Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Last night, there was an urgent search for a missing, no more than 5-inch, stuffed orange cat. Nothing else would satisfy. We all search the usual hiding places for "cuddlies", pet hammock, toy box, under dresser and beds and without luck. Much loved toys were tossed aside to look for this little kitten that had obviously been neglected long enough to go completely missing. Finally, we insisted that it was bedtime and promised to resume the search this morning.

Well if you know this little five-year-old at all, you will not be surprised that she had me out looking in a rather cold car at 7:00 this morning. And on the porch. And through a bag of confiscated toys after a failed room cleaning. Again, we had no luck. Now she is ordering that the search party be expanded to Meme's house.

I am irritated by this, but I'm also envious of her persistence. I don't know that I am this determined to make ANYTHING happen. At all. I give up far too easily. If something seems difficult, I often decide to just let it go. Actually, I don't actively decide at all. I just decide to wait until it seems a little easier, and, because life never gets any easier, I just never follow through. This is sometimes harmless enough. I can't get my ipod to sync right, so I just don't try for a while until I idly mention it to my handy IT guy/loving husband, and it's working in less than five minutes. Good nutrition is difficult when it is only a priority to you, so I decide to just eat what everyone else eats for a while. And weeks stretch into months and weight comes back. I don't feel like people respond to things that are on my heart, so I just slowly start backing off, just until I find a better way. I wonder if the better way will come. I send an email to a local organization asking for volunteer opportunities and get no reply. And I never take another step to follow through. I find praying difficult and God a little more distant, so I take another step back. Just to wait. To stop seeking. I call it a break, but if I'm honest, it more closely resembles giving up.

This week, I plan on taking a few of these things and borrowing a page from my little girl's handbook. I'm going let go of some of the passiveness that is such an ingrained part of my personality that I may have to fight against it for the rest of my life. I will seek and search for the answers I need.

And no, we still haven't found that dumb cat. But the day is just beginning, and there are plenty of places to search still.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gratitude . . . and ending and a beginning

This is my last weekly gratitude post. I have really enjoyed the accountability of thinking through even the hard days and finding something in them to be grateful for. Last week, I read these words by Ann Voskamp - "That which I refuse to thank Christ for, I refuse to believe Christ can redeem." I hope and I pray that I remember those words in the hard days. If He really is in the business of making "all things new", I have to remember and believe this. All of this sounds like this week was terrible. Really, it wasn't. There were hard days and really good days. Here is the reader's digest version.

20th - Sunday was a really good and really busy day. There was an amazing message about the dangers of refusing to be grateful (only a few days after reading Ann's brilliant blog post mentioned above). The 1st-5th graders have already raised enough money for one Water of Life filter. We had a good fellowship time with our small group and a good turnout for the college ministry. And I got to watch my kids and their excitement over Anma time when my mom came over to keep them for me to go to campus church.

21st - I enjoy Christmas shopping far too much. What I enjoy even more than the shopping is the deciding what to buy. What is even more fun than that is an email telling you that the perfect gift for your husband just landed you $10 to spend whatever way you want when you've been eyeing a toy for the youngest that you just couldn't justify this pay period. I also love being asked to do things. I think it's because I generally lack initiative and insight, but I really do want to help. I got to do a little of that on Monday, too.

22nd - This website brought me far too much joy for one afternoon. Fair trade shopping and some profits go to a few different hunger-fighting charities. There's some fantastic stuff on there, too. There was also shopping in our brand new huge Kroger and cousins playing until after bedtime. I remember the day being harder than this, but now I can't even remember what was difficult about it.

23rd - This was my Yeimi's birthday. My little Guatemalan princess turned 6.

We celebrated with brownies, candles, and the birthday song and documented the whole thing with pictures to send to her. In the words of Lily, "That's Yeimi. I want to hug her." I also made four loves of pumpkin bread deliciousness that made the house smell wonderful.

24th - Thanksgiving. Don't underestimate a simple recipe. I made cinnamon pie again, and it was still wonderful. Cinnamon is, without a doubt, my favorite scent and flavor so this was a big satisfying moment for me. The day alternated between awkward and fun, sometimes in the same moment. But the day was good. Long, but good. The girls couldn't have behaved better, the food was good, and there was some great company.

25th - We decked these halls yesterday. Stockings were hung by the chimney with care. This is the first year we've had a mantle and it had top priority. The kids were so excited, and I am already hearing the batteries wearing down in all the snowglobes and singing Christmas critters.When I was checking my email, I also found a free download from Shaun Groves from the Compassion Advocate Network. I am so thankful for his clear focus. You should watch this and then buy his latest album, Third World Symphony.

26th - The day is still early, but I am so thankful for eight, count them, eight full and straight hours of sleep. The girls have been waking up at, literally, all hours of the night, and it has been hard. Last night, neither one of them called my name from 8:30 to 8:20. It was WONDERFUL. And I've already enjoyed a rare Starbucks Peppermint Mocha, thanks to some leftover gift card money. The girls are enjoying Christmas suckers at the table beside me and all is well. For the moment.

This does mark the end of my weekly gratitude posts, but I hope that it is only the beginning of a life-long habit. Counting your blessings sounds trite, but it honestly works. I hope to keep it up, and even write them down in a notebook. I've tried it before, but I'm hoping that I will stick with it this time.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Choosing To Be Thankful

I have to admit that I completely let people and circumstances rob me of my gratitude for the first part of this week. A good bit of it is a blur. And what I can remember, I don't like. School was hard. Parenting was hard. And dealing with people outside of my household seemed even harder. I will say that this little experiment in remembering at least one thing from each day that I am grateful for and being accountable to it here helped me snap out of that by Wednesday. So I will just start there.

16th - We stuffed our Operation Christmas Child shoebox and talked about what we like and what we're thankful that we have. It was a neat little conversation and helped reinforce the idea that being "good or bad" isn't the only thing that can affect what you get for Christmas. We filled out the little sheet that was provided by the children's church program, and this is what my girl wrote. If you can't read it, where it says "I Love Jesus because" she said "he never leaves me alone". I love when I get little glimpses that she's really getting what it's all about.
I also got to spend an hour will a beautiful baby boy, and since we only had two, I could just dote on him. And I did. I'm also really really really thankful for how much my family cares about me on all sides. Some of that really came out this week in very hard ways.

17th - I got four hours off from being a mama. Well, not really, but they weren't with me. I did use a little of the time to Christmas shop for them and buy their food, but I also got to have a lunch date with a rather hot IT man BY MYSELF. And I sat for over an hour and read. In absolute silence. Saying silence is golden is really devaluing the silence, people. It's platinum or titanium and is inlaid with diamonds of the best clarity. Whatever that means. It was glorious. And my girls had the best day, too. In fact, Kayla is certain that her day was better than mine. I say that's some day.

18th - Four words. Peppermint Chocolate Chip Milkshake. Add friends and stir. We had a fun morning. Before leaving for Chic-fil-a, I also got an email confirming that I can have a package taken to my LJ in the Philippines for her birthday in January. I am so thankful for that, and I'm still getting my small, easily shipped package together. Then there was an impromptu family night with the McKenzie crew where there was taco soup. So many things to be thankful for in that sentence.

19th - Today I went to Atlanta to serve at a Compassion table during the National Youth Workers Convention. I was disappointed that there were no sponsorships during my shift. However, I did get to talk to a couple of gentlemen who work with Compassion, and it was a good to just hang out with people who share a passion. I did have several conversations with potential sponsors. I hope those let to sponsorships during their presentation tonight. This was also my first midtown Atlanta experience totally on my own. I am very thankful that I didn't get lost and everything flowed smoothly. I'm also thankful for some unexpected savings on Christmas gifts that I found on my way home.

The last half of the week definitely made up for the first half, at least in part. I can't control everything, but I can control my reactions to life, and I have to work on finding joy in all circumstances. That is not negotiable.

Friday, November 18, 2011

New Compassion Packets

I've got some new packets for children available for sponsorship through Compassion International. Please let me know if you feel led to bring hope to one of these beautiful ones. We have the ability to actually rescue a family from poverty and form a relationship based on the love of Christ with a child who might otherwise never hear of that love. Without further ado, here they are.

 Jose Carlos Blanco Munguia
Jose is from Nicaragua. His birthday is April 23, 1998. Jose lives with his uncle and his mother. His household duties include caring for animals, washing clothes, and making beds. Jose is an above average high school student. He enjoys soccer, singing, and playing with marbles.

 Muskan Yadav
Muskan is from India, and her birthday is October 5, 2005. This beautiful girl lives with her father and mother. Her household duties include making beds. She is an average student in primary school, and she enjoys playing house, playing with dolls, and walking.

Roger Kokou Akpamou
Roger is from Togo. His birthday is June 1, 2007. Roger lives with his father and mother. Roger helps at home by running errands, cleaning, and helping out in the kitchen. He is not in school yet, but she does attend church activities and Bible class. Roger enjoys playing group games.

Please let me know if either of these "least of these" is tugging on your heart. Believe me, you won't regret it for a minute. Please ask if you have any questions or just want additional information

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thankfulness in Pictures

I'm a visual person. Seeing and reading helps me remember. This week, I decided to document my gratitude in pictures.

6th - Getting to share and demonstrate Compassion's Water of Life water filter for kids' church.

7th - An unexpected and fun gift from my husband. Love it.

 8th - Reading with my Kayla girl. She's learning so much so fast.

9th - A fun trip to McDonald's after a really, really trying morning.

10th - An even more fun trip to Atlanta with my friend, Kristen to serve at a Compassion table where around 55 children were sponsored. My second favorite part of the trip is in this picture. The trees in Centennial Olympic Park were absolutely gorgeous.

 11th - There is progress being made in our garage. Finally, we are starting to see the floor again. It doesn't seem like a huge deal, but this whole thing has had me feeling very overwhelmed for a few weeks now. Also, the stuff that was in this spot went to an old friend. I enjoyed my morning visit with her and her baby girl.

12th - I really do love this quote, but that's not what I'm most thankful for about this picture. I love that I have had this truth revealed to me. I also love that I was able to read it this morning BY MYSELF at Starbucks while taking a Mama break.

Saturday, November 05, 2011


Thanksgiving. Turkey. Native Americans. Pilgrims. Sweet Potatoes with little marshmallows on top. Dressing. Thanks giving. Not my favorite holiday, I'll admit it. However, I started earlier in the year jotting down things I was thankful for, then tapered off. As is my way. I plan on using November to start forming the habit again. Maybe if I do it for the whole month, I'll keep it up. There are so many things to be thankful for, but I will stick to one a day probably.

1st - Tuesday I got a letter from my Rugwiro in Rwanda. He's being baptized. I am grateful that Rugwiro knows Jesus.

2nd - Wednesday I was very thankful for sweet beautiful babies that I got to hold and squeeze for an hour . . . and then return them to their parents.

3rd - Thursday was great all the way around, with a lot of Compassion goings-on. But my favorite part of Thursday was the freedom to just call of school for the rest of the week because we just needed a break. We're calling it Fall Break.

4th - Friday, I did not get fully dressed ALL DAY. I didn't go farther than the mailbox, don't worry. It was a fun pajama day with Aristocats, popcorn, and sorting through out-grown clothes.

5th - Today I'm going with two good friends to a concert. I'm happy about the concert, but I'm really excited about friend time. Grown up girl conversations!

This week has been trying. There's been defiance, rejection, and tears. And that's just me. The girls went through all of that and more. Daily. Some days hourly. But there have been plenty of blessings to count, too.