Friday, August 31, 2012

Foto Friday~Oldest girl to youngest girl...

This week, we sent our oldest girl off to college
Quite a strange feeling I will say!
Still not sure how I feel about it!
But she was thrilled!
And this little one started a journey too!
She chose divison for her first day of "class"!
(More like scribbling all over her brother's division!)
Everyone has to start somewhere!
I just wonder where life will bring her 16 years from now...
On second thought,
I think I will quit wondering and just enjoy the moment
it goes WAY to fast!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's been...

...CRAZY around here!  I looked at my last post and it has been a VERY LONG time since I have posted so just to give a little info on what has been going on in our lives...

  • my oldest daughter is starting college Monday
  • she went through drivers ed, passed the driving test and bought a new car
  • ALL just shy of in 3 weeks time!
  • my hubby started a job (not anything that can pay ALL the bills but it is consistent work)
  • another birthday for my now 9 year old
  • my oldest son moved back home after his summer job ended
  • I like that
  • went to our state fair with my mom and 3 of my girls
  • helped plan a youth girls/ladies night "in" for our church at our church
  • guitar/piano/violin lessons every week for my girls
  • working out a schedule for my 13 yr old to take sign language course
  • cleaning up dirty bathroom floors MANY times a day from boys playing outside for countless hours
  • enjoying cooler weather
  • picnics
  • bowling (It's free all summer long at our bowling alley)
  • still folding countless loads of laundry everyday
  • still wondering what God has planned
  • something BIG is coming (No it's not a pregnancy, that I know of anyway!) :) 
  • I can feel it!
I will let you know what it is and when it happens! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

I must boast...

A few months ago at the age of 16, my oldest, missionary hearted (is that a real word?), daughter, wrote an essay.  It was written for a chance to win a full ride scholarship to our local community college.  I had full confidence in her (and God) that she would win.  ( I have homeschooled her since she was born and KNEW of her abilities!)  She was not quite as sure!  Welllll....we found out last week she WON!

She had pretty much decided she would wait and see what God was going to do in her life in the coming year, and search out some possible mission opportunities in South America for the time being.  She wants to go to medical school for missionary work so it was a dream of hers to at some point to go to college and with one phone call, the situation took that turn! 

We are THRILLED with the opportunity that she has and the doors this may open for her ministry now and in the future.  I thought you all might like to read the essay she wrote!  I had to boost a little bit because we are SOOOOOOOO very, very proud!  Her trip that she took a year ago August 10th, is being used by God in SO may ways!  It is fun to watch what He is doing in her life!

The topic was: Tell us of a time you woke up in a funk, feeling down. How did you react and what did you do to work yourself out of it?
 My daughter's submission-
This morning I woke up feeling a little down. Last night I fell asleep with only a grass mat between me and the floor of this mud hut.  Secluded and alone are words that help me describe how it feels to be in a Malawi village, hundreds of miles away from any First World luxuries such as electricity and running water. It is well beyond 100 degrees outside, and the hot African sun is not yet at its strongest. I pull my mosquito net away from me. It has been covering me all night to keep the insects away, decreasing my chances of getting malaria or another illness while I sleep.

I remember the visitors I had last night; a dog, rat, and hen laying an egg in the corner of the hut. Too tired to get up and shoo them away, I sigh and begin to relax and ponder the events of these past few weeks. In the background is the steady, resounding, rhythmic beat of bass drums complimented by the low murmur of tribal chanting. As the music echoes in my ears I start to miss my home, family, and everything familiar about my life back in Iowa. I remember the feelings of anticipation and excitement when I boarded that first plane, thus beginning over three days and ten thousand miles worth of airports, flight time, and layovers. Followed by exhaustion, jet lag, unfamiliar languages, peculiar food, and strange customs. Before I drift off to sleep, I think about the time when I found out that there are currently more than 40.5 million orphans in Africa. It was simply a statistic to me, until… I met one. Witnessing child after child with no choice but to drink filthy, bacteria-ridden water made this issue become real for me. When I was first told the percentage of Malawians affected by HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases it was staggering. And then I met them, one at a time. I heard their stories, and witnessed the desperation.
Now, I no longer see a number. I see faces in my mind. Finally I fall sleep.  Several hours later I am the last to awake.  Still not used to such early hours and waking up as the sun rises.  My stomach grumbles, and I don’t have to wonder what I’ll be eating for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I will be eating nsema, just like every other day for the past month. Nsema is simply ground maize flour added to boiled water and eaten raw while still steaming hot which, to this foreigner, tastes only a little worse than raw pizza dough. After breakfast the curious village children crowd around me. They are filthy, covered in red dirt. Patiently and eagerly waiting for the strange “azungu” to come play games with them and spend another day together. I see their tattered clothes. Observing the lack of possessions makes it so easy to feel sorry for them. Yet in countless ways I notice all the reasons that I should envy instead of pity them. I envy their young, humble maturity. Their quiet resilience and indomitable spirits, their understanding of value and importance; they emphasize people, family, perseverance, gratitude and hard work rather than success, fame, or greed. They teach me, even though I came to teach them.
The translator comes to talk to me about the schedule. He informs me that today there are long and exhausting mountain trails to be hiked, several secluded villages to visit, and so much work to be done.  I am already tired, sore, and feeling down. Even as I list these things you may think that I am complaining, but I am not. Because each time I am tempted to complain or have a pity party, all it takes to work myself out of this funk, is to silently take a moment to remember why I am here. I am here because after a brutally long day, I so look forward to that inviting grass mat in that mud hut, followed by all those animal visitors. The African sun can be hot, oppressive, and even miserable at times but the sunsets are amazing, the contrasting colors are spectacular and never fail to take my breath away. I don’t need electricity, air conditioning, a comfortable mattress, internet access, or even a hot shower and running water after all. These things are nice, but no longer vital.
The nsema is not like the American food I have grown accustomed to, but I watch as it is lovingly prepared and served, I realize the privilege I have been given to join these people for a meal at their home. For them it is a sign of respect and a generous display of honor and hospitality. The dirt covered children may be impoverished by most standards, yet they possess such wealth of character, integrity, and joy. They teach me so much, as they brighten each day with their abundance of smiles and unreserved affection. Those mountains are tiring and difficult to climb, leaving me not just with aching muscles, but also a sense of pride and accomplishment. The villages are beautiful, inspiring and diverse. It is hard work yet unquestionably fulfilling.  As I am excitedly greeted by the remote village near the top of the mountain, I shake countless hands and talk and greet them for as long as my limited Chichewa vocabulary allows. I realize that words are no longer quite as important. I reach out for another hand, and look into the gentle, grateful eyes of an old woman. Several children come up to touch my arm, curious to see if the “white” will rub off if they touch it. Teenagers cautiously observe. I can’t help but smile. Universal and understood in every language, today my smile testifies that good days and bad days are often quite simply a matter of perspective.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Foto Friday on Saturday!

We headed to the water park this past week! 
I forgot my camera but my phone caught a few images...

The end of the tunnel!

I still feel they are going through the sewer lines when they crawl through these!

water and slides just plain scare me but not him!

Ready set go!

Holding his eyelids up to keep the water out! :)

I hope you enjoy your weekend and stay cool! 
That has been quite a task where I live!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I am not but I know the 'I AM'

I can tell you that this definition describes my life lately:
re·fine :
  1. remove impurities: to produce a purer form of something by removing the impurities from it, or become pure through such a process
  2. make something more effective: to improve something through small changes that make it more effective or more subtle
  3. make or become more elegant: to make somebody or something more cultured or elegant by eliminating less acceptable habits and tastes, or become more cultured in this way

I really don't like refining!  It is sometimes painful, agonizing, exhausting and just plain unenjoyable! I have had it happen many times in my life and it is never appealing until...

I realize how much I needed it and how much God has shown me in the process.  God has used my children, husband and life circumstances to refine me.  Sometimes it has been one of those at a time, other times it seems ALL of them are being used at once!  It has been the latter!  For weeks, God has been getting me to a place of more surrender and brokeness!  More job rejections for my sweet hubby, more questions than answers so it would appear!  However, through the small changes he as done in me (look at #2 up above), I think I have become more effective in what He is trying to accomplish in my life! 

I have gotten weary!  I should not be surprised that my flesh has acted as flesh!  But I do have a greater hope!  It is in Jesus and the cross!  He is my high priest!  Just as the people went to the high priest with all of their "issues", in God's eyes, they were made whole because of who the high priest was!  That is how it is with Jesus!  I have been made whole because of who HE is!  I am so thankful for that!  The refining and His grace has taught me to look more and more to Him knowing He does have all I need!  So my questions are answered in what Moses found...He is the 'I AM'!  That is what He is for us to! 

For that I am so thankful!  I can rest knowing His refining is only drawing me to Him!  The exhaustion of motherhood, the demands of daily life, and the good and bad, are ALL taken care of by 'I AM'!  I am not but 'I AM' is!  I love that! 

Matthew 11:28
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

No more trying to achieve MY plan or searching for a way to get rid of the burdens but total rest in knowing that He has it all!

Exodus 3:14
And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

Let Him be the 'I AM' in your life!  To all your questions, the anwer is HIM, the 'I AM'!



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