Friday, November 29, 2013

I am tempted...

to buy things I don't need because they are a great deal today on Black Friday. Last night, Thanksgiving night, we loaded up to return some Redbox movies. I told the kids we will just run into Wal-Mart, return the movies and grab some milk...and then I remembered the sales had already started. We live in a small town and I wondered how many people would actually be at Wal-Mart. As we drove by I looked back and could see my children's eyes getting big...Carson said, "Mom, just look at all those cars!" It was a sight. The lot was full and they had parked all up and down the access road and across the street. There were people crossing the four lane road to get to Wal-Mart by foot. Wow! We continued on and pulled up to Kroger instead. It was dark and a sign on the door said, "We will be closing at 5pm to allow employees time with family." I found myself proud of Kroger even though I did some bad planning and still needed milk. We returned the movies in the Redbox with the empty parking lot and made our way back home. I cannot tell you how many emails I have received in the past 24 hours to let me know what great Black Friday deals are just waiting for me. It makes me feel tempted to buy. I don't need anything. All of our Christmas shopping list has been checked twice and purchased before Thanksgiving. Why? Because I knew that the commercialism of Christmas would get me. If I didn't get the shopping done before then I would be frenzied, concerned and overbuy things that weren't even on the list simply because they were such a great deal. I am not tempted to load up and shop with a gazillion people at our local stores but I am tempted to participate online and that may be even worse. I can access it anytime and my purchase will come straight to me. No fuss there. Here is what the Lord keeps whispering to my heart, "Be content." There will always be something I can chase after and on black Friday great deals are at the top of the list but I need to stop and not be consumed by the temptation to buy. I can choose to be content. I wrote this on my Facebook post this morning: "Being that today is Black Friday may we be a people that learns to be content with what we have and not constantly pursuing the next great deal that we cannot afford or that we truly don't need. Phillipians 4:11" I can choose to be content. I can choose not to fall for the temptation to buy.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Day of Thanks

Dad is covering the hospital today so this day of Thanksgiving is a little different for us. We are not with family. We didn't watch any Thanksgiving parades. There is no pie cooling on the counter. We ate Mexican for lunch but we did spend some time today during our school time to search our hearts in how thankful we are to God for all that He has done, is doing and will do in the days to come. Carson, Andrew and Abby compiled this list of things they are thankful for.
1. Food
2. Jesus and God
3. Daddy
4. Animals
5. Toys God gave us not to be bored
6. Crayons to create and draw
7. Our homes (We are still waiting on the Lord to provide a buyer for our home in Cushing)
8. Family and Church
9. Sister
10. Clothes and drinks
11. Cars to be able to travel
12. Kids in Haiti
13. Trains and Planes..Traveling things
14. Bathroom in our home
15. Books
16. The world..a place to live
17. The sun that warms us and gives us light
18. Electricity so we can turn things on
19. Trees so we can breathe...they produce free air
20. Garbage trucks to take the trash away
21. The sky so we can see how God paints the sunset
22. Heaven so we can live with Jesus
23. The Moon and Stars so its not dark at night
24. Soft beds to sleep in
25. Shoes that protect our feet
26. For dirt and grass so the worms can go through and make flowers
27. The Bible so we can read God's word and know who He is.
28. Butterflies so we can see their beautiful colors
29. Friends
30. Hats to keep our heads warm in winter
31. Vocal Chords so we can talk to one another
32. Music so we can sing and dance
33. Hot water tank so we can have warm showers
34. Brains so we can learn, read, write and spell
35. Our Body and bones so we can move and play

I love the silly things and the deep things. I love that the Lord is opening their eyes to all the things that He has blessed us with. We ended our day of study with this song. The Doxology. It seems so fitting.
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Everything we have is from Him. Everything. We should praise Him alone in ALL things ALL of the time! Continually. Consistently. He alone is worthy! May we never forget His goodness. His faithfulness. May we never forget that everything that we have comes from Him. Everything that we are is because of his riches in glory through His son Christ Jesus who made a way for us and satisfied the greatest need in our lives. We need a Savior. We cannot do it on our own. Only through the blood of Jesus can our relationship with God be made right. Thank you Jesus! May our family never cease to give God thanks for all that He has done, is doing and continues to do. To God be the Glory! Glory in the Highest!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

And so it begins... of our favorite Christmas traditions: unwrapping a Christmas Story to read every night before bed as we prepare our hearts to Celebrate Jesus. Oh, Come let us adore Him!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Bird and The Tree

 Thanksgiving and Trimming the tree! Nina came and joined us this year for our Thanksgiving feast and we taught her how to make a pie. She had lots of help and it turned out pretty yummy! The kids wanted cookies so we decided to make some turkey cookies too. A funny on Thanksgiving was in cooking the turkey. I was trying to be very good about the whole process. I brined it and got it all set up. I had it cook for two and a half hours and the timer went off to. I went to check it. The house did not smell like I took it out and looked at my instructions. The temp inside the bird needed to be 180 degrees....hmm, 180 degrees sounds familiar....I looked at the oven. Oops, I had set the oven at 180 degrees and it was of course sapossed to be set at 350. Oh my! Well, at least I put it in early and we had another hour and a half for it to cook! And much to my surprise it actually turned out and was very moist and yummy. It was happily consumed by all! After dinner we got the tree out and trimmed the tree. Such fun! Our first Christmas in Kentucky has begun. We have so very much to be thankful for!

Carson, took this picture! He did such a great job!
Let us Celebrate the newborn King!!

Sweet Girls

Claire taking a Sunday afternoon nap. Such a sweet little one.
And Abigail. Her brothers blessed her with a mustache while she fell asleep on the way back from Cincy. Nice one brothers! When she woke up she felt it and took it off. She looked at it and then said "Oh" and put it right back on! Funny!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

These are the days...

 This girl is funny. Yesterday out of the blue she decided she was going to be a lefty. Claire has been choosing that hand most often and we were talking about it a couple of days ago how Claire and Carson are so similar. I guess Roo grabbed onto that and decided she wanted to be a left too. She tried writing with the left hand. She tried cutting with the left hand. No success. But finally she had an idea. "I know Mommy," she told me, "I will just be a lefty gluer." Oh my, and so she is!
This is one of my favorite views. These boys are such hard workers. We are really enjoying a few new workbooks I got. We are in the groove now and sailing through our days of discovery!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Abby's Wonder Woman

Abigail has been working on an activity called Mat Man where it teaches children to draw a person with all the right body parts. Until now she has drawn people with one big head, two eyes, a mouth. She usually drew the legs and arms coming out of their head. This was her very first attempt and she did it all by herself!! This is Wonder Woman. She is really into Wonder Woman these days. She told me, "Momma, Wonder Woman is awesome because she has really cool panties..." I have never even noticed really what she wears...Hmmm...but my four year has.... She colored the panties pink and then decided to put green pants on her legs so no one could see them! Very good choice there.
Things that make you go hmm....

Stolen moments

I found myself sitting at ballet one night waiting for Abigail to finish and I looked up to see this. Both of my boys reading. I felt such joy for my boys. I am so thrilled that they love to read! We have intentionally spent lots of time this year replacing the desire to play with phones, electronics and such and encouraged them to take a book and read instead. It has been a great thing! They are learning to be more patient and content. They are learning that they do not have to be entertained at every waking moment but they can use their imagination through play and reading to have lots of fun in far off places! This is a blessing. This thrills this Momma's heart! I sure love my boys! 

"Lull Vule" Fun

Yes, folks He still has it and here is the picture to prove it! :)

We attended the Global Health Missions Conference in Louisville this year and had a great time. It was at Kyle Idleman's church, Southeast Christian Church, and it was wonderful. The church is huge. Carson asked if it was the biggest church in the world! The kids and I got to play at the Science Museum and  Zoo. We all got to go to Louisville sluggers museum. So much fun for all of us!  

Fall Fun

Off to Haiti..

Haiti. I am not sure if anything could have prepared my heart for this trip. I know that God was continuing to deepen my relationship with him. I know that He knew we would be serving in Haiti during this week even before the foundations of the earth were laid. Eph 2:10.
A blessing. So many times obedience in walking faithfully wherever the Lord leads us we end up with great fountains of blessing. There is blessing in obedience. This was a time of blessing for us.
Serving alongside of my husband was a joy. Helping him, knowing his needs, anticipating how to plan, and discerning what to do alongside of Him was such a great joy to me. The Lord has given me a gift in administration. I actually like to plan and organize. I know its a bit crazy but I enjoy it. God has given me a joy in humbly serving. This week I got to use both of those gifts and I got to serve with my husband. These two came together this week for me. I have never been able to serve right alongside with my husband as he ministers to patients using medicine. I loved every minute of it. I loved being his helper.
This is Luca. She is one of the four children we sponsor at the Jacmel location. More on meeting our four kids in Haiti in just a bit..
These children. First we went to Grand Goave to see 33 older children there and take care of them. They were funny. They were acting like the couldn't speak some English. They moved the eye chart exam marker and started to memorize the chart and helped each other to get it right like it was a test. They thought this was really funny. The Grand Goave Village had a different feel to it. These children needed privacy. These children had been hurt badly and broken. These children were rescued children. The older girls specifically bonded to Dr. Nina. God knew what He was doing when he orchestrated this team together...perfectly. I saw Dr. Nina needing to be ministered to...I saw these girls that needed to be ministered see God meld their hearts together was a miracle. These girls needed to see hope in a tangible way. They needed to trust someone. They wanted to know someone like them cared. Dr. Nina is from Africa, not Haiti, but they all told her everywhere we went that she was Haitian. Many of the Haitians were brought to Haiti long ago during the African slave trade. I believe they understand that they really are one in the same. We saw guarded children here. We saw children that are living with the stigma of being an "orphan" in Haiti. This is not a good thing for them. They are seen as less. They will always wear the word orphan on their shoulder in their culture. They go to school and interact with other children in the community every day. These children are different. I found myself praying over them that they would truly understand that they are not forgotten, that they would understand how deep and wide and unfathomable the Father's love is for them, that they would find their identity in Him and truly trust Him in all of their fears and disappointments. I began to feel such a heavy burden for them. I began to feel such a heavy burden for this little project in Haiti called the Hands and Feet Project. The Lord has entrusted them with precious lives. Children that He loves. Children that He pursues. Children that He desires to see restoration and redemption in. He has begun a good work here in these children. Phil 1:6 "He who began a good work in you will carry it on until completion until the day of Christ Jesus." The Lord is continuing to work in the hearts of these children, the missionaries serving there, the house moms, cooks, and even security guards. He has not given up on them and neither should I. I can pray. I can give. I can share the hope of Christ with them. I can serve them with the love and gifts that Jesus has given me.

Haiti is such a beautiful country when your eyes can focus on God's creation and not the destruction, filth and poverty.

One of my favorite mornings..walking the GrandGoave kids to school. I loved getting to talk with them, be with them and see all of the people going to different places. The school is about a mile away on a very busy two lane road with a little gravel side that we walked on. The huge trucks would literally vibrate our whole bodies as they zoomed by. This is normal in Haiti. The children usually walk by themselves to and from school.
These are the missionary kids in Jacmel: Ella, Grady and Mika. They were so fun to be with. I found myself stealing moments away to talk and play with them. They have given up so much along with their parents to take care of the 67 children in Jacmel. Missionary kids are so special. They made up all kinds of games. My favorite was "chasing sunshine". They named the yellow butterflies sunshine and would chase them all over the place. There was great joy there. Simple joy. Contentment. I have a few missionary friends with children that are serving all over the world and being in Haiti really made me understand how they are different, how they sacrifice daily, and how they in many ways they have a much better pace of life than us busy Americans. I found myself longing to bring my children here to play with the missionary kids and to interact with our kids we sponsor in Jacmel. At times I could totally see my children out and about exploring just like these missionary kids.
Just a funny picture of the team on day one all loaded up in a SMALL van to travel two hours from the airport to the Grand Goave location.

One of the girls in Grand Goave made Brianna and I hair pretties by putting green thistles in our hair. Michelle told me not to wear it to church because the locals will think I had bugs in my hair.

This is Naidine. She is one of the girls we sponsor at the Jacmel location. She is shy but precious. I adore her smile and sweet heart.
All the girls and Andrea too!

One of my favorite things at the Grand Goave location was to see the scripture on the walls. I also loved the early morning and late evening with free time to spend with the Lord. Lisa snapped this of me when I didn't know she was up and about.

The boys. This is Darbens. They don't say the "r" in Haiti so it is really Da..bens. He is special. So special. I got to spend a little bit of time with each of the kids that we sponsor. We sponsor 4 in the Jacmel location: Wadley, Darbens, Luca & Naidine. When I had a few moments I would go and find them and see what they were up to. This day I got to sit with Darbens and love on him. I tickled him and snuggled him and prayed over him. Darbens can't walk. His feet will never hold him to walk but I believe the Lord has great plans for this little boy. I was able to find out a little of where He came from and my heart is just broken that he was an unwanted child. A child not treasured. Oh this time with him was a treasure to me. His smile is pure joy. His laugh..oh my, I wish I had recorded him laughing...precious, just precious. I found Luca first and knew that she might be the most talkative with me because she was with Dustin the when He was there in January. She was a little confused at first. They all understand the idea of sponsors. They understand that people sponsor them. This was strange for me. I wondered, "What do they think of this." How do you explain that to a child? The older children at the Jacmel location speak English also and so talking with Luca was much easier than I ever imagined it would be. When she finally understood who I was..she smiled and looked at me like she couldn't believe I was there. She helped me a little to round up kids or tell the younger kids what they needed to be doing and then she took off to play with the girls. I did get some alone time with her where I was able to talk with her more. She wanted to look at the pictures on my phone. Yes, they know about iphones too..she wanted to see my videos of Abby, Claire, Carson & Andrew. She got to see pictures of herself, Naidine, Wadley & Darbens on my phone too. She loved to see pictures of the kids. We had sent her some things with all of our pictures on them and she recognized our kids. It was fun to see her smile at funny ones and ask questions. Naidine loved this too. Looking at pictures. She was really good at telling me which picture was Carson and Andrew and who was Abby and Claire. Naidine. I would know her face anywhere and I just happened to be rounding up a few children one day and saw her come around the corner. I saw her and I knew her. She looked at me and I said "Hi Naidine." She stopped and looked harder. I really think she recognized me and knew who I was. Dustin had told me how shy she was and so I really was thinking just to give her space this trip but she was so different with me. She followed me and wanted to talk and see pictures. She wanted me to sit with her at worship on Wednesday night. Luca and Naidine found Dustin and I on Thursday night on the porch and we got to spend more time with them. They loved videos of our kids on our phone. Dustin showed them a video of Claire and Abby sliding down the driveway in the snow. I found myself explaining to them about snow...they have never seen snow. It was a precious time to be with the girls we sponsor. I don't think they are really close. Luca seems to be social and fit in well with a group of girls where as Naidine is quiet and by herself a lot. I really liked seeing them seeking us out together. The sadest part for me was telling them we had to leave. There was a cloud that came over them both. A sadness. I told them one on one and they both immediately asked, "When will you be back?" I told them that Lord willing I would be back in April. April is a long ways away for an 8 year old. I know that this has got to be so difficult for them. They have teams of people coming and going and staying a week at a time. They come and then they go. They always go. Some may come back but not always. I really hated that part of the trip. I hated knowing that a couple of days loving and investing in these kids was not enough. Below is Wadley. There is a special place in my heart for this little boy. I went to get Wadley for his checkup with Dustin and I wasn't sure what all I was going to say to him. He is just 4. How on earth can a 4 year old child comprehend that this is the first time I have seen him but I love him already and have been praying for him daily? I just took his hand, introduced myself and took him to get weighed. He was quiet. He seemed to be deep in thought. I was able to talk with him a little but he really didn't know English very well. So we just played until it was time to take him to see Dustin. That night was Wednesday night and the kids have a praise and worship time together. We were invited to come along and I had told Luca and Naidine that we would look for them. The older girls found out that we sponsored Wadley too and they went up and got him and brought him over to me. They kept telling him "Wadley, this is your sponsor." He was quiet. Then he looked at me, smiled and crawled up into my lap. Another little boy saw this and took the opportunity to crawl into Dustin's lap. I held Wadley for a little while as they sang and then told him he could sit next to me. He did not want out of my arms. He grabbed my neck and held onto me like I have never had a child hold onto me. I just held him and rocked him as they sang and praised the Lord. He sang a little but mostly he was quiet as we snuggled. This was a gift. This was priceless for me. He was letting me love him. He needed to be loved. He needed to connect with me. I could feel that. I could feel some brokenness there. I don't know his story. I don't know his fears or disappointments but I do know that the Lord has perfectly woven this little boy into our story. Luca and Naidine were telling me that our group needed to go and sing...they wanted us to I took Wadley with me back to the back and saw that Darbens was fast asleep with his house mom. I talked to the group and we all went up to sing. I talked Wadley into holding my hand if he wanted to come with us. We sang a couple of songs and the kids sang along. It was a fun time. We went back to sit down and they sang more. Wadley again wanted in my arms and another little boy snuggled up on my left and soon fell asleep against me. As I looked around I saw such a sweetness in worship from these children. Many of them were singing their little hearts out. Luca was singing and dancing. Naidine was more reserved but she was singing as they sat right in front of us. For a moment I really couldn't believe I was there sitting with my husband in Haiti holding Wadley with Luca and Naidine looking back at us and smiling as they sang praises to the Lord. Unbelievable really. God's goodness is unbelievable. He knows the desires of my heart even before I do. This was such a gift to me.  And finally it was over and ended. The children went back with their house moms to their apartments for the night. The next morning I got up early to spend time with the Lord and sit on the porch. I loved seeing the little kids get in the van to go to school. My heart just leaped as I saw Wadley coming around the corner to get on the bus. He saw me and came over to give me a hug. I told him, "Good Morning Little Man. Have a great day at school. God loves you and so do I." What a great way to start the day!

This guy. I am so thankful I get to do life with my very own superman. He is not perfect. I am not perfect but we seek to be full of forgiveness and grace. We seek to serve the Lord together as one and let me tell you... it is a GREAT adventure!
Naidine took a picture with me. She had such a serious face.
Brianna and I in our headbands.

Yep, the Grand Goave kids here sneaking a peak into the clinic. They have also moved the stand up on the eye exam. Oh but wait...they are memorizing the chart too so they can pass the test when it is their turn!
The perfect team. Perfect is a strong word. Perfect is the most fitting word for this team of believers that the Lord so perfectly orchestrated and lined up together to go and serve together with us in Haiti for the first trip. We needed some doctors. Dust, of course, Dr. Nina Lum, Dr. Amanda Ramey and almost Dr. Tyler Elam were in! With Tyler came his new wife Brianna who is a labor and delivery nurse. That is where we began. A team of 6. We needed nurses and lay people. We began to pray and the Lord opened our eyes to look outside of Kentucky. I asked my good friend Lori in Oklahoma if she would pray. I love her servants heart. I asked my good friend Kari if she would pray. I knew that Kari had a son that was interested in medicine and thought this might be a great trip for him too. Kari and Zach were in! A team of 8. I asked Kari if she might happen to know any nurses... We really needed one to two more and all of the ones we knew in Kentucky had maxed our on vacation time and were unable to join us. She asked me if I knew Lisa Martin from First Baptist Claremore. (Our Pastor and friend Ted Kersh had been at that church) I didn't know her. Kari gave me her number to call her. I called Lisa and knew immediately she was willing. She was quiet and listening to me talk and she finally said, "Yes, I can go." A team of 9. I sent Lisa all the information and she asked me the next day or so if we might happen to need another nurse...seriously? Yes! She had been telling her daughter about the opportunity and she was really wanting to join us. Yes! Go God! A team of 10. 1 day left to finalize plans and Lori calls. She is in! A team of 12! A Team with members from  Kentucky, Oklahoma and Colorado. A team with two people we have never even met! All I can say is this worked out perfectly. Unfortunately Dr. Ramey had some very serious back issues the week we were leaving and was unable to join us but God still provided in Tyler stepping up and taking over her role. God knew there would be 11 team members. He chose them so perfectly. I was so thankful for this group. I was so honored to be serving together with them. I was so blessed by the way they interacted with one another and took care of each other. I was so proud of them like a mother hen as I saw them grow this week. I saw them mature and seek out time with the Lord. I saw them be vulnerable and share hard things. I saw them get down in the muck and serve and love when at times it was hard to do so. We spent many nights together taking about God's word, His plans, and sharing what we were learning. The sweetest part for me was worshiping in song with these precious team members. Kari and Zach led us and did a great job. There is something special about pure surrender in song to the King of Kings. On the last night we prayed earnestly over a team member that had a great longing in her life. We all laid hands on her and just prayed, and then prayed some more. We were the body of Christ that week. One unit. We may have been from different states, different churches, even different denominations but we all served under the same Shepherd. He brought us together in completeness. Together for one purpose serving for His glory. God is the man with the plan. He knew exactly what He was doing weaving this perfect team together. I am so thankful He let us be a part of this great team of believers. James 1:27 Message "Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world"

Running to get on the "bus" to go to school!

How cute is that? I love this picture!
This is the 3 year olds in class during the day at the Children's Village in Jacmel.

Coming Home. Leaving Haiti was hard. I know that may sound strange. My week was filled with cold showers, spotty electricity and air conditioning, bugs, little sleep, and an upset tummy due to the Haitian cuisine. These are all just comfort things. I realized I really don't need those things to have joy. My joy in Haiti in walking obediently with the Lord and in doing what He had called me to do far out weighed any minor inconveniences that I really take for granted every day any way. The good in Haiti and what God is doing at the Hands and Feet Project was hard to leave. I had four wonderful children to come home to but a part of my heart was longing to stay in Haiti. The pace is really just a different world there. There are so many less distractions. No Tv. No internet. No phone access. I really didn't look at my watch much at all. We just worked hard and when we heard the bell we knew it was time to eat. There was lots of time to reflect and spend with the Lord. One of the things the Lord really opened my eyes to the week we were there is the great responsibility that He has given the Hands and Feet Project. I can't help but chuckle as I think maybe oh how this little band was thinking one night about starting this little project never knowing what HUGE plans the Lord had in store. They now have a total of 97 children. They have basically adopted these children into their 2 villages to care for them forever. That is what God does for us. We are adopted into His family forever. What a great picture of God's love and grace on display. I felt the weight of that responsibility as we have helped to establish and continue medical care for these kids. There is great responsibility there. God has great plans and purposes for these children. He alone is worthy! I am so thankful He chose us and equipped us to serve alongside the Hands and Feet Project this week. A piece of my heart will forever be in Haiti now. God knew that it belonged there all along.

We got home and came home to a room decorated by our little blessings!

 It was good to be home. We could not have done it without these great peeps: Mimi & Papa! They held down the fort and took super great care of our kids so we could go and serve the kids in Haiti. So, So thankful for them and their sacrifice to enable us to go and obey where the Lord is leading us. They are the best Mimi & Papa and these kids know it!