Friday, January 29, 2010

Our Story - Part 3 (with photos!)

(Parts 1 & 2 are here .)

Kevin started physical therapy school in January of 1995.  I said in the last installment of this story that PT school was its own kind of learning and training experience for us.  At the time I wrote that I'm not sure what I was thinking of.  But this morning as I lay in bed, I began to think of all the ways that God used that time to prepare us for what we are doing today, in Brazil.

Here's one example:
On the first day of class, the teachers did their best to scare away anyone who wasn't up for the challenge of PT school.  Well, they didn't actually try to do that, but on the first day the Anatomy and Physiology teacher outlined all the things that they would be responsible for knowing 10 weeks from that day.  And if they failed the class, they would be kicked out of school.  This was enough to have Kevin pretty intimidated.  On the morning of his second day of class, he was getting ready to leave the house and was almost crying he was so nervous and scared.  I didn't know what to say to him as he looked at me for encouragement and help.  After all, I couldn't go with him to class or learn for him, and I had no idea how hard it would really be.  As he voiced his fears, I nervously looked around our bedroom trying to think of something to say.  My eyes fell on a little plastic scripture card that said "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:13"  Aha!  I grabbed the card, told Kevin that he wouldn't be alone, that with God he could do anything because He would give him strength.  He put the card in his pocket and went off to school.

Now that may not seem like any big deal or anything out of the ordinary.  But, at that time in our lives, we didn't look to scripture for the answer to everyday problems.  I loved to participate in Bible studies, but that was one of the first times that I remember holding on to God's Word for the only hope in a situation.  In our life as missionaries we have done this, and still do, so often.  There are so many times when we can't solve the problem or don't know the answer and we have to rely on God's promises and act in faith.  It happens a lot now, but that time on the first day of PT school was the beginning.

Another way that God used this time was in allowing us to really use and discover our spiritual gifts.  As I said in part 2, Kevin has a gift for making friends.  It wasn't long before he had a great group of friends in his PT class.  He began to invite them to our house for get-togethers and meals.  I would make a crock-pot of soup, or a roast, or whatever we could afford.  These friends began to come to church with us.  Lots of Sundays, we would have a church pew full of PT school friends.  After church they would come over for a meal and just to hang out with our family.  Friendship and Hospitality.  This is a huge part of our ministry here in Brazil - something we do on a weekly, even daily, basis.
A group of our closest PT friends at a cookout at Kevin's parents' house right before graduation.

More good friends that, for the most part, we still keep in touch with today.

Recently I ran across a Christmas card that one of these friends had sent to us right after PT school graduation.  I read her note inside and it said "You are truly the best family I know".  I couldn't believe that.  At that time, we weren't trying to be some kind of intentional example as a family.  We were just doing what came naturally.  Reading her note just reenforced my belief in the power of a Christian family; the strong example that it is for non-believers, and the wonderful way that God can use a strong family to bless others and show them His love.

Finally, PT school changed our financial situation.  During these early years of our marriage, I had worked full-time teaching school.  While we always had good child-care or preschool for the girls, I had a strong desire to be a full-time mom.  I would always leave as soon as school was out to get the girls and be at home with them.  Our goal when Kevin graduated in December of 1996, was to get a high enough paying job so that I wouldn't have to work and could stay home with the kids.  We were blessed to find that job in Grenada, Mississippi.

So, at the end of PT school we found ourselves with a bunch of new friends, some school loan debt,  a new baby (oh yeah, forgot to mention that Garrett was born in October of 96 - 2 months before graduation), and a new chapter in our lives awaiting us.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

For all you cold people in the US....

Here's a little bit of summer that is right outside my window:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


9:00 Tuesday morning....
For a while now, our kids have been asking for a dog.  We have had dogs in the past, and we like dogs, but it has been a while since we have been dog owners.  We have kind of enjoyed not having the responsibility of taking care of it, buying food, finding a sitter if we have to go out of town, and picking up its poop.  (A Brazilian thing...)  Not to mention the trouble of accidents in the house, making messes, ruining things, etc.

So, despite all the begging, we have been saying “No” , “no dog right now”.  Dad (Kevin) is the main decision maker for things like this.  I am too easily swayed by pleading eyes and all the promises that kids make when they want something.  So, he has been firm in saying no for a while.

Until a few weeks ago, when he saw a website where you can adopt a dog for free.  He brought home the site address for the kids and a ray of hope shot into their lives!  They have been looking at this site since then and asking, begging, convincing every day.

On Monday, Kevin and I had a little talk about this situation.  It went like this:

Me:  So, what are we going to do about the dog thing?
Him:  Well, I say “no”.  Because......(he began to list all the reasons why we don’t need one).
Me:  Well, then you are going to tell them, because you are the one who brought the website home and gave them hope, so you shouldn’t have done that if you were just going to keep saying no.  Why did you do that?
Him:  Well, I had a brief moment in which I thought I was ready to get one.  But now I don’t think we should.
Me: Well, then you have to tell them.
Him:  OK.  I can tell them.

(enter kids)

Dad:  OK.  I am 96-97% sure that I don’t want a dog.  But since I gave you the site, then you can pick out your three favorite dogs from the site and we will go look at them to see if we change our minds.

Does that sound like a “no” to you??

Guess where they are right now?  Looking at the dogs.  

Wonder what will happen.......
My guess is that we have a dog.
More to come........


11:00 Tuesday morning......

OK, I was wrong.

We don’t have A dog.

We have TWO.

Meet Lucky:

and Rex:

Oh, my.......

Friday, January 22, 2010

Our Story - Part 2

(for part 1 of this story, go here .)

It was the summer of 1994.  I was working a summer job for the state of Tennessee, and Kevin was going to Torez, Ukraine for a 3-4 week mission trip.  By the time he left for his trip, he had received rejection letters from all but one of the physical therapy schools that he had tried to get into.  The only one left was UT Memphis - the one he had been on the waiting list for the year before.   He was scheduled to receive a letter from them while he was on the trip.

I can't really explain adequately what this mission trip did to my husband.  He experienced something that he had never experienced before.  People who had next to nothing generously gave of themselves, their time, their food and their most prized possessions.  They had no "trappings" of material pursuits to keep them from accepting what Jesus had done for them.  They welcomed him and loved him immediately.  And he them.  On the last day before he left, he was invited to 4 lunches just so different families could say goodbye to him.  He was presented with enormous amounts of food and expected to eat at each one.   When he left there, he cried on the bus for 30 minutes and couldn't stop.  There have been maybe 1 or 2 times in his life when I have known him to cry like that.  He was affected deeply, and knew that this is what he wanted to do.

I believe that part of the richness of this experience came from the spiritual gifts that Kevin has.  He has a way of making deep friendships quickly.  He takes time with people and talks with them about spiritual things with an ease that most people don't have.  He is gifted in developing one-on-one relationships.  He has never been very ambitious in the pursuit of material things.  He has an adventurous spirit and relishes new experiences and situations.  He felt "at home" doing what he was doing in the Ukraine.

Meanwhile, back in the US, the girls and I were visiting with my parents and had received THE letter from UT Memphis.  Kevin called me from Switzerland on his way back from Ukraine and I tearfully told him that he didn't get in UT Memphis again.  Waiting list, again (which had yielded nothing the year before).  He was encouraging and told me not to worry about it, that he felt that maybe God was leading him in another direction.  He said that he had made getting into physical therapy school his god, and this trip to Ukraine had put that all into perspective.

He arrived safely home from his trip and we talked a lot about what he had experienced and where to go from here.  He had tried for 2 years to get into PT school.  But his world had been turned upside-down on this mission trip.  I know that in our conversations he talked about wanting to go back to Ukraine to be a missionary.  One of the men who had taken the trip with him had even said that he thought that the church should sponsor Kevin to go back there and stay.  (with our family, of course.)

Outwardly, I was timidly supportive of this idea. I wanted so badly for him to have a job that he felt good about.  I felt so bad about him not getting into school.  But inwardly, I was scared.  I had visions of what kind of life I would have living in an impoverished Ukrainian city.  Growing my own vegetables, buying meat off the street, washing my kids' clothes in a bathtub, homeschooling....... I couldn't let my thoughts go too far, or I would freak out.

It was only a few days after his return to the states, that one day Kevin received a phone call from a Dr. Connelly at UT Memphis.  He was being called up from the waiting list and she wanted to know if he was still interested in starting PT school.  I, of course, was ecstatic with this news, but he was hesitant.  He told Dr. Connelly that he would accept the offer, but school didn't start until January.  He could back out anytime before then.

Why would he back out?  After waiting and trying so hard to get into school, his heart was turned in another direction.  He questioned why God would do this and if the offer for PT school was from Him, or from Satan - to distract him from what he really felt he should be doing.  I wondered the same things, but oh so wanted him to go to PT school - and not the Ukraine!

In the end, he talked with a sweet sister who had taken the mission trip with him.  She gave him some advice that made sense.  She said that he could go to the Ukraine now and treat the people spiritually.  Or he could go to school, and then be able to go and treat them physically as well as spiritually.  Those were exactly the words he needed to hear.  He made the decision to go to PT school, which would be its own kind of learning and training experience for our family.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Preaching to the Choir

I was reminded yesterday of just how good God really is.

I was reminded through a song, and then through an unexpected blessing.

And it got me to thinking.  Remember the Israelites when they were in the desert after God had brought them out of Egypt? What did they do?  They whined and complained about every little thing.  They were negative, pessimistic, fearful.   They even said they would prefer to go back to Egypt and be slaves than to be there in the desert.  Good Grief!  Did they so quickly forget what God had just done for them?  How he had sent 10 plagues to torment the Egyptians and had rolled back the wall of the sea for them to cross through?  If God had gone to so much trouble to get them out of Egypt, does it make sense that He would let them starve or be defeated by an enemy the minute they got into the desert??  No, it doesn't.  What kind of people were they?

It's easy to think that way about the Israelites long ago.  We read their story and criticize them for their lack of trust in a God who obviously had gone to a lot of trouble to show how much he loved them.  But, fast forward several thousand years to us.

When was the last time that you had a stomach ache because you were worried about something?  When was the last time you were grouchy with your family because it seemed that life wasn't treating you fairly?  What about laying awake at night rehearsing all the bad things that could happen?  Is that not murmuring, whining and complaining??  No, God didn't send 10 plagues to miraculously annoy your enemies, or even roll back a sea for you to walk through.  But, he did do something.

Does it make sense that a God who was willing to sacrifice his only Child for you would now leave you out to dry?  That's about like a parent entering a burning house to save his beloved child and then refusing to give him food to eat.
“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him."

God has made the ultimate sacrifice for us.  He is a good Father.  He has our best interest in mind.  His will is good, pleasing, and perfect.  That means we can trust him to take care of these things (little or big) in our lives.  We will like the way it turns out!

Our problem is the same as the Israelites.  We forget and we are short-sighted.  That's why God instituted the passover feast and other rituals for the Israelites so that they would never forget what God had done for them in Egypt.  It's the same with the Lord's Supper for us.  When we remember Christ's death, it's not just so we can be appropriately sad that he died.  It's a reminder of God's goodness and His love.  Love that is big enough for our day to day problems.  

Of course, I am speaking to myself here.  Just look what I wrote at the beginning of this post:  an unexpected blessing.  I wasn't expecting God to show up and bless that situation like He did.  But, in His infinite patience and love, he did it anyway.  

Take a few minutes today to remind yourself how much God loves you and the many ways that He has proven that love to you over and over again. This song will help.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Fortunate Turn of Events

We, like all sane parents, give chores to our kids.  We have a little chart on which we keep up with what the chores are, whose turn it is to do what, who doesn't do their chores, etc...

One of the kids' chores is always "Clean up the kitchen after lunch."  (Lunch is our big meal of the day - it's a Brazilian tradition.)  The kids LOVE this chore.  Just as much as I LOVED it when I had to do it everyday after supper as I was growing up.

 My sister and I cleaning the kitchen together, sometime in the early 80's.
(I hope you are hearing my sarcasm here, they really hate this chore.  I wasn't too fond of it either.)  Anyway.... During the summer months, the kids (obviously) aren't in school and so they have been helping cook lunch, also.  I decided that if someone helps cook, then they should be exempt from the cleaning up afterward.  So the chore list now says:  "Cook lunch or clean up afterward."

 Well, you would not believe the race to cook, or help cook, lunch.  They are getting out cookbooks, planning meals and giving me grocery lists.

We have eaten (so far), chicken spaghetti with roasted vegetables, ranch chicken with mashed potatoes and cornbread,  orange chicken in the crockpot, hamburgers, homemade pizza, chocolate sheet cake, blackberry cobbler, apple pie, brownies, and more that I can't even remember right now.  They even set the table.

And, funny thing, all of a sudden some who kind of want to pick at each other all the time are best buds when they are the ones getting to cook together.  (like they say, politics makes strange bedfellows.)

All of this to avoid having to clean up afterward.

Bronwyn has been taking French class for the past two weeks, so she is gone during the cooking time and hasn't been able to help.  Everyday when she comes in the house, the cooks of the day give her a smug smile and say "You get to do the dishes today!".  She loves that.

When they all start back to school, I'll be back to the normal routine of cooking every day.  But for now, I'm enjoying the extra help.  Moms are exempt from the chore list, so even if I don't cook lunch, I don't have to help clean up.  Hey, I'm just doing what my mom taught me!  Kind of a mother's privilege.  I deserve it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Idea for First Birthday Party

I thought I would share an idea for a decoration that we used for Giovanni's first birthday party.  His birthday was in September, but I was reminded of this idea a few days ago and thought someone out there might like to try it.

We first chose a picture of Giovanni from every month of his life (1-12).  We printed up these pictures and mounted them on cardboard circles that were covered with bright colored fabric.  We then put sticks on the circles and put them in planters to decorate his birthday table.  It was cute, colorful and I think everyone enjoyed looking at how much he had changed over the year.

I'm sure those of you who live in the US and have more supplies available could take this idea and make it a lot cuter.  And for those of you living in Brazil, this is an easy and inexpensive idea to decorate the birthday table, which is such a big deal here.  A special thanks to my friend, Leni, who painted the planters and had the idea of filling them with popcorn.  So cute!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Our Story - Part 1

In my post last Friday, I promised that I would begin telling the story of how the Blume family ended up in Brazil.  I have to admit that today when I realized it was Friday, I got kind of panicky knowing that I had to do it today.  So here goes.....

To begin this story, I'm going to have to give a little background information first. Not to bore you with the uninteresting details of life, but I think to really understand our story, you have to know where we came from.

Kevin and I met at Harding University.  I was in graduate school getting my master's in elementary education.  He was a junior business major.  He had put a lot of thought into that major.  It went kind of like this in his brain:  My dad is in business, so I will be a business major.  "Hey, Jeff (his brother-in-law), which major is easier? Marketing or Management?  Marketing?  Oh, OK.  I'll be a marketing major."  So he graduated from Harding with a degree in Marketing.  

After several extremely unfulfilling years working in business, he decided that he absolutely could not do this for the rest of his life.  He began to research other options, really considering (this time) what he enjoyed doing and what he was interested in.   He decided on physical therapy.  Becoming a physical therapist would involve going back to school to take some science prerequisites and then getting into physical therapy school.  He began this process in 1991 - the year Bronwyn, our first child, was born.  I was teaching school.

After finishing all of his prerequisite science classes, and getting pretty good grades, it was time to try to get in PT school.  We began to find out that this was going to be rather difficult.  PT school is very competitive.  Since Kevin's overall GPA was not that great (due to the Harding years), he needed to consider only schools in our state of Tennessee.  There were three schools - 2 in Nashville and one in Memphis.  The first year that he applied, he got 2 rejection letters and one "waiting list" letter from UT Memphis - which ended up being a rejection also.  He was never called up from the waiting list.

That meant another year of volunteer work and re-applying to PT schools while working night jobs to help make ends meet.  By now, we had 2 cute little girls.  Our whole focus was on him getting in PT school the next year.  We prayed about it and hoped for it all the time.  I don't think I had ever prayed for something as much in my life.

During the summertime of that second year, a group from our home church was planning to take a mission trip to Ukraine.  I wanted to go and told Kevin that he should go, also.  His dad had gone before, and said it was a life-changing experience. We decided that we would go - depending on two things.  If I got a summer job working for the state of TN evaluating textbooks, then I would not go.  We needed the extra money.  If he got in one of the Nashville PT schools, he would not go, because school would be starting soon.  Well, I did get the job, and he didn't get in the school.

So, that meant that he would go to Ukraine with our church on the mission trip.  He was actually mad about this turn of events, thinking that a 3 week trip would have been fun with his wife along, but alone.... no way.  Not to mention the disappointment in receiving another rejection letter after trying for two years to get into school.  I remember him going out on our back patio and kind of just sitting in a chair, pouting.  I remember us having a conversation about how he should go on the trip, that it would do him good.  He must have heard some truth in my words because he reluctantly agreed to go.

That would be the beginning of the road that would lead us to Brazil.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Children's Classic

I was an elementary education major, and like all the other elementary ed. majors from Harding University, I have a love for children's literature.  This is because of our teacher, Mrs. Betty Watson, who, I believe, is still instilling the love of children's literature to Harding students today.  

Anyway, I have always read to my kids since they were little bitty.  We have stacks of books in the den and bookcases full of them in the bedrooms.

Giovanni, our one year old, loves to be read to.  It is his favorite thing to do.  And of course in this literarily (is that a word?) rich environment, you would think that his favorite book would be one of the "classics" of quality children's literature.  Like maybe "Brown, Bear, Brown Bear....". or "Goodnight Moon", etc.  
But, no.  He has chosen as his favorite (at this moment), a less-known literary work-destined to become a classic:  Mater and the Ghost Light.
It's a Golden Book that was bought at a thrift store near my parents' house.  You know Mater, the truck from the Disney movie "Cars".  He gets chased by a light that he believes is some spook called the "ghost light".  I have read this book at least 4 times already today, and that doesn't count the number of times his dad or siblings read it to him.  I think he likes it because we try to imitate Mater's voice from the movie, which is funny, you have to admit.

I'm sure Mrs. Watson would be proud to know that one of her former students is passing along such quality literature to her own children.

PS.  I guess the Disney people knew that this was destined to be a classic because I discovered the other day that there is a short little movie on our Cars DVD.  Guess what it is?  Mater and the Ghost LIght.  Wonder how many times we'll have to watch that in the future?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Around the House

Here is what is going on around our house these days.....

We don't normally homeschool (our kids attend Brazilian private schools).  But on our recent furlough I decided it would be easier and cheaper to homeschool them rather than keep them enrolled in their school here.  Well, we didn't exactly make a lot of progress on the furlough.  Bowling, Wendy's, Sonic, donuts and time with grandparents in general was just too important.  So, we are catching up now.  We'll be done by the end of January.  Whew!

Garrett is actually watching a Biology DVD here.  It looks like he's goofing off, but he's really learning.  (yeah, right...)

Studying for the ACT.  Bronwyn and Ansley will take the test at the beginning of February.  They have to fly up to another city to take it.  We are serious about scholarship money around here.

And then there's these two....
Typical wardrobe:  underwear or diaper  (it's really hot here right now)



Playing with stuff we're not supposed to play with...
There's also been some cooking and crafts going on.  I'll share more about that later.  Also, some occasional visits to the pool.  For now, that's about it.  Studying, schooling, and just hanging out.  That's all.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Happy Birthday, Cheryl!

One of the greatest blessings of my life has been to have a sister.
One of the greatest heartaches has been to live so far away from her for so long.
I love you, Cheryl!
Happy Birthday!

Monday, January 11, 2010


When people find out you have 6 kids, they usually think that you have this parenting stuff all figured out.  After all, you've seen it all, done it all 5 other times, right?  If parenting could be compared to riding a bike, then once you learn how to do it, you never forget.  Just do the same thing every time.  

However, there is a problem with that comparison.  Kids aren't bikes.  They are born with different temperaments and personalities.  What works for one, might not work for another, and probably won't work for all 6.  

I learned this lesson early on because our first two kids were and are very different.  We potty-trained the first one in a week.  So, when the second one was ready to start a Montessori pre-school and had to be potty trained first, I guaranteed the director that she would be ready.  Ha. Ha.  We had a few glitches in the process, and it ended up being months before she was totally using the potty with no accidents.  

Here is another example.  Look at this cute little sleeping angel.  My 6th.
At his age, all of our other kids had pretty much the same sleeping pattern:  Wake up fairly early, take 1 or 2 naps a day, and then go to bed early at night in their own bed.  Not this guy.

He has never been a sleeper.  When I was pregnant with him, I noticed that he didn't move around that much during the day.  But about 7:00 at night, I would sit down to watch TV or read and he would start doing somersaults.  When he was a newborn, I tried to take some of those cute little naked baby pictures in black and white with him sleeping all rolled up in a little ball.  Didn't work, because he kept waking up and crying.  Instead of taking those long newborn 3 hour naps, he would sleep 30-45 minutes, unless someone was holding him.  

Fast forward to now.  Ever since our travels on our recent furlough, he doesn't like his baby bed.  We have to kind of bounce him to sleep and after 45 minutes he wakes up, crying.  If he is on a pallet on the floor, he will wake up after 45 min., look around, see that he is not alone, and go back to sleep.  If we put him in his bed at night, he wakes up and cries.  

So here is where he has been sleeping:
On the floor in our room.  Yes, I know. It's terrible.  But, we are tired of getting up in the night, tired of him sleeping in our bed, and don't really have the fortitude to make him cry it out and learn to sleep in the baby bed that he doesn't like.  I know that has to happen sometimes and we have done it before, with him and the other kids, too.  But I just don't want to do it now.  

One thing that does come with experience after having several kids is being able to relax when things don't go according to plan.  What worked for the other kids isn't working with him.  That's OK.  I'm not loosing any sleep over it (pardon the pun).

Friday, January 8, 2010

Our Story

One of the reasons that I love to read blogs is to get inspired.  Recently, I read this post of all the home improvements this girl had done, and was inspired to get something done around my house as well.  NieNie constantly inspires me with her determination to keep going and find the beauty in her life.  But, this post isn't about home improvements or other blogs.

I started thinking about what in my own life might inspire someone out there.  I can think of a lot things about me that would NOT inspire someone.  But the story that came to my mind that might inspire was the story of how our family ended up in Brazil working as missionaries.  And it's not a short story - more like an epic or a saga... So I am thinking that each Friday, I will tell part of the story.  

John 9 is one of my favorite parts of the Bible.  In this chapter, Jesus sees a man who has been blind from birth.  His disciples ask "why did this happen?  Did this man sin, or his parents?"  I think all of us ask "why" sometimes.  I know I have, and still do, ask why in relation to our family being in Brazil.  But look at what Jesus says next in John 9.  He says that neither the man or his parents sinned, but that it had happened so that the work of God could be displayed in the man's life.  He then displays God's work in the form of a miraculous healing.  People in the city notice that something is different about the man and they ask him about it.  He gives no glory to himself, but just simply tells what Jesus did for him.  And God is glorified.

I share that story because that is what I hope to do by telling our story.  Not to glorify ourselves in any way, but to simply tell what God did in our lives and how His power was displayed.  I hope that you will be inspired by our story.  I know it will be good for me to tell it again.

(by the way, I got the cute saying at the top here.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Just Some Miscellaneous Tidbits

First: Now my youngest daughter, Carys, has a blog. She is 10 years old and such a FUN kid. Her blog reflects her fun personality. I think you'll like it. The link is on the left.

Second: Here are some other blogs that I check often:
Whatever - A mom of 5 who takes fun pictures and tells about her life as a mom. I like her because she doesn't come off as "perfect", just a mom like the rest of us who has good days and bad. I also like to look at how she decorates.
Clover Lane - Another mom of 5. She has a lot of good advice about parenting, and some pretty strong opinions about stuff. Most of the time, I agree with her. She also does a great job of decorating her house and has some good recipes and information.
Joy's Hope - A crafty mom named Julie with three little girls. If you go to her site, be sure to read Joy's story. She is a strong Christian who has done a lot of things through her blog to help people.
Nie Nie Dialogues - The story of a very inspiring girl, Stephanie, who has had a blog for a long time about her family life. In 2008, she was in a plane crash and was burned on over 80% of her body. If you go there, be sure to read some of her archives so you can see how she was before and how she is recovering. One of the best blogs out there in my opinion.
C Jane - Courtney Jane is Stephanie's sister (of Nie Nie). She is a great writer and I like to read her take on things.
The Pioneer Woman - This was the first blog that I got hooked on. She is a funny writer and has no qualms about poking fun at herself. She has great recipes on her site and she recently published a cookbook which my kids gave me for Christmas. All of her recipes that I have tried have tasted great.

Third - Last night on January 5th, I needed to put away my Christmas decorations, but I was too HOT and STICKY to do it. What is wrong with this sentence??

Finally - Tonight is our date night - me and my boyfriend. We go out once a week, which I highly recommend if you have 6 kids and want to keep your relationship fun and healthy.

Hope you all have a great day!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"One of" the Artists in the Family

Yesterday, my second daughter, Ansley, reported to me that the only pictures that I had used on my blog so far were ones that she had taken.  She was right.  Ansley is a super-creative girl and has a great eye.......
for taking pictures.

Lately, she has had a lot of fun learning to edit pictures.  We use a site called  You can do fun things with your pictures for free, or pay a small monthly or yearly fee and do more things.  I thought I would give a quick explanation for how we made the picture at the top of my blog.

Here is the original picture that Ansley took:
We uploaded it onto Picnik and then under the "create" section, we applied the action called "boost".  I think it just boosts the color.  After that, it looked like this:
I thought this was beautiful, but then we were playing around and also applied the action called "posterize".  (still under the "create" tab.)  Then we clicked on "text" and added the words.  And that is how the header for the blog turned out. 
I thought it was really cool and thought you might like to try out Picnik for yourself and play around with some of your photos.

And....thanks, Ansley, for sharing your talents with me.  Like I said in the title, she is one of the artists in our family.  I'll share more about the others later.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Duty Bound

When I was a senior in high school, I went to Girls' State.  It was a great, fun experience.  I still remember a song that we learned there, and this quote which we repeated everyday in our assembly:

"I am only one, but I am one.
I can't do everything, but I can do some things.
What I can do, I ought to do.
And what I ought to do, with the help of the Lord, I will do."

I just researched this quote and it is from Edward Everett Hale.  There seem to be several variations to the quote, so I'm not sure exactly what he actually said, but this was the way it was presented to us at Girls' State.

Why do I share this interesting bit of info?  Well, it seems that I have kind of tried to use this as my motto in life - not on purpose - this is just kind of the way I naturally am.  There are some parts of the quote which are great - like the first two lines.  No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.  The third line is what has gotten me in over my head at times: 

"What I can do, I ought to do."  

I don't agree with that.  Just because you are able to do something doesn't mean you should do it.  Of course, that makes sense when you apply it to bad things like "I am able to buy and use drugs, so I should do it."  Everyone knows that is not right.  But what about applying it to good things?  "I am able to visit every sick person in my church once a week, so I should do it."  You can fill in the blank with any good activity.  

There have been so many things that I have done over the years because I said to myself "I can do that".  Since I was able to do it, I gave it a try.  So many little jobs that I am embarrassed to list them all here.  I'm not saying that in hindsight I shouldn't have done any of them.  But I do wish I had been a little more selective with my time and used it for things that I really felt called to do or led by God to do, or even things that I wanted to do.

I think lots of us women go by this way of thinking:  I will do everything I should do first, and then when that is all done, I will do what I want to do.  The problem with that is, in my case, with 6 kids and a job as a missionary and a house to keep clean and meals to make, etc.  the "should do" things are never, ever done.  So when do I get to do what I want to do - what makes me happy inside and is fun for me?  Hardly ever.

I have decided to change that starting this year.  I am through making never-ending lists of things that I need to do.  I am going to set reasonable goals for myself and pray a lot before accepting new responsibilities.  And I am going to do fun things.  My oldest daughter goes to college this year.  I want to do some fun things with her, and with the other kids, and with my friends, too.

That's kind of one reason that I started this blog.  I don't really have time to keep up a blog and it is not one of the most important things in my life.  I don't have tons of deep wisdom to share with you all on the world wide web.  I just wanted to do it.  I may not do it for long, but for now it is fun.  

Like I said earlier, I'm not sure what E.E. Hale's exact quote was.  As I was looking it up, I came across this version which I like much better:

"I am only one, but I am one. 
I can't do everything, but I can do something.  
The something I ought to do, I can do.  And by the grace of God, I will."

A little more selective.  Find out what you really ought to do and do that.  Just that.

Now, off to have some fun!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Love this Little Boy

We call him Dave - as in David Letterman.  It's the teeth.

If you are toying with having another baby (even if you are in your 40's), my advice to you is - DO IT.

Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.
Psalm 127:3

Gifts and rewards are good things, right?

p.s.  This post is not directed toward my husband.......we have enough.

Friday, January 1, 2010

My Theme for 2010

I am terrible at New Year's Resolutions.  So terrible, that I haven't even bothered to make any for the past few years, because I knew I would break them - soon.  So, I don't do that.  But, I was inspired by this post on another blog to choose a word or theme for the year.  Something that I want to focus on or work on for 2010.  

As I began to think about this, two words popped into my mind - Consistency and Discipline.  Yes!  I need these.  I had decided that these two would be my words for 2010.  I am a list-maker, a planner and a doer.  But sometimes (more often than not) my lists and plans don't get done. (e.g.  the new year's resolutions...).  So I feel frustrated and mad and sometimes go around doing nothing when I have plenty to do just because I am so mad and frustrated with myself.  Does that make sense?  Surely more Consistency and Discipline were what I needed.

One morning recently, I shared my frustration with myself over a certain task that I didn't do that day, mainly because of lack of discipline.  After hearing this broken record, my husband, who knows me better than anyone, walked into another room and picked up the book that he is currently reading:  The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning.
He had me read a chapter and then asked me what stood out the most to me in that chapter.  Amazingly, what stood out to me was exactly what he wanted me to glean from reading the chapter.  Here it is...

I've decided that if I had my life to live over again, I would not only climb more mountains, swim more rivers, and watch more sunsets;  I wouldn't only jettison my hot water bottle, raincoat, umbrella, parachute, and raft;  I would not only go barefoot earlier in the spring and stay out later in the fall; but I would devote not one more minute to monitoring my spiritual growth.  No, not one.....What would I do if I had it to do all over again?  Heeding John's counsel, I would simply do the next thing in love.

So, discipline?  Yes I do need that.  (Coincidentally, this blogger chose that word - for all the same reasons I would have chosen it.)  But, what I recognized that I need more is just to take it one thing at a time, and do the next thing in love.

So, this is my theme for 2010:
Do the next love.