Friday, April 30, 2010

Funny Faces

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Apple Computers for installing Photo Booth on your computers.  I thank you for the belly-aching, eye-watering, snot-blowing laughter that you have given me the last few months.

Really, my kids and I thank you so much.

And now, since I am not vain, I will spread some of the funniness around....
and me.  Don't you think we look alike?
Big-eye Carys....
Alien mom....
who is this??
Brutus Giovanni....
Picasso Ansley and Carys....
My alien dad....
Anderson sporting a Buzz Lightyear head.
and Bronwyn....yes, she is available.

The End.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Our Story - Part 10

(For parts 1-9 of this story, click here and scroll down.)

After our difficult adventure of a survey trip, we continued on in our internship and training in Abilene which was to end in December.  Our greatest obstacle to actually making it to Brazil was still our lack of a supporting congregation.  We were still hopeful and we continued to follow up on leads that were given to us.

Sometime that fall, we visited a church in Fort Worth, Texas who was interested in supporting a missionary family.  We LOVED this church.  It's like the church was made for our family.  We loved the mission committee, the worship service, the way they prayed over us and blessed us.  From everything they said and did, it seemed like they loved us, too.  Finally God was providing what we needed in a sponsoring church.  We left our weekend visit with them feeling like they would support us financially, we just didn't know how much.  They were to have some meetings and get in touch with us.

We went back to Abilene and carried on with our lives.  We didn't turn away any other leads for supporting churches, but we felt confident that this church in Ft. Worth would be "the one".  It seemed like we waited forever for them to call us.  Then one Sunday afternoon, two of the guys from the mission committee called us.  They were sad to tell us that their elders had decided that they wanted to focus on local evangelism that year and they would not be able to support us AT ALL.  We couldn't believe it.  We were devastated.

That night we had been invited to participate in a small group meeting of our friends, the Zellers.  So soon after we received our sad news from the Ft. Worth church we set off with our kids for this small group meeting.  I remember that on the way to the meeting I was totally not wanting to go.  I was so discouraged that I didn't know how I could think of hanging out with other couples and families that I didn't really know and try to put on a happy face.  But we went anyway.

We got to the Highland Church building where the meeting was to happen.  All the kids from this group (and there were a bunch of them) were playing basketball in the gym.  Our kids joined right it.  The adults went into a classroom and started a devotional.

This particular devotional was centered around the Lord's Supper.  We passed around the bread, and as each person picked up a piece, he or she confessed something that had been a struggle for him or her.  Then, instead of eating the bread, we put it back on the plate.  At the end, we passed the bread plate again and each person picked up a piece of bread that another person had broken off.  We ate their piece and that represented us bearing one another's burdens.  In drinking the juice, we shared a praise for something that God had done in our lives.

Besides the Zellers, we didn't know anyone in this small group.  There were about 6 couples.  As we passed around the bread, I listened to them share struggles that they were dealing with - things like career frustrations, money problems, children with serious physical problems, etc.  There were no barriers - everyone was open.  So of course when it was my turn, I just completely lost it.  I shared my frustrations that God would make it so clear that we were to join this mission team, only to have us give up "everything", and then not provide us with what we needed.  Why did He do this?  If He wanted us to go to Brazil, why wouldn't He give us the church we needed to get us there??  I was a blubbering mess.

I can't remember the specifics of all that happened that night.  I know there were tears from many people, not just me.  Laughter, hugs, support, prayers and encouragement.  This small group just literally "took us in".  They adopted us.  We became part of them and as I look back now, I see that this exactly what we needed at that time.  These people became our friends and our support.  Several of them began supporting us financially, but more importantly they supported us with their friendship and their love.  I wouldn't trade any amount of money that a huge sponsoring church would give us for the relationships that I have with people in that group.

Years later when the Highland church encouraged all of their members to visit and help missionaries, several families from this small group came to Porto Alegre to visit us.  We continue our friendship with them until this day and always try to fit in a visit to Abilene on our furloughs.  Hopefully we can see these folks a lot more now that Bronwyn will be going to college at ACU in the fall.  It feels good to know that she has "family" there waiting for her.

Again, God had provided for our family.  Not in the way we had wanted or expected.  But in a better way.  Instead of giving us a supporting congregation who would provide us with money, he gave us supporting friends who would provide us with something money couldn't buy.  And it was enough to keep us going.

Our internship ended in December.  We "graduated" from our training program, but we still didn't have what we needed financially to move to Brazil in June.  When our teammates moved away to spend time with their supporting churches before the move to Brazil, we decided to stay in Abilene.  We had a few small leads on churches and we decided to stay put until we knew how or if God would provide what we needed.

We wondered how and when we would ever have security that we were where God wanted us to be and doing what He wanted us to do.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's Fun Being the 6th Kid...

because when you dump out a box of old crayons on the floor, your mom just lets you play with them.  She just says, "How cute!" and runs and gets the camera.  You don't even have to clean them up....

And when you climb up on the table and start to eat leftover birthday cake with your hands, she just lets you go at it, eat as much as you want, and she runs and gets the camera.

Then when you rub it into your hands like lotion and on your face like shaving cream, she just thinks it's even cuter and takes more pictures....

And when you wake up grumpy from your nap, she fills up a sink with bubbles and lets you play in it and dump cupfuls of water on the floor and on yourself......and she just thinks you are precious and runs and gets the camera.

Yeah.....I'm getting away with a lot.

And my mom doesn't even care.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Overwhelmed.  This is a feeling that I battle a lot.  But, I kind of think I made my own bed.  I have 6 kids, live in a foreign country and have a ministry of helping and encouraging others on their spiritual walk.  I definitely have a lot to do.  But, I imagine that many of you reading this also have a lot to do.

I am trying this year not to put such high expectations on myself, but just to allow God to show me what to do, and be OK with what doesn't get done.  However, years of the "stressed-out, high expectation, it all depends on me..." thinking sneak back in easily.

This week, Kevin and I decided that we are having a catch up week.  Meaning that there are some things that we have been procrastinating.  We are going to get some of those things done this week.

But, in getting these things done, I am not going to allow our "list" to overwhelm me and make me ignore things that are more important.  Like the little guy who is sitting next to me right now.  It's like Giovanni's "comfort" is to sit beside me, hold my hands and suck on his paci.  If he's upset, he does that and it calms him down.  This won't last forever and I don't want to miss any of it.  Anderson loves doing things with me.  Pretending, cooking, art, reading, playing, whatever.  He won't always want to do those things, so I don't want to ignore him just to get something crossed off of a list.  And there are 4 others, and a husband, who are also more important than the "things" that overwhelm me.

OK.  I'm blabbing now.

Hopefully some of you other moms get what I'm trying to say.

Please take a minute to read this article from Charles Swindoll.  If you are missionary you MUST read it but I think it applies to anyone who feels like they have too much to do.

Be blessed and encouraged:

You Can Make a Difference
by Charles R. Swindoll

Overwhelming odds can make cowards of us all. I remember the first time I felt overwhelmed regarding ministry in a vast arena. My life had been quiet and manageable. From my birthplace in a south Texas country town, I moved with my family to Houston, where we lived through my high school years. Our home was small and secure. After marriage, a hitch in the corps, and seminary, Cynthia and I became involved in ministries that were like our past . . . small, pleasant, and fulfilling. Our children were small, our lives were relaxed and rather simple, and our scope of God's work was quite comfortable.

The call to Fullerton, California, in 1971 changed all that. In fact, it was as the plane descended over Los Angeles when we were coming to candidate that I got this overwhelming feeling. I looked out the little window and watched as mile after mile of houses and freeways and buildings passed beneath us. I tried to imagine ministering to this sprawling metropolis of never-ending humanity. I thought, How can I possibly get my arms around this monstrous task? What can I do to reach the multiple millions in Southern California?

Suddenly, God gently reminded me, as He does to this day: I will never reach them all---that is humanly impossible. But I am responsible for those I come in contact with, and with God's help, I will make a difference in their lives.

I stopped paying attention to the enormity of the impossible and started pouring my time and energy into the possible---the people and the place where God had called me and my family. Call my vision limited if you will, but it has made all the difference in my peace of mind. I cannot do it all . . . I cannot get my arms around the vast boundaries of our region (no one can!), but I am able to touch those who come into the scope of my "radar screen." Peace of mind comes in knowing that in at least their lives, my touch can make a difference, even if it is only one here and another there.

One person cannot beat the odds. There will always be more to reach than time or energy or commitment can provide. But the truth is that each one of us can touch a few. How wrong we would be to stop helping anyone because we cannot help everyone.

Don't panic. Count on the Lord to honor and multiply even your smallest efforts. Last time I checked, He was still rewarding faithfulness.

Ignore the odds. Even though you cannot do everything, you can do something.
You may be only one, but you can still make a difference. So make a difference.

Friday, April 23, 2010

April 23, 1993

On April 23rd, 1993, I went to work at Oak Elementary.  I remember I was wearing some green stretchy pants and a white and green polka-dotted shirt.  (weird how you remember the craziest things... It was probably one of the few things that still fit at that point).  Anyway, during the day I started having some contractions.  And, a few other little "signs" that I won't go into a lot of detail about, but that let me know that I might be in labor.  But I carried on.

I even had a parent-teacher conference after school - that I didn't even cancel.  (Oh..the dedication!).  During the conference, the parent asked me if I had any idea about when I would have the baby.  I said, "Well, I think it might be today."  She kind of freaked out and ended the conference pretty quickly after that.  I called my doctor and she said for me to go to the hospital to get checked out.

So, I did, and I was indeed in labor.  Things progressed on just fine and then I was to get my epidural.  Only it didn't work.  Instead of feeling complete relief, I still had some pain.  My anesthesiologist was Indian or something - he had a strong accent.  So while he stood beside me,  tried different things, and talked with his supervisor about what to do, I held Kevin's hand and suffered on as he watched the NBA playoffs.  We finally gave up on the epidural and I had what I thought was "natural" childbirth.  Later, when Anderson was born, I realized that that epidural had worked a little, at least to take the edge off, because Anderson's birth was truly "natural" and something I had never experienced before! (and never care to again, I might add.)

Anyway,  Ansley Maye Blume was born at 8:47 that night.  I was so excited that she was a girl.  (We didn't know the sex beforehand).  I was excited because I have a sister who is my best friend, and I loved the idea of Bronwyn having a little sister.
(she looks SO much like Giovanni in this picture!)
We named her Ansley because we liked that name and thought it was so pretty. Still do.  Maye is after my grandmother, Fannie Maye, and Kevin's grandmother, Berchia Mae.  Two wonderful women who we were so proud to name our little girl after.  (We decided it sounded better to use the Maye part of their names, rather than the Fannie/Berchia part!).

Ansley was a sweet, calm little baby.  We were so scared that she would have colic like Bronwyn did.  So, when one day she started to cry for no reason, Kevin took her, held her till she went to sleep, then put her in her bed and turned on the vacuum cleaner under her bed.  She slept great and never cried like that again.  Not saying it's a cure for colic, that's just what happened, and we were so glad.
(Ansley in the middle with Bronwyn and cousin, Kate.)
While Ansley didn't have colic, she did have a spunky spirit.  She wasn't the type of baby just to sit back and let stuff happen around her.  She wanted to be involved, and if she didn't like something, she would let you know.  She has always been spunky, strong-spirited, and full of energy.  She also enjoyed playing by herself.  She had a basket of little toys and characters in her room and I have this image of her with her little curly head just sitting there playing with the toys one by one.

Two things about Ansley's looks have always stood out.  Her beautiful light blue eyes, and her curly hair.  I remember when her hair started growing in, it was in tight curls close to her head.  Even though she and I have fought with that hair over the years, it is one of her best features and she wouldn't be "Ansley" without it.  She also had lots of baby-fat, which she definitely grew out of.

I said before that I wanted to have 2 girls so they could be sisters.  I remember when Ansley was really little I felt such a protective spirit for her - just like I felt for my own little sister.  Bronwyn and Ansley have been close their whole lives and I know they are both so glad to have had a sister so close in age.  I am going to miss them when they go to college (soon!).  Thank goodness for Carys who will save me from an all-boy household!

Ansley has always been such a fun and funny girl.  She has cracked me up so many times, and still makes me laugh more than anyone.  I love this girl!

Happy Birthday, Ansley!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

One of my Favorite Foods in the World

Really.  I love this recipe.  We call it Strawberry Pretzel Salad, but it can be a dessert, too.  There is something about the salty mixed with the sweet that just does something for me.  I love it.

Apparently, I'm not the only one.  The other day I bought some strawberries at the grocery store.  Not sure what I was going to use them for, but they looked good, so I bought some.  As soon as I got home the kids started saying that Grandmommy (who is visiting) was going to make Strawberry Pretzel "stuff" with the strawberries.  She is the one who got us started on this yumminess.

So, yesterday, she made it for lunch.

And here is the plate this morning.

Less than 24 hours and it is almost gone.  They ate it a lunchtime, snack time, dinnertime, and breakfast - with a little fighting going on about who had eaten the most.  It's that good.

Here is the recipe.

And....if you live in Brazil here is how you make the adaptations:
Pretzels - Stiksy in the chip department.
Whipped topping - two packages of Chantilly (the powdered kind) works out right for this recipe.  Make according to package directions.
Cream cheese - use one and one half packages of cream cheese.
Jello topping with strawberries - use two boxes or envelopes of strawberry gelatina.  Add the hot water like the directions indicate, but don't add the cold water.  Instead, add 2-3 trays of strawberries (washed, cut up, and mashed a little).  You don't need to add sugar.
For the rest, just follow the directions on the recipe.

So, even though it is a little more work to make this recipe in Brazil, it is worth it.

Now, I'm going to go eat a piece before they get home from school!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ivoli's Baptism

Yesterday, I had the privilege of baptizing a person who is very special to me.  Ivoli, and her daughter Grace, have been in our house church for several years.  Ivoli is a great wife and mother, a hard worker, and a wonderful friend.  There have been so many times when I was discouraged that Ivoli with her kindness, her steadfast presence or her encouraging words has lifted me up and given me what I needed to keep going.  I love her and admire her, and feel so blessed to have been able to share this special day with her.

Please check our family blog later this week for more details and pictures of this special day!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Yesterday was one of those days.

My day was really full and busy with church and ministry related things, which were all good, but made for a kind of hectic schedule.

I had some "discussions" with some of my kids.  Discussions about things they were doing that I didn't like and about things I was doing that they didn't like (usually in response to whatever it was that they did - you know, like punishment.)

It was my dad's birthday yesterday and I wasn't able to get in touch with him.  So, at almost 11:00, I sent him a quick e-mail wishing him a happy birthday.  Not exactly how I wanted it to be.

Anyway, isn't it great to know that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases?  His mercies never come to an end -
they are new every morning....

Yeah!!  Today will be better.

It already got better when I saw that my husband wrote a sweet, and fitting tribute to my dad on our family blog.  You should go read it.

And, here is one of my favorite pictures ever of my dad.

Yes, you can only see his arms, hands and the side of his smiling face, but I love it because of the look of  love on Giovanni's face as his grandaddy played with him.  It reminds me of the 19 years that I have seen my dad patiently play like this with my kids.   Just one more reason to love him.

So, Happy Birthday, Daddy!  I love you.

Here's to a good day for all of us!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


novidades:  (no-vi-dah-geez)   portuguese word meaning "news" or  "the latest"

So, we have a few new things around the house.  Remember where Giovanni was sleeping after our furlough?  Well, he's still there.  But I am trying step by step to move him to his own bed in his own room.

First problem with this is that he hates his crib.  Since he is so independent, I think he hates to be caged in anywhere.  He wants to be able to go where he wants to go.  So, a new bed was in order.

Look at the new bed our friend, Freitas, made for him.

Cool, huh?  It even has little wheels on the bottom of it for easy moving from one place to another.

I hired an experienced and very qualified paint technician to stain it.....

and here it is now.  Yes, it is still in our room, but one thing at a time.......

Also, we went to the hippie feira on Saturday.  (The hippie feira is an arts and crafts kind of flea market at one of the big parks in Porto Alegre. I have no idea why we call it the hippie feira.  I have only heard Americans call it that.)
(That lady is saying "No, senhora, you can't take pictures here!"  oops!)

At the end of our day, I found this table and chair set for a very reasonable price.

And since I have been wanting one, and my experienced, qualified paint technician was still around (with his able-bodied assistant),

I bought it and now my boys have a cute table and chair set.

I have a feeling Mr. Independent will not want to get in his high chair much longer!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sadly, this is my life.....

The other day I went into the living room and there were 9 different pairs of shoes on the floor.

And none of them were mine or Kevin's.
I didn't bother to count the dirty socks.