Sunday, November 2, 2014

I think I have a problem with social media. Well, not all social media. Just Facebook. And honestly, I don't "think" I have a problem, I know I do. Three weeks away, I kind of got out of the habit of checking email, Facebook, and reading blogs. And I thought that once I returned home, I would not go back to some of those addicting behaviors. Wrong!!!! After about a week home, I noticed I had slipped back into some bad habits. You know, Instagram, Pinterest, they don't suck me in like Facebook. I can literally space out on Facebook, completely become oblivious to what's going on around me. I found myself even getting on while on the phone. And if I posted a picture or a status update? I was constantly checking to see if anyone liked it or commented. The Lord very kindly showed me that I was seeking approval and affirmation through this form of social media and it needed to stop. So I deactivated myself Friday night, the 31st. Today is day 2 of my detox. I deleted it off my phone, my computer's opening page….just realized I need to delete it off our iPad, but I don't use that very often. It's almost a relief. For right now. I am sure after a few days the novelty of it will wear off, and I will start to downplay my need for it and talk myself into checking to see if anyone posted anything earth shattering, or if anyone has missed me. But I am sticking to my guns.

I found that even on Friday night, family movie night, I would fix the kids up with a video and retreat to the computer. Now the computer is in the same room, but I wasn't actively sitting on the couch and watching with my kids. And I also found I would waste time during school time or in the afternoon when I should be doing something else, just scrolling. So now I am hoping this month of November my house will be cleaner, my laundry caught up, my meal plans completed, and my children interacted with more. Who knows, perhaps I will even blog more regularly?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Running the Race

Well, hello there! It's been a while since we've visited. I've been busy with beginning of the year schooling, and then a big trip to the East Coast and now we are knee deep in harvest. But I did want to get on and share with ya'll something special I have signed up to do. I signed up last week to run the 10k in the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon/Half Marathon race in Phoenix in January 2015. I signed up with Team Compassion to run as an individual and raise money for Compassion International. The money I raise will go toward their Child Survival Program (CSP) and for clean drinking water. My goal is to raise $1,000.00.

I started running a few months ago with a friend, mainly to get out and exercise and to feel better. I was really struggling with midday burnout and exhaustion. We run three times a week and it has helped me a lot. I am sleeping better, feeling better, and can be a better mama and wife to those near and dear to me. But the other day I read an inspiring post here. It inspired me to run for more than myself. Running for myself will get old rather quickly. I already find it hard to get out of bed and run when I know my friend won't be able to meet me. But to run for someone else, to have a goal to help others, will hopefully continue to be my incentive. Plus, my husband and I were just in Haiti in February, (you can read about our trip here) and we know how this money will impact the communities it is sent to. So that is what I am doing. I am running for clean drinking water and for babies to have a chance at life. As my feet pound the pavement and I am getting closer to that 6.1 mile mark (which is what a 10k is, for us Americans), I can pray that God will take the intentions of my heart and this small offering, and increase it a hundredfold. Will you join me? This is where you can go to my personal page and donate money to a great cause. I love this because I don't have to be responsible for any money. It never touches my hands.  Team Compassion .

So, moving on from that, I am also finding myself struggling with social media. I have come to the realization that a Facebook fast may be in order. I end up wasting so much time on there. Time that could be spent with my kids, reading a book (you know I have a stack of about 10 books to read), or writing on here. There was a time in my life when I thought I was going to be a writer. But even if I don't write a blockbuster novel, part of the reason I started this blog was to document our life for our children. I don't scrapbook or put together cute photo albums, so this is it. I should put diligence into my efforts, instead of getting sucked into the world of Facebook.

Thanks for stopping by and listening to my ramblings. May you have a blessed last week of October.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Daybook

Yes, I am still here….I can't believe how the months have flown by. Here's a little of what's going on in my corner of the world…..

Outside my window….the corn is growing as high as an elephant's eye (know that musical?), my flowers are blooming, and the grass is green!

I am thinking….of all the activities we have tonight….piano lessons for three, a 4-H meeting, and worship team practice, and what am I going to do for supper?

I am thankful for….line dried sheets on the beds, healthy children, letters from two of our sponsored kids, my hard working farmer

From the learning room….I am reading some books on social justice and the Christian faith and how they are connected

From the kitchen….just made peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal cookies - yummy!

I am reading….Good News to the Poor and Nurturing the Nations

I am hoping….it was will rain again - soon

I am hearing…. the radio and my children outside playing nicely, along with the intermittent crying and lashing out

Around the house…my floors need swept, my floors need washed, my stove needs cleaning, but the sheets are clean!

One of my favorite things….freshly mowed yard

A few plans for the rest of the week…we have a big surprise for the kids and I CANNOT wait!!!!

Here is a  picture thought I am sharing…..

This boy…be still my heart…turned 4 yesterday! Four years old. Where did the years go? I still remember pulling him up to my chest, all 9 pounds, 3 ounces of him after delivering him. I see so much of my dad in him…his smile, the way his eyes crinkle up and almost disappear, his laugh and his mischievous ways. There are no words to describe how full he makes my heart.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Friday's Photos from the Farm

Here are a few photos from around the farm. It is starting to green up and it's so lovely to see. Color is a beautiful thing! 

And the kids have enjoyed the warm weather and being able to play outside! Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Compassion Haiti Trip 2014, Day Four

Sorry it's taken a while for me to finish up about our trip. We did make it home! Unfortunately, we came home and three days later the house came down with the stomach flu. And it decided it wanted to stick around for over a week! I guess it takes a while to make its rounds through seven people. I also had catch up to do for the office, so back to Haiti…..

Thursday morning we checked out of our hotel, loaded up our luggage and head back to Port au Prince.  We went to the Haiti field office for Compassion. This is the main hub where the letters come to and are translated and then sent out to the projects, among many other things that happen here.

Compassion's motto: Releasing children from poverty in Jesus' Name.

Compassion's mission statement
We went on a tour of the office. We also got to meet the staff and ask them any questions we had. There was also a little time where a staff member from each department came and told us specifically what they do. My favorite was this guy below. His name is Abel. He was a sponsored child. He went through the program and was sponsored even through the LDP program (Leadership Development Program). After finishing university, he got a job at the Haiti office and is now sponsoring two children through Compassion! I love seeing everything come full circle. He was just a really neat man. So excited for the future of Compassion and the country of Haiti. There is so much hope for this country within the walls of this office.

Abel telling us what he does
After our time at the main office, we went to a Best Western in the city and had lunch. It was a great time to visit with each other and continue sharing our thoughts about the trip thus far.

 After lunch, we got to do some shopping along the street. Haitians are known for their art. Their paintings are amazing. We brought home two paintings of typical Haitian life. They are so beautiful.

After we checked into our last hotel, we had dinner and met with three LDP graduates. It was neat to hear their stories of breaking the cycle of poverty, getting an education and going back to their towns to encourage and some even work to help educate their neighborhoods. The desire and passion of these students to make a difference in their country is so inspiring.

 Friday morning we had breakfast and then had to load up and head back to the airport. It was time to leave this beautiful place.

But we took the time to get a couple more team pictures before we left. We were such a diverse group of people, but connected so deeply because we love our sponsored children, and now have a great love for this country of Haiti. It was such an amazing experience.

view from our plane of the ocean below

 Once we returned to Miami and got through customs and picked up our luggage, it was hard to say goodbye to these amazing friends we had met during the last several days. I am so glad that God put together this team of people from all over the country and world.

So now what? I am trying to process and figure out how we come home from an experience like that and don't forget. I know we want to raise our children with an international view. God isn't American. Life doesn't begin and end with America. There is a whole world out there, desperate for compassion, for the love of Jesus. And the only way they are going to hear it and know it is through us. God has given us the amazing privilege of being His hands and feet.

So one of the obvious ways is through sponsoring children. Children are the future of our world. Mothers and Fathers are most often reached with the Gospel through their children. Sponsoring children can be through organizations like Compassion, World Vision, or many others. It could be deciding to take in foster children. There are so many ways to reach out to the children.

There is also helping with basic necessities. I know in Haiti one of the major necessities is being to have access to clean, healthy drinking water.

So maybe we need to rethink our "need" for that cable/satelite package that gives us more channels then we will ever watch. We could perhaps change a child's life for eternity.

Maybe those expensive lattes we get every day could instead be used to change the life of a person.

 Or that huge data package for our cell phones that we never use up each month.

Or perhaps we could choose to go meatless one meal a week and eat rice and beans and think and pray for our brothers and sisters in other countries who are struggling to put food on the table.

Maybe it would be praying for the nations around the world, using resources like Operation World. All I know is that we are not to be inactive, not doing anything. Even if we aren't called to be missionaries in foreign lands, there is plenty we can do in other ways, right here, right now.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Compassion Haiti 2014 Day 3

Here we are! The day we had been waiting for. We were going to meet Andy! I felt excited and nervous all at once! What if he didn't like us? What if he was disappointed? What if we didn't have a connection?

Yvonne called our name and we got up to go meet Andy. He came with his older sister, and a staff member from his project. Andy had to travel 3 1/2 hours to Port au Prince, and then spent the night there and then made the 1 1/2 hour trip to us. This was his first time spending the night away from home.

When we saw him he went to hug me and I could have started crying right there. He was smiling and was so happy to be there. We were off to a good start!

 He loved swimming in the pool. There are a lot of children in Haiti who haven't ever seen the ocean or have gone swimming in a pool before. We spent most of the morning at the pool. Nate even borrowed some shorts and got into the water. For those of you who know my husband, the water isn't his most favorite thing. He doesn't know how to swim. But this precious little boy was worth it.

This was our translator, Frankie.
 During lunch, I asked Andy what his favorite toy was to play with. He told us that he doesn't have any toys. That took us so off guard. I should have realized that because the two homes that we visited had no toys in them. But still…no toys? The thought seemed so foreign, especially coming from America where we have an overabundance of toys and entertainment in general.

So Nate then asked Andy what toys he would like to have. Andy replied that he would like cars, trucks, and machines. I had gone shopping for him about a month earlier. I wish I could say I had prayed about what to get him, but honestly, I had just gone down the aisles and picked out what I thought an 8 year old boy would like to play with.

Nate went upstairs and came down with Andy's bag. I found him a CARS book bag at Target. It was the only one left. He unzipped it slowly and started pulling things out.

Love their faces!
He pulled out a Jesus Storybook, written in Creole. He had a tablet and new crayons. He pulled out an Arizona Cardinals T-shirt. And then he pulled out 5 matchbox cars and a lego set that made three different kinds of heavy machinery. I felt so humbled at the kindness of Jesus, that he would allow us to be the catalyst to answer this dear boy's wish. That was an amazing moment.

All smiles!

 Our time was coming to a close, so we asked Andy to draw us a picture of his home. After he drew a picture of his home, we took turns drawing a picture of ours.

Here is a picture of our whole team with our sponsored children

Just before saying goodbye
We then prayed for Andy and his family and then it was time to take a big group photo and then say goodbye. The day was already over! Saying goodbye to that little boy was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It was so hard to let him go. We knew what he was going home to. The unfairness of it all seemed to hit us. Why him? Why does he go home to no clean water, electricity, no bathroom? Where supplying the basics takes up most of the day? And then, why us? Why do we get to live in a nice home, with clean water at five different spigots, a dishwasher, refrigerator, and three bathrooms?

And as we watched him get in the van and drive away…it hit me. God designed it this way on purpose. He not only blesses us with what we have, but He also allows us, desires us, to be His Hands and Feet. To take what we have and share it with those around us. Its our responsibility.

Yes, we could take Andy home with us and his physical surroundings would be improved, but that still doesn't help the problem. But Compassion does. Compassion equips these children with the tools they need to rise up above their circumstances and to make a difference in their country. They have a pride in their country and a strong desire to see Haiti become a better place. By sponsoring a child in Haiti, you are helping equip the next generation of leaders in that country. And not just leaders, but Believers. That is amazing.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Compassion Haiti 2014 Day 2

Our second full day in Haiti we traveled only about 40 minutes away from our hotel to visit another project. This time we were focused on the Child Development Program (CDP). This program focuses on children ages 3 up through high school. The children did a presentation for us. They sang songs, some sang solos, and a girl even played the trumpet. We also introduced ourselves and told where we were from. We then led the children in a rousing rendition of "Hallelu Hallelu Hallelu Hallelujah!" Oh, that was pretty fun. The kids got a kick out of that. There was lots of cheering going on! :)

After that, our team broke into four small groups. Each of us did a different activity and the children could pick where they wanted to go. One group played out on the "field", which was a dirt, concrete, stone field. Another did crafts, the third did face painting and fingernail painting. The group I was in jumped rope. What fun that was! I can't remember the last time I jumped rope. And the kids were awesome at jumping rope. Some could jump double dutch, some could jump with partners and jump around each other while jumping rope. I was happy I could jump in! :)

After playing a few hours, we then had lunch with the staff and learned about what each one's job is at the project. We also got to see where they are constructing new school buildings, built to code and strong enough to withstand strong earthquakes.

Me and Sara. Everyone on our team was just so awesome.

Roof of the new school rooms

Safety blinds
We then went on another home visit after lunch. It was a quick walk across the street and then down a turkey path to a bunch of houses scattered here and there. We went with our translator and one of the staff members from the project. The home we went to was a four room house, with one of the rooms being rented out to someone else. It had a concrete floor, concrete walls and a tin roof. There was no kitchen in the house. It was outside under a roof with tarps around it for walls. Inside there was no electricity, running water or bathrooms. There is typically a community "bathroom" which can range from a hole in the ground to an outhouse. 

In the home was the grandmother, the matriarch of the home. She had her daughter living with her who had three children. The daughter's husband left her when she was pregnant with the  baby. There was just a heaviness about the home. You could tell there had been a lot of pain and sorrow experienced there. We talked to them a little and then prayed with them. We asked the grandmother what she would like prayer for, and she answered that she would like her family to know and believe in Jesus. As we gathered around to pray, this dear woman, who looked like she was in her late 70s, and couldn't get around well, sank to her knees for us to pray for her. I have tears again just thinking about it. One of the other team members worded it so well, "It was as if she had the weight of the world on her shoulders as she knelt there for us to pray for her."

So while this home visit was hard, it was good to know that Compassion is there, partnering with the church, to love these children. To teach them about the Friend that never leaves them, even in all the uncertainty  and difficulty of life. And to give them a hope.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Compassion Haiti 2014

We are here. In Haiti. We landed in the capitol around 12:30. We got our luggage, found our transportation and headed to our hotel in St. Marc. We are staying in a hotel/resort called Club Indigo. Haiti is a country that lacks infrastructure. There isn't much industry to promote employment. In fact, the unemployment rate is about 80%. When driving down the road, you would see people everywhere, just outside, hanging out. Children are not required to go to school. You  must pay to send your child to school, even public school. Since scrounging out a living to pay for food and walking sometimes miles for water is of the utmost importance, education isn't seen as very important. Plus, when babies are born, birth certificates aren't always issued, so the government doesn't even know how many children are in the country or have any way to enforce education. So children can very easily fall between the cracks.
Boarding the plane in Miami--Haiti bound!

These are called "tap taps".

They are the major form of transportation in Haiti. Most people don't own automobiles, and so they ride these.  They are usually crammed full. There's always room for one more! :)

Our brightly painted room

Our waste basket made out of woven cardboard 

The pool at Club Indigo

Play area

Ocean view

It felt strange checking into such a beautiful place after driving through some hurting, impoverished areas. But Compassion's theory is that they want the sponsors to have a place of calm and peace to return to at the end of each day, to be able to process what they have experienced and seen during the day. This is also where the children will come for the visitation day. Most of them have not seen the ocean, or swam in a pool.

Our first full day in Haiti we drove about an hour and a half to a place called Gonaive. We visited the Child Survival Program (CSP). This program is for mothers of young children, ages newborn to 3, or pregnant mothers. The program teaches mothers how to care for their children, and also teaches them life skills and vocational skills.  This was the scene that welcomed us when we arrived…..

We walked off the bus and these little cuties were sitting under this pavilion just waving and cheering and clapping. It was so precious! I almost started crying up at the gate! They had the cutest matching uniforms. Oh, the joy!

So we did what any human being would do, we walked down and hugged and smiled and blew bubbles and passed out stickers, and basically just hung out with these kiddos. 

We went inside the church then and the mothers were inside. We met the pastor and other staff that worked there at the project. The mothers then sang some songs for us. It was so beautiful.  We ate lunch and then we broke into four groups and went to four different homes, of mothers who participate in the CSP. 

We went to the home of a mother who had two children and was 9 months pregnant with her third. Her husband was not employed. She has been attending the classes at the project center and has learned how to sew. She has also learned how to take care of her children better and what to do for them when they are sick. They lived in a two room house. It had a concrete floor, concrete walls and a tin roof. The kitchen was outside. There was no electricity, running water or bathroom. There weren't screens in the windows. She did have a mosquito net for the one bed in the house. She was a lovely woman. So pleased to have us there. So happy to talk to us.

Her nine year old child came into the room. What beautiful young girl. She had such a joy and cheerfulness about her. We asked her, through the translator, what she wants to be when she grows up. She smiled shyly and immediately piped up, "A doctor." 

What Compassion does for these children is offer them a hope. They are receiving the tools and being taught how to use their education to make a better country. They are being given hope. Which is priceless. 

I am in awe of these strong mothers, raising these children up in what seems like impossible circumstances. But they are being held up and supported by the amazing staff and they have a Hope. And His Name is Jesus.