me the faith to trust and believe in His plan.

Amen.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Trust....

Our buyer backed out from our house contract today.


Funny thing is; I think I'm okay.


We started to sense that something was going on this weekend when the buyer seemed very distant and began asking a lot of questions.


Sure, I'm bummed and of course I now have that feeling of "Great, so we now have a house payment and in just a few weeks we no longer have a paycheck" but in reality, I keep feeling God asking me "DO YOU REALLY TRUST ME?"


The human side of me wants to scream and say, "Come on!! Why couldn't this have gone smoothly!" But the other side of me is sitting here thinking that usually when things go "smoothly" God isn't as glorified.


There have been plenty of other times in my life when things haven't gone "smoothly" like I thought they should....


Like when our old church literally went "out of business" and my husband was left without a job. Life was scary and we didn't know what to make of it all; but then this amazing church came to our attention and they offered my husband a job doing exactly what he loves to do and working with some incredible people - hmm - yup, that was "ironic!"


Or, how about when we got the phonecall that the orphanage in Ethiopia was not going to be able to get us a child! Yea, that was a really rough day! Of course, just a few hours later we got another phone call that there was a baby being born any second who didn't have a family! Hmm...we now call our little miracle, 'Elle!' Yea, that was "ironic" too!


Then there was the time when we put an offer on a house that was "just perfect" for our family! I loved everything about the house and couldn't imagine the offer being refused since it was just a little bit less than the asking price. Sure, it was at the top end of what we had planned on spending, but the house was just incredible! Then, surprisingly, the offer was refused and I was beside myself! Of course, just a few days later we stumbled upon this more perfect house that was actually at the bottom end of our price range. We now watch our kids run through the back woods laughing and I realize that this house was meant to be our home all along - how "ironic!"


And so, I pray for the ability to trust right now. There have never been any doubts about our calling to NY. We know this is the Lord's plan for our family. So now, I pray for the wisdom to hear what He's saying and what His plan is for our family.


And I trust....


I trust that in just a short time I will be able to look back and say, "remember that time when things seemed to fall apart with the sale of our house?? Well, let me tell you how God showed up!"


Amen.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Adoption Update!!

Good news!!

It doesn't actually affect our adoption of Prince, but we did just receive word that Liberia is now processing adoptions that had court decrees before January of last year (when the moratorium was first begun); as well as special needs adoptions and adoptions of Liberian children to Liberian families!

Like, I said, we don't fall into any of those categories but I can't help but think that at this point, any step is a step in the right direction!!

Oh, Prince....one day we will see you home! :)

Poor little guy - now when he gets "home" it will be coming "home" to snow and winter jackets! :) Big difference from 105 degree weather!! I'm sure he'll love it though! :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nostalgia....

Shed a few tears today....

Nope, nothing major happened - no sick kiddos, no bad phonecalls...just a realization.

Today I cut down my hostas.

I realized as I mowed my lawn and cut down my hostas and perennials that it was the last time I would work on my Southern gardens.

...The gardens that I've loved so much and have worked so hard to keep up with.

...The back yard that I once worried was "way too big" to handle when we first bought this house - and yet now is my favorite part of our home.

It's a strange feeling to say such a slow goodbye to all of these things that I love so dearly.

I prayed a little prayer as the tear ran down my cheek:

"Lord, please let me plant new hostas with new roots in our new home."

And the fact is; I know He loves me so much that He will allow me to plant new gardens and new memories.

And once again, the painful freedom of sweet surrender. :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Better "Me"...

I had a conversation with a great friend this morning about how "good" (or bad) we are at parenting.

The conversation stemmed from our realization that our 2nd and 3rd children seemed to know so much less than our 1st children did at the same age.

For example, my first son knew letters and numbers by the time he was 2 and a half. I remember working with him to recognize words when he was just 2. He could readwords like Mommy, Daddy and Nana at a very young age.

In turn, by the time he entered pre-school he was writing his name on his own, knew numbers easily and knew all his shapes and colors.

Yup, I was on the ball...

Then I had my second child.

Well, as you can guess, my second (and third) children just don't have that kind of "training" yet. Why would they? I just haven't taken the time to "train" them in that way! Life has gotten busier and flash cards and cute little learning games just haven't been my priority.

And that breaks my heart.

After the conversation with my friend, it made me realize how much I wish I could go back to the way I was as a new mom.

I wish I had the passion, zest and fervor I used to have. I wish I could think of fun activities to do each day with my children.

I wish I wasn't always so consumed with school schedules, homework schedules, church activities and life in general.

I wish I could just take the time...Take the time to be with my kids.

Really BE with my kids.

Make cookies, pick up leaves in the backyard, play on the swingset...just BE.

And so, that is what I'm challenging myself with right now.

I refuse to "compare" myself with any other mothers...there's no good that can come from that.

I don't need to be "like" any other mothers...I just need to be the best I can be at being me.

So, today I'm working at being ME- A better "me" for my children.

What would make you a better YOU??

Monday, October 19, 2009

Constant State Of Surrender...

Surrender is my word. It's been my word for a few months now as I've felt God continuously prompting me that I needed to surrender many things to His control.

It began with my house...

"Lord, I love this house but it's not my house - it's yours. If you no longer want us to be in this house then I give it to you. I surrender."

Then it was our town...

"Lord, this town is the place where all my children have been born. I love the weather, the people, the stores, the flowers. But, this town may not be where you want me to remain forever and so I give it back to you Lord....it's not mine to hold onto."

Next came our friends...this was a really rough one:

"Lord, my friends have become our family here. We have shared highs and lows and everything in between with them. We have laughed our heads off with them and we have cried our eyes out with them. They know everything there is to know about us and yet they STILL love us. But, Lord, my friends were given to me by You. They are your people - not mine...I surrender my friends to you Lord."

And so, this has been the state of my life for the past few months as God has weeded through all that He needed to weed out in order to prepare me to take this next step into a very difficult and "unpleasant" area of the world.

Some days are better than others. Some days I feel God's peace more strongly. Some days I just wish I could close my eyes and life would go back to complete normalcy with a job, a paycheck and sweet magnolias on the trees.

But, alas, that is not God's will for us any longer. He has called us out and I continue to surrender daily to His calling over our lives.

It's not easy and I have plenty of moments when I wish I could see the future that He has set forth for us; but then I am reminded of all the joy I have experienced as I've learned to say "I surrender."

And so Lord, again I say it... "I surrender."

I surrender to this new direction...I surrender to this new life...I surrender to your plan to financially care for us...I surrender to your plan to house us....I surrender my family to you...I surrender my dreams to you. Lord, I surrender because I know that ultimately, it is in the 'surrender' that we feel the sweet peace of freedom.

I surrender.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Perplexing question of the day...

From my 7 year old Ayden when picking up a dollar bill:

"Mom, why do our dollar bills still say "In God We Trust" if most people don't really trust in God anymore?"

Uggh....

Good question buddy.

...Makes me sick that at the age of 7 he already recognizes that. :(

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

As my sweet friend always says....

"Kill me DEAD now!!"

Whoever invented the flu should be shot dead - no mercy - just shot.

I had big plans for today (including some fun with my dear friend)! But, alas, I will sit here in this bed and keep this heating pad over my eyes.

Oh, how I hate the flu. Welcome to fall! :)

I can only be grateful that 2 of my kids are in school today and my studly hubbie took my little princess to work with him. Praise God! :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Random Updates

Not a ton of time today to write today. I'm helping a good friend edit a children's book that she wrote (which I can't wait to one day see published!)

Just figured I'd give a quick update while the kids are asleep and I can think straight.

The "move" is approaching and the closing date has been bumped back to Nov. 24th and then we will "rent back" the house until Nov.30th when we leave with the moving van.

In the meantime, I've been sorting through details of deeds, utilities and a bunch of other junk that I can't stand doing. :)

My Mom and Dad will be looking at a property that we're really interested in on Wednesday. It's a house with a warehouse attached. It would be a perfect fit for combining our living and ministry needs. It is definitely a fixer-upper, but we'll see how do-able it is after they see it on Wednesday.

Beyond that, we're just living our normal crazy life and hoping to avoid the swine flu (which seems to be circulating through the church). :)

Hope you're all having a great Monday!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Under Contract!!

Praise God!! Our house just went under contract! Closing on Nov 16th but not moving out until Nov 30th! God is good! NY here we come!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hmm...Who is that family??

If you've got 7 minutes take a look at this video and see if you recognize anyone in particular :).

This is a little video that was done a few months ago for a show on Inspiration Network called Revelations. The show airs in November and is focusing on adoption.


Effeciency...

Quote from 4 year old Brekyn:

"Mom, thanks so much for doing that for me...by the way, that 'thanks' is good for everything you do for the rest of the day."

Way to be effecient Brekyn - you wouldn't want to be overwhelmed saying thank you all day long!

Gotta love this kid! :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Just Sayin'...

Mental note to studly hubbie -

Next time you leave in a rush to get to church, be sure you shut the house door BEFORE you start your truck.

Turns out the firemen frown upon an interrupted football game in order to check out an alarming carbon monoxide detector.

Just sayin'.

It's a good thing I love you and you're such a stud! :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Big News...

Well, this could in fact be one of the hardest posts I've ever written.

I know that some of you have already heard this news as it was publically announced at our church on Sunday. I had planned on posting it here that day also, but with the funerals I got a bit behind.

So, here’s the bottom line. Donn and I are moving to New York to begin a youth focused ministry there. Uggh…

I say uggh, because this has been one of the hardest decisions of our life. We are thrilled at the proposition of what God has called us to begin but we are scared, sad and will be mourning all that we are leaving behind here in Charlotte. We have been in Charlotte our entire married life and our kids were all born here. This decision has been heart-wrenching for us.

Over the past decade, we have walked life with our Southern brothers and sisters and we've been discipled, challenged and held accountable by some of the best friends we have ever known.

Never in a million years, did I expect God to call us back to New York, but in reality, we’ve realized that sometimes we don’t have a choice. We say that we trust God and that we are surrendered to His will for our lives, so now it’s time to let the rubber meet the road. We know so strongly that we’ve been called toward this new endeavor that we have realized it would be absolute disobedience if we didn’t go.

Donn has resigned from the church as of the end of November, so we are praying fervently for God to sell our house and provide a source of income in NY very quickly.

The plan is that Donn (or I) will be accepting any job we can find (yes, maybe even at Walmart). We have realized that there in no room for pride in God’s plan. College degrees don’t matter anymore…we will take whatever we can get and use it to pay our bills. We will live very simply and also be looking for monthly financial support to make up the difference.

The point is to get to this poverty stricken area; where God is not even on the radar; and begin a relevant ministry that will hopefully reach the people.

And so, that is our big news. It’s sad news, but it’s also great news.

This blog has served many purposes over the years, but perhaps the biggest has been the prayer community that has arisen because of it. I would be so blessed to know that my bloggy friends are praying as we make this major transition.

And, yes, the blog will continue....are you kidding me??? How could I go a day without my blog fix?!

Please check out our ministry site www.changeof1ministry.com

Love,
Cyndie

Thursday, October 1, 2009

HOME AGAIN!!!!!!!!

Oh, it just feels so great to get out of the car and be home again. It doesn't matter how many years it has been - that 16+ hour trip is just NOT fun!!

The car smells a bit like dirty socks mixed with dirty dog - we found shampoo spilled across the trunk and I imagine my day tomorrow will consist of cleaning the french fries out of the carpets.

Nevertheless we're grateful to have been with family during this time and to have had safe travels. We can't thank you all enough for your prayers and all the sweet cards and emails we found as we returned home.

When we rushed out of the house early last Wednesday morning, we never imagined we would be gone for 8 days and attend 2 funerals for our amazing grandmothers; but we are grateful that God knew it all. He is so good and we were reminded of that over this past week!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Little Bit Longer....

I am reminded that the Lord's plans are mysterious and that often we can't begin to understand His ways.

We arrived here for my grandmother's funeral late last week and have just finished two days of celebrating her life and legacy. It was a truly remarkable time to sit and listen to all of the ways she has touched people's lives.

I pray that I will never forget these days. As hard as they have been, I can't help but be grateful for all that I have been given in my Godly grandparents.

Unfortunately, on Saturday night (as we prepared for my grandmother's viewing the next day), we received a call that Donn's grandmother had just had a massive heart attack and had passed away. Donn's parents live just 30 minutes away so we jumped in the car and arrived at the hospital to be with his family.

Needless to say, we're tired, emotional and yet grateful for the fact that we were actually here for once. So often, we have missed out on these times because we have always lived so far away.

And so, we will stay here for a bit longer and prepare to celebrate Donn's Nana's life on Wednesday.

I can't pretend to always understand all of God's ways but I do know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are perfect. He knows.

Thanks so much for all your prayers. They are so appreciated.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thank You

Thank you to everyone who has sent their sweet prayers and messages to us.

We are now in NY celebrating my wonderful Nana's life and legacy with family and friends.

I am so grateful for all of the years I was blessed with Nana and I appreciate all of your prayers!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Race Well Run...

Today my Nana ran the final lap of a race well run.

It was a final lap that was slow and peaceful and well earned.

It was a lap that led her straight into her Savior's arms where she has longed to be her entire life.

If was a lap that left behind an amazing Godly husband of 68 years and a family that is devestated with their loss...yet it was a lap that she earned with all of her heart.

I cry to think of her standing before our Lord right now - dancing with Jesus with a smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye.

We love you Nana. You are already missed more than you'll ever understand and yet I am rejoicing to know that you are in your real home now.

You have run the race well.

"Well done thy good and faithful servant."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Crazy Busy Day!

I'm heading out the door to go help at a fundraiser for the adoption agency that blessed us with Elle.

Crazy busy day ahead with tons of "shuffling of kids" and I realized that it's likely I will not have time to get back to blogging.

Just wanted you all to know that I'm not dead. I can't imagine the emails I'd get if I missed two days in a row of blogging (gasp!) :)

Have a great weekend my bloggy friends!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Compassion by Rough Draft

This is my new favorite song!

Oh my goodness - it's calling me out in a major way!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

First Day of School - In LIBERIA!!!

I've just gotta send you over to our little Prince's blog today....

We got new pictures of his first day of school and they're just adorable!

We're using his blog as a way to journal our thoughts and prayers for him while we wait. It's about the best way I can think of to try to keep connected to him. It's not as if we expect him to really ever see our blog while he's in Liberia, but it helps us to know that we are recording this time so that he can one day look back on it and know how much we long for him.

Of course, what kind of Mom would I be if I didn't beg you to look at the adorable pictures of my boy! :) Now go do it! Seriously...I might come stalk you if you don't! :)

http://www.ourprincewillcome.blogspot.com

Monday, September 14, 2009

Shave Your Legs Mentalities...

Let me just say it...we should crave studying God's Word.

We should.

But most of the time I'll admit that I don't look at it that way.

Sometimes I take the "shaving my legs attitude" when reading the Bible.

Track with me here...

As women, we know that we are forced to shave our legs.

Sure, sometimes we miss a day here or there (or maybe a bit more - shhh) but ultimately, we finally pick up the razor and shave away all the stubble.

It's nothing that we enjoy doing but when it comes down to it we will eventually give in and reach for the razor.

Sometimes that's how I approach my time with God. I'm not particularly excited about opening up my bible and quieting myself in front of my Father, but ultimately I realize I need Him and I'll buckle down and reach for my Bible.

At least that's how it's been until recently.

You see, up until this past summer, I was really in a funk with God. Sure, I was still reading and I was certainly praying, but I had lost my passion. As I mentioned in an earlier post, when I realized what was happening I hit my knees and began praying for God to let me see the world through His eyes.

About that same time in my life, I was introduced to the book 'Crazy Love' by Francis Chan. Many of you may have seen it in my sidebar for a while now. This book has called me on like no other book ever has (short of the Bible).

It has rejuvinated my spirit and reminded me of what life is really about.

This morning I was blessed to sit with some of the best ladies in the world and study this amazing book as we relate it to our lives and our calling as Godly women.

After an incredible study, I then came home and found the following devotional in my inbox (from Proverbs 31 writer, Tracie Miles). Click here for devotional.

God is moving here ladies. God is moving in a big way!

How are you living for Christ? Are you living "recklessly" and "Crazy In Love" or are you living with a "shave your legs" mentality.

Let's reclaim the joy and beauty of being Women of God!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mother of the Year.....NOT!

So, the "Mother of the Year Crew" stopped by my house again today and deemed me unworthy of ANY awards!

SIGH.

You see, I woke up this morning to the sound of my oldest son choking back tears as he stood by my bedside and said, "Mom....the toothfairy didn't come last night! I think she forgot me!"

Uggh...

Clearly, adrenaline is better than any caffeine out there because my body shot into alert mode and I sat straight up in bed trying to collect my thoughts and give my little boy an excuse.

"Umm...Ayden, I'm sure she didn't forget you! Maybe she had a really busy night...maybe her wings are in the repair shop...maybe...."

"Oh no Mom! Maybe it's because my tooth is too yellow!!!" He said between sobs. "Does the tooth fairy reject the yellow teeth?"

This is the point in the story where you insert the knife into my chest and twist it around 4 times.

And then my brilliance kicked in.

"I KNOW AYDEN!! It's not because your tooth was too yellow or because the tooth fairy forgot! It's just beacause of Labor Day!"

"What??" Ayden said as he looked at me through his tear stained little brown eyes.

"Labor Day! You know! Remember how the garbage was supposed to be picked up yesterday but they didn't pick it up because they're a day behind schedule from the Labor Day Holiday? It's just like that!! The tooth fairy must have taken Monday off also and now she's a day behind schedule!"

And with that my little brown eyed toothless boy said, "Oh yea...that makes perfect sense!"

He then walked out of the room mumbling, "I sure hope I get paid extra for having to wait a day longer."

Double Sigh....

This dumb toothfairy thing is getting really tricky. We're only on tooth 6.

How many teeth do kids have in their mouths?!

Is there some subsription service you can sign up for to be sure you actually remember to have the tooth fairy stop by at night!

Lord have mercy.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It All Began With Organized Kaos...

So, many of you from my current life, may not realize that back when I was in high school my friends and I had a really compelling show on the cable station called "Organized Kaos" (yes, it was spelled that way).

Let me just say that this was high quality stuff with some amazing acting and a real-live call-in audience.

Quality I tell you...qual-li-ty!!

Granted, I think I was only allowed to appear on camera for about 1 episode before my parents became too afraid of what I might say in front of a live audience and told me I had to stay off-camera....go figure...my parents afraid of what I might say!! (Ha ha...."ALWAYS TALKING!)

So anyway, after college I graduated with a degree in Film Communications (another little-known fact) but then God led me away from tv and film and into the Marketing arena.

However, one of my best friend's in highschool (okay, he was my boyfriend) actually pursued a film degree and even went on to use his degree!

And can you believe it?!! He's actually the host of this new gameshow on Nickelodeon! What a trip!

Ahh yes...and it all began with a little "Organized Kaos"....hmm...might have to pull out those old VHS's and give them a gander...wonder if I could sell them on ebay once Jeff makes it big! :)

Way to go Jeff! The Organized Kaos gang is proud of you! video

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First Day!

And so, it's official. My baby boy went off to his first day of pre-school today and Mommy sat home in a house with just a little girl and tons of quiet!

I hardly knew what to do with myself. Luckily, I had a meeting that kept me busy for part of the morning and then I decided to do what any mom would do when she is left with just one child...

I cleaned out the minivan.

Hmm....something about that just doesn't seem right.

Alas, that was my morning as I transition into this new chapter of life.

Brekyn was thrilled to finally be a "school kid" and he came home all smiles today as he talked a mile a minute about all he did.

Happy days!


Brekyn's New Teacher!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Proof...

And here's the proof I needed.

You see, my neighbor prides herself (yes, you know who you are) on being able to do my daughter's hair without Elle screaming.

For months I've listened to her "bragging" but deep down I figured she was lying.

Yesterday, I was actually around when my neighbor walked in and noticed that Elle's locks were less than attractive (after what was apparently a rather viscious nap).

And it's true!

For some unknown reason Elle DOES NOT scream when my sweet friend does her hair!

It makes no sense to me because she is just as "aggressive" as we have to be with these crazy curls, but the plain and simple fact is that my little girl doesn't scream for my neighbor.

HOWEVER....

Take a good look at this picture!

Sure, maybe she doesn't scream but I can hardly say that she looks like she's enjoying herself!

Sooo, na-na-na-na-poo-poo to my sweet neighbor friend!

Looks like you're not as "good" as you think you are! :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Thrilling Post...

Fall weather has been here for a few days (though I think it's scheduled to return to ugghhh heat anytime now).

Nevertheless, in the meantime, Donn and I have declared today, "Get everything done that was on the summer list and we never got around to all summer" Day.

It's a very thrilling day of yard work, tree trimming, mailbox post painting and wood repairing.

I know you're all exhilerated to read about my exciting day.

Trust me; I thought about just not posting since I know that this is less than thrilling material, but then I thought of all the comments I would get about being a slack blogger. :)

And so, with the utmost of honesty I can say that I truly hope you are all having a more exciting Friday than I am! :)

Enjoy your long weekend!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Cup Overflows!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Look at the joy I just found in my inbox!

It's new pictures of our sweet little Prince in Liberia!
Obviously, we had heard that he has recovered from his traumatic yellow fever illness, but I had not seen pictures since that last horrible one was taken with his yellow eyes.

Look at my sweet Prince now!!!! Praise GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He just makes my heart sing and my day brighter! We have been told that he is having a great time in his new foster home and that he talks of us often. I feel like I could explode right now!!

My face is just beaming!

Oh Lord, you created the Heavens and the Earth - you can do anything! Please be sure this little boy knows how much his Mommy and Daddy love him in America! Give him a supernatural hug from us right now and please bring him home SOON!

Shuffle Diaper...

Brekyn has invented a new game....

As I was taking care of some office work today I noticed that he had taken the broom out...

Now, being that I'm a smart Mom (ha!) I allow my kids to play with the broom as much as they want!
Hey, if I can teach a kid to sweep a floor I figure it's one less thing for me.

Nevertheless, I was a bit shocked when I heard him scream out, "Yay! Shuffle diaper is sooo much fun!"

Leave it to my kids to come up with a game called "Shuffle Diaper!"

Could any mom be more proud?:)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Waking Up...

A few months ago I realized something very difficult.

I had lost my passion.

I had lost my ability to wake every day and say, "Lord use me today."

I had lost my desire to proclaim God to others.

I had lost my fire.

It's a really tough thing to admit that when you're in ministry you've struggled in this way.

Nevertheless, I have committed to live my life transparently and to be honest with everyone around me.

In reality, this is a very real part of life as a Christian. Being a Christian does not mean that you are promised a life of happiness, perfect conditions and no rain.

In fact - as Christians we are actually told that rain will come. It's not so much a matter of if but when.

The question becomes, when the rain falls, what do you do in response?

When I realized the shift in my attitude I hit my knees and began to pray a very specific prayer.

"Lord, let me see the people as you see them. Let my eyes be opened...let me be filled with such compassion that it hurts."

Lesson number one: Don't pray a prayer like that unless you really mean it.

Uggh....it has hurt.

The past few months have been filled with lesson upon lesson as God has opened my eyes to the world He sees each day. The world that is starving, lost, selfish, dishonest, cruel and suffering.

It has been painful - it has stretched me - I have been humbled as I've seen my weaknesses thrown in my face.

But in the midst of it all, I have also been embraced by God...held tight...comforted...reminded whose child I really am.

I felt like today was the day to share this journey with you because I woke up this morning and realized that I was finally looking at the world through God's eyes!

I am finally looking around at the needs of others instead of worrying about what ambitions I have for myself or my family.

I woke up and realized that my heart is finally breaking as I think of the lost.

I woke up and realized that for the first time in a long time, I cry just to think of those who are lost in this world and how it must feel to be so hopeless and alone.

I'm praising God that today is the day I woke up.

I'm praising God that His mercies are new each morning and that today I am receiving the grace that He gives to rejuvinate a heart and to save the lost (starting right with me).



Monday, August 31, 2009

Amazing Day!!

One of those days that I just love!

Spent some amazing time with God and am seeing Him all over today!

Now we're heading out the door to help at a homeless ministry.

God is moving in a major way right now in our home and I can't begin to describe how overwhelmed I feel with His goodness!!

Hopefully I'll get a few moments in the near future to document it all and share it with you!

God is good!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Admit it...

Go ahead ~ admit it...

...we all have days when we feel like we go from Diva....

To Ogre....


Hmm...Sounds like the title of a book or something.

Maybe I could make this my next project! :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nap Time!!!

The big yellow bus came this morning and greeted a very happy little second grader who is WAY excited to be back in school.

Unlike last year when I was feeling completely sad that summer was over, this year I am absolutely ready for the change.

I think the fun-filled summer, combined with looking forward to fall weather, has made the transition easier this year.

In the meantime, I now will head off to bed to nap with a little 4 year old boy who will not start Preschool for another few weeks....now that may be a bit of an emotional day. :(

Nap time here I come!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Last Day Of Summer!!!

Sooo, what does one do on the last day of summer in our house??

Well, of course we wake up too early (when a friend calls to borrow a tool) and then we spend the entire day in the backyard mowing, weeding, painting and picking up sticks.

Remember how exciting I made summer this year?? Trips to tour NFL stadiums, trips to vineyards, trips to beaches???

Okay, so maybe I didn't finish strong.

Oh well....Ayden actually raked a pile of leaves and jumped in it! He told me it was the most fun thing he could think to do on his last day of summer!

At least my kids have positive outlooks on Mommy's busy day!

Happy last day of Summer! And here's to having a nicely manicured backyard! :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Blind Side...

Wow! Another friend posted this trailer on her blog and I pretty much cried all the way through it! It looks amazing!!

It comes out on November 20th (my Mom's birthday)...Gee Mom, wanna go?? :)


Focus...

Do you ever feel out of focus? Like your glasses have a big smudge on them or you just can't quite concentrate on the things around you?

I've been feeling that way for a while now.

Unfortunately, I don't wear glasses and I have no vision issues...my focus is a heart problem.

In the last month God has been impressing more lessons on me than I can even begin to describe.

One of those lessons has been in the form of focus.

What am I really focusing on? Where does my ministry lie? What are my gifts, talents and passions and am I using them appropriately?

In the past few days God has brought this to my attention through countless readings that I've been doing and I am finally hearing what I believe God is saying....

"Be intentional Cyndie...figure out what I'm asking you to do and DO IT!"

So, today begins a bit of a journey for me. I have now sat and written down everything I spend my days doing.

Everything from my precious "Mom's Group" to laundry. I'm working on getting it all in black and white and then the prayer begins.

I am asking God to pare down my focus. Show me where He wants me serving...show me what things on my list are from Him.

Of course, that also means that there will likely be some things that are not "From Him".

The tough part will be making that change. It won't necessarily be easy to cut out things in my life but I've come to one major reality - I DON'T WANT TO WASTE ANY MORE TIME!!

What if my life ended tonight...what if I live my life like each moment is a precious gift instead of acting as though I have an eternity left? What if I focus on the things that matter instead of getting bogged down in the things that don't?

What if??

Of course, selfishly I would love it if God told me that I no longer need to do laundry - hmmm- something in me thinks that may be pushing it. :)

What if??

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Totally Proud!!!!!!!!!

I must admit that I'm a totally proud Mama today! The other day when we stumbled upon the family that sold everything and moved into an RV to travel across America helping the poor, we began watching some of the other videos on their website.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you can either read my post from yesterday or just jump on their site http://www.thearktour.org/ It is really an amazing story!
Anyway, on their site they have a video clip of an idea they had of putting together little bags of toiletries and other items to keep in their car for when they pass a homeless person on the street.

Ayden was so impacted by this idea he immediately said, "Mom let's go to Target to get some stuff right now!"

Later that evening as we walked the aisles of Target with our list of items (rain ponchos, wipes, pens, etc) I watched as Ayden stopped in front of something in the toy aisle that caught his attention. Then I heard the words that any mother would be proud to hear.
To himself he said, "Ayden...it's not about you."

And there you have it!
There are SOOOOO many days when I can't say that my children's behavior has quite lived up to my expectations but on this particular day I couldn't have been more proud of my little 7 year old!

I think I may try using his little phrase the next time I walk into Target (or Ikea...as the case may be)!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Would you have the faith??

For some reason, God has really been speaking to me lately. That's not to say that I don't hear God at other times in my life, but as you all know, there are just some times when His words seem to be coming through more clearly.

Probably they are the times when I am listening more intently and when I'm searching for His presence in every breath I take.

This is one of those times.

Lately He has been asking me to have faith. Radical faith. Not just the "faith" that I say I have as a Christian, but a faith that is willing to live out anything...whatever He asks...Wherevever He asks...Whenever He asks...True FAITH.

He's asked Donn and I to have faith in big things - like the adoption our son Prince from Africa.

He's asked us to have faith in smaller things - like raising enough funds to send a few of our Liberian brothers through college.

He's asked us to have faith - big or little - lately it just seems to be the mantra of each and every day.

I pray hard during times like these. I find myself in a mix of pure excitement and pure terror (all wrapped into one 5'1" frame). I'm an absolute joy to live with I'm sure!! :) Don't ask Donn or the kids please :)

Whatever the case may be, I am excited to feel God so near at this point in our lives. I can honestly say that I have no clue what it is that He's got planned for our little lives, but I pray that I will always have the faith to take bold steps and trust that His grace is sufficient for anything.

Ironically, remember the whole incident with my dumb tooth the other day?? Turns out even that was something that God had orchestrated (shocking I know!).

You see, I sat in the dentist's office for an hour waiting for my appointment. Most people would have been upset. I started to get fidgety for a few minutes then a revelation hit me...NO KIDS! Here I was in a seat by myself sitting next to a table of the latest magazines and I have NO KIDS IN TOW!!!!!! HALLELUIA!!

And that's when I met God. Right there in the pages of the latest "Ladies Home Journal". I couldn't believe what I read as I flipped the pages of this article describing a family who is living out life with pure faith.

Absolute, complete abandonment!

As I sit in the midst of our life and assess how I am serving the Lord, I found it ridiculously refreshing to see a family who has taken the calling of "Go and make disciples" to a whole new level.

See what you think... Would you have the faith?? Would I???

The ARK Tour Video from Jay Loecken on Vimeo.

Friday, August 14, 2009

It's Finished!!

Well, here it is!! Ayden has finished his lapbook and is SO proud of it!
We had a great time putting it together and we had so many great conversations that came out of doing this project.
Like I said before, I'm not jumping on the homeschool train just yet, but I do think I will keep up with doing lapbooks throughout the year!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Perfect Endings...

So, there's no better way to end a nice vacation than a little trip to the dentist.

Yup, that's right...It's my curse ya'll....Teeth.

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time you probably remember a few other posts about my teeth. Oh how I love my parents but oh how I HATE their genetic disposition to BAD TEETH!

Needless to say, apparently bad teeth and swedish fish (which are a staple in the little town where we spent vacation last week) don't mix. Luckily, I bought my kids a big bag of the little red delights but never actually ate one until I walked in the door on the day we returned home.

One little bite of one tiny little fish and out pops my tooth. Oh yea, I'm dead serious. So now I have diapers in my driveway, my husband drives a truck that 1990 is begging to get back and I'm missing a tooth (praise God it's a back one)! Do we sound like a bad sitcom or what?

And so I head to the dentist today.

Do you think if I bring them a bag of swedish fish they'll cut the cost?? And those stupid fish have smiles on their faces..dumb grins are more like it. :)
This is the picture my sweet mother-in-law just sent me....remember last week when I said I actually had a mother-in-law that I didn't mind hanging out with? Yea, I take that back. :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lapbooks...

Okay, first let me say that I have some incredible friends who are amazing homeschoolers. I myself; not so much. I gladly send Ayden off on the big yellow bus every morning and welcome him back with open arms every afternoon.
I love the idea of homeschooling but I've never felt very adequate as a homeschool mom. A few times I've wondered if I should be homeschooling but deep down inside I still worry that I'm not structured enough or don't have enough patience. As you can see, I've opted for public school for the time being.

However, I must admit that something inside of me must have a bit of my mother's DNA (my mom is like the superstar of all teachers). For example, I LOVE looking at homeschooling blogs and I also LOVE going in the teacher stores!

Recently I was on the most amazing homeschool blog known to man and I came across "lapbooks". The best way I can describe lapbooks are that you pick a topic (giraffes, George Washington, Scuba Diving; whatever). Then you make a bunch of "mini books" or small projects that relate to that topic.
For example, for giraffes you might have a "mini book" that talks about where giraffe's live and what they eat. You might also have a mini book about how tall a giraffe is and then you might decide to relate that to measurements and do a little lesson on using a ruler etc.
In the end, you put all of these little mini books together on a file folder and you end up with a "lapbook" which describes all the things you learned when you studied a giraffe.

I decided that even though I'm not feeling called to homeschool right now, it might be fun to do some lapbooks to get Ayden's mind going as summer winds down and school creeps up.

Soooo, here is our first attempt at a lapbook. We basically stole everything from my friend Carisa's blog (thanks Carisa!) and Ayden has had a blast! We are working on a lapbook about money.
Ayden already knows basic values of money and things of that nature so some of it was review for him, but the part that has been most fun has been researching some things that he didn't know about (like mints and the history of money).
We're not completely done but I'll be sure to post a picture of the finished "book" when we complete it.

In the meantime, if you're dying to do a lapbook yourself (or you just want to see a picture of a completed one), jump on over here to get all the free templates from Carisa's amazing blog!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Home!!

Well, we're home again and though we had a great time away, we are enjoying the comfort of our own beds and trying to get back into the routine of daily life.

My parents followed us back to Charlotte as they head down to Florida, so we are spending a nice relaxing day with them and hopefully I will get back to "normal" posting tomorrow. :) Great to be back!!