Thursday, April 30, 2009

Compassion in India

Edited: Sorry about the random spacing throughout this and especially in the quotes. I'm too tired to try and make blogger cooperate...

This stuff is just too good to pass up.

Right now there is a team of Compassion Bloggers on a trip to India. One of my favorite bloggers, Angie is on the trip so I've been keeping up with her posts, along with a number of other bloggers who are on the trip. Angie's posts have been so amazing and moving - I really hope you take some time to read her posts from the trip. Today's post entitled "I've Been Lied to and Ridiculed" is definitely worth it!

Rather than just telling you to head over there I thought I'd share a few quotes from some of her posts....

From "Name"

We went to the first Compassion project today and I can't begin to tell
you how it affected me. I have been mulling this post over, praying, asking the
Lord to give me the words I can't find. There are so many stories I want to
share, so many things God allowed me to experience, and it has challenged me in
a beautiful way.
It has been really easy for me to stay out of the water in a lot of ways, and my own cynicism has kept me safe there. But today, as we stood in a house made of bamboo and clay bricks and watched a woman tell us how Compassion had changed their lives, something in my soul settled.
From "Child Survival Program"

I looked over several of the wall charts, and as I did, I thought about
the way I have doubted organizations like this in the past because how in
the world could they keep up with thousands and thousands of
And hanging on the wall in impeccable ink handwriting was
the undeniable evidence. It was so beautiful to see the way they care for
these babies, and as a result, the way families are impacted.

I was checking out a few of the other bloggers and wanted to post a few quotes and point you to their blogs as well.

This post is by Melissa (sorry about no last name) of Living Proof Ministries, I believe she is the daughter of Beth Moore (you know, THE Beth Moore). What she wrote her really hit home with me because her struggle with her own house match my own....

From "How do you like my house"

We kneeled around and listened to Kiran tell her story through a translator. Her beaming smile and joyous spirit were enough to distract from the oppressive heat. She told us about how she loves to study, how much she loves Jesus, and how she wants to be a teacher someday.
And then she asked us, her guests, with a genuine smile on her face as though she was taking us on a tour of her mansion:
“How do you like my house?”
Can you remember what it felt like to break up with your first love? Okay, now multiply that by about a million. It was like a dagger in my heart. I didn’t just want to cry. I wanted to completely lose it. But I joined in with the rest of the team, who were likely feeling the same way, and we all said, “We love it. It is beautiful.”
And I thought of the times that I’ve told my husband I don’t want to have a certain couple over to our apartment because our dining room table isn’t big enough. I thought of the times that I’ve been “ashamed” to invite friends into our home because it isn’t fancy enough or we don’t have enough chairs or our sofa isn't comfortable enough. The countless times I've complained about the paint color on the walls.
There I was. A
Compassion sponsor. Being mentored by a Compassion child on what is really important in life. I realized that we often assume people are completely hopeless just because they don't have the material wealth that we deem necessary for a quality life. But sometimes those who are in the most difficult circumstances know best of all where to find hope. Kiran sure did. She had hope because through God's grace via Compassion International she has a safe place to learn, to get a hot meal, and to hear more about Jesus.

From the blog Without Wax by Pete Wilson post entitled "Looking into the eyes of bondage"

"Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it.”
“Well, why don’t you ask Him?”

“Because I’m afraid He would ask me the same question.”


Finally from Shaun Groves. He is a musician and spokesperson for Compassion and he is involved in organizing these trips. He also travels around and does concerts/speaking at churches (free) about Compassion. Matt and I have been talking with his "agent/friend" about having him come to our church. Right now they don't have a lot of contacts in the NE so if any other of my NE friends think your church would be interested let me know! I'm too tired to write much more, but definitely head over and check out his writings. He is so passionate about Compassion and how they save and transfrom lives in Jesus' name - it's contageous!

One of the reasons I love following these trips is it helps make the $32 a month that we send to our Compassion boy Henry seem more significant. It reminds me that Henry is a real little boy in Uganda who has the letters that I wrote him (not nearly enough) over the years. It makes writing a check each month (ok, so it's direct deposit, but we get montly statements) a whole lot more personal. When I read these posts it makes me prayerfully consider what else I can be doing to show Christ's love to those who have so little. It also forces me to confront my own struggles with feeling like I don't have enough and I realize I am rich in material items but so often poor in spirit.

I hope you will take the time to be challenged and touched. And perhaps even consider sponsoring a child.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Catching Up (How many times can I use this as a title?)

Last Wednesday to Sunday my brother Mike, my sister in law Sharon and their sweet little 15 month old Caleb were visiting us while they were in town for a wedding. They live in Atlanta so we don't get to spend a ton of time with them so it was so nice to have a few days to catch up and for Caleb to get to know us.

It was important that he get to know us because we were going to be watching him Friday during the day and night while they went to the various Friday wedding activities, such as visiting a castle, the rehearsal, the rehearsal dinner (I think another castle was involved). Caleb stayed home so Mike and Sharon could enjoy their time out especially since the next day would be a long day as well. Plus, we were really looking forward to our time with Caleb. It was fun to have a little boy in the house and I had definitely forgotten how much energy goes into having a young toddler, especially in a house that is no longer very baby proof. I think the only thing Caleb tried to eat was one of the Disney Polly Pocket type dresses.

I tried so hard not to laugh (I didn't) when Mike and Sharon pulled away and Caleb just kept turning around looking over each shoulder trying to figure out where they had gone. His sad face was just so stinking adorable. We played outside for awhile and then went for wagon rides up and down the block. Caleb held onto a little plastic rack and let it drag along the ground the whole time. I think he was still in shock that his parents were gone!

The shock eventually wore off and Caleb was his happy easy going self most of the time. Except for occasionally going over to the basement door and knocking, hoping his parents were down there! I got a ton of snuggle time with him and when he was sad he would come up and lay his head on my lap or wrap his arms around my leg.

We enjoyed our busy weekend with family - my parents were also in town for the wedding so we had a full house. Of course this was during the Spring Heat Wave that we just went through. Anyone else still in shock that we experience ninety degree temps in April?

On Monday Ella went outside to play and came back in absolutely hysterical telling us she had seen a snake! Oh boy. I went out with Matt to investigate....and the verdict was....she was RIGHT! We found a gardner snake peaking out from behind a cooler that was casting a shadow - does this mean that when it gets this hot I'm more likely to see snakes? Because not only did we see it that morning, but again in our backyard while the kids were swinging. I'm assuming/hoping it was the same snake and not another one. In theory I'm not scared of snakes, but in reality I'm not too excited about them in my backyard.

Funny tidbits. When Ella was freaking out and we were asking if she was sure it was a snake she said "yes, because worms are smaller!" The whole time Catherine kept insisting that she wasn't scared of snakes and we tried to tell her that she probably would have been scared like Ella and she's all "nuh, uh". This from the child who screams bloody murder when she sees a stink bug in her room for the hundredth time!

We did get a chance to go swimming yesterday and as much as it pained me to put my still in hibernation body into a swimsuit, it was so refreshing and wonderful to see the kids having fun in the water. I wasn't sure how they would do since the water wasn't too warm and they hadn't been swimming since the fall, but I was happy that they got right back into it no problem. It was a good warm up her swim lessons which started today. She's in the submarine class and is practicing "stroke readiness". That cracks me up because her current stroke is frantic dog paddling until she sinks! While I was waiting for her in the hot humid aquatics facility I overhead some mothers talking about someone being sick and in the hospital and all I could think of was "Swine Flu, Swine Flu! Where is my antibacterial spray?!" (I jest....kind of...)

Wow, check out the topics I covered. Family, watching Caleb, the heat, snakes, swimming and a possible pandemic. That is just the way my mind flows. And now I probably should go take a Tylenol PM so I can ssssllllllllooooowwww those thoughts down!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day I figured I would post some pictures of what's growing around our house these days! Last year we had our first garden and I'm excited to have a little bit of the learning curve behind me and to feel slightly less clueless this time around!

We plan on growing some things in our yard again, but also are planning a type of community garden with some other folks over at our church. I decided I wanted to start as much as possible from seeds this year so I have more control over how they are grown and save even more money. So a few weeks ago we planted some is how they looked on Saturday...

You might have to click this picture if you want to see the two tiny little green bean seedlings that are just starting to peek through. I was so excited because that is the container that Ella accidentally knocked off the counter. I wasn't holding out much hope that the would sprout - for all I knew the seeds were in the trash with the rest of the soil that was all over the floor.

Here is a picture of them that I took today!

I love how quickly the seeds are now starting to grow - at this point it looks like we'll have a lot of zucchini and cucumbers. The bottom right of the above picture is green beans - I think all but two have sprouted.

The very back container are the green pepper seeds. Not much going on there. I'm still hoping that with the cilantro I plan on starting later in spring, the tomatoes we always grow and hopefully some fresh green peppers, I'll be able to make a yummy pico de gallo! Come on green peppers! (and yes, that is a picture of newborn ella (i think!) just laying there - i must have missed it as I was moving pictures back into the rooms)

My windows are decorated by basil! Is there anything better than the smell of fresh basil?My lovely husband picked up two pots of my favorite flowers and they have been providing a splash of color to our dining room. Hello there beautiful!

This is the third year in a row that I've made dirt dessert on Earth Day - it's just a fun tradition, ever since I scared Catherine at 18 months when she thought I was really eating a big bite of dirt!
I'll share the recipe with you, since there are many version of it out there and this is the one that we like the best.
Dirt Dessert
1 package oreo cookies, finely ground up (food processor is easiest) until you have approximately 32 oz worth
8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 cups milk
1 5.5 oz package instant vanilla pudding
1 container cool whip
Beat the cream cheese until creamy and then add the powdered sugar and beat to combine.
In a larger bowl mix the milk, pudding and cool whip (I add the cool whip after I have whisked the pudding and milk for a bit). Stir in the cream cheese mixture.
In another larger bowl, or flower pot, start with a small layer of oreo crumbs. Add a layer of pudding/cream cheese mixture and continue to layer, with the final layer being oreos.
Eat right away or refrigerate until later!
Add in options: You can put gummy worms in as you layer to add to the "dirt" effect. Also, if I'm using a flower put then I will stick a plastic flower on top which really helps sell it as dirt!
Trust, this is one yummy Earth Day treat.
We are spending a few days with my brother Mike, his wife Sharon and my sweet nephew Caleb as they are in town for a wedding. It will be a busy couple of days and busy weekend but I'm sure I'll have lots of stories to share after our time together. It will be interesting to see how long Caleb puts up with all the attention from his cousins, especially Catherine who seems to think of him as her doll and is constantly trying to hug and kiss him and pull him around.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


This weekend was perfect. It really was. After the cold spring we've had so far, when you get three (it ended up being four) consecutive days of warm sunny weather you start doing as much outside activity as possibly. So this weekend ended up being a weekend of many firsts (for this year).

First cookout with friends....(ok, just a picture of the girls, but it was that night)

First s'mores by the fire.

First taste of those s'mores....

Ella's first day of Pee Wee soccer. she actually there? Let's zoom in and take a look....

Yep, she's there! I was silently yelling for Matt to come over and take pictures and this is what he got before the card was full. I'm actually not too upset because you aren't able to tell that my child is the only without shin guards or cleats. I mean, really, cleats for 4 and 5 year olds? Just doesn't seem necessary. I have no excuse for the lack of shin guards. You would think I've never stepped on a soccer field before or something??? :)

First planting. Decked out in our new hat and gardening gloves

Catherine's first, of many, goofy grins while wearing her new hat (I know I'm reaching, but how could I pass this one up?) Note: She put her hat on that way, not me.

There is no first for this, again I just thought it was too cute not to post!

Finally, our first ice cream cones outside!

I almost forgot, we got our first farmer tans - one day in the sun is all it took! Both girls have rosy red cheeks and tan arms. And I bought our first bottle of sunscreen for the season!
Ok, enough with the firsts, I hope you all enjoyed your weekend as much as we did! Even though tomorrow looks to be cold and rainy, the past few days have made it feel like spring is really here to stay - and summer suddenly doesn't seem to far away!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursdays, weather and Easter

It's Thursday, my favorite day of the week. It's the one morning I am at home while the girls go to preschool and I get a few hours of alone time. It's also the afternoon when we go to library story time in the afternoon and art class at night. All things that the girls love and keep them on the go so there is little time to be bored. My kids do best when they have a mix of busy and slow days. Yesterday was a slow day, today is our busy day!

Another reason to love Thursday - Matt occassionally works from home in the morning since the girls aren't there. It's kind of nice hearing his voice as he makes phone calls and getting to chat with him (he LOVES when I come over to "chat" with him while he's working!) without the girls competing for our attention.

Also I love Thursday because I look forward to The Office and 30 Rock. Two funny shows that are half hour little treats to watch. I love my Lost and this year I've even started watching American Idol (gasp!), but I love the lack of intensity involved with watching 30 minute comedies! So yes, I look forward to Thursday because of those shows.

I have looked forward to this Thursday all week because after a few days...or has it been weeks?...of cold rainy weather, today was forecasted to be sunny and up to 60. Starting off a beautiful three or four day streak of nice days, with potential to be in the mid 70's! I cannot express how happy I am to see the sun and know it will be out for a few days and that it will actually be warm at the same time! Easter Sunday was sunny, but windy and cold. Right before we left for church, the girls in their Easter dresses (I am proud of myself for my restraint this Easter season, the only thing I bought was a cardigan for Ella to wear with her dress. Oh how I wanted to buy them adorable matching dresses. But I restrained myself...) and much needed cardigans and Ella asked "mom, aren't we going to wear coats?". I told them, no we would just run into church - a coat would totally ruin the look!

It was definitely coat weather. Needless to say, we didn't take any outdoor pictures.

We are still putting our house back together after the floors refinishing project. I promise I will post before and after pictures. It is now late afternoon and I got distracted from finishing this post by looking through all the pictures I had downloaded.

Here are a few from Easter. I had more to upload but I only did as many as blogger would let me do at once. I hate messing with the spacing and the text when I forget to add pictures until the end of the post!

these could used some cropping and editing but that would have led to a whole other area of distraction...

they are running to find eggs after church was over and they were able to put on more weather appropriate attire!

i love this shot of ella. (in spite of the mysterious red smudge under her eye)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cake Pop Party

One of my favorite creative blogs to check in on is Bakerella. She is always making the coolest looking stuff - if you haven't yet, definitely go check her out. She's so cool - she's been on Martha Stewart and visited with Pioneer Woman out at her ranch.

She is known for her cake pops, essentially a bit of cake on a stick, dipped in melted chocolate and decorated to look pretty (I actually wrote real perty the first time without meaning to - it just sounded a bit southern). If you check out her site, you'll realize they are much more than that and her creativity is pretty darn cool.

(But please, don't go over there now. Stay and check out my pictures because they will look much less cool in comparison. )

I've been tempted to try them for awhile now but her recent Easter pops pushed me over the edge and I decided to have a cake pop party! A few friends were up for it so each of us made a batch of cake balls and brought along a ton of sprinkles and confetti sprinkles and melting chocolate and prepared to bring out our inner Bakerella's.

I was going to have it at my house, but the floors weren't finished until Thursday afternoon and there was no furniture in our family room or dining room and I was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of mess and stuff in the kitchen (not to mention we had no table or chairs), so we set up a table at our church and worked there, while enjoying the background entertainment of Sweet Home Alabama playing on the projector screen.

I gained some new appreciation for Bakerella's skill. Because while cake pops are fun, they are a bit tedious to decorate. Each batch makes about 50 cake balls and we had four batches (one yellow, two chocolate, one strawberry)! Also, if you don't shape your cake ball just perfectly, it looks a bit lumpy when it's been dipped in chocolate.

Side note here: During that day while I talked with friends on the phone or at night while we were working I said the words cake balls or just balls so much, as in do you think the balls need to be frozen, do you put the sticks in the balls before or after freezing them, when you dip the cake balls...., that it got to a point when I felt like I was going to fall on the ground laughing if I said something about dipping them in chocolate one more time. Thankfully by that point I was so tired I could just summon up a few giddy giggles.

It took us about four hours of working to decorate the 200 eggs and chicks that we made. I was an egg decorator and enjoyed coming up with new designs and patterns for about the first twenty or so. As the night wore on I made more and more covered in rainbow sugar!

Regardless of how long it took, it really was so much fun and definitely a great project to do with friends. I am so excited for the kids to see their eggs and chicks in their Easter Baskets tomorrow!

Here are the pictures....when you're done...then you can go ahead and check out Bakerella's professional version!

A multitude of pops

A bunch of cute eggs and a few funny looking ones

Isn't this little chick the cutest thing?

I really liked the way these striped ones turned out

there were so many pops. just so many.
the cake poppers! the look on my face says "i am very tired. the kids better freak out when they see these ."
I do have to add that not only do cake pops look pretty, but they actually taste really good! I left a few unfinished ones behind in the church fridge, figuring I would come back later and freeze them. That afternoon our one pastor asked Matt if I had been making something at the church the night before. Matt said yes. When he relayed this to me I immediately started worrying, what light did I leave on, what mess did we forget about. Then he asked Matt if I what I made was for something in particular. Matt, in true husband fashion said "ummm, I don't know, I think maybe for Easter?" Again I am so worried, maybe we shouldn't have gone to the church....but then Tim said "good, because I ate a bunch. They were really good!" Phewww.
To close, since I am posting this Saturday night, I hope you all have a blessed Easter. A quick (I promise) story. Tonight we were reading from our favorite children's Bible, The Jesus Storybook Bible (I know I've said it before, but it is so beautiful, I wholeheartedly recommend it if you don't have it). We had read about the cross last night and tonight we read about Easter morning. It started off with the Mary's going to the tomb to wash Jesus' body and chronicled their discovery at the tomb, with the missing body and the angel and then their rejoicing at what they learned.

When I was done I wanted to see how well Catherine was tracking with what I had read. I asked her what happened to Jesus and she responed "he died." I prompted her by asking her what happened in this story. She said, "well, Jesus had a dirty body". I wish I could tell you that I didn't have to look away for a good thirty seconds while I worked to keep my laughter under control, but I can't. I was eventually able to continue and I asked her what happened at the tomb? She said "Jesus was gone". And what did that mean Catherine. She responded "Jesus was alive!"

That's right, Jesus is alive! Can I get an Amen?!

Happy Easter!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Getting out of town

I am writing this post from my friend Shannon's office and listening to the sound of our kids laughing hysterically at something in the other room.

I invited myself over for a two day visit while we get our hardwood floors refinished. It was supposed to be a Mon-Wed project that now looks to extend into Thursday. I thought that this would be a great week to have it down because the kids are off school and I had the freedom to get out of town. But it mght have been nice to send them to school on Thursday instead of trying to plan yet another day away from the house.

I promise to post some before and after pictures of the floors. I'm so excited and I hope that I don't have my expectations too high. This is one of those projects that we always talked about doing and just recently committed to when we realized it wasn't outrageous to hire someone to do it for you. We cannot take on any more do it yourself projects at the moment. I am overwhelmed with the amount of unfinished do it yourself projects in our house currently. In fact, this may be the only time we've ever hired someone to come in and do a project from start to finish. Maybe Matt will chime in and correct me if I'm wrong (I know you're reading this).

For now I'm going to enjoy being at Shannon's lovely home and having some built in entertainment for my girls in the form of Jack and Cade. Earlier they were all in Jack's room playing school - is it any surprise that Ella was the teacher? As long as Jack doesn't mind being bossed around for the next two days they're going to have a great time!

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