Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Switch is Flipped

Remember this post about Eissa (spelled Asa back then)...which just so happened to coincide with the news of Cass being on the way.

It's like that, with our kids anyway...a switch gets flipped and then, voila...they are walking.

Yes, Cass is walking. I've said before, we've enjoyed having her 'be a baby' (or seem that way) for longer than the others. Hadley walked at 9 1/2 months, Eissa at a few days shy of 10 months, and Grady was 11 months. Cass on the other hand...ha ha ha.

She is 14 months now, by the way, and she literally cracked us up. She was fully capable and we knew it, but she was just not interested...or sometimes it seemed that it just hadn't crossed her mind. We didn't care. We never tried to coerce her to walk or standing across the room and setting her up and trying to get her to come to us. But, when we had something else to do and had to let go of her hands, it was like we could see the wheels turning in her head. She would 'say'..."Hmm, O.K., let me just bend my knees then and get back on the floor...fine...crawling is O.K. with me...whatever." It was SO funny.

She never even took baby steps...NOTHING!! Then, Tuesday morning she took a couple of steps. She was excited by some music and some movement in dance class (I'll tell you about that soon) and took a couple of steps to get to Eissa. Nothing after that. Then, I was in the shower after herding all the little girls through for their showers on Thursday night and Joel came in and said, "You've got to get out's happened...Cass is walking." :)

I got out and went in with the fam and there she was...just walking clear across the room practically, like she'd been walking for big deal. This kid is hilarious!

She got SUCH a kick out of it too. The batteries were dead in the camera that I usually grab quick videos on, so unfortunately I didn't get any video of that night. But, here are some fun pictures. And then after the pictures, there is some video I got just this morning. She usually walks more at night...for instance, she didn't even really attempt walking yesterday until last night. Maybe she took after her Mama...I prefer not to start walking until after lunch every day myself. ;) Ha ha ha.

Congratulations, Cass!! You are such a big girl!

All of the kids are excellent with Cass. But, Grady especially is always so proud of her and is so sweet with protective of and helpful with his wee little sister. It's really sweet.

The Eissa roadblock. ;) Ha ha.

Whew...that was fun, but now it's time for bed. ;)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Comments on the Comments

First of all, let me just say that I have the bestest friends eh-ver! Seriously, I'm not just blowing smoke. I mean, for real. You are the most encouraging folks of all time. You love me and pray for me and just let me be honest with you all no matter what...even if it's yucky, spewing honesty. Thank you so very much for that!! I am so very blessed!!

I just wanted to address some of the comments here today. So, here goes...

"So, what are you thinking about everything?"

That is a question that me and Joel just randomly ask each other often. Depending on how the questionee is actually feeling at the time, the answer may simply elaborate on the happenings of the simple as that. Although, it may go to the other extreme of going into where we see our lives going, focusing on what we feel like our lives are looking like overall, etc.

It's a great, very open-ended never know what you are going to get as an answer. But, it really works for us...and really keeps the lines of communication open (although that's not the motivation in asking...we aren't thinking hmm, we need to unclog the lines of communication so I'll ask that question now...see what I'm saying...just thought I'd throw that in). So, in doing that, many times it brings up re-evaluations.

For instance, after we settled in Saline (when we went back to the states for 2 months this past winter), one day Joel was being very contemplative and so I asked him...what are you thinking about everything (basically, what's on your mind?)? He turned and looked at me and said, "What are we doing?" It was so that moment, in those days/weeks, we were really thrown into a situation where we had to ask ourselves...what in the world are we doing? What is it that's really important? What is it that we are really supposed to be doing? We were in major re-evaluation mode.

If you read my blog during those times, you know that there was a whirlwind of emotions going on in my being. Yeah...whirl-wind. But, the point is that honestly, we are CONSTANTLY re-evaluating. Connie, thanks so much for bringing that point up. It's SO true. And so very needed. Without it, you get stuck...sometimes in a place that God never intended you to be in.

Basically, if you are reading this, but haven't read the comments section of yesterday's post, please do so. I can't list out all of the things I loved about what you each said, but you guys, what awesome nuggets of truth in each and every comment! Such encouragement and wise counsel. Thank you all so much for that (and in the emails I received as well).

I really think that as of right now, I'm dealing with just an all out battle of flesh vs. spirit, to put it frankly. Not that all of those things that I listed in my post yesterday aren't all GREAT things...because they are. Things like my kids growing up with family, my kids getting fussed over (because that SO does a Mama heart good), etc. But, as amazing as those things are, if it's not what God has for us (in the capacity that I imagine them anyway), it's just not what is the best for us. We all know's just hard to swallow sometimes, isn't it? Ugh.

So, I'm battling. It's hard. So stinkin' dang hard. I just want what I want. :) Give it to me now (picture spoiled brat girl from Willy Wonka). What makes it so hard, though, for everyone, is that the things that I want given to me now really are genuinely good things. Why wouldn't God want those things for me? Why would God deprive children...of all these things? Why?!?!

I have no idea. But, His ways are higher...His thoughts higher...blah blah blah. Right?

So, basically, I just have to trust Him.

As Nicole said, I know all the 'right' things to say and feel and do. We all do, don't we? All the Christian cliches come to mind about how God never promised it would be easy, but He did promise that we'd never walk alone (actually, I think that's a Ginny Owens song...ha...dang good song by the way...powerful). But, the bottom line is that we all have to walk out our obedience one step at a time. Sometimes it's easy and we are pretty much all out sprinting. Sometimes, we are crawling, or just kind of standing still even...begging God to please let us in on where we're going and why. But, we all have to do it. And sometimes it's just. freakin'. dang. hard.

Amanda asked me what were some of the scriptures I've been drawing on while walking through this (or crawling...whatever :) ). While I was fasting, I was reading through Matthew. I just love how Jesus just so didn't pull any punches or beat around the bush. He said some really hard things...that we have to follow sometimes. Things that jump out at me EVERY time I read them...

"And they left their nets AT ONCE and went with Him." --talking about Peter and Andrew in Matt. 4

"They IMMEDIATELY followed Him, leaving the boat and their father behind." --talking about James and John, also in Matt. 4

Matt. 8:19-22 -- 19 Then one of the teachers of religious law said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”

20 But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man[e] has no place even to lay his head.”

21 Another of his disciples said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”

22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me now. Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead."

My Bible's notes to that passage say, "As God's Son, Jesus did not hesitate to demand complete loyalty. Even family loyalty was not to take priority over the demands of obedience."

Of course, there is my all-time favorite Matthew verse (or verse in general just because it is such a life verse for me) that I feel like God so very clearly gave to me way back before I'd even met Joel (and had no idea the extent of what this verse might actually mean in my life)...

Matthew 19:29 -- 29 And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.

When we were en route to Brazil by way of Oregon and then Boston back in '07, I purchased a Portuguese/English parallel Bible. I thought it'd be fun to memorize a verse in Portuguese before I left the states. I opened up the Bible and 'randomly' chose a verse on the page. A few months later, we were having our very first couples meeting in our home here in Brazil with our at the time new church family when one of the leaders (our now very dear friend, Neto) was about to leave. He came back in though and said that he just really felt like he was supposed to share this verse with us...that he felt like God really wanted to re-iterate this to us. and the same...the verse I memorized and the verse Neto felt impressed to share with us...

Isaiah 26:3 - You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

And then just Sunday night, Joel was flipping through the Bible getting to the passage being read at church, when Psalm 91 jumped out at me again. That Psalm always jumps out at me, but specifically verse 11 that night: "For He orders his angels to protect you wherever you go." The angels and the protection are great, but aren't what hit me that night. It was the wherever you go part. I don't think I can describe exactly why, but I just felt like He said those words to me..."wherever you go, Michawn."

Then I read it in the Amplified version:
For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service].

Did you catch that? In all your ways...of obedience?

Pretty amazing. As much as I would love it if He were, honestly, God isn't done with me here in Brazil, here in these circumstances. And He may not be for years...for my entire lifetime. I'm just going to continue to walk. I might be at a standstill some of the time (when my flesh and spirit are really going at it). I might be crawling part of the way. But, someday I will be sprinting again...until I come up against something that makes me crawl again. ;) Hopefully as I live this life more and more, the crawling will become less and less. Right? ;)

The cool thing is that the things I feel called to...the things that aren't quite here just yet...God is faithful in keeping that calling in me alive. Just now as I sat down to type this out, I received an email asking for my help in something that I feel like will be a big part of what I do with myself in this life. It's so cool that even in the hardest of times, He always and continuously speaks and lets His presence be known.

Believe me, you will be the first to know if, upon one of our little re-evaluation sessions, we feel like God "frees" us to live near family and a library :) and the lake and T-ball. ;) Oh, and a Baskin Robbins. ;) My ideal life would be spending a year here and a year there...what do you think about that, God? Who knows...maybe our work for God will eventually involve a scenario like that. We will keep you posted.

But, thank you friends SO MUCH...for standing with me, for loving me, for encouraging me and praying for me. For suggesting things that help (loved all of your suggestions and stories and thoughts). For just allowing me to be honest and never ever putting up a wall to that...even when the things I'm saying aren't too pretty and aren't so Christianity correct (similar to politically correct).

Keep me in your prayers...I know you will. I'm a long way from sprinting. ;)

And, I actually went ahead and looked up that Ginny Owens good. Enjoy and be blessed by it. It has always been just so extremely powerful to me. Ginny is blind by the way...although that might not at all be what the song is about, it still sheds a whole new light on it for me.

Again, thanks so much. Love you guys!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Focus and Attitude

(for a fun update with pictures, be sure to scroll down to the next post too if you didn't catch it after I posted it yesterday; but this was on my mind today, so I had to write)

I mentioned in my #3 yesterday how I'm having a hard time right now.

I just read a post on a friend's blog about this question: How important is our happiness?

Great topic of discussion.

It's nice to be happy, isn't it? There are many reasons people are happy I guess. Some are happy because they are living their dreams...every detail of them. Some are happy because they are living the perfect American dream (I am not opposed to the 'American dream' by the long as it's the American dream that God has for you).

I look at some people and sometimes think how nice it would be just to do what I wanted...because I know that's what they are doing. They didn't ask God where He wanted them to live or what He wanted them to do. They just did what seemed logical...just kind of fell into what they are doing and where they live. Of course, some might attribute the 'falling into it' to God. I wonder though, if they had actively pursued God and sought out His thoughts and desires, would they truly be living where they are living and doing what they are doing? It's interesting to think about.

Happiness is definitely a good thing. And I think that being in the very center of God's will for your life is definitely where the MOST happiness can be found. But, may take time. Here's my story anyway...

It sucks. I hate it. I, in the day-to-day living of this life, am not 'happy.' That is, if I compare it to what I would LOVE my life to look like, it doesn't equal up to happiness.

I would love to be able to:
1. go visit family...just go to my Granny's house just for kicks...just so that my kids could know her and that our kids could know all their extended family and rub shoulders with them as they pass by Granny's house to read the paper or grab some goodies off her snack table or just to see who else is there (because Granny's is the happening place if you haven't gathered that)
2. go to all the family functions...not miss out on graduations, weddings, babies being born, etc.
3. go to a library with my kids
4. go to a MOPS group or something similar (because some MOPS groups are lame)...some group function to look forward to going to every week

It is so hard not being able to understand everything going on around you...language, customs, traditions, etc.

It is hard knowing that my kids are missing out on really KNOWING their extended family.

It's hard dressing my kids up really cute, but having NOBODY to make a fuss over them...not a fuss like family members can make.

It is hard knowing that my kids won't do what I did as a child. So many of my friends' children are "following their parents' footsteps" in making memories and doing fun activities...little league T-ball/softball, going to the lake, learning to ski, going to grab some ice cream (good ice cream...Brazilian ice cream is horrible) or a snow cone, and playing basketball.

Some things here are 'similar'...that makes the transition easy at first I think. But, over time, that makes things even harder in some ways. You see, there are things that are similar all around, but nothing (nothing) that is exactly the way you are used always falls short of what you are used to. It's always foreign and not familiar.

So, those are the hard things for me.

How does happiness fit in?

The thing is that I KNOW that God is the only One Who can provide true happiness. I know that His will for me is what will bring me the most happiness in the end. And there it is...those three little the. end.

I know that God has very special things for me...and the plan involves, at least in part, Brazil. Brazil, where I can feel so foreign and alone, where I don't have the comforts of home and family, where my children will not grow up doing the same things I did making the same memories as me, where my kids aren't truly adored like if we lived near family, where I will always be an outsider to a certain extent (no matter how well I integrate into the system).

I know what you are are thinking OH MY GOSH, but your kids are going to grow up knowing 2 languages and making so many great memories doing other things and their lives are going to be so rich and full, and, and, and...

And...that's not the point. Of course to all of those things. But, there is still the other side. And again...there it is...

I don't WANT them doing other things...I want them to experience the same things I did. It was such a fun growing up...such fun memories, such great experiences, etc. I don't want them to miss out on knowing their family...and I mean experiencing their family daily, not just knowing who they are or getting the occasional package from them.

So, as I said yesterday...just more dying to self.

Obedience is so hard. Especially when it involves instructions concerning your WHOLE LIFE and such a different life than you'd imagined.

It just requires a daily decision to walk it out...obedience. And a daily decision to make the most of CHOOSE to be happy and content and focus on the things that DO make you happy...basically count your blessings.

A really famous theologian :) once sang "It's not having what you want, but wanting what you've got."

Basically, no matter what you have or where you live or what you are doing with your life, you can always make yourself miserable thinking about your depends on what you choose to focus on. Granted, some people have to focus harder than others to make themselves miserable since they have a pretty nice life. But, it can always be done...

And the opposite is true too. No matter your circumstances, you can always live in a way (in your mind and thoughts and attitudes) that brings about happiness and contentment.

How important is our happiness? I think that God wants us to be happy. But, I think that His idea of happiness involves us learning to be happy to be in His matter what stage you are in in the fulfillment of things concerning His will for you...not us being happy because we are getting the circumstances we want.

So, I think that our happiness is very important. But, not our worldly, earthly happiness...not our happiness that comes from our flesh. But, our happiness that comes from learning to be happy wherever God puts us (hmm, reminds me of a certain verse {Phil. 4:11-12})...looking forward to the things that He has for us, even if those things aren't quite evident in our day-to-day living just yet. So much of it, I believe, is in the thoughts that we allow ourselves to entertain (take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ). Also learning to choose to be happy in the day-to-day living, in the daily mundane tasks that you do over and over and stinkin' over again for weeks on end, with no break. Learning to count your blessings and focus on the things that you have to be grateful and thankful for, not what you don't have...not what your life doesn't include (I'm not talking about material things here...things like family, a house, etc.).

Sometimes people just want to wallow. Sometimes it's just part of their process of letting go and that part of them, those wishes and desires and dreams, being killed. That's's part of long as they are moving forward toward the place of learning to let go...learning to be content, to choose happiness.

Hmmm, I'm still learning for sure.

Addendum: Literally, as I just finished typing that last sentence, my son (age 5) walked over to me and proceeded to announce that he had to throw up. As he finished making his announcement, out it spewed. All over me, the couch, the floor, the corner of my laptop, the TV and DVD remote controls, the wall, the toys nearby, and my precious sweet sick son himself.

O.K., let's see how this plays out.

The way I wanted to respond:

"God, what the &*@&#%@*! I'm trying here. Give me a freakin' break, will you? If I lived a 'normal' life in my own culture with my own set ways of doing things and things familiar to me all the time where I could just 'ahh' in life, this would not be such a big deal. But, you have me here...where I am in a continual 'heightened' state anyway. (FYI: when you are in an unfamiliar place, you just generally and automatically...and subconciously...exist in a less than relaxed state...less than you would if you lived in a familiar place that is). God, days like this (and we've had many lately) are 10 times harder here than they would be if I lived in that more relaxed state. So here's what I say...screw it! This is just a big bunch of *#&@ and I'm freakin' done, got it?!?"

Now, the proper response/attitude/focus:
"O.K., God, this totally sucks (because He knows how we feel anyway...and it does). But, I trust You. I know that this is going to somehow work out for my good (not necessarily the having to clean up chunky spaghetti vomit part, but everything as a know what I mean)...and the good of others in general...and for Your glory. I know that this is an opportunity for growth. I know that You love me and want the best for me and you have SO MUCH planned for me...more than I could ever ask or imagine. I'm going to focus on the bigger picture. Help me, Jesus!"

Hmmm, which one did I choose?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Playing Catch-Up On My Thoughts

1. We are all much better now, thank you. So very thankful for health!

2. I started a Bible Study with a couple of girls here (Americans) who have already been doing Bible Studies together for a while...they asked me to join. We are doing Hosea...such a hard book for me to swallow, but really good.

3. I've been having a hard time lately with my life. ;) Sounds so dramatic, but you know, just more dying to self and dying to the dreams that if it were up to me, would be a part of my life. It's not up to me, though, and the Person it is up to, knows way better than me, I know this. But, it's just still hard to follow through with that knowledge in my heart and actions and attitudes. But, on we go...

4. The bottom line with the whole vaccinations thing for us basically came down to this: it's choosing between two evils. That's the way we see it. There is no ideal answer given the circumstances. For us, the least evil seems to be using the horrible things that happened in the past (the abortions that were performed that gave us these vaccines) to now combat the horrible in the present (disease). Not only does it offer some protection for us personally, but also for the people we come into contact with. Unfortunately, entire tribes have been wiped out before due to an infected foreigner visiting their area. I don't want my kids being paralyzed by polio, something that is preventable. And I don't want to infect others either. Unfortunately there are decisions we have to make that involve no ideal answers. This is one of those instances. If you live in the United States and don't vaccinate, you are safer...for now. But, the more people don't vaccinate, the more prevalent these 'old-timey' diseases will become again. Like I said, no ideal answers...each person has to pray about it and decide for themselves...not just based on their own wishes with their own bodies though...they must also think about the people/the 'innocent bystanders' that they may come into contact with.

5. Joel and I had a very, very nice free day yesterday. Since I was romancing our toilet for my actual birthday weekend, this was the postponed celebration. Our wonderful sitter came over yesterday morning and me and Joel went and spent the day in Goiania. We ate at Outback with a friend (Marcelo) and a couple of his Then we went to the mall next door (Flamboyant) and read in the bookstore as we sipped on an iced coffee (LOVE that). Then we went to see Wolverine (very good) and headed home. 10 full hours of adult-only activity and conversation. We did miss our kids and headed home even earlier than needed because of this (we really like our kids apparently), but we had a very FULL and FUN day. Thanks, Babe!

6. Slumdog Millionaire doesn't get to our movie rental store until next month. The book, though, was available (in English...they have one rack of English) yesterday at the bookstore. So, I picked it up and started reading it. I have to say that I usually DESPISE reading fiction, but very, very, very occasionally I will pick one up. I can count the number of fiction books I've read on one hand. But, I'm excited about reading this and then being able to see the movie right after.

7. The kids are all doing excellent! Nothing new since the last update. They are so very fun.

8. I am busy today working on the kids' baby books...yes, all four of them. Ha ha ha. Thankfully, I opened up Grady's and a lot of his was filled in. I didn't remember that I had even done anything to it. ;) But, yeah...much more work to do with them all. But, I was reading about LifeBooks (really cool...a definite must) last night and thought how sad it would be for me to do a LifeBook for our adopted children one day, but own poor biological children didn't even have their "LifeBooks" done. ;) So, here we go...

9. Speaking of adoption, I've been looking into it more in what Americans have to do to adopt, both foreign and domestic (but more specifically internationally). I came across a great 'how-to' that I thought I'd share (so there you go...just click on the link there), just in case you are looking into it. But, I wanted to ask you all too. If you've had any experience with adoption or if you have any helpful information at all, I would love to get your feedback...just the story of your you went about the process, agencies you used, what you wish you'd known before, etc. Feel free to comment (or email me if you are more comfortable with that) no matter where you are in the process as well.

10. And there has to be a 10, just to round it all out. Hmmm...
Oh, yes...I'm pregnant!

Kidding. I'm just so used to saying that every year...I'm still trying to get used to this 'new phase' I'm in.

How about some pictures for #10? O.K., here you go...

The picture at the top of this post was taken on Mother's Day. Here are few more from that day.
We were at a Mother's Day breakfast at our church.

Everyone piling up on my bed to wish me a Happy Birthday! P.S. Notice the kids' artwork all over our walls. They got really tired of our blank walls in our room apparently. ;) Love amount of money could buy the caliber of this artwork!
Grady showing me his card.
So proud.
Oh dear.
Such silliness!! ;)
The shirt and necklace the kids picked out for me. You can see Cass on her way up to me. I thought she just wanted to play with my necklace, but no...
She had to get some snuggling. Awww.
The kids with the cards they picked out for me. So cute!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


That's how old I am today. Craziness. 35 just seems way older than 34. Did you know that I will be considered 'high risk' if/when I get pregnant again, just because of my age? Yeah. Lovely.

As you know I was fasting. I broke my fast on Friday after 10 days. It was a pretty amazing time. I may talk about it more later. But, a run-down of the past few days...

Eissa got sick on Thursday morning and puked all day long. She was a great little patient, poor little thing. It's always so 'scary' when a child that age, who is too young still to grasp the concept of running to the bathroom or puking in a bucket. It just kind of comes out wherever they are, you know? Thankfully (insert by the grace of God), she always just happened to be standing on the tile floor whenever things came flying (except once when she got just a tiny, tiny bit on the couch, but she was already pretty empty by that point, so no damage done). I was cleaning all day, but she was fine by the next morning.

And then came Grady and Hadley. Thursday night, Joel and I were in bed just a little after 10pm. We were exhausted anyway, but Joel also had to get up at 5am and leave for a big test 2 hours away on Friday morning. We laid down, Joel got done praying and thanking God for our health, and then the gagging started. :) Ahh, the irony. Don't get me wrong...a little stomach virus now and then is still considered great health...I don't take it for granted that we are so very blessed. I just thought it was funny.

I heard it and Joel said that he thought Grady was just coughing. I have nurse ears. I can detect vomit noises from a mile away. They both had to have showers and bed changes. Thankfully, they are old enough now to realize the advantages of puking in a bucket, so the remainder of the night, we just emptied those...and they ended up sleeping better than initially expected too. We weren't up too many times.

So, the next day (we are now to Friday) we just laid around all day, with our trusty buckets close by. Eissa was fine at this point. Grady ended up being good to go by mid-morning. Hadley was still pretty puny. She puked a little in the morning, but by afternoon was done with that. But, she just laid around, very weak and still with a tummy ache all day. She even happily took a nap with her sisters that afternoon...while Grady helped me make cookies (to congratulate Daddy for passing his big test...yay!). Hadley finally ate a little bit of toast that night and was fine by Saturday morning.

And then it was my turn. At 5am Saturday guessed it. Same thing, just the adult version. I was sick as a dog and I HATE to vomit, but finally gave in and of course felt much better. I had nausea ALL DAY LONG and finally we ordered some Tagamet (my tummy just felt all ulcery...I just thought it would help and it did). I woke up with nausea twinges a couple of times during the night, but other than that I was fine.

This morning I had some more twinges and took another Tagamet, but other than just being incredibly weak, I've been fine. I ate some toast, had some watermelon, and even drank a bit of coffee type stuff (something hot sounded good). I really have no appetite at all, so we'll see how it goes tomorrow...if Joel is able to go in to Asas or not.

Poor Cass succumbed to the dreaded horror that is sweeping through our domain last night. Joel was up with her a few times from 11pm-3am. She's had a couple of other episodes, but seems to be mostly in the clear now.

Oh dear sweet Jesus, please spare Joel!! ;)

So, my birthday today has been 'interesting.' The kids brought me their cards (store bought even) and presents. I think it's been years since I got presents (we just aren't big present people, although we truly love it when it happens too). But that was fun...I got a cute shirt and a necklace.

I just left my room for the first time in 2 days about 10 minutes ago...I ventured out all the way to the living room. :) Weak, I tell you.

Although I do hate being sick, today (since the nausea is gone) has been a nice birthday. Not your typical go out to eat birthday, but a very, very relaxing one for sure. I've watched a whole 1/2 season of ER (hey hey...although how fun would it have been to have all my ETBU roomies here to watch it with me...Thursday nights were our favorite!!...Steph, Rice Chex would definitely be in order...hmm, that even sounds good...too bad they don't have that here in Brazil). I've done some reading. It's been nice. And of course I have the most amazing husband in the world who just let me relax (and who even got to play a couple hours worth of volleyball himself while the little girls were napping).

35. I am so getting old. It's so freakin' weird.


I'm no expert on the all. I've never felt a calling to that 'people group' and have never done a ton of research concerning them, although the following video sparked an interest again, so I've read some recently. I do know that they are a very lost people and even, in the extreme following of Islam, are very, very scary to be blunt (in much the same way as they think that 'extreme Christian followers' are 'scary' and their enemy). I read this today...great points from one of my favorite men. And I have a book that, in a compact way, discusses each religion, how it came to be, the contrast of each with Christianity, do's and don'ts of evangelism with each, etc. Very, very interesting concerning Islam. I encourage you to do your own research. Pray for the Muslim people. Ask God how you can personally 'reach out'...what your own personal role in that area might be. Because, honestly...I think we all have some sort of role to play in 'countering' their grip on the world as a whole. That may sound dramatic, but I think it's true.

I did want to share this video. It is interesting and very, very sobering. As I've said before, I do not buy the argument of not using some form of non-abortifacient birth control in attempts to birth more Christians so that Christians may outnumber other religions. Numerically, that makes sense. But, after all, God has never needed to rely on numbers. So, that isn't the point of my posting this video...don't take it that way from me. I just thought it was incredibly thought-provoking and, as I said, sobering. Thought you might find it interesting too.

I know that so many of you have much more knowledge of this subject and even how Islam relates to prophecy and such. Please share. I'd love to get your thoughts.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Skylar and Fasting (Take 2) and More

First of all, Jamin, you crack me up. :)

If you didn't see the updates on Skylar in the comments section of the last post, here is the latest:

We are home!!! We got home around noon on Thursday. She is sleeping right now and has spent the afternoon lying in bed and watching tv. She is getting pretty bored with the whole situation. She is getting very spoiled with everyone waiting on her. She has said the temp cast is too heavy for her to really move. We are supposed to go next Thursday (14th) to have the pins removed and a regular cast put on. Please continue to pray that we have a smooth week with no bumps, falls, or anything else that might go wrong. We are still supposed to watch her for any circulation problems. I don't think there will be any but we aren't taking any chances.

Thanks for the prayers already!
Jessica (Skylar's mom)

So, so, so glad that she is doing well. Thank you all for your prayers and keep them up.

Fasting has been spectacular. I've done fasts many times before where I just food (long ago...pre-kids as I've said), but I got to thinking about it. I don't think that I've ever done a water-only fast...ever. Not that I can remember. I would drink only, but at that time, I hadn't really had a LOT of teaching on fasting and hadn't researched it myself. No drinks were off fave drinks during a fast were the Mocha Cappucino thingies that come in glass bottles (Starbuck's namebrand) and a Mocha Blast frappucino thingy from Baskin Robbins. :) I would have a couple of the coffee bottles and one Baskin Robbins thing per fast usually (3-4 days). Not always, but usually. I was still denying self of course because I wasn't eating...and it was still the power of God 'getting me through' since I didn't change anything else about my life during those days (was usually working 12 hour shifts at the hospital, lifting patients and walking the halls for those hours), but still. Far from a water fast.

So, I did the water-only fast for 2 days. I'm feeling real breakthrough. By the end of just the 2nd day, I'd already gotten clear direction on several things. Oh, what happens when you de-clutter!!

One of the things that I got direction on was that I am supposed to fast longer...much longer actually. I will be doing an extended juice fast. So, I had a small juice on Thursday night and one yesterday morning. Then I went shopping last night and got all the goodies (MANY fruits and vegetables) that I need in order to juice (no store bought juices...all prepared by me in my trusty Vita-Mix...oh how I love that thing!). I started with the juice regimen this morning.

So far it's been really easy. It's always been the case with me...when God truly calls me to a fast, it's not difficult. It is just really supernatural and incredibly powerful. So far, like I said, I've gotten clear direction on several things already...and I'm only on Day 4! I also have a hunger for the Word like I haven't in a really long time. I'm pretty pumped.

All of that to say that I really don't know if I'll be on here for a while. I might pop in and post occasionally. I might not. Just know that if I seem to have 'disappeared,' you know why. And be praying for me that I get all that I am supposed to out of this time. Thanks.

Quick update on each kiddo, just to tide you over:

Grady - You know that he lost his first tooth and is riding his bike all over tarnation now. He is also doing very well with school and is reading!! We are on Lesson 37 of the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and he's learned lots of sounds so far...m, s, w, l, u, n, f, t, e, a, o, i, th...and maybe some more I can't think of right now. He can read words that have those letters/sounds in them...with the sounds that he learned (for instance, we have only done short o, not the long o sound). He loves it and I'm loving the satisfaction of seeing results as I teach them.

Hadley - Hadley is really shooting up and looking like such a big little girl these days. Her hair is super long and she's getting tall. It's weird, but fun. She's still her feisty little self, but has learned very well how to use that feistiness for good. ;) She is so good with her little sisters and loves to display how good she is with them, often telling me "we're friend." She and Grady remain SUPER close though...I still have to remind them to include Eissa sometimes, but much more rarely than before. :)

Eissa - Such a funny little girl. She LOVES to play with Cass now and Cass really, really enjoys it too...Eissa is SUPER at making Cass laugh. I love to hear them in the other room, Eissa doing some crazy tricks and motions, making Cass do these HUGE belly laughs. So fun. Eissa is still the little mother of the family, loving on her babies always. I'll look over and Grady and Hadley will be tussling on the floor. Eissa will be sitting in her chair, feeding her baby, just watching the show.

Cass - Right before she turned 1, I wrote about how her ABSOLUTE perfection had disappeared, although she was still pretty perfect. Well, it is still the case. And I think that now that we are accustomed to her actually voicing her wishes occasionally, she has moved back into the absolutely perfect category. For instance, we had to run many errands last Saturday. We left our house right around the time that she takes her morning nap. So, she was going to miss that. We figured she would later fall asleep in the shopping cart as we grocery shopped after lunch. No...she just played merrily in the cart the whole time. She NEVER fussed, the whole day. We got back pretty late and she just played until it was time for bed. ALWAYS happy. In-credible. (as you can see, she also loves to climb)

Cass is so different from the other ones in a couple of different ways. One is that she is still not walking...and doesn't even seem interested in trying. Cracks me up. And that is TOTALLY fine with me. I've decided that is just God...since I don't have another baby on the way already like I did with the others, He is allowing me to have a 'baby' for longer with Cass since she is not walking and is also so small...seems more like a baby for longer. :) Also, a new development is that if she takes a morning nap, she usually doesn't sleep when I put her down for her afternoon nap...she just plays in her crib. The others took 2 naps a day until they were at least 18 months old (even a little older). I like that. Cass actually took 2 naps very easily yesterday...she had woken up a little earlier in the morning. So, I don't know...we're figuring it out. It's just different.

I'm still just doing the normal Mama stuff. I love homeschooling and am loving, like I said, seeing the results of doing school with the kids. I am able to teach them so much...really important life lessons type stuff...all throughout the day. I wouldn't be able to do that if they weren't with me. We are over halfway through with our Sonlight curriculum. We have been working on learning to recognize and write our numbers in Math for quite some time and this week started learning about the 10s place value. Fun.

I am still not going to Portuguese class, but I think that I will probably start back soon...if only for one night a week. That is one of the other things I felt like God said to me. He seemed to make it clear that it was time to go back, not for Portuguese sake (although, obviously that is beneficial), but because my Portuguese teacher is my outside ministry right now. Hmmm...ok. That put a new spin on going back and makes me excited to go back. LOVE it when we get God's perspective on things.

Joel continues to love his work at Asas. He is soon taking a big test...his airplane mechanics test, for his A&P license here in Brazil. It's been about 9 years since he took that test in the U.S., so he's been studying up alot. 9 years is a long time...he was understandably a little rusty on some things. Add onto it that it is in Portuguese...many names they have for things in Portuguese as related to airplane mechanics he has had to learn and memorize as he studied because they are totally different than in English. Anyway, just be praying for him. He is also going to start taking an avionics class soon there at the Asas school. He's excited about it.

O.K., not so 'quick' after all, but we have a few people in our family...we automatically need at least 6 paragraphs for an update. :)

Alright, I'm off. Again, I may pop back on occasionally, but if not, you know why.

Oh, and HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!! :) By the way, that 'news bulletin' email that some of you didn't get, go here and fill in your name in your head. Or send one to yourself (that's what I did :) ). It was my Mother's Day well wishes to you, but for some of you it didn't work for whatever reason. Be blessed!

And, now also for your viewing pleasure, some videos for you that were taken in April. I hope you enjoy them because it took me literally all. day. long. to upload them. Whew. Enjoy!!

4-3-09 Joel says that Cass is going to make such a cute little old lady. :) She LOVES to use walkers...but not her actual walker. She loves to improvise and use her own. Her favorites are these kiddie chairs and the sit-n-spin (which is there by the kids' table). Too cute.

April 2009 - Using Daddy's legs to walk...and some cuteness from Eissa too. :)

4-12-09 This is the little song presentation the kids at church did on Easter.

April 2009 - The kids got a kick out of Cass handing them things...helping them pick up. :) She also displays one of her many interests...talking on the phone. ;)

April 2009 - Cass doing more helping...and the kids getting a big kick out of it again. :)

April 2009 - Eissa doing some moves to make Cass laugh hard...and Cass joining in the dancing.

April 2009 - Eissa "wasn't feeling good" so Hadley was taking very good care of her. :)

4-17-09 An impromptu little song and dance session Joel and the kids had one Saturday morning.

April 2009 - Another thing Cass loves to do these days...jabber!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Skylar and Fasting

My little cousin, Skylar (age 4), fell off the monkey bars yesterday and broke her arm really bad...a complete break. It was pretty bad. They drove her to the ER in one town where they couldn't reach the surgeon on call. They were going to take her to a children's hospital in another city (about an hour away), but were told by them to go home and come this morning (wha??). They ended up going to yet another hospital in a different city (also about an hour away) by ambulance. By the time they got there, they could no longer find a pulse in that arm. She was rushed to surgery with the very real possibility of amputation. It was a VERY scary time.

We are praising Jesus today that once they got in and got her arm set, the pulse amputation required. Thank God!! I think all of the family (and friends) are still just on cloud 9 with all the relief we felt.

She is recovering in the hospital now. I don't know lots of details...just that her arm has pins in it and she will be staying 1-2 days there in the hospital. Please be praying for her and for her family. We are so, so thankful that God spared this sweet little girl's arm!! And we pray she has a simple, uncomplicated recovery.

Now on to the fasting topic...

Since I have had that 6 year stint of being pregnant, nursing, or both, I have not done a complete fast since then. Wow...that's a long time. There are several reasons that I feel led to fast right now and I'm really excited about what God is going to do through it. Good things always happen when we really get in a desperate, humble place with God.

If you are new to fasting, here is a great article with great information about it. God told us to do it...I think that means we are supposed to do it. There are many different ways to fast...check out the article or do a google search yourself. Fasting is very powerful...I encourage you to ask God what He would have you do about fasting.

I'm telling you this because I am going to be unavailable for a few days. If you need to get in touch with me, just email Joel (our contact info. is available at our website; link at right, in the first paragraph of the sidebar)...I won't be available on the computer.

Signing off. Have a great few days. And remember, keep Skylar and her family in your prayers. Thank you, Jesus, for hearing our cries concerning that sweet little girl.

Sweet Skylar meeting Cass.
Belly laughing with Grady at a basketball game.
The whole gang. Skylar (in pink) playing with us at our little house in the states with her big sister, Kiley (in purple and pigtails) and little brother, Shane (in blue).

Monday, May 04, 2009

Follow The Leader

While we were in the states (Christmas - Feb. 24th), our sweet and generous little cousin, Eli, offered for Grady to use his small bike. Grady did really well on it even though it didn't have any training wheels. He'd never ridden a bike without training wheels before.

When we got back to Brazil, esp. after seeing all his other little friends riding all the time without training wheels, Grady wanted his training wheels off. Never mind the fact that all of his other friends' bikes are REALLY small compared to Grady's bike. And, the bike Grady rode in the states is also much smaller. (Bikes are really expensive here...we chose to get bikes the kids could grow into and use for a very long time instead of buying more than one bike)

Joel took one of his training wheels off at first. He did pretty well with that. Eventually the other wheel came off and he had a hard time. He would get too frustrated to really work on it, so the training wheel got put back on so he could still ride with his friends.

But then Grady noticed that some of his friends had kickstands on their bikes. He wanted one. As long as there were training wheels on his bike, there was no need for a kickstand. Joel told him that when he was no longer using training wheels, he could get a kickstand.

That was all it took. Within a couple of days, Grady was zooming all around this place with no training wheels. And that Saturday he woke up early telling Joel they had to go get his kickstand. :) Who knew?

A few days after success was achieved on the bike, Joel and Grady went bike-riding together. Joel told me about it when he got back.

"I realized a long-time dream today...riding bikes with my kid. We rode along for a long time, him following after me. Then he saw some of his friends riding bikes, and off he went."

At that moment, it was as if God gave me that picture.

Isn't that what we do in parenting? We play follow the leader for a few years and then off they go.

What a really neat realization and practical picture it was for me...some bike-riding life lessons. :) I must remember to "ride my bike well" in front of my children so they don't crash themselves.

And now...Grady in action (he and his best little friend, our neighbor, Luis Felipe). He rides his bike ALL the time.

Friday, May 01, 2009


A friend of mine just wrote that he went to a conference this week. One of the big things that he took away with him was that God is going to have a cause for each Christian to champion. We each have things that really strike a cord in us...really inflame us.

What's your cause? What's the thing that you are most passionate about?

For some it is bringing revival to the United States. For some it is exposing the truth about vaccinations. ;) For some it is politics, or teaching others, or healing.

Hmmm...what is my passion? I don't think I can answer with just one thing...can anyone? Being close to my children relationally and physically so that I can train them and guide them in all of their ways...and teaching/sharing with others concerning how to have a peaceful, calm, happy home. Adopting and caring for orphans and encouraging and helping others to do the same. Sharing options with women concerning pregnancy, childbirth, healthcare, and fitness.

Exciting to think about the possibilities and where those passions may lead. And what other passions/causes may be birthed in me.

Think about it. What cause has God given you to champion?

I shared my passions, now you share yours.