Monday, November 23, 2009

Operation Christmas Child

Today was the last day to bring boxes down to the distribution center!
Our family is so excited! This year, if you pay the shipping cost ($7) online, you are given a tracking number..this will allow you to see where your box goes! Fun!
The boys and I added our final touches to the boxes this morning. They each made their boxes special for a boy overseas. I made up a box for a girl. Good stuff. The boys bought some airplanes, yo yo's, cushie balls, candy, ect.

Cory was able to go with me this year, as I met up with our 'adopted family' Deane and Teri. He was really jazzed to be able to help put the shoe boxes into big boxes and tape them up, then walk them out to the big semi truck outside! One of the volunteers gave Cory an official OCC t-shirt! He plans to wear it a lot!

We were thrilled to see that Veggie Tales in their latest video; Saint Nicholas, put a whole bunch in there about Operation Christmas Child. Maybe this will make folks more aware.

There are so many ways to support others, and share Jesus' love around the world, especially during Christmas!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A little dog, an opportunity to share Christ

Courtesy according to the Websters Dictionary means: civility, politeness, service. The dictionary refers to this word as a noun. My blog today refers to it as a verb. An action, something deliberately done in consideration of another.
Okay, here goes.
Being a proud owner of a puppy/dog comes with many responsibilities. We need to provide them with shelter, food, and keep them healthy by taking them in for vetrinary care. It is my belief we also need to be courteous to our neighbors and clean up after our pets. My gripe today is one I wittness often, sad to say.
Why is it that folks feel they can walk their dogs in the neighborhood and let them poop in everyone else's yard?
I have wittnessed this several times, shocked each time. And yesterday to top it off, I watched (as I was walking my dog Sasha) an owner open his front door, and let three dogs out the door. I was on an adjoining road so he didn't see me. However, his dogs left his yard immediately and crossed the street into his neighbors yards and relieved themselves. By the time I was within sight, I had picked Sasha up as the dogs we all around me by this time, (several houses away from his). We heard the whistle for them to return. The dogs left us, took off and went into the house, with the man waving at me, and closing the door.
WOW! I will give you a minute to absorb that.
Okay..a couple of days ago there was a man walking his huge grey great dane on our street. Beautiful dog. As I watch him approach our home, I decide to wait on leaving for the errands I was going to run, as just the night before I cleaned up a big pile of eww out of our front yard, and really wondered who had left me that treat..
I made my way outside and busied myself with cleaning off my front porch. The man was walking his dog alright, but carried no bag to clean up the dogs mess. I figured since it was still a chilly morning, maybe (giving him the benefit of the doubt) that he could have a bag in his pocket. Unfortunately, the dog decided to take care of business in my neighbors yard. I made it a point to be out in the yard as this was happening. He just stared at me. I looked at him, and looked at his dog and looked back at him. The man turned around and went the opposite way back down the street. I wonder if it worked. It did something as he went the other way, I sure hope it either keeps him from walking down our street or to be responsible and bring a bag. Had he kept on walking past me, I would have given him a bag to go clean it up himself. He hadn't turned the corner yet and he watched me as I cleaned up his dogs mess out of my neighbors yard. THey are an elderly couple that most likely couldn't clean that up, and they don't need to accidently step in it as they come from the house to the mailbox to get their mail.
Sasha, bless her everloving little self is 6 pounds. The little thing doesn't excrete much herself. Little ones she leaves, but if she goes in anyones yard, even ours, it gets picked up. Common courtesy. I carry my bag on my arm as we walk. I want folks to know if she makes a mess, I will find it and clean it up!
One day a few weeks ago, we were on our walk and a dear man was out raking his leaves, Sasha decided to pick his yard. Sigh. Well, I had my bag, I cleaned it up. The man came over to me. I braced myself for a good grilling. But I got a handshake and a big thank you from the man for cleaning up after my dog. I asssured him it was no problem, he laughed and asked how I managed to see it, coming from such a little dog. I told him I was very aware, and wanted to make sure we leave things as we found them. He then went on to tell me about several in the neighborhood who don't follow the same convictions. We then went on to talk about why we had convictions, and I was able to share with that man, where we go to church, why I act differently that others. He told me he hadn't been to church in years, and his neighbor was always trying to get him to go with them. He thought that the world had gone bad. He was glad to see the younger generation had some convictions about what was right and what was wrong, and were involved in church. I invited him to church, but he said he would talk to God about it, and maybe go to church at his church, the one he hadn't attended but on special events.
I haven't seen him out in his yard lately, but if I do, I will ask him about church!
Isn't it neat how God can work through a little dog and a simple walk around the neighborhood? Ask God for an opportunity today, an opportunity to wittness for Him. He will bring someone to you!

Monday, November 16, 2009


Sweetie and I are on a diet. Bad time of year you say? Nah! We are just implementing new habits. Starting something new is usually easier than following through. Our pastor touched on this yesterday in his sermon. He took it down the road of becoming spiritually mature, digging into God's word and prayer life. It takes dedication to carve out the time in one's day for such things. Discipline for our spiritual health in other words.
We are also working on our physical health. Dieting is easier to do if you don't have children in your household. The kids have the do they have fun stuff to eat. But unfortunately as our bodies age, we can't partake in such anymore, or if we do.. suffer the consequences.
We have both put on a little weight over the last few years. Something had to change. It is easy to explain away, but one does have to look in the mirror. Neither of us dared say anything to the other about how we were slacking in our taking care of ourselves. But we both had mentioned to the other about how we would NOT go up in size of our clothing. Not gonna happen. We have our 20 year class reunion next year and we don't want to look like it!
When EIRO came out with a healthy diet, that doesn't increase heart rate or starve a person, we jumped all over it. Now we both exercise average 45 minutes a day. We walk, and we eat more fruits and vegetables and less of the starches.
Our committment to this diet means two meal replacement shakes a day and one sit down meal. We can have snacks in between. We are learning to not eat late at night, and if and when we snack to eat healthy. We do this six days a week, then on the seventh, we just eat three regular meals.

So far Sweetie has lost 15 pounds and I float between 9 and 10 pounds gone. Totally not fair how much faster a man can loose weight than a female. (that is a blog all in itself!)

Must go.. gotta jog. Sasha puppy is on an exercise regiment with me! ha!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Have you ever prayed so hard...

for something, that you actually carried it into your dreams?
As the morning time moves on today, I feel I need to type this out so I don't loose the memory of this.
Our oldest son, Cory got an Ipod for his birthday and he misplaced it sometime early September. We looked everywhere. No luck. We told him to pray about it, and to back track his last time he remembered having it. (prayer for Cory to learn responsibility) Exasperated over his lack of concern here lately, I told him he wouldn't be given anything else of value until he located and kept track of his Ipod. To elaborate on his lack of concern here..I have asked him if he has looked for it, he says he has, but his idea of looking for something and mine are totally different. We have actually witnessed him looking for something and it was within sight. Sigh.
Sweetie and I even gave him the responsibility lecture. So, last night before bed,we prayed about it. I had looked all over and he had looked all over. The boys and I have prayed about everything. If there is one thing I want them to remember about me is that they had a praying mother. We have prayed our way out of traffic, we have prayed our way out of a snowy embankment, we have prayed over bullies, tests, and some little critters to live.
Realizing I had a teachable moment, I went to the Bible story about Jesus looking for the lost lamb.The one out of the fold that has wandered off. (Proof that even Jesus doesn't like for things to be out of place). Cory said he really liked that, as he never thought of it that way. Then he prayed aloud for God to help us find his Ipod, and for me to let him play with a friend this weekend.
Let me backtrack.. yesterday was mentally exhausting. I'm currently helping a company take the next step up in their business. We are re-working all brochures, pamphlets, website, you get it, right? Okay. So with all these details rolling around in my head, I drove home from work exhausted. (praying for God to help Sweetie get Brian to practice on time, did he remember to take the ball? And for God to help me not screw up and remember details)
Cory was home working on his homework, Sweetie had picked up Brian from tutoring and went straight to soccer practice. I had 20ish minutes to get something together for dinner. Quick prayer to God to help me come up with an idea. Got in the door, to Cory wanting to go hang out with a friend, well it is almost dark outside and knowing I would have dinner ready soon, I denied that request. (Again, inside head prayer to God to help Cory adjust his attitude)Then he wants to know if I got him signed up for a retreat the middle school youth group is taking. No, I didn't get him signed up. Then explained how he had plenty to do this weekend at home. A disappointed pre-teen rattled dishes as he got them set out for supper. (another prayer sent up to heaven)
Soon, Sweetie and a hot and sweaty Brian come in. Supper is ready.. homework took a little over 2 hours..its 930 p.m. and I am even more physically exhausted than before. (sweetie couldn't help with homework as he is currently in school also and had a online chat he was participating in).
Then I find out as I get the boys together for bed that there was a mass shooting at Ft. Hood. Sigh. Time to get my prayer on. I was able to get a few words out to God, with the best intentions before the boys started straying from the task at hand. SIGH. Getting boys to go to bed when they aren't tired, but the clock says they should be is difficult. Now, I'm pleading in my head prayer with the Lord to help me be nice as I'm putting them to bed. Seems the more tired I am the more each son wants to chat it up with me before going to bed. Although usually this time is the most precious time I get with them all day.
Then onto Brian. Brian is 10. He is still thinking about soccer practice and how tired he is, but he wants to stay up a little longer. "Let's talk about Lithuania" he suggests. Little booger knows I am never too tired to talk missions.
(This comes from us getting to spend some time with a pastor from there earlier this week.)
He wants to know what it takes to be a missionary and if you have to pass all your spelling tests to accomplish this goal. (okay so he got me there). We chat a little about that. Then I just listened to him talk, all the while praying to God in my head that these seeds planted in his mind become fruitful in some way or another in his life. We talk about the great commission and how missions is not just overseas, it is local too. Then he lights up, he wants to talk about filling his shoe box for Operation Christmas Child, and when can we go shopping. This went on for a little while, then I turned off the light. Night, night little man. He then prays for Pastor Saul and his church, and for the kids that are going to get a OCC box this year.
Leaving Sweetie to his school work downstairs I now have some quiet time to pray. And pray I did. I pulled out my prayer journal (where I write things down and people to pray for). I didn't make it too far before my legs started to tingle indicating that I'd been on them too long. I got up and moved around the semi lit bedroom and just prayed for people. Then my mind got set on prayer for Cory to find his Ipod. I closed my prayer and went to bed.
Around 5 a.m. this morning I woke up with an urgency to go look through the car one more time for that Ipod. I wrestled with the idea of waking Cory up to go look, but got the instruction quickly from the Lord this was for me to do, and not to bother Cory. (God knows when you have evil thoughts of waking your slumbering child to help them learn a lesson)
So, I tromped downstairs, and our cat Lucky and I went into the garage and looked through the car. Finally one of the last places I looked (where I just knew I had looked a million times) I found the Ipod. It was like a heavenly choir started singing Hallelujah in my head. It is now a little after 5:30 a.m., and since I get Cory up at 6 I hurried inside to wake him up.
A sleepy boy greeted me by pulling the cover over his head. "not ready to get up Mom, it's still dark". I then tell Cory that God answered prayer. This prompts him to pull the covers down. "Which one?" he asks. Getting his hand, I place the Ipod inside and close his fingers around it.
Now he hops up and just about takes the air out of me as he rejoices in his lost Ipod being back where it should be. Then he grabs my hand and we thanked God together. What a great start to my day!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Visit To New Mexico, Colorado, Four Corners

Last month the boys and I took a trip out to New Mexico to visit family and help fill a mission need with the Navajo.
When we flew into Denver, there was snow everywhere! Our plane was de-iced twice! We then took another flight into Durango, Co. Where my parents were waiting to welcome us. We then drove an hour and some to Farmington,NM. We stayed in a home on Navajo Missions. This wonderful group of folks takes in children, and provides a family for them. Please take some time to look them up online. www.Navajo
We were able to interact with some of the children and the boys were able to learn how to brush, saddle, put in the bridle, and trot a horse. They even managed to take their horses through an obstacle course by weeks end.
We were able to go visit Mesa Verde.. oh the cliff dwellings were so much fun to climb over, and wonder how these folks did it! They lived life so far off the ground! How did they build these massive structures? Amazing!
We drove up to Durango and rode on the train to Silverton, Co. This was a 3 1/2 hour trip up and back. What glorious pictures we were able to take. The boys loved watching them load the coal. Then when the train started! Oh, let the adventure begine. We had reserved seats in a coach where there was a roof overhead. The day before it had been snowing so we were glad we did! However, the day we went was beautiful and sunny.
The boys and I ventured to an open, outdoor car for a good part of the trip as you could experience more of the mountain air, and scenery from there. Sure, it was a little breezy, and sometimes we got coal flakes all over our faces, but what a memory!
Silverton is a little town with some of the cleanest air in America, per the EPA.
Tiny little mining town with a rich history. There are no stop lights, and the streets are mostly dirt. There is no mining done there now, mostly just tourists coming through. The day we were there a lot was closed as the season was over. They were expecting another big snow that evening and most merchants were closing and going home.
The boys were able to have a small snowball fight up there! Bummed the mining part was closed, we just window shopped and looked in the shops that were open.
On another day we visited Four Corners. If you haven't been there, this is where you can put a foot, hand, foot and another hand in four different states. Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, & Colorado.
It was here that the boys and I learned a lot about Navajo. There were some set up in little booths around the tourist site, selling their wears. They were available to sell you something, or to let you observe. I did both.
The boys watched a Navajo shave down a piece of wood into a arrow.. then apply the paint and feathers, then they were able to pick out a type of stone for him to make them arrowheads to go on the ends. What fun!
I watched, and ended up buying the boys each an arrow to bring home to remember their adventure. I enjoyed watching some women make blankets. The fun part for me was seeing how they got the different colors into the blankets. They use flowers, and herbs and boil them. Then soak fabric, whether it is string, or sheeps wool, into the color, then weave it into the rug, into fabulous designs.
The Navajo are very wary of having their photos taken. We respected their wishes and didn't take pictures. See, they believe that part of their spirit is taken with you when you photograph them.
Amazing day.
Our trip was full, and we are looking forward to the next time we can go back!
(the girl in the photos with the boys is my neice Meghan)

Pumpkin Patch 2009

Sigh. I just so enjoy this time of year. Hayrides, bonfires, the crisp crunch of leaves under our feet, and the pumpkin patch.
We have made a pilgrammage to area pumpkin patches each year photographing the memories, trying to hold onto a happy memory our family holds dear.
The boys have gone from us carrying a pumpkin for them, to going to pick their own. They take pleasure in this as the last few years, we have been carving them. No, no stencils for us! The boys want to make their own creation.
It is fun to look at all the colorful gords, and pumpkins. There are usually some grandmas that are chatting up a recent receipe that worked for them using pumpkin. I had heard of pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie.. but this time I learned about a soup.

Pumpkin Soup

1/2 c. onion
3tbsp. butter
2cups mashed cooked pumpkin
1tsp salt
1tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
3 cups of chicken broth
1/2 c. half and half

Chop the onions and brown with butter in a pan. Put mashed pumpkin with onions in pan. Add the sugar, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Slowly add chicken broth and heat thoroughly, but don't boil. To serve, pour into a bowl and add the cream. Makes 4-6 small servings.

These ladies were very sweet. When I brought this up to the boys, they wrinkled up their noses and said. "Yuck!". One day after they have forgotten about it, I may just suprise them and see how they like it!

Happy Autumn all!

10th birthday celebration

For Brian's 10th birthday he wanted to do something special. So, what did he choose? Paintball! So, I called the local facility and gave them our times, and told them it would be a group of us, and they agreed to host us.
There are two different area's to the paintball areana. The first is a city, of sorts. There are buildings, partially open to run around and climb all over, then there is the woodsy part. The boys and Sweetie decided that the latter is their favorite as there are more places to hide.
For 3 1/2 hours our friends and I watched the boys and friends come in to reload, watching the colors (from where they were shot with paintballs) increase on their clothing.

It was truly a day of male bonding. Now, there were girls running around too, but not many. Did I volunteer to get shot? No. I was official picture person for this event. Party planner and host if you will.

The boys and Sweetie discussed strategies, how some worked, some failed and new ideas for how to trap another unsuspecting individual. The excitement was there during, and afterwards.

A dear friend of ours even placed a bounty upon Sweeties backside, telling them they would earn a $20.00 if either could color their dad's behind with paint. They both tried.. but neither was able to succeed. One did get real close, there was paint on his shirt tail!

Mission Minded

Along with the changing colors of the season, I enjoy preparing for the upcoming holidays. A big part of that is Operation Christmas Child.
Our family has been involved in one way or another for the last ten years! Our youngest son, Brian's birthday is a reminder that time of year is near. This year he turns ten! (more on that in the next post). Poor little guy wasn't keeping his formula down, the doctors on our military base changed his formula and gave me all sorts of advice. Finally, after he started losing weight they xrayed him. Poor little guy had pylostinosis. This is where the muscle connecting your stomach to your small intestine is too tight, it won't let food pass through. They sent us to a hospital a few cities away for him to have immediate emergency surgery. He was only 6 weeks old. It was hard for us anyway, but to be away from family and watch your baby so tiny being wheeled into surgery was scarey to say the least. The Lord was in control and he made it through and doesn't have a problem eating now!
While he was in the hospital, we were given the privalege to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. (since then, I support them every chance I get! The difference they made for our little family was immeasurable)
We were there during Christmas week, so there were lots of folks in and out of the McDonald home with various charities. However, I was drawn to Operation Christmas Child. There were ladies that were filling shoe boxes in preparation to be sent out. They asked if I would like to help. While helping fill them, I was able to learn all about this ministry. Wow! While that particular year, I was only able to help fill them, every year since, we have filled boxes for Operation Christmas Child.
If you have never been involved in this ministry, please check them out! They send these boxes out all over the world! These children and their families are in desperate poverty situations, and every little thing you give will make such a difference in their lives. Google the ministry, or go to www.samaritanspurse.
To close up the beginning story, Brian was able to come home Christmas Eve, and we were ever so thankful for all the volunteers involved in making our difficult stay a pleasant one! Look around you, there is pain and suffering every which way we turn. Extend a helping hand or volunteer your time. The blessings will be twofold, yours and the impact you have on others will last a lifetime!