As Seen on TV (Pawn Stars) - Baja bound day 3

Today started bright and early once again.  We were on the road before our continental breakfast was served so we did McDonald's oatmeal in the car.  My kids aren't a fan of anything greesey, eggy or sausagey. ...which eliminates most of the breakfast menu.  

We made it to Las Vegas at 8am local time and had gained another hour. The kids have been begging to go see the "Pawn Stars" shop.  They like to watch that show with their Dad in the evenings once in a while.  I suppose it appeals to the junk collector/ treasure hunter in them.  

I wasn't so sure that going to a sceevy area of Las Vegas to a pawn shop was a great idea for a wholesome family outing.   I was outnumbered and complied...slightly grudgingly.  

It turns out that it will probably be a favorite memory of this trip for the kids.  

Today was a good training day for our country bumpkin kids.   Street smart they are not...especially when very sleep deprived and overflowing with a desire to skip, jump and generally frolic like little calves released to pasture.   My full time job in any city has been to keep my boys from wandering unwittingly into the busy streets.  

Waiting for the pawn shop to open.
"Look,  I see Chumly!"

We really weren't dressed to impress today after 3 days of travelling with one suitcase (the rest of the luggage is packed away until Mexico).   In fact Aili was wearing her pajama sweat shirt that morning.  We were looking quite homeschool-a-rific.  It's a good thing we don't really care.   We embrace weird...after all 4 kids that adore each other and love spending time with mom and dad is about as weird as it gets.

Some sort of fridge I think.

Looking at the sword display at the pawn shop. 
At 9:30 am we ate lunch...which may sound strange unless you consider that our bodies are still feeling 2 hours ahead and we had eaten breakfast 4 hours earlier.  It was $1 burgers at Jack n the box all around (except for Cece who doesn't really eat anything at all...total toddler.)

We spent the next few hours driving across the Mojave Dessert and arrived in Anaheim California at about 3pm.

We arrived in plenty of time to take the kids for a splash in the teeny hotel swimming pool.  
It was just what they needed after 3 days in the car!    

We have a nice little suite at La Quinta Inns a block or so away from Disney....and right across the street from the cheese cake factory.  
We had planned to visit a grocery store to find a healthier supper but once we were parked no one wanted to drive to find one.  We've never eaten at the Cheese Cake Factory before.  It was good...but after all the eating out I am so full of sodium I feel like i'm being preserved.  

Mmm.  Fish tacos.  

A beautiful evening in Anaheim California.

Tomorrows destination...California Adventures.  
Fingers crossed that Cece sleeps past 3am!!   Between the 2 hour time switch and all poor nights sleep/ crazy early mornings....I'm feeling a bit travel weary.   I'm hoping we all can wake up refreshed tomorrow!  My kids are just not very bright when they are sleep deprived....like skip into the street  or lean over the edge of a high balcony dangerous dumb (brains shut off and bodies go into overdrive).  

Everyone is looking forward to our family play day tomorrow!


Baja Bound '11 - Day 2 Cedar City

(the ridiculously early morning caught up to him eventually)

Our day began very very early this morning.  Between the one hour time difference and a couple kids who are early risers...we were on the road at about 3am.   No joke. 
Silas crawled in bed with me at 2am..wriggling, and fidgeting until Cece woke up screaming in terror at 3am.    Since no one was sleeping anyhow we all jumped out of bed eager to start the day.

That makes for a really LONG morning...but we made good time and arrived at our destination ,Cedar City Utah, mid afternoon instead of at bedtime.  We were on the road for about 12 hours and ready to get out of this car!....as much fun as it looks...

The 3 oldest are actually all great travelers,  they entertain themselves quite easily, Cece on the other hand isn't a huge fan of a long day in the car seat.  It is a lot to ask of a one year old so she has been quite the trooper over all.    
So far there has been no kid bickering, no Dad tantrums, no vomiting, no explosive toddler diapers,  and no children left at the side of the road...a road trip success.  

Just past Salt Lake City a horrible racket suddenly came from the back of our car.  It sounded like our tires were falling off or something dreadful.  We pulled over next to a Del Taco and upon further investigation discovered that the problem is with the back fan.  We suspect one of Romans little toys fell down between the ledge and the window and is clanging in the fan.  We'll have to get that fixed or he'll cook back in his little boy cave.  

Since we were parked we decided it was lunch time anyway.   The kids had a good play at Del Taco Funland.   The tacos weren't nearly as fun.  To quote Roman "This doesn't really taste like Mexican food".

Our next pit stop was Beaver Utah where we let the kids out to play next the Flying J. 
After being cooped up for several hours it really doesn't take much.  In fact I'm not sure what Roman is showing me, I was too busy snapping the picture to notice.  I'm assuming it's a rectangular rock.   Roman, let's not pick up random objects found in the shrubbery at gas stations.  

Oh look, a giant culvert!  Who needs Disneyland?
An hour or so later we arrived in Cedar City.  We had some time to kill so we found a perfect playground for the kids to run off some energy.

 It really wasn't warm enough for a t-shirt and flip flops but this summer loving boy didn't see any snow.  
Tomorrow we find summer!

{and quite possibly a hair cut for this boy too!}

After egg McMuffins for breakfast,  greasy tacos for lunch and a bunch of salty crackers along the way....we opted for Wendy's salads (Baja salad) for supper.  It was our most expensive meal at $26 but it was really good.  I just couldn't do the 99 cent cheese burgers again.  We still have 3 days of eating cheap/ fast food.  

At the moment  the kids are sleeping,  the hubster is flipping channels and I'm journaling our trip.  I totally realize that most people on this planet don't give a rats hiney what we ate for supper...but it's fun for us to look back on these trips.  For those of you who don't succumb to mind numbing boredom and leave, thanks for joining us on our little family adventure.

Tomorrow our destination is Anaheim California.  It will be a somewhat shorter day which will be nice.  We will have time tomorrow to enjoy the hotel pool, and do some sight seeing. 

I'm very thrilled to be out of winter weather!  Tomorrow's Anaheim forcast is 85 degrees F!  Happy me.  


Baja Bound '11 - Day 1

The kids are quiet in their beds (although some are still whispering and making burping noises) so I thought I'd take advantage of the Wi-fi.  We pulled into Butte Montana at about supper time today after 10 hours of driving.   The first leg of the journey went well over all.  The winter driving conditions were good...for winter.  The scenery driving down #15 was beautiful.

 We spent the whole day in the car, with only 3 quick stops for gas and potty breaks.   That must be a new record for us!   Cece did let us know how annoyed she was with the situation at regular intervals.

We went through a lot of crackers, puffed wheat, gummy bears, and cheese sticks. Our survival kit consisted of DVD's, a DSI, and a bunch of little toddler trinkets.    Last night I packed a little cooler bag with breakfast food and some pulled pork wraps to eat for lunch on the road.  Tomorrow and the next day our meals will consist of fast food drive through.  

{yes, this boy got a major hair cut...bye bye shoulder length hair}

After we dumped off our bags at the hotel, we dined at Wendys.  A lovely little old lady saw our dishelved, static haired freak show walk in the door and offered us her coupons.   Two for the price of one cheeseburgers.  With 6 mouths to feed free food is always welcome!

We are staying at the Finlen Hotel in Butte, MN.  It's a really old historic hotel and is pretty cool.  It has a lot of character.    When I booked it a couple weeks ago I was looking for a reasonable priced hotel ($85 for a suite) that had room for a family of six (not as easy as one might think).   The suite is two rooms joined by an open door each with 1 queen bed.  We added a cot and Cece's porta bed and we've got a good set up.   Cece was so exhausted after a day of traveling/ shrieking and not napping that she crashed and didn't make a peep...we'll see how long that lasts.  I expect we'll get an early start tomorrow morning which is ok because we have to make it to Cedar City, Utah by bedtime.

{I'm pretty sure if I push these buttons in just the right order we will be in liquid sugar paradise}

Good night, sleep tight,
....I sure hope the bedbugs don't bite!


Ice Cream for Orphans project

I thought I'd do a quick update before we leave on our road trip to Mexico.  A while back I posted pictures of my kids collecting cans and bottles and told you about their idea to raise money.  The original goal was to save up $100 to take each of the kids at a particular orphanage out for ice cream over the course of the month we are in Mexico plus buy some other things to take to them.   

They began saving, collecting and working really hard.   Our plans changed a little and we found out we won't be working as staff at the orphanage, and because of that we won't be able to take the kids out for treats.  It was disappointing for my kids but they didn't let that set back derail their hope.  We changed the project to "Burlando kids compassion fund".   We prayed and talked about other ways we could use the money.  There is no limit to the possibilities. 
The kids effort was matched with generosity from many unexpected places.   Friends and family chipped in. Our new church family has been incredibly encouraging and generous.  

The grand total of our kids compassion fund is over $700!!   When Aili and Roman first had the idea $100 seemed like a really big goal!  

I decided to revert back to "Ice cream for Orphans" on this post  just to thoroughly confuse you all   because to me it paints a bigger pictures.  At first, when our trip plans changed, it didn't seem to cover all of what we hoped to do with the money...it was too specific.   The more I think about it the more I like it.   

We were all orphans in a sense, separated and alone, far from the Father who longs for us.  In His great love he has not only come to us and adopted us into fullness of relationship, he has not only provided what we need....he gives us ice cream.  He delights in giving his children good gifts and smiles as he watches us bask in his love.  He is the giver of all things good...and sweet and lovely.  Maybe I'm stretching it...but I still like the concept of Ice cream for Orphans.   

We want to show that kind of love to others...whether they are technically "orphans" or not.   We will be living in an area that is loaded with physical, emotional and spiritual desperation and need.  We want to give people a sweet taste of how much they are loved.  We want to paint a picture of the joy and affection that a Daddy has for his child when he sits and eats ice cream with him.  

I know this is going to be a very growing experience for my 3 oldest children. I know it is going to be a stretching experience for all of us.   It has sparked a lot of family conversations about compassion, generosity, humility, stewarding God's money wisely, and  prayerfully following the Holy Spirits lead.   What started as fun little side project for our kids has turned into a whole family mission.   We have some ideas of how we can use some of the money, but for the most part we are trusting that God will show us what needs he would have us meet when we come face to face with them.   

We are looking forward to keeping you updated on this project while we're away.  

Besides the donations of money and cans/ bottles,  we have a car top carrier loaded full of warm blankets that have been donated.

We feel the weight of responsibility and the privilege we have in stewarding these gifts well.   I'm looking forward to documenting and photographing the kids at work...and reporting back to all those who have joined us in this.  

I'm praying that this will be an amazing, life altering experience for our kids.  

Lord, my children are yours.  
Help me to raise them with hearts that have been transformed and filled with you.
Give me your strength and wisdom every day. 
May my little ones truly know, to the depth of their spirits, the you are faithful,
even if that means you take them through experiences that strips everything else away.  
Lord I don't aspire that they be successful in the worlds eyes, 
perform to impress, or that they live safe and happy lives.
Make them strong in your strength.
Make them wise in your wisdom.
Create in them men and woman after your heart. 
Use them for you glory.
You hands, voice, and heart in a hurting world. 
Bless them with real blessings.  
The greater joy that can only be found
in the places few people are willing to look. 

Other than the things I was whining about yesterday (like our broken down car and sicky baby) I have a prayer request as we prepare to go.   Could you please pray for our youngest son to be able to process and cope with this 6 wk change in location and routine.   He does not handle change, or perceived instability well at all.  We're still trying to figure this little guy out and why he reacts to life the way he does, but we are learning that some things really do set him off in a tail spin.  He's been so much improved the last couple months, it's been so encouraging to see, maybe just our schedule slowing down and Daddy being home more...but I am a little worried about what the uprooting will do to him (and what he'll do to us).   Please pray that we'll have the wisdom to know how to help calm his anxiety, and maybe even head off the turmoil before it starts.  As of this morning (as we begin to load up our car), he is already showing signs of apprehension.  It's mostly coming out as extreme emotions over very small things,  ridiculous obsessions, and a very sudden neediness/ insecurity....it's makes me a little nervous.   It is SO hard to have patience when he gets like this (it makes me crazy),  but I know that the only thing that will help is a whole lot of extra time, reassurance, snuggles and consistency from mom and dad (things that I selfishly don't feel like making time for right now).  


Only a couple more days!!

  In a couple more days we'll all be packed into our SUV and driving south!    Right now my house is a disaster (I'm going to clean  my way out the door so basically I have no ambition to do it now), there are suitcases, bags and piles all over my living room floor mixed with strewn about normal living room mess and toddler toys.  Our car is still broken.   We are waiting on another alternator (the second one) and still aren't convinced that this will solve the problem.   It should arrive the day before we leave.   Nothing like last minute car repairs.
We are also fighting colds and poor Celina has had a fever and cough for nearly a week.  I have a drs. appointment made for her before we leave as well.   She has not been sleeping well at all...and I'll stop whining now.  A week from today I'll be eating supper at a taco stand.  mmm..happy.

If you think of us could you please pray that we can make it to the highway?

I have hardly had  time to feel excited lately.   I know once we hit the road the reality that we're going back to Mexico after nearly 2 years of being away will sink in.   Right now I'm just trying to keep our heads above water long enough to pull out of the driveway.

I really should be hitting my long to-do list but my ambition has waned.

The distraction factor for me has been high this week (which is why my to-do list is so neglected).   We've had all kinds of family (the one I married into) situations swirling around us for the last several days....and for the first time ever  it's actually good drama.  Progress.  God is doing an unbelievable work in the brokenness.   Healing what has been broken for  nearly 4 decades, and can be traced back generations.  The devastation is finally being dealt with.    It's so freeing.    God is faithful and has answered so many specific agonizing prayers for reconciliation and restoration.    It's been a long hard road to get to this point!   I can't go into details obviously, but the last 3 years of our life have been filled with a lot of grief and division.  God has taught us so much through it all though and has been SO faithful.   I haven't talked about any of it here but it has inspired a lot of "when life gets ugly" , "grace", and "forgiveness" musings  that I've written about over the past years.  We are just so thankful that God sees the oppressed, that he frees those who are enslaved to darkness, and that nothing is beyond his redemption and grace.  

This family tree filled with generations of depravity and wickedness can have a new legacy in Christ.   We are being rooted up and made something new.  God has not abandoned us.    I think I've linked this song before but it really is a good reminder to us.   We can't cover our own wretched condition with pretty masks and religious moralism.   It may fool people for a while but it isn't regeneration.   It's like stapling fruit onto a dead  tree...it may look real for a moment but eventually that will just fall of and die too. Until we're pulled up at the roots, until we come in repentance before God realizing that we cannot make ourselves ,by sheer force of will ....good, or new, or righteous, or holy we will be that dead tree.   We can't pridefully hold onto our sin.   We need to kill it.  Only Jesus has the power to smash those chains.   We need to be dug up and grafted onto the one who gives life.   Abide in Him.

This band leads the worship at my sister in law's church in Seattle.   What an amazing story God is writing in her life.   He has turned mourning into dancing.   Devastation into victory.   Beauty out of suffering.   All I can do is stand back and watch in awe.


I'm Second Place!

I have have been honored with a second place ribbon this morning.
My very sweet and sensible 4 year old son presented me with a big hug and said 
"Mommy I love you, this is for you.
You are the second best mommy in the whole world"

I suppose , given the number of moms in the world, second place is quite an achievement!   It's good to know there's always room for improvement and I think that the pressure of maintaining number one would be just too much for me.
 Maybe if I ditch the pink bathrobe and start baking more cookies I will make 1st place next year!!

When I ever so humbly asked why I didn't get first place he  shrugged and answered
"because that was the only ribbon I could find under Aili's bed"

Look out mom number one...you're going down.  


It Seems So far Away

For the most part I don't think about it.   I don't obsess or fret or worry about it
but at the moment I'm tired of waiting for it.
I'm tired of feeling like I should introduce her as our "foster daughter", when in every practical and emotional sense she is our daughter.   We have committed to her and will love her until the day we die.  We are the only parents she has ever known but still she is not actually ours.

As I spent hours today rocking my sick baby and stroking her soft hair away from her fevered forehead I wondered when Social Services would stop making me a liar.   She calls me momma.   I call her my precious baby.  I tell her how much she is adored.  She is absolutely secure in that love.  Not a doubt in her mind.  Not a fear in her heart.  I never want to betray that confidence.

I  wish this process would speed up and we could stop being fakers...because we're not faking.  She is our daughter.   I just wish I could introduce her to you as our daughter, and not feel like I'm being slightly untruthful.

She will be adopted by someone.  We have applied to adopt her.  We just have no idea how long the paper trail waiting game will last.

At least we have had her with us for the last 19 months while we wait.   For that I am grateful.
In this moment of weakness I am tired of waiting.  I am not patient.   I want it on paper.  I want to go to court and put on paper what is in our hearts...and then I want to do it all over again.


Warm Fuzzies?

Everyone knows that giving feels good right?  At least, that's what we're all told.

 Most of the time it's true.  There is a "high" involved in doing a good deed or giving to the poor.   We can feel like a functional savior in someones life.   We can appease the conscience inside us that knows we can't overlook suffering.   The truth is we need to give, as Christians we are commanded to.

However, when you stick around a while, when the drive by missionaries go home, it feels different.  It gets more complicated.

When you've given money to someone so they can buy medicine for their child and you see them take the money to buy something much less needed and noble with it,

when you buy someone a tarp for their leaky roof (because they were begging for it) and you see them selling it on the street corner,

when you see masses of little hands out, and little mouths shouting for more,
when you build someone a house and they steal your tools, the feeling changes.

At this point many people become disillusioned and go home vowing to only help themselves and no one else.

It can be very hard to know what to do because the need is still there.   The suffering hasn't gone away.  The lost are still lost.
We CAN'T ignore it.

We come face to face with the reality that this world is broken in a way that can't be fixed with charity, bubbles, shallow "conversions", and lolly pops.

I was reminded of this reality and those exact feelings today as I read a post from a friend living in Mexico.  The friends that we will be living next to and working with ( and by "working with" I mean following them around like little missionary wanna-be apprentices ).

Check out her post here     "Because Love is a Lifestyle"


As we load up our own SUV with extra blankets, toys, and kids clothes and head for the border I am reminded once again that giving can be complicated.  We can't roll  in like Santa with a loaded sleigh.  What difference can we make in just one month?

  I'm not saying we should never give things, money, food, blankets to those who need it, or would be encouraged by it, but I'm saying that helping is not always that easy.   It takes prayer, wisdom, and some knowledge of culture and what the underlying needs are.  It takes some trial and error and getting it wrong (which we have most certainly done over the years!).

Here's the reality of it...
Giving doesn't always feel good.
Loving doesn't always feel warm and fuzzy.
Money alone doesn't fix anything.

Can we love the hand the slaps us?  ...or invest in the person who seems hopeless?

 In fact, shouldn't we expect true love to feel like a whip on our back, the splinters of a cross on our shoulder,  and nails through our hands?
So why is it that we expect giving, loving, serving to feel like rainbows and butterflies?

I want warm fuzzies, applause, and recognition.  I want to demand gratitude and I want to see change.   I am a sinner filled with selfish motives.   That complicates my generosity.

When the candy runs out, when the rich Gringa's purse is empty, what do I have to give?
The answer is...nothing...but also everything.
 I know the One who desires to give them exactly what they desperately need.   All satisfying, soul freeing, eyes lifting, purpose giving, Spirit filling,  adoption as sons and daughters.
True regeneration.

What does it look like to love the unlovable?
What does bringing the Kingdom look like beyond the bags of candy, toys, and clothes?   All I can do is look to the example and the commands of the One I follow.   It probably looks more like joining them in their suffering.   Something I know very little about.

Jesus gave people himself...not just some of his left overs.

He looked into the eyes of the cast outs and gave them dignity.
He gave them hope that THIS is NOT all there is.

THIS parasitic filth,
this drug addicted neglect,
these hungry tummies,
these children without fathers,
this pain wracked disability,
these cycles of addiction,
those eyes filled with despair and hopelessness,
is not what we were created for.

Only the power of the blood pouring, tear stained, death conquering, scandalous grace giving, rescue mission from Heaven GOSPEL will ever break those chains.

What that looks like in each act of service....I can't really say.

Sometimes that looks like a shoulder to cry on.
Maybe it looks like a little girls lice filled hair combed up into bows.
Maybe that looks like investing in a child's life for years,
or teaching a young boy by example what it looks like to live like a man of integrity.
Maybe it looks like an ice-cream cone given to a child who has never tasted ice-cream, or a warm blanket, or a wheel chair to a man who needs mobility, or a fixed leaky roof....sometimes it means just showing up and trusting that the Holy Spirit is working and God has a plan beyond what we can see.

I am confident that anyone who sacrificially  loves, forgives, and shows grace in a way that defies reasonable self preservation will tell you that there is no going back.   It's the Good News gospel lived out....and that gospel is the very reason I live.  That feels amazing.

So as we prepare to go...
I'm not sure what to expect, what to feel, or what to anticipate.
I feel humble.
I feel joyful.
I feel hope filled.
I feel a little scared and unprepared.
I feel totally unworthy to bear His name...but at the same time completely secure.


Grace Collides

There's freedom waiting in the sound,  so let your walls fall to the ground.
We're here now.

Sparks will fly as GRACE collides with the dark inside of us so please don't fight this coming light. 
 Let this blood come cover us.  His blood can cover us.

Generations torn apart by sin, riddled with deception, and enslaved to darkness
are no match for the cleansing power of Jesus.  
The abscessed rot that has infected every branch, can be rooted out and replaced with new life. 
I boldly trust in that power, and I anticipate miracles. 

This is where the healing begins.


November in Saskatchewan

Hunting Season is upon us.
People all around us are  putting on stylish orange hats in a quest to fill their freezer's with meat.
We live in a part of the world that has a lot of deer and moose "big game".
My men went out on a very manly hunting venture a few mornings ago.  It was the first time Roman was invited to tag along.  
They didn't "scout" anything worth bringing home to momma (and momma is kind of glad for that).  I'd prefer to fill our freezer with one of our neighbors cows or pigs..or even chickens.  
I'm not a huge fan of wild meat.

This was one EXCITED little man...and the big one was pretty happy too. 
Even though trudging through snow, tracking, and eventually shooting an animal isn't my cup of tea (I've never had the desire to even try it)...I do appreciate that my boys enjoy it and it's some great father/ son time together.  
I don't have any objections to hunting whatsoever.... as long as it's done ethically, safely, legally and responsibly...it's just part of "living off the land" and knowing where our food comes from.  

I'd prefer to stay  indoors during the winter.  It is COLD out there now.  The first really cold winter weather of the season always feels worse than the same temp. later in the season.  -10 degrees Celcius is miserable at the beginning of winter!
My husband did manage to shoot me (with the camera) in my own natural habitat. 

Speaking of habititat...
check out what my kids made in the back yard!

It kept them busy for about 3 days!

p.s  only 10 days left until our big trip!! 
Not that I'm excited or anything.


Early Christmas and Packing up.

The Christmas tree and decorations recently came out of storage...yes we have a marvelous fake tree.   We live in the Prairie where real Christmas trees are expensive.  Most of them look like the Charlie Brown tree, and tree farms are unheard of.   After years of freezing our tooshies off digging through piles of pathetic , over priced, frozen solid, imported pine trees....we bought this one.  

A perk is we can put it up in November!   We love having our tree and Christmas lights up.
The reason we have it up SO early this year is because we decided to have our little taste of our home Christmas before we leave for Mexico (where pine trees are even harder to come by).   We will be packing light so, other than a couple strands of lights, we won't be packing "Christmas" with us.  Christmas will be different this year.   In exchange for gifts wrapped under a tree, we will be taking gifts of food and blankets to people in need.   I'm sure we'll find some creative ways to make our little house in Mexico look festive...Mexican style.  

The kids  love decorating the tree.   They basically have free reign of the decorating process.

It made for some fun family memories.  
You know what else is going to make some awesome family memories?
Our road trip down to Mexico! 
Although I'm not really looking forward to 35 hours in a car with a 1 year old....I am looking forward to getting there!  
I started packing this week and my bedroom is storage for all my sorting piles and luggage.  
We have to pack pretty light considering the SUV space.  Not crazy minimalist light but I don't want to take anything that is not intentional.  
So far, I have packed 1 suitcase for the 5 day road trip to take into the hotel each night (this includes 5 peoples clothing, swimsuits, toiletries and our "medicine bag" (that can't freeze).   The hubster gets his own duffle bag so he can pack himself last minute and not complain how I packed his clothes.   We'll also be lugging in a portable bed (pack 'n play) each night.  I hope those three items, plus four sleepy kids, is all we'll have to transport to and from hotel rooms each night.

I  packed 1 plastic trunk tfor the rest of our personal items, some more clothes and sweaters for in Mexico (clothes pins, books, one dressy-ish outfit each for Church and Christmas Eve, shorts, reading material, summer shoes etc).  
 We'll also have a backpack to store our electronics (Nintendo ds, ipad, prortable dvd player, chargers, camera etc).  And of course a little bag of tricks to keep to keep the little people entertained (some small toys, pencil crayons, a puzzle book, stickers etc.)
On the roof of our car we'll have a Thule filled with blankets and other donations.  Rigged up to the trailer  hitch on the back of our SUV  we have a metal trunk that is already packed with gifts for our kid in Santa Fe. We packed backpacks for the 6 kids who call us Tia and Tio (Auntie and Uncle).  We filled each bag with clothing, toys, school supplies, treats, and shoes.  That trunk also holds a couple bags of clothes to share/donate, our umbrella stroller, and our Ergo baby carrier.

I was enjoying packing in peace and quiet once the kids were in bed.

The last few days we've had some sticky snow days (sticky snow days are rare here...it's rarely warm enough) and the kids have spent hours in the yard making igloos or whatever it is they are creating.   
I'm totally ok with trading the winter boots for flip flops in a couple weeks.  
Happy me.



I have been reading the book of Acts the last few days and with each page I read I am faced with what it means to live boldly for Christ.   No where among the apostles and the early church do I  find apathy, complacency, or the insidious idolatry of people pleasing.

 I can't help but contrast what it meant to be a follower of Jesus then and what it looks like now.    So many churches/ pastors now spend their efforts keeping people happy, comfortable, and sedated with pleasant tasting lies rather than speaking bold truth, teaching, equipping and sending out.   Most Christians are more concerned with what other people think of them, than they are with obedience to what God has called them to be.
  "Boldness, a behavior born our of belief" is hard to come by in our modern Christian circles.   Maybe it's because so many who claim Christ no longer actually believe.  Many have no idea what truth is. Some don't think it matters much, as long as you sincerely believe whatever seems right to you.   I think part of the problem in my generation is that so many who grew up going to church never actually witnessed, experienced, or learned who our great God is...Christianity was just one more religion, a form of "spirituality", or a club to belong to.   There is no boldness in that kind of "faith".  We have become sleepy fat wolf bait, rather than front line warriors with a mission to accomplish.

One theme that keeps coming out in the book of Acts is boldness.  If you read the first 4 chapters you'll see that Peter was one bold dude.

  Peter was the former pansy man who had great aspirations of courage but cowered before a little peasant girl.  He denied Jesus three times out of fear.  Later in Acts...once he KNEW without a doubt who Jesus was,  and that he was alive, the Holy Spirit came to him and he was BOLD.   Like really really bold.  Fierce.  That is quite a transformation.   He even prayed for more boldness to preach when he had already been warned not to.

Bold obedience,  a life lived radically serving, giving, discipling, loving... comes from time with Jesus, it cannot be manufactured by noble intentions.

What would happen if we lived that sort of life....how different would the Church be?  How different would our world be?  What if we actually dove into the richness of the gospel and used it as more than just a creed to believe to get saved only to be left behind for a life of churchy moralism?  What if we actually joined together with our brothers and sisters into authentic relationships like they did in the early church?  One purpose, one mission, one body.  Am I crazy to wonder?   I see it happening...like an awakening.

Peter, through the power of the Holy Spirit, healed a "man crippled from birth".  Peter had no gold or silver to give him.  He had no bread to feed him but he gave him something of lasting value....the name of Jesus.  God chose to use that disabled man at that point in history, and he chose to use Peter to showcase his glory.   Plenty of people were amazed, as one would expect....but Peter also got in a lot of trouble for his act of kindness toward the lame man.    Peter and John were immediately seized and put in jail. The next day they were brought before "the rulers, and teachers of the law" for questioning.    Peter responded fearlessly.

"Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them " Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazereth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.  ...
...Salvation is found in no one else.  for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
When they saw the courage (boldness ESV) of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus"   Acts 4:8-13 (NIV)

The religious rulers forbid them , under threat, not to speak the offensive name of Jesus.   They did it anyway.  Would we do the same?  Or would we decide to use a different name so as not to make people uncomfortable.

  I was listening to a sermon series recently by Craig Groeschel (www.lifechurch.tv) talking about boldness.

When you live in bold obedience to Jesus you will face opposition (paraphrased from Pastor Groeshcel).  

  As I think back over the last several years every time I took a major risk and did what I knew God wanted me to do (through obedience to scripture and prayer)...serving in Mexico, giving sacrificially, reaching out to love an estranged family member, becoming a foster parent, find a new church home....it has all been met with opposition to one degree or another.   Sometimes very fierce opposition and sometimes just discouragement, disapproval from others or trials along the way.   Even Peter was "called to account" for an act of kindness.

Just recently we were  "called to account" ( punished/ opposed) specifically for an act of kindness that we were led by the Lord to do 2 years ago (building a house for a needy family).    

It stung, but I began to realize that this is the way it is supposed to be.   You can't read the Bible and not see  it.  You can't live a life of faith and not experience it.   If you never face opposition, chances are you aren't living in any sort of bold obedience.  I'm not talking about intentionally causing trouble, being a fool, or being called to account for your own sin but, like Peter who was doing the Lords work, being persecuted for obedience to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.    So don't be surprised (if you decide to step out and do something crazy like caring for orphans,  building a house for a needy family, or forgiving someone who seems unforgivable)  when all hell breaks loose.

If all your works of benevolence and kindness do not stir up the armies of Satan against you....then you might not be all that much of a threat.

Don't let opposition or obstacles detour you!
"When you walk in obedience of God you shouldn't be surprised by the miracles of God."
Peter and John were no strangers to God showcasing his provision and power.

People who are living bold lives of obedience know that God shows up!   He doesn't leave us alone.

That is where faith is stretched and grown!

When you let go, move beyond what you can calculate or see,  take a risk,  you are allowing God to do something in the situation that only He can do.  Sometimes that takes you in a completely different direction than you had assumed.   Often that takes you through some pretty gnarly stuff (totally dated myself there)....but when He reveals himself  you will stand in awe...or kneel in humility when faced with His glory.

I am learning this as I go.  Each time I chose to trust and obey, I am met with the glory of God's power, provision, and nearness.  He reveals himself a little more.  The relationship becomes that much sweeter and I will be that much bolder.

Safe "faith" and  people pleasing complacency stunt growth.

God won't  give you the details before he sends you out, or before you come face to face with a situation you never dreamed of....if he did you would probably run the other way.  It will take faith.

He will give you only enough light for the next step but he won't leave you in the dark.    

What seems like crucified dreams right now, may just be the beginning of a Resurrection. 
Live boldly.
Speak boldly.
Pray boldly.
Love boldly.


First snow of the season

We now have snow.  Plenty of it.

Some of us are more excited that others.

  We will see our green grass again in about 7 months.  sigh.
At least the deep freeze hasn't hit yet.

We're stuck at home today, not because of the snow but because our car died as we were pulling out of the drive way on our way to church.  Such is life.  I guess we can call it a "snow day".

 I 'm hoping whatever is wrong with our car is something that we can fix fairly quickly and inexpensively.  It needs to be in good running order for our upcoming road trip!


Stop playing with your food

I find myself telling my boys to stop playing with their food nearly every meal.  Particularly little Silas who would rather make stories out of his bisquits and soup than he would eat it.  

The other day as my littlest son picked at his pasta noodles (his sauce is always separate)  with his fingers and started to line them up on the table I found myself ,once again, scolding him for having his hands in his food.  He sighed and looked up at me with a look of sullen disappointment and a hint of confusion.   For a second my resolve to train him up into a child with manners more refined than a monkey's competed with my desire to watch him enjoy his own little world illustrated with sticky noodles.  The noodles were fun to play with, and after he had played with each one it awkwardly made it's way into his mouth.  After a moment of hesitation I reasserted my demand for something that resembled manners  and reminded him that he had a fork.  As I watched him gloomily force himself to eat I had an idea. 

The next day, while the baby napped and I attempted to teach my two older children, I quickly boiled a tiny pot of spaghetti noodles.  Much to his delight I served it up on a tray and told him to play with it.  
He entertained himself for ages with the sticky stringy noodles.  He made pictures.  He made letters and attempts at words.  He experimented with different ways of putting the noodles in his mouth.  He wrapped up his action figures in spaghetti ropes.  

There is a time and a place for everything....even playing with your food!

My oldest boy loves to cook and I have discovered I really enjoy cooking with him.   I never expected that he would be the budding chef of the family. 

 My future daughter in law can thank me later.  

 By late afternoon all I want to do is send the kids into the basement to watch tv (and often that is what happens), or I bark at them to "Go play somewhere else!"..."get out of my kitchen!".   I've been trying to make more of the regular mundane daily tasks like making dinner into something more meaningful.   I have discovered lately that not only can the kids be a great help, it keeps them busy.   Of course, I give them only age and skill appropriate tasks.    Silas grated cheese for the cheesy biscuits.   Roman peeled and chopped sweet potato.  
As long as I'm not in a huge rush to get it done it's a great time for non formal learning time and spontaneous conversations.  Roman helped me make a huge pot of something we named "Autumn soup".  It seemed fitting.  We made it with sausage, sweet potato, carrots, barley, onion, garlic, herbs in a tomato base (with a secret ingredient of pureed acorn squash).  

 It was yummy!...especially served with hot cheesy garlic whole wheat biscuits (which Silas helped me make).  

I'm recapping today's dinner time so that I can remind myself later to just slow down and savor life a little more.   I'm so far from a super woman it's not even funny.   I need a constant reminder that, although my house may look like chaos and the clean laundry is heaped up on the couch,  my most important job is to nourish my little ones well.