Monday, July 13, 2015

One year later.

sorry, no profound title. no major inspiration. just taking note of a simple moment in time; the time we moved to a smaller house.

as i look back at the past year of living in "the hood" here's what we've learned...

  • we still have too much stuff. we still have nowhere to put it. and therefore we still need to get rid of it.
  • Sunday afternoons, post lunch, are really the only time we all vie for the bathroom simultaneously. but the simple announcement of "does anyone need to go short before i go long?" seems to alleviate most occurrences of the potty dance.
  • the three girls often argue over who's mess is who's in the room that they share and that often leaves the floor in a constant state of disarray. but i can simply google "messy bedroom" and quickly realize that i can still see more floor than toys and clothes, and it's ok.
  • no matter how many times i rearrange the living room, it will not get any bigger or magically change it's shape to accommodate more people. but we can still fit quite a few people in this house.

  • the girls stay up later talking to each other, which i don't mind too much cause i know all too soon they wont be here anymore and it's better than if they were fighting.
  • i get frustrated at how quickly a mess can form, but am always pleasantly surprised at how quickly it can be cleaned up!
  • compared to a significantly large portion of the world's population, we STILL have way more space than necessary.

Friday, May 8, 2015


I really don’t know why it surprises me but it does.

This process.

This process of returning home and navigating through everything. I’m not a longterm missionary. 5 weeks isn’t earth shattering. It shouldn’t be this hard. It’s shouldn’t take this long. But of course I don’t really know what it SHOULD or SHOULDN’T be actually. I know this, but this is how I feel and it’s draped over everything.

You might think I would say it’s like a roller coaster ride, but that would imply that there’s some aspect of fun to it and that all I have to do it sit and let it take me where it can. But it’s not like that, it’s more like piloting a space ship and suddenly entering a storm of asteroids while trying to pull away from a black hole with my navigation and warp drive equipment all failing at once.

The black hole: the desire for all of this to be about me. I’d love to just escape for a few weeks, to get away from all responsibilities and commitments. To not have to sum up five weeks of India into a 45 second conversation piece anytime someone asks. The selfishness that invades me right now is sickening.

The storm of asteroids: all of the THINGS I HAVE to DO. I HAVE to do them. I HAVE to feed my family. I HAVE to take care of this house. I HAVE to lead worship. I HAVE to organize a million things. I HAVE to be a good friend. I HAVE to give up my time for others. I HAVE to force myself out of bed. I HAVE to stop crying. I HAVE to stop feeling lonely. I HAVE to get to the other side, to another perspective. I miss the “I GET to” perspective. WHERE did it go? How did it completely disappear?? When will this end?

And why does every trip have to be so different?
1st trip = new experiences. Returning brought a distaste for “normal” and motivation to grow more, change more and to bring others back.
2nd trip = connecting friends at home to friends in India. Returning brought motivation to keep going, keep sharing, etc.
3rd trip = harsh conditions and heartache. Returning brought grief and anger and frustration.
4th trip = celebration and joy. Returning brought renewed sense of purpose and encouragement.
5th trip = sharing my heart {my children} with my heart {children in India}. Returning has brought about loneliness, restlessness, apathy, temptation, distraction … which is frustrating because when I was still there I was ready to conquer the world. Why did a small change in location and sleeping patterns affect so much? Seriously.

I feel like the rotten king in Narnia needing to yell “RESPITE! RESPITE!”

I’m thinking of putting it on a t-shirt.

The equipment: I know what I need. I need direction. I need wisdom. I need action. I need rest. But I can’t pray. I can’t read. I can’t move. All I can do is cry or shove it down and do my best to survive for a few minutes. This makes me angry. I don’t have time for this. People around me are struggling and going through tragedies and surgeries and life altering moments and I need to be in a better spot to be there for them and all I’m left feeling is lonely and helpless.

This isn’t pretty or pleasant and I’m sorry you had to read it. I’m sorry it isn’t uplifting and encouraging. I’m sorry if it’s too honest.

I know it’ll pass even though I don’t know when. 

This is just where I am.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Aftermath

after a trip you should debrief... ya know talk about it, think about it, pray about it... process it.

that is unless you're coming back from 5 weeks away with your children and you are all trying to recover and process and you  realize you are returning to a head on collision with the reality that was your previous life and responsibilities. in that case you just have small panic attacks throughout the day.

so here are some debriefing questions i'm going to answer (haven't given much thought to these, so what you get is what you get) in and effort to process and share.

1. What was the best thing about being there?
the best part about being there was being there. day in. day out. not rushed. not forced. just living and learning. if i have to pinpoint one moment though, it was during the last week when one of the little ones walked up to me, gave me a hug and said "I love you , auntie".

the other best part was having my children there with me. absolutely. 

2. what was the hardest part for you?
leaving. leaving and knowing it'll be a while before i can return.

the other hardest part was having my children there with me. in previous trips I'm just a visitor. this time is was visitor and mother and whiel i'm used to being mom all day every day, it's tougher in a different place, without your normal resources. when one was sick i stayed upstairs to comfort and mend and wasn't downstairs where i wanted to be. i was pulled in two directions, needing to care for my own, and needing to connect with the others in our limited time there.

3. what did God teach you?
to be thankful. i'm not talking about getting home and i'm thankful i have a hot shower. when my kids were sick and beyond exhausted and i felt helpless, and i couldn't even pray any more... all i could do was give thanks. i literally just started to list off everyone and everything i was thankful for. that gave me the strength to make it through long nights and long days. the sickness didn't instantly disappear, the struggle wasnt any easier. but i knew my God was sitting there with me and my focus was turned to him and not my circumstances. be thankful in the storm as well as the sunlight.

4. what are you going to do about it and when?
i'm going to share my story. my kids are going to share their stories. we're going to keep going back. we're going to bring others with us. we're going to be used however possible. here and there. i'm going to be thankful for the head on collision back to reality. i'm going to keep moving forward.

5. share an answered prayer.
my prayer was to learn more and to show my kids what i love so much about india and the people there. they loved it and they're ready to go back. each day (even when they were sick, tired, nauseous, missing daddy, hot or anxious) they had something good to say. this entire trip was an answer to prayer for provision and opportunity and all Glory goes to God.

Monday, February 23, 2015

$3 Fleece Kids' Pancho

 i meant to post this earlier... if i had i would have titled it "rainy day craft"... or icy day craft since we actually had a full days worth of icy rain. technically this was made a month or so ago and at that time i would've titled it "WALMART hack"... but i've been busy with a few things and never blog what i intend to, when i intend to. so call it what you want. ;)

STEP 1. purchase (or dig out of your closet) a $2.88 fleece blanket from wally world.

STEP 2. (optional) cut off the outer stitching. you can leave it on, or you could use a seam ripper if you aren't in a hurry.
STEP 2.5... get your 11 year old daughter to help since she's the one who wanted a pancho like her sister has that i made the same way ;)

STEP 3. fold the blanket lengthwise. 

STEP 4. Cut off a foot from the end.

STEP 5. Measure kiddo's head. (22")

STEP 6. Take the foot of blanket you just cut off and fold it in half. (it's already folded in half from when you cut it, so now it should be four layers thick and will form a square--see step 7 picture)

STEP 7. measure from the fold, half of the head measurement (11") and pin.

STEP 8. have your kiddo hand-stich the seam. {hand-stiching is good for the soul} 

STEP 9. trim off excess.

STEP 10. fold in half so that you form a ring with the stitched seam inside. this will be the comfy, soft and warm collar.

STEP 11. back to the big piece of blanket/fabric... find and pin the center of the fold.

STEP 12. measure and pin a few inches from the center (red)pin on both sides. (i picked 8"-- that's 4" on either side of the center pin-- but basically you want about 1/3 of the head measurement.)

STEP 13. roughly measure a half circle from the pins (so about 14"... that's what was left of the 22" after marking off the 8") and mark with a few pins or mark with chalk.

STEP 14.  cut out the half circle shape ON ONE LAYER ONLY...
 ...then cut along the fold...
 ...when you open it up you should now have a gumdrop shape in the middle of a big square.

STEP 15. now, line up the seam of the collar with the flat part of the gumdrop opening. (this will be the back)

STEP 16. start pining the edges of the collar and opening together... start at the seam in the back and work your way around to the front. if the opening stretches bigger than the collar, don't worry, simply fold/pleat the extra fabric in the center front and pin in place. hand-stitch away!

STEP 17. turn right side out, fold the collar down halfway and you're done. slip it on and take a picture! :)

If you want to blanket stitch around the pancho edge you can, but the beauty of this blanket/fabric/pancho is that you dont have to. no unraveling. super comfy and cheap and it only takes about an hour to make (depending on how fast you and your kiddo sew). :)


*for sizing reference, my daughter is 11 and wears sz 10/12 on top. this also worked for my other daughter who is 9 and wears sz 7/8.*

Friday, February 13, 2015

That Time I Pruned a Tree

2 days.

I spent TWO DAYS pruning a pomegranate tree!

I honestly don't know how long it's been since it was pruned because we've only lived here for about 9 months. and I've only had one other experience with a pomegranate tree and that was when I spent a semester in Jerusalem. There was a lovely garden on the campus where I lived and studied that included olives and figs and of course a pomegranate tree. I ate from the tree and it was good.

Fast forward to last summer when we moved into this house and noticed about 3 pomegranates growing on a severely overgrown bush. We hoped to see more but that was all we got to enjoy.

Fast forward again to this week. I watched a video about pruning trees and suddenly the process seemed a little less intimidating. The guy on the video said I wouldn't kill the tree lol... and that's really what I needed to hear because I knew the tree desperately needed to be taken care of in order to grow at least a handful of fruit, but I was scared to jump in and accidentally kill it. The process is pretty simple though, you get rid of downward growing branches because they won't be able to hold fruit; you get rid of branches that crisscross each other and that want to grow towards the center because you need to let the sun shine in to produce good fruit; and you cut the branches near the new growth in order to train it which way to grow.

By the end of the first day and throughout the second day working on our P-tree (pomegranate takes too long to type each time lol) my heart and mind were flooded with lesson after lesson. By the end I literally had to hold back tears as I kept repeating to myself, "The Lord is Good. God, You are SO Good!"So, I thought I would attempt to share some of the things I saw and learned while out there.

The Lord is Good. I want to point this out first, because if you see the rest of what I share through this "filter", it all makes so much sense!

Pruning is necessary. If my P-tree is going to bear good fruit (and more than just a handful each season), then some of it's overgrowth has GOT. TO. GO! I'm telling you folks, it was a tangled mess up in there. It would have been better if it had been pruned a little bit each year; But it hadn't and this was all kinds of crazy and required a MAJOR pruning. Sometimes our lives and our hearts are the same, so tangled, so messed up and so out of whack that we can't let the sun shine into the deepest part of our lives and we struggle to produce a handful of good things in our life. If we want to bear good fruit, then we should expect pruning to come. Even if our life isn't a complete tangled mess, we need routine care and pruning of our lives; cause if the routine pruning doesn't come, then we're almost guaranteed to have problems in the future.

Pruning hurts. If you haven't had the opportunity to interact with a P-tree, then you may not realize that these suckers are FULL. OF. THORNS. I am not even kidding, we're talking about the tiniest of thorns and cat-claw looking thorns, all the way up to perfectly straight and rigid 5 inch thorns. It is pure craziness. Not only did I suffer quite a difficult time in the process, but the tree itself was insanely tangled, so some of the branches were violently yanked about and some parts ripped off because the thorns had become so twisted and had such a great hold on the branches. this was interesting to me, because the thorns are a PART of the P-tree; they weren't an outside source trying to harm the tree. But they were so out of control that they were becoming a major part of the problem. They had created an entire canopy over the tree. Again, not allowing any sunlight to come in. I couldn't help but think about the pride of life. How we can allow certain parts of our lives, parts that really are a natural part of who we are and are even quite necessary, but too often we allow them to get out of control. We place them above other things and they become an idol. We become our own idol and it only hinders us from actually accomplishing what we were created for... to bear good fruit. But the Lord, in His goodness takes the time to remove these things from our lives. How much better though for us to keep them in their place to begin with. To recognize that yes, we are fearfully and wonderfully made, but that all our pride and seeking to boast our thorns only cause great pain.

Pruning benefits others. The P-tree's thorns weren't only preventing it from bearing good fruit itself, but it had become terribly wrapped and tangled around the neighboring crepe myrtle and any other nearby bush it could reach. You should have seen me out there, I'm sure I looked quite foolish playing tug-of-war with the jungle of thorny vines. How often does our own stubbornness, or pride, or selfishness, or contempt, or lust, or personal rights preferences, and on and on...  not only prevent us from living a life full of purpose, but we also prevent others from their own growth as well. And how often do we fight back to keep a hold of the things that the Lord wants to wisely remove from our hearts and our lives. The canopy of vines included years worth of thorns that had built up.. if only they had been dealt with and cut back each year and not been allowed to take over. How much greater struggle could have been avoided? And sadly, I cut off the vines as far up as I could reach, but there were still quite a few that remained attached to the other trees and plants. Our lives WILL affect the lives of others, for good or for bad.

Pruning is for our Good. When I was almost done with the whole process, my daughter came out to me and said, "It looks like you're killing it". I had removed branch after branch after branch after branch. There is now a pile of discarded branches and thorns that is as big as what is left of the tree itself. Right now the tree looks alone and stripped bare. What can often look like a murderous onslaught of struggle after struggle, attack after attack, trial after trial... what can sometimes feel like the Lord has abandoned us to our doom... is simply the major pruning of our lives; and it's not without purpose. It's a purpose so beyond what we can see.

I know my tree doesn't feel or think, but if it did, it would probably be asking me, "WHY? Why are you hurting me so much? Why are you cutting off my beautiful branches? Why are you tearing me and allowing me to be cut and pulled in every direction? Why did you have to get rid of the tallest branch? That was my favorite! I'm glad you got scratched by my thorns! How can this possibly be what you want for me? Why am I so broken?"

...and I would reply, "Oh my tree... it is for your good, so that you can bear much good fruit in the season to come. You will be beautiful beyond compare. You will not miss that favorite branch once you see the fruit on the others. You will be strong because I have trained you which way to grow. You will be pleasing to my eyes and to the eyes of others, and you will feed and nourish others because I have greatly cared for you. My tree, I saw your need, I heard the cry of your heart to bear fruit and I answered."

Pruning is Love. Guys, If I didn't want the best for this tree, then I would just leave it alone because it was a LOT of work and energy. But I want it to bear fruit. I want it to be beautiful. I want it to fulfill it's purpose for why it was even created by the Father. And so out of love, I have taken the time to be scratched and pierced and calloused and blistered and sore and sweaty and stinky and itchy. I've put thought into which branches need to go and which ones are good to stay. I've gotten down on my hands and knees and worked the dirt and balanced on the ladder and pushed myself to the greatest limit to reach that one impossible branch. How deep the Father's love for us... that he would see fit for us to be pruned and cared for by His very own hands. He has given us everything. He has sacrificed much. He has done it out of Love.

So ya know... that time I pruned the P-tree... I couldn't help but hear the Lord say, "Oh my child. I have heard your cry to bear fruit, I have seen your need for pruning and I have answered.  Surrender your branches and thorns to Me, so that when the world looks at you, they will see My handiwork and they will glorify Me and know that I Am good."

The Lord is Good.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

India or Bust!

So this is it! this is the year, 2015, when our kids will NOT have to wave goodbye to mom and dad as we get on a plane.... nope nope, they'll be WITH US!!! we decided last february that the next trip would be with the kids this spring. :)

Since our plans for selling the house to help cover the cost of the trip didn't work out like we envisioned, we'll have to do a little (ok... a lot) of fundraising... which honestly is a bit difficult for me. you have to understand, i'm a "make it happen" and a "do whatever it takes" kind of person. we know we are above and beyond blessed so we feel it's only right that we use our own resources to get where we need to be. and we will continue to do so.

of course we could just wait... wait till we've saved up enough (which we try to make our philosophy on just about everything possible). and honestly, who knows, we might have to push back the date a little (especially since i was a bit delayed in getting the kids passport applications in and we still have to apply for visas... THEN we can buy the airplane tickets, sigh.) but we said we were coming, and we will do whatever it takes to make it happen... including asking for help.

yup. that's hard for "miss independent" over here. it's an interesting but good place to be in too. less control. more trust. more growth. more uncertainty. more prayer. :)

so the first fundraiser will last two weeks. I found a great website where you can design and promote a t-shirt. it's pretty nifty. If we were to make the 100 shirt goal, then we will have raised about $1300 toward our total goal! :)

You can check it out HERE if you like!

and if i can get my butt in gear and get organized, then I'll be making and selling as many tamales as i possibly can until the last possible minute. I still have to do a test run to see just how many I'll need to make to actually make a profit but not break the banks of people who want to purchase them.

and for folks who don't want shirts, and don't eat tamales (or even know what a tamale is... shame) but maybe just wanna help us out a little, they can leave a donation at our "GoFundMe" site which we will officially launch once the t-shirt campaign is over.

If you'd like to stay informed about trip details and how you can pray for us, you can request to join our private Facebook group. :)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Steampunk Shower: Set-up and Party

 So the week of our fun little steam-fest, I borrowed some materials from various places {glass plates and punch cups, trays, pitchers, lace table cloths, brass dressform, antique phone and a couple normal decorations from around the house} and threw that all together with the stuff i had made in the previous weeks (see earlier post) and got set up the day before just to make sure i had everything needed and that it would all work well together.

the paper plate vintage typewriter worked like awesome sauce. it's still up. and i'm still debating leaving it up cause it's just too cool. we'll see.

I placed the steam-hunks around in various places with super cheesy words.


...filled the tiny "jewelry" glasses with powdered cream and sugar {for coffee}

{left} spray-painted some aluminum cans and added lace and beads for a simple industrial feel but pretty at the same time.
{right} a steampunk necklace for the bride-to-be that I had made by a lovely young lady.

Found this lovely old chair at a thrift store for $5. i just had to glue a leg and restuff the seat. it held our photo props since i wasn't sure how well i had actually glued and mended it, ha!

hung some paper lanterns with some crazy people print-outs hanging from spiraled floral wire. used hot glue and a metalic sharpie to add the little details work on the "hot-air baloons".

then the food helpers arrived and everything was beautiful and yummy looking! {our menu was simply some yummy food... no real theme to it. mini-toast with brie cheese and cranberry sauce; homemade chocolate pudding-it was to die for; veggie tray, apple fritters, garlic bread-we wanted plenty of bread-type items since we had a mini-bar available; bacon wrapped dates-another amazing item; crackers with avocado and crab meat; jalapeno cream cheese pinwheels; and shot glasses filled with either tomato or pumpkin soup and garnished with grilled cheese or apples and dried cranberries.}

gifts were placed in the trunk of awesomeness... fetauring a picture of the best steam-hunk, Tesla himself {thanks to my husbands suggestion}

closeup of the yumminess. :)

i found the travel bar box (on the right) at a consignment shop and added the LED lights {the kind you put in balloons}. ladies were able to mix their own drinks and we had coffee, tea and water available for those who preferred not to be extra spirited that evening.

wrong era but still cool, i found this knock off of a 1928 radio at an estate sale. the actual music played from my phone and the speakers below, but the radio worked enough to have the light on and give the intital illusion that it was the source of the music {that's what i told myself at least}.

 thrift store silver cup/bowl thing and lantern.

and we actually used the vintage camera to capture a few of the evenings moments.

it was a great evening. i was surprised that our little house fit all the stuff and 12 lovely ladies, but it did and it was a blast!!