December 28, 2009

Simple Pleasures from Yankee Territory

We had a nice Christmas Day!  I hope you did too.

A few sweet things we've enjoyed lately...

Celebrating His birth!  Knowing and understanding in some small amount the gift He offered to us just because He loves us so much.
Wii-ing with the kids.  (I am soooo bad at video games but the wii fit ones are really fun!)
Finding jeans for me that fit, look cute and were $14.99!
Getting to buy my own copy of Grace Based Parenting that I can write in as I read it.
Robert hanging my bird feeder up again so I can see the little creatures come and go!  (It's been in a different spot since we got new windows in September and I've missed the visibility of it.)
Rockin' in the car with Mattie to the Oak Ridge Boys Christmas!
My kids being so good in the car.  They really couldn't be better road trippers.
Knowing and resting in the fact that God knows my needs and really will meet them.
Getting to spend today with my family in an after Christmas celebration I wasn't planning on!
Sisters.  Need I say more?  :)

God is good.  And even in the middle of a challenging time, there is so much to be thankful for.  Help me focus on that, Lord!

December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve excitement

We wish you a wonderful day!!!

December 24, 2009

Join us at our Virtual Recital

I have a major coop fear of commitment.  But this year Candace and I worked something out that has been just perfect!  We get together once a week to do Latin, science, piano and other random things.  We planned a small recital for the kids to share what they've been learning, and they did a great job!  I thought you might like to join us virtually!

(All the clips together are less than 5 minutes.  And some of the videos are out of focus... it was my brand new camera and I had a lot to think about as I was introducing, helping get started and pressing record!  Ya know, focusing was just one too many things.)

Emily, Jacob and Hannah


Emily, Hannah, Jacob

O Come All Ye Faithful / Adeste Fideles
Emily, Hannah, Jacob

Isaiah 9:6,7

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Thanks for coming!

December 15, 2009

Operation Christmas Child

Last week I got to go to the International Headquarters for Samaritan's Purse and help process shoe boxes.  If you're not sure what Operation Christmas child is, or what I mean by "shoe box" at this time of year, click here.  They explain it much better than I will!  Basically, individuals pack a shoe box full of items for a needy child, which will be distributed at any number of locations in the world.  We've packed shoe boxes for years, and we always enjoy it, but this was a new experience.

I expected to just go and help.  I didn't at all expect to see Christ in so much of that day!  You know, I should have known God was going to work in my heart, because I had  HOrRiblE time getting there.  Sickness here at home, sickness with my arranged childcare, last minute re-arrangements, terrible tempers and attitudes in the few minutes before I left leaving me feeling terribly guilty for even walking out the door.  But God had ordained it that I would have committed to drive 5 of us, so I couldn't back out.  But God's good, and He knows all of those aspects of daily life that Satan uses to cause us to stumble.   
And He's bigger.

Here is the huge warehouse where we processed the boxes.  By "process," I mean open them, remove the small financial donation, check them out for appropriate gifts, tape them up, put them in cartons (cardboard boxes) separated by age groups, tape the cartons and put them on the conveyor belt to head on out!
(Forgive all of the pics, they were on my phone because my camera was in the shop.  I took them anyway because I wanted you to see it all when I told you about it.)

Here are the cartons of shoe boxes that have arrived from individuals ready to be processed.

Here are the pallets they bring to the stations.

Here is our group at our processing stations.  It's an assembly line setup.

Crystal is going through the shoe boxes to make sure they're appropriately packed.  If they're not, we correct them.

I was a packer.  I had to fit as many boxes in each carton as I could, sometimes unloading and reloading the box to fit pieces in like a puzzle!  They want us to get at least 14 boxes in each carton, my record was 22.  :)  Trivially, this was a fun job!  I love doing puzzles and trying to make things fit.

Packing was a bit heavier than I thought as well.  It was amazing to think that I put these shoe boxes in a carton and the next time they are opened will be to give them to a beautiful child halfway around the world!  It was also a neat time to pray for the receivers of these gifts, that while they will enjoy their tangible gifts, they will understand why we send them... to show Christ's love to them!
After awhile our staff leader left, and I ended up with the scanner too.  Some of the shoe boxes have bar codes on them for tracking purposes.  I did it this way this year and will get an e-mail letting us know the  destination country of our boxes!  The kids are really excited about this as we've been traveling around the world for school, with one of our main focuses being the needs of others.

This is the board they have in the warehouse that displays how many shoe boxes have been processed and to which countries they are going.  All of our boxes we prepared that day are now en route to Ghana.  We were a part of processing 42,000 boxes that day!

Last year a total of 8 million boxes were given as gifts.

OCC receives more shoe boxes for girls, aged 5-9 than for any other age group.  And more than three times more!  So if you ever do a shoebox, you might want to consider doing an age group other than this.

I was amazed at the love among the staff at Samaritan's Purse.  It was clear that every person with whom I came in contact loved what they were doing and loved that we were there to help.  There is a greater purpose and a very needy world out there.  At the risk of sounding quite odd, it really was kind of surreal to be a part of it.  The world is so big, and there are so many children.  But God loves every. single. one of them and wants them all to know Him personally.  And while I'd love to move my family to an orphanage in some other country, this is one way I can share His love one day at a time while living here until He moves me further.

Simple Pleasures of this Season

It's been awhile!  We've been busy doing stuff around the house and enjoying this holiday season.  Thankfully, we haven't been too busy, so we're getting to enjoy it.

A few simple pleasures of late... there are many!

Seeing my walls in hallways, stairways and entryway painted and made "mine" instead of the previous homeowners!
Finally hanging coat racks in said entryway!  (I never thought a coat rack would get me so excited.)
Being able to head to the car without chasing down coats and shoes because of their convenient location as we now use our entryway as it was intended, well, except to enter.  :)

Eagerly awaiting my sister and her little family's arrival in a few hours!
Enjoying advent books with my children.
An exciting sleepover with cousins and everyone's joy at sleeping in front of the Christmas tree!  (Well, starting... they all ended up in dark bedrooms two hours later.)

Getting to enjoy our small group and be thankful for the relationships God's built over the past year.
Our camera warranty company finally deciding our camera is unrepairable (after 3 repairs over a year) and sending us money to purchase a new one.  Perfect timing!
Watching Jacob's love of art develop as he makes new creations each day.

Worshiping in the van alone with the Christmas music blasted drowning everything out!  (Ring the bells!  E-man-u-el... has come!!)
Finding the perfect gift.
The Lord's leadership in certain gifts for specific people.  And taking that leadership to pray for the receipt of His message He has for them.

Getting to pack shoe boxes and prepare them to head to Ghana!  That's its own post.  :)
Jacob's pride at sweeping and washing the bathroom floor for the first time.  He did a beautiful job!
Some unexpected relief as we settle into a diagnosis I wasn't anticipating.

Watching Jacob's faith develop as he's faithful to ask God for healing of his food allergies.
Hearing Jacob tell his sick cousin he'd be praying for him (as he left our house throwing up) and remembering to do it later.
My lit Christmas tree, full of colored lights because Jacob likes it that way.

Hearing Jacob sing to Jesus in Latin!
Preparing for our first "recital!"
Hearing Jacob commit scripture to memory.

Watching Mattie "dance the goblin dance."
Snuggling with sleepy Mattie when I carry her to the potty before I go to sleep.
Restoration of relationships that can only be of the Lord.

You can see my list is long!  I've noticed since I've been writing them down, I notice them more throughout the day.  There are so many more I've been enjoying and I'm thankful for that recaptured JOY in my heart!  Many of you have commented that reading our simple pleasures is helping you see your own.  I hope this is still the case and that even if you don't have a blog, you have a piece of paper on the frig or a notebook in which to write them.  It is a blessing!