Tuesday, November 30, 2010

dirty oven

So I cleaned my oven today, and realized as I was cleaning it (translation:  hitting the self clean button) that I was trying to come up with a good analogy - cleaning out the yuckiness inside where it is hidden?  Burning away the mire?  haha...I can't help it!  This blogging thing gets in my head!  I remember in Malawi whenever I was doing something new (pretty much every day) I was figuring out how I would write it on my blog!  I guess I just like to write!  Or preach.  Or tell stories. 

But I will spare you the oven story and just say that yesterday was a bad day.  One of those "I am grumpy because I want to be grumpy and nothing you can say will make it better so go away" type days.   Fortunately I have a husband who does not go away, and even goes so far as to remind me that it is just a day, a feeling - fleeting.  And those feelings can be deceiving and are not necessarily what or who I am.  And as soon as I was ready to stop being stubborn and listen, and run back into the arms of God, life was in perspective again. 

Kinda like the dirty oven being cleaned from the inside out...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankful for the little things!

If there is one thing I have learned in the last few years, it is that I need to be thankful for the little moments as well as the big ones!  (OK, so I am still learning that in reality - but I AM learning!)  Three years ago we spent Thanksgiving in Malawi since we were living there at the time.  I missed my family (and turkey) - but we had just made some new friends who would turn out to e a life line for us, and they invited us to a Thanksgiving in Zomba with some other ex-pats from the USA.  There was no turkey - but there was ham, chicken, and all the trimmings, as well as a a bunch of people that became friends and family there.  Our kids made friends and laughed a lot that day.  I thought that we would spend many more Thanksgivings with this wonderful group of people (as well as other holidays) but that was not to be.

The next Thanksgiving we were back in the States and we had Thanksgiving at my parent's house.  All the siblings were together with our kids, and even though it was loud and chaotic with so many little ones running around in a small space, it was fun.  It was the perfect day, as we played games, laughed, ate, and laughed some more.  I remember not wanting to leave.  But I figured that we would have many more holidays together.  Once again I was wrong.

 (Me and my sisters!)
(The cousins! )

This Thanksgiving I was again with my family in that same house, but without my mom.  Though we spoke of her and definitely missed her, she would have been very happy to see the smiling faces, the friendships that are blooming between cousins, and the bond that her daughters have.  She would have loved hearing the giggles and outright cackles from playing games together, the good-natured teasing, and the friendly banter that happened around the table.  I loved it - it was a blast!  The kids are getting a little older, and they play well together so the adults can also "play" together for a while!  We played Pictionary Telephone (Thank you, Travis and Amy for teaching us that game!), Dutch Blitz, and Last Word - sometimes with the kids and sometimes just us grownups!  And once again I did not want the night to end.  But I am learning to be thankful for the times that I have with my family and friends and not worry about the future or focus too much on the past!

I do not know what the future holds for us - where we will be over the next few Thanksgivings.  I certainly hope it involves friends or family, games, and laughter.  I just know that I will embrace each of these times that I have with people I love.

Friday, November 19, 2010

National Geographic article on Southern Sudan

For those who are not familiar with Sudan's history, here is a link to a good article in National Geographic.  Take the time to read it, and then pray for this country as they look for a peaceful referendum in January 2011.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

thankful for my mama

Something strange has been happening to me the last several days.  It seems that everywhere around me I hear people talking about their moms.  Many of these people (most?) have been older than me, and their mothers are definitely older than my mom would have been.  And I find my self inadvertently thinking, "Why do you still get to have your mom?" 
I know that sounds childish and bitter. 
Honestly though, when I think it I am not feeling bitter.  In fact I am happy for these people that they can take their moms shopping, call them on the phone, and argue about Thanksgiving dinner with them.  However, the thought still pops in there for a second, until I am reminded of how selfish that is of me!  I know where my mom is-without a doubt- and as much as she loved us, she would not want to come back.  And I don't blame her one bit! 
That doesn't stop the self pity from settling in at times. 
This year in my life marks the year that I have been living away from my parents as long as I lived with them!  I left home at 18 and never lived there again.  (Yes, since I know you are doing the math in your head - I am 36!)  So there was this irrational part of me after she died that thought I would not miss her the way some of my other siblings would.  Not that I didn't love her or feel loved by her - neither of those things were ever in question.  But I guess I felt independent and self-reliant.  I am married to an amazing man and have 4 beautiful kids.  I have lived a life of adventures and crazy rides with God.  I love my life!  But God has shown me my self righteousness yet again in this time - because I miss my mom more than I ever imagined.
She was the glue in our family.  She was the one that made sure we all knew what was happening with the others and when people could get together.  She smoothed over disagreements and hurt feelings.  She planned and organized and changed her schedule and life to make ours work.  Oh, we had our fair share of fights - what mother and daughter don't?  But even with both of us being stubborn and pig-headed, we loved each other enough to work on it and work it out.
 It seems harder to make those extra efforts now.  I am going home for Thanksgiving - for the first time in a year - and I am so excited to see my sisters, my brother, and their families, and my Dad and Gram!  But there is still this part that wants to hold back because she is not going to be there. 
I find that I miss her when times like getting back from Africa happens and I just want someone to share in my excitement and look at all my pictures;  When I discover a super delicious recipe and want to tell someone who will be happy for me and want me to make it so she can taste it next time we are together;  When I get frustrated with home school and need someone to cheer me on and confirm our decision instead of making me feel inadequate. 
I miss my cheerleader.  I didn't realize until she was gone that she was really my biggest fan!  (Next to my husband, who is obviously in a totally different category!)  :) 
So today I am thankful for my mom.  I am thankful for the example that she was even when she (or I) did not realize it!  I am praying that my kids will know me to be their cheerleader, fan, prayer warrior, confidant, and friend. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thankfulness in the unexpected!

Well it's a new week and a new Compelled!  We had a wonderful time tonight with our new church plant.  For the first time we had almost as many women as men! :)
God is working in Troy, and I am happy that he is allowing us to be a part of it.  This church plant is not what I imagined - I never thought that I would be working with 35 college students each week.  But he is faithful, and I am blessed to be allowed to be a part of their lives.  In my small group tonight we had good conversations about the things in our lives that need to be covered in grace.  To my surprise - and delight - people were very open and honest in their talking.
I am also very honored to be a part of the worship band.  This group that is made mostly of college students  is full of a lot of life and excitement!  We are working out the kinks and getting to know each other, but for only playing together a few weeks, things are coming together well.  And it is so fun to watch them takes steps of faith in their walk with God.  They are an amazing group!
God is teaching me a lot about being grateful!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

thankfulness despite...

Well, it has really been a bad day!  Woke up really late because we were exhausted after Compelled last night (Thursday is our new Monday!) Got school started on the wrong foot because we were running late; had to get my own homework done and in to Richard for our skype time tomorrow, so I was grumpy that anyone needed me or my help; I had to go to Sam's with a friend to get stuff for Compelled at 1 and we were still not done with school; by the time I got home I felt under pressure to make the pierogies that I had promised Shawn for his birthday, but apparently my stress was getting the best of me, because Shawn said to forget it because he would rather have less stress, so we got Chinese food-ugh!  And on top of it all, it was gray, rainy, and cold!
I felt like I failed at everything I was supposed to do today.  I am committed to teaching my children in a healthy, good environment for them, and that did not happen.  I want to make my family healthy, delicious meals and not feed them processed, gross stuff - and that did not happen.  I have a very strict food budget- and I blew part of that today on the gross, processed food.  And then because Shawn had to teach his Bible Class at RPI this evening, I felt like the whole day was rushed and yucky - and I felt responsible.
Not exactly the birthday - or any day- that I wanted for Shawn and my kids!
So what am I thankful for today?  My homework in this class; a wonderfully wise man named Josiah whom I have never met, but have learned much from as I listen to his CD's; The fact that even when I am an absolute mess up and nothing goes the way I want or plan God loves me perfectly and completely.  The fact that my husband is my best friend, and really doesn't overly romanticize birthdays anyway!  ;)
I guess I am learning what real love is through all of it.  And for that, I am thankful!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Compelled Thankfulness

Tonight at Compelled I was a little disappointed at first when I realized that our numbers were down.  But then I had to start looking around.  We have been praying for people from the community to come in - especially some families that are more permanently in the area than college students.  Tonight for the first time there was a couple there from the area - and they have been looking at the church and following the changes on the website since July!  AND he plays the guitar!  Hopefully we did not scare them off!  :)  Also, as we were playing I felt so at ease with this band that I have only known for three weeks!  It went smoothly and was fun tonight - no nerves!  So even though numbers were lower, God is still answering prayers!  I am thankful that he reminds me to look at the big picture and not just the things I can see.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


 Our car that we bought from my mom!  (Notice the neighbor ALSO has a two-color car!) LOL!

Today I am thankful for the fact that my husband is much more patient that I am!  On Thursday, when the car started smoking under the hood and refused to run I was done with it!  But the next day it started again, and we decided we could risk it to go to Troy Night Out.  It seemed fine as long as we were going under 40 and only a few miles!  But that would get old fast - not to mention impossible since the next few months has some traveling to see family and for World Harvest stuff! 

Shawn took it to the mechanic today, and it turned out to be something simple - a fuel sensor or something.  $300 later we have a car that runs relatively safely.  It is still a 1993 with many miles, a really tight fit for us, and ugly as all get-out-but hey - we are not stuck at home!  
I am also thankful because our church family gave us a gift last Wednesday (the day before the car died) of $300 for pastor appreciation.  No coincidence that it was exactly what we needed to keep the car on the road!  Now we can keep what we have in savings and actually get a decent vehicle (hopefully a van!) when we have the money instead of when we are desperate! 

Monday, November 1, 2010


As we enter into November, I have decided to do my thankfulness thing again this month (I really should do this more than one month a year!)  I am going to try to write each day about one thing I am thankful for - and I am going to try to make it things that are not obvious!  :)  For example, I could write every day that I am thankful for Shawn and the kiddos, but that would get kind of boring to read!  So I am going to look at things in my life that I usually take for granted and be thankful for those things.
For today:
I am thankful for teacher's manuals - it seems I have been using them a lot recently, and it certainly makes my life as a teacher/mom much easier!  I even found out that when the answer is there, it makes sense and I can actually usually explain the problem!  ;)
I am thankful that I can go to the church and play the keyboard tonight!  I love playing, and I miss my own keyboard at home, but it is a blessing that I can go there anytime and play!  (And I do not have to try to figure out where it would go in this house!)
I am thankful that our car is able to get around town...we still do not know what is wrong, and I would not go far in it, but we are not stuck at home!  Every time we pray over it, it starts working (kinda) again!  ;)
I am thankful for cooler weather and the snow flurries we went through last night.  OK, so this is a stretch for me, but I am CHOOSING to be thankful because my children are so excited about it - and I AM thankful for the smiles and squeals of joy from them!

Another in the fire

Maybe you don't know what the process to move overseas is like, but there was a lot of what we thought of as jumping through hoops ...