Monday, May 31, 2010

June Challenge

My two oldest daughters and I have challenged ourselves to some improvements in our lifestyle for June.   This morning we took our measurements.  Mine were...  (ha ha, like I would really put that on here.)

Anyway, Bronwyn and Ansley don't even really need to do anything.  They look great.  I am kind of turning into a marshmallow.

So, here are our guidelines:

June Challenge
1- No sugar.
2- Only water - except for milk or juice at breakfast.
3- Measure every Monday.
4- Exercise every day (dvd, weights, run, or walk)
If we don’t break the agreement, at the end of each week we will go out and treat ourselves to...
1- Manicures
2- Movie together
3- Shopping trip
4- Dessert trip
(The prizes are one per week - we aren't doing all of those every week!)

The hardest part for me will be #2.  I like coffee or a coke zero every now and then (like daily!)
Wish us luck!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Our Story - Part 11

(For parts 1-10 of this story, click here and scroll down.)

At the end of 2001, our family was living in Abilene after completing our training program with Continent of Great Cities, the group that was sending our mission team to Brazil.  Even though we had finished our training, we still didn't have a sponsoring church who would be able to support our family.  We had decided to stay in Abilene a while longer to follow up on some leads for a supporting congregation.  We were supposed to be leaving for Porto Alegre in June of the following year.

The leads that we had been given for supporting churches were more or less in the Texas area.  We followed up on these leads, but, as you may or may not know, decisions like this don't happen overnight in churches.  Usually the process is very slow.  Our other teammates who already had sponsoring churches had had these churches for over a year before leaving for the mission field.

By the end of February, it was pretty clear that none of these leads was going to pan out - or at least not in the timeframe that we needed.  We asked ourselves why we were staying in Abilene, Texas if we were about to move to a foreign country and our families lived in Tennessee and Alabama.  We decided to move back to Memphis and stay with Kevin's family until we left for Brazil in June.  We still didn't have the financial support we needed, but we didn't change our plans about moving.  At least now we would be able to see our families more and save some money.  We took Bronwyn and Ansley out of school and I planned to homeschool them until the end of that school year.

Before we left for Tennessee, a good friend who is now an elder at Highland Church in Abilene, Jim Clark, took us to a prayer meeting that he had weekly with two ladies.  Kevin and I went with him to this little chapel and these two ladies and Jim prayed over us.  I remember that one of the ladies kept saying, "I feel like the Lord is telling me to say this:  The battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, powers, and spiritual forces of this dark world."  (Ephesians 6:12)  She repeated this several times in our time together, always saying that she felt that the Lord wanted her to emphasize this. I can say now that I know why He impressed that upon her.  We have learned, through our mistakes and failures, that forming a group of committed believers (a church) is a spiritual work.  It requires spiritual effort and depends on spiritual forces.  Strategies, ideas, plans can be good and have a purpose, but if they become #1 - nothing happens.

Another thing that these two ladies said to us is that praise is a spiritual weapon.  That when we are under attack, if we will praise God, the devil will flee.  I have found this to be true, as well.  Sometimes, when things may not be going like I think they should, I can get a feeling of sadness and depression, that I just can't shake.  If, during those times, I make myself sing praises to God or praise him for His goodness and forgiveness and love, those feelings fade away, or are easier to deal with.  I am so thankful for the messages that God gave us through these friends.  We were extremely blessed by our short prayer time with them.

Another blessing that God gave us before we moved away was, again, from our small group.  We all got together with them one night and they washed our feet.  This is something that Jesus did to bless his disciples, and I don't know why we don't do it more in the church today.  It was certainly a blessing for us as our friends prayed blessings and encouragement over each one of us as they washed our feet.  We will never forget that.

God continued to take care of us, through these friends and in many more little ways.  One "little" thing that happened is that Continent of Great Cities featured our mission team in a flyer that they sent our quarterly.  This flyer made its way to the desk of our college friend from Harding, Andy Thomas.  He had been Kevin's roommate and a friend of mine as well.  We had lost touch with him and he knew nothing about what we were planning to do.  He absent-mindedly picked up the flyer on his desk at work and saw our family in the picture.  He sent us an e-mail out of the blue asking if we had all the support that we needed.  Since we, obviously, didn't, he asked us to stop by his office in Dallas and talk to him about our plans to move to Brazil.

We didn't know it at the time, but God was working in lots of "little" ways, and little by little He would get us to Brazil.  I'll describe this in more detail next time.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Toy Recommendations from a Mom of 6

(I posted on our family blog today.  Hope you are reading about all the good things that happened Sunday.)

If you need some good ideas for toys for your kids, here are a few winners.....

1.  Bath products on shelf in small bathroom.

This is our master bath.  It is REALLY small, but has a big shower (that's good).  Everyday, Giovanni has a little playtime in the corner of the bathroom.  If the toilet is open, he throws all the bath products on the little shelf into the toilet.  We have learned to always close the lid.

He still has fun.  He takes all the powder, lotions, creams, etc. off the shelf and stacks them up on the toilet, knocks them down, then stacks them up again.  He does this for a good while.

Often, during this playtime, he makes a poop.  I guess the proximity of the toilet and the privacy in his little corner spur him on.  Anyway, this is one of his favorite toys.

2.  Pretzel alphabet.

Open bag of pretzel sticks and spell out your name with said pretzels.  Then eat.  A cheap, salty toy.

My kids have never been big "toy" kids.  They end up spending more time and creativity playing with stuff like this around the house.  I remember when I was little, I had a friend that I visited after church on Sunday.  Every Sunday, we would pretend that all the dish soaps and cleaning products under her mom's kitchen sink were people.  We did that for what seemed like hours, and we did it every time I went over there.  It was so much fun.

So, who needs expensive toys??

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Blog-worthy Day

Last night, (when Giovanni woke me up at 2:30 and I couldn't go back to sleep), I determined that today would be a good day.  A blog-worthy day.  Not because anything special was happening, but because I would choose to find the beauty and happiness around me.

However, today started out kind of bad.

Nothing really bad happened, I just was in a grouchy mood and couldn't seem to get out of it.  All I could focus on was the negative.....messy house (although it isn't that bad), kids not doing chores, etc.

Well, thankfully somewhere along the way things got better.

Here are a few things this afternoon that made me smile...
This gerber daisy plant that I bought at the grocery store for 5 reias (around 3 dollars).  It has 3 blooms on it and 3 more waiting to come up.  I love how it looks in our dining room.
Funny puppies who wouldn't let Ansley do her sit-ups.
A sweet husband who washed the car and then took me out on a date.
A neighborhood park, and kids who evidently actually DO know how to play together without fighting.
He was having fun watching his brothers and sister play soccer.

But, then decided he would get in on some action, too.

Hope you found a lot to be happy about today, too!

Monday, May 24, 2010

47 Things...

Even though I said I wasn't going to make any lists for myself this year, I did make a list a few weeks ago.  The title of this list was "47 Things I want to do before I turn 47".

Yesterday, I got to cross one of those things off my list.

I ran in a 5K.

I ran with a team from the drug rehab center that our church helps.  It was an 8 person relay for the Porto Alegre, Marathon.

Do I stick out like a sore thumb?  Could I be most of these guys' mom?  Let's don't answer that.

I did it.

I didn't stop, and I finished in 34 minutes and 34 seconds.  Overall our team finished 8th in our category and there were 66 teams in our category!  So my time must not have hurt the team that badly!

I am going to sign up for another 5K, hopefully with Kevin and some of our kids.

Now I need to work on my "look".

Here is the "look" of a runner.  (Isn't he handsome?) :

Here is the "look" of a 46 year old mom of six trying to turn into a runner.

Feet barely leaving the ground, etc.  Sometimes when I run, I can kind of forget that I am running.  My legs don't hurt, I'm breathing easy, and before you know it I'm done.

Sometimes I feel every step.  Yesterday was one of those days.  Maybe because it was pretty hot.

Anyway, I finished and I am proud about that.

Our day yesterday was awesome in so many ways.  Check our family blog this week to find out more about it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Cassia

Last year our house church was privileged to get to know Daiana, Everton and their kids.  They became part of our family.  You can read about their story here (scroll down to start from the beginning).

Now they live in a suburb of Porto Alegre and we don't get to see them as much as we would like to, but our love for them is the same.

Last week, their precious daughter, Cassia, turned 1.  First birthday parties are traditionally a big deal in Brazil.  We were so happy to open our home on Sunday and throw a celebration for Cassia's first birthday.
Lots of Diana's family came.  On the couch is her grandma, sister and mom.  Diana is standing in front of her sister in law and new nephew and her brother is on the right.  Later he told Daiana that he felt so good being in our home and with our church family.  We plan on getting to know him better so that can happen more often.
We had traditional "salgadinhos" which are little fried cheese and meat balls that just melt in your mouth.  (all you Brazilians know what I'm talking about....)
Also negrinhos, which are called "little soldiers" in other parts of Brazil.  Basically little balls of fudgey goodness.
I made this cake and was kind of running late, thus the chocolate frosting turning into soup before our eyes.  The little jars were made by our arts and crafts group.  They are just left-over baby food jars with the tops covered, and filled with gummy fruits and worms.  Each kid took one home.
Besides Daiana's blood family, her church family was there as well.  Here is Flavia with Clarice.  We are so very thankful that Clarice and her husband João live near Everton and Daiana and are mentoring them spiritually and worshipping with them on Sundays.
Tiago and Camilla got drunk.  No, not really.  We just had soft drinks, but looks like Tiago really enjoyed his.
Cassia stays glued to her mom.  She is so sweet, but definitely a mama's girl.

I can't describe how much fun we all had.  These pictures just show lots of joy and happiness.  It makes me feel so great that this family has come this far. So many people have helped them and prayed for them.  We share in their joy!

Now our challenge is to help Daiana and Everton raise these 5 great boys and sweet little girl to be solid and strong followers of Jesus.

Happy Birthday, Cassia.  You are loved.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

This and That

Here are just some interesting and exciting tidbits about my life right now.....

1.  I started running (again).

My husband is one of those people who can not do anything for a month then just wake up one day and decide he's going to run a 10k.  And he does it.
I am one of those people who has to work up to and train for weeks to run a 5k.
I go from "I hate running" thoughts at the beginning, to "I can actually run, and it's not so bad if I am wearing headphones" thoughts in the middle, and later "I don't love running, but it is good for me and I can do it, so don't think about it, just put on your shoes and go" thoughts.  I'm in the third one right now.
I'm not sure what stage comes next (maybe, liking running?).  I've never made it that far!
I have signed up to run in the Porto Alegre Marathon on Sunday.  Relax... just a relay team.  We will each run about 5k.
But it has been great motivation for me because I HAVE to be able to do my part or I will let the whole team down.
Yesterday I ran 6k around our neighborhood park.  It is pouring raining today, so I'm taking a rest.
I should be ready by Sunday...

2.  This past weekend we had 3 birthday parties and 1 baby shower.
We thought that one of the parties was on Friday.  It was for our neighbor.  As we were leaving the house (all of us) to go to the party, we looked across the street and saw our neighbor's family just milling around the house.  "Why aren't they at the party?" we thought.
Then we checked the invitation.  The party was Saturday, along with the 2 other parties and baby shower.
So back in the house we went.
Here are the pillows that Bronwyn and I made for our presents.

I bought the striped ones and just added the pictures.  The black one was made from leftover fabric.
I thought they turned out cute.

3. And lest you have some kind of notion that I am a super woman, here is my house on Saturday morning.
Awfully, embarrassingly messy. (this is just one room, but the rest was just as bad...)
I get really discouraged when it gets this way.  But then I looked closer.
This messy kitchen was where Carys was making special shaped pancakes from a junior cookbook all by herself.

Anderson was leaving us some helpful reminders on sticky notes on the door.
The left one says "Don't run away from God", the right one, "Stay with God".
Good things to remember, don't you think?

And this little guy just put on his orange pimp hat and cruised around the obstacle course.
So, who cares about a little mess.

Anyway, I made a big list of chores and everyone worked hard and we got it cleaned up just in time to head out the door for the parties.

I have more to tell, but that's enough for now.

Monday, May 17, 2010

One More

Sorry for the lack of blogging last week, all you loyal followers.  (ha ha)  I don't know what happened.  I was really busy, but that is kind of normal.  I do have a lot to tell about and things to show, though.

I know I already showed you the Mother's Day poster that we sent to our moms.  But, I wanted to put a few more pictures from our photo shoot on the blog.  I know the grandparents would want to see them and hopefully the rest of you won't mind looking at my gorgeous kids one more time!






I am a proud mom.